Kansas Common Sense
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“Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” –Martin Luther King, Jr.
When I visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial overlooking the Tidal Basin and Jefferson Memorial in D.C., I leave with an even greater appreciation for the life and legacy of one of the greatest leaders in our nation’s history. Dr. King’s life was driven at every step by a fundamental commitment to his faith and the betterment of mankind – we humbly pay tribute.
Hostages Released from Iran
I was pleased to learn over the weekend that Pastor Saeed Abedini and four other Americans have been released by Iran after being unjustly imprisoned for years. I’m also relieved for their families who have waited far too long for this day to arrive. However, other Americans are unaccounted for or remain in Iranian jail cells held for crimes we have no reason to believe they committed. Iran’s treatment of these individuals is another example of their disregard for fundamental human rights, and we must continue to work to secure their release. In the coming days, I expect to learn more details of what was required to gain their release and what it will mean to Iran's nuclear program.
President Obama's Final State of the Union Address
I miss the days when it was exciting to come to a State of the Union Address. It didn’t matter whether the president was a Republican or Democrat – it was a time for the country, for Congress, to come together and listen to the vision of the leader of our county. Unfortunately, over time we’ve seen these speeches become a political exercise — a production where Republicans stand up and applaud for Republican presidents and Democrats stand up and applaud for Democratic presidents.
General Aviation Meeting
I had a valuable meeting this week with leaders from all facets of the general aviation community in Kansas who came to talk to me about the need for long-term Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization legislation. Aviation is an essential industry to our state and long-term reauthorization would help meet the pressing needs to improve infrastructure, modernize the aviation system, and preserve aviation safety. As a member of the Senate Commerce Aviation Subcommittee, I’m eager to represent Kansans’ interests as the committee digs in to this matter.
Leavenworth Rotary Club
At Leavenworth Rotary Club, we discussed the transfer of 10 more detainees from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. We also learned this week that Defense Secretary Ash Carter delivered a plan to the president to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. To completely bypass Congress is not only aggressive but an illegal decision by the administration — especially when the Attorney General confirmed that current law prohibits the transfer of prisoners to Fort Leavenworth or anywhere else in the United States.
Over the last seven years, this administration has been incapable of presenting a comprehensive, legally justifiable closure and relocation plan that maintains the safety and security of Americans. I have been asking the Department of Defense for months about the details of this apparent plan, and will once again press for answers with leadership at the Pentagon. Thanks to District Governor John Donovan for the invitation to attend.
Goodland Rotary Club
I spent time in Sherman County on Friday at Northwest Kansas Technical College to visit with Kansans at Goodland Rotary. We spoke about the organization’s efforts to eradicate polio, the impact that the Affordable Care Act continues to have on health care in western Kansas and how the Choice Act can best serve our nations’ veterans. Thanks to the Rotarians for having me.
Citizens Medical Center
Citizens Medical Center CEO Greg Unruh and Paige Campbell hosted my visit to Citizens Medical Center in Colby. Our conversation was about about the VA's Choice Act and how the Affordable Care Act has affected the important work they do. Thanks for the productive conversation.
Kansas Listening Tour Stops Continue
On Monday morning before returning to Washington, D.C., I stopped in Kansas City at the Donnelly College Community Event Center to visit with Wyandotte County residents as part of my ongoing Kansas Listening Tour. The conversations I have with Kansans during my travels throughout the state greatly impact the work I do in Washington. Nearly 100 area residents came out to share concerns and feedback with me. Among the topics we discussed were immigration and border security including our nation's handling of Syrian refugees, health care accessibility, the importance of fostering an entrepreneurial environment, and how to increase opportunities for Americans to pursue higher education. Thanks to Emily Buckley for helping arrange my visit and to Monsignor Stuart Swetland, President of Donnelly College for opening the events center to the community for this valuable conversation.
After my return from Washington, D.C., I was back on the road for additional town hall meeitngs.
More than 45 area residents came to the Lincoln County Courthouse to share feedback with me on a range of issues including the Keystone XL Pipeline, immigration policy, the need for postal service reform, protecting crop insurance for Kansas farmers and ranchers, the Second Amendment, the EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) policy and the important work done at rural hospitals. Thanks for having me and especially to K-State Research and Extension Office Professional Marci Metz for arranging my visit.
In Colby at Citizens Medical Center, I appreciated the Thomas County residents who turned out to visit with me on issues like rural health care access, the $18 trillion national debt, veterans’ care, immigration policy and climate change. Thanks to Citizens Medical Center CEO Greg Unruh and Paige Campbell for hosting my visit.
In Goodland, I visited with more than 40 area residents at the Northwest Kansas Technical College. Topics of conversation we covered were the VA, social security, the importance of reliable infrastructure for local economies, the lesser prairie chicken listing and dysfunction in Congress. Thanks again to all those who took the time to share their thoughts and concerns with me, and thank you to Jeff Deeds for helping to organize my visit.
In Oakley, I stopped at the Logan County Courthouse to visit with Kansans. We discussed a number of issues, but our conversation focused on keeping rural America vibrant, reversing the lesser prairie chicken listing and, more broadly, the duty and function of Congress. Thanks to County Clerk Crystal Rucker for hosting and to everyone who joined me.
After Oakley, I traveled east to the Grainfield American Legion to listen to more than 30 residents share their questions and concerns about the Second Amendment, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the threat posed by ISIS, our national debt, and crop insurance. I appreciated folks taking time to visit with me and share their thoughts. Thanks also to state Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer who attended both my town halls today. Below, I'm pictured with students from Wheatland High School.
Addressing Water Level Concerns at Wilson Lake
The lack of rain in North Central Kansas has greatly impacted the water levels at Wilson Lake. On Thursday, I joined representatives of the Wilson Lake Association, business owners from the Wilson Lake area as well as representatives from to Kansas Water Office to meet with officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – Kansas City District whom have jurisdiction of the lake’s management. Attending the meeting from the USACE Kansas City office were Rex Ostrander, Deputy District Engineer for Project Management and Chief of the Planning, Programs and Project Management Division and Chris Purzer, the Chief of the Water Management Section. Our discussion focused on what actions in the absence of regular rainfall could be taken to prevent further deterioration of the lake. I appreciated the opportunity to discuss these issues with federal, state and local input and thank the Wilson Lake Association leaders Blaine Parker and Jere Buehler for bringing this issue to my attention. Special thanks to Dan Hays, the Army Corps of Engineers Operations Project Manager at Wilson, for arranging a meeting space.
Visiting Ellis County Emergency Management
When I was in Ellis County this week I toured the new Ellis County Kansas Emergency Management (ECEM) facility and met with Director Bill Ring. ECEM coordinates all aspects of Ellis County’s emergency management system by working closely with local, state and federal agencies, as well as volunteer and private organizations. This past October, ECEM moved in to this new larger facility, allowing them to put the whole operation under one roof. The primary source of funding for County Emergency Management Departments like this is the federal Emergency Management Performance Grant, which provides funding for critical emergency management efforts. The grant exists to help communities across the country create and sustain hazard mitigation programs and support state and local first responders when a disaster occurs. Thanks to Bill Ring, Rural Fire Chief Darin Myers, EMS Director Kerry McCue, other county officials and everyone at ECEM who took the time to meet with me and show me the operation – it is a huge asset for Ellis County, and I appreciate your time and the work you do. Thanks also to County Commissioner Barbara Wasinger, County Commissioner Marcy McClelland, County Clerk Donna Maskus, Ellis County Treasurer Ann Pfeifer, Ellis County Attorney Thomas Drees, Ellis County Register of Deeds Registrar Rebecca Herzog and Ellis Co. CERT Member Dee Bodine.
Smoky Hills Public Television
On Thursday, I participated in a live Q&A on Smoky Hills Public Television’s “Conversation with Senator Jerry Moran.” The show was a 60-minute, live question-and-answer forum moderated by Fort Hays State University's Dr. Chapman Rackaway. Thanks to all the Kansans who called in to ask questions and share feedback.
National Western Stock Show
On Sunday between town hall meetings in Northwest Kansas, I spent time at the National Western Stock Show and visited with Kansas livestock producers. For 110 years, thousands of visitors from across the country have come out to see more than 15,000 animals, rodeo performances, bull-riding competitions, barrel racing, auctions and booths. Thanks to National Western Board of Directors Chairman Ron Williams — who also ranches in Barber County — and Vice Chairman Pat Grant for the warm welcome. Below, I’m pictured with K-State Purebred Beef Teaching Unit Manager Tyler Leonhard, Christy Hardwick of /T Cattle Company (Osage County) and Margo Doughit of 4V Ranch (Saint Francis). Best wishes on a successful stock show!
Apply to be a Summer 2016 Intern
My own interest in public service was sparked by an internship for Kansas First District Congressman Keith Sebelius in 1974. As an intern, I had the chance to learn firsthand how a Congressional office operates and how the legislative process works.
I am proud to be able to offer this same opportunity in my Senate office today where I have interns year-round who have a unique opportunity to work closely with my staff on behalf of Kansas. Applications are already being accepted for internships in my Washington, D.C. and Manhattan, Kansas, offices for the summer 2016 term. Congressional internships are open to qualified undergraduate and graduate students who have an interest in public service and have achieved academic excellence.
Kansans in the Office
Kansas General Aviation Delegation
Russ Meyer of Wichita
Walter Berry of Wichita
Lynn Nichols of Wichita
Michael Thacker of Wichita
Jeff Long of Lawrence
Carl Wolf of Olathe
Kyle Eiserer of Kansas City
Keith Plumb of Overland Park
Kent Jackson of Shawnee
Richard Ciaramella of Overland Park
Randy O’Boyle of Manhattan
Charles Reagan of Manhattan
City of Topeka
Mayor Larry Wolgast of Topeka
Jim Colson of Topeka
Bob Samble of Topeka
Pat Downes of Topeka
Curtis Sneden of Topeka
FP2 Pavement Preservation
Scott Bergkamp of Salina
John Rathbun of Lawrence
The Marfan Foundation
Dean Wilson of Harford
Eula Wilson of Harford
Coleen Wilson Tennant of Hartford
Sherry Dryden of Hays
Kimberly Ekum of El Dorado
Julian Velazquez of Wichita
Ryan Perkins of Wichita
Whitney Grube 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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