Kansas Common Sense
Sep 12 2016
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter.
Reflecting on 9/11, the Lives Lost, and the Efforts of our First Responders
Fifteen years ago, our nation suffered the deadliest terrorist attack in our history. We came together in the days that followed united as Americans to recover and rebuild. On the anniversary of that terrible day, we remember those who perished and lend our support to those who lost a spouse, a parent, a child or a friend. We honor our first responders, firefighters, police and EMTs who acted with courage and strength amid unimaginable tragedy to save so many lives. And we are reminded of the vigilance required of us to fight the evil of terrorism and those who wish to do our nation harm. Each year I am reminded of my visit to ground zero shortly after Sept. 11. Click here to watch my refelction on the moments that have stayed with me from that day.
9/11 Commemoration at the Salina Regional Airport
The Salina Airport Authority (SAA) dedicated the “We Will Never Forget” 9/11 memorial on Thursday to honor the continued service and sacrifice of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), law enforcement, and fire service personnel that keep our country safe. These heroes and their families put the safety and wellbeing of their community above all else and deserve our utmost respect and gratitude for their selflessness.
I was honored to provide a statement to congratulate TSA on receiving the SAA’s Excellence in Aviation Security Award, which was well-deserved and largely due to TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger’s decision to restore federalized security screening to SAA. Without this decision Salina would not have been able to resume its commercial air service that means so much to the Salina community and Central Kansas.
Supporting Legislation to Fight Zika
On Tuesday, I voted a third time to provide funding to combat the Zika virus. Unfortunately, this latest attempt to provide assistance again failed to pass the Senate. Three times now the Senate has failed to come together to support a fiscally responsible approach to fighting Zika. Congress must make certain our nation’s experts have what they need to combat this virus, and I continue to advocate for a solution. No woman’s reaction to learning she is pregnant should be fear because of Zika, and no newborn child’s well-being should be endangered because their nation’s leaders lack the will to get the job done. Click here to learn more.
Osawatomie State Hospital Visit
I stopped in Osawatomie on Friday to meet with leadership at Osawatomie State Hospital (OSH) and view recent enhancements to the Adair Acute Care unit. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) decertified the facility last year citing patient and staff safety concerns. This visit helped me learn more about OSH’s efforts to recertify these inpatient beds and restore federal Medicare and Medicaid support to a significant and necessary source of inpatient behavioral health care in Kansas.
Beyond the economic consequence of this facility, Kansas needs a strong mental health system. The way we care for people with mental illness in communities also matters because the overcrowding that has occurred here in part is related to the fact that there is no place to discharge patients to from the acute care units back to the community or back to a different environment. Thank you to Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Services Assistant Secretary Kelli Ludlum for coordinating my visit, and to OSH Superintendent John Worley for hosting me. Thanks also to Osawatomie Mayor Mark Govea, City Manager Don Cawby and Chamber Executive Director Diana Neal for joining me on my tour. The hospital is also a critical component of the local economy. Click here to read more about my visit from the Ottawa Herald.
Pressing VA for Answers on Leavenworth Abuse Case
After writing to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert McDonald and speaking with VA Inspector General Michael Missal last week, I continued to direct my attention to pursuing justice for the veterans who were sexually abused by an employee of in the Eastern Kansas Health Care System. What happened is deeply disturbing – that someone entrusted to care for our nation’s veterans would instead subvert that trust to carry out such heinous acts.
I took further action on Wednesday in a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing with senior VA officials to affirm their full commitment to achieve justice for the veterans who were harmed and to take steps to prevent future cases involving such deplorable acts by a VA employee. I will continue to do everything I can to make certain the VA makes good on its commitment to the veterans harmed and, from top to bottom, the agency is worthy of the veterans it serves. To watch my questions during the committee hearing, click here. If you are interested in learning more, please click here or here.
Raising Awareness During Suicide Prevention Week
Suicide is a far too common occurrence, and it is important to raise awareness about the warning signs and spread the word about resources available to those at risk. The veteran population is at increased risk for suicide, in fact, we lose 20 veterans a day to suicide. The Department of Veterans Affairs has increased the resources available to veterans through the VA. If you or someone you know is struggling, I encourage you to seek help through the Veterans Crisis Line or other resource such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Leadership Lessons from General Stanley McChrystal
At the Kansas Medical Society and Kansas Hospital Association Joint Session in Overland Park, I had the opportunity to introduce the keynote speaker, General Stanley McChrystal. Gen. McChrystal, who served as Commander of Joint Special Operations Command and Commander of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, has been praised as one of the greatest leaders of our time. He returned to his birthplace of Kansas on Friday to share his thoughts on how to be a strong and effective leader. Thank you General McChrystal for you service to our nation, and thanks to the Kansans Medical Society and Kansas Hospital Association for inviting me to be with you and Gen. McChrystal.
Introducing Legislation to Reduce Ticket Scams
I recently introduced the Better Online Ticket Sales Act (BOTS) to enhance and improve consumer’s experience when purchasing event tickets online. The bill is intended to combat the use of “ticket-bots” that cut in line when tickets go on sale, and then resale them at a dramatic markup. Scalpers have long been driving up ticket prices and harming the consumer marketplace, but their methods are becoming increasingly sophisticated. It’s hard enough to get tickets to high-profile events without the added struggle of having to fight bots online.
As Chairman of the Commerce Committee’s Consumer Protection Subcommittee, I will hold a hearing on this legislation next week. The practice of using bots for ticket scalping is wide-spread, and we will hear from a diverse witness panel. Among them will be Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby and "Hamilton" producer Jeffrey Seller. Click here to learn more.
Visiting Southeast Kansas
After being interviewed by KOMB-FM's Larry Gazaway, I toured Peerless Products in Fort Scott. They manufacture high-performance aluminum architectural and commercial windows and have been in Fort Scott since 1952. With 420 employees, they are Fort Scott’s largest employer and provide jobs for southeast residents throughout a 50-mile radius. I appreciated the time owners CEO Colby Jones and Bill Osbern took to educate me on their product and manufacturing process. Thank you to Fort Scott Economic Development Director Heather Smith and to chamber board member and local business owner Mark McCoy for joining.
The Fort Scott community in partnership with the National Fort Scott Historic Site is hosting their annual “Symbols of Sacrifice” this weekend. On the fort grounds, a flag is placed for each service member who has died while serving in support of American military operations during the Global War on Terrorism.
Treads & Threads Event
Robba and I attended the 15th annual Treads & Threads gala benefiting The University of Kansas Hospital over the weekend. Robba is a board member of the KU Hospital Authority. Since 2002, Treads & Threads has raised more than $8.5 million to improve and advance cancer patient care. Proceeds from this year’s event, held at the Kansas Speedway, will support their Breast Cancer Prevention Center and their surgical oncology program in the Cambridge North Tower addition. Thanks to event chairs Frank and Barclay Ross for hosting us, and to George and Leslie Brett for supporting KU Hospital.
Old Settlers Parade in Olathe
Robba and I took part in the Old Settlers Parade in Olathe over the weekend. The event is one of Johnson County’s best late summer traditions. Thanks to everyone who introduced themselves and took time to visit one-on-one along the parade route. Thanks also to George and Betty Rifford for driving us in their 1931 Model A Roadster Convertible.
Kansans in the Office
Safe States Alliance
Lori Haskett of Topeka
Andrew Smith of Lindsborg
National Auctioneers Association
Hannes Combest of Lawrence
Curtis Kitchen of Shawnee
Braden McCurdy of Wichita
Brandi McGrath Kons of Overland Park
Asian American Hotel Owners Association
Mayurkumar Patel Overland Park
Kansas Farm Bureau
Bradley Bryant of Winfield
Taylor Crawshaw of Altoona
Steven McCloud of Hesston
Kenley Stauffer of Holton
Amanda Taylor of Yates Center
Rich Felts of Liberty
Mule Deer Foundation Board Members
Aaron Oelger of Shawnee
Act for America
Andrew Carey of Overland Park
American Conservative Union
Matt Schlapp of Wichita
Jennifer Beilman of Andover
Damien Beilman of Andover
Susan Spatz of Wichita
Galen Norby of Wichita
Jim and Carmen Pinegar
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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