GREG LOWER

Coffee with Commissioners brought updates from the Kansas Legislature and discussion with a neighboring county Saturday morning.

Kansas Rep. Kent Thompson (R-Iola) and Sen. Dan Goddard (R-Parsons) were at the regularly-scheduled talk session with Chanute City Commissioners, sponsored by the Chanute Chamber of Commerce. Neosho County Commissioner David Bideau also attended, as did Allen County Commission Chair Jerry Daniels.

The event gave local constituents a chance to question elected officials and get updates on state and local issues.

Goddard may have been familiar with a German quotation that says no one should see laws or sausages being made. He said the previous two days had been extremely busy as senators went through conference reports.

“We call that making the sausage,” he said. “I was about as tall as David Bideau was when we started this session.”

Both congressmen discussed the Senate confirmation of David Toland of Iola as Commerce Secretary. Goddard said he saw the politics of personal destruction in the hearings.

Thompson said Toland would be an excellent Secretary of Commerce and would help Thompson’s district. He said the confirmation hearings were some of the dirtiest politics he has seen.

“They absolutely treated that kid horribly,” Thompson said, adding that the Republican Party is no longer the GOP of Bob Dole and himself.

Chanute Regional Development Authority Director Matt Godinez said he is happy with Toland’s appointment and the region will be well represented.

“He’s inheriting a department in a bushel basket,” Goddard said.

The Senate has passed education funding but the House has not passed anything. Thompson said he is not certain if it is legal for the two bodies to negotiate in conference with nothing for the House to offer.

Thompson said he favors Medicaid expansion because it is critical for rural areas. He said the Senate could pass expansion but faces a leadership issue. Goddard voted in favor of Medicaid expansion before.

Chanute Commissioner Jacob LaRue asked about the veto of the tax bill. Thompson said the Senate does not have the votes to override the veto, so the issue is dead, but Goddard said pieces may be resurrected.

Resident Mary Alice Lair raised the issue of the controversial Neosho Ridge Wind electrical generation project.

“They’re so noisy and they’re so permanent,” she said.

Thompson said in the long term, wind energy and wind turbines are not a bad thing.

“Aesthetically, yeah, it’s different,” he said. “I’m still cool on whether I like it here.”

A state bill to regulate windmill setbacks stalled in the legislature. Goddard said it should not be a state decision.

“We’ll find a way to mess that up,” Thompson said.

Officials discussed the status of the US-169 highway project and Lair also raised the issue of car-deer accidents and fatalities.

Thompson said he and Goddard will have a voice in the appointment by Gov. Laura Kelly to replace Neosho County Commissioner Jennifer Orr, who resigned. 

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