U.S. Congressman Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend) and his wife, Laina, stopped in Emporia last month on their way home for Thanksgiving.
The Marshalls toured the Hostess plant and stopped by The Emporia Gazette before heading to Roger’s parent’s home in El Dorado.
“I try to hit something new every trip,” Roger Marshall said. “I said, ‘Well, lets stop in Emporia.’ I’ve been here quite a few times, but I had not done the Twinkie factory.
“Who didn’t grow up eating Twinkies in their sack lunches?”
Laina Marshall said she was impressed by the story of how the community rallied to get the plant running again after a temporary closure in Nov. 2012.
“It’s part of central Kansas’ story in history,” she said. “I love when a community can come together to save a business that means so much. I love seeing people working together for a common cause.”
A member of the House Agriculture Committee, Roger Marshall said he enjoyed hearing about the different Kansas crops that are used at the plant. He said it was cool to see how all the pieces fit together with a factory using Kansas wheat, eggs, dairy and more.
During the tour, he spoke with plant personnel about some of the challenges they are currently experiencing. He said, much like the rest of the United States, the problems noted at Hostess were a lack of employees and the cost of health care.
That need for employees, according to Roger Marshall, can be seen “up and down” the chain of command, “from entry-level workers to engineers.”
“If I went up and told the governor that I have 50,000 - 70,000 jobs available right now, they’d be doing backflips,” he said. “The problem is that it’s 10 here and 15 there, and how do we get those positions filled by the right people within those communities.”
Roger Marshall said part of the solution in filling those positions is to fix the federal immigration system and secure the southern border with Mexico. This, he said, would increase opportunities for U.S. citizens. He added that scholarship programs for skilled labor training at places like Flint Hills Technical College and Emporia State University would also help pave the way to filling those jobs.
The Marshalls will be in Kansas for the long weekend, helping feed the troops a Thanksgiving meal at Fort Riley and heading to Great Bend before traveling back to Washington D.C. on Monday. When Roger Marshall returns, he said impeachment hearings for President Donald Trump will continue.
He said the hearings have prevented Congress from completing more pertinent work.
“The most frustrating thing is, we should have a vote on the USMCA (trade agreement),” he said. “The impeachment hearings have just taken all the air out of everything that we’re trying to get done. If we could vote on and pass the USMCA, it would mean hundreds of millions of jobs, and it’s been sitting on (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi’s desk since February. We’ve had the votes since February, but she won’t allow it to come to a vote.
“The impeachment hearings are causing a lot of collateral damage. We could be working on bringing drug prices down or several other important issues, but Congress can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.”
He said until the hearings end, he doesn’t expect to see headway on any of the other issues. The issue of impeachment has dominated the national attention, even clouding a possible government shutdown earlier this month from receiving coverage and discussion within the media and national conversation.
Roger Marshall did say, however, that he expects Pelosi will try to move the issue along sooner rather than later. He hopes that means he’ll soon be working on issues that have greater impact on his constituents.
“I try to match what I’m working on in Washington with the challenges that Kansans are facing,” he said.