Kansas Common Sense
Feb 12 2024
Back-to-Back Super Bowl Champions
For the third time in five years, the Vince Lombardi Trophy is headed to Kansas City. What an incredible game and season for the Kansas City Chiefs. Congratulations to the entire team, Coach Andy Reid, the Hunt family and all of Chiefs Kingdom.
The Chiefs Super Bowl victory parade will be held on Wednesday, February 14 at 11:00 a.m. CT. Following the parade, there will be a rally at Union Station at 12:45 p.m. CT. You can stay up-to-date on all the details here.
Commerce Committee Passes 5-Year Bill to Focus on Aviation Safety & Innovation
On Thursday morning, the Senate Commerce Committee voted to advance the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2023. After months of stalled negotiations, I am pleased to see that our committee worked together in a strong bipartisan fashion to consider amendments and advance the bill to the Senate Floor. The legislation includes several provisions to strengthen safety standards and oversight at the FAA and responds to safety concerns from recent aviation accidents and near-misses. As the lead Republican of the Commerce Aviation Subcommittee, I worked to make certain Kansas continues to play an important role in advancing our aviation industry.
Under this bill, Kansas will have more opportunities for research and development, to build new and modernized airport infrastructure, to support air traffic control operations and to bolster rural airports. While there is more work to be done, this legislation positions the FAA to handle the challenges we face today and in the future.
Specifically, the bill also:
-Promotes women in aviation
-Enables hypersonic flight testing
-Expands access to travel for those with disabilities
-Supports staffing for Air Traffic Control
-Attracts air service to small communities
-Addresses new aircraft entering the airspace
-Modernizes ground-based infrastructure
-Expands the national strategy on Advanced Air Mobility
-Reforms the Federal Contract Tower program
-Safeguards the Essential Air Service program
You can watch my remarks at the Commerce Committee here.
We Live in a Dangerous Time and World
This evening, I spoke on the Senate floor regarding why the United States must be a steadfast and reliable partner in the midst of so many dangers that threaten our nation’s peace and prosperity.
You can watch my full remarks here.
Crisis at the Southern Border
On Wednesday, I voted against the proposed border deal. There is a national security crisis at our southern border, and it is critical we stop the flow of illegal immigration into our country. The border deal fell short of that requirement and there was no path forward for it to become law. I remain committed to pursuing policy changes that will make our nation safer and secure our border.
Advocating for Afghan Partners – “Leave no man behind”
On Thursday, I joined veterans from With Honor Action, Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, No One Left Behind and Operation Recovery to advocate for the passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act. Many of the veterans at the press conference had a personal experience overseas with Afghans who had assisted the troops by acting as translators and guides. After the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, these veterans took action and helped many of their Afghan partners flee to the United States for safety. Unfortunately, many Afghans are still overseas, and those in the U.S. are facing uncertainty as they try to apply for asylum. I am urging my colleagues to include the Afghan Adjustment Act in the National Security supplemental so we can honor our word of “leaving no man behind”.
Remembering Donovan Davis
This week, we learned that Kansas lost one of its finest in the tragic helicopter crash that took the lives of five United States Marines. Lance Cpl. Davis volunteered to serve his country, and at 21 years of age, he paid the ultimate sacrifice. Even in times of peace, our military men and women put themselves at great risk to make certain the troops are always ready to defend our nation if the need should arise.
I can’t even begin to imagine the pain five families and many friends are facing today as they learn of the loss of these young men. Robba and I are praying for the Davis family – and all the military families impacted by this accident.
You can read more about Donovan here.
Reviewing NTSB’s Findings
On Tuesday morning, I attended a briefing with National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Jennifer Homendy following the agency’s release of the preliminary report on the Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 incident last month. I commend the work the NTSB has done thus far into their investigation and the continued professionalism they are displaying throughout this process. I will continue to work with NTSB and the FAA to ensure the flying public is safe and incidents like this never happen again.
Meeting with Blue Origin
This week, I met with the new CEO of Blue Origin, Dave Limp. Blue Origin is working to increase space accessibility while serving the needs of civil, commercial and defense sectors. Their work in the realm will further solidify the U.S. as a leader in the space domain. Kansas suppliers have been an integral part of Blue Origin’s work, and we discussed their growing investment across the state. I look forward to working with Mr. Limp in the years to come to further our nation’s space goals along with Kansas’ role in the space sector.
Meetings with Kansans
Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab
On Tuesday, I met with Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab during his visit to Washington, D.C. for the National Association of Secretaries of State Winter Conference. During our conversation, we discussed voter security and the upcoming 2024 primary and general elections. Thank you to Secretary Schwab for the conversation.
This week, I was joined by Mike Link, Michael Bulk and Lynne Rozine from Kansas Ducks Unlimited. We discussed the conservation efforts throughout Kansas to preserve our wetlands and wildlife habitats. Thank you to Kansas Ducks Unlimited for your work in wildlife conservation and for taking care of our state.
Seward County Community College
It was great to see President of Seward County Community College Brad Bennett and Board of Trustees member John Engle this week. We discussed Seward Community College’s plans to expand their Commercial Driver’s License Program and the growing rates of graduating classes. Seward Community College is helping meet the need of truck drivers across the country and in Kansas through providing a quality and affordable education close to home.
Thank you, President Bennett and John Engle for meeting with me and supporting Kansas communities.
Kansas Rural Water Association
This week, I met with the Kansas Rural Water Association. We discussed the critical water shortage facing western Kansas and the many federal programs used for clean drinking water. I have prioritized funding for programs like the State Revolving Funds, the Source Water Protection Program and technical assistance for small towns. Keeping rural areas’ water safe and affordable is vital to their ability to prosper.
Thank you to Bill Shroyer, Daryn Martin and Elmer Ronnebaum for meeting with me and to the KRWA for all the work they do to deliver clean water to communities across Kansas.
Independence Community College
On Wednesday, I met with the President of Independence Community College, Dr. Vincent Bowhay, to hear about the many areas of educational opportunity and the innovative skills being offered to students enrolled at Independence. It is great to hear how Independence Community College plays a vital role in filling workforce gaps in their community.
Thank you to President Bowhay and Val Defever of the Board of Trustees for taking the time to meet with me this week.
Kansas Main Street
This week, I met with Scott Sewell, the Director of the Kansas Main Street program, which works to address issues facing historic downtowns throughout the state. We discussed federal policies that can strengthen these parts of Kansas and compliment the Main Street Program’s work, including the importance of the Historic Tax Credit program. I am a cosponsor of the Historic Tax Credit Growth and Opportunity Act which would strengthen this program that has assisted in the revitalization of several locations in Kansas.
Thank you to Scott Sewell for meeting with me during his time in Washington.
Kansas Independent College Association & Foundation
Several members of the Kansas Independent College Association, representing 21 private Kansas colleges, were in town this week to discuss issues impacting independent colleges and their students. During the meeting, we highlighted concerns related to federal student loans, such as access to Pell grants. I will continue to advocate for the resources that allow more Kansas students to pursue higher education.
Thanks to Presidents Bill Tsutsui, Amy Carey Bragg, Kathleen Jagger, Sister Diane Steele, Elizabeth Frombgen, Kevin Ingram and Matt Lindsay for the conversation and their dedication to improving education in Kansas.
Pratt Community College
This week, I also had the chance to speak with the President of Pratt Community College, Dr. Mike Calvert, Board of Trustee members Eric Killough and Dean Fitzsimmons, and Eric’s wife Tammy Killough. Our conversation centered on Pratt Community College’s new developments as well as the need to expand Pell grants to include short-term workforce programs and decrease the stigma around not attending a four-year university.
I’m grateful to Dr. Calvert, Eric, Tammy and Dean for spending time with me this week and for the impressive work they’re doing at Pratt Community College.
Meeting with Wireless Infrastructure Association
On Wednesday, I met with representatives from the Wireless Infrastructure Association, which represents the businesses that build, develop and operate our wireless infrastructure. We discussed several priorities, including our national spectrum policy, permitting reform and telecommunications workforce development. Many industries are facing workforce challenges right now, including the telecommunications industry.
Visiting Superior Boiler
On Monday, I toured Superior Boiler in Hutchinson. Since 1917, this company has had an incredible global base of customers, specializing as a world-leading boiler vessel producer. In 2021, Superior Boiler cut a ribbon on a brand new, 75,000 square foot “Plant 3” to support the growth of their business.
My conversations reflected the growing job markets in Kansas and the importance of welding and craftsmanship. Thank you to Christina Nuttman and Danny Lane, CEO of the Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce Debra Teufel for joining me on the tour.
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