Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks 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.
The Kansas City Royals began their defense as world champions last night at The K. On national TV, the Royals hoisted the flag as 2015 World Series champion in front of a sold-out crowd and picked up right where they left off with a 4-3 win. It’s been a fun offseason for fans as they’ve discussed last year’s success and what’s in store for this season. Let’s go, Royals!
Speaking with Sec. Vilsack about Disaster Assistance
After last week’s fires in south central Kansas, I called U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday to make certain emergency assistance is available to the farmers and ranchers who lost livestock and/or crops in the fire. I know Sec. Vilsack well through my role as Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee Chairman and he assured me that USDA understands the extent of the damages and is committed to working with state and local stakeholders to help accelerate the recovery process. During an already tough time for the economy in rural America, producers need the most amount of help to get back on their feet after this incident. The USDA disaster assistance we discussed included the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), and Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP). I also mentioned to Sec. Vilsack my concern that producers may be penalized on crop insurance policies covering wheat fields that were used for emergency grazing purposes due to the fires. The Farm Service Agency will be hosting a public meeting for all those impacted by the Anderson Creek Fire on Wednesday, April 6 in Medicine Lodge. Click here to learn more.
If you were directly impacted by the fires and are in need of assistance or if you would like to help those in need, please click here to be connected to Kansas Farm Bureau Fire Relief resources.
Continued Progress at Irwin Army Hospital
I had the opportunity this week to join the Big Red One’s Commanding General Major General Wayne Grigsby for a tour of the Irwin Army Community Hospital to hear some updates and discuss the next steps with the Army Corps of Engineers and the contractor. The men, women and families who serve our nation at Fort Riley deserve the best possible health care as soon as possible, and I am glad to see that progress is continuing to be made on the new hospital. This state-of-the-art facility is a valuable asset to both the Fort Riley community and the Army as a whole. I am pleased that all safety concerns have been addressed and that the Army is on track to provide an official opening date within two weeks.
Visiting the National Institute for Aviation Research
This week I had the opportunity to meet with students and trained specialists who conduct great work at the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University. The talented team of engineers and scientists at NIAR are responsible for carrying out incredible aviation testing capabilities that serve the aerospace industry and numerous federal agencies. I appreciated the distinguished visitors from the U.S. Navy who joined me during the visit to learn more about NIAR’s contributions to aviation research and testing, and to see firsthand how WSU meets the nation’s needs in defense and aerospace. A strong national defense is critical to the success of our aerospace industry and nation’s economy. I am proud of the unique skills of hardworking Kansans who make NIAR an irreplaceable asset to our nation’s security.
Touring Wichita-area Businesses
My Tuesday morning began with a tour of NexStep Alliance, an adult education program offered as a collaborative effort between Goodwill Industries and Wichita Area Technical College. As part of helping students earn their GED, NexStep focuses on study skills training, work readiness, college transition assistance and career exploration with an emphasis on manufacturing, healthcare and IT essentials. Thanks to President of Goodwill Industries Emily Compton, NexStep Director Chris Stanyer and Kansas Goodwill VP of Marketing & Development Molly Fox for taking part in my visit, and to Goodwill Vice President of Career Services Gayle Goetz for the kind invitation. It was wonderful to see students working hard to create a brighter future for themselves, their families and the Wichita community.
McGinty Machine Company
Later Tuesday morning I had the pleasure of touring The McGinty Machine Company. A Kansas success story started out of a garage with one lathe and a couple of drill presses, McGinty has grown into a leading manufacturer of precision machined parts that now has nearly 60 employees and 100,000 square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space. The company’s longstanding aerospace focus has resulted in supply contracts with many industry leaders including Airbus, Bell Helicopter, Boeing and Spirit Aerosystems. It was a pleasure seeing well-trained, motivated employees working hard to provide quality service to the company’s aviation customer base. McGinty employees also make a point to give back to the community through involvement in the Air Capital Classic, American Diabetes Association’s Tour de Cure and Kansas Food Bank. Thanks to President Don McGinty for inviting me and to Operations Manager Deniece Blasko for helping arrange my visit. I appreciate all that Don and his team do to keep Wichita the Air Capital of the World.
Meeting Members of the Kansas City Business Community
I had the opportunity to visit with members of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City (HCCGKC) on Friday morning. I enjoyed sharing conversations with members about their work and all the great things happening in the regional business community. During my visit we discussed the importance of expanding upon the region’s strengths in biosciences, technology, engineering, and research, and making sure children who are interested in a STEM career don’t have to leave to pursue to their dreams. We also discussed the importance of fostering an environment in Kansas City and throughout the state that increases the chances that entrepreneurs can be successful in growing their business, unleashing innovative ideas, and creating jobs for Americans. Thanks to all the members of the Hispanic Chamber for their warm welcome, and thanks to Chamber President Carlos Gomez for hosting my visit.
State Street Corporation
From HCCGKC I made my way across downtown to State Street Corporation. State Street employs more than 300 Kansans and is one of the oldest financial services companies in the country. During my visit, I had the opportunity to speak with the Kansas City leadership team and several Kansans working for State Street in Kansas City. It was good to hear about State Street’s commitment to positive corporate citizenship in the Kansas City business community, their efforts to improve workforce diversity, and the individual efforts of several of their employees to give back to their communities. Thanks to Senior Vice President Rick Young, Vice President of Global Human Resources Pat Kelly and all the State Street Kansas City leadership team for hosting my visit. Thanks also to Steven Patterson for coordinating my visit.
Attending Olathe Rotary
I appreciated the opportunity to speak to Olathe Rotary Club this week. We discussed entrepreneurship and ways to make it easier for folks who begin a business in their garage to be successful, as well as the importance of investing in science and technological research across our state. It was nice to have Mayor Michael Copeland, Johnson County Commissioner Michael Ashcraft and Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker in attendance. I have been a member of the local Hays Rotary club for years and am always grateful for the opportunity to attend meetings with other clubs across the state. Thanks to Larry Rinne and President Jason Armstrong for the invitation.
Stops in Garnett and Emporia
Garnett Town Hall Meeting
I had the pleasure of visiting with 25 Anderson County residents during a Kansas Listening Tour stop at their beautiful new hospital on Monday afternoon in Garnett. Topics of discussion included foreign trade and its impact on American jobs, concern with our federal tax code, the importance of quality health facilities and pharmacies, immigration policy and the Constitutional limits on executive power. It was good to hear those who came out speak about our mutual concern that we protect our way of life for future generations – thank you. It was nice to catch up with Sharon Brown, and thanks to Trina Percy for helping set up my visit.
Lyon-Coffey Electric Cooperative
Later that day, I had the honor of giving remarks at the Lyon-Coffey Electric Cooperative’s annual meeting of roughly 650 members in Emporia. Co-ops are not-for-profits and owned by their members, and they recognize the need to invest in future generations by giving back to the communities they serve. The role they play in rural communities goes far beyond keeping the lights on. Thank you to Scott Whittington and Lindsey Audiss for helping arrange my visit and to all the co-op members for the service they provide to their communities.
Now Accepting 2016 Service Academy Applications
Even as students are beginning their summer breaks, I want to remind them of the opportunity to apply to a United States Service Academy. Appointing Kansans to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD; the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.; and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY, is one of my favorite duties as a U.S. Senator.
To find out the requirements and apply, please download an application from my website or contact my Olathe office. All application materials are due to my Olathe office by September 2, 2016. After applications have been reviewed, applicants will be notified of interviews with my Service Academy Selection Board, which will take place on Saturday, September 24, 2016, at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.
Kansans in the Office
Ross Bresse of Hays
Clayten Borrows of Olathe
Larry Dahlser of Lindsborg
Topeka Independent Living Resource Center
Mike Oxford of Lone Star
Population Association of America
Jarron Saint Onge of Lawrence
Jeff Siler of Overland Park
Debbie Siler of Overland Park
Ryan Mohwinkle of Topeka
Scott Wichman of Silver Lake
Kele Wichman of Silver Lake
Phillip Tasset of Cimarron
Sara Tasset of Cimarron
Savannah Tasset of Cimarron
Paul Tasset of Cimarron
John Murray of Hesston
Krista Murray of Hesston
Terry Farabi of Bonner Springs
Becky Farabi of Bonner Springs
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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