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.

The Presidents' Day holiday provided the opportunity to spend a few extra days at home in Kansas and additional time with the citizens of our state.

Visiting Ft. Leavenworth with Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy
I was honored to join Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthy to speak to the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth on Wednesday. We discussed the future of the Army, adaptation to changing and evolving threats, and the need for certainty in the appropriations process so the men and women who serve our nation are ready, trained and equipped to carry out their critical missions. I’m glad Secretary McCarthy was able to come to Kansas to see firsthand the skill and dedication of our servicemembers at Fort Leavenworth.

Introducing Resolution Honoring the 6888th Central Directory Postal Battalion
I introduced a Sense of the Senate resolution recognizing the 6888th Central Directory Postal Battalion – the first and only all-female African American unit in the Women’s Army Corps – which sorted mail in Europe during WWII. The Buffalo Soldier Educational and Historical Committee is in the early stages of building a memorial in these soldiers’ honor at Buffalo Solider Park in Ft. Leavenworth.

As we celebrate Black History Month this February and head into Women’s History Month in March, I’m proud to highlight the significant sacrifices these women made, working round-the-clock during the war to help protect our freedoms.

Holding Townhall Meetings in Clark and Comanche Counties
I hosted townhall meetings in Ashland and Coldwater, where I listened to Kansans’ thoughts and ideas. Much of our conversation in Ashland and Comanche revolved around last year’s wildfires and prevention measures. I am pleased that the recently passed Bipartisan Budget Agreement included two of my livestock disaster relief provisions for our farmers and ranchers who experienced devastating losses that crippled their ability to do what they do best – feed the American people.

In both townhalls, we also discussed gun safety and how we can appropriately balance our Second Amendment rights with sensible solutions to prevent gun violence. In addition, I was able to visit with educators regarding ways to improve school safety. Other topics of discussion included the Farm Bill, the importance of protecting crop insurance and NAFTA, DACA, strengthening the VA and the Veterans Choice program.

Thanks to Sandy Wright and Michael Mages for allowing me to hold my townhall at the Ashland Health Center. Thanks to Nancy Zimmerman for helping organize the listening tour at the Comanche County Hospital.

Meeting with FHSU President Dr. Mason to Discuss Higher Education
I met with Fort Hays State University’s new president, Dr. Tisa Mason, to discuss higher education. The Senate will soon begin debate on the Higher Education Act Reauthorization, and I appreciate hearing directly from Kansas higher ed students, professors, faculty and administration regarding what they’d like to see included in this legislation. We must continue working to curb the rising costs of higher education and to provide students from all backgrounds the opportunity to engage in STEM fields.

Touring Raider Pride Grocery Store
I often tell my colleagues in Washington that economic development in many of the communities I represent can be whether or not there is a grocery store in the town – many of them cannot comprehend the struggles of rural life. I had the opportunity to visit with Brent and Bonita Bradley at Raider Pride Grocery in Argonia, one of two grocery stores in the region that the couple owns. After noticing that Argonia was located in a food desert, they decided to open this location in October of 2017 – the first grocery store to open in Argonia for 20 years. We discussed issues they face in order to keep their businesses open and serve their communities. They had written me about a Washington, D.C. proposal they believe would be harmful to their efforts to stay in business. I decided this was a good opportunity to visit and see their grocery store firsthand. It is important to remember all of us can help small businesses by shopping local and supporting our hometown grocery store.

Attending Salina and Russell Rotary Club Meetings
I enjoyed speaking at the Salina Rotary Club on Monday, where we discussed a wide range of issues important to Kansans. Thanks to Ashby House Executive Director Andy Houltberg for coordinating my visit and sharing your perspectives.

On Tuesday, I attended the Russell Rotary Club meeting, where we discussed current NAFTA and DACA negotiations, and legislation I recently introduced that continues the DACA program indefinitely while increasing border security. Other topics discussed include the importance of relationship banking in agriculture, as well as continuing to bring new technologies to Kansas communities. Additionally, we discussed ways we can provide for our veterans with adequate care though the Choice program and the VA, and how we must reach out to veterans to make certain they’re receiving the care they deserve. Thank you to the Russell Rotary Club for inviting me to speak and listen; I enjoyed being near to home.

Touring Hutchinson Regional Medical Center
I visited the Hutchinson Regional Medical Center and Ken Johnson, president and CEO of the center, showed me the Emergency Department, the Cardiovascular Catheterization Lab and the Inpatient Rehabilitation Center, where patients receive physical therapy, occupational therapy and other important services. The center has also partnered with the Hutchinson Kennel Club to start a Dog Therapy Program to assist patients during their recovery.

During my visit, I spoke with staff about reimbursement issues, the rising cost of healthcare and the importance of retaining a good workforce. I also spoke with Dr. Michael Hagley, who once was my neighbor in Hays and now works in the Cardioloigist Department for the Center. Every month, Dr. Hagley travels to surrounding rural hospitals to see and treat patients. Thank you to everyone who made the tour possible and are working hard to provide quality care to Kansans in Reno County. I’d also like to offer a special congratulations to Dr. Li Jai, who I met on my tour, on recently becoming a U.S. citizen.

Touring the Hutchinson 911 Call Center
I stopped by the 911 call center in Hutchinson for a tour of the dispatch center, which serves 19 counties as a critical link between the Hutchinson/Reno fire, police and emergency medical personnel systems and residents who are in of immediate assistance. 911 Director Michele Abbott is involved in statewide and national efforts to expand, coordinate and improve 911 services. She has visited our D.C. office in the past to discuss these issues and I wanted to see this call center in person. I am proud that Kansas is leading the nation in implementing new public-safety answering points (PSAP) technology. Thanks to Police Chief Dick Heitschmidt and 911 Director Michele Abbott for the tour. 

Reading to First Graders at Perry Elementary
I enjoyed visiting with first graders at Perry Elementary School, where we talked about the importance of reading in education and classroom safety. My thanks to the students and each of the teachers for inviting me to spend part of the day with them.

Touring Salina Central High School
I toured Salina Central High School and met with students this week. I appreciate them sharing their thoughts and concerns, which I will take back to Washington with me. Thanks to Superintendent Jim Hardy and students Sandy Dao, Audrey Burgoon and Saria Taylor for the school tour. Read more about my school visit here.

Attending the Kansas Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner
I attended the Kansas Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner, where attendees heard from John Stossel, who reminded Chamber members that “when government is big, we are small.” This reception and dinner give me the opportunity to discuss issues that affect business and employment with business owners from across Kansas. Thanks to NextEra for hosting me at their table. I enjoyed spending time with Spencer Jenkins and Sam Masse from NextEra, State Senators Estes, Alley, Berger and Billinger, State Representatives Hoffman and Mastroni, and Mike Murray and Karin Brownlee from Capitol Advantage.

Kansans in the Office

Kansas Global Trade
Karyn Page of Wichita 
Holli Schletzbaum of Wichita

Capitol Tour
Michael Farrell of Wichita
Kerry Farrell of Wichita
Lisa Farrell of Goddard
Madison Farrell of Goddard
Kinsley Farrell of Goddard
Greg Ebert of Kinsley
Lisa Ebert of Kinsley
Ran Chen Chen of Overland Park
Ying Lyu Chen of Overland Park 
Xinsheng Chen 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 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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