Kansas Common Sense

Celebrating Cybersecurity Growth in Kansas
On Friday, I was at Emporia State University to celebrate the grand opening of Kansas’ first Cybersecurity Research and Outreach Center (CyROC). Cybersecurity is more relevant now than ever, and I appreciate Emporia State’s commitment to broadening the educational programs that bolster the Kansas workforce and meet industry needs. Currently in Kansas and Western Missouri, there are 14,000 cybersecurity job openings that hold hundreds of millions of dollars of unrealized salaries and economic growth. Not only does private industry need qualified professionals, but programs like CyROC can bolster defense programs taking place in Kansas.


As the lead Republican of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Commerce, Justice, and Science, I worked to secure funding to support the creation of CyROC so ESU can train the next generation of professionals to deter cyber-attacks and spur the regional economy. Thank you to Director Rust and Dean Bashaw for inviting me to participate in the opening of this state-of-the-art facility and for their commitment to making certain students receive a competitive, high-quality education.

You can read more about the center in the Emporia Gazette here.


Briefing on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282
On Wednesday, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Jennifer Homendy and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Mike Whitaker provided information as to what happened during Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 and the plane’s production and assembly. Both agencies are in the early stages of their investigations and have not reached a definitive conclusion of the root issue, allowing members to ask pointed, technical questions about their respective investigations.

As both investigations unfold, I stand ready as the lead Republican of the Commerce Aviation Safety Subcommittee to consider any potential legislative avenues to keep the flying public safe. For the thousands of Kansans who work in aviation, their jobs depend on passengers feeling safe to fly. The American people put tremendous trust in the air travel system and deserve a full explanation of what occurred.

Honoring our Warriors and Heroes
On Friday, I was the keynote speaker at the Inaugural Warriors and Heroes Lunch hosted by the Kansas Military and Veterans Affairs Council of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce. I have been impressed by the unwavering support Kansas communities provide to our military and their families. It is crucial to both support our active-duty soldiers in Kansas and the veterans who have sacrificed much for our country. Having access to health care, quality housing, quality of schools and license portability is important to support our military personnel. I will continue to work with state and local officials to ensure we are doing everything we can to demonstrate that Kansas is well-equipped to support the nation’s security.

I want to thank everyone from the Kansas Chamber of Commerce for hosting me and allowing me to speak on such an important topic.      

You can read more about the lunch in KSNT here.


Remembering Cecil O'Brate
This weekend, philanthropist Cecil O'Brate passed away. Cecil was a farmer, entrepreneur, businessman, and a good friend and mentor. He was a strong advocate for southwest Kansas and held an extraordinary commitment to helping others succeed. Through his investments in the southwest Kansas community, support for various organizations in Kansas and across the country, and generous scholarships, Cecil and his wife, Frances, have positively transformed countless lives. I have no doubt the O’Brate Foundation will continue to provide educational opportunities to Kansans for years to come.

To nearly everyone Cecil met, he would share that there was no substitute for an honest day’s work, an inquisitive mind, and a desire to always do more. His life was a testament to these principles, lived out each day with authenticity and purpose.

Robba and I are praying for his wife of 76 years, Frances, and his four sons, Patrick, Michael, Steve, and Mark, as well as the entire O'Brate family.


Meeting with Food and Agriculture of the United Nations
On Wednesday, I was able to sit down with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The FAO is an international organization charged with defeating global hunger and provides farmers and ranchers around the world with technical assistance for resilient farming systems. We discussed how K-State and Kansas agriculture can share tools and techniques in more than 140 nations to help rural communities implement sustainable farming. Additionally, we talked about current challenges in Ukraine, Haiti and the Middle East.


Receiving Kansas City Update
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to meet with with Mayor Quinton Lucas of Kansas City, Missouri. We discussed the immense growth of the Kansas City region and upcoming projects, along with the recent designation of the KC Tech Hub and the new MCI Airport. With the FIFA World Cup coming to Kansas City in 2026, there are many developments underway to ensure the World Cup runs smoothly.

Thank you to Mayor Lucas for making the trip to Washington, D.C. and for giving us insight about the exciting projects coming to the Kansas City area – both in Kansas and Missouri.


Meeting with Kathy White and Wyandotte County Public and Catholic Schools
I was also able to speak with Kathy White and her daughter Hannah of Overland Park to discuss the FASD Respect Act and learn more about her work to educate parents on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). FASDs are a group of conditions that can occur in a person who was exposed to alcohol prior to birth and the alcohol passes through to the baby. The impact of alcohol exposure can range from mild to severe, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). I am a cosponsor of the FASD Respect Act that will establish federal programs to allow the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct research into FASD and provide services for individuals affected by FASD.

Kathy was escorting a group of high students from Bishop Meige, Bishop Ward, and St. James Academy who were in town to participate in the 2024 March for Life. Thank you to Kathy, Hannah and the students for taking the time to visit and for advocating on behalf of the pro-life movement and for braving the snow in D.C. during this year’s March for Life.


Visits Across Kansas
Newman Regional Health
On Friday, I visited Newman Regional Health in Emporia. I met with hospital CEO Cathy Pimple and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Alana Longwell who gave me a tour of the facility.

Thank you Cathy and Dr. Longwell for taking the time to meet with me at Newman Regional Health.

Kansans Helping Others
Recently, Kansas was impacted by significant winter storms that brought several inches of snow and whiteout conditions to much of the state. Some individuals found themselves in danger while traveling, but several Kansans went above and beyond to provide shelter, rescue those who were stranded, and help clean up after the storm.

While traveling at slow speeds on Kansas Highway 156, Scott Sherwin found a car in a road-side ditch and stopped to find Todd Peterson in need of help. Before reaching their destination, both Todd and Scott found themselves in a ditch outside of Garden City. With first responders already assigned to many calls for help, the dispatchers did their best to assure them that they knew where they were but could not provide a time that help would be available.

As Todd and Scott waited for help, they finally saw flashing red lights through the snow as firefighters Zach Golemboski and Cooper Wilson, along with Police Officer Gavin Swann located them. The responders helped Todd and Scott into the four-wheel-drive fire truck and brought them to safety, before heading back out on the road to help others in need.

“Not all heroes have a big ‘S’ on their shirt or wear a cape. Some are friends and neighbors, some are strangers who become friends, and some, like Zach, Cooper and Gavin end up being heroes because of their selflessness and running towards the danger.” – Todd Peterson

ImagePhoto courtesy of Scott County Emergency Management

Matt Harwood was traveling from Florida through Kansas when he was stranded in a snowdrift near Holcomb after missing a collision with oncoming traffic. He began calling emergency dispatchers in the area who were already on the roads out helping others who were stranded. Since the snowfall was intense and help was hours away, Matt called the local Loves Travel Center. Thankfully, the store manager, Eric, was able to take Matt’s call and sent a man out to help him. Mr. Matt Guerrero drove out to Matt Harwood and found his snow-covered vehicle on the road. Mr. Guerrero brought Matt back to the Loves Travel Center. Additionally, Eric arranged for another individual to take Matt Harwood to his hotel that night.

“I have never in my life felt such gratitude for good people. Eric and Love’s in Holcomb, Kansas, and Matt Guerrero from Garden City. God put them in the right place at the right time and I will forever be grateful.” – Matt Harwood

ImagePhoto courtesy of Gene Robertson from Finney County.

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