Kansas City Star. April 20, 2023.
Editorial: Biden isn’t banning gas stoves. But facts don’t stop Missouri and Kansas GOP outrage
It’s not a surprise anymore when prominent politicians focus their energies on rabble-rousing culture war battles instead of doing the hard stuff of governing, but we still feel compelled to point out when Kansas and Missouri leaders actively mislead their constituents.
That brings us to Sen. Roger Marshall, the Kansas Republican, and his Twitter feed.
Like many conservatives, Marshall has lately made a big deal about proposed new federal regulations for gas stoves being offered by the Biden administration. The rules would simply mandate that new stoves for sale meet more stringent environmental and safety standards than the models currently on the market — but the Fox News set has treated this as a fresh opportunity for demagoguery. They haven’t quite resorted to “you’ll take my stove from my cold, dead hands” sloganeering, but they’ve come awfully close.
Certainly, that’s what Marshall seemed to suggest this week. On Tuesday, he linked to a report about his role in a group of Republican senators challenging the proposed regulations. And he posted this commentary:
“I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly not inviting the Department of Energy into my home to inspect my kitchen appliances. #GOVERNMENTOVERREACH”
With that tweet, Marshall painted a picture of government agents invading private residences to ensure that gas stoves conform to the Biden administration’s standards. And that would be alarming if that was really what we could expect to happen. But it’s simply not true.
Just to be sure, we reached out to the U.S. Department of Energy, which is formulating the new rules. The department confirmed that the gas stove regulations would apply only to new products and only at the point of manufacture. There will be no home invasions by jack-booted agents terrifying your family because you like to cook over an open flame.
The Department of Energy “proposes efficiency standards all the time — for lightbulbs, washers and dryers, refrigerators, and more,” a spokesman said in a written statement. “Does it mean they’re coming to ban those appliances? Of course not.”
That’s right. The stove you have in your home has almost certainly met the federal standards that already exist for such appliances. Have you seen a federal inspector in your house to look at your stove, ever?
There is nothing different about this new round of regulations — except that some Republicans, including Marshall, see an opportunity to frighten their constituents.
We think there are good reasons for adopting new, better standards to regulate gas stoves in the United States. Studies suggest that the appliances often leak harmful fumes into the homes they serve, harming the health of family members and pets. There is reason to believe the new standards will save American consumers on energy costs.
But reasonable people can disagree about the issue. What’s not reasonable, however, is for Marshall to mislead and frighten the Kansans who look to him for responsible leadership.
He is far from the only regional GOP leader guilty of such demagoguery. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday blamed President Joe Biden for the protests that sprung up following the Kansas City shooting of teenager Ralph Yarl. Missouri Sen. Eric Schmitt regularly fulminates on Twitter about “climate alarmists” despite the very real threats posed by climate change. And Sen. Josh Hawley’s social media feed seems designed to keep his followers in a near-constant state of high dudgeon. It’s exhausting.
Among our most prominent local Republicans, only Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas seems to have an interest in the nitty-gritty details of governing. His Twitter feed is filled with boring, normal topics such as the new Amelia Earhart museum in Atchison, Veterans Administration policies and even the rules surrounding organ transplants. He rarely tries to provoke his followers. And that’s quite a relief.
Marshall, unfortunately, has not decided to follow the example of Kansas’ senior senator. Instead, he decided this week to unnecessarily frighten his constituents. He may profit from such demagoguery, but Kansans won’t.
Topeka Capital-Journal. April 21, 2023.
Editorial: Kansas Legislature isn’t being transparent with Office of the State Bank funding
The Kansas Legislature slashed funding to the state’s bank regulator until unspecified information is provided to lawmakers.
If that sounds strange, it’s because it is.
The Topeka Capital-Journal’s Andrew Bahl reports the move places the Office of the State Bank commissioner in “uncharted territory.”
Bahl reports a panel of budget negotiators elected to boot consideration of the OSBC budget over what Sen. Rick Billinger, the Goodland Republican who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee, said was a desire for more information from the agency.
The move comes amid a national concern over the banking sector, amid high-profile bank failures in California and New York increasing scrutiny.
Lawmakers say they plan to address the funds in the end-of-session wrap-up. But we’d like answers now.
This isn’t the time to play games with bank regulations while the nation deals with concerns about banking security. Lawmakers need to explain their actions and make this a top priority next week. If there’s a legitimate concern, let’s hear and discuss a solution — out loud and in hearings.
Let’s not go searching for a problem that doesn’t exist. That’s a waste of time.
We’re having trouble connecting the dots on what is the problem — it is believed to be related to the agency’s regulation of Beneficient, the lone entity operating in Kansas under a novel investment framework created by the Legislature. But we’re not certain because legislators aren’t being transparent with their constituents.
Kansas can’t afford to have a banking crisis. This problem is completely avoidable. Fund the agency.
Bahl reports unlike many agencies, the OSBC is not funded with state taxpayer money but rather fees garnered from banks, trusts and other institutions, as well as monies recouped from settlements. The final budget, sent to Gov. Laura Kelly earlier this month, authorizes the OSBC to spend $0 of those funds over the next two fiscal years.
David Herndon, the state banking commissioner, said in an email that he was uncertain of why the move was made.
“The action by the legislature puts us in uncharted territory,” Herndon said. “We will work with all parties to restore our budget, especially since 100% of our revenue sources are from fees banks, trust companies, consumer and mortgage lending institutions as well as those businesses involved in consumer and mortgage activities pay to us.”
Let’s get the OSBC out of uncharted territory and back to regulating our state’s banks.