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Congressmans listening tour pauses at The Front Door
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Congressman Roger Marshall, Representative of Kansas Big First District, made Great Bend one of the stops in his district-wide listening tour Thursday evening. Here, he talks with constituents about tax reform and foreign policy at The Front Door. - photo by VERONICA COONS, Great Bend Tribune

Congressman Roger Marshall kicked off a January listening tour this week, stopping at The Front Door Thursday night to answer questions and hear concerns about a host of topics ranging from tax reform, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and securing the borders to infrastructure and trade.

Tax reform
Early on, one man took Marshall to task for not taking enough time to review the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed into law Dec. 20 in advance of the winter recess. He compared it to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback’s state tax reform, and criticized the law’s lack of corporate accountability for creating jobs.
Marshall responded that overall response to the act has been positive, noting that the man was the first person that day to say he did not like the tax bill.
“I’ve been talking to the farmers. They love the tax reform bill that we’ve done for them,” he said. The bill has been a 10-year effort by Congressman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has been working on it since he arrived in Congress, Marshall said. Seventeen agriculture accountants met with Brady in February, he said, and provided a list of items farmers felt were important.
“Basically, everything they asked Brady for, they got,” he said. The list included being able to write-off capital expenses and interest and being able to keep cash accounting.”The producers I’ve talked to love the tax bill.
The list also included getting rid of the “death tax,” which the House approved but the Senate did not. He also stated mid-income Kansas families who earn on the average $70,000 will also be able to keep an average of $2,000 more a year too.
“To compare this to Kansas is an uneducated statement,” he said. He did not feel corporations would switch their corporate organizations to limited liability corporations. “I’m very proud of the tax bill.”

Relief for Dreamers
President Trump gave Congress six months to decide the fate of Dreamers, children brought to the country illegally with their parents, for whom America, as a result, is their home. January 29 is the deadline, and Marshall is confident a solution is imminent.
“Number one, we have to secure the border, or we’ll be dealing with this again in ten years,” he said. He also stated he feels “the wall” is metaphorical, and securing the border can be achieved in a variety of ways including a partial wall, as well as other ways.
Another concern that needs to be addressed, he added, is chain migration.
“When you bring a DACA kid in, you don’t necessarily bring in all their family as well,” he said. Chain migration refers to the practice of new citizen sponsoring additional family members for immigration. To ensure others already waiting to immigrate into the country are not forced further back in line as a result of new legislation may require additional immigration reform, he said. But nothing will happen unless borders are secured.

Dan Bonine, Great Bend,  asked about infrastructure spending including transportation, as well as broadband access, both of which are important to rural Kansas.
Marshall interpreted President Trump’s vision. Rather than a federal handout state-by-state, the amount of infrastructure funds will depend on the amount of private and state dollars pledged to various projects. He hopes to put forth $200 billion federal money, and generate $800 billion of local money.
Other questions and comments focused on NAFTA, foreign policy, North Korea, opening Alaska’s remote Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil and natural gas drilling, wind energy, health care reform and the future of cannabis and hemp in Kansas.
Congress returns to Washington D.C. Monday, Jan. 8.