Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter.
Working to Keep Rural America Alive
Rural economic interests, while often too overlooked, must be considered in all policy debates on Capitol Hill. While representing Kansans in Congress, I have made it a priority to highlight the issue of rural poverty and have proposed policy solutions to help drive Americans, both urban and rural, up the economic ladder. For example, I’m working to make certain all Kansans can access high-speed internet and get care from their local Critical Access Hospital, as well as to ensure our veterans receive the benefits they’ve earned in a timely fashion. To learn more about my efforts to enable all Americans to become economically mobile and financially secure, click here.
Touring Big Lakes Development Center
I visited Big Lakes Development Center in Manhattan on Tuesday. Big Lakes provides quality, vital services to adults with developmental disabilities. They not only provide housing and health services to these individuals, but they improve their quality of life with fellowship, employment and independence. I appreciated meeting and speaking with CEO Lori Feldkamp, whose grandmother, Molly Wilkes, happens to be my 9th grade teacher and helped inspire my interest in public service. I am pictured here with Tina Sorell who I met on the tour.
Getting a Firsthand Look at Gove County Medical Center
I visited Gove County Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon. We talked about how the hospital serves the local community and their participation in the VA Choice program. I appreciate their efforts as a Critical Access Hospital and the care they provide to our veteran community. Thanks to Hospital CEO Coleen Tummons for hosting my visit.
Visiting Western Plains Energy
I stopped by Western Plains Energy (WPE) in Oakley to learn more about the production of biofuels and dried distillers grains. WPE was formed in 2001 and has since become a leader in the biofuels industry, providing Kansas farmers with an additional market for their crops. Visiting on Wednesday gave me a closer look at the plant’s production capabilities and a better sense of the important work they do. It is great to see facilities like WPE provide jobs and valuable services to their community and to Kansas agriculture. Thanks to CEO Derek Peine for organizing my tour.
Speaking with the Kansas Bankers Association
I visited with the Kansas Bankers Association this week to discuss the critical role community banks play in our nation’s economic recovery, Kansas agriculture and the ongoing oil and gas recession. Community banks are essential to ensuring the economic success of rural communities across our state. Unfortunately, overreaching federal regulations are threatening the ability of our banks to continue assisting Americans nationwide who depend on them for mortgages, small business loans and everyday financial services. The compliance costs associated with these regulations make it harder for banks to attract capital and support the credit needs of their customers and local businesses. As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, I am pushing Congress to take action for more appropriate regulation of community banks. For many rural lenders, there will be no “next year” unless we work to address the glaring errors in Dodd-Frank and pursue policies that create actual economic opportunities for Americans.
Seven More Stops on the Kansas Listening Tour
I was in WaKeeney Wednesday to hear from Trego County residents about a number of topics, including the importance of caring for our veterans, the impact of commodity prices on our communities, EPA overreach through the Clean Water Act and the Lesser Prairie Chicken re-listing efforts, and the threat of our growing national debt. I was pleased to have former State Senator Allen Schmidt in attendance.
Oberlin and Atwood
I visited Oberlin and Atwood on Thursday morning. In Oberlin, Decatur County residents shared their thoughts on the Iran deal, threats to our national security and health care for members of our military and veterans. In Atwood, I heard from a large group of Rawlins County locals about how government regulations impact local pharmacies; the Veterans Choice Act; and our spending on defense, national and cyber security. Hearing your perspective helps me make the best possible decisions when I’m in Washington.
During my stop in Bird City I spoke with local residents about how agricultural commodity pricing impacts the community, ways we can improve our education system and methods to increase tourism to the town. Pictured here is Bonnie Burr, who was recently named Queen of the Tri-State Antique Engine and Threshers’ Association during the annual festival, which has been taking place each July in Bird City for 63 years.
I was also grateful for the kindness of a Bird City resident who helped me out with a jump for my truck – not surprising a Kansan would lend a hand.
In Syracuse, I heard from a small group of Kansans about ongoing issues at the VA, specifically with mental health services. We also discussed banking regulations, agricultural concerns and ongoing threats to our national security.
Leoti and Tribune
I wrapped up the week with stops in Leoti and Tribune. Leoti locals shared with me their experiences with the VA Choice program and how difficult it is for veterans nearby to travel to Wichita – a journey of more than four hours – for their care. We also discussed FDA regulations, specifically for tobacco, and a number of issues in the farm bill.
While in Tribune, Greeley County locals spoke with me about the the importance of keeping our rural hospitals open, community healthcare and funding for agricultural programs and resources.
Remembering Ben Craig of Overland Park
All who knew Ben Craig know that his passing marks the loss of an exceptional family man, local leader and community banker. Ben and I knew each other through the Overland Park Rotary Club – where Ben celebrated a 52-year record of perfect attendance – and his leadership with the Kansas Bankers Association. Many in Overland Park knew Ben, his family and their numerous contributions to the community. He was instrumental in founding the local Chamber of Commerce and was dedicated to improving the quality of life for everyone around him. From his time growing up in Baxter Springs to serving as Chairman of Metcalf Bank, he was a natural leader who freely gave his time to all he knew. May he rest in peace.
Wichita Native Brings Home Boxing Bronze
I hope that you took time on Friday to cheer on Wichita-native Nico Hernandez as he fought his way to an Olympic bronze medal in light flyweight boxing. Just 20 years old, Nico’s long hours of training and incredible discipline were on display in front of the entire nation and the world. I am proud to have him carrying on our state’s long history of athletic excellence and look forward to rooting Nico on to further success four years from now at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Celebrating National Model Aviation Day
If you or a family member is a model plane enthusiast, this was a great week for you – Saturday was National Model Aviation Day, which is a noteworthy event given Kansas' tradition as an aviation state. Talk to many pilots and aviation aficionados and they’ll tell you that they first got interested in air travel through model aircraft. I hope those of who you marked this day had an enjoyable time.
As a member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security, I supported the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S. 2658), which passed the Senate by a 95-3 vote. This legislation would have preserved a community-based approach to managing recreational model aircraft, clarifying applicable federal regulations to protect personal and educational use of model aircraft. Unfortunately, S. 2658 never received a vote in the House of Representatives, compelling Congress to pass a short-term FAA authorization extension through FY2017.
Kansans in the Office
Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition
Brenda Bandy of Manhattan
Ann Bandy of Manhattan
Madeline Hackney of Manhattan
Martha Hagen of Topeka
Jeffrey Wipperman of Leawood
Heather Wipperman of Leawood
Dylan Wipperman of Leawood
Kaitlyn Wipperman of Leawood
Anna Wipperman of Leawood
Maegan Spencer of Overland Park
Keeley Spencer of Overland Park
Jerome Mckenna of Overland Park
Ellen Mckenna of Overland Park
Brenda Bandy of Manhattan
Ann Bandy of Manhattan
Madeline Hackney of Manhattan
George Kandt of Manhattan
Karl Kandt of Manhattan
Owen Kandt of Manhattan
Dale Brubacher of Hesston
Deb Brubacher of Hesston
Olivia Brubacher of Hesston
Roy True of Prairie Village
Alex True of Prairie Village
Eric True of Prairie Village
Nick True of Prairie Village
Ronald MacQuarrie of Fairway
Mary MacQuarrie of Fairway
Zinnia Khan of Wichita
Nathan Wherritt of Wichita
Andrew Glynn of Tonganoxie
Jeri Glynn of Tonganoxie
Audrey Glynn of Tonganoxie
Lauren Glynn of Tonganoxie
Trevis Tonne of Tipton
Rayna Tonne of Tipton
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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