Kansas Common Sense


Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you 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.

I was back in Kansas this week for the Senate State Work Period – hosting town hall meetings, speaking at Rotary Club, stopping by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation for an update, and extending my stay in Fort Scott to tour both Mercy Health Center and Fort Scott Community College. I wrapped up my week hosting representatives from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in Kansas including Deputy Commissioner Michael Taylor.

Kansas Listening Tour Stops: Morris, McPherson, Linn, Rush and Bourbon Counties
Morris County
Thanks to all the Council Grove area residents who met me at City Hall to discuss important issues including the Arms Trade Treaty, EPA regulations, community banks, immigration and border security, survival of community hospitals, and county roads and bridges.

McPherson County
I'm pictured here with my Manhattan office intern, Kyler Jost, as well as his grandparents. Thanks to Diane Goldberg and The Cedars for hosting the event.

Rush County
I heard feedback on a number of issues including veterans' affairs, the waters of the United States and community hospitals. Thanks to Rush County Memorial Hospital CEO Brenda Legleiter for hosting the discussion. (photo credit: Rush County News' Linda Kenyon)

Linn County
On my way to Bourbon County for a Kansas Listening Tour stop, I visited Pleasanton. Thanks to the Kansans at city hall, the Cox Motor Company and Casey's General Store for the constructive feedback.

Lyons Rotary Club
I was the program at the noon meeting of the Lyons Rotary Club this week. Following my remarks, I heard feedback on a number of topics including health care and veteran services. Below, I’m pictured with Henry’s Restaurant owners Craig and Cassie Taylor who purchased the restaurant three months ago to pursue their American Dream.

Bourbon County/Kiwanis Club
I heard from nearly 40 Bourbon County area residents at my town hall meeting in conjunction with Kiwanis Club at Fort Scott Community College (FSCC). Individuals in attendance shared feedback on access to health care, economic development in rural communities and the direction of our country. Thanks to Crawford County Commissioner Jeff Murphy, current FSCC President Alysia Johnston and former interim FSCC President Dick Hedges for attending.

FDA Commissioner Visits Kansas
Earlier this year at a Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, I invited Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Deputy Commissioner Michael Taylor to visit Kansas. As chairman of the agriculture subcommittee, I have the opportunity to play a role in overseeing the activities at both the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). My hope was to introduce Deputy Commissioner Taylor to Kansans to learn firsthand about some of the issues we are facing in the state, particularly in the agriculture industry. I also had the pleasure of hosting Bill Flynn, the Deputy Director for Science Policy at the Center for Veterinary Medicine, and Bill Tootle, the Director for the Office of Budget.

We started the day in Manhattan where we toured Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine including clinics, research labs, and diagnostic services within the college. We also had the chance to visit with a number of veterinary students about their experience at K-State and future plans after graduation. We then traveled to Great Bend Feeding to learn about the safe and judicious use of antibiotics in livestock production – an issue that impacts everyone, from cow-calf producers, to veterinarians, to feedlot owners, to consumers. 

A big thank you to Dr. Mike Apley of K-State who spearheaded much of the discussion and provided critical expertise on antibiotic use. Also thanks to K-State College of Vet Med and Great Bend Feeding for hosting our group. We have some of the brightest industry experts in the nation in Kansas, and I appreciate them spending time to discuss important issues with the FDA representatives. 

Call on VA Secretary to Hold Benefits Executives Accountable
In an effort to increase accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), I joined my colleagues on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee in a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald regarding recent VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) reports. On September 29, the OIG released a report outlining the misuse and abuse of VA funds by senior Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) officials. According to the report, officials spent nearly $2 million transferring 22 VA officials to different positions, and in some cases creating positions for themselves that required less work but allowed them to retain their current salary. In our letter to the secretary, my colleagues and I urged him to hold the executives involved accountable. Secretary McDonald promised he would work to change the culture at the VA so that our commitment to our nation’s veterans is met, and removing those who refuse to prioritize the needs of veterans is an opportunity for him to follow through on that promise. Those who have sacrificed for our nation deserve a VA that is committed to ensuring timely, quality care for veterans, and it is well past the time for action to create that culture at the VA. Click here to read the letter.

Kauffman Foundation Meeting
On Wednesday afternoon, I had the opportunity to tour the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. In pursuit of the vision of its founder, Ewing Kauffman, the Kauffman Foundation’s mission is to help individuals attain economic independence by advancing educational achievement and entrepreneurial success. This expansive, state-of-the-art conference center serves as a meeting place for local, national and world leaders to engage in dialogue about how to improve the state of education and entrepreneurship in Kansas City, the United States, and throughout the world. Following my tour, I visited with Kauffman Foundation leaders about the Foundation’s strategic plan, and how they are leveraging their research, policy, and civic capabilities to serve the goals of the Foundation. I appreciate the daily efforts of all those at the Foundation to improve the quality of life enjoyed by Kansans and Americans. Thanks to Leslie Kenagy for leading my tour, and to Aaron North, Christopher Harris, Emily Fetsch and Jason Wiens for hosting my visit.

Mercy Health Center Tour
I also visited Mercy Hospital Fort Scott (MHFS) this week. Mercy’s roots in the area date back to 1886, when two sisters opened a 10-bed hospital. Today, MHFS is a full-service, 69-bed hospital. MHFS’s Executive Director of Patient Care Services Christi Keating gave me a tour of the facility. During the tour, we discussed a number of the hospital’s rural health priorities, including its participation in the Rural Community Hospital (RCH) Demonstration Program. MHFS currently participates in the RCH demonstration, which enables certain rural hospitals to test the feasibility of a Medicare reimbursement tailored for rural health care delivery. This initiative, which is budget neutral, helps rural hospitals in sparsely populated states expand care to patients in their communities. Because it's scheduled to conclude next year, I sponsor the Rural Community Hospital Demonstration Extension Act (S. 607). The legislation would extend the demonstration and enable MHFS and other Kansas hospitals utilizing the RCH demonstration to continue receiving Medicare reimbursements that more accurately reflect the true cost of providing care to their patients. Thanks to Mark McCoy, a board member of the hospital’s foundation, for joining us on the tour. 

Now Accepting Spring 2016 Internship Applications
I am now accepting applications for paid congressional internships in my Washington, D.C., and Kansas offices for spring 2016. 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 2016 is October 30, 2015. 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: internships@moran.senate.gov.

Kansans in the Office
Capitol Tour
Gary D. Murphy of Olpe
Connie Murphy of Olpe
Sherrie Hanson of Olathe
Samm Hanson of Olathe
Dick Hanson of Olathe
Bob Larson of Garden City
Barb Larson of Garden City
Tom Waller of Garden City
Susan Waller of Garden City
Marta Ansaldo of Lenexa
Norberto Ansaldo of Lenexa
David Delker of Wichita
Barbara Delker of Wichita
Milton Rice of Pawnee Rock
Merita Rice of Pawnee Rock
Jennifer Smidt of Abilene
Janet Teply of Topeka
Janell Grause of Topeka
Steven Chernoff of Lenexa
Mary Chernoff of Lenexa 

Association of United States Army Manhattan
Lyle Butler of Manhattan
Janet Nichols of Manhattan
Robert Boyd of Manhattan 

Association of United States Army Junction City
Mick McCallister of Junction City
Phyllis Fitzgerald of Junction City
Allen Dinkel of Junction City 

Market Institute
Charles Sauer of Leawood 

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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