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Moran Wants to Alter College Financial Aid Law to Benefit Farm, Small Business Families


By Tim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector


TOPEKA, Kan. — U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas endorsed legislation repealing a new federal formula for determining student financial aid that could lower college assistance to children of parents operating small businesses or family farms.

The controversy arose with development of a simplified version of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, due to be launched this year for students enrolling in the 2024-2025 academic year. The updated version of FAFSA would remove an exemption from reporting family assets related to farms or businesses with less than 100 workers.

“Requiring students to list family farms where they reside or small businesses as assets on their applications for federal student aid could prevent students from receiving the support needed to pursue a college education,” Moran said.

The existing policy would anticipate a family with a farm worth more than $1 million or an adjusted gross income above $60,000 to contribute $7,600 annually to a child in college. The new formula would anticipate that same family would be expected to contribute more than five times that amount each year, and could result in lower levels of need-based financial aid for those students.

Moran, a Republican, joined several U.S. senators from farm states to urge congressional adoption of a remedy to this piece of the FAFSA Simplification Act passed by Congress in 2020.

He said the nation’s farms and small businesses were the backbone of the economy and students shouldn’t be penalized for having a background in those vital professions.

Research, development

U.S. Rep. Ron Estes, a Republican serving the 4th District including Wichita, also proposed a legislative reversal in Washington, D.C.

He reintroduced a bill that would allow immediate deduction of research and development expenses from federal income tax obligations. Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by President Donald Trump in 2017, amortization of research and development costs had to be expensed over five years starting in 2022.

He said repeal of this piece of the Trump tax law would support investment in innovation and technological breakthroughs essential to business growth. The proposed House bill to retroactively reverse the policy has more than 60 sponsors.

“Today’s research and development dollars create tomorrow’s jobs, and we need to keep R&D dollars inside our country, where they can help strengthen American businesses and workers,” Estes said.

He said retention of this federal tax policy would encourage manufacturing and production to be conducted abroad rather than take root in the United States.

“Research and development is critical for our American economy, and it’s imperative that we give American innovators the tools and incentives to conduct that R&D right here in the United States,” Estes said. “More R&D here at home means more jobs now and in the future.”

Davids on mifepristone

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, the Kansas Democrat representing the 3rd District in the Kansas City area, said she was convinced the U.S. Supreme Court properly allowed the abortion drug mifepristone to remain available while legal challenges worked through the federal courts.

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals scheduled oral argument May 17 on a challenge to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the abortion drug. While Kansas voters affirmed abortion as a fundamental constitutional right in this state in 2022, a coalition of physicians opposed to abortion known have challenged FDA approval of the drug in Texas.

“I am glad that the Supreme Court recognized the total lack of science and legal standing in the case brought before them and ruled that the FDA’s approval of mifepristone will stand — as it has for decades — and access to this vital and safe medication will continue,” Davids said.

Mifepristone, when used in combination with another drug and was endorsed by the FDA more than 20 years ago, is a common method of terminating a pregnancy. It accounts for half of abortions in the United States.

“Though this is a victory for Kansans’ freedoms, reproductive rights are still under attack nationwide,” the Democratic congresswoman said. “It’s a reminder that we are facing extremist actors who will not stop attempting to insert themselves into our most private health care decisions.”

No-confidence measure

U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, a Kansas Republican, said the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security failed to make Americans feel safe about security of the nation’s border and suggested the secretary ought to be impeached.

He recommended a no-confidence resolution applicable to DHS secretary Alejandro Mayorkas because the U.S. border wasn’t secure from movement of illegal immigrants and the importation of deadly fentanyl. More than a dozen GOP colleagues in the U.S. Senate supported Marshall’s measure.

“There isn’t one American who believes our southern border is secure,” the senator said. “In the real world, if you fail at your job, you get fired. The federal government should be no different.”

Marshall said on Fox News an impeachment trial of Mayorkas would be a “huge message” to President Joe Biden and would help undermine Biden’s reelection campaign.

“This resolution puts the secretary on notice,” he said. “I’m obligated to go after this secretary.”

Biden, Afghanistan

U.S. Rep. Jake LaTurner, who holds the 2nd District seat in eastern Kansas, said Biden ought to be blamed for the flawed U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.

Biden decided to pull U.S. soldiers from Afghanistan by September 2021. The action followed signing of an agreement in 2020 between the the administration President Donald Trump and the Taliban to provide for removal of all NATO forces from Afghanistan. The Taliban took over Kabul in August 2021 while the Biden administration was engaged in an emergency airlift operation.

“It doesn’t take state department credentials or a degree in foreign affairs to realize terms of withdrawal negotiated with a terrorist-state, one that openly chants ‘Death to America,’ shouldn’t be taken at face value,” LaTurner said.

LaTurner said Biden’s foreign policy failure in Afghanistan weakened the United States on the world stage. He said the fumbled exit from Bagram airport led to the death of 13 U.S. servicemembers.

“Abandoning Bagram, our most strategic and fortified foothold in Afghanistan, before the evacuation was even complete, led to thousands of Americans and SIV (special immigrant visa) holders stranded behind enemy lines,” he said.