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.
Kansas Listening Tour Continues
This week, I continued my Kansas Listening Tour with visits to Graham County and Ness County. On Monday evening, nearly 35 area residents turned out at Red’s Family Restaurant in Hill City to share their thoughts and concerns on a wide array of topics including improving wind energy infrastructure, crop insurance, the debt ceiling, college tuition and Second Amendment rights. I appreciated the individuals who came to share feedback including Rep. Ken Rahjes. Dr. John Ella Holmes of the Nicodemus Educational Institute, and Angela Bates of the Nicodemus Historical Society also attended. We discussed the historic site — the oldest and only remaining African American settlement west of the Mississippi River. Thanks to Jim Logback for coordinating the event.
On Tuesday, about 50 Ness County residents came out to Grisell Memorial Hospital in Ransom to visit with me and share their thoughts and concerns. Topics included veterans’ health care and issues with the Choice Act, our Second Amendment freedoms, opposition to the omnibus spending bill, and government overregulation. Thanks again to everyone who came out, especially Principal Debbie Hagans and the 6th grade class from Sacred Heart School in Ness City. It is inspiring to see the next generation interested in learning about our democracy. Thanks also to Reps. John Ewy and Bud Estes for attending. Finally, thanks to David Caudill of Grisell Memorial Hospital and several members of his staff for making the facility available and welcoming me.
Visiting Smith Center Junior/Senior High School
It was a pleasure to tour Smith Center Junior/Senior High School this week with Principal Greg Koelsch and students Mehgan Snyder, Michelle Palmer, Macy Nixon and Ashley Johnson. School teachers and administrators play a critically important role in making certain our children develop the skills necessary to be successful in life. The future of both our state and nation is linked to the quality of our children’s education, and it’s always inspiring to see what good teachers, students and administrators we have in Kansas.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations education subcommittee, I am committed to working to improve federal education policy so our schools have the flexibility to meet the unique educational needs of their students. Congress and the federal government should be focused on empowering decision making at the local level, not saddling our schools with more burdensome mandates. I enjoyed being in Smith Center and seeing firsthand the pride that the Smith Center community takes in the academic and athletic excellence of its students. Thanks again to Principal Koelsch and the students who took time out of their day to show me around campus.
Touring Hanover Hospital and Norton County Hospital
On Monday, I also had the opportunity to visit two Critical Access Hospitals that provide important health care services to their communities. Kansans’ access to quality health care services often determines whether they can remain in the communities they call home. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Health Subcommittee, it is useful for me to visit these and other Kansas health facilities to learn more about how providers utilize resources to care for patients, many of whom are spread across large areas of our state.
On Monday morning, I visited Hanover Hospital and met with Administrator Dr. Roger Warren. During the visit, I learned about services being provided to the community and the focus on the health care needs of Hanover. We discussed issues stemming from insurance claims, Medicare reimbursement, and the difficulties facing rural hospitals.
In the afternoon, I was able to visit Norton County Hospital and tour the facilities with CEO Ryan Stover. Our discussions focused on Medicare reimbursement, increasing access to health care, and the continuing implementation of electronic health records. It is important that federal policies enable hospitals like Norton County to continue to provide quality health care to their community. Thanks again to CEO Stover for hosting me.
Kansas and other rural parts of America face unique health challenges, and providing health services in these locations requires a tireless dedication. The special way of life we live in rural towns would not be possible without access to quality health care, and federal policies must enable these rural health facilities the ability to continue to serve their communities.
Hill City Lions Club
On Monday evening, I spoke to the Hill City Lions Club at Red’s Family Restaurant, and enjoyed sharing a few stories with the group about my time as a member of the Hill City Lions Club years ago. It was good to see several familiar faces and longtime friends. Communities across our state are strengthened by the Kansans who participate in civic clubs. Lions Clubs work to make Kansas communities strong and I have been a proud member of Lions Clubs for nearly 40 years. Thanks to Jim Logback for coordinating the event and the hospitality of the Lions Club Members for allowing me to join them for the meeting.
Bill Repealing Obamacare Sent to President’s Desk
For the first time, a bill that would repeal major portions of the Affordable Care Act will reach the president’s desk. The Senate passed the Restoring American’s Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act on December 3, 2015, legislation to dismantle much of the flawed 2010 law and suspend funding to Planned Parenthood. This bill was passed Thursday by the House of Representatives and President Obama vetoed the bill on Friday.
It has been more than five years since Obamacare was rammed through Congress on a purely partisan basis in the face of significant public opposition. After all this time, most Americans still oppose this unprecedented expansion of federal government intrusion into health care decisions for families and job creators. The 2,700-page law has burdened millions of Americans with a litany of broken promises, higher taxes and costs, reduced health care choices, and new regulations that have stifled the economy. Individuals, families and employers continue to face increasing health insurance costs, new taxes overseen by a politically-biased IRS, burdensome mandates, and great uncertainty because of the Affordable Care Act. By repealing Obamacare, we can replace it with step-by-step improvements to enable individuals to purchase affordable health coverage that meets their unique needs and lower overall costs. Click here for more information on the passage of legislation to repeal Obamacare.
Risking National Security – New Transfer of GITMO Detainees
President Obama released four more Guantanamo Bay detainees with connections to Al Qaeda this week, ignoring the serious concerns of millions of Americans and senior U.S. military leaders who have been prevented from expressing their opposition. The administration’s continued efforts to release terrorist detainees is an attempt to unlawfully close GITMO and move the remaining terrorists to U.S. soil. Congress has repeatedly passed laws to prevent the transfer of detainees and closure of GITMO, yet the Administration continues to search for ways to get around the objections of both Congress and the American people.
A critical national security decision deserves critical thought. Over the last seven years, this Administration has been incapable of presenting a comprehensive, legally justifiable closure and relocation plan that maintains the safety and security of American citizens. I am committed to blocking the closing of GITMO, and will continue to uphold mandates by Congress and current law that prohibits the transfer of prisoners to Kansas or anywhere else in the United States.
President Cannot Infringe on Our Second Amendment Rights
This week, President Obama announced new executive orders that once again bypass Congress in an effort to curb the rights of law-abiding citizens. The Second Amendment and our constitutional rights are too important to sign away from the Oval Office without any debate within Congress. The president’s continued efforts to undermine the authority of the legislative branch and the people it serves cannot be accepted. While much needs to be done to prevent violent crime in our nation, this can be accomplished by redoubling our efforts to enforce all existing gun laws and use our legal power to prosecute criminals who misuse firearms to the fullest extent of the law.
Dietary Guidelines for Americans Released
This week, the updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released. These guidelines, which form the basis of federal nutrition policy and influence many Americans’ eating patterns, are reviewed every five years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Earlier this year, an advisory committee report made recommendations to USDA and HHS on the guidelines based on environmental sustainability, a field outside the committee members’ charter, background and expertise. Due to serious concerns, the dietary guidelines were being influenced by politics rather than driven by science, I included instructions in the FY2016 Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill directing USDA and HHS to formulate the guidelines solely on dietary science. I also used my role as Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman to voice my concerns to Secretary Vilsack, both in hearings and privately. I appreciate USDA, as well as HHS, taking my concerns into account.
I am also pleased the guidelines recommend that Americans include lean meat as part of a healthy, nutritious diet. The same March 2015 advisory committee report that took environmental sustainability factors into account in its recommendations also left lean red meat out of what it considers to be a healthy diet. This was greatly concerning to dietitians who support consumption of lean red meat and alarming to Kansas livestock producers who produce high quality, nutritious food products for American consumption.
Legislation to Restrict International Terror Financing Becomes Law
One of the final bills to pass Congress before the holidays was the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act (H.R. 2297). I cosponsored this legislation to constrict the resources of a global terrorist organization supported by the Iranian government. While there is no quick fix to reverse the harm caused by of President Obama’s troubled foreign policy, I was pleased to see him sign this important bipartisan legislation into law. It is a positive action that will help combat the threats of newly emboldened and enriched extremists in Iran and a Middle East in alarming disarray. Hizballah is a U.S. Department of State designated foreign terrorist organization (FTO). This law will limit the extremist group’s access to international financial institutions and restrict their ability to fund terror.
Coming Up: Q&A on Smoky Hills Public Television
This Thursday, January 14, I will appear on Smoky Hills Public Television's “Conversation with Senator Jerry Moran.” The show is a 60-minute, live question-and-answer forum and will be moderated by Fort Hays State University's Dr. Chapman Rackaway.
You can view the broadcast live on Smoky Hills Public Television including KOOD/Hays, Channel 16; KSWK/Lakin, Channel 8; KDCK/Dodge City, Channel 21; KWKS/Colby, Channel 19; and DirecTV & Dish Network, Channel 9. The program will also be live-streamed on the Smoky Hills Public Television website, shptv.org. If you’re interested in calling in to ask questions or share feedback, the number to dial is 1-800-337-4788.
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., 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
Jenna Dibble of Osborne
Bread for the World
Madison Stadel of Burlington
Katie Andrusak of Wichita
Kristin Larios 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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