Kansas Common Sense
With the Thanksgiving Holiday approaching, Robba and I would like to wish everyone across Kansas safe travels and a Happy Thanksgiving. During this time of gratitude and reflection, we recognize the wonderful things about the state we get to call home. I am grateful for the many Kansans who I’ve had the honor of visiting with and meeting over the course of the last year. I’m especially grateful for the men and women at home and abroad who will spend their Thanksgiving away from their families and loved ones. Thank you to our servicemembers, past and present, who continue to make countless sacrifices on behalf of us and this great nation.
Sponsoring Bipartisan Prison, Sentencing Reform Legislation
This week, I joined Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle in sponsoring S. 3649, the First Step Act. This sensible legislation – that’s backed by the President – provides an opportunity for Congress to set aside our differences and make historic progress on bipartisan criminal justice reform. The First Step Act increases fairness in crime and drug sentencing, helps curb the devastating opioid epidemic and helps make our communities safer. This bill also promotes proven recidivism reduction and professional development programs which will create better opportunities for inmates to succeed after they serve time. Under this legislation, any savings generated by the reforms would automatically be reinvested into law enforcement programs to further reduce crime and improve community safety.
The First Step Act combines prison reform proposals that overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives earlier this year with sentencing reform provisions from the bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, which was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee in February. Additionally, the legislation is supported by a wide range of stakeholders from key law enforcement organizations to reform advocates.
To read more on this legislation and its wide-ranging support, click here.
Confirming a Kansan to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors
On Thursday, the Senate confirmed Kansan, Michelle ‘Miki’ Bowman for the seat reserved for a community banker or a community bank regulator. Miki’s experience as Kansas State Bank Commissioner, her time at Farmers and Drovers Bank in her hometown of Council Grove, and many other positions in both public service and the private sector make her the perfect addition to the Federal Reserve Board. Miki understands the importance of the relationship between the community and the local banker.
Community banks are an important part of rural communities and small cities across the country, from lending for homes, small businesses and farms, to sponsoring little league baseball teams and the school band. In Kansas and across rural America, these banks are an economic engine, leveraging relationships with local community members that rely on trust and honesty to benefit the individuals they see every day. Miki will bring this approach to the Federal Reserve Board and I am proud to have a fellow Kansan hold such an important positon.
Watch my full remarks urging support for Miki prior to the vote on her nomination here.
Speaking on Digital Infrastructure at the Bloomberg Next.2018 Event
On Wednesday, I keynoted a Bloomberg’s Next.2018 discussion, an event bringing together policymakers, innovators, entrepreneurs, executives and regulators in the digital realm. I discussed how I am leading the charge in Congress to help bridge the digital divide, and highlighted the need to modernize America’s networks and expand digital infrastructure. Additionally, I shared perspectives from Kansas and how the digital divide has affected our state and the ability of communities to innovate and grow. My colleagues and I, the FCC, and a group of government and private sector organizations are working together to help deploy and expand broadband across the nation, specifically in rural areas. A significant challenge in this effort is the coverage maps being utilized by the FCC. I provided an update on our efforts to correct those maps, and the importance of getting these maps right due to the foundational nature they play in our work to expand 5G coverage.
One of the biggest issues facing Kansas is the widening digital divide and the lack of resources available to our rural communities and businesses. Technology is the most significant driver of innovation and economic development in Kansas and across the nation. Our rural communities in Kansas will be better served in their efforts to grow their economy and recruit new individuals and families if they have access to this needed technology and digital infrastructure. These issues are not of passing interest to me, and I’m committed to continuing this work in close partnership with private sector stakeholders, federal entities and state and local organizations.
Attending the Senate’s Veterans Appreciation Event
On Tuesday, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee honored our nation’s heroes in the nation’s capital with a special Veterans Day event, attended by leaders in the Department of Defense and Veterans Administration who are charged with caring for those who serve our country. I had the pleasure of visiting with Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army General Mark Milley, former Big Red One Commander and now Director of the Army Staff Lieutenant General Joseph Martin, Secretary of the Army Mark Esper, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Secretary of the VA Robert Wilkie.
I always appreciate time spent with each of these senior leaders to discuss ways in which we can improve and advance our military and provide our servicemembers, past and present, with the kind of support and resources they need and deserve through their dedicated service to our nation.
Introducing Legislation to Expand Access to Chiropractic Healthcare for Current and Former Military Personnel
This week, I joined Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin in introducing bipartisan legislation to expand chiropractic health services for military retirees and members of the National Guard and Reserve. The Chiropractic Health Parity for Military Beneficiaries Act would require TRICARE to cover chiropractic services for all military servicemembers, both active and retired, and non-activated reservists. Currently, healthcare programs through the U.S. Department of Defense, including TRICARE, do not cover chiropractic care for military retirees and non-activated reservists.
Many of the retired servicemembers and Reservists who served our country have sustained back and other neuromusculoskeletal injuries that can be treated through chiropractic care. However, the Department of Defense offers limited access to chiropractic care for Active duty and certain members of the Reserve Component – leaving many in need at a disadvantage. I’ve long advocated for increased access to chiropractic care in the VA, and this legislation will similarly increase access to chiropractic care for all military enrollees by expanding TRICARE coverage for retirees and all reservists. The men and women who have served our nation deserve access to the same care they received while on active duty, and I’m pleased to introduce legislation that makes certain they do. Click here to read more.
Americans of all ages, from all backgrounds and walks of life, have bravely stepped up to defend our nation, and I remain committed to fostering a world in which they return home and have ample career and educational opportunities, the ability to pursue the American dream, and, most importantly, access to timely, quality healthcare. If implemented correctly in the best interest of veterans, the VA MISSION Act will be a significant leap forward in accomplishing that goal.
As we recognize Veterans’ Month this November, it is timely to again call attention to this important legislation and the impact it ought to have on our veterans. Click here to read my op-ed in The Hill on the need for a successful implementation.
Visiting with Students and Staff at Concordia Junior-Senior High School
On Friday, I joined student leaders at Concordia Junior-Senior High School to tour their facility, visit classrooms and talk with students, faculty and staff. I heard an update on their fall semester, various student body activities and fall athletic teams. I was also lucky enough to hear the middle school choir perform during a stop into their music classroom. Thank you to the many students and teachers who took time to visit with me during my tour, and thank you to Principal Troy Keiswetter for arranging my visit to the school.
Making a Community Visit to Belleville
After my time in Concordia, I stopped in Belleville to visit with community members, business owners and local leaders. I appreciated the chance to hear firsthand the issues residents care about, and the opportunity to offer an update on the work I’m doing in Kansas and in Washington, D.C. In Belleville, I was able to stop by various businesses and organizations including Gottschalk & Company, CPAs, the Belleville Public Library, the USDA Service Center. Republic County Treasurer, Register of Deeds, and County Clerk, Astra Bank and Casey’s General Store. Thank you to the many Republic County residents who took time to visit with me during my stop in town.
It was great to be with members of the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts (KACD) in Wichita for their annual conference. This group is committed to conserving our natural resources, efforts that are critical to preserving Kansas for the next generation. Water conservation and natural resource management is particularly important to our economy and quality of life. Water is the lifeblood of our municipalities, the foundation for statewide recreation, and will direct the future of manufacturing and production agriculture.
During my remarks to the group, I discussed the conservation issues across the state, the 2018 Farm Bill and the conservation title program, trade and the new United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. I was also able to echo the importance of production agriculture in rural Kansas and the need for sustainable conservation practices that will make certain these farms and our communities can thrive for generations to come. Thank you to KACD Executive Director Dan Meyeroff for inviting me to speak, and thanks also to the many members of KACD who I was able to visit with.
On Saturday, I was in Hays where I watched Fort Hays State University (FHSU) play the University of Indianapolis in the opening round of the 2018 NCAA Division II playoffs. The game remained close until Indianapolis was able to pull away in the final quarter of the game. Congratulations to FHSU’s football players, coaches and staff on a great season. Thank you to members of the Hays community and FHSU leadership for inviting me to attend Saturday’s watch party on campus at the Robbins Center. I always appreciate the chance to be back in Hays.
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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