Kansas Common Sense
Oct 18 2021
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National Defense Prototype Center to Bolster Kansas’ R&D Capabilities
On Friday, I was in Wichita for the grand opening of the National Defense Prototype Center (NPDC)—a joint project between Spirit AeroSystems and Wichita State University (WSU). This first-of-its-kind facility will combine the robust research, development and production capabilities of Spirit and WSU to support critical space and national security programs. The center will be comprised of a lab for high temperature testing—temperatures that reach half of the sun’s surface temperature—as well as furnaces and autoclaves that can carry out high temperature manufacturing processes. Significantly, this is the only facility in the country to offer these capabilities in one location. The NDPC provides the Department of Defense new solutions to complex problems, particularly as our country works to compete with China and Russia in the development of hypersonic missiles.
As a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I was pleased to support Kansas’ designation as a Defense Manufacturing Community which included a $5 million award critical to the center’s development. The creation of the NDPC places Wichita at the center of our nation’s most pressing national security interests. Congratulations and special thanks to CEO of Spirit AeroSystems Tom Gentile, Executive Director of the National Institute for Aviation Research Dr. John Tomblin, WSU President Dr. Richard Muma, President of Defense and Space Programs at Spirit AeroSystems Duane Hawkins and VP of Research & Development Cindy Hoover. Their combined leadership and their teams’ dedicated work continues to keep Kansas at the forefront of research and innovative manufacturing capabilities.
Visiting Pratt and Harper Counties' Medical Facilities
Pratt Regional Medical Center
On Wednesday morning, I visited Pratt Regional Medical Center (PRMC), which achieved a health care ‘Triple Crown’ in May, a distinction that only a handful of hospitals across the U.S. claim. While there, I met Pratt Regional’s new CEO Darrell Lavender, who began at PRMC this spring, and we discussed the center’s medical services, their response throughout the pandemic and supply chain difficulties. Hospitals ensure care can be provided to the community and region, and we talked about the challenges they are facing as a rural hospital and next steps as they navigate staffing shortages.
Thank you to Darrell Lavender for visiting with me and for the many years of hospital leadership experience he brings to Pratt Regional, and thank you to Community Relations Manager Andie Dean for her time.
Patterson Health Center
I also appreciated the opportunity to meet with Patterson Health Center CEO Pat Patton, hospital board members and staff on Thursday afternoon. Patterson Health Center is located between Harper and Anthony and named for Harper County native Neal Patterson, co-founder of Kansas City-based health care software company Cerner. We discussed support for critical access hospitals, staffing challenges and CMS vaccine requirement concerns as well as difficulties with VA pre-authorization for local veteran patients. Rural hospitals are critical to the wellbeing of Kansans, and they face many operational challenges each day. I thank them for their tireless work and the service they provide rural Kansans.
Hosting a Roundtable with Business Leaders in Norton
This week, I participated in a roundtable discussion with Norton leaders where we discussed the issues facing communities across Kansas and their work to keep rural America alive. We discussed how the current supply chain bottleneck continues to affect manufacturers and small businesses across Kansas and the country, vaccine mandates, the struggle to access health care in rural America, strengthening rural broadband capabilities, the importance of community banks and the roadblocks they face to keep Norton an economically competitive place to live and work.
Thank you to Dr. Josh Gaede, Denise Bailey, Larry Nelson, Brian Kirk, Clay Madden, Corey Roy, Mike Posson, Tara Vance, Scott Sproul, Rhonda Goddard, John Atkins, Craig Renner, Darin Campbell, Mark Griffey and James Moreau for your time Thursday afternoon and the work you do for your community each and every day.
Crisis at the Southern Border
Since March, 160,000 migrants have been released into the U.S. by the Biden administration. In addition, nearly 95,000 were released with nothing more than instructions to report within 60 days.
I've been pressing the Biden administration for weeks on how they are processing migrants, including how many are being released into the United States, with no response. When asked a direct question about the process and number of migrants being released, the Department of Homeland Security has been unwilling and unable to provide this most basic information. The American people deserve answers and shouldn’t have to rely on leaked documents. Read more about this report here in Fox News.
Grants to Support Kansas Law Enforcement
This week, I announced 10 Department of Justice grants to support Kansas law enforcement. These grants will be dispersed to communities across Kansas: Sedgwick County, Wyandotte County, City of Olathe, Shawnee County, City of Lawrence, City of Leavenworth, Riley County, City of Salina, Junction City and Garden City.
As crime rates are increasing, these grants will fund the purchase of new equipment, development of outreach programs and update outdated technology to help our local law enforcement carry out their responsibilities to protect our communities. Through my role as the lead Republican on the subcommittee that funds these grants, I am working to make certain every officer, captain, lieutenant, chief and sheriff has the resources they need to fulfill their duties protecting their communities.
Visiting with Students in Pratt
While I was in Pratt this week, I talked with students and teachers at Pratt High School. I stopped by Kyle Farmer’s government class, and I also spoke with students in welding, woodworking and agriculture classes. Pratt High has created a program that merges geometry and woodworking, where students learn more about one subject from the other, giving these students hands-on training skills while applying the mathematics to their craft.
Thank you to Sam and Kena for their time walking me through the school. Thank you also to Assistant Superintendent David Schmidt, College and Career Advisor Chris Battin, Business Teacher Parker Titus and Principal Steve Blankenship. I appreciate all that our educators have done over the last year to ensure students can come to class and learn side-by-side with their peers.
Speaking with Civic Club Members
Beloit Lions and Rotary
On Wednesday, I was in Beloit where I spoke with Lions Club members about the issues most important to them. During our discussion, we talked about our opposition to the IRS’ invasive $600 reporting proposal, vaccine mandates, concerns stemming from the supply shortages caused by trade disruptions at ports across the country and the struggle rural Kansans face getting access to health care.
Working on local issues brings communities together towards a common goal rather than pushing them apart, and Lions Club helps facilitate those relationships. The conversations I have with Kansans during these discussions guide my work and priorities in Washington, D.C, and I appreciated hearing members’ concerns. Thank you to NCK President Eric Burks for hosting and to Rep. Susan Concannon and the Lions and Rotary members for letting me join them.
Medicine Lodge Lions
On Thursday, I was in Medicine Lodge where I spoke with Lions Club members about the issues most important to the community. During our discussion, we talked about February’s cold snap and the rise in utility prices, the disparity between low live cattle prices and the high price on beef and the DOJ’s meat packer investigation, concerns regarding Big Tech and free speech, the struggle rural Kansans face accessing health care and vaccine mandates.
Working on local issues brings communities together towards a common goal, and I encourage anyone who is not a member to get involved with their local civic clubs. Thank you to John Nixon and Club President Jeff Porter for allowing me to speak and to members for letting me join them.
Touring Harper Industries
This week, I visited Harper Industries, a manufacturing company with four divisions, each making agricultural production easier for their purchasers. The DewEze company was founded in the late 1960s, and Harper Industries was established in the 1990s when Tim Penner took ownership. Harper Industries has seen steady growth in the decades since and plans to continue growing into the coming years as they work to improve our communities, both locally and globally.
This company embodies the American Dream, and I thank CEO Tim Penner, Tavish Hall and Joe Biggerstaff for the tour, and Harper County Economic Development Director Shelly Hansel for facilitating our tour and conversation.
Happy Birthday, President Eisenhower
Thursday marked 131 years since Kansas’ favorite son and Abilene native was born. Happy birthday, President Dwight D. Eisenhower! As a World War II five-star general, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe and 34th President of the United States, his service and leadership represents the best of Kansas, and his legacy continues to inspire.
Thank You, Law Enforcement
I want to thank the men and women in blue who protect and serve our communities. Law enforcement officers in Kansas and across the country are on the front lines every day risking their lives to provide critical services to ensure the health and wellbeing of our communities.
As the lead Republican of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that provides resources to the Department of Justice, I will make certain law enforcement officers have the tools and resources they need to continue protecting our communities and building relationships with those they serve. This weekend’s events were a time to honor the service of our nation's law enforcement officers and remember the sacrifices of those that have fallen in the line of duty. God bless our law enforcement officers and protect them from harm as they faithfully perform their duties each and every day.
Celebrating Don McNeely’s Three Decades of Service
On Friday, I attended the Kansas Automobile Dealers Association’s surprise 30-year work anniversary celebration for Don McNeely in Topeka. I thank him for his many years of service on behalf of Kansas’ automotive industry.
Recognizing World Food Day
The pandemic highlighted the global hunger crisis and reinvigorated our responsibility to provide greater food security in our local communities and in towns, cities and villages around the world. The call to feed the world has been answered by many Kansans, who are taught at a young age that it is our duty to help those in need. As the co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus, combatting hunger is not only the morally right thing to do; it is also the smart thing to do both for Kansas producers and for global security.
Information for Students
High School Juniors: Become a Senate Page
Senate Pages play an important role in day-to-day operations of the United States Senate. High school students who are selected for and participate in the Senate Page Program are afforded a unique opportunity to work in the Senate and learn about Congress and the legislative process while maintaining their regular coursework. The Senate Page Program is administered by the Sergeant-at-Arms, the Secretary of the Senate and the party secretaries.
Spring Page eligibility is limited to students who have completed their sophomore year of high school and who will be 16 or 17 years old on or before the date of appointment. Applications for the Spring 2022 program are due Sunday, November 7. More information on the program, eligibility and application can be found here. Applicants are encouraged to apply early.
Spring 2022 Internship
An internship in my office provides a unique opportunity for students to work closely with my staff on behalf of Kansans, and applications for the Spring 2022 Intern Session are now available. Interns witness the workings of Congress from a unique perspective and develop knowledge and professional skills that will serve them in their future career pursuits. My office is accepting applications for the Spring 2022 session though Sunday, November 7. Please visit my website to hear from past interns, find the application link and learn more about this opportunity by clicking here.
Attending KU’s Homecoming Football Game
It was great to be in Lawrence on Saturday for KU's Homecoming. Rock Chalk!
National Farmer’s Day
Tuesday was National Farmer’s Day and a time to celebrate the many men and women who work from sun-up until sun-down to put food on our tables. Thank you to the farmers across Kansas who have answered the noble call to feed our world.
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.
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