A visit to one of his favorite places in Kansas had crossed the mind of U.S. Senator Jerry Moran when he stopped in Abilene Friday.
It was upon his arrival at Abilene Middle School that he learned the Dwight D. Eisenhower Museum and Library were closed.
Moran visited Abilene to witness the Summer Food Lunch Program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture.
When he was asked about how to get the museum and campus open to the public, Moran said he didn’t know it was closed.
“Someone needs to complain to me and someone needs to complain to the National Archives,” he said. “I was not aware the museum was not open.”
According to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home web page “we will only open our facilities when our assessment aligns with the criteria and requirements laid out by the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management...”
“That is a mistake,” Moran said. “These decisions need to be made locally. Each circumstance where a presidential library is located is different. We will make that case to the National Archives starting today.
“The circumstances in Abilene are significantly different than the circumstances that are in other places where there are presidential libraries,” he said.
Moran said on his way to Abilene, he was thinking he should be promoting the Presidential Library.
“It is something they could be doing while other things have been shut down,” he said.
This is a prefect time as the economy needs a boost for Abilene to invite people who may not be able to do other things right now to see the presidential library, he said.
According to the Dickinson County Health Department reopening plan, museums in the county are allowed to be open.
Moran said that the Senate is in session and the Republican leadership has asked Sen. Tim Scott from South Carolina to lead an effort to determine what legislation would be beneficial to improve the circumstances of relationships among races in this country, he said.
“What changes we need to encourage at the state and local level but what to legislate at the Federal level in regard to law enforcement,” he said.
Moran is chair of the sub-committee that appropriates money for the Department of Justice which grants funds to local law enforcement.
“We have been increasing the funding on community relations, community policing, better training,” Moran said. “All of those things need to be increased. Law enforcement and its relationship with the community is something that needs to be promoted.
“Again, the country is different from one place to another,” he said. “We need to provide more resources to local law enforcement to do a better job of attracting and retaining the right kind of law enforcement, those individuals who have a desire to do right. Better training.”
Moran visited Abilene to witness the Summer Lunch Program administered by the Abilene schools.
“It has been very beneficial to communities, to families and children across Kansas,” he said.
He said the Legislature provided waivers through the U.S. Department of Agriculture which administers the program so that school districts could provide meals outside a lunchroom setting.
“The regulations used to provide that it needed to be what they call congregate meals, that students had to eat together,” he said.
The number of meals being served has increased from an average of 180 per day last year to over 500 per day so far the first week hot meals were distributed.
Moran is co-chair of the Senate’s hunger caucus.
“We pay attention to hunger issues and there is a significant need that sometimes goes unrecognized across Kansas for families in our own state,” he said. “I am particularly interested in this issue because as a Kansan, we produce so much food that we ought to be part of the solution to reducing the number of people that are hungry.”
Moran and Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado are seeking changes to local beef packing plants like those in Clay Center and Herington.
“There are thousands of small packing plants across the country,” he said. “Most of us that grew up in Kansas grew up with a locker plant in town. They don’t exist to the degree that they used to because of the cost of complying with all kinds of regulations.”
He said there are still about 4,000 with about 70 in Kansas. He said if you ask a cattle producer for a side of beef, the answer is “sure.”
“If you can find somebody to process it,” he said.
Local lockers are booked.
“One of the impediments of doing more is that if you are a small plant and you want to work longer than 40 hours, you have to pay the Department of Agriculture for the inspection over 40 hours at $90 an hour,” he said. “We are saying that USDA, the taxpayers, that is something that we should pick up at this point in time to increase the capacity of the small packers, creating some modest competition with the large packers but also creating an opportunity for a farmer and a rancher to have a market for what they grow locally.
“So we are not in a position to again, in a hungry world, of destroying food and reducing the livelihood of people that are earning a living as farmers and ranchers,” he said.
Contact Tim Horan at email@example.com.