Kansas Common Sense
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Video: A Tradition of Listening to Kansans
Too often, elected officials do too much talking and not enough listening. As Kansas’ United States Senator, I have the privilege of taking my marching orders directly from Kansans. When it comes to making certain your voice is heard on Capitol Hill, I believe I can best serve my constituents if I’ve personally listened to your questions and concerns.
As a Member of the House of Representatives, I launched the “Big First Listening Tour” and held annual town hall meetings in each of the First District’s 69 counties. I have continued this tradition as Senator with the “Kansas Listening Tour,” and travel to each of our state’s 105 counties. Last month, I wrapped up my latest Kansas Listening Tour with a town hall meeting at the South Hutchinson Public Housing Authority. Now, with 210 completed during my time as U.S. Senator, my next Kansas Listening Tour is on Saturday, June 6 in Hays.
You can learn more about my upcoming Kansas Listening Tour stops by subscribing to my weekly newsletter at www.moran.senate.gov.
The VA Must Prioritize Veterans’ Access to Mental Health Care
I am pleased to join U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) as a sponsor of the Prioritizing Veterans’ Access to Mental Health Care Act (S.841). The legislation would allow veterans to receive immediate access to mental health treatment outside the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and offers incentives to prioritize hiring more mental health care professionals at the VA.
From the startling veteran suicide rate, to ongoing delays in hiring the thousands of licensed professional mental health counselors (LPMHC) and marriage and family therapists (MFT) needed within the VA, it is clear we have a crisis in this country when it comes to addressing the invisible wounds of war our veterans face. At a time when 50 percent of our service men and women returning home seek mental health care treatment, it is critical that the VA follow through on its commitment and responsibilities to offer the best quality health care our nation can provide. This legislation will help make certain no veteran feels abandoned by the country they served by supporting the development of a VA system capable of offering first-rate mental health care services. As the VA system attempts to reform, it is essential for veterans to have the opportunity to utilize the expertise of outside organizations and mental health professionals in their community. Click here to learn more.
The VA Choice Program Must Work Better for Veterans
In The Hill this week, Rep. Mullin (R-Okla.) and I outline our plan to help fix the VA’s flawed implementation of the Choice Program. The Veterans Access to Community Care Act of 2015 (S. 207) would make certain veterans like those in largely-rural states like Kansas are not excluded from accessing care promised through the Choice Program simply because of where they live. Our legislation calls on the VA to use its authority to provide veterans access to non-VA health care when the nearest VA medical facility within 40 miles drive time from a veteran’s home does not offer the care sought by the veteran.
With the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee reviewing the Choice Program this afternoon, I am hopeful the commonsense changes offered by the Veterans Access to Community Care Act will be adopted. We must make the Choice Program work as intended if we are to live up to our commitment to care for those who sacrificed so much for our country. Click here to read my column.
Senate Begins Debate on Trade Promotion Authority
This week, the Senate voted to begin debate on Trade Promotiona l Authority (TPA). I supported the procedural vote as I believe that trade issues, including TPA, warrant a full and open discussion in Congress. Trade impacts almost everyone and every industry in our state; farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, small businesses, and workers are just some of those directly impacted by global commerce. As the United States continues to engage economically with other nations, I believe it is important for Congress to provide oversight over trade negotiations and make sure we are advancing fair trade policies that benefit American workers, consumers and the U.S. economy.
TPA sets Congressional directives and priorities for any agreement being negotiated by our U.S. trade representative. It requires transparency in the negotiating process and public disclosure of potential agreements before approval. Importantly, TPA also ensures that Congress retains full authority to approve or disapprove any potential agreement – it’s essential that the American people get final say on any future trade deal through their elected representatives in Congress. In the coming days I will continue to monitor and engage on TPA and other trade issues that have potential to greatly impact Kansans. It’s an important issue for our country, and one that deserves a full debate in the Senate.
Medical Research must be a Priority to Confront Alzheimer’s and other Diseases
On Thursday, I spoke on the Senate floor about the importance of prioritizing biomedical research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to confront the staggering challenges of disease and illness. One such challenge is Alzheimer’s disease, a devastating and irreversible brain disease that slowly destroys an individual’s cognitive functioning, including memory and thought.
As Congress crafts appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2016, we face the challenging task of balancing effective, efficient government operation with the necessity of righting our nation’s fiscal course during challenging times. Therefore, it is extremely important that we prioritize initiatives that effectively serve the American people and demonstrate sufficient return on the investment of taxpayer dollars. No initiative meets these criteria better than biomedical research supported by the NIH. NIH-supported research has raised life expectancy, improved quality of life, lowered overall health care costs, and is an economic engine that strengthens American global competitiveness.
Today, more than 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. Every minute, someone in our country develops Alzheimer’s disease. It is the sixth leading cause of death in U.S., and it is the only cause of death among the top ten in America that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed. Within these grim statistics are immeasurable suffering and stress this disease places on individuals, families, and friends. In addition to this personal pain and distress, the growing Alzheimer’s crisis is jeopardizing Medicare. This year, the direct costs to America of caring for those with Alzheimer’s will total an estimated $226 billion. Half of these annual costs will be borne by Medicare. These daunting numbers mean that nearly one in five Medicare dollars is spent on individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. In 2050, this amount will be one in every three Medicare dollars.
We must commit to a national strategy for speeding the development of effective interventions for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Current research advances give us reason for hope. NIH is directing researchers to work smarter, faster, and more collaboratively to determine the best path for progress in Alzheimer’s disease research. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the NIH, I am committed to prioritizing NIH and support for Alzheimer’s research. Alzheimer’s disease is a defining challenge of our generation. The health and financial future of our nation are at stake and we simply cannot afford to ignore such a threat. Together, we can make a sustained commitment to Alzheimer’s research that will benefit our nation and bring hope and healing to future generations. Click here to watch my remarks.
USDA to Invest $6.5 Million in Ogallala Aquifer Region
This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it will invest $6.5 million in the Ogallala Aquifer region this year to help conserve billions of gallons of water and improve water quality. This funding will be targeted to seven priority areas in five states including Kansas to support their primary water source and strengthen rural economies. Parts of 36 Kansas counties are within the state’s targeted priority area, including: Cheyenne, Rawlins, Decatur, Norton, Phillips, Jewell, Republic, Sherman, Thomas, Sheridan, Wallace, Greeley, Wichita, Scott, Lane, Barton, McPherson, Hamilton, Kearny, Finney, Hodgeman, Pawnee, Stafford, Reno, Harvey, Sedgwick, Stanton, Grant, Haskell, Gray, Ford, Edwards, Pratt, Kiowa, Morton and Stevens counties.
Water is the lifeblood of Kansas communities and our state’s farm economy, and we need to do all we can to protect it for future generations. The Ogallala Aquifer has long been the main water supply for communities, businesses, homes and agriculture production in the high plains region of the United States, but it is being depleted at an unsustainable rate. This investment, through the Ogallala Aquifer Initiative (OAI) and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), will help protect and improve Ogallala Aquifer water quality while also helping farmers and ranchers find additional methods to reduce water usage without impacting production. This conservation investment builds on $66 million that NRCS has invested through OAI since 2011, which helped farmers and ranchers conserve water on more than 325,000 acres. Much of the funding invested by USDA has been matched or supplemented by individual producers. Click here to learn more.
Greeting the Kansas Honor Flight at the WWII Memorial
I was fortunate to greet an Honor Flight of Korean War and World War II veterans from Kansas on Thursday at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. These veterans represent the best of American ideals. I am always reminded when I visit the World War II, Korea and Vietnam Memorials that these men and women answered the call of duty in their country’s time of need because they believed in America. They served and sacrificed for the principles of our Founding Fathers, and the liberties and freedoms they provide.
It was good to see John Bird (front right), a WWII vet from Plainville and friend of my father, at the Memorial this week with his guardian for the trip, Joe Shaffer. To the delight of the veterans visiting on Thursday, former Kansas Senator Bob Dole greeted them as they passed through their Memorial. Senator Dole was a driving force in the creation of the WWII Memorial and it was a special experience for everyone in attendance.
Our country owes our veterans a great debt and it was a pleasure to welcome these veterans as they visited the World War II and Korean Memorials built in their honor. I am thankful for the service of our veterans and I will continue my work on their behalf, ensuring that they receive the benefits they have earned.
Senate Passes Legislation Calling for Release of Americans Held Captive in Iran
On Monday, the Senate approved a legislative measure expressing that it is the policy of the United States that the Iranian government’s detainments of Americans Pastor Saeed Abedini, former Marine Amir Hekmati and journalist Jason Rezaian are unjust, that these men should be released immediately, and that the United States should make every effort and utilize all diplomatic tools to secure their freedom. The measure also calls on Iran to assist the United States in the search for retired FBI agent Robert Levinson.
As the Obama Administration pushes for a nuclear accord with Iran, it is impossible to ignore the injustice suffered by Americans at the hands of the Iranian government. This resolution should make clear that, despite the Obama Administration’s efforts to separate these unjust detainments from ongoing nuclear negotiations, the United States disapproves of this behavior from the Iranian government.
Sponsoring Older Americans Act Reauthorization
I recently sponsored the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2015 (S. 192), which would reauthorize the Older Americans Act (OAA) through 2018. The OAA directs the delivery of a wide range of social services and programs for older persons. These services include home-delivered nutrition services; family caregiver support; and services to prevent the abuse, neglect and exploitation of older persons. This law also helps support senior centers in Kansas, which serve as a base for a wide range of important initiatives such as Meals on Wheels, health screenings, counseling and other support services for seniors and their families. S. 192 would update the OAA for the first time in almost a decade and was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on February 3, 2015. Such a reauthorization is more than three years overdue.
The availability of these health, nutrition and community services often determines whether Kansas seniors can remain in the communities they call home. Reauthorization of this law is long overdue. I urge the Senate to take up this important legislation and look forward to voting for the measure. This bipartisan bill would update and improve Meals on Wheels and other senior nutrition initiatives. It would also support senior centers and senior transportation programs, strengthen elder abuse protections, and improve coordination of senior programs among local, state and federal governments. Click here to learn more.
Supporting Rural Broadband at FCC Budget Hearing
This week, I also joined a group of 60 Senators in writing to FCC Chairman Wheeler to encourage the commission to complete its transition of the Universal Service Fund from a telephone support program into one that supports broadband in rural areas. On Tuesday, I had an opportunity to follow up with Chairman Wheeler in a hearing in the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee to examine the FCC’s FY2016 budget request. I questioned Chairman Wheeler about the upcoming broadcast incentive auction, rural call completion issues, and transitioning the Universal Service Fund from telephone support to broadband support in rural areas. I was pleased to learn the FCC is planning to pursue modifying this rural broadband support system by the end of the year. I often hear from Kansans about inadequate broadband access and mobile coverage. I will continue to encourage the FCC pursues commonsense policies that help deliver these services to more Kansans. To view clips of my questioning of Chairman Wheeler, please click here.
Now Accepting Applications for Fall 2015 Internships
The deadline for fall internship applications is quickly approaching, and anyone interested should submit their application before Friday, June 26. Application forms can be obtained and completed under the “Services” section of Sen. Moran’s website at www.moran.senate.gov. Applicants should submit a completed application form, resume, academic transcript, two letters of recommendation and a cover letter explaining the applicant’s interest in public service and goals of serving as an intern. Please submit required materials to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For questions, please contact Sen. Moran’s office at email@example.com or call 202-224-6521 and request to speak with the Intern Coordinator.
Kansans in the Office
Del Wiedeman, Sr. of WaKeeney
Kansas Reading Roadmap
Andrew Hysell of Topeka
Kansas ALS Association
Jamie Kennedy of Wichita
Colleen Wachler of Mission
Eisenhower Series Class of 2015
Sydney Blanton of Larned
Stephanie Kupper of Overland Park
Dee Longoria of Ulysses
Ginny Moxley of Council Grove
Judy Park of Wichita
Theresa Segraves of Overland Park
Kelly Truby of Wichita
Jeni Wagle of Wichita
Emily Wellman of Lawrence
Kathy Herzog of Wichita
Miki Bowman of Council Grove
Lora Cox of Valley Center
Marisel Walston of Lenexa
American Heart Association
Kaala Berry of Overland Park
Rex Bruce of Sublette
Kevin Harker of Leawood
Greg Johnson of Olathe
Stephanie Moss of Overland Park
Jonathan Wagner of Leawood
Falling Forward Foundation
Sam Porritt of Lawrence
Ed Corporal of Lawrence
International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, AFL-CIO, Local Lodge No. 839
Shaun Junkins of Wichita
Brian Alexander of Wichita
Lynne Strickland of Wichita
Larry Stafford of Bel Aire
Stan Chapman of Goddard
Tony Spicer of Wichita
National Marine Manufacturers Association
George Muffick of Independence
Bill Wallish of Neodesha
Wireless Internet Service Providers Association
Zacheng Peres of Iola
American Feed Industry Association
Eric Arnold of Overland Park
Diane Loiselle of Topeka
Doug Baldwin of Sabetha
Brain Aneurysm Foundation
Barry Holmes of Overland Park
Trauma Center Association of America
Kevin Hicks of Leawood
Family Medicine Congressional Conference
Lynn Fisher of Plainville
Carolyn Gaughan of Wichita
Rick Kellerman of Wichita
Daniel Nwachokor of Wichita
Diane Steere of Wichita
Stan Kozakowski of Overland Park
Financial Services Institute
Karen Lare of Fairway
Andy Mohn of Prairie Village
Shawn Mihal of Overland Park
Don Baxter of Wichita
Mark Jorgenson of Overland Park
John Elmore of Lawrence
Elysia Chao of Overland Park
Sharon Njeri of Overland Park
National Association of Truck Stop Operators
Guy Walker of Salina
Kansas Association of Realtors
Linda Briden of Topeka
John Brocker of Iola
Daryl Crotts of Wichita
Jon Fort of Garden City
Karen Gehle of Topeka
Marion Hawks of Topeka
Daniel Heady of Wichita
Jeffrey Hill of Prairie Village
Lilly Hill of Prairie Village
Jamie Holt of Wichita
Steve Doty of Wichita
Rob Hulse of Lawrence
Brian Jones of Pittsburg
Steven LaRue of Lawrence
Chonci Lekawa of Wichita
Michael McGrew of Lawrence
Deborah McMullen of Lawrence
Kathy Minden of Paola
Margaret Pendleton of Manhattan
John Ringgold of Topeka
Chris Rost of Salina
Crystal Swearingen of Lawrence
Cynthia White of Independence
Carrie Woodman of Topeka
Christian Zarif of Overland Park
Hal Humes of Topeka
National Community Pharmacists Association
Mike Larkin of Topeka
Van G. Coble of Winfield
Jody Rell of Sabetha
Brian Caswell of Baxter Springs
Daniel Reit of Kansas City
Mike Bellesine of El Dorado
Sam Boyajian of Gardner
Eric Haar of Topeka
Pat Doran of Topeka
Gene Zaid of Sterling
Lisa Steno-Bittel of Basehor
John Bush of Hutchinson
Dr. John Mull of Hutchinson
National Association of Publicly Traded Partnerships
Steve Johnson of Lawrence
John Petersen of Overland Park
North American Young Generation in Nuclear
Jonathan Frosch of Shawnee
Nathaniel Mingle of Ottawa
Leo Olcott of Olathe
Brad Richardson of Overland Park
Biological Ecological Sciences Coalition
Kellyann Jones-Jamtgaard of Kansas City
The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society
Dan Holdhusen of Kansas City
RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association
Jessica Cleveland of Fort Riley
National Association of Trailer Manufacturers
Tom Grieshaber of Waterville
Pam Trusdale of Topeka
National Electronic Contractors Association
Ryan Courtney of Wichita
Shawn Smith of Topeka
Petroleum Marketers Association of America
Tom Palace of Topeka
Scott Zaremba of Lawrence
Dave Achten of Overland Park
Bonnie Wilson of Beloit
Virginia Harding of Lenexa
William Clawson of Leawood
Marnie Clawson of Leawood
Mark Holcomb of Overland Park
Lauren Holcomb of Overland Park
Scott Farenthold of Solomon
Lindi Farenthold of Solomon
Hannah Farenthold of Solomon
Jessica Farenthold of Solomon
Katrina Farenthold of Solomon
Matthew Wilson of Tecumseh
Shannon Wuerflein of Tecumseh
David Haden of Hutchinson
Daniel Naccarato of Hutchinson
Thomas Reilly of Hutchinson
Jeff Hill of Leawood
Lillian Hill of Leawood
Joey Schulmeister of Topeka
Heather Schulmeister of Topeka
Robert Simmons of Topeka
Kristina Simmons of Topeka
Cindy Cunningham of Topeka
Andrew Mall of Kansas City
Lori Rogge of Leonardville
Connie Francis of Garden Plain
Sydni McBee of Clearwater
Raegan McBee of Clearwater
Janice Lindberg of Kansas City
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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