Kansas Common Sense
Apr 15 2013
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Explosions in Boston
My prayers are with all those affected by the explosions in Boston today. I am grateful for the emergency responders and bystanders who are acting quickly to help.
Honoring Father Kapaun
On April 11, 2013, our nation’s highest award of valor, the Congressional Medal of Honor, was awarded to Father Emil Kapaun’s family of Pilsen, Kansas, in recognition of the heroism he displayed during his service in the Korean War. Father Emil Kapaun posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his extraordinary bravery while serving with the 3d Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy at Unsan, Korea and as a prisoner of war. After six decades, Father Kapaun received the recognition he deserved for helping to carry an injured American for miles as Chinese captors led them on a death march, and for risking his life to drag the wounded to safety while dodging explosions and gunfire. Once held captive at a POW camp, Father Kapaun cleaned others’ wounds, convinced the Chinese to share scarce food, offered them his own clothes and provided spiritual aid and comfort. On Easter in 1951, he defied his communist captors by conducting Mass with a makeshift crucifix. Father Kapaun has inspired many with his unshakable faith and relentless courage. Home to Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School that honors his name, the Catholic Diocese of Wichita is working to have Father Kapaun named a saint by the Vatican, which has already declared him a “Servant of God,” a first step to sainthood. Since 2009, my colleagues in the United States Congress and I have worked to see that his countless acts of heroism would be recognized with the Medal of Honor and I’m pleased that his legendary story of self-sacrifice was honored with this distinguished award. Click here to see a photo from the ceremony. Click here to watch the Hall of Heroes ceremony.
President Obama’s Budget Request
Wednesday, President Obama submitted his FY 2014 budget request to Congress. Despite trillion-dollar deficits every year of his presidency, it is encouraging to see President Obama begin to accept reality and consider reforms to our long-term unfunded liabilities. However, it is far from the serious, reform-oriented budget our country so desperately needs. Every dollar of deficit reduction the President proposes comes from tax increases on families, small businesses and job creators which will hurt our already fragile economic recovery.
Though disappointed, I remain steadfast in my commitment to addressing our national debt and will closely examine and evaluate the provisions of the President’s proposal. I hope to work with my Senate colleagues to pass a federal budget that funds the government’s liabilities while facilitating a pro-growth environment and making the smart spending cuts needed to reduce our deficit.
Step in the Right Direction for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility
On Wednesday, I received a phone call from the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security regarding the President’s 2014 Budget request committing $714 million for the construction of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) main laboratory in Manhattan. In conjunction with Kansas’ proposed increased cost share of $202 million, the Federal-State partnership will provide full funding for the main laboratory construction. The commitment is good news for Kansas, agriculture, and the economy because without the capabilities the NBAF will provide, our country is at risk from foreign animal disease threats. Although challenges remain, I will continue to work toward construction of NBAF – an essential part of our national security apparatus. I was able to share this good news with Kansas State University President, Kirk Schulz, and other university personnel on Wednesday as well. This is a tremendous step forward for NBAF, Kansas State University and national security for our nation.
Meeting with Kansas City United Way President and CEO
On Wednesday, I was delighted to meet with Wendell Maddox, President and CEO of United Way in Kansas City, Kansas, to discuss local workforce, training and education issues. As part of his role at United Way, Wendell operates the local YouthBuild program, serving 10,000 young people every year. Nearly four in five students at YouthBuild in Kansas City complete the program, and two-thirds get placed in jobs or colleges within three months.
In addition, Wendell serves on the Kansas City Kansas Community College (KCKCC) Board of Trustees and the Workforce Investment board in Kansas City. KCKCC is working on a project called Training for Employment (T4E) to train students in areas such as machine technology, welding, and construction. A brand new, state-of-the-art Training Employment Center scheduled to open in the fall will be a tremendous benefit to their efforts to help trainees find jobs.
Working closely with the numerous businesses, including the startup community forming around Google Fiber, Wendell’s efforts in workforce services will allow these businesses to expand, create jobs, and boost economic growth in the Kansas City area. Thanks so much to Wendell and the hardworking folks at the United Way for all they do on behalf of Kansas.
Visiting the United States Military Academy at West Point
I had the pleasure of visiting the United States Military Academy at West Point where some of our nation’s finest young men and women are working toward undergraduate degrees. Before meeting with cadets, I had the honor of visiting with the West Point Administration and learning about the issues facing the academy. I ate lunch in the dining hall with the nearly 4,400 cadets who hail from all across the United States. Following lunch, I spoke to a political science class about current events in Washington, and I really enjoyed speaking and taking questions from such a committed and intelligent group of young people. Visiting with some of the Kansas cadets I nominated to attend the academy was definitely the highlight of my visit. West Point is a special place, and it is great to see so many young people committed to service and our country. Thank you to West Point Administrators and the cadets for welcoming me. Click here to see a photo from my visit.
Meeting with University of Kansas Interns
On Thursday, I met with students from University of Kansas (KU) who are spending the spring semester interning at various offices in Washington, D.C. During the visit, I answered questions about my career path to becoming a U.S. Senator, my view of Congress and the direction of the country, and how much I enjoy directly helping Kansans through case work.
It’s an inspiring thing. I was an intern myself; it’s what got me interested in public service and running for office, but what it reminds me of is that there are a lot of great young people across our state who have an interest in doing something with their lives that will make a difference in other people’s lives. It’s a reminder that I need to do my job well so they have great futures, but it’s also an inspiration that good things are going to happen in this country because we have good kids in Kansas. Click here to hear me speak about the intern experience.
Pictured from left: Dustin Morris, Wichita; James Reynolds, Derby; Karina Kiewel, Lawrence; Pascal Hirwa, Wichita; Mitch Rucker, Burdett; Max Mays, Lawrence; Zinnia Khan, Wichita; Gary Meltz, Program Supervisor; Sen. Moran, Plainville; Alec Bachman, Wichita; Nick Herrmann, Holcomb; Rachael DeGarmo, Valley Center; Shancy Kelly, Lansing; Erin Heckerhorn, Cheney; and Marveen Paransothy, Lawrence.
2013 Kansas High School Assistant Principal of the Year
On Thursday I met with Tom Albers, Assistant Principal at Hays High School, to congratulate him on being selected as the 2013 Kansas High School Assistant Principal of the Year. Mr. Albers was selected to receive the award by his peers. The award is presented annually to an exemplary assistant principal by the Kansas Association of Secondary School Principals. Mr. Albers was in Washington, D.C. last week for the National Assistant Principals Week hosted by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
Since 2002, Mr. Albers has served as Hays High School Assistant Principal. Previously, he served as assistant principal at Pittsburg High School, and before that as a mathematics instructor at Pratt High School and Liberty Middle School in Pratt. During his time at Pratt High School, he also coached football and basketball. Mr. Albers earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Fort Hays State University (FHSU) in 1988, and a master’s degree in education administration from FHSU in 1998.
In order to be successful, our schools need committed, positive leaders, and I commend Tom for his dedication to helping Kansas students reach their full potentials in the classroom and beyond. My two daughters attended Hays High School during his tenure, so I know first-hand how deserving Tom is of this award. Again, Congratulations to Mr. Albers on this outstanding achievement. Click here to see a photo from their visit.
Senate Prepares for Vote on CMS Administrator
On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee examined the nomination of Marilyn Tavenner to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS is the division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services responsible for administering Medicare and Medicaid. Ms. Tavenner has been serving as acting administrator of CMS since 2011. A Senate confirmation vote on her appointment could take place as early as next week.
Last August, Ms. Tavenner accepted my invitation to visit Kansas and learn more about the unique challenges facing health care providers and patients in my state and across rural America. Through my discussions with her in Kansas and my work with her on related health care matters important to our state, I have found her to be capable and diligent. As a former nurse and hospital administrator, I am confident she has a thorough understanding of the health care system and the challenges facing it. While I oppose many of the Administration’s health policies, I believe Ms. Tavenner is a strong choice to manage CMS, and I plan to support her nomination. Click here to read more about my visits with Ms. Tavenner in Kansas this past August.
Remembering the Victims of the Holocaust
Monday was Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom HaShoah. Each year, Holocaust Remembrance Day is a reminder of the evil that exists in the world and the responsibility we each have to love our neighbors as ourselves. This year, Holocaust Remembrance Day also marked the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. While the Holocaust was one of the darkest events in humanity, we cannot forget the stories of bravery, unexpected kindness, and self-sacrifice that occurred during this terrible period.
This week, I received a call from Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus delivering exciting news: the Navy will recognize the city of Wichita with a new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) bearing its name. Two great ships have already carried Wichita’s namesake, and its re-selection is a real honor for the city and for Kansas. The ship will be designed to defeat growing littoral threats and provide access and dominance in the coastal waters. A fast, agile surface combatant, the LCS provides the required war fighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute focused missions close to the shore.
Eggs and Issues
Saturday, the Hays Chamber of Commerce allowed me to join Rep. Sue Boldra and State Senator Ralph Ostmeyer at the Eggs and Issues forum. I appreciated the questions and comments community members made regarding foreign aid, gun control, education and the Affordable Care Act. It was good input and common sense before I returned to DC today.
In the Office
Last week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below:
American Heart Association
Con Olson of Holton
Stephanie Moss of Overland Park
Susan Gray of Topeka
Kevin Karker of Leawood
Kaala Berry of Overland Park
Kansas Alliance for Arts in Education
Barbara Warady of Overland Park
Mary Kennedy of Lawrence
National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors
Rhonda Knudson of Great Bend
Jim Duitsman of Atchinson
Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace and Justice
Beth Sonnerville of Lenexa
Rubea stouppe of Hutchinson
Marcee Binder of Independence
Jo Ann Mark of Wichita
Reverend Diana Chapel of Manhattan
Becky Batthazar of Wichita
Margaret Blankers of Lenexa
Gary Balnkers of Lenexa
Glenda Watts of Prairie Village
Gail Cunningham of Leawood
Jay McKell of Overland Park
Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy
Diana Lee of Lawrence
National Association of Postal Supervisors
Larry Ewing of Topeka
Dawn Neece of Mulvane
Kit Rogers of Wichita
Steve Cartwright of Shawnee
Gary Townson of Rose Hill
Mitch Bilyed of Shawnee
Stephnie Alexandar of Topeka
Will Milntyre of Gardner
Delta Dental of Kansas, Inc.
Mindy McPheeters of Wichita
National Association of Realtors: Institute of Real Estate Management
Clark Lindstrom of Wichita
Craig Hanson of Wichita
Craig Cooper of Leawood
Don Gissen of Prairie Village
Brad Ashlek of Prairie Village
Association of Energy Service Companies
Dick Schremmer of Derby
Kansas State University Deans
Debbie Mercer of Manhattan
Sue Maes of Manhattan
Peter Dorhout of Manhattan
Wendell Maddox of Kansas City
Kansas Interfaith Power and Light
Rabbi Moti Rieber of Lawrence
Reverend John Martin of Wichita
Kansas State University President
Kirk Schulz of Manhattan
Sue Peterson of Manhattan
Mike Chisam of Lyons
Tom Willis of Liberal
Ed Condon of Garden City
Benefit Management Inc.
Chad Somers of Great Bend
Kansas Motor Carriers Association
John Prather of El Dorado
Jane Westerman of Dodge City
Tom Whitaker of Topeka
National Association of Wheat Growers
Paul Penner of Hillsborough
Will Stafford of Hillsborough
Jason West of Sterling
John Bush of Sterling
KU Wounded Warrior Scholarships and Dole Center
Colonel Mike Denning of Lawrence
University of Kansas Washington Internship Program
Alec Bachman of Wichita
Erin Heckerhorn of Cheney
Shancy Kelly of Lansing
Karina Kiewel of Lawrence
Max Mays of Lawrence
Marveen Paransothy of Lawrence
James Reynolds of Derby
Pascal Hirwa of Wichita
Zinnia Khan of Wichita
National Association of Social Workers
Sky Westerland of Lawrence
Daryl Handlin of Wichita
Alliance for Main Street Fairness
Sarah Bagby of Wichita
Jeff Koenig of Manhattan
Lawrence Chamber of Commerce
Hugh Carter of Lawrence
Greg Williams of Lawrence
Child Care aware of Kansas
Leadell Ediger of Salina
Tanya Koehn of Salina
Michelle Gilbert of Topeka
Ann Elliott of Pittsburg
Katrina Ball of Kansas City
Cheryl Dunn of Wichita
Kansas Association of Secondary School Principals
Tom and Tina Albers of Hays
National Association of Professional Insurance Agents
Bob Shields of Oswego
Sue Peachey of Pratt
American Academy of Ophthalmology
John Sutphin of Leawood
Susan Mosier of Lawrence
Andren Wang of Prairie Village
Bill Clifford of Garden City
Select Specialty Hospitals
Jon Scott of Topeka
Peggy Cliffe of Wichita
Alan Feary of Wichita
Promotional Products Association
Tiffany Tarr of Olathe
Janie Gaunce of Lenexa
Mother & Child Health Coalition
Jean Craig of Kansas City
U.S. Travel Association
Rebecca Blake of Manhattan
Jan Sterens of Dodge City
Donna Price of Goodland
Washington Education Tech Policy Summit
Lawrence Ressler of Hillsboro
Sarah Ottaway of Wichita
Christine Nickel of Wichita
Clark and Cheryl Lindstrom of Wichita
Drexa Geier of Pittsburg
Bette Lammerding of Marysville
Marvin Schlatter of Marysville
Cindy Green of Lenexa
Honored to Serve You in Washington
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. In recent weeks, I’ve been listening to Kansans calling and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the debt crisis and big issues our country faces. Whether your thoughts are in the form of letter, a Facebook comment or a phone call, please know that I am listening and I appreciate messages from Kansans who wish to make their voice heard.
Very truly yours,
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