Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. Please feel free to forward it on to your family and friends if it would interest them.
This week, Republican Senators refused to allow the Senate to recess for the week of July fourth, so Congress and the White House can continue working toward an agreement on the debt ceiling. Because of this new schedule, I will return to Washington on Tuesday and the town halls that were scheduled for July 6-8 in the following counties must be re-scheduled: Republic, Jewell, Smith, Pratt, Barber, Harper, Reno and Stafford.
The struggling economy we are experiencing and the financial collapse around the corner is the most expected economic crisis in our lifetime. Americans deserve leadership in our Nation’s Capital to confront these challenges – yet Senate leadership continues to ignore these problems and has filled this week’s schedule with work on unrelated legislation.
The President and Congressional leaders must get past their empty rhetoric and get serious about confronting our debt crisis today. We know what is going to happen if we don’t act, and it would be immoral for us to look the other way or to kick the can down the road because the politics of these issues are too difficult to deal with.
- The Fourth of July: a Fight for Independence
- Confirmation of General Petraeus as Director of the CIA
- Bailing Out Other Countries
- First-ever Senate Community Pharmacy Caucus
- 2011 BIO International Convention
- Science Achievements of Kansas Student
- Visiting the State’s 127 Hospitals
- Visiting the Topeka Lions Club
- Goodyear Plant Visit
- On a Personal Note
- Listening Tour Continues
- Upcoming Listening Tour Stops
- In the Office
Every year on the fourth of July, Americans gather together to enjoy backyard barbeques, parades and fireworks, and to celebrate our country’s independence. We gather to express pride in our nation, and we gather to remind our children and grandchildren of the sacrifices made by previous generations, so we could have the opportunity to live in the freest and greatest nation in the world.
America still stands as a land of opportunity today because of the enduring power of the ideals upon which our country was founded. As citizens, we have a duty to defend those freedoms that generations of Americans have given their lives to establish and protect. We have the responsibility to be good stewards of what we have been given so we can pass to the next generation the life we love and lead.
Today, our nation’s young men and women in uniform are risking their lives to protect our own and to defend the principles we hold most dear. On this fourth of July, we honor these brave men and women, and we express our gratitude for their courage, dedication to duty, and love of country. Click here to read an editorial I wrote this week about the meaning of the fourth of July.
This week the Senate voted unanimously in favor of confirming General David H. Petraeus as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. I thank General Petraeus for his service to our country. As the commander in Iraq, he was instrumental in changing the course of the war and through his service in Afghanistan, he has continued to earn the trust of the American people. From 2005 to 2007, General Petraeus served as Commanding General of Fort Leavenworth, and the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center there. In that role he oversaw the Command and General Staff College and seventeen other schools, centers, and training programs. We are fortunate General Petraeus has chosen to continue the fight against terrorism in his new capacity as CIA Director.
Last year, European countries and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) provided Greece with a 110 billion euro bailout to help the country cope with its debt crisis. A year later, President Obama and others are pledging additional help to Greece. As a major contributor to the IMF, the United States could end up providing tens of billions of dollars or more in bailouts to Greece and, perhaps, other European countries in the future. American taxpayers are tired of bailouts; our own country has significant debt problems that we need to tackle.
I joined seven of my colleagues this week in asking Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner expressing concern about the President’s pledge to help Greece and asking what steps will be taken to protect American taxpayers. Later in the week, I voted to strip the U.S. Representative at the IMF of his authority to agree to additional loans to the IMF that could cost taxpayers billions. Despite the amendment not passing, I will continue working to protect taxpayers. Click here to read my letter to Secretary Geithner.
This week the creation of the first-ever U.S. Senate Community Pharmacy Caucus was announced. The purpose of the caucus is to advocate for community pharmacy issues while serving as a clearinghouse for ideas and information about the important role community pharmacies play in the delivery of health care. I will serve as co-chairman of the caucus along with my colleague Senator Jon Tester of Montana.
Community pharmacists are a vital part of our nation’s health care delivery system, and in many Kansas communities the local pharmacist is a patient’s most direct link to health care. Access to medications, health care supplies, and the counsel pharmacists provide is very important to the health and well-being of every American. This caucus will provide valuable resources to senators as we work to ensure all Americans have better access to affordable health care.
As one of the original founders of the Congressional Community Pharmacy Caucus in 2007, and lead sponsor of several pieces of legislation in the House – including the Community Pharmacy Fairness Act of 2009 and legislation to ease burdensome regulations for small pharmacies supplying medical equipment to patients – I am pleased to be able to continue my work on behalf of Community Pharmacists in the Senate.
On Tuesday, I attended the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s (BIO) 2011 International Convention in Washington, D.C., to meet with Kansans in attendance and to cut the ribbon opening the Kansas Pavilion on the convention floor. BIO is the world's largest biotechnology organization with more than 1,100 members worldwide. Their annual convention is the world's largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, attracting more than 15,000 attendees from around the globe. With specialization in agricultural products and research, testing and medical laboratories, and commercialization of bioscience discoveries, Kansas’ bioscience industry has grown at a faster rate than the national sector since 2001. According to Business Facilities Magazine, our state ranks as the fifth most vibrant bioscience economy in the nation. Thanks to the KansasBio team and president Angela Kreps for hosting me at the convention. Click here to see photos from the Kansas Pavilion ribbon cutting.
While I was at the BIO convention on Tuesday, I had the opportunity to meet with Prarthana Dalal, a recent graduate of Shawnee Mission East High School in Leawood, and winner of the International BioGENEius Challenge – a competition for high school students who demonstrate an exemplary understanding of biotechnology through science research projects. This is an outstanding achievement and I commend Prarthana for her hard work and dedication.
Prarthana beat out fourteen finalists from the United States, Canada and Western Australia and received an award of $7,500. Her project focused on hemoglobin genetics to better understand treatments for sickle cell disease. Congratulations to Prarthana and I wish her the very best in her education endeavors as she heads to college. Click here to see a photo from my visit with Prarthana.
On Monday, I was in Topeka to visit St. Francis Health Center, a 378-bed, not-for-profit Catholic health care provider, which is part of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System. St. Francis has cared thousands of patients and their families for more than a century since the sisters opened the facility in 1909.
During my visit, I had the opportunity to sit down with St. Francis President and Chief Executive Officer Robert Erickson and members of the health center’s board and medical staff to talk about implementation of the health care reform law, policies to reduce costs in our health care system, and the goals of improving patient outcomes and quality. Thank you to Mr. Erickson for hosting me and Cynthia Smith, Advocacy Counsel, for coordinating my visit. Also, thanks to the following individuals for participating in our discussion: Kim Brown, Chief Financial Officer; Scott Wells, Chief Nursing Officer; Ray Magee, Family Practice Physician; Tom Bell, President of the Kansas Hospital Association; and St. Francis Board of Directors David Fricke, Neil Dobler, JuliAnn Mazachek and Greg Schwerdt.
My stop at St. Francis Health Center completed my statewide tour of all 127 Kansas community hospitals. I began visiting community hospitals while representing the “Big First” district in the U.S. House of Representatives. The “Big First” is home to 75 of the state’s 127 community hospitals, and boasts more community hospitals than any other district in the country.
Visiting our state’s hospitals has afforded me the opportunity to learn firsthand the vital and diverse role each hospital plays in the health of its community, and to visit directly with the folks across our state providing this care each and every day. This information is useful to me as I work in the Senate to improve our health care system. Kansas communities are built around hospitals and access to quality, affordable health care. Without this access, older Kansans are unable to remain in the communities they know and love and their children will not return to raise families of their own. Another thanks to St. Francis staff for presenting me with a cake to celebrate concluding this statewide hospital tour. Click here to read more about it.
Lions Clubs work to make Kansas communities strong and I have been a proud member of the Hays club for many years. The Lions Clubs motto is “We Serve,” and the more than 6,500 Lions in Kansas exemplify this selfless spirit.
I was pleased to join the Topeka Lions Club for their meeting on Monday where I had the honor of presenting the Lion of the Year Award to Mr. Les Carlson who tirelessly serves his community. Over the last year, the Topeka Club worked closely with the Boys and Girls Club, received more than 530 pairs of glasses for recycling, and recently held a successful golf tournament to benefit the Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Many thanks to the leadership and members of the Topeka Lions Club for all you do in our Capitol City. Click here to view a photo of my visit.
Also on Monday, I visited the Goodyear Plant in Topeka. Goodyear is one of the world’s leading tire manufacturers and we are fortunate to have them in Kansas. The Topeka facility is one of the largest plants in the nation and has become a leader in system efficiency. For nearly 65 years, Goodyear has put hundreds of Kansans to work and played a key role in the economic development of Topeka.
I enjoyed visiting with employees during my tour and was impressed with their dedication to high quality work. Goodyear’s employees take great pride in their work – all the more reason Goodyear will continue to create jobs in Topeka and make a difference in the Kansas economy for years to come. Thank you to Plant Manager Tim Davis for the tour, and to Doug Kensinger of the Topeka Chamber for joining me. Click here to view a photo from my plant tour.
Robba and I are proud to announce the marriage of our oldest daughter, Kelsey, to Brandon Harder, son of Randy and Jane Harder of Haven, Kansas. Brandon and Kelsey were married this weekend at the First United Methodist Church in Manhattan, Kansas.
On Saturday evening, I had the joy of walking Kelsey down the aisle as she and Brandon began a new chapter in their lives together. I imagine most dads would agree – when the wedding day comes, it’s hard to believe your little girl has grown up. Robba and I were thankful so many friends and family members could join us in the celebration.
Brandon and Kelsey first met in 2009 when they were students together at K-State. Brandon will continue his work on agricultural outreach as a member of my staff, based in my Wichita office. In the fall of 2012, the couple will move to Washington, D.C. so Kelsey can attend Georgetown Law School. Click here to view a photo of the new couple.
I continued my listening tour this week and traveled to Riley County to visit with local residents. I was in Manhattan on Saturday morning visiting with the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce at the Historic Union Pacific Depot, and appreciated the opportunity to discuss a wide range of topics with local residents including the national debt, jobs, NBAF and energy process. Thank you to Lyle Butler, president of the Manhattan Chamber for hosting the event. I always appreciated the chance to visit with local residents so I can gain a better understanding of their views and the ways I can better serve them in Washington, D.C.
This month and next, I am continuing my statewide listening tour. Please find more information about my upcoming town hall meetings below. If you’re nearby, I encourage you to stop by and share your thoughts.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Cowley County, Arkansas City
Address: 125 North Summit
Time: 11:30 a.m.-12: 30 p.m.
Chautauqua County, Sedan
Location: Chautauqua County Farm Bureau
Address: 230 E. Main
Time: 1:45-2:45 p.m.
Montgomery County, Coffeyville
Location: Coffeyville Community College Technical Campus
Address: 600 Roosevelt
Time: 4:00-5:00 p.m.
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office from across the state, including the Kansans listed below. Click here to view photos of some of the visits.
Kansas Livestock Association
Frank Harper of Sedgwick
Mike Beam of Topeka
Philips Electronics North America
Dan Mendicina of Salina
David Nesting of Salina
Clare Gustin of Hays
Wayne Penrod of Hays
Heartland Plant Innovations
Forrest Chumley of Manhattan
Rob Berard of Manhattan
Kansas Music Educators Association
Mike Quilling of Holcomb
Rosanna Quilling of Holcomb
John Taylor of Wichita
Avian Bear of Lenexa
Cathy Hunt of Lawrence
National Association of Secondary School Principals
Jacque Feist of Dodge City
Kansas Association of School Nurses
Christine Tuck of Meriden
Garrie Oppitz of Topeka
Joann Wheeler of Wichita
Katrina Benyshek of Ulysses
Polly Witt of Garden City
Cindy Galemore of Olathe
Barbara Damron of Liberal
Greta Byars of Ulysses
Kennedy and Coe, LLC
Jesse McCurry of Wichita
Marc Johnson of Topeka
National Youth Leadership Council
Evan Weisgrau of Lawrence
AFS Youth Exchange and Study Program
Fatima Deen Farwa Damlani of Neodesha
Neriman Erol of Olathe
Nelly Gyebi of Moundridge
Fadilla Irbar of Wichita
Dennis Ireri of Kechi
Sirin Satthatips of Fredonia
Siti Aisyah Izzati Shuid of Topeka
David Sommi of Overland Park
Many Kansans stopped by this week for a tour of the United States Capitol including: Ronald and Susan Hales of Derby and their children Brittany and Natalie; Judd and Amy Liebau of Wichita and their childrenChance and Camden; Norman and Cynthia Shay of Overland Park; Curt and Mary Parry of Narka and children Chris, Sarah and Amber; Eric and Ramona Nelson of Shawnee; Scott and Erin Rambo of Shawnee; Delaney and Aubrey Nelson of Kearney, MO; Charles and Elizabeth Hyland of Leawood and children Andrew, Clare and Luke; David and Staci Landis of Newton and children Joshua, Abigail, Elizabeth and Jacob ; and Ivan Katzenmeier of Hutchinson.
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Please let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.
Very truly yours,
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