Kansas Common Sense
Apr 09 2012
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.
I hope you and your family had an enjoyable and meaningful Easter. I spent the day with family in my hometown of Plainville, where we joined the congregation of the First Christian Church to worship on Easter Sunday. We also had lunch after church with my Dad at the hospital. Thanks to our friends who joined us and the cooks and staff at Rooks County Medical Center for feeding us.
I traveled in Kansas this week as Congress is out of session for the spring district work period. I had the opportunity to visit several businesses, universities and civic organizations during my travels throughout Southeast Kansas.
JOBS Act Signed into Law
On Thursday, President Obama signed into law the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, H.R. 3606, a compilation of revisions to our securities laws designed to allow small businesses to expand and create jobs. Research shows that young companies less than five years old accounted for nearly all net job creation in the United States from 1980 to 2005. With the signing of the JOBS Act, we’ve taken an important step to helping the innovators in our economy who are responsible for creating millions of jobs each year. But with unemployment above 8 percent for the 38th straight month, Congress and the President must do more to help entrepreneurs start businesses and for those new businesses to grow more quickly.
Sen. Warner and I have introduced legislation called the Startup Act, which is based on a simple premise: the easier it is for creative individuals to take risks and start a business, the more jobs will be created. The Startup Act would create tax incentives that will spur investment in startups, further reduce the regulatory barriers that make it harder for startups to grow, and keep highly-skilled, American-educated workers here in the United States where their talents and new ideas can fuel economic growth. The Startup Act should be next on Congress’ job creating agenda.
Helping Community Bank Raise Capital, Increase Lending
The JOBS Act also includes a provision I supported that will expand the ability of small banks to raise capital and increase lending to local communities by raising the existing and outdated 500 “shareholders of record” threshold for Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) registration.
Since 1964 community banks in Kansas have been limited in the number of shareholders they can have before they are required to register with the SEC. This registration process is costly so there is a strong incentive for a bank or small company to remain below the 500-shareholder limit – liming the amount of capital a bank can raise and the amount of lending it can do to the community. I am pleased Congress took action to raise the shareholder limit – something I originally proposed last year in my Communities First Act, S. 1600. This policy change is just one of the pieces of the puzzle and I will continue to push for full adoption of S. 1600 and other pieces of legislation to reduce regulatory burden and facilitate job creation.
Tour of GE Aviation Services Shop
On Tuesday morning, I was in Arkansas City at Strother Field to tour the General Electric (GE) Services Shop, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2011. Workers at the facility overhaul and repair aircraft jet engines for military and commercial aircraft. The facility also does overhauls and other maintenance work on helicopter engines. GE is one of Cowley County’s largest employers with approximately 1000 employees, and the Strother Field facility spans 39 acres and contains three buildings ranging from 50,000 to 80,000 square feet. I was able to visit one of the facility’s test cells, which simulates different conditions to test the durability and performance of various engines. GE has multiple service centers around the world in China, Singapore, and Brazil. We are fortunate to have a center of this caliber, like the one at Strother Field in such close proximity to Wichita. Thanks to Plant Manager Cristina Seda-Hoelle, who conducted the tour, along with her colleagues Todd Handlin and Gary Collins. I also enjoyed meeting Tracy McMahon, the HR manager at the GE facility, and Dr. Scott Rogers, dentist and President/Chair of Arkansas City Area Chamber of Commerce, who joined us on the tour. Click here to view a photo from my visit.
Visiting Coffeyville Rotary and Chamber
Communities across our state are strengthened by Kansans who participate in civic clubs.
On Tuesday I had the privilege of joining fellow Rotarians in Coffeyville for their weekly meeting. I was very happy the members of the Coffeyville Chamber were also able to attend and join our discussion on issues ranging from the Department of Labor’s proposed farm regulations to taxation. It was great to see some long-time friends and meet some new ones. Thank you to the Coffeyville Rotary Club for your volunteer work and special thanks Chamber President Yvonne Hull and to Dr. Ralph Alter for his hospitality in hosting me. Click here to view a photo from my visit.
Touring Independence Community College
Tuesday afternoon I was pleased to visit the West Campus of Independence Community College (ICC). It was an honor to meet Dr. Daniel Barwick, ICC president, and his wife, Carin, as well as so many others who accompanied me on my tour. I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn about the programs offered at ICC. In addition to the Adult Basic Education program the facility houses the ICC school of cosmetology, a two-year Veterinary Technology Program, and a spacious community room. Dr. Barwick gave me a tour of the cosmetology area and explained about the organization’s career tech-education and workforce development focus. Afterward, Dr. Ann Dutton, Director of the Vet-Tech program, provided a thorough tour of the vet-tech area of the facility. She described the two year program, which will celebrate its first graduating class this year. The Vet-Tech area was complete with an outdoor dog run, x-ray capabilities, an isolation room, and a surgical unit.
Special thanks to all who took time out of their busy schedules to make me feel welcome, including Travis Githens, Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs; Misty Githens, Vice President of Marketing and Resource Development; ICC Trustee Hoite Caston; and Jim Correll, Entrepreneur Faciliator. Thanks also to Montgomery Co. Sheriff Robert Dierks and Undersheriff Troy Mackie. Click here to see a photo from the tour.
Visiting Columbus Telephone and Craw-Kan Telephone
Rural telecommunication services are vital to residents across Kansas. This week I visited Columbus Telephone in Columbus and Craw-Kan Telephone Cooperative in Girard. Both facilities allowed me the opportunity to tour their sites and visit with the employees about the ever-changing field of telecommunications. I welcomed the opportunity to speak with both companies about the impact FCC regulations have on their operations. Thank you to Trish Carroll at Columbus Telephone and Craig Wilbert at Craw-Kan for the informative tours. I appreciated the Craw-Kan board members and employees joining our conversation. Click here to see photos from the stops.
Fort Scott Community College Visit
On Wednesday, I was in Fort Scott and made a visit to Fort Scott Community College. Being the oldest continuously operating community college in Kansas, the school has a long tradition of success educating Kansans in a wide variety of fields. FSCC has facilities in Frontenac, Paola, and Pittsburg that offer everything from more traditional programs like math and science to hands-on technician training for Harley Davidson. Innovative teaching and education is important for preparing students for successful careers in the 21st century economy. Thanks to everyone at FSCC for their hospitality and hosting me: Dr. Clayton Tatro, President; Donna Estill, Chief Academic Officer; Karla Farmer, Chief Business Officer; and Steve Armstrong, Chief Student Services Officer. Click here to see a photo from the visit.
Visit to Age-to-Age Preschool at Windsor Place of Iola
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to tour the Age to Age Preschool at Windsor Place of Iola. This preschool is a unique collaboration that began in 2010 between the Iola School District (USD 257) and Windsor Place, a care facility offering seniors assisted living and skilled nursing services. Age-to-Age is housed in Windsor Place’s building. The classroom is organized where children are partnered at various points throughout the day with the Windsor Place residents to read, exercise and learn. This is the second classroom of its kind in Kansas, and this model holdd great benefit for both the children and seniors involved. Thanks to Iola School Superintendent Brian Pekarek for his invitation to visit Age to Age and to the staff and residents at Windsor Place for their hospitality. Click here to see a photo from the visit.
Visit to Ottawa University
After visiting Age to Age Preschool in Iola, I was able to travel to Ottawa to visit the beautiful campus of Ottawa University. Founded in 1865, OU has a proud heritage of educating students for lifetimes of faith, service, leadership and significance. Today, OU serves more than 7,000 students through its residential campus in Ottawa, its adult and professional studies campuses in Phoenix, Milwaukee, Kansas City, and the Louisville/Jeffersonville areas, and its online programs. The university has a strong liberal arts tradition and offers a robust curriculum at the undergraduate and graduate levels. During my visit, I saw how active OU students are in the Ottawa community, making the school a center of activity in town and adding to the richness of this Kansas community. Thank you to Ottawa University President Kevin Eichner for his hospitality during my visit.
Visiting Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City
On Thursday, I was in Kansas City at the Children's Mercy Hospital and Hall Family Outpatient Center to see how research conducted there improves the care of pediatric patients throughout Kansas and the region. Children’s Mercy provides more than 40 pediatric specialty services to patients and has the area's highest and most comprehensive level of neonatal intensive care, the region's only level I pediatric trauma center, and nationally recognized pediatric specialists, surgeons, and nurses.
The hospital has recently partnered with the University of Kansas Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health to build research infrastructure through a new program called “Frontiers: The Heartland Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.” Frontiers is a network of scientists and doctors working on translational research – research focused on transforming laboratory discoveries into treatments and cures for both adult and pediatric patients. Children’s Mercy is already at the forefront of children’s health and this partnership will continue the development of the hospital’s research. The Frontiers program is significant because it brings together a variety of different health care institutions to work toward the shared goal of advancing patient-centered research.
Thank you to the following individuals at Children’s Mercy for hosting my tour of their impressive facility: Randall O’Donnell, President and CEO; Sandra Lawrence, Executive Vice President and CFO; Charles Roberts, Executive Vice President and Executive Medical Director; Michael Artman, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Director of Research Strategy and Implementation; Gregory Kearns, Chair of Research Development and Clinical Trials; Genny Nicholas, Vice President of Government Relations; and Dallas Polen, Chief of Public Policy Strategy. Click here to see a photo from the visit.
Joining Members of Manhattan Konza Rotary
I also had the opportunity to visit the Manhattan Konza Rotary club on Friday. Our discussions included gas prices, overregulation from Washington and taxes. Thank you to President Bill Lansdowne for hosting me and to Jeff Chapman for welcoming me as his guest.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below. Click here to view photos of some of the visits:
Kansas Optometric Association
Ron Hansen of Hutchenson
Larry Stoppel of Washington
Chad Thompson of Beloit
Gary Robbins of Topeka
Rachel Hays of Kansas City
Janice Britton of Kansas City
Many Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the U.S. Capitol this week including:
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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