Kansas Common Sense


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Consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act
This week the U.S. Senate considered various amendments to the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act. I am pleased about the full, open discussion that has taken place in the Senate this past week regarding this legislation, which will authorize programs and funding to support our nation’s Armed Forces for the upcoming fiscal year 2016. The bipartisan effort to debate policies relevant to the strength of our Armed Forces is encouraging, and I am hopeful we will come to an agreement as we continue to discuss and vote on amendments to the bill this week.

As part of the effort to strengthen our Armed Forces, I spoke on the Senate Floor in support of an amendment that I sponsored to make certain our U.S. Army is able to maintain the current number of Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) to prevent further reductions to the total Army force structure. In the midst of the evolving threats to our national security, it is more important than ever to ensure our Army remains ready and resilient. This particular amendment is especially important to Kansas, where bases like Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley could face reductions if the Army is forced to make tough decisions to the increased budget constraints. It is important that my colleagues in the Senate support this amendment and understand the real impact on defense communities, and the morale of the families and soldiers who safeguard our freedom. Those who call Kansas home and serve in the Big Red One at Fort Riley and the Intellectual Center of the Army at Fort Leavenworth deserve to continue their careers serving in the Army and protecting our nation.

I am also a sponsor of an amendment offered by Senator Mike Lee of Utah to safeguard the use of military training ranges from the potential impact of listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Its listing could have major consequences on the availability and use of training ranges, costs of managing impacted military lands, restrictions of the use of certain weapons and equipment within training ranges, and prohibit future military development and modernization. Potentially disrupting activities at military installations located in the Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat area is yet another example of the uncertainty and havoc caused by the decision to list the bird as a threatened species. I will continue to make the case that more regulations hindering the economy from the federal government and increased intrusion into lives and businesses of stakeholders is not the answer for conserving the bird. 

Welcome back to Kansas, Major General Grigsby
This week I had the opportunity to meet with Major General Wayne Grigsby, the incoming Commanding General to lead the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley. Maj. Gen. Grigsby will assume command following Maj. Gen. Funk, who is currently serving in Iraq. Grigsby is returning to Kansas after numerous deployments overseas, where he proved to be an effective warrior and leader. Prior to his deployments he spent time at Fort Leavenworth – first while attending the Command and General Staff College, and then years later to pursue a master’s degree in military arts and sciences through the Advanced Military Studies Program. I am pleased to welcome Maj. Gen. Grigsby and his family back to Kansas to lead the Big Red One.

Announcing Northrop Grumman New Supplier Symposium
As U.S. Senate Aerospace Caucus Co-Chair, it was a pleasure to announce that Northrop Grumman Corporation, the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition (GWEDC) and I will co-host a Northrop Grumman New Supplier Symposium at the National Center for Aviation Training (NCAT) in Wichita on July 2, 2015. The supplier conference will help facilitate business between Kansas companies and Northrop Grumman, and will enable suppliers to meet one-on-one with representatives from Northrop Grumman.

Given Kansas’ reputation as the national leader in aviation manufacturing and job creation, it’s no wonder global aviation manufacturers like Northrop Grumman are eager to tap into the talents of Kansans. Wichita is the ‘Air Capital of the World’ for good reason – it is the only place in the world that offers 90-years of experience in aviation manufacturing, access to the world’s largest supplier base, and aircraft workers and training that are second to none. Because exports are so vital to Kansas’ economy and Kansas jobs, our state must continue to build quality products in order to stay competitive in the global marketplace. I am proud to host the Northrop Grumman New Supplier Symposium, which will help make certain that when Northrop Grumman looks for new U.S. suppliers, it looks to Kansas companies. 

There are more than 450 companies in Kansas’ aerospace industry, accounting for more than 32,000 direct jobs. Northrop Grumman makes an important contribution to our state’s economy, as it currently partners with more than 180 Kansas businesses. Over the past three years, the company has committed more than $132 million with suppliers in Kansas, including more than $30 million in 2014. In addition, Northrop Grumman employs more than 640 Kansans at facilities in Olathe and Fort Leavenworth (providing training programs for the U.S. Army, Army National Guard and Department of State) and Topeka (providing depot repair for the U.S. Postal Service). Click here to learn more about the symposium.

Walmart Distribution Center
This week, I toured the Walmart Distribution Center in Ottawa to learn more about their economic impact on the community. The facility employs more than 800 individuals making it Franklin County’s largest employer. The 1.4 million square foot distribution center and warehouse has been part of the Ottawa community for 20 years and fills orders in support of both Walmart super stores and smaller market stores.

There are many job opportunities for Kansans at the distribution center, and Walmart strongly supports hiring our nation’s veterans. In addition, Walmart initially projected hiring 100,000 veterans by 2018 regardless of when they left active service. However, in just two years, they have already hired more than 92,000 veterans – many within their first 12 months off active service. Walmart is now projecting to hire 250,000 veterans between 2013 and 2020. I commend the company’s commitment to employing our nation’s service men and women. Thanks again to General Manager Tina Albers for the tour and to Mayor Mike Skidmore, Chamber President John Coen, and Franklin Co. Development Council Executive Director Jeff Seymour for joining us.

Osawatomie Rotary Club
After my tour of the Walmart Distribution Center in Ottawa I traveled to Osawatomie, where I visited with members of the Osawatomie Rotary Club at their weekly meeting. We discussed a number of important local, state and national issues including the need for banking regulatory reform and the overreach of the EPA in their interpretation of the “waters of the U.S.” We also discussed concerns about the Osawatomie State Hospital. Thanks to Miami County Commissioner George Pretz for joining us, and to the several guests of School Superintendent Gary French. It was also great to see Tim Long, Mike Moon, and the other Rotarians who were there to meet with me. Special thanks to Ivy Witt Cole for her welcome and introduction. 

Visiting Miami County Medical Center
On Monday, I was in Paola to visit Miami County Medical Center (MCMC). MCMC is a 39-bed hospital offering a wide range of health care services to the citizens of Paola and surrounding communities in Miami County. Recently, MCMC was recognized by the Joint Commission – a health care accrediting organization – as a top performing hospital in the treatment of conditions such as heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and stroke. The hospital is also designated as an Emergent Stroke Ready hospital by the American Heart Association, and was awarded a top rating by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for patient satisfaction.

When I visit Kansas hospitals and other health providers, I often hear concerns about the burdens Washington policies place on health care providers as they work to provide quality care for their patients. My discussion with MCMC administrators and staff covered various topics including unnecessarily burdensome and flawed Medicare audit regulations. Many Kansas hospitals have been forced to divert significant resources away from caring for patients to appeal incorrect audit decisions that are ultimately overturned through the appeal process. This broken Medicare audit program places an unreasonable burden on providers, and has created a two-year appeals backlog within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). I raised concerns about CMS RAC audits in a meeting with HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell following her appointment last year, and I continue to dialogue with the Department on this issue. Also, I included language in the Senate Fiscal Year 2015 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill requiring HHS to account for improving the Medicare audit appeals process and addressing the current backlog. In April, I submitted questions to Secretary Burwell on this topic in conjunction with the Senate Appropriations Health Subcommittee’s hearing on HHS’ Fiscal Year 2016 budget request. 

I will continue to advocate for regulatory flexibility for rural hospitals and other health providers to deliver the care that is essential to Kansas communities. Thanks to MCMC Vice President of Operations Paul Luce for hosting my visit, and to Inpatient Nursing Manager Aubree Slayman and Rehab Services Manager Ty McBride for guiding my tour of the hospital. Thanks also to Miami County Commissioner Rob Roberts for joining me on the tour.

Cuba Trade Act of 2015
I introduced legislation this week to restore trade with Cuba. The Cuba Trade Act of 2015 (S. 1543) would grant the private sector the freedom to export U.S. agricultural commodities and other goods to Cuba while protecting U.S. taxpayers from any risk or exposure associated with such trade. Cuba is only 90 miles from our border, making it a natural market for our nation’s farmers and ranchers. By lifting the embargo and opening up the market for U.S. agricultural commodities, we will not only boost the U.S. economy but also help bring about reforms in the repressive Cuban government. I am hopeful that increasing the standard of living among Cuban citizens will enable them to make greater demands on their own government to increase individual and political rights.

I have long fought for commonsense changes to U.S. trade policy with Cuba, which must import the vast majority of its food. In July 2000, an amendment I offered to allow food, medicine and agriculture products to be sold to Cuba overwhelmingly passed in the House. This bill will build on those reforms by rolling back harmful regulations that continued to hinder trade and by further opening Cuba’s market to our commodities and products. The unilateral embargo that has been in place for more than five decades has failed to effect regime change or lift up the Cuban people. For the benefit of both agriculture producers and the people living in Cuba, I believe it is finally time for a new direction in our Cuba policies. Click here to learn more.

USDA to Implement Crop Insurance Provision for Winter Wheat
I was pleased to learn this week that USDA will implement the Actual Production History (APH) Yield Exclusion for winter wheat planted this fall. The provision, included in the 2014 Farm Bill, is designed to provide relief for farmers suffering from multiple years of severe drought. USDA implemented the APH Yield Exclusion for crops planted this spring, but did not have it ready in time for winter wheat producers. 

Many Kansas farmers have seen significant decreases in their insurable yields due to failed or very low-yielding crops during the drought. This provision will ensure crop insurance remains a viable risk management tool for our farmers by allowing them to exclude certain low yields from their APH due to severe weather. As chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees Farm Bill implementation and crop insurance, I urged Secretary Vilsack at a hearing earlier this year to prioritize implementing this provision for winter wheat producers. It’s imperative we continue to strengthen crop insurance to protect the livelihoods of farmers facing the devastation of damaged or destroyed crops due to severe weather.

Reading Post Office Ribbon Cutting
I joined more than 70 Lyon County area residents on Friday for a ribbon cutting ceremony to reopen a United States Post Office in Reading. It has been more than four years since a devastating tornado destroyed much of the community, including the building where the post office was located. Since that time, local officials and residents have done an outstanding job of rebuilding their community — even better and stronger than before. 

There are a number of individuals who deserve recognition including Jaret Moyer; Lyon County Commissioner Scott Briggs; and Mayor Kevin Sorensen and City Council Members members Jenifer Hanneman, Todd Hensley, Heather Jones, Bill Paige and David Siler. Special thanks also to Jeanine McKenna, director of the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce and Cynthia Wilson, representing Reading Community Development, Inc., for their involvement in this event. Click here to learn more.

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: internships@moran.senate.gov.

Kansans in the Office
Amy Robertson of Salina
Brenda Leahy of Conway Springs 

Capitol Tour
Ellen Vos of Overland Park
Alexander Vos of Overland Park
Anthony Smith of Coldwater
Garrett Smith of Coldwater
Brooke Smith of Coldwater
Edna Dunham of El Dorado
Sue Taylor of Mulvane
Kaylie Westfall of Mulvane
Kay Tibbs of Kansas City
Christopher Hett of Andover
Kimberly Hett of Andover
Gehrig Hett of Andover
Gracie Hett of Andover
Keith Hughes of Hutchinson
Renae Hughes of Hutchinson
Logan Hughes of Hutchinson
Nolan Hughes of Hutchinson
Carolyn Bridges of Wichita
Jacob Helm of Norcatur
Michelle Peschel of Axtell
Todd Pellman of Olathe
Youmei Li of Olathe
Andre Pellman of Olathe
Evelyn Pellman of Olathe
Xumei Chen of Olathe
Jay Bohenblust of Clay Center
Bob Bonebrake of Olathe
Brenda Bohenblust of Clay Center
Cameron Willer of Belleville
Haley Pederson of Clay Center
Lane Schoemaker of Belleville
Courtney Hammel of Clay Center
Luke Martin of Clay Center
Grant Oye of Clay Center
Lanessa Aurand of Belleville
Tyler Popelka of Cuba
Daniel Hubert of Olathe
Missy Hubert of Olathe
Samuel Hubert of Olathe
Quincy Hubert of Olathe
John Schmidt of Olathe
Jennifer Schmidt of Olathe
Jacob Schmidt of Olathe
John Schmidt of Olathe
Jackie Herring of Pittsburg
Kiki Eigenmann of Pittsburg
Rachel Herring of Pittsburg
Shelly Herring of Pittsburg
Karen Jones of Olathe
Ginny Young of Overland Park
Robert Young of Overland Park
Noah Young of Overland Park
Jerri Hewitt of Wichita
Emily Hewitt of Wichita
Lin Coad of Olathe
Ed Coad of Olathe 

Joan Kelly of Gardner 

Julian Viso of Lenexa 

National Security Education Program Boren Scholarship Students
Nolan Schmidt of Prairie Village
Joel Blankenship of Valley Center
James Paisley of Lawrence 

National Propane Marketers Association
Greg Noll of Winchester
Ray Collins of Topeka
Jimmy Ainsworth of Olathe 

Kansas Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
H. Leslie Bain of Overland Park
Johannah O’Malley of Hiawatha 

United Spinal Association
Jennifer Rodriguez of Leavenworth 

American Association of Bovine Practitioners
Geni Wren of Overland Park 

One Voice Against Cancer
Craig Gabel of Olathe
Leesa Gabel of Olathe
Alex Gabel of Olathe
Ashlee Gabel of Olathe
Gaybryne Garrett of Merriam
James Hamilton Jr. of Topeka 

Kansas Cable Telecommunications
John Federico of Topeka 

Lexmark Enterprise Software
Holly Rohleder of Lenexa 

American Agri-women
Carolyn Kleiber of Hillsboro
Lynn Woolf of Milton 

AJC Global Forum
Marvin Szneler of Overland Park
Naomi Kauffman of Overland Park 

Children’s Miracle Network Champion for Kansas
Joe Tillery of Overland Park
Elizabeth Tillery of Overland Park
Christine Long of Overland Park
Jeffery Derks of Overland Park 

Kansas Licensed Beverage Association
Phillip Bradley of Lawrence 

United Nations Association
Jay Sjerven of Leawood
Brian Wright of Overland Park 

International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists
Tyler Chamberlain of Mission
Eric Everett of Mission
Jan Gerber of Wichita
Craig Penner of Wichita
Colby Everett of Mission 

National Milk Producers Association
Dillon Kohman of Syracuse 

Andover Education Association
Kim Hett of Andover 

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
Leesa Gabel of Olathe
Brian Adams of Wichita 

National Association of Surety Bond Producers
Monica Donatelli of Overland Park
Patrick Pribyl of Johnson County
Greg Moran of Johnson County
Erle Benton of Leawood
Roger Holmes of Stillwell 

National Limousine Association
Diane Forgy of Leawood 

National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies
Dwight Tully of Salina
Tony Kimmi of Manhattan
Justin Lear of Ellinwood
John Srna of Westmoreland
Phil Irwin of Lenexa
Joe Brossard of McPherson
Marlee Carpenter of Topeka 

Dairy Farmers of America
Steve Strickler of Iola 

Kansas Cattlemen’s Assoc.
Tony Anderson of Farlington 

Marie Reveles of Hays
Breanna Park of Hays
Laura Montgomery of Hays
Katie Fross of Hays
Mariah Reynolds of Hugoton
Curt Vajnar of Hays
Marie Reveles of Hays
Austin Nordyke of Hugoton
Jessica Harper of Hugoton
Conrad Vajner of Hays
Mary Ella Vajnar of Hays
Kyra Lampe of Hugoton 

Food Banks
Karen Siebert of Prairie Village 

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Jackie Thompson of Paola
Gerald Carlson 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. 

Please let me know how I can be of assistance. You can contact me by email by clicking 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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