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.

Presidents Day
I encourage you to visit the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene to learn more about the life and legacy of Kansas’ own President Eisenhower. Click here for information about the library.

On Presidents Day, NIA Director Dr. Richard J. Hodes in Kansas
The Director of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Dr. Richard J. Hodes joined me in Kansas on Monday to learn about promising medical research occurring in Kansas. As part of our visit, we toured the University of Kansas Alzheimer’s Disease Center (ADC) and got an overview of exciting NIA-supported Alzheimer’s research taking place in Kansas. NIA is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

Following our visit at KU ADC, Dr. Hodes spoke before an audience of Alzheimer’s disease and medical research advocates about the current state of Alzheimer’s disease research. Our afternoon also included visits with student and faculty researchers at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million Americans. Experts predict that with the aging of the U.S. population, the number of Alzheimer’s cases may triple by the year 2050. Thankfully, medical research offers hope to those individuals and families affected by this terrible disease.

As a member of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer's disease, I support this research because if we can find effective treatments for Alzheimer's disease and dementia, we can extend quality of life for patients and also significantly reduce the cost of care in years to come. I’m grateful that Dr. Hodes accepted my invitation to Kansas, and appreciated the opportunity to highlight several important medical research initiatives in our state.

Thanks to Dennis and Stephene Moore, and all the Alzheimer’s Association leaders and volunteers in Kansas for their enthusiastic participation in Dr. Hodes’ visit, especially those representing the Heart of America Chapter and the Central and Western Kansas Chapter in Kansas. Their advocacy plays an important role in my efforts to educate my colleagues in Congress about the importance of supporting medical research that leads to new and better ways to diagnose, treat, and hopefully prevent and cure Alzheimer's disease and other diseases in the future.

Tougher Sanctions on North Korea
Over the past decade, Congress has been the strongest force in punishing those who seek to build and expand their nuclear weapons capabilities. This week, I supported imposing enhanced sanctions on North Korea in an effort to curb its nuclear proliferation, cyberattacks, and human rights violations. The Senate on Wednesday passed the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act, which requires mandatory sanctions on the Kim Jong-Un regime and any foreign entity that supports the regime’s illegal activities. North Korea represents a major threat to regional and global security, including to the American homeland, and it is painfully clear that the status quo is not working. Every effort must be made to convince this regime to surrender their nuclear weapons and cease their illegal activities, and this legislation is a strong, bipartisan attempt to accomplish that goal. Click the video below to watch Sen. Moran's remarks.

FAA Reauthorization
This week the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed the Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act (H.R. 4114), by a vote of 32-26. This legislation would drastically overhaul the national Air Traffic Control (ATC) system, transferring over the nation’s skies to a new, privatized corporation governed by a board of aviation industry stakeholders. Although the AIRR Act takes some important steps towards reform and policy advancements, I have major concerns with its consequences to general aviation and its impact on our small and rural communities.

By privatizing the ATC system, there is a real threat that general aviation could face higher costs and unfair fees without the ability of citizens to affect change through their elected officials. While I have long been frustrated with FAA bureaucracy and overreach, handing over all authority to airspace access, airport funding and investment, fees, charges, and tower operations to a private board with no government or consumer recourse is a misguided idea that could create more problems than it actually solves. General aviation has long been a major part of our Kansans economy and a huge contributor to our national economic success – we should not ignore these concerns and risk damaging this important industry.

With FAA funding set to expire on March 31, 2016, the Senate Commerce Committee is expected to consider FAA Reauthorization legislation in the coming weeks. I will make certain the concerns of Kansans are heard and look forward to a robust debate as we work to provide long-term certainty and stability for our aviation system.

Improving Child Safety on Airplanes
I introduced legislation this week with U.S. Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii that would urge the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to update its regulations regarding the medications and equipment required to be carried in airplane medical kits in order to better serve children in-flight. This commonsense legislation would be useful in making certain medical tools for children – who make up 25 percent of the population and are most vulnerable in an emergency – are available. Click here to learn more.

Supporting our Manufacturing Communities
This week I introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Made in America Manufacturing Communities Act (S. 2526). This legislation will ensure that our manufacturing communities continue to innovate and remain competitive in the global marketplace.   

Kansas is home to nearly 3,200 aviation and manufacturing businesses, and is a driver of innovation and technological achievement around the world.  By encouraging productive, public-private partnerships we can help our manufacturing centers grow and create good-paying jobs here at home.  As the United States moves into the 21st century, we must remain cognizant that other nations continue to advance and challenge our place on the global stage.  In order to meet the challenge, Congress must put partisan politics aside and work to foster an environment that strongly positions our workers, businesses, states and country for success in this new economic reality.

National Tribal Colleges and Universities Week
I was proud to join 21 of my colleagues to pass a resolution designating this week as National Tribal Colleges & Universities week. Our state’s own tribal university, Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, enrolls nearly 1,000 students each year. The education provided by places like Haskell helps to build stronger economies, tribal leadership and communities. The important work taking place at tribal colleges and universities is reflected by the accomplishments of their students – both of which are deserving of our recognition and praise.

Senate Health Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing on Zika Request
In the Senate Appropriations Health Subcommittee on Thursday, Director Tom Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Director Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) testified to shed light on the threat of the Zika virus to the United States and their plans to keep Americans safe. The Zika virus outbreak, originating in South America, has the capacity to spread quickly through mosquitos transferring the virus to humans. Although the virus itself is not deadly, the growing connection between the Zika virus and birth defects in pregnant women who have been infected is troubling and highlights the importance of preventing outbreaks in the United States and its Territories. I appreciate the proactive approach of the CDC in protecting Americans from this virus and their efforts to better understand this virus in order to effectively test for and prevent further infections. I take the defense of our country from dangerous diseases and viruses seriously and I will be closely monitoring future developments on this topic.

The Power of Technology
I spoke to a group of telecommunications and technology executives in Washington on Wednesday. The group included representatives from many companies who provide services to Kansans, including Sprint, Google, Netflix and Amazon. The focus of our conversation was clear: rural America needs better access to quality Internet and phone service. As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, I am working to advance policies that improve the lives of Kansans – and a big part of that is our communications services.

A Google representative shared a very compelling story about an experience he had in Kansas while working to deploy Google Fiber. A married couple approached him – nearly in tears – and told him that their grown son would be moving back to Kansas from New York City, because the quality of Internet service in Kansas City would now be far superior to New York, where he had moved after college. As a software developer, it made more sense for him to come home to Kansas and be with his family. This is the power of technology, and I am fighting in D.C. to ensure that we have more stories like this one.

Discussing Budget Priorities with Air Force Leadership
On Wednesday the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense held a hearing regarding the Air Force Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request with the Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh. I am pleased that the Air Force recognizes the capabilities of the airmen at McConnell Air Force Base, and has continued to make them and the base in Wichita a priority. The FY17 budget requests funding for a new Air Traffic Control Tower on McConnell AFB, as well as funding to complete the remaining construction projects needed to ready the base for the arrival of the KC-46A Air Refueling Tanker later this year. 

Secretary James and General Welsh reported that the KC-46A program is on schedule, and I look forward to accompanying the Secretary for a tour on McConnell AFB later this year. Additionally, they expressed their commitment to expanding the Air Force’s cyber warfare capabilities. The cyber capabilities in the Kansas National Guard at McConnell AFB are uniquely qualified to carry out critical cyber missions for the Air Force and many other components of the Department of Defense. The Secretary and Chief of Staff understand and appreciate the special, cyber capabilities in our Kansas National Guard and recognize there the potential to grow the force. 

USDA Grant for Development of UAS in Precision Agriculture Curricula
I was pleased to announce that Fort Hays State University (FHSU) was awarded a grant from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop curricula focused on the use of small, unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) in precision agriculture, one of the largest federal grants ever awarded to the school. The USDA Capacity Building Grants for Non-Land Grant College of Agriculture Program awarded the grant to FHSU. The program under development by FHSU, in partnership with Hutchinson Community College (HCC) and Emporia State University (ESU), will provide hands-on learning opportunities for students with the added benefit of discovering new information to be utilized by farmers and ranchers. Incorporating UAS into precision agriculture has enormous potential. The educational effort supported by the grant will link research done in the classroom with real world application. 

Kansas Broadband Conference
Before catching a flight back to Washington on Monday, I spoke at the 2016 Kansas Broadband Conference in Topeka. Robust broadband infrastructure provides benefits to health, education and economic development – especially in a state like ours with both rural and urban communities. I am working hard in Washington to promote policies that encourage more robust broadband in our state. I appreciated the opportunity to speak with those in our community who share the same goals.

Phillips County Listening Tour Stop
Returning home from D.C. this weekend, I had the opportunity to continue my Kansas Listening Tour on Friday afternoon in Phillips County. More than 30 residents attended to speak with me about a number of topics and concerns including the postal service, rural health care and protecting our critical access rural hospitals. The issues I focus on and the work I do in Washington, D.C., are largely based on the conversations I have with Kansans during these town hall meetings. Thanks to the Huck Boyd Community Center for hosting the event.

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
Carrie Sherer of Overland Park
Kent Glasscock of Manhattan
Jim Cooling of Wichita
Herbert Swenden of Garden City 
Kevin Bullington of Topeka

Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area 
Jim Ogle of Topeka
Julie McPike of Lawrence

Kansas Air National Guard 
David Weishaar of Maize
Joe Jabar of Wichita 

Commission on Cancer’s Leadership and Advocacy Committee 
James Hamilton of Topeka 

National Association of County and City Health Officials 
Daniel Lee Partridge of Lawrence 

National School Nurse Organization 
Joann Wheeler of Wichita 

Kevin Bullington of Topeka 

American Indian Higher Education Consortium 
Dan Wildcat of Lawrence
Stephen Prue of Lawrence
Chris Sindone of Lawrence 

Kansas Rural Water Association 
Michael Rooney of Derby
Megan Enns of Wichita
Elmer Ronnebaum of Seneca
Sam Atherton of Cherryvale
Bill Shroyer of Sabetha
Dennis Schwartz of Topeka
Sharon Schwartz of Topeka
Allan Soetaert of Gardner 

Kansas City Regional Cities and Transportation Energy Partners 
Kelly Gilbert of Kansas City 

Kansas City Kansas Community College 
Wendell Maddox of Kansas City
Sheriff Donald Ash of Kansas City 

Jason West of Sterling
Courtney Schuer of Sterling 

Seward County Community College 
Ken Trzaska of Liberal 

Sunflower Community Action 
Djuan Wash of Wichita
Craig Lloyd of Wichita 

National Guard Association of Kansas 
Michele Henry of Salina
Major Jason Inskeep of Eudora
Captain Benjamin Moore of Topeka
Captain Keith Marshall of Rose Hill
Lieutenant Colonel Craig Beardsley of Manhattan 

Dodge City Community College 
Harold Nolte of Dodge City
Morris Reeves of Dodge City 

Close Up Foundation
Misti Stevens of Leavenworth
Ellyjana O’Donnell of Leavenworth
Caroline Wooten of Leavenworth
Anna Loch of Lansing  

Hutchinson Community College 
Carter File of Hutchinson
Marla Eriksen of Hutchinson

Santa Fe Trail Association 
Ross Marshall of Overland Park 

The Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers 
William Wilkerson of Mission Hills 
Nancy Mellard of Kansas City

Special Olympics International 
Chevi Peters of Pittsburg 
John Lair of Pittsburg
Donna Zimmerman of Mission

Benedictine College 
Katie Peterson of Atchison
Tom Keller of Atchison 

Kansas City SmartPort 
Laura Gipson of Kansas City 

AFGE Local 907 
Lucretia Myers of Lenexa
Mike Propost of Lenexa 

Kevin McDermed of Atchison 

Kansas NEA 
Ruth Goff of Kansas City
Sandra Walker of Lawrence 

Wichita Public Schools Magnet Program 
Kimberly Johnson Burkhalter of Wichita 

Encore Capital 
Sheryl Wright of Winfield
Ruth Goff of Spring Hill 

Kansas Wheat Commission 
Doug Keesling of Chase 

Edward Jones Grassroots Legislative Task Force 
Greg Seibel of Emporia
Dan Asikainen Prairie Village 

Matt Rathbun of Hays 

Kansas State University
Allen Featherstone of Manhattan 

University of Kansas 
Dean Michael Branicky of Lawrence 

Johnson County Community College 
Jerry Cook of Overland Park
Nancy Ingram of Overland Park
Joe Sopcich of Overland Park
Kevin Robertson of Overland Park 

National Alfalfa and Forage Alliance 
Darrin Unruh of Pretty Prairie 

Butler Community College Trustees 
Ron Engelbrecht of Benton 

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.

Please let me know how I can be of assistance. You can contact me by email by clicking here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.

Very truly yours,

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