Kansas Common Sense
The tragic shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh was carried out by a domestic terrorist who seeks to destroy the idea of America. The shooter was driven by anti-Semitism, among the most disgusting constants throughout modern human history. Kansans know this all too well: in 2014, a white supremacist shot and killed innocent people in Overland Park at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and Village Shalom. We must be better.
I met on Tuesday with leaders from the Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City to listen and learn about how I can better support our Jewish community in Kansas during this worrisome time, and to offer my condolences for those who were killed. We also discussed ways to help our nation recover and heal, and how I can support the Federation’s efforts to keep their people and places of worship safe.
We must collectively recommit ourselves today to supporting our Jewish friends and neighbors. We should not need another tragedy to remind us of the importance of standing together for people of all faiths and religions.
Participating in the Midterm Elections
As Americans, one of the most fundamental elements of our system of government, and at the foundation of who we are as a nation, is the ability and freedom to cast a vote in democratic elections. Tomorrow, people across the state and country will head to the polls to make their voices heard in the 2018 midterm elections – I encourage all Kansans who haven't voted already to vote tomorrow, on Tuesday. To look up your polling location and find more information about the election, click here.
Hosting Acting EPA Administrator in Kansas City
This week, I hosted Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 7 lab in Kansas City for a meeting with lab employees, a roundtable with Wyandotte County community leaders and a tour of the lab. We discussed the importance of the lab being located in Kansas and the services it provides to our state, including testing water samples to ensure safe drinking water, research on reducing algae blooms in our lakes and efforts to promote clean air for our citizens. The discussion included my priority to see the lab stay in its current location beyond the expiration of the current lease in 2023. I appreciated the many officials who were at this discussion, including General Services Administration officials Michael Copeland, Judy Dungan and Kelly Juarez, Kansas City, Kansas Mayor David Alvey, Wyandotte County Administrator Doug Bach, Unified Government of Kansas City and Wyandotte County Director of Economic Development Katherin Carttar, Wyandotte Economic Development Council President Greg Kindle, Kansas City Chamber Executive Director Daniel Silva and Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Jackie McClaskey.
During the visit, I also had the chance to discuss a number of past and present projects specific to Kansas, including research to better understand algae blooms, research on pesticides and herbicides used by Kansas farmers and their responsible use, as well as water testing in Neodesha during a recent contamination where EPA lab employees were readily available to assist with various efforts.
While at the lab, Acting Administrator Wheeler signed a proposed rule clarifying that normal, low-level emissions from animal waste are exempt from certain EPA reporting requirements. Farmers and ranchers continue to face numerous challenges, and the removal of this unnecessary and burdensome regulation is welcome news for producers across our state. It was never the intent of Congress for normal odors from animal waste on farms to fall under our nation’s emergency hazardous waste reporting requirements, so I appreciate Administrator Wheeler taking definitive action to provide certainty to the livestock industry. The resources of our emergency responders ought to be focused on protecting the public from true environmental and chemical emergencies, not odors from animal waste.
Thank you to Administrator Wheeler for visiting the lab and to the dedicated staff at the lab who provided us with the tour.
Touring the Atchison Airport
I joined a group of community leaders in Atchison on Monday afternoon at Amelia Earhart Airport for a discussion about the importance of aviation to small communities and the economic value it brings. We discussed the runway expansion, rehabilitation of buildings and the construction of the Amelia Earhart Airport Museum. The Museum will showcase “Muriel,” a Lockheed Corp. Electra Model 10E, which is the same model that was flown by Earhart. I appreciate and commend the efforts of Karen Seaberg and her family to make "Muriel" a reality for the Atchison community.
Thank you to Vice-Mayor David Hausmann, City Commissioner Shawn Rizza, Chamber President Jacque Pregnot and members of the Airport Advisory Board for joining me. Thanks also to thank City Manager Becky Berger for setting up the meeting.
Speaking at the National Institute on Aging Regional Meeting
I was in Overland Park on Thursday to share my support for our nation’s medical research effort with new and prospective medical researchers at the 2018 National Institute on Aging (NIA) Director’s Regional Meeting hosted by the University of Kansas. The NIA is our nation’s lead agency supporting research on diseases of aging, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The purpose of this meeting was to provide information on research opportunities, training and other forms of support offered by NIA to new and prospective researchers, as well as to facilitate recruitment of diverse and underrepresented students and investigators to pursue research on aging. Students and researchers from throughout the region came to Overland Park to take part in these events.
During my visit, I met with NIA officials and University of Kansas Medical Center representatives, including leaders of the KU Alzheimer’s Disease Center (ADC). We discussed progress being made toward finding cures and treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, the importance of attracting young people to careers in medical research, the efforts of the KU ADC to extend the reach of its services and support to Kansans in every corner of our state, and how NIA has supported and may continue to support those efforts. One of my top priorities is to advance policies that enable students who are interested in STEM and research to pursue those careers in Kansas. I'm proud to see that our nation's investment in biomedical research is having that effect here at home.
Thank you to NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes and his team for coming to Kansas to provide information, resources and support for emerging and prospective medical researchers. Thank you also to KUMC Executive Vice Chancellor Robert Simari, KUMC Vice Chancellor for Research Richard Barohn and Vice Chancellor of KU Edwards David Cook for hosting the event and for inviting me to address those in attendance.
Meeting with K-State Ag Students and Ag Secretary Perdue
Thursday afternoon, it was a pleasure to welcome back Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to Kansas. Secretary Perdue visited Manhattan to deliver a Landon Lecture at Kansas State University. Secretary Perdue and I then had a discussion with K-State Agriculture students that primarily focused on the importance of rural development, hunger initiatives, trade and passing a new farm bill.
This visit gave Secretary Perdue the chance to see the talent and dedication of our state's young people who work in agriculture and at our research and academic institutions. I will continue advocating to the secretary and the United States DEpartment of Agriculture that the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Economic Research Service, who will soon be moving out of Washington, D.C., have access to this talent and that they call Kansas home.
Visiting Veterans and Staff at the Topeka VA
I’m always glad to spend time with our veterans, and I am committed to providing the VA with the resources and oversight it needs to accomplish its mission through legislation like the John McCain VA MISSION Act, passed earlier this year. On Thursday, I visited the Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center in Topeka. On behalf of Kansans, I thanked Associate Director of Patient Care Service Nelson Dean and the many caregivers of the VA Eastern Kansas Healthcare for their service to our veterans and our communities.
Touring the Fort Hays State University Farm
On Friday, I visited Fort Hays State University (FHSU) to learn more about its university farm. Located on the west side of the university, the 3,825 acre farm operates primarily as a commercial farm, affording students the ability to take what they have learned in the classroom and apply it in a practical agricultural setting. The university farm focuses on beef, swine, sheep and crop production. During my visit, I received an update from Biology Professor Dr. Bill Stark on the university’s precision agriculture program.
Concluding my visit, Agriculture Department Chair Dr. Clyde Cranwell provided me a tour of the university farm. The FHSU Department of Agriculture is seeing significant growth in its student population and after having toured the farm and learning more about what the department has to offer students, it is apparent why the program is so successful. Thank you to Dr. Cranwell, Dr. Stark and Werth College of Science, Technology and Mathematics Dean Dr. Grady Dixon for hosting my visit.
Speaking with General Vincent Brooks
On Friday, I had the pleasure of speaking with General Vincent Brooks, former Big Red One Commander and the outgoing commander of U.S. Forces Korea. General Brooks and I briefly discussed the issues and challenges related to the U.S. Military posture on the Korean Peninsula and increased uncertainty since he took command in 2016. I also thanked General Brooks for his nearly 38 years in the Army serving our nation and wished him well as he soon departs his current position. Starting as a young Cadet First Captain at West Point, General Brooks has had the distinct honor of leading and commanding soldiers in foreign lands and all across our country, including calling Kansas home as a two-star Army general. The Big Red One and Greater Flint Hills region appreciates his time and leadership in Kansas and inspiring thousands of troops for generations to come.
Visiting with Residents in Solomon
On Saturday, I visited with local residents, community leaders, business owners and elected officials in Solomon. Community visits like this allow me to hear directly from Kansans on issues most important to them, and also allows me the chance to offer updates on the work I'm doing in Washington, D.C. and across Kansas. Much of my work is shaped by what I hear from people across our state, I appreciate the many community leaders, business owners and local elected officials who took time out of their day to visit with me.
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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