Kansas Common Sense
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Broken VA Must Work to Restore Trust
Last week during a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Hearing with Acting Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Sloan Gibson, I emphasized the need to examine VA’s top-level management who have handicapped trust among veterans and Members of Congress who advocate on their behalf. The VA’s bureaucratic and dysfunctional system has put veterans at risk. I stressed the need to create a VA culture that is compassionate toward our nation’s veterans and renews their trust in the VA system. I also shared whistleblower allegations I've heard from a number of Kansans that are deeply troubling. VA employees must be protected and comfortable revealing problems within the VA that could impact veteran care. Trust must be restored with this broken agency. Click here to see me question acting Secretary Gibson at the hearing.
Signaling Support for VA Secretary Nominee
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to meet with the nominee for Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Mr. Bob McDonald. I was impressed by his candor, sincerity and commitment to serving our nation’s veterans. Mr. McDonald shares my dedication to seeing that veterans receive the best quality care they deserve from an agency that is worthy of their service, and I plan to support his nomination. The VA bureaucracy must be dismantled, and Mr. McDonald is focused and ready to take on the many challenges that lie ahead. I look forward to working with Mr. McDonald when he is confirmed as the new VA Secretary.
Sending the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act to the White House
This week, Congress passed commonsense legislation and sent the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act — legislation I introduced with Senator Angus King of Maine — to the White House for President Obama’s signature. The bill would allow veterinarians to carry and dispense controlled substances to protect the health and welfare of the nation’s animals, ensure public safety, and safeguard the nation’s food supply. It makes certain licensed practitioners are equipped with the tools they need. It is particularly important for veterinarians who work in rural areas, conduct research or respond to emergency situations. Click here to learn more.
Reducing the Risk of Cutting a Bad Deal with Iran
Before Congress will consider scaling back the economic sanctions program that has helped bring Iran to the negotiating table, the Obama Administration and its negotiators must demonstrate the strength and soundness of any pending agreement with Iran. Last week, I joined two coalitions of U.S. Senators to implore President Obama’s negotiating team to avoid striking a bad deal with Iran in the final days of negotiations.
In the first of two letters to President Obama, I called on negotiators to address Iran’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles, which are considered to be the country’s preferred delivery method of a nuclear weapon. The second letter, sent to the President by a bipartisan Senate coalition, outlines Congress’ demand for specific provisions related to inspection, verification, disclosure and enforcement. These appeals to President Obama reinforce Congress’ necessary terms for a nuclear accord with Iran. It is critical that American negotiators make the most of this opportunity to reduce the threat of a belligerent or nuclear capable Iran — falling short of this goal carries risks the world cannot afford to take.
Meeting with Ft. Riley Commanding General Major General Paul Funk
This week, I met with Major General Paul Funk, Commanding General of the Big Red One. I was pleased to hear about the training capabilities Fort Riley offers soldiers and service members across the country. Major General Funk made it clear that Fort Riley focuses on resilience, sustainability and community, which benefits the Central Flint Hills Region as well as the thousands of service members who travel to Fort Riley for intense training and education. Although the Army is planning for reductions in the force, I am committed to working with Army leaders and seeking counsel from Major General Funk as we work together to support our troops and their families. An important topic we discussed was the possible transition of soldiers and their families to civilian life. I’m committed to this vital mission of taking care of soldiers and families and am proud to support Big Red One soldiers who are “Brave, Responsible and On Point.”
Congratulating Topeka Young Entrepreneur on National Recognition
On Wednesday, I met with a recent Shawnee Heights High School graduate and young entrepreneur Zach Haney of Topeka. Zach was in Washington, D.C., to accept the National Federation of Independent Business Young Entrepreneur Foundation Dan Danner Leadership Award and $15,000 scholarship for his efforts to create Carnival Guy Party Rentals, a carnival supply company in Topeka. More than 600 young entrepreneurs were considered for the award. In 2012, Zach started a free carnival for a local homeless shelter. That experience led Zach to develop one of the fastest growing event rental companies in Northeast Kansas. Zach will be attending Washburn University next year while running three separate businesses in Topeka. I always enjoy meeting with bright, young Kansans and commend Zach for pursuing his entrepreneurial efforts. To learn more about Zach’s businesses, click here.
Entrepreneurs like Zach are essential to the growth of the U.S. economy. In fact, research from the Kauffman Foundation shows that entrepreneurs and the new companies they create are responsible for nearly every net new job in the economy. That’s one of the reasons I introduced the Startup Act 3.0 to help lower barriers for entrepreneurs so they can do what they do best – follow their dreams, create jobs, and boost economic growth.
TechAmerica Foundation’s Legislator of the Year
On Wednesday, representatives of TechAmerica, one of the nation’s largest technology trade associations, presented me with their Legislator of the Year Award for my work on federal information technology (IT) procurement reform. The federal government will spend approximately $82 billion this year on IT. Following the disastrous and wasteful rollout of Healthcare.gov, I introduced legislation to improve the way government purchases, implements, and manages IT. The Federal IT Savings, Accountability and Transparency Act, S. 1843, would help to improve how the government purchases and manages technology investments by increasing accountability and transparency. In the process, the bill would cut waste to save billions in taxpayer funds and prevent management and accountability problems that have plagued various federal IT initiatives. In addition to this legislation, I requested a hearing in our Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee on Appropriations to explore these issues and learn about ways we can spend smarter, reduce waste, and get more value for the taxpayer. I’ll continue to work to make government more accountable to taxpayers when it purchases technology, and also improve the services technology can offer Americans. A special thanks goes to Mike Hettinger from TechAmerica for presenting the award.
Giving Remarks to Kansas Optometric Association Board and Leadership Class
It was great to give remarks at a Kansas Optometric Association meeting on Saturday morning at the K-State Alumni Center. I spoke about the importance of getting involved in your community and recruiting and retaining health care providers in rural America. We also had a discussion about Obamacare and the economy, as well as student loans and the cost of higher education. Thanks to Kansas Optometric Association's Dr. Todd Fleischer for the invitation to speak.
Meeting with Manhattan Veterans
On Saturday, I spoke at a meeting with about 40 Manhattan-area veterans. We discussed the importance of access to health care for vets in rural communities, the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Nominee Bob McDonald, the shortage of physicians and medical staff in rural communities, and the claims and appeals process. I will continue to work to make certain veterans receive the best quality care from an agency that is worthy of their service.
Referral Hawks Networking Ribbon Cutting with Lawrence Chamber
On Friday, I attended the ribbon cutting for Referral Hawks Networking along with the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. Referral Hawks is a nonprofit networking association that works with high character individuals by emphasizing friendship, business coaching, education and motivation. Organizations like Referral Hawks are crucial to making certain communities remain strong across Kansas and the nation. Here, I'm pictured with Lawrence Chamber President Larry McElwain and Lawrence Board of Realtors President Susan Bonham.
Ellis County Fair
On Friday, I was in Hays for the Ellis County Fair. I stopped by the 4-H Livestock Sale and then visited with the Walters family. Here, I'm pictured with Nate, his parents Marty and Anita, and his siblings Joe and Katy. Nate is a member of the Buckeye Junior Farmers 4-H Club and was awarded Grand Champion for his arts and crafts project, "Suit of Armour."
Four States Farm Show and 3i Show
As I travel across state, I appreciate hearing about the issues concerning our agricultural producers and our farming communities. Thanks to those who visited my booths at the 3i Show in Dodge City and the Four State Farm Show in Pittsburg over the past two weekends. The conversations centered around concerns with federal government overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wilflife Service.
Kansas in the Office
Kansas State University Extension Program
Elizabeth Kiss of Manhattan
Jamie Hancock of Topeka
National Center for Transgender Equality
Anna Bailey of Lawrence
Corine Schwarz of Lawrence
University of Kansas Cancer Center
Scott Weir of Olathe
Jack Cline of Lawrence
National Federation of Independent Business Young Entrepreneur
Zach Haney of Topeka
Heidi Haney of Topeka
Ron Haney of Topeka
Via Christi Health
Chris Okeke of Pittsburg
Bruce Witt of Wichita
Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America
Greg Tyler of Hutchinson
Future Business Leaders of America
Sarah Niederee of Great Bend
National Youth Leadership Conference
Ryan Geris of Shawnee
Isabel Thomas of Stilwell
Thayer Nelson of Manhattan
Joan Nelson of Manhattan
Madeleine Lewis of Overland Park
Katherine Lewis of Overland Park
Sara Sack of Parsons
Sue Schulte of Princeton
Tom Tibbits of Minneapolis
Sandy Tibbits of Minneapolis
Deb Timmons of Fredonia
Charles Foltz of Garnett
Marian DeWerff of Ellinwood
Melvin Rice of Leavenworth
Martha Rice of Leavenworth
Ryan Showalter of Gardner
Erin Showalter of Gardner
Margret McGee of Great Bend
Rebekah McGee of Olathe
Katelyn McGee of Olathe
Richard Mullen of Overland Park
Barbara Mullen of Overland Park
Gabby O’Toole of Overland Park
Greg Wingert of Topeka
Jana Wingert of Topeka
Jackson Wingert of Topeka
Samuel Wingert of Topeka
Mitchell Johnson of Wichita
Suzanne Johnson of Wichita
Lauren Johnson of Wichita
Emily Johnson of Wichita
David Rezac of Leawood
Carrie Rezac of Leawood
Jordan Rezac of Leawood
Jada Rezac of Leawood
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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