Kansas Common Sense
Jan 27 2020
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Update Regarding the Impeachment Trial
Last week, the Senate gathered for the purpose of trying the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. We began by voting to establish the rules for the trial, setting forth a fair process and an appropriate timeline for the proceedings. The remaining work week was devoted to three days of opening arguments from the House of Representatives’ impeachment managers. The House failed to undertake its responsibility to collect supporting evidence, and the managers attempted to shift that responsibility to the Senate. On Saturday, the President’s lawyers delivered the beginning of their opening arguments and will finish those arguments this week.
Speaking with Kansans at the 47th Annual March for Life
On Friday, during a scheduled break in the Senate impeachment trial, I met with Kansans from Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School and members of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Wichita participating in the 47th March for Life. Every year, Kansans travel to Washington, D.C. to march for the protection of the unborn, and every year, I’m reminded by their actions that this is a fight we will never stop waging.
It is an inspiration for me to visit with these marchers, especially young Kansans, who are supporting a cause that is greater than themselves. I want to thank the Kansans, and all the people who came out today, for marching for the unborn and speaking out for those who cannot speak for themselves.
Urging HHS to Continue Delaying Changes to the National Liver Distribution Policy
This week, I urged the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to continue delaying the implementation of changes to the national liver distribution policy until the conclusion of ongoing litigation. These changes in national policy would negatively impact patients awaiting transplants in Midwestern states, including Kansas.
This policy will result in prolonged waitlist periods, increased costs and system inefficiencies, and it is in the best interests of patients and the transplant system as a whole to delay implementation of this policy until the matter is resolved in the courts.
I have reached out to HHS Secretary Alex Azar multiple times in the past regarding this policy change, which ignores the recommendations of transplantation centers and experts in the United States. I will continue working to protect Kansas and the Midwest from harmful national policies that disregard expert opinion.
New WOTUS Rule Clarifies Jurisdiction
On Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a new rule defining the waters of the United States (WOTUS). The Navigable Waters Protection Rule clarifies the jurisdiction the federal government and states have over waterways and provides a welcome change from the overreaching Obama-era WOTUS rule. The new rule reduces unnecessary regulations and allows Kansas farmers, ranchers, and other landowners to better utilize the water resources available to them. It is important that we work to protect our wetlands and waterways for future generations, while also providing clarity on the EPA’s jurisdiction over our land and water. I will work with the administration to make certain its implementation continues to promote clean water for our communities and works for farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders.
Urging Support for the National Suicide Designation Act
This week, I urged my Senate colleagues to support legislation I sponsor, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act. This legislation would provide fast and widely available mental health support to those who need it by designating 9-8-8 as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, similar to 9-1-1.
According to a 2017 report by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming the lives of 47,000 people that year. This tragic pattern is more prominent in vulnerable populations like our veterans’ community. Furthermore, the recent National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) indicated that the suicide rate for veterans in 2017 was 1.5 times the rate for non-veteran adults.
While Americans currently have access to a ten-digit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a report produced by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), VA and others found that a three-digit hotline dedicated solely to national suicide prevention and mental health crisis management would significantly increase Americans’ access to potentially life-saving services. As a member of both the Senate Veterans Affairs and Commerce Committees, I remain committed to ensuring veterans and all Americans have timely access to professional-level resources for suicide prevention and mental health.
Welcoming KHA President Chad Austin
Congratulations to Chad Austin who was recently named the next President and CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association (KHA). Tom Bell has been a terrific steward of KHA since taking over the role in 2005, and his hard work will certainly be continued by Chad in the future. Chad’s work as Executive Vice President of KHA has equipped him to deal with the issues facing our hospitals. I look forward to working with Chad in the future to improve our hospitals and protect them from the harmful impacts of federal legislation.
Making the Air Capital Commitment
To make certain of a strong and unified response to individuals and businesses impacted by the 737 MAX production suspension, I joined the Aerospace Task Force, a group of local leaders and officials dedicated to the aerospace community in Wichita. Earlier this week, the Air Capital Commitment launched a website to provide information and resources for workers affected by the production suspension and related layoffs. I encourage all those impacted by the layoffs to utilize the website and, if experiencing an issue with a federal agency, contact my office for further assistance. I am committed to ensuring Wichita has a bright future ahead as the “Air Capital of the World.”
Thanking Brett Albright, My Senate Page
Friday was the Fall Senate Page Class award ceremony and farewell reception, which I attended to thank fall page and Kansan Brett Albright and his family. Senate pages, generally juniors in high school, are afforded an incredible experience to work on the Senate floor, and each term I am proud to recommend a Kansas student. Throughout the past several months, Brett has done an exceptional job, and my staff and I have enjoyed getting to know him. Before he left, I made sure to wish him safe travels back to Kansas and best of luck in the future.
Remembering Jim Lehrer
Jim Lehrer, a distinguished Kansan born in Wichita, was respected and admired across the board for his fair and ethical approach to journalism. His integrity led reporting on countless significant historical events - President Kennedy’s assassination, Watergate, the 9/11 attacks and many others - as well as moderating 12 presidential debates.
Like so many others, I am well acquainted with his “Good Evening, I’m Jim Lehrer” introduction to the PBS NewsHour, which was always followed by trusted news reporting.
Last year, I attended the commissioning of the USS Wichita where Jim’s wife, Kate, was selected by the secretary of the Navy to be the ship’s sponsor. My thoughts and prayers are with Kate, his family, friends and former colleagues throughout this time. He will be greatly missed, but his impact will continue to be felt in journalism for many years to come.
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 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.
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