For about an hour Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Claire McCaskill got to hear what’s on the minds of her Kansas City constituents as she brought her “McCaskill on Main Street Tour” to the area.
This was her fifth town hall meeting this week and McCaskill said the questions have been all over the board, ranging from the health care exchanges to legalizing marijuana.
“When I get out and talk one-on-one with Missouri’s folks, citizens, I learn things,” McCaskill told the audience who gathered in the Student Union at the University of Missouri-Kansas City for the town hall.
It is really interesting what themes have come up, she said.
“I’m totally taken aback by the number of questions and comments that have come up at the number of town hall meetings about the legalization of marijuana,” she said. “I didn’t expect that. I frankly spent more on that topic than any other topic so far, which is fascinating to me.”
Prior to taking questions, McCaskill said she was working on a bipartisan bill that would offer to sell bonds to international corporations that have parked profits overseas.
She was optimistic that this bill would pass because the interstate highway system is a legitimate federal activity and it would raise funding without deficit spending or raising taxes.
Among the things McCaskill addressed during the Kansas City town hall meeting:
When it comes to meaningful gun reform, efforts to reform background checks and gun show loopholes are not dead. She said a majority of people don’t like the idea that terrorist organizations can advise their operatives that if they make it into the United States, they can get military grade weapons at gun shows with no questions asked.
“I think some kind of sweeping reform that some advocate is probably not realistic,” McCaskill said.
McCaskill said she knows that the Affordable Healthcare Act is not perfect.
“I would be thrilled if my colleagues would come to the table and work with us to fix it,” she said. “But they believe they got a potent political weapon and they are not about to give it up before this election. They are going to swing it as hard and fast as they can. They are going to spread as much misinformation as they can.”
Regarding the affordability of health insurance on the exchanges, McCaskill said her office has worked with people calling with horror stories and once they separated fact from fiction, it turned out that they were qualified for more affordable insurance on the exchanges.
McCaskill said it looks as though a bipartisan agreement has been reached to extend federal unemployment benefits for six months.
In answering a question on whether she believes rape victims or war veterans who use marijuana for medical purposes should be incarcerated next to violent criminals, McCaskill said she obviously does not. She used that question to answer whether pot should be legalized.
“I think we got a great opportunity to see what happens in Colorado where they have legalized it on a state basis,” she said.
Some of her colleagues are expressing some “buyers’ remorse.”
“I think we should go carefully on this and ultimately I think the lead on this should not be at the federal government, but at the state level,” McCaskill said.