Kansas Common Sense

Kansas Common Sense

February 14, 2010

Dear Friend,

Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.”

Recognizing Importance of Biosecurity and Agro-Defense

    After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, it became clear we must protect our nation and its vulnerable food supply. Unfortunately, it has been nearly 10 years since the attacks of 9/11, and we still have not built a modern, safe, world-class research laboratory capable of protecting against attacks on our food supply. This week I joined Sen. Pat Roberts in introducing a resolution to recognize the importance of biosecurity and agro-defense to America’s national and economic security. The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility to be built in Manhattan, Kansas will serve as our nation’s premier research center to improve and protect our country’s food supply. Click here to read the full text of the resolution.

Welcoming Former Sen. Bill Bradley and Former Speaker Newt Gingrich to Kansas

     On Friday evening, I had the unique opportunity to introduce both former Sen. Bill Bradley and former Speaker Newt Gingrich, who were the guest speakers at the Salina Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet. Both distinguished leaders gave insightful comments on the future of education in our country and how to ensure American students remain competitive. Special thanks to Chairman Larry Fief, incoming Chairman Todd Davidson, Chamber President Dennis Lauver, Senior Vice President Don Weiser, and the Chamber staff for making the special event possible. Their hard work throughout the year enhances the Salina community and makes it a better place to call home. Click here to view a photo from the event.

Meeting with Leaders at Haskell Indian Nations University

     This week I met with leaders from Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, including Dr. Venida Chenault, vice president of academy affairs; Clyde Peacock, vice president of university services; Stephen Prue, executive assistant to the president; Patrick Freeland, student senate president; and Ordell Joe, American Indian college fund student of the year. The university is home to more than 900 students from 140 tribes and 40 states. We discussed the issues facing students and administration, as well as some of the challenges unique to Haskell. Through a variety of academic programs, the school aims to prepare American Indian and Alaska Native scholars for future leadership and service opportunities. I enjoyed getting acquainted with them and look forward to working with Haskell Indian Nations University in the future. Click here to view a photo from my visit.

Delivering Keynote Address at Ellsworth Chamber Annual Banquet

     On Saturday evening, I was pleased to deliver the keynote address at the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce annual banquet. We have many wonderful communities in Kansas and Ellsworth is certainly one of them. Because of local leadership and citizen involvement good things have and will happen. Ellsworth is a rural community on the move with good schools, quality health and senior care, a solid business community and viable agriculture. There is historic downtown, a state prison and expanding wind energy development as well as a new steakhouse. I appreciated the opportunity to visit with attendees about how we create a bright future for the citizens of Ellsworth and all Kansans. What happens in Washington, D.C. matters – but where we really make a difference is in our home towns. I’m glad to see so many good things going on in Ellsworth.      

    Two former interns from my office –Allie Denning and Molly Bircher – were in the audience. It was an honor to present Molly’s mother, Nancy, with this year’s Ellsworth Chamber Citizen of the Year award in recognition of the selfless work she does at the Ellsworth Good Samaritan Society. Thanks to Chamber Director Nick Slechta and the entire board, including Board President Margaret “Mugs” Bourne and banquet master of ceremonies, Dr. Kurt Williams, for their hard work to make Saturday’s event possible. Click here to view a photo from my visit.

Visiting with Students at Clifton-Clyde High School

    On Friday, I toured Clifton-Clyde High School, part of USD 224 Clifton-Clyde School District, which was recognized by the Kansas House of Representatives as the highest performing academic school district in Kansas in 2009. During my visit, I also learned Clifton-Clyde High School is among the top performing high schools in the state and has been recognized as the 2010 Kansas Green School of the Year by Kansas Green Schools and the Kansas Association of Conservation and Environmental Education.

    The impressive record of the Clifton-Clyde School District reflects upon the outstanding effort of the faculty, staff and administration to produce young Kansans who possess the necessary tools for success. We are fortunate to have such talented administrators and teachers involved in the education of our young people. It was a pleasure to visit Clifton-Clyde and learn of the many successes of the school district, and the many challenges we face in K-12 education. Thanks to USD 224 Superintendent Brian Pekarek for his kindness and hospitality during my visit. Click here for a photo of my visit.

Answering Calls from Kansans

    Yesterday evening, I joined Dr. Chapman Rackaway, Associate Professor of Political Science at Fort Hays State University, on Smoky Hills Public TV (SHPTV) to take calls from Kansans. Several Kansans called in with questions on variety of different topics, including the new health care law, government spending and debt, caring for our nation’s veterans, education and the revamping the tax code. I appreciated the opportunity to answer questions from Kansans and I will keep your concerns in mind as I return to Washington this week. Thanks to SHPTV staff and the volunteers from the Russell VFW Post 6240 for their help running the cameras. Click here to view a photo of me with VFW volunteers.

Upcoming Senate Banking Committee Hearing

    This Thursday, I will join my new colleagues on the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs for the first hearing of this year. During the hearing, we will be given an update on the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act, a financial regulatory reform bill that was passed last year. Members of the panel will include: The Honorable Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; The Honorable Sheila Bair, Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; The Honorable Mary Schapiro, Chairman, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; The Honorable Gary Gensler, Chairman, Commodity Futures Trading Commission; and Mr. John Walsh, Acting Comptroller of the Currency, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The hearing will be webcast live, so if you are interested in following along, click here to watch on Thursday at 9am (CST). 

Statewide Listening Tour

    I continued my listening tour this week and hosted five town halls in the following counties: Franklin, Osage, Phillips, Cloud and Ottawa. Dozens of residents came to share their thoughts with me on a wide variety of topics, including the direction our country is headed, the new health care law, our country’s national security strategy and our rapidly increasing national debt. I share many of their concerns and strongly believe we must rein in out-of-control spending before it causes even more damage to the prosperity of future generations. I appreciated how many residents came to meet with me – especially given the snow this week across much of Kansas. Thanks to the many individuals who helped arrange the details of my visits: Tom Weigand of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce in Franklin county; Barb Schattak, Carolyn Wilson, Julie Stutzman and the City of Lyndon in Osage County; Paula Schilowsky and the staff of the Huck Boyd Community Center in Phillips County; Irene Brown of Concordia in Cloud County; and Paula Baccus in Minneapolis of Ottawa County. Click here to view photos from my stops.

Upcoming Stops 

    During the week of February 21st, the Senate will not be in session in observance of President’s Day on Monday. So I will be back in Kansas to continue my statewide listening tour throughout the state. Please find more information about my upcoming town hall meetings below. If you’re nearby, I encourage you to stop by to share your thoughts.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Anderson County Listening Tour Stop
Location: Town Hall Center
Address: 125 W. 5th Avenue, Garnett, KS
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.

 Neosho County Listening Tour Stop
Location: The Brickhaus
Address: 202 N. Main Street, Erie, KS
Time: 2:30-3:30 p.m.

Crawford County Listening Tour Stop
Location: Girard Public Library
Room:  Lower level
Address: 128 W. Prairie Avenue, Girard, KS
Time: 4:00-5:00 p.m.

Thursday, February 24, 2011
Bourbon County Listening Tour Stop
Location: Fort Scott High School, Media Room
Address: 1005 S. Main, Fort Scott, KS
Time: 8:30-9:30 a.m.

Linn County Listening Tour Stop
Location: F&M Community Hall
Address: 5th and Main, Mound City, KS
Time: 10:00-11:00 a.m. 

In the Office

One of the things I enjoy most is meeting with Kansans who have traveled to Washington to see their capital city and share their thoughts and concerns with me. This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office from across the state including:

SureWest Communications
Ken Johnson of Lenexa


Shawnee County District Attorney
Chad Taylor of Topeka


Children’s Mercy Family Health Partners
Chad Moore of Kansas City


Pittsburg State University
Dr. Steve Scott of Pittsburg
R. Steven Robb of Pittsburg

National School Boards Association
John Seim of Saline

John Scheopner of Garden City
Rod Stewart of Washington County
Rodney Roush of Stafford
Frank Henderson of Seaman
Fred Patton of Seaman
Jim Edwards of Topeka
Judy Lair of Woodson
Kay White of Shawnee Heights
Dr. John Heim of Topeka
Dr. Marlene Merrill of Lawrence
Pam Robinson of Blue Valley
Daren Reese of Arkansas City
Dennis Depew of Neodesha
Don Shimkus of Oxford
Kent Swartz of South Barber 


Kansas State University College of Engineering
University Dean John English


University of Kansas School of Engineering
University Dean Stuart Bell


Wichita State University College of Engineering
University Dean Zulma Toro-Ramos


Kansas Medical Society
Craig Concannon of Beloit
Nancy Sullivan of Topeka

Donald Brada of Wichita
Jon Rosell of Wichita

Kay Brada of Lawrence 


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas
Sunee Mickle of Topeka 


Gene and Barbara Burnett Burn Center at the University of Kansas Hospital
Dhaval Bhavsar of Kansas City 

Kansas Rural Water Association
Dennis Schwartz of Tecumseh
Elmer Ronnebaum of Seneca
Darrell Schlabach of Washington County


National Cooperative Refinery
Greg Smith of Wichita
Mike McFadden of Marquette


Sunflower Electric Power Corporation
Earl Watkins of Hays


Hermes Landscaping

Dalton Hermes of Kansas City


Workforce Partnership

Scott Anglemyer of Shawnee

Karen Griffin of Olathe

Wendell Maddox of Kansas City

Dr. Marvin Hunt of Baldwin City


Hermes Landscaping
Dalton Hermes of Kansas City


University of Kansas School of Medicine in Kansas City
Omar Almoghrabi
Trent Davis

Taimur Safder


American Dietetic Association

Erin Laurie of Ottawa

Carol Gilmore of Lawrence

Laura Gomez of Shawnee

Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City
Amy Allison of Shawnee Mission

Bridget Murphy of Leawood
Lee Jones of Kansas City 


National Down Syndrome Society
Anita Raghavan of Wichita 


Harden Healthcare
Cindy Keim of Overland Park

Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America
Sue Matson of Olathe, The Regional Prevention Center
Michelle Voth of Topeka, Kansas Family Partnerships 


Regional Prevention Center of Wyandotte County
Carla Green of Wyandotte County
Holly Ratliff of Wyandotte County
Skyler Bowen of Wyandotte County
Kim Frazier of Wyandotte County
Koboa Xoing of Wyandotte County
Megan Howard of Wyandotte County
Patty Jurich of Wyandotte County
Skyler Roach of Wyandotte County
Victoria Seirant of Wyandotte County
Raychel Bunnell of Wyandotte County
Victoria Crumpton of Wyandotte County
Ron Malcol of Wyandotte County
Deonte Minor of Wyandotte County
Cedric Phillips of Wyandotte County
Jheu Cruz of Wyandotte County
K’Brece Dean of Wyandotte County
Aaric Hicks of Wyandotte County


Leavenworth, KS, AFL-CIO Local 919
Brian Hundley of Leavenworth
Mike Erdley of Leavenworth
Chris L. Goodwin of Leavenworth 


Value Place
Jack DeBoer of Wichita
Edward Watson of Wichita 


American Veterinary Medical Association
Ashley Smit of Manhattan
Miles Theurer of Manhattan


American Bakers Association
James Munyon of Manhattan
Maureen Olewnik of Manhattan
Theresa Cogswell of Kansas City


Kansas National Education Association

Kimberly Howard of Wichita

Bob Thesman of Overland Park


Kansas Health Care Association

Cindy Luxem of Topeka


Workforce Partnership
Scott Anglemyer of Shawnee
Wendell Maddox of Kansas City
Dr. Marvin Hunt of Baldwin City


Greater Kansas City LISC

Ashley Jones-Wisner of Kansas City

Julie Porter of Kansas City


Kansas Bioscience Authority

Tom Thornton of Olathe


Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers

Nancy Mellard of Leawood

Ryan Wilkerson of Mission Hills


Eagle Communication

Gary Shorman of Hays


Builders Development Corp

Michael Snodgrass of Kansas City


Kansas Farm Bureau
Farm Bureau President Steve Baccus of Minneapolis
Harry Watts of Manhattan
Terry Holdren of Topeka


Contact Me

It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Please let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click 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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