Larry Joseph Dreiling – Democrat for Kansas Senate, District 40


(Photo courtesy Larry Dreiling)

Biographical Information:

  • Adjunct Professor; Fort Hays State University; Hays, KS; Spring 2013 to present.
  • High Plains Journal; Associate Editor, Dodge City KS, March 1989 to July 2001; Senior Field Editor, Hays, KS, July 2001 to May 2019. Responsible for production of award-winning enterprise features, spot news and photography for America’s leading weekly agricultural publication as principal reporter on farm policy, rural finance, health, and economic development issues. Served as president 2005-06, North American Agricultural Journalists; president 2000-01, American Agricultural Editors’ Association.
  • Previous experiences as a family farmer and rancher, weekly newspaper editor, city-county beat reporter for a daily newspaper, radio advertising sales representative, news director for a combination AM-TV broadcaster and radio disc jockey.

The following responses are from the candidate and have not been edited.

Personal Information:

Single. Never Married. Old (62) bachelor farm journalist. Caring for my widowed dad, who still lives at home. He’ll be 100 years old on Nov.9.

Campaign website/Facebook/Social Media:

Do you think KanCare should be expanded? Why or why not?

Yes, KanCare must be expanded to keep our small, critical access hospitals alive as well as keep our tertiary facility, HaysMed, from being overwhelmed with patients who normally would be placed in a CAH. On average, a critical access hospital in the 40th Senate District will gain on average of about $185,000 in new revenue and gain or retain six jobs in each county. This is the right thing to do.

What is your stance on the legalization of medical marijuana?

I am for a process leading to legalization of medical marijuana with the end result being full legalization of recreational marijuana. This will put us at a level field with neighboring states that likely will legalize weed before Kansas does.

Do you support any changes to abortion laws in Kansas? If so, what changes?

Let me put it to you as honest as I can. I am a 62-year old straight, single guy, still looking for a female companion. If you think I will tell any woman what she can or cannot do with her body, you must be crazy!

What are the issues you would address for farmers and ranchers?

There is little I can do as a state legislator compared to the enormous power our federal legislators have over direct farm policy. The Division of Water Resources, which is placed under legislative oversight, has done a tremendous job of developing Local Enhanced Management Areas to give local producers their ability to develop water conservation plans and decide their own future. The budget of Kansas is not equipped to fund broadband expansion. However, the state can create a regulatory environment that can welcome multiple broadband developers that can work to increase access, creating competition to reduce costs to consumers. Together with federal entities such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s area of Rural Development, which can fund projects through the Rural Utilities Service, we can fill in the gaps we’ve been seeing on the updated broadband maps. We can also work with neighboring states to create compacts to permit cross border shipments of state inspected products.

What are the key education issues in Kansas for K-12? For universities?

Everything starts with an answer to Question #14. No, I can’t cut the budget on K-12 schools. That’s illegal under the Gannon and Montoy cases. The Kansas Supreme Court is monitoring the Legislature’s actions and said our state should be on a path to equitable funding by 2022. I support the path to equitability, including continued monitoring by the Court. My primary concern for the Regents schools is Fort Hays State University. Without FHSU, there likely would be no western Kansas. I’ve heard discussion that as our population declines, possibly Emporia State University, FHSU, or both should close in a cost cutting move. Closing FHSU will happen over my dead Fighting Tiger body. We will fight for every Tiger cent, every program, every restored building, every student, every faculty and staff member. I will fight for them until the last Jayhawk dies. Got that eastern Kansas economic triage fans!

Are you satisfied with DCF? With the foster care system?

No, I’m not satisfied with DCF or the foster care system. The problem begins with assessment, then moves to treatment, that leads to staffing that all finishes with money. Simply put, the legislature doesn’t want to pay to help troubled kids in western Kansas. This is one of those things that easterners don’t fully understand about us out west. It’s a long way to get kids to placement for acute treatment. My opponent thinks we can virtually order the vendor that previously operated the care system in western Kansas. There’s no profit to it for them—even though it’s a non-profit. They can’t pay people enough money to live in rural Kansas and take care of these kids. So we send them far away, and their parents are no where near them to be a real part of their care. We have to do better by these kids to place them properly then help them through a foster system that virtually forgets them. This is one of these “It’s not my kids” issues—until it’s your kid that needs help. This takes money, which means higher taxes, which no one wants to pay. Find me a solution, I’m open to it. Just don’t include higher taxes to pay for it.

What is your response to the Black Lives Matter movement?

All lives matter when black lives matter.

What do you think needs to be done to promote social and racial justice?

Teach kids not to be racist, misogynistic, homophobic, or any other jerky behavior. If you’re a parent, don’t be like that. It doesn’t profit your business to be that way.

Are you in favor of police reform? If so, what should it look like?

Reform means change from a bad. In our neck of the woods, we seem to be OK, but we can always be more aware and informed as our little corner of the world becomes more diverse. What I think lots of people are driving at is give law enforcement more support to take the work of being social workers and teachers off their backs and let them catch bad guys. That means hiring more and better teachers and social workers to help people in trouble. Again, no one out here wants to financially commit to that, so we sit in the coffee shop (socially distanced) and complain. Yet the solution is in our wallet.

Did you or do you support business shutdowns to control the spread of the coronavirus?

I did support the shutdown, and I still do. It kept the virus under control, unlike now when all of the district’s counties are now in double figures for the virus. Lives mean more than money.

Would you support another statewide shutdown if coronavirus cases continued to rise? If so, what are the factors that would lead you to that decision?

I would support another shutdown. There is only one factor: Lives mean more than money. Our district is not immune to COVID-19 deaths. Let’s do this right. I will work to care for our people, to keep them safe. We will work to encourage people to wear their masks, wash their hands, and maintain social distances. I don’t care if wearing a mask hurts your “freedom.” This is not about “me.” It’s about “we.” Our grandparents and great grandparents weren’t selfish during a war against a Hun. We shouldn’t be selfish, either.

What do you think should be done to help the Kansas economy recover?

You think “I alone can fix it,” eh? Well, we can’t do it alone. This is something akin to the Great Depression. This will be a federal effort and state government will work to do its part. Gov. Kelly has worked to do her part. We have to stop the virus first, then take care of the economy. Once we are all safe via a vaccine, we can move toward further recovery.

Would you cut money for social services if it means lower taxes? Would you favor higher taxes for more social services?

We will not cut social services in this pandemic. The rich will pay more taxes. That’s all there is to it. This is a case of from whom much is given, much will be expected. Charlie Koch will just have to pay some taxes.

What should Kansas do to balance its budget? Will you support budget cuts for schools?

See question #5. The budget already is balanced. It’s unconstitutional for it not to be. I have a lot of dream ideas—great roads and beautiful parks, modern and secure schools that are community centers as well as education centers, hospitals and retail areas that are the pride of any small town—but the nightmare of this pandemic, the continuing struggle of funding K-12 in light of the Kansas Supreme Court decisions, and a group of extreme conservatives will no doubt keep our state holding on until we’re all safe and assured of being well.

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