Aug 24 2020
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Remembering Olathe Mayor Mike Copeland
As Mayor of Olathe for nearly two decades, Mike's first concern was never for himself but always for his community – how he could make Olathe a better place for every family living there and every individual passing through.
I know I speak for many others when I say we came to appreciate, respect and love Mike for the helpful, supportive, and caring friend and leader that he was. He always put others first, and I benefited greatly from his friendship.
Mike’s the type of person who you’d want to be your best friend, your neighbor and your mayor. I am deeply saddened to learn of his passing, and Robba and I will be praying for Mike’s wife Maria, their children and the entire Olathe community.
Read more about Mike’s legacy and passion for his community of Olathe here in the Kansas City Star.
Investing to Protect Reliable Mail Delivery
As the country continues to battle COVID-19 and prepares for a presidential election, Congress must fulfill its constitutional responsibility to protect and oversee the United States Postal Service. As a cosponsor of the Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act, I urge my colleagues to include funding for the Postal Service in additional COVID-19 relief legislation to assist with lost revenue due to the pandemic.
Last week, I also called on newly appointed Postmaster General DeJoy to work with Congress on legislation that would reform the Postal Service, an irreplaceable institution relied on particularly by Kansas’ rural communities, senior and disabled citizens. Kansans have expressed grave concern with recent mail delays, especially those waiting for prescription deliveries as timely delivery is often a matter of life and death. The Postal Service will play a fundamental role in the upcoming November elections when it must be prepared to convey the mail-in ballots of Americans practicing their responsibility to vote. At this time more than ever, Kansans need to feel confident in their reliance on the Postal Service.
During the past three sessions of Congress, I have worked closely with my colleagues in the House and the Senate to introduce a postal reform bill that would put the Postal Service on a path towards financial solvency, improve service performance, and allow for the developments of new products and enhance transparency. I am eager to work with Postmaster General DeJoy and the White House to craft legislation that will put the Postal Service back on a sustainable path, allowing it to continue serving Kansans for years to come.
Read more about my letter to Postmaster General DeJoy here in the Kansas City Star.
Hosting U.S. Bureau of Prisons Director at USP Leavenworth to Announce New Federal Facility
I hosted the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director Michael Carvajal at the United States Penitentiary (USP) Leavenworth to discuss the construction of a new Federal Correctional Institute and a satellite Federal Prison Camp. Over the past few years, I was pleased to work with leaders in Leavenworth to advocate for this new prison and help secure the $350 million needed to fully fund its construction. These funds have now been officially allocated and the final phases of pre-construction planning are underway.
This new Leavenworth correctional facility will be the largest federal undertaking in Kansas over the past five years and is a significant investment in the local economy that will add hundreds of jobs and construction contracts in the coming years. The USP Leavenworth has been a landmark federal institution for the past century, and this undertaking marks the beginning of a new era for USP Leavenworth and the Bureau of Prisons.
Director Carvajal and Warden Don Hudson emphasized that 95% of inmates will return to society someday, illustrating the importance of the BOP’s dual mission – to both protect the public and successfully rehabilitate the incarcerated. Since the original USP Leavenworth facility was built, there have been major advances in the best practices that reduce recidivism and promote successful outcomes. This new facility will incorporate spaces for effective rehabilitation programs, like education and training, counseling and addiction treatment, and meaningful and rewarding work.
Thank you to all of the local area leaders who joined us today – from state and city officials to Fort Leavenworth leadership – and your long commitment to making this project a reality and your continued strong relationship with the Bureau of Prisons. I also want to extend a special thanks to all of the Bureau of Prison’s Correctional Officers for the work you do each day to serve our country. Learn more about the project surrounding this new facility here in the Leavenworth Times.
Continuing Negotiations on a Phase IV Relief Package
I continue to engage in daily conversations with my Senate colleagues and participate in conference calls with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin surrounding the negotiations as I advocate for Kansas priorities.
The White House and Congressional Democrats are currently at loggerheads over a COVID-19 Phase IV relief package, but it is important to remember that every previous federal relief package passed with unanimous support. The first three federal relief packages included many provisions I would not support in ordinary circumstances, but hospitals needed supplies, small businesses needed loans, and folks who were out of work, through no fault of their own, needed relief.
The COVID-19 pandemic has lasted longer than many predicted, and we cannot continue spending trillions of dollars at our current pace. There are simply not enough government programs or borrowed dollars to keep this economy going. Any additional federal relief needs to be focused on our health, with resources for more testing, personal protective equipment (PPE) and vaccine development and distribution.
Discussing NASA Priorities with Lockheed Martin
After spending time in northwest Kansas, I traveled further west to visit Lockheed Martin’s space facility outside of Denver, Colorado, to see how their work is leading the charge into deep space. As the Chairman of the Senate’s Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science, I have oversight jurisdiction of NASA.
I toured their Orion Test Lab, which is working on the spacecraft that will carry the next American astronauts to the Moon in 2024. This spacecraft is aptly named Artemis III. We also saw Lockheed Martin’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES). This advanced satellite will allow us to detect and observe adverse weather events more closely than ever before. GOES will give the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration the tools it needs to protect human lives from natural disasters.
Finally, we discussed how Lockheed Martin is investing in STEM education. I met with some of their talented interns to talk about the future of space exploration and the roles that high school and college-aged students will play. I walked away from the discussion extremely impressed with their abilities and know that we are in good hands as this next generation of scientists and engineers enters the workforce.
Discussing the Importance of Mental Health Resources, Especially for Veterans
On Monday, I also visited the Marcus Institute for Brain Health and National Mental Health Innovation Center in Colorado. This institute is a clinical care and research institute for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Psychological Health conditions, such as post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety.
With the increasing rate of veteran suicide and the high rate of TBI, the mental health services that the Marcus Institute is providing to veterans is needed now more than ever. The Institute has been a valuable partner to me as they aided in the development of certain sections of my bill, S.785, the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, that focus on increasing access to Post Traumatic Growth treatments. This treatment is based on a theory that previous traumas can actually improve an individual’s health and personal growth. I am very thankful for the insights they provided as we developed this legislation, and I hope to work with them more in the future to make certain that veterans have the care they deserve. I am also pursuing whether they would be interested in opening a location in Kansas to serve our veterans who can benefit from their innovative and effective treatment.
I followed up my visit to the Marcus Institute with a tour of the National Mental Health Innovation Center. The center prides itself on its innovative approaches to diagnose, treat and support individuals who are experiencing mental health challenges. It seeks to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health by valuing it just as much as physical health. By doing this, it is working to increase access to care in every community and make prevention and early care the norm.
Meeting with Economic Development Administration Officials
While in the area, I also visited with officials from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) at the Fitzsimons Innovation Center in Aurora, Colorado. The Fitzsimons Center is the largest medical research campus west of the Mississippi, and during my visit, I toured several of their labs where they offer cutting-edge facilities for clinicians and researchers in transformative fields of education, science, medicine, and health care.
I chair the subcommittee that has oversight over the EDA, and this office has been instrumental in many of the recent announcements in Kansas. Special thanks to Dana Gartzke and Angie Martinez, Director of the EDA’s Denver Regional Office for the update, and thank you to Fitzsimons Innovation Center CEO Steve VanNurden for the informative tour and discussion.
My Legislation to Legally Protect Servicemembers During COVID-19 Signed Into Law
This week, President Trump signed into law S. 3637, my bipartisan legislation, which I introduced with Senate VA Ranking Member Jon Tester (D-MT), to amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and provide additional legal protections for members of the military impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. This legislation expands SCRA protections to servicemembers who were previously issued orders to change duty stations but, due to the pandemic, received a stop movement order from the Department of Defense (DoD) and now may have a housing or car lease in two different locations.
As we continue to face this global pandemic, military families are being impacted by orders to stay at their current assignments after they previously received change-in-duty-station orders and made plans to move. By President Trump signing this bill into law, Kansas servicemembers and their families, as well as military members across the nation, will be supported and protected from financial burdened due to DoD’s stop movement orders.
Russell Rotary Club
I always enjoy visiting Sen. Dole’s hometown, and this week I had the opportunity to speak at the Russell Rotary club. We discussed the current negotiations over a COVID-19 Phase IV relief package and the impact another relief package would have on taxpayers, businesses and individuals in Russell County and across the state. While there are issues I would like to see addressed in Phase IV legislation, there are simply not enough government programs or borrowed dollars to keep this economy going. It was great to have a productive discussion with Russell community members regarding Phase IV and receive feedback for future legislation.
We also discussed the importance of the Postal Service in rural areas and how the Mission Act provides rural veterans the opportunity to seek health care in their hometown. I appreciated the warm welcome and hearing a number of thoughts and ideas from the community.
Touring the Oakley Urgent Care Clinic
This week, I also visited the new Urgent Care Clinic at Mitten’s Travel Plaza in Oakley. The clinic provides medical services that do not require emergency medical attention. Access to health care is often limited but vital in rural Kansas, and I am pleased to see this new clinic serving the community as well as folks passing through.
During the tour, we discussed how the CARES Act helped them continue providing services, and I received their input on a Phase IV relief package. Thank you to Mel Snow, Logan County Hospital CEO, and John Morehouse, Logan County Healthcare Foundation Board Chairman for allowing me to visit the new facility.
Leavenworth Lions Club
This week, I joined the Leavenworth Lions Club to give a federal update. We discussed the ongoing negotiations for a Phase IV relief package and how we cannot continue to spend trillions of taxpayer dollars as the pandemic has lasted longer than many expected.
I also discussed the announcement of a new federal facility to replace USP Leavenworth, which was built in 1903. Over the past few years, I was pleased to work with leaders in Leavenworth to advocate for this new prison and help secure the $350 million needed to fully fund its construction.
Thank you to President Taylor Tedder for the invitation, and everyone who gave feedback surrounding a Phase IV relief package.
Touring Maximum Performance in Manhattan
I visited Maximum Performance in Manhattan on Friday, where we discussed the challenges they have endured throughout COVID-19. Maximum Performance provides physical therapy to assist those recovering from surgery and injuries. We spoke about Medicare reimbursement rates and what the future of physical therapy looks like with COVID-19. Thank you to David Brandenberg, PT and Stephanie Johnson, PT for taking the time to visit.
Update from FHSU Foundation
On Saturday, I attended the Fort Hays State University (FHSU) Foundation Board of Trustees annual business meeting virtually. I’m always interested in what is going on at FHSU and how I can help, and this allowed me the opportunity to learn about the foundation’s many successes over the past year.
Part of the discussion centered on FHSU’s Journey Campaign, which kicked off in the fall of 2016 with the goal of raising $100 million in support of scholarships, academics, student life and athletics. It is the largest, most aggressive campaign in FHSU’s history with more than 22,900 donors so far. Thanks to Foundation President and CEO Jason Williby and his staff for their work in preparing for the board’s annual business meeting. Thanks also to President Tisa Mason for her continued leadership at FHSU.
Accepting Service Academy Nominations
I am currently accepting nominations to the United States Service Academies. The academies include the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Those selected will enter the academies in June 2021.
Selections are based on SAT or ACT test scores, class rank, grade point average, school records, extracurricular activities, leadership potential, motivation, recommendations and interview evaluations. Applicants must meet the individual admission requirements of each academy in order to receive Sen. Moran’s nomination: applicants must be legal residents of the state of Kansas, at least 17 years of age but not past their 23rd birthday on July 1 of the year of admission, citizens of the United States, unmarried, not pregnant and without legal obligation to support children or other dependents.
The application deadline is October 1, 2020. Applicants will be required to interview with Sen. Moran’s Service Academy Selection Board on Saturday, November 14, 2020 by Zoom. Academies will make the final decision on who will receive an appointment of admission in early 2021.
Interested applicants can request application materials on Sen. Moran’s website at moran.senate.gov under the “Services” menu, or by calling Sen. Moran’s Olathe office at 913-393-0711.
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.