Kansas Common Sense
Feb 22 2016
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Honoring the Life and Public Service of Antonin Scalia
The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was laid to rest Saturday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Since Scalia’s passing, many have taken time to remember and celebrate his intellect, thoughtfulness, wit and principled approach to the rule of law. Let all of us citizens pause to reflect and express gratitude for Antonin Scalia’s decades of service to the United States of America. May he rest in peace.
Visit to Emporia State University School of Nursing
I enjoyed the opportunity to visit Emporia State University last Tuesday to meet with new ESU President Allison Garrett and tour the School of Nursing. It was very helpful to see firsthand how the university uses learning technology to enrich their programs and train our state’s next generation of nurses. Most ESU Nursing graduates stay in Kansas and apply their skills in communities across our state. In the coming years, we will see a greater need for highly-trained nurses in Kansas and my visit leaves me feeling encouraged that there will be qualified young men and women to fill that need. Thanks to President Garrett, Professor Catterson, the students and everyone at ESU for taking the time to talk with me and show me your school.
Military Leaders Confirm GITMO Transfers to the US Illegal
Last week, LTG William Mayville, current director of the Joint Staff, and former Commanding General of the Big Red One at Fort Riley, stated that it would be illegal to transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the United States. The Joint Staff joins cabinet members in the president’s administration in echoing that current law prohibits the transfer of GITMO detainees to U.S. soil.
Not only have the president’s advisors and our nation’s military leaders spoken out, but Congress has also been clear — detainees have no place on American soil. Congress has repeatedly passed legislation to make certain GITMO detainees are not brought to the United States, and I appreciate the Joint Staff for understanding the law and committing to upholding it.
Kansas Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner
At the 2016 Kansas Chamber Annual Dinner last week, I was honored to serve as the master of ceremonies and introduce Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Charles Krauthammer as the keynote speaker. We heard from Dr. Krauthammer about his assessment of the past seven years under President Obama and his hopes for the direction of the country in years to come.
Congrats to Spirit AeroSystems of Wichita as the recipient of the 2016 Ad Astra Award recognizing business and civic excellence within our state. I appreciated being invited to participate in the evening. I enjoyed listening to the remarks and had a nice time talking with Kansans throughout the evening.
Central States Pension Fund Faces Insolvency
The Central States Pension Fund is one of the nation’s largest multiemployer defined-benefit pension plans. In September 2015, Central States proposed to dramatically reduce benefits to two-thirds of plan participants. Many Kansans who face cuts to their pensions have written to me, called my office, and spoken with me personally at town hall meetings to voice concerns, and I am working with many of my colleagues to identify and consider possible solutions.
Listening Tour Stops in Chase, Coffey, Miami and Linn Counties
This week started with a chilly town hall gathering of more than 20 Chase County residents at the old stone barn on the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. We discussed a number of topics such as mismanagement at the VA, the passing of Justice Scalia, the importance of the First and Second Amendments and how to enhance entrepreneurial opportunity. It was good to see Ron Whitney, Charley Rayl, and so many other familiar faces. I appreciate Chris Holbeck with the National Parks Service for hosting the event.
Later that day I traveled to Lebo where I met with a group of Coffey County folks at the library for another town hall meeting. I heard from numerous Kansans who had on their mind issues like the national debt, oil prices, the president’s interaction with Congress and health care costs. I appreciated everyone who came to share their feedback with me. It was nice to see Coffey County Commissioner Fred Rowley.
My morning began in Miami County where I held a town hall meeting in the Louisburg City Council chambers. With more than 50 area residents in attendance, we discussed issues like the TPP’s impact on small businesses, veterans’ experiences receiving care from the VA, crop insurance, Planned Parenthood, Medicare costs and the Central States pension fund. It was nice to have so many who were willing to come out and share their Saturday morning with me including Sen. Molly Baumgardner, Rep. Jene Vickrey and Miami County Commissioner George Pretz. Thanks to the Louisburg Chamber of Commerce for their help coordinating the event.
From Louisburg, I headed to La Cygne where I had the opportunity to meet with a group of Linn County residents for a listening tour stop. I heard feedback on a range of issues from renewable energy and water interests to solvency challenges for the Central States pension fund to the VA and healthcare concerns. I especially appreciated hearing about the Osawatomie State Hospital and the community's care for the facility. Thank you to LaVeda Riggs for her assistance in setting up this meeting and to the Kansans who came to have a conversation with me.
Apply to be a Summer 2016 Intern
My own interest in public service was sparked by an internship for Kansas First District Congressman Keith Sebelius in 1974. As an intern, I had the chance to learn firsthand how a Congressional office operates and how the legislative process works.
I am proud to be able to offer this same opportunity in my Senate office today where I have interns year-round who have a unique opportunity to work closely with my staff on behalf of Kansas. Applications are already being accepted for internships in my Washington, D.C. and Manhattan, Kansas, office for the summer 2016 term. Congressional internships are open to qualified undergraduate and graduate students who have an interest in public service and have achieved academic excellence.
Kansans in the Office
American Public Health Association
Pat Kelly of Kansas City
Kansas Department of Labor
Secretary Lana Gordon of Topeka
Justin McFarland of Topeka
Brett Flachibatl of Topeka
Kansas Department of Agronomy
Chuck Rice of Manhattan
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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