Kansas Common Sense
Oct 06 2014
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First U.S. Ebola Case
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the first Ebola case in the United States. The individual traveled to the U.S. from Liberia in West Africa and is currently under isolation and receiving care at a hospital in Dallas. Health officials are also screening around 100 individuals in Texas for potential exposure to Ebola. These individuals have not yet developed any symptoms, but the screening is done as a precaution to assess any potential infection risks to anyone who may have interacted with the patient. This is a serious development and reiterates the need for us to heighten coordination and vigilance to address this health crisis.
While Ebola is not easily transmitted, it is important that we fully utilize our public health infrastructure to detect possible infections, as well as safely screen, isolate and treat any patients who may need care. I will continue to be in touch with the CDC and its Director, Dr. Tom Frieden, to monitor the national and international responses to this outbreak These responses are a massive multi-agency effort, and the federal government must effectively coordinate to attack this threat. A few weeks ago, CNN published an op-ed I wrote about the importance of U.S. leadership in responding to the West African Ebola outbreak. Ebola needs to be stopped now before it becomes a threat to the United States. The single most important thing that can be done to protect Americans is to stop Ebola at its source.
Women Veteran’s VA Health Center
On Tuesday, I spoke at the grand opening and ribbon cutting for the new Women’s Health Center at the Leavenworth VA. The new, 5,000-square-foot facility provides primary care for women veterans, as well as mental health services. It is also piloting a Women’s Only Wellness program for the VA that focuses on fitness, nutrition and pain and stress management. Since August 2009, the number of women veterans enrolled with the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System has grown by 30 percent. Four women veterans were honored at the event including Miriam Blazier, Helen Perry, Kelly DeGreek and Elizabeth Hayes. It was an honor to thank these veterans for their service. Thank you to Director Klopfer for inviting me to take part in the day’s events. I will continue working to make certain all Kansas veterans have access to the quality health care they deserve. Learn more about the new facility in the Leavenworth Times.
University of Kansas’ Department of Special Education
On Tuesday afternoon, I visited the University of Kansas’ Department of Special Education. For more than 16 years, KU Special Education has been named the top graduate program among public universities in the U.S. – and for eight of those years it was the country’s top overall university special education program – according to the U.S. News & World Report Graduate Program Survey. This visit was a good opportunity for me to learn more about KU’s innovative approach to special education research, how Department faculty is preparing future special education professionals for successful careers in the classroom, and how they support continuing education and professional development for those currently serving individuals with disabilities and their families.
During my visit, I viewed a simulated classroom in the Department’s simulation and coaching lab. The lab uses groundbreaking technology to prepare educators using a virtual learning environment to teach students, including students with disabilities. KU has worked to develop reality simulation and remote tele-coaching technologies, including avatar technology, which a teacher can use to prepare for the realities of teaching in a classroom with students ranging from those with learning disabilities to social and behavioral issues. I appreciated the opportunity to visit with the Department’s research and teaching faculty about their efforts to advance the practice of special education in a way that benefits students in classrooms throughout Kansas and throughout the country. Thanks to KU School of Education Dean Rick Ginsberg, Professor and Chair of the Department of Special Education Elizabeth Kozleski, and Faculty Member Marti Elford for hosting my visit.
Visiting with Kansas High School Students
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to visit with students at two Kansas high schools. Our country benefits from having more young people like those I met with at McLouth High School and Seaman High School, who take an interest in the issues facing our country.
At Seaman High School, my conversation with students covered several topics including the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, concerns about ongoing conflict in the Middle East, opportunities for higher education, and the economy. Thanks to Principal Ron Vinduska for inviting me to have a discussion with this group of students.
At McLouth High School, I visited with students in David Boucher’s current events class. We discussed wide range of topics from the Administration’s handling of ISIS and the Ebola outbreak, to the various ways in which the federal government impacts our daily lives. Thanks to Mr. Boucher and McLouth High School Principal Mark Dodge for hosting my visit.
Visiting with Washburn University President
On Wednesday, I met with Washburn University President Dr. Jerry Farley, his wife Susan, Washburn University Foundation President JuliAnn Mazachek, and John Pinegar to discuss the latest developments at Washburn. We visited about how Washburn is providing innovating career training programs, in partnership with Kansas employers, to provide students with the in-demand skills they need to succeed in a rapidly changing world. For example, Washburn is focusing on health care training through its School of Nursing and at the Washburn Institute of Technology with programs in licensed professional nursing and certified nursing assistants. The university also specializes in training for advanced manufacturing industries. Dr. Farley described Washburn’s plan to connect with more veterans with an interest in these career programs. I appreciated our discussion about Washburn’s continuing efforts to help prepare Kansas students with the skills needed for their career development as well as economic growth in our state.
Improving Telephone Service Reliability for Kansas Business and Consumers
Kansans deserve access to reliable telephone service to conduct business, contact public safety officials and connect with family and friends. Unfortunately, for many rural Kansans, service has become less reliable, as rural telephone subscribers have experienced dropped calls, poor voice quality, or calls that simply do not reach their intended recipient. I have heard frustrating stories from Kansas businesses owners who have lost business and troubling stories from Kansans who are unable to contact public safety officials in times of emergency because of this problem.
Last week, I joined a group of ten Senators in asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to complete its work to address this issue. Last October, the FCC unanimously approved an order to improve call completion and collect data to understand this problem better. As part of the rulemaking process, the FCC accepted public comments. That comment period ended in February, but unfortunately the FCC has failed to follow through with its Paperwork Reduction Act request to the Office of Management and Budget, which will allow the Commission to uncover the causes of this problem for so many rural Americans. I will continue to pressure the FCC to complete its work so all may have reliable access to telephone service. To view a copy of the letter, please click here.
America’s Commitment to Freedom and Democracy Must Remain Steadfast
Next month, American men and women will head to polling booths to cast their votes for elected officials. We are fortunate to live in a country where our civil liberties are protected by the Constitution. But these rights that are sometimes taken for granted in America are often beyond reach for millions of people around the world.
Just consider what has been taking place in Hong Kong this week. On Sunday, police used tear gas, pepper spray and batons on thousands of peaceful protesters who had gathered to demand democratic elections for the city’s leader in 2017. According to the nonprofit organization, Freedom House, last year 54 countries showed overall declines in political rights and civil liberties, compared with just 40 countries that demonstrated gains. That means that for the eighth consecutive year, there was a greater decline than gain in democracy worldwide. At a time when human rights and civil liberties are under attack in many regions across the world, efforts by organizations like the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) are more important than ever.
I had the opportunity in Washington, D.C., to speak with many individuals associated with IFES who work diligently to defend democratic rights across the globe. The work IFES has conducted since 1987 in more than 135 countries is preserving for the next generation the opportunity to enjoy the freedoms of today. During our meeting, I was also honored to receive the “Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award” and to present a special award to , Bill Hybl of the Garden City Company, for his service and outstanding legacy to IFES.
Freedom is a basic human right and history has shown us that the expansion of freedom is our best hope for peace in the future. All citizens should have the right to live freely and participate in the decision making process of their society. America remains one of the most powerful forces for good on this earth and our efforts to ensure all citizens have a voice in the way they are governed must remain steadfast.
Extending Project ARCH
Congress recently passed legislation that permits the extension of various VA programs that currently serve veterans across the country and were set to expire at the end of the fiscal year. This bill also included technical fixes to the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, to make certain the current health care services provided through non-VA contracts supporting the Access Received Closer to Home (ARCH) program in the Pratt community would be extended without delay or a lapse in service. In response to my questioning, VA Secretary Bob McDonald testified that this technical fix was required to extend the non-VA contracted health care services under ARCH during a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing. I’m pleased that with the passage of this legislation to extend ARCH contracts, there are no longer any obstacles preventing the ARCH program from offering veterans non-VA health care and the same opportunity for access to care through this program at the Secretary’s discretion may now be expanded throughout Kansas. By law, the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014 provides for the extension of ARCH and permits the Secretary to expand the program beyond the current five pilot sites around the country. I look forward to hearing from Secretary McDonald on his plans for the ARCH program and a timeline for when Kansas veterans might expect an expansion that will allow them greater access to care.
Atchison Area United Way Luncheon
On Friday, I joined community leaders at the Atchison Area United Way kickoff luncheon. United Way has been improving lives for more than 126 years and the local program works with 18 agencies in Atchison to improve education, income levels and healthcare. The Atchison community maintains a strong spirit even through challenges and tragedies. I believe we can make a difference one person at a time by sharing our talents and resources to advance the common good. I wish United Way Executive Director Terry Knopke and the community success in achieving their goal of $198,000 to invest in their neighbors. Thanks to Atchison City Manager Trey Cocking for inviting me to speak and coordinating my visit and to Rep. Lynn Jenkins for the kind introduction.
Honoring Sporting Kansas City at the White House
On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of joining the Sporting Kansas City soccer team at the White House where the players, coaching staff and owners were honored by President Obama for their 2013 MLS Cup victory. Last year, I sponsored a Senate Resolution congratulating Sporting KC, but it was even better to be able to offer my congratulations to the team in person. There were a number of Kansans in attendance; many of them tired from watching the Royals’ incredible comeback playoff late night win the evening before. Needless to say, it was a great day to be a fan of Kansas City sports.
Now Accepting Spring 2015 Internship Applications
I am now accepting applications for paid congressional internships in my Washington, D.C., and Kansas offices for spring 2015. An internship in my office – either legislative or communications – provides a unique opportunity to work closely with Senate staff on behalf of the state of Kansas. Legislative interns will gain a better understanding of the legislative process in the U.S. Congress, and develop knowledge and professional skills valuable to future career pursuits. Communications internships offer an intern the chance to learn about how political communications and the legislative process intersect, and gain practical knowledge about the inner workings of a fast-paced press office.
The application deadline for spring 2015 is November 1, 2014. Applications may be obtained and completed under the “Services” section of my website at www.moran.senate.gov. Applicants should submit a completed application form, resume, academic transcript, two letters of recommendation, and a cover letter explaining their interest in public service and addressing a policy issue of personal importance and a suggested recommendation to resolve that issue. Please submit required materials to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kansas in the Office
Susan Englert of Wichita
John Englert of Wichita
Kansas City Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America
Philip Schultze of Overland Park
Associated General Contractors of Kansas
Ron Fowles of Manhattan
Mike Gibson of Topeka
Kansas Contractors Association
Bob Totten of Topeka
American Physical Therapy Association
Cody Barnett of Wichita
Julie Newman of Oskaloosa
National Association of Foster Grandparent Program Directors
Jolene Niernberger of Hays
Connie Stewart of Topeka
Susan Harrington of Manhattan
Kansas Head Start Association
Erick Vaughn of Lawrence
Livestock Marketing Association
Dan Harris of Holton
Larry Martin of Fort Scott
Deb Martin of Fort Scott
Mark McKee of Parsons
Beverly McKee of Parsons
Mortgage Bankers Association
Shelley Denman of Spring Hill
Curtis Ottinger of Prairie Village
President Jerry Farley of Topeka
JuliAnn Mazachek of Topeka
Keith Lawing of Wichita
Kim Lawing of Wichita
Devin Madden of Goddard
Mark Hegarty of Overland Park
Spencer Barett of Overland Park
John Kite of Overland Park
Elaine Kite of Overland Park
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,
- (344.2 KBs)
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