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.

Happy Mother’s Day! It was great to spend yesterday with my wonderful wife Robba – I hope you had a chance to show your appreciation for the mothers in your life, too.

Protecting ARCH Veterans
I called on Veterans Health Administration Under Secretary for Health Dr. David Shulkin this week to provide continuity of care for veterans currently utilizing the Access Received Closer to Home (ARCH) program as contracts under the program expire in August 2016.

Since 2011, ARCH has been successfully providing medical care for veterans living in rural areas, including Kansas. Even with the potential transition into the New Veterans Choice Program, relationships formed between community providers and veterans should not be disrupted, especially when veterans are overwhelmingly satisfied with their community provider under ARCH. Following my request for Dr. Shulkin’s support, I received a firm commitment from the VA to not dismantle access to care that is working for ARCH veterans and that these vets will not experience any interruption in their care. I am encouraged by the VA’s transition plan working with our community providers to maintain access to care for ARCH veterans and will continue to work with the VA to make certain they have the authorities necessary to provide continuity of care to ARCH veterans. To read more, click here.

Visiting the Pittsburg Community
Thanking Officer A.J. Terry
I had a chance to thank a hometown hero: Pittsburg School Resource Officer A.J. Terry. Last week, KOAM TV anchor Tawnya Bach and her family lost their home to an early morning fire. Though her oldest son had already left for school, her husband and two younger sons were trapped in the burning structure. As her husband rushed to save his two sons, he received help from Officer Terry who was arriving to work across the street. Officer Terry sprung to action, grabbing a ladder and managing to rescue the second son with the father’s guidance through the smoke. Officer Terry says, “the father is the real hero,” but he deserves commendation nevertheless for his quick actions and courage when seconds mattered. I am thankful to hear the family members who remain in the hospital are showing signs of improvement and will keep them in my prayers. 

Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce
I spent the day Friday in southeast Kansas where I spoke to 70 community members at the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon. Some of the topics we discussed were the economy, the impact of government regulation and transportation. I appreciated the conversations with those in attendance and enjoyed being able to speak inside the newly constructed Bicknell Family Center for the Arts on the campus of Pittsburg State University. Thank you to Blake Benson and Devin Gorman at the Chamber for the invitation to speak and to Watco Companies CEO Rick Webb for the warm introduction.

Highway 69 Association
I also met with the executive committee of the Highway 69 Association while in Pittsburg to discuss the next steps in the construction of a four-lane freeway stretching from Kansas City to our state’s southern border. Although construction may be delayed on the next phase, there is still planning and preparation taking place on portions of the highway in Bourbon, Crawford and Cherokee counties.

Crawford County Career Technical Education Center
Following the luncheon, I participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the first year of the Crawford County Career Technical Center. Our rural communities struggle to maintain the qualified technical workforce necessary to meet our industry demands, but technical education centers help to bridge this gap. This private-public partnership between area businesses, the Crawford County Commission, the City of Pittsburg, Pittsburg State University, Fort Scott Community College and the high schools throughout the county is an example of what collaboration can do to help connect resources and find solutions to our workforce needs. I appreciated the invitation from executive director Michelle Hucke to speak.

Discussing UAS Program with FHSU Faculty
I had the opportunity to meet this week with Fort Hays State University (FHSU) Departments of Agriculture and Biological Sciences faculty to learn more about the school’s Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) program. In February, FHSU was awarded a grant by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop curricula focused on the use of UAS in precision agriculture. This promising program will give Kansas students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in operating UAS and incorporating the technology into agriculture. Kansas is poised to see a tremendous economic impact resulting from the growth of the UAS industry and FHSU is leading the way to make certain students are equipped with the knowledge and skill set to help keep our state on the forefront of technological advancements. I want to thank Dr. Greg Farley for setting up the meeting. I also want to thank University Provost Dr. Graham Glynn; Agriculture Department Chair Don Benjamin; Assistant Professor Dr. Craig Smith; Professor Dr. Bill Stark; Assistant Professor Robert Keener, DVM; and FHSU Foundation Director of Development Tammy McClellan for taking the time out of their day to meet with me.

Stopping by Ellsworth
On my drive from Hays to Manhattan, I stopped in Ellsworth. I had conversations with people along Main Street and visited a number of area businesses and local government buildings including the USD #327 offices, the Ellsworth County Independent Reporter, Seitz Drug Company, Carrico John Deere and the Farm Bureau Financial Services office. I always enjoy time spent in Ellsworth.

Congratulating the Friends University Class of 2016
On Saturday afternoon, I was honored to address the graduating Class of 2016 at Friends University in Wichita. Upon its founding in 1898, President Edmund L. Stanley laid out a noble calling for the university: “The purpose of this school shall be to give to the world and to give to our country a class of citizens that will be in every sense loyal citizens.” During my remarks, I challenged the graduates to embrace that tradition of loyalty by living a life of integrity in service to his or her fellow man.

Among the graduates were students who took on responsibilities beyond school – jobs and families to care for – and students fulfilling the dream of becoming the first person in their family to graduate from college. Thank you to President Amy Bragg Carey for the kind invitation to participate in such a special occasion – congrats to the Class of 2016.

Learning about Opportunities at Washburn Tech
I was in Topeka on Thursday afternoon to tour Washburn Institute of Technology (Washburn Tech) and learn more about their efforts to provide Kansans opportunities for quality technical education, and their efforts to respond to the skilled workforce needs of regional employers.

During my visit, I had the opportunity to see Washburn Tech’s new Health Care Training Center, which enables instructors to train students and practicing health care workers through the use of advanced patient simulators. I also received an overview of the Surgery Technician training lab. Washburn Tech is one of only a few institutions in the state that offer the surgery technician certification.

I also had the opportunity to see another great example of Washburn Tech’s efforts to respond to industry workforce needs: the Locomotive Diesel Technician Program. BNSF Railway donated two locomotive engines to support hands-on training experiences for students in the program. The railroad has locomotive shops in Topeka and Kansas City, so the company has considerable need for skilled locomotive diesel mechanics locally.

More than just providing opportunities for quality education and providing industry a skilled workforce, a technical education often results in careers that pay better wages, ultimately improving our economy and the overall quality of life we enjoy as Kansans.

Thanks to Washburn University President Dr. Jerry Farley, Dean Clark Coco, Assistant Dean Gillian Gabelmann and all the Washburn administrators, faculty, and staff for hosting my visit. Thanks also to Shawnee County Commissioner Shelly Buhler and Curtis Sneden of the Topeka Chamber for joining me on the tour.

Applauding a New Crop of Kansas Veterinarians
I joined the audience Friday night for the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine (KSU DVM) Senior Banquet. The event recognized the vet students’ and faculty’s clinical and academic achievements, and third-year students received their White Coats as they head in to their final year of studies. My daughter Alex is a member of the KSU DVM Class of 2016, and I’m very proud of her hard work to reach this point. I expressed my congratulations to the young men and women who will provide our state with important veterinary services to keep our pets and livestock healthy, as well as support so many Kansas industries.

Talking with Kansas City-area Chamber Members
Following my visit in Topeka, I stopped by the Cinco de Mayo Business After Hours – a joint partnership of the Greater Kansas City Chamber, the Kansas City Kansas Chamber, and the Northeast Johnson County Chamber – hosted by McAnany, Van Cleave and Phillips (MVP) Law Firm. It was great visiting with so many members of each of the chambers of commerce. I appreciated my conversations with several members about how we can partner to foster job creation and improve the quality of life enjoyed in Kansas City and throughout our state. Thanks to chamber presidents Joe Reardon, Daniel Silva and Deb Settle for the bringing their members together, and allowing me to take part in the evening. Thanks also to MVP President Fred Greenbaum and his firm for hosting the event.

Commending Olathe North Students in National Science Bowl
My staff in Washington had the opportunity to meet up with students from Olathe North High School who were in the nation’s capital for the U.S. Department of Energy National Science Bowl. The event is a nationwide academic competition that tests students’ knowledge and encourages future careers in science and mathematics. Congrats to Coach Amy Clement and students Dylan Honors, Arvind Subramanian, Conor Seacat and Triton Wolfe on their achievement.

Now Accepting 2016 Service Academy Applications
Even as students are beginning their summer breaks, I want to remind them of the opportunity to apply to a United States Service Academy. Appointing Kansans to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD; the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.; and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY, is one of my favorite duties as a U.S. Senator.

To find out the requirements and apply, please download an application from my website or contact my Olathe office. All application materials are due to my Olathe office by September 2, 2016. After applications have been reviewed, applicants will be notified of interviews with my Service Academy Selection Board, which will take place on Saturday, September 24, 2016, at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.

Kansans in the Office
Donna Benoit of Damar
Tom Benoit of Damar 

Electric Coop
Kim Christiansen of Topeka
Bruce Mueller of Garden City
Ron Holsteen of Parsons
Perry Rubart of Ulysses
Dale Coomes of Girard
Dave Childers of Cheney
Steve Earson of Ulysses
Stuart Lowry of Hays 

Kansas Dental Association
Kevin Robertson of Topeka
Brett Roufs of Newton
Hal Hale of Wichita 

National Brain Tumor Society
Kathleen Cunningham of Shawnee 

Ronald Rahjes of Kensington
Scott Whittington of Burlington

Kansas Library Society
Robert Banks of Topeka
Gina Milsap of Topeka
Marie Pyko of Topeka
Lori Goetsch of Manhattan
Heather Braum of Lawrence
Richard Grimes of Ozawkie 

American College of Physicians
Bradley Marples of Topeka
Donna Sweet of Wichita
Aileen McCarthy of Topeka
Benjamin Quick of Overland Park
Segen Chase of Manhattan 

Association for Advanced Life Underwriting
Dexter Umekubo of Salina
Phillip Sarnecki of Leawood 

University of Missouri – Kansas City
Heather Surber of Kansas City 

American Feed Industry Association
Eric Arnold of Overland Park 

Kansas Orthopedic Society
Neal Lintecum of Lawrence
Stephanie Swan of Lawrence
Denise Lantz of Topeka
Peter Hodges of Manhattan
Bradley Dart of Wichita
Annie Hodges of Manhattan 

Elysia Chao of Overland Park 

American Veterinary Medical Association
Vern Otte of Leawood 

Capitol Tour
Davin McIntire of Wichita
Jay Coen of Elkhart
Lori Coen of Elkhart
Mike Daood of Wichita
Peter Daood of Wichita
Madeline Rowly of Wichita
Bruce Rowly of Wichita
Dana Malis of Overland Park
Owen Malis of Overland Park
Audrey Malis of Overland Park
Jeff Nichols of Wichita
Andrew Shorten of Overland Park 
Anna Shorten 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.

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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