Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. Please feel free to forward it on to your family and friends if it would interest them. Today, I have returned to Washington, D.C., for hearings, briefings, debates and votes. I have appreciated the opportunity to spend August having conversations and town halls, and have always seen my job as both in Washington, D.C. and in our home state. The issues I prioritize and how I vote is greatly influenced by my time in Kansas, and I appreciate the hundreds, if not thousands, of Kansans who visited with me over the past month.
Listening to Local Officials
Council of Mayors
On Wednesday evening, I attended the Johnson and Wyandotte County Council of Mayors Meeting at Overland Park’s new Prairiefire development. The mayors and county chairs shared updates on what is happening in their communities, and I appreciated learning something new about each one. A big thanks to these men and women who give of their time to improve their communities and the state.
The guest speaker was Merrill Companies’ Fred Merrill, Jr., who is developing the area. In addition to restaurants and shopping, the Museum at Prairiefire exhibits artifacts from the American Museum of Natural History, which is a draw for both Kansans and tourists. Thanks also to Overland Park’s DJ Curtis for coordinating my visit.
Individuals in attendance included Johnson County Commission Chair Ed Eilert, Unified Government Wyandotte County Kansas City Kansas Mayor CEO Mark Holland, Edwardsville Mayor John McTaggart, De Soto Mayor Tim Maniez, Gardner Mayor Chris Murrow, Lake Quivira Mayor Wayne Hidalgo, Leawood Mayor Peggy Dunn, Merriam Mayor Ken Sissom, Mission Mayor Steve Schowengerdt, Mission Hills Mayor Rick Boeshaar, Olathe Mayor Mike Copeland, Overland Park Mayor Carl Gerlach, Prairie Village Mayor Ron Shaffer, Roeland Park Mayor Joel Marquardt, Westwood Mayor John Ye and Westwood Hills Mayor Paula Schwach.
Johnson County Commission
Thursday morning, I attended the Johnson County Commissioners meeting. Prior to the meeting, I appreciated getting an update on the impact of the EPA Clean Water Act regulations on wet-weather treatment options for the Johnson County wastewater utility from John O’Neil and Susan Pekarek of Johnson County Wastewater.
It is always helpful to me when local leaders explain the challenges their communities face when upgrading services for their citizens. Learning more about the increasingly costly water infrastructure repairs mandated by the EPA and the costs associated with compliance is troubling. Safe and clean water is important for every American, but the federal government must do a better job of working with communities to accomplish their mutually held goal of a healthy water supply rather than introducing multiple mandates with short compliance deadlines.
Thanks to Commission Chairman Ed Eilert, Commissioners Ed Peterson, Jim Allen, Steve Klika, Jason Osterhaus, Michael Ashcraft and John Toplikar for visiting with me and providing information about their priority issues. Thanks also to County Manager Hannes Zacharias for the invitation to attend and for coordinating the meeting.
I was in Lawrence on Thursday to attend the Kansas Pharmacists Association’s 134th Annual Meeting & Trade Show. This event gave me the opportunity to visit with a number of pharmacists from across our state and learn how they deliver health care in our communities. We discussed a range of issues related to how Kansans receive their medications and treatment through Medicare and Medicaid. KU’s pharmacy program ranks among the top public university programs and is among the nation’s top pharmacy schools for utilizing National Institutes of Health research funding. Pharmacists play an important role in our health care system. This is especially true in rural states like Kansas, where the local pharmacist is often the most accessible health care provider in a community. Pharmacies are also quintessential main street community small businesses and face a variety of regulatory challenges that are both health and business related.
Visiting the KidsTLC Kelly Family Foundation Behavioral Health, Autism and Wellness Center
I was in Olathe Thursday to visit and tour KidsTLC’s Kelly Family Foundation Behavioral Health, Autism and Wellness Center. The center – which was dedicated last May – offers autism treatment, behavioral health services, and psychiatric treatment for children, adolescents and families. During my visit, we discussed how early interventions in autism care can yield significant improvements in patients’ quality of life and save money on health care expenditures over the long-term.
In June 2014, I was proud to sponsor the Autism CARES Act, legislation to reauthorize important autism research and screening programs. This legislation became law last month, and it prevents unnecessary duplication of federally-supported autism research projects. It also requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to designate an official to oversee national autism spectrum disorder research, support activities and services. The reported prevalence of autism has increased dramatically over the past 20 years, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimates that autism affects one in 68 children.In addition to autism and behavioral health care services, KidsTLC provides shelter and social services to children and youth who are facing abuse, neglect or family disruption. The organization, which began in 1972 to provide emergency temporary shelter, provides a variety of services for children in need and their parents through an integrated, family-centered model of care. I enjoyed the opportunity to visit with KidsTLC administrators and staff about their work to connect children and families with needed services, and ease service gaps in the communities they serve. Thanks to KidsTLC CEO Gordon Docking and COO Mark Siegmund for hosting my visit.
Twin Oaks Health and Rehabilitation
During my time in Lansing last week, I toured Twin Oaks Health & Rehabilitation. Operated by Midwest Health, Twin Oaks offers long-term care and rehabilitation health services to Kansans, as well as independent and assisted living facilities. All these resources are located on the same campus, which minimizes the stress of moving for individuals and their families. During the tour, I saw Twin Oaks’ Rapid Recovery wing, which is a new inpatient facility designed to help patients fully recover following an injury, surgery or illness. We discussed the federal government’s regulations for home and community-based Medicaid services, the Affordable Care Act’s impact on Kansas health care providers, and initiatives to address health care workforce challenges in our state. Thanks to Midwest Health President & CEO Jim Klausman and the following members of his team for hosting my visit: Lee Eaton, Brett Klausman, Joe Perkin and Marie Vogel.
Touring Wear Technology
Last week, I visited Wear Technology in McPherson. As the leading manufacturer of parallel and twin screws in North America, Wear Technology’s 125 employees design and produce a high-quality product for more than 240 customers including Andersen Windows, Crestline Windows, North American Pipe, Qaunex Building Products and Thomas Conveyor. Wear Technology has been based in McPherson since 1986. During the visit, we discussed a number of federal issues facing the company including workforce development, the importance of international trade, and the need for a less onerous regulatory environment.
Impressed with the firm’s quality product and strong Kansas work ethic, Milacron LLC, a leader in plastics processing equipment and technologies, announced it is developing an Aftermarket Center of Excellence at Wear Technology. Congratulations to employees of both companies and the city of McPherson on this exciting development.
Here, I’m pictured with Chief Engineer Dave Thiessen, Customer Service Manager Bart Regier, McPherson Mayor Tom Brown and State Senator-Elect Rick Wilborn. Thanks to Mike Ruddle and Loni Troxell for the informative visit. (Photo courtsey of Jim Griggs.)
Meeting with Emporia State University President Michael Shonrock
Before giving remarks at Emporia Rotary Club on Tuesday, I stopped by Emporia State University’s campus and visited with President Michael Shonrock. His spirits were high as students have returned to kick off a new school year. Campus housing is at full capacity and renovations and building improvements are underway. The President believes partnering with the community is vital to plan for future growth. To learn more about current and future happenings at the university, read President Shonrock’s recent interview with The Emporia Gazette.
Thanks to the 50 Rotarians who turned out for lunch and a good conversation on Tuesday in Emporia. We discussed the need for leadership from President Obama regarding conflicts in the Middle East, education, Startup Act 3.0, health care and Kansas’ military bases. It was great to have Kansas State Representative Don Hill, Kansas State Senator Jeff Longbine and Emporia State President Michael Shonrock in attendance. Thanks to Kent Heerman for the invitation to attend. Here, I’m pictured with Emporians Sam Purohit and Julia Pyle.
Mid Kansas Cooperative Visit
I was in Canton on Tuesday afternoon to visit with staff at Mid Kansas Cooperative (MKC) touring their new grain elevator. MKC is a full-service farm cooperative that’s been serving Kansas producers since 1965. They are a highly-valued, customer-focused business that builds relationships through shared success with its customers.
During the visit, we discussed the importance of its proximity to McPherson. With the addition of the rail terminal, MKC can improve profitability and provide marketing options for farmers more efficiently. During the site tour, I gained a better understanding of how technology is used in the grain and agronomy industry. I know it’s critically important to see up close the facilities and services they provide to their members. We also discussed transportation costs and pressure from safety compliances.
It is good for me to remain connected to agriculture in our state, and this provided me with that opportunity. MKC is to be congratulated in taking a leading role in efficiently serving Kansas farmers. Thanks to MKC Senior Vice President/CMO Dave Spears for hosting my tour.
Kansas State Fair
The Kansas State Fair kicked off on Friday and runs through Sunday, September 14. It was great to be there on its opening night, and I encourage you to attend. I have no doubt you will enjoy the exciting rides and the wonderful – and sometimes wacky – food, but don’t forget to check out the exhibit halls, livestock barns and countless educational opportunities. I have a booth in the Pride of Kansas building where members of my staff will be available to answer questions, so please come by to visit. Thank you to the Kansas State Fair Board Members and staff who put in countless hours of planning to ensure the fair’s success.
Old Settlers Parade
Robba and I took part in Old Settlers Days in Olathe on Saturday. This family event is one of Johnson County’s best late summer traditions, celebrating its 116th year this summer. Thanks to everyone who introduced themselves and took time to visit one-on-one along the parade route. I also appreciated the opportunity to catch up with Olathe Mayor Mike Copeland and learn about his literacy program that runs through the local library and benefits kids in Olathe.
Now Accepting Spring 2015 Internship Applications
I am now accepting applications for paid congressional internships in my Washington, D.C., and Kansas offices for spring 2015. An internship in my office – either legislative or communications – provides a unique opportunity to work closely with Senate staff on behalf of the state of Kansas. Legislative interns will gain a better understanding of the legislative process in the U.S. Congress, and develop knowledge and professional skills valuable to future career pursuits. Communications internships offer an intern the chance to learn about how political communications and the legislative process intersect, and gain practical knowledge about the inner workings of a fast-paced press office.
The application deadline for spring 2015 is November 1, 2014. Applications may be obtained and completed under the “Services” section of my website at www.moran.senate.gov. Applicants should submit a completed application form, resume, academic transcript, two letters of recommendation, and a cover letter explaining their interest in public service and addressing a policy issue of personal importance and a suggested recommendation to resolve that issue. Please submit required materials to: email@example.com.
Service Academy Nomination Application Deadline
With students headed back to school this month, I want to remind interested students that the application deadline for nominations to the U.S. Service Academies will be here soon. I consider appointments to the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy one of my most treasured responsibilities as a U.S. Senator. Each fall I appoint a 20-member selection board to interview the applicants and help me make the tough decisions. This year’s application are due to my Olathe office on Friday, September 12, 2014, and if qualified, applicants will interviewed at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene on Saturday, October 18, 2014. For more information about eligibility and the application process please check my website. For additional questions please contact Lisa Dethloff in my Olathe office by email or by calling 913-393-0711.
Kansas in the Office
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Rick Cagan of Lawrence
Tina Grzeskiewicz of Wichita
Lindsay Spooner of Topeka
John Shuchart of Leawood
Aaron Estabrook of Manhattan
Nancy Ross of Wichita
Charla Ross of Lawrence
Annette Wilson of Hiawatha
Kurt Dunn Jr. of Olathe
Katie Dunn of Olathe
Mr. Fertner of Wichita
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.
Very truly yours,
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