Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks 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.
Although many pressing issues remain unaddressed in Washington, the Senate is out of session for August recess. I believe my colleagues and I should be in Washington working to solve the country's problems, but unfortunately Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sets the agenda and the floor schedule. I spent the week in Kansas attending several events across the state. I always appreciate the opportunity to be back and enjoyed my conversations with Kansans.
Fighting Potential Cuts at Ft. Riley and Ft. Leavenworth
This week I joined the Kansas Congressional delegation in reaching out to Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno to fight potential cuts to personnel at both Ft. Riley and Ft. Leavenworth. These proposed cuts are a result of the Army’s Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment (SPEA), and could potentially cut up to 2,500 positions between the two facilities.
Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division share a proud history with the United States Army that continues to evolve. Fort Leavenworth is home to the Command and General Staff College, a unique and irreplaceable national asset to the U.S. military. Ft. Leavenworth also has the National Simulation Center, Combined Arms Center and Army Lessons Learned Center which all play an important part in the Army’s ability to change doctrine, tactics and training when necessary. These assets allow Fort Leavenworth to perform a variety of crucial tasks for the U.S. Army.
Both Ft. Riley and Ft. Leavenworth fulfill critical missions for the Army and are strongly supported by their local communities and their state. Each military installation needs to make sacrifices, but now is not the time for Ft. Riley and Ft. Leavenworth to shoulder the burden of further cuts. I am confident that Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth can not only meet, but exceed any additional challenges at as little cost to the taxpayer as possible.
Possibility of Executive Action on Amnesty
There are real concerns that President Obama will take unilateral action while the Senate and House are in recess and provide amnesty to close to one million immigrants who have entered our country illegally. The President has repeatedly proven he will side step the role of Congress when he finds it politically expedient. On an issue of such significance, the American people deserve to have their voices heard through an open process.
Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Democrats should allow a vote on the House-passed anti-DACA Bill. I am a cosponsor of a Senate version of this legislation and believe Americans’ elected representatives should be allowed to debate and vote on whether amnesty should be given to millions of illegal immigrants. It is important for the future of our country that we create an immigration system that is fair, efficient, meets the needs of the American economy, and eliminates illegal activity.
Kansas Listening Tour Stops in Ashland and Coldwater
I continued my Kansas listening tour this week with stops in Clark and Comanche Counties. I started Thursday in Clark County at the Ranch House café in Ashland. It was good to see so many local residents come by to have a conversation, including the Ashland High School government class taught by Mr. Mark Hoffhines. The rural way of life dominated most of the discussion, which encompassed agriculture as well as access to health care, education and the VA. Thanks to Frank York for coordinating the town hall, and to Nina Glaser for letting us use the Ranch House for the conversation.
Also in attendance at the Ashland town hall was Bill Neier of the Stockgrowers State Bank in Ashland. Bill is a volunteer firefighter and wanted to display a fire truck that Ashland’s Fire Department attained through military surplus. After the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) halted the transfer of surplus military equipment to local governments last month, the Kansas delegation sent a letter to the EPA and the U.S. Army TACOM requesting re-implementation of the use of military vehicles for rural fire departments. The EPA and Defense Logistics Agency reached an agreement to again allow states to acquire this equipment.
After visiting with folks in Ashland, I drove to Coldwater to hold another town hall at the Comanche County Court House. The discussion focused on the President’s executive powers and overreach, illegal immigration, and the overall future wellbeing of this country. Thanks to the Comanche County Clerk’s office and County Clerk is Alice Smith for letting us use the venue. Pictured here is Shirley Norton of Protection.
Kinsley Community Visit
On my way to Ashland, I stopped in Kinsley and visited with folks at City Hall, the Post Office, the USDA Service Center, Edwards Co. Sentinel, County Extension, and the Farm Bureau. I also stopped by the home of Jake and Susan Roenbaugh. In addition to being a Kinsley farmer, Susan is a former state legislator who served as chairwoman of the State House Agriculture Committee. Finally, I had the chance to stop by Kinsley Drug to say hello and enjoyed meeting the team. Pictured from left to right are Annie Cyphers, Max Sherard, Mickey Avery and Brad Eustance. Thanks for the good dose of Kansas common sense.
Visiting Trego County-Lemke Memorial Hospital in WaKeeney
On Friday morning, I was in WaKeeney to visit Trego County-Lemke Memorial Hospital, a 25-bed critical access hospital that provides inpatient, outpatient and emergency services. This hospital also offers patients with family care clinic services, long term care, an assisted living complex, and a home health care agency that serves Kansans living in Ellis, Gove, Graham, Ness and Trego Counties.
It was good to catch up with Dr. Clark, Dr. Lang, nurses and staff. We discussed initiatives to recruit and retain health care providers to address medical workforce challenges in rural Kansas, the importance of critical access hospitals to our state’s health care delivery system, and concerns about sufficiency of Medicare reimbursements and federal regulatory burdens rural hospitals face as they work to provide quality care to local residents. I appreciate having the opportunity to talk with hospital CEO Dave Augustine – thank you for hosting me.
KAYS, KXXX and KLOE Interviews
While driving in western Kansas on Friday, I had the chance to visit with a few local radio stations including Curtis Duncan on KLOE Radio and Joe Vyzourek at KXXX. I also I stopped by Eagle Communications in Hays for an on-air interview with Scott Boomer of KAYS Radio. During the interview, we discussed a number of topics including my Kansas Listening Tour stops in Western Kansas, efforts to bring VA health care closer to home for our veterans, lesser prairie chicken listing, and the importance of Critical Access Hospitals to our rural communities. Thanks to Boomer, Curtis and Joe for having me on-air and allowing me the opportunity to discuss these important issues with them.
Service Academy Nomination Application Deadline
With students headed back to school this month, I want to remind interested students that the application deadline for nominations to the U.S. Service Academies will be here soon. I consider appointments to the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy one of my most treasured responsibilities as U.S. Senator. Each fall I appoint a 20-member selection board to interview the applicants and help me make the tough decisions. This year’s application are due to my Olathe office on Friday, September 12, 2014. If qualified, applicants will interviewed at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene on Saturday, October 18, 2014. For more information about eligibility and the application process please check my website. For additional questions please contact Lisa Dethloff in my Olathe office by email or by calling 913-393-0711.
Kansas in the Office
Salina Regional Health Center
Tom Bell of Salina
Jere and Judy Wiechman of Barnes
Jeffery and Jill Stockham of Lenexa
Lindsay Stockham of Lenexa
Mathew Stockham of Lenexa
Heather Harper of Olathe
Connor Harper of Olathe
Joseph Chapes of Manhattan
Honored to Serve You in Washington
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Thank you to the many Kansans who have been calling and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the issues our state and country face. I appreciate the words of Kansans, whether in the form of a form of letter, a Facebook comment or a phone call, who wish to make their voice heard.
Very truly yours,
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