Kansas Common Sense

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Honoring the Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Yesterday, we honored the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His legacy is especially inspiring now as we continue his mission for equality and to become a more perfect union.

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

Inaugurating the 46th President of the United States

Tomorrow, Wednesday, January 20, I will be in Washington, D.C. as Joseph Biden is inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States. Any threat or attempt of malicious protests, violence or destruction at the U.S. Capitol or at the statehouse in Topeka on Inauguration Day will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In America, elections are sacred – the foundation of democratic government. The orderly and peaceful transfer of power is an enduring symbol of a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Remembering USCP Officer Howard Liebengood

Howard “Howie” Liebengood was a dedicated United States Capitol Police officer who came to work every day over the last 15 years to protect individuals working inside the United States Senate and the Capitol complex. Born in Manhattan, Kansas, Howie was a caring and courageous public servant who I would often speak with in the Russell Senate Office Building.

His family has suffered a devastating loss, and Robba and I are praying for them during this difficult time. We must never forget his sacrifice on January 6 and work to quickly bring to justice those responsible for the trauma he and other law enforcement officers experienced that has a direct consequence on their health and wellbeing.

Update Regarding the Impeachment Trial

On Wednesday, the United States House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump, charging him with incitement that led to the violence at the United States Capitol on January 6. After the inauguration, the Senate is expected to consider the charges against President Trump. At the beginning of an impeachment trial, I take an oath to deliver impartial justice according to the Constitution and the law. I take this oath seriously, and as a constitutional conservative, I will fulfill my role in accordance with what the Constitution prescribes.

Focused on Vaccinations in Kansas

This week, I had the opportunity to see first-hand how the Menorah Medical Center in Overland Park set up its vaccination center to serve both patients and medical staff. I heard more from hospital personnel about how I can aid Kansas at the federal level in its vaccination rollout and make certain the process for vaccine dissemination to the general public continues in an effective manner. Currently, Kansas ranks 36th in population and ranks 36th in number of Pfizer vaccines received. Kansas also has approximately 0.874% of the U.S. population and has received 0.838% of the vaccines.

I was impressed with the Menorah clinic and its efficient COVID-19 vaccination plan and execution. As the center continues to administer COVID-19 vaccines, the team at Menorah shared how the vaccine has been administered to employees and physicians at the hospital and how they have worked closely with the Kansas State Department of Health and Environment as vaccination rollout begins to become more widely administered across the state. Thank you to Menorah Medical Center’s Senior Leadership team CEO Phil Buttell, Chief Nursing Officer Katie Bruels and Chief Operating Officer Cindy Bergmeier for your time.

Protecting Life Through the Value Them Both Amendment

This week, I expressed my support for the Value Them Both Amendment. If passed by the Kansas Legislature and the voters of Kansas, the Value Them Both Amendment would reaffirm there is no right under the Kansas Constitution to an abortion and that the legislature is the proper body to regulate the laws surrounding the practice.

The Kansas Supreme Court’s April 2019 decision found that abortion is protected under the state. By passing the Value Them Both Amendment, Kansas will have the opportunity to correct the Kansas Supreme Court’s overreach.

Discussing the Importance of Aviation at NOAA Aircraft Capital Operations Center

I had the opportunity to visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Aircraft Operations Center (AOC) this week to see its ongoing expansion to accommodate new aircrafts and a growing unmanned aerial systems program. As the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee which provides resources to NOAA, this oversight is important to evaluate its future requests for resources to meet agency goals. The Aircraft Operations Capital serves as the main base for NOAA’s fleet of specialized environmental data-gathering aircrafts, including the agency’s three “hurricane hunter” planes. Managed by NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO), the AOC has a staff of 110 civilians and officers of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps that maintain and operate NOAA’s aircraft fleet.

This aircraft fleet is important for gathering airborne environmental data and my bill to help alleviate their pilot shortage was recently signed into law. Currently, OMAO is moving forward with establishing its first aviation accession training program at Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus in Salina as part of this legislation, a partnership that will continue to put Kansas at the forefront of aerospace research and aviation training programs.

Thank you to Rear Admiral Nancy Hann, Deputy Director of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps and Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, and Commander Christian Sloan, commanding officer of the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center, for their time.

Attending NASA’s SLS Proceeding with Green Run Hot Fire

This week, I witnessed NASA conduct a hot fire test of the core stage of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will launch the Artemis I mission to the Moon. The test fired the rocket’s four RS-25 engines to replicate the action needed to send the rocket to space. The test was completed at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi where I joined NASA Administrator Bridenstine and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Wicker. While the engines did not fire for the full duration of expected time, it was a successful step toward readying the SLS rocket for the Artemis I mission, and I look forward to continuing to support the agency’s goals in my role as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science with jurisdiction over NASA.

Touring Joint Interagency Task Force South

This week, I visited the Joint Interagency Task Force South to speak with leaders from the Departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security about ongoing operations to intercept drugs being trafficked from South America. The war on drugs continues to be a challenge for law enforcement officials across the United States. As the chief appropriator for the Department of Justice, I was pleased to learn this task force is leading the effort to stop the flow of drugs across our borders before they arrive. The men and women who support this mission intercept about 80 percent of illicit substances before they cross our borders, which helps our law enforcement officers focus on domestic operations.

Congratulating Elise Peterson on Outstanding Music Education
This week, Olathe South High School’s Elise Peterson received the Kansas Music Educators Association (KMEA) Teacher of the Year Award, pictured below with KMEA President Gae Phillips. I would like to congratulate and thank her for her dedication to her students and music education throughout her career in Kansas schools. Teachers change the world every day—one student at a time.

Ms. Peterson has taught in multiple schools across the state throughout more than 25 years in music education, including Hays High School. She is a gifted teacher, and this award is well deserved.

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.

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