Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” I am already back in Washington, D.C. and ready to work. It was good to spend the days around Easter in Kansas. Thank you 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.
Wrapping Up Second Tour of Kansas’ 105 Counties
This week, I completed my second series of town hall meetings in each of Kansas’ 105 counties with stops in Goodland, Tribune, Leoti, Satanta, Greensburg, Pratt and South Hutchinson. Thanks to each of the communities for the welcome and conversations about issues affecting Kansas and the country. Click here to see a story about why I find town hall meetings so valuable in The Hutchinson News. For upcoming town hall meetings, visit my website.
I held my Sherman County Kansas Listening Tour stop in Goodland at the Shiraz Restaurant. Thanks to the folks who came out to share concerns about a number of issues including VA health care, the Iran nuclear deal, the Keystone XL Pipeline and Farm Bill implementation. Thank you also to State Rep. Rick Billinger for attending and Penny Livengood for hosting.
Thanks to the 20 Greeley County area residents for attending my Kansas Listening Tour stop in Tribune. We visited about numerous issues facing our state and nation including the new veteran's health care law, the budget, protecting privacy and the Iran nuclear deal. Thanks also to Kansas Rep. Russell Jennings for attending and to Kristen Crittenden for hosting the conversation.
Next, I stopped in Wichita County where area residents shared feedback with me on the lesser prairie chicken listing, Waters of the United States, border security and federal government overreach. Thanks to the 20 folks who attended including Kansas Rep. Don Hineman. I appreciated Simone Elder for hosting at the Wichita County Business C.A.R.E. Center.
My last Kansas Listening Tour stop on Thursday was in conjunction with the Satanta Lions Club Meeting. It was great to have so many Haskell County residents attend and visit with me about issues facing our state and nation. Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization, including more than 270 clubs in Kansas. In addition to its efforts to conquer blindness, the organization has made a strong commitment to community service, disaster relief, and helping youth in Kansas and throughout the world. Thanks to Kansas Rep. Steve Alford for attending, and to the Satanta Lions Club for hosting.
Thanks to the more than 20 Kiowa County residents who came out to my Kansas Listening Tour stop in Greensburg. We discussed a number of issues important to this resilient community, our state and the nation including veterans' affairs, the Greensburg Post Office and overall community recovery, health care and the confusing tax code. Thanks to Kiowa County Memorial Hospital Administrator Mary Sweet for hosting the event.
It was great to have nearly 50 folks come out for my town hall meeting at Pratt Community College. We discussed veterans’ issues, importance of the SGR Doc Fix, concerns regarding the USDA’s Dietary Guideline Recommendations, Iran nuclear deal and the need for manufacturing jobs. Thanks to Pratt Community College President Dr. Mike Calvert and Debbie Hearn for hosting the conversation.
In South Hutchinson, special thanks to Kansas Rep. Jan Pauls, County Commissioner Dan Deming and Dr. Ed Berger for attending. Thank you also to South Hutchinson City Administrator Matt Stiles for arranging the visit, and to South Hutchinson Housing Authority Executive Director Annette Boyer for hosting. Here, I'm pictured visiting after the meeting with Mo Yoder.
Iran’s Leaders Dispute Framework, Demonstrate Additional Need for Congressional Oversight
Since the announcement of agreed framework for an international accord regarding Iran’s nuclear program, there has been a surprising amount of disagreement. Iranian leaders object to the terms of the framework as outlined in the summarizing “fact sheet” published by the Obama Administration.
These disagreements are not insignificant and threaten key provisions of the proposed deal. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has claimed his support, necessary for a nuclear deal, requires all sanctions to be lifted immediately upon Iran's signature.
This demand is unacceptable and problematic as diplomats attempt to negotiate a final deal by June 30. Given the gravity and lack of clarity of the negotiations to date, Congress must have an opportunity to review and evaluate any such deal. This week, the Senate is considering bipartisan legislation, the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (S. 615) that would require as much. I support this legislation and the broader position that Congress and the American people should have a say in the final decision on policy of such importance as preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
University of Kansas Medical Center Visit
Before heading West, I toured the research laboratories at the University of Kansas Medical Center’s Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology and received a briefing on current research projects. The success of KUMC is directly associated with the quality its research and education. This tradition of excellence resulted in the KU Kansas Cancer Center earning prestigious National Cancer Institute designation in 2012. And KUMC’s reputation attracts the best and brightest, enabling our state to continue developing into a research powerhouse.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Health Subcommittee, I strongly support investing in medical research. By doing so, we are investing in our future and driving economic growth. Pictured with me is the impressive lab team I met on Monday – left to right: Isabella Fuentes, Julie Christianson (Assistant Professor), Angela Pierce, and Frank Wang. Thanks again to Karen L Miller, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Professions; Peter G. Smith, Ph.D., Senior Associate Dean of Research; and Jamie Caldwell, M.B.A., Executive Director of the KU Medical Center Research Institute for the impressive and informative visit.
Visiting Kansas Community Hospitals
This week, I met with hospital administrators and health care providers at three Kansas community hospitals to learn more about their efforts to provide quality care to patients. During my time representing Kansans in Washington, D.C., I have had the opportunity to visit each of the 128 community hospitals in Kansas. Meeting with Kansas hospital administrators, physicians, nurses and other staff gives me important insight on the challenges they face caring for patients.
Rawlins County Health Center
On Thursday, I traveled to Atwood to visit Rawlins County Health Center (RCHC). RCHC is a Critical Access Hospital (CAH) with more than 70 employees, making it one of the largest employers in Rawlins County. Access to hospitals like RCHC and other health care providers determines whether Kansans can remain in the communities they call home, and whether their children can return to raise families of their own. During my visit, our conversation focused on the importance of access to quality health care services, as well as how local providers utilize resources to care for patients spread across a wide geographic area. Thanks to RCHC CEO/Administrator Sharon Cox for the tour.
Cheyenne County Hospital
Later Thursday morning, I stopped in Saint Francis to visit Cheyenne County Hospital (CCH) – also a CAH. CCH CEO Scott Jenkins led me on a tour of the facility. During the visit, we discussed ways to encourage young people pursuing careers in health care to return to Kansas and their hometown to practice their profession. The federal government should create an environment that helps – not hinders – the ability of our Kansas communities to recruit and retain highly qualified medical professionals. Since Scott is a Saint Francis native, his insight on this subject is particularly useful. Thanks to Scott, and all the CCH administrators and medical staff for the informative visit.
Western Plains Medical Complex
On Friday, I was in Dodge City to visit the Western Plains Medical Complex (WPMC). WPMC is a 99-bed hospital that serves as a regional patient referral center for Southwest Kansas. Since my last visit, WPMC has made several significant investments in its facility including a new therapy pool, special procedures room and state-of-the-art communications technologies. Late last year, WPMC also broke ground on a new Women’s Center, and expects the it to begin serving patients in June. The new, 13,000 square foot facility will be connected to the main hospital and feature 10 rooms for labor, delivery, recover and postpartum care. Thanks to WPMC CEO Mike Burroughs for the tour and work to enhance the quality of care delivered to folks in Dodge City and the surrounding area.
Kansas National Guard Joint Force Headquarters
On Tuesday, I visited the Kansas National Guard (KSNG) Joint Force Headquarters in Topeka to learn more about their innovative analytical and intelligence capabilities with the Fusion Center, and how they are used against existing and emerging threats to the homeland. The Fusion Center in Kansas offers a one-of-a-kind model that is capable of collaborating with various federal agencies and private sector partners to analyze and prevent potential biological, terrorist and cyber threats in Kansas and across the country. Thanks to The Adjutant General of Kansas, Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, for his leadership on this critical effort and for taking the time to explain the instrumental work the Fusion Center conducts to protect Kansans and all Americans.
Stopping by Tony’s Pizza Plant in Salina
On Wednesday, I stopped by Tony's Pizza Plant in Salina where I was honored to be presented with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence by Schwan Food Company Senior Director of Manufacturing/Tony's Pizza Plant Director John St. Aubin.
Representing a state that is home to nearly 3,200 aviation and manufacturing businesses, I understand the importance of investing in jobs and manufacturing right here in the United States. Exports are vital to the Kansas economy and Kansas jobs, and our state must continue to build quality products to stay competitive in the global marketplace. I will continue my efforts in Congress to support this important industry, as Kansans continue to build quality products that allow our businesses to stay competitive in the global marketplace. Thanks to President Jay Timmons and Chip Tangen at NAM, as well as Tony’s Pizza Plant director John St. Aubin, for their kind words and hospitality.
Opening of new Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport
It was a pleasure to tour the new Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport over the weekend. With the Air Capital of the World’s deep roots in aviation, the Wichita community now has an airport that fits its rich tradition while honoring Kansas’ own President Eisenhower. The new terminal will officially open in May. Here, I'm pictured with Basehor resident Merrill Eisenhower Atwater—the President's great grandson.
Honoring Robert Carmichael’s Life
In every Kansas community one person can make a tremendous difference. At the United Methodist Church in Plainville over the weekend we honored the life of Robert Carmichael, longtime business owner and civic leader who did just that. Bob and Erma and their family were our neighbors for awhile and my employer in Junior High and High School. Robba and I offer our condolences on Bob's death, and gratitude for a longtime friendship between our families. Thanks Bob for making Plainville a better place with a brighter future. Robba and I extend our sympathies and prayers to Robert’s entire family, including his wife Erma, and children Wes, Kelly and Robyn.
Kansans in the Office
Bipartisan Policy Center
Laura Hall of Overland Park
Olathe Medical Center
Phil Schneider of Lenexa
Radiology Services Corporation
Lachelle Peterson of Wichita
Cayle Hahn of Leoti
Victoria Hahn of Leoti
John ElAttrache of Olathe
Parker ElAttrache of Olathe
Ted Christensen of Topeka
Kelly Christensen of Topeka
Cody Christensen of Topeka
Armin Kelly of Plainville
Vicki Kelly of Plainville
Philip Steen of Manhattan
Patty Steen of Manhattan
Vincent Kramer of Manhattan
Ramona Kramer of Manhattan
Jerome Lang of Hoisington
Janelle Lang of Hoisington
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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