Kansas Common Sense
Dec 02 2019
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.
Robba and I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and hope you were able to spend the holiday with your friends, family and loved ones. It was an honor to spend Thanksgiving with soldiers and their families today at Fort Riley, including Commanding General Kolasheski and his wife Buffy, 1ABCT Colonel Krattiger, and CSM Gutierrez and his wife Yvonne. Also, thank you to all those who helped prepare the Thanksgiving meal at Fort Riley.
On Thanksgiving, and on every day, we are thankful for the sacrifices and service of Americans in uniform. We are also thankful to the servicemen and women who aren’t able to be with their families as they protect us and preserve our nation.
Hosting VA Secretary Wilkie in Kansas
This week, I hosted Robert Wilkie, Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, in Topeka and Kansas City to highlight the innovative work taking place at Kansas VA Medical Centers and speak directly with Kansas veterans, caregivers and advocates. Showing Secretary Wilkie around our state allowed him to learn about the unique challenges facing rural veterans. Throughout our visit, we discussed everything from the implementation of the VA MISSION Act to legislation I introduced to improve mental health care and increase suicide prevention programs within communities.
Secretary Wilkie and I started our visit in Topeka at the Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center. Thank you to the Kansas VA leaders Dr. William Patterson, Director Rudy Klopfer, Director Rick Ament, Director David Isaacks, and Director Donna Meyer-Hickel for joining us from across the state, and for all the work you do on behalf of veterans. During our time at the facility, we had important conversations about how we can support our nation’s heroes by constantly improving the VA healthcare system. The Topeka VAMC’s satisfaction rates are among the highest in the country, and it was a pleasure to highlight the hardworking Kansans that make this possible for our nation’s heroes.
Next, we traveled to Kansas City and met with veterans and advocates. Secretary Wilkie and I answered questions about our work to improve the VA and provide veterans with the care and support they deserve. Together, we’re working hard to create a 21st century VA that is worthy of the service and sacrifice of our heroes. Watch my video here regarding the visit.
Newton City-County Airport Awarded FAA Grant
Earlier this week, I announced that Newton City-County Airport was the recipient of a $7 million Airport Improvement Program grant awarded by the Federal Aviation Administration. Local airports, like the Newton City-County Airport are vital to the region’s economy and this grant will allow for much-needed infrastructure improvements. According to the Kansas Department of Commerce, the airport generates $157 million in economic impact to the local economy, and this award will enable the airport to support the area’s aviation needs for years to come.
Touring the National Weather Service Facility
On Tuesday, I toured the National Weather Service (NWS) headquarters for the Central Region, located minutes away from the Kansas City International Airport. This facility handles 11 states, including Kansas, and portions of five other states. It serves as a multipurpose location, operating as a Training Center for NWS and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and as one of two Aviation Weather Centers in the world. This center is designated by the International Civil Aviation Organization to provide 24-hour forecasts for aviation-related weather issues, like turbulence and icing, providing a vital safety service to people and airports around the world. Thank you to Ken Harding, Dr. Robert Maxson, and Jeff Zeltwanger for the tour and our conversation about the importance of innovation in this field.
Visiting the Heart of America Regional Computer Forensics Lab
Following my visit to the NWS headquarters, I toured the Heart of America Regional Computer Forensics Lab in Kansas City. The laboratory provides forensic services and expertise to support Kansas law enforcement agencies in collecting and examining digital evidence for a wide range of investigations, including child pornography, terrorism, violent crime, and fraud. This facility is a great example of the partnerships between law enforcement agencies in Kansas and their ongoing efforts to enhance public safety in our state.
As Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Justice, I will continue to support and provide critical resources for our law enforcement agencies in Kansas. I thank our men and women in law enforcement for all they do to keep us safe.
Attending the KC Chamber’s 132nd Annual Dinner
This week, I attended the KC Chamber Annual Dinner at the KC Convention Center. This year the KC Chamber presented Al Brooks with the 2019 Kansas Citian of the Year Award. Al is one of the first African-Americans to serve on the KC police force, directed the Human Relations Department in KC after the 1968 riots and founded the Ad Hoc Group Against Crime. Al also has served as a city councilmember, the Mayor Pro Tem and as a member of the KC Police Board. Al has been a role model to not only Kansas Citians throughout the years, but to many across our country. Kansas City is extremely grateful for all he continues to give back to the city. Mayor Kay Barnes, last year’s recipient, presented this year’s award to Al. In addition, thank you to Black & Veatch CEO, Steve Edwards, for the invitation.
Attending the Kansas Farm Bureau Townhall Meeting
On Sunday afternoon, I joined the Kansas Farm Bureau’s (KFB) Townhall to kick off their 101st annual meeting to discuss issues facing Kansas agriculture. I enjoyed hearing from several producers across our state on the topic of trade and its importance to the products we grow. I spoke on the importance of USMCA to states like Kansas and how producers are facing tougher financial challenges that make working in agriculture more difficult. This can be addressed by promoting our commodities, strengthening existing trade deals and creating new trade relationships. I will continue to encourage this Administration to focus on the importance of trade and agricultural issues. Thank you to KFB President Rich Felts for hosting and providing a platform on which these topics can be discussed.
Visiting the Salina Emergency Aid & Food Bank
On Friday, I was in Salina to visit the Salina Emergency Aid Food Bank. Starting in 1971, the Salina Food Bank has served those in the region who are struggling with hunger and other daily needs. Thank you to Executive Director Michael Chambers who led the tour and showcased the outpouring support from the Salina community. In the Senate, I chair the Hunger Caucus where I am working to raise awareness about issues surrounding hunger and always appreciate witnessing the ways in which Kansans are constantly working to serve their neighbors.
Recognizing Small Business Saturday
I shopped small on Small Business Saturday, stopping in two of my favorite spots in Topeka: Dean’s Books and Porubsky Grocery. I also thanked a number of small businesses in Hoyt and Mayetta during my Jackson County Listening Tour Stop. Small businesses play a critical role in our economy and local communities – creating two out of every three new net jobs. Remember to #shopsmall and help support small businesses during the holiday season.
Hosting Kansas Listening Tour Stops
On Friday, I was in Gypsum for a Saline County townhall meeting. We discussed important issues ranging from mental health, education, trade, the impeachment hearings, and the importance of being involved in your local community. Our discussion also focused on veterans and potential health consequences for those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thank you to folks from Saline County for sharing their thoughts and ideas with me and to State Representative Steven Johnson for attending.
On Saturday, I visited Hoyt and Mayetta for another stop along my Kansas Listening Tour. During my time there, I visited the Hoyt U.S. Post office, Stithem’s Service & Tire, Consolidated Rural Water District #4, Hoffman Brothers Welding and Fabrication, Dennison State Bank, the Mayetta Masonic Center, Trading Post, the Mayetta U.S. Post Office and the Prairie Band Casino & Resort.
Kansans in the Office
David Wright of Wichita
Bryan Dugan of Wichita
Brenna Dugan of Wichita
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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