Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter.
As you know, despite a great deal of unfinished work, the Senate has adjourned for election season and will not return until Tuesday, November 13, following Veteran’s Day. I spent this week traveling throughout our state, listening to Kansans and getting feedback on how I can better serve you in Washington. I spent time this week visiting with folks in Leavenworth, Saline, Washington, Ottawa, Cloud and Shawnee Counties. You can read more about visits below. Please feel free to forward this newsletter on to your family and friends if it would interest them.
Military Commercial Driver’s License Act Passes House
On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation I sponsored to help streamline the process for veterans seeking a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). After unanimously passing the United States Senate last Saturday, the Military CDL Act, S.3624, now heads to the President’s desk for signature. Members of the military who have either entered civilian life or are currently stationed at McConnell Air Force Base, Fort Riley, Fort Leavenworth and Forbes Field will benefit from this legislation.
As our veterans return from Afghanistan and Iraq, this legislation will make it easier for our service men and women to the use critical skills learned in the military to contribute in the private sector.
S.3624 eliminates a current-law hurdle that only allows veterans to obtain a license in their home state of record. Since many military personnel retain home states of record that differ from where they are actually stationed, it can be difficult for them to apply training received at their military installation to receiving a CDL they can use to obtain a civilian job following their service – a problem alleviated by this bill. Click here to learn more.
Visiting the KU School of Medicine in Salina
I traveled to Salina on Friday to visit and tour the University of Kansas School of Medicine Salina campus. I was given a tour of the facility by Dr. Boyd Smith, M.D., a professor of Anatomy at the school, and two medical students, Jill Corpstein of Atchison and Scott Rempel of Newton. The KU School of Medicine drew national attention from the medical community when it announced that a campus would be established in Salina to offer a full 4-year medical program with the goal of increasing the number of physicians practicing in rural Kansas.
The KU School of Medicine hopes that by training students in a rural setting to meet the unique challenges of rural health care delivery, they will be more likely to practice in a rural setting and better prepared to do so. The new Salina campus, with its emphasis on producing physicians to serve in rural Kansas communities, is an important step toward addressing the unique challenges of rural health care delivery in Kansas.
With the establishment of the KU School of Medicine-Salina, Salina has become the smallest city in the country to host a full 4-year medical program. The new school is located on the campus of the Salina Regional Health Center. Salina Regional Health Center donated a building as well as the funds to operate the school in its first year. Its proximity to the Salina Regional Health Center is ideal for students who benefit from interaction with practicing physicians. The curriculum for medical students is the same as the curriculum delivered at the University’s Kansas City and Wichita campuses. In their third and fourth years, students complete clinical clerkships at hospitals and physician offices in the region.
I applaud the KU School of Medicine, Salina Regional Health Center, and the regional medical community for partnering together to improve the quality of life for the Kansans they serve. Thanks to Dr. Smith, Jill Corpstein, Scott Rempel, and the KU School of Medicine-Salina staff for arranging my visit. Click here to see photos from the visit.
Visiting the City of Overland Park Fire Training Center and 9/11 Memorial
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to visit the City of Overland Park Fire Training Center, which houses a variety of programs as well as the location of the 9/11 Memorial. The 9/11 Memorial was dedicated last month on the 11th Anniversary of September 11, 2001. Special thanks goes to fire fighter Trevor Miller who was able to obtain a 14 foot, 5,600-pound steel beam from the World Trade Center that the first phase of the larger memorial project is centered around. Once completed, the 9/11 Memorial in Overland Park will be one of the largest 9/11 memorial projects in the nation. It is located at 12401 Hemlock and is open to the public. To learn more about the Memorial, click here. Click here to see photos from the Memorial.
While at the Fire Training Center, Police Chief John Douglass provided me with a tour of the state of the art Command and Control Center. The emergency dispatch and traffic controls housed there work closely together, and the Center can be staged up to Levels 1, 2 or 3 for emergencies. The City of Overland Park also has a backup computer system to duplicate City Hall’s system to make certain efforts are coordinated. Fire Chief Bryan Dehner also showed me the training classrooms and the fire training simulator where firefighters get on hands training. The Center is used by numerous departments as well as the Johnson County Community College for their fire science program. I was happy to have the opportunity to stop in and visit with a class of fire fighter students currently going through the program.
I was pleased to see so many departments working together to create a Center dedicated to keeping Kansans safe. Thanks to City Manager Bill Ebel for the invitation to tour the Center and to Police Chiefs Douglass and Fire Chief Dehner for the tours. Thanks also to Captain Kyle Burns, Assistant City Manager Intern, who is an army veteran working with the city through the Wounded Warrior program, and to City Attorney Mike Santos for joining us on the tour. Click here to see photos from the visit.
Touring the VA Consolidated Patient Account Center of the Central Plains
Also on Tuesday, I had the opportunity to tour the new Veterans Affairs Consolidated Patient Account Center of the Central Plains, which is housed in the renovated historic mess hall building on the VA campus in Leavenworth. This facility handles billing, insurance verification, accounts receivable, and cash management, and it has improved services for our veterans while providing hundreds of jobs for northeast Kansas. I was glad to work with the VA and the National Park Service to make certain this project became a reality while preserving a piece of our state’s rich history. The opening of this Center was a proud moment for the community – it improved services for our nations veterans and was a welcome boost for the economy of northeast Kansas. Thanks to CFO Steve Hudson and COO Sandra Schraft for the hospitality. Click here to see a photo.
Lions Clubs Commemorative Coin Act Passes Congress
On Saturday, September 22, the Lions Clubs International Century of Service Commemorative Coin Act, H.R. 2139, passed the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent. This legislation authorizes the U.S. Treasury to mint $1 silver coins in honor of the Lions Clubs International 100th Anniversary in 2017. The bill costs taxpayers no money, as the sale price includes the cost of designing and issuing the coins. The bill was previously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and is now on the President’s desk for his signature to be made law.
Lions Clubs International is the world’s largest service club organization with 1.35 million members in more than 45,000 clubs in 206 countries and geographic areas, 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.
We will soon celebrate the 100th Anniversary of an organization that truly lives up to its motto of ‘We Serve.’ Lions Clubs have empowered generations of Americans to serve their communities and meet humanitarian needs. The Lions Clubs International Century of Service Commemorative Coin Act is a fitting way to honor the great charitable work of millions of volunteers since the organization’s inception. Proceeds from the sale of commemorative coins will go toward Lions’ efforts to provide charitable services to the most vulnerable people throughout the world. I am a member of the Hays Lions Club.
Visiting Barnes, Kansas
On Monday, I had the opportunity to spend time in Washington County. I started in Barnes where I visited some of my favorite Kansas businesses including Our Daily Bread Bakery, Stop & Shop and the Bank of Palmer where I saw community leader Deb Kruse. I also visited the Post Office and the USD 223 district offices. Communities like Barnes are what make Kansans such a special place. Thanks to everyone in Barnes for visiting with me and telling me what is important to them and their community. Click here to see a photo.
Speaking to Washington Rotary
Following my visit to Barnes, I spoke to the Washington Rotary Club at Gambino’s. It was great to see some old friends and discuss many important issues facing our state and nation including the future of NBAF, access to rural healthcare, the new school lunch program, and the Farm Bill. Thank you to Rep. Sharon Schwartz for attending. Thanks also to Club President Dennis Portenier and Dr. Larry Stoppel for allowing me to be the program this week. Click here to see a photo.
Touring Leavenworth High School
On Tuesday, I toured Leavenworth High School and had a great time meeting the students, teachers and administrators there. During my visit, I stopped by the Government class to meet Mr. Murphy and his students. Teachers like Mr. Murphy work hard to make a difference in our state. While at Leavenworth High School, I also had the chance to visit with Joshua Camerena, Jordan Boyce, Stuart McDaniel, and Alexandra Hill - four students who will be interviewing with my Service Academies Board in November for a nomination to one of our nation’s military academies. Click here to see photos from my visit.
Bennington High School Visit
Friday morning, I enjoyed the opportunity to tour Bennington High School. Durring my visit, I had the chance to stop by three classrooms and visit with students, including Mr. Gish's 8th Grade Geography class, Mr. Murray's 11th Grade American History class, and Mrs. Miller's Freshman English class. I was also glad to see my friend Darren Rodine, a teacher who brings students to Washington, D.C., each year. I serve on the Education Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, and meeting with students, faculty and administrators around Kansas always highlights what great schools we have and the excellent work our educators do to make certain Kansas has the best and the brightest students. Thank you to Principal Steve Rivers for showing me around his facilities and to students Lane Thornill, Senior, and Kajuanza Mills, Junior, for joining us on the tour. Click here to see more photos from my visit.
Speaking at the Concordia Rotary Club
During lunch on Friday, I spoke to the Concordia Rotary Club at the 19th Hole. Thanks to Rep. Elaine Bowers and County Commissioner Gary Caspers for attending. It was an opportunity to discuss issues like the looming “fiscal cliff” and give an update on what has been going on in Washington D.C. I always appreciate the conversations I have with Kansans and I appreciate everyone who came to the meeting. Thanks also to Speaker Pro Tem Jene Vickery of the Kansas State Legislature for attending. Click here to see a photo.
Yom Kippur Observance
Last Wednesday, Jewish people gathered in synagogues around the world to observe Yom Kippur, one of the holiest days of the Jewish year. I hope all those who observed Yom Kippur last week had a meaningful day of atonement and an easy fast.
Washburn University Football Game
On Saturday, Robba and I attended the Washburn University football game against the Southwest Baptist University Bearcats. We had the opportunity to visit with students and faculty about the issues affecting higher education and students as we cheered on the Ichabods. It was great to see President Jerry Farley and his wife Susan at the game. Washburn continues to succeed in athletics and academics. Thank you to President and Susan Farley for inviting me to be their guest at the game.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below.
Missouri and Assoc Rivers Coalition and Kansas City Industrial Council
Frank Pogge of Kansas City
John Patrick of Lenexa
Tom Roberts of Lenexa
Deuce Livers of Overland Park
Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Lois Lawrenz of Olathe
Christopher Mann of Kansas City
Paige Ashley of Tonganoxie
National Association of Federally Impacted Schools
Keith Mispagel of Fort Leavenworth
USD 475 Geary County Schools
Janet Christian of Junction City
Bob Henderson of Junction City
Ron Walker of Junction City
Many Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the US Capitol this week including:
Mark & Angie Coble
Charles & Brooke Tuttle
Jason & Cathryn Graves
William & Phyllis Buch
Robert & Sharon Oroke
Russell & Virginia Mueller
John McCall and son, Connor
Charles & Carolyn McDonald
Ivan & Linda Pechanec
Eric & Debbie Larson
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Please let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click 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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