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.
Sunday marked a meaningful day for Robba and me. We attended Easter services at First Presbyterian Church where Robba played piano during the Easter Sunday service. Wishing you and your family a blessed Easter season.
Earlier this week, members of the Jewish faith across the world celebrated Passover. During this annual holiday, the story and lessons of the Exodus led by Moses and the experience of Israelites in ancient Egypt are passed from generation to generation. Chag sameach pesach to all who marked the occasion.
Celebrating the Seitz CBOC
I joined with family members of WWII Veteran and Kansan Lieutenant General Richard “Dick” Seitz on Friday as we cut the ribbon to open the brand new Seitz Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Junction City. The facility, which recently opened its doors, provides primary care, behavioral health, personal care, laboratory, prescriptions and psychiatry services. It gives Junction City-area residents expanded access to get the care they earned in service to our nation. It is fitting that we could recognize the service of Lt. Gen. Seitz, who was so devoted to serving the Junction City community, by naming this veterans outpatient facility in his honor. I look forward to seeing the facility have a positive impact on generations of Kansas veterans to come.
Continuing My Kansas Listening Tour
I continued my Kanas Listening Tour this week with stops in Beloit, Downs, Garden City, Ulysses, Elkhart, Hugoton and Dwight. Thanks to all the Kansans who attended and shared feedback.
Beloit and Downs
I held two townhall meetings on Tuesday.The first, at NCK Tech in Beloit, generated a conversation with nearly 60 Kansans who shared with me their concerns about caring for our veterans, the importance of trade to agriculture in our state, and the importance of addressing our national debt and its future consequences. Thanks to Rep. Susan Concannon for attending and to the Beloit Rotary Club for hosting.
The next townhall meeting, at the State Bank of Downs, included about 30 people who asked questions about Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, veterans’ healthcare, and issues impacting our ag community. I shared my commitment to protecting global food aid programs and my support for lifting the trade embargo with Cuba. Our discussion also touched on the need to lower healthcare costs and invest in medical research. My thanks to Rep. Ken Rahjes for joining.
Garden City and Ulysses
I was in Garden City and Ulysses on Thursday. In Garden City, I spoke with close to 90 residents about ways we can protect our rural values, community hospitals and our veterans. I took questions on a number of topics, ranging from the need for tax reform to how U.S. policy in Syria should be crafted. Attendees also had questions about Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and I shared my desire to keep the federal government out of local education decisions. I also took questions about universal healthcare and spoke about ways the government can create an environment for competitive private insurers to reduce costs and create affordable access for all. My thanks to Finney County Commissioners Lon Pishny, Larry Jones and Dave Jones, along with State Senator John Doll for attending. I appreciated the hospitality of the Garden City Rotary Club and Rotary President Lee Ann Shrader. Please click here to read more about the townhall meeting in the Garden City Telegram.
During my Grant County stop, local residents asked about the federal appropriations process, the government’s role in education, the adversarial role of Russia and the long-term viability of Social Security. My thanks to Pioneer Communications for hosting the event and to State Rep. Steve Alford for attending.
Elkhart and Hugoton
In Elkhart on Thursday morning, I heard from about 35 Kansans on a wide variety of issues including trade, how our ability to reach foreign markets helps keep small town economies going and small businesses thriving, rural hospitals, and veterans’ care. I also presented a tribute to the life of the late Bob Boaldin, a longtime Elkhart resident, to his wife Dian and son Trent. My thanks to County Clerk Gina Castillo and County Commissioners J.W. Finn and Randy Bane for attending.
During my town hall meeting in Hugoton later that day, 40 area residents shared concerns about the administration’s proposed cuts to USDA, the importance of our Secretary of Agriculture, the federal response to wildfires that burned across the southwest part of our state last month, and our public education system. I shared my commitment to continuing to prioritize important programs at USDA that help make certain farmers and ranchers can succeed. I also took questions about educational vouchers and made known my opposition to the idea and my belief that the education decisions are made best at the local level. Thanks to the Hugoton Rotary Club for hosting our discussion.
I appreciated the Kansans who came out to my Morris County town hall on Friday for a lively discussion about a range of topics including judicial nominees, cabinet members, tax reform and education policy. Thanks to Rep. Dave Baker and Mayor Galen Johnson for joining the group.
Commemorating the Big Red One’s 100th Anniversary
Americans are forever indebted to the brave soldiers of the Big Red One to whom our nation owes so much. In recognition of the First Infantry Division’s 100th anniversary, I introduced a congressional resolution along with Senator Roberts and Representative Marshall to formally recognize the occasion. Since delivering the first Allied victory of World War I, the Fighting First has led the way on battlefields around the world. Kansans are proud to claim the First Infantry Division as their own and this anniversary is an occasion to pay tribute to the more than 13,000 soldiers who lost their lives in battle over the last century. To the fallen – and to the men and women of the Big Red One who uphold their legacy today – thank you and God bless you. To read more about the resolution, please click here.
Touring Rural Hospitals
I visited four rural hospitals in the southwest part of our state on Thursday. At Stanton County Hospital, staff shared with me the challenges they face with rising costs and decreasing or flat-lining reimbursement rates. We also discussed the burdens the Affordable Care Act places on the facility. My thanks to the physical therapy and EMS staff who took a few minutes out of their days to speak with me and to CEO Jay Tusten, CFO Rob Nahmenson, Dr. Scott Appling and Camille Davidson for accompanying my tour.
At Stevens County Hospital, I met with CEO Linda Stalcup and their staff. They shared new updates to their x-ray department, which has gone fully digital with help of USDA rural development funding. I provided an update on bipartisan legislation I introduced, which will soon be signed into law and will help speed up payments for VA community providers like this one. For more information about that legislation, please click here.
My stop at Meade District Hospital, part of the Artesian Valley Health System, generated a discussion about doctor recruitment and ways we can increase access to care for veterans. I appreciate CEO Steve Stewart for joining my tour of the hospital, which was recently recognized as one of the best 20 critical access hospitals for patient satisfaction in the country by the National Rural Health Association.
I ended the day at Minneola District Hospital, where I met with CEO Debbie Bruner and discussed the future of healthcare reform and the difficulties that funding cuts have caused the facility. We also discussed provider retention and how it helps the hospital best serve their patients. I appreciate the efforts of the doctors, nurses and administrators working to serve patients in our communities.
Progress on Grant Prairie Townhomes in Ulysses
I joined Grant Prairie Townhomes following my townhall meeting in Ulysses Wednesday afternoon to participate in their ribbon cutting ceremony and the groundbreaking for the next phase of their new housing development. The lack of affordable housing continues to impact a number of our communities experiencing rapid economic growth. This housing development will help alleviate that problem in Ulysses, and it exists as a result of the community's hard work and determination, as well as their partnership with various organizations and government agencies. Thanks to Michael Snodgrass of the Builders Development Corporation for allowing me to participate and to Kansas Housing Resources Corporation Executive Director Dennis Mesa and Federal Home Loan Bank of Topeka VP Director of Housing and Community Development J. Thomas Tull for joining the celebration.
Supporting Manufacturing Legislation and Visiting Thermo Fisher in Lenexa
Last Monday, I visited Thermo Fisher Scientific in Lenexa where I was honored to receive the National Association of Manufacturers’ Award for Legislative Excellence for the 114th Congress. Kansas is home to more than 3,000 manufacturing businesses which play a huge role in our state’s economic success. Manufacturers drive innovation, provide good-paying jobs and produce quality products that are in demand all around the globe. Whether it is simple latex medical gloves or incredibly complex DNA gene sequencers, the company’s biotechnology products help drive science to new heights and enable our scientists and researchers to unravel the mysteries of diseases to find new treatments and cures. In the Senate, I am committed to supporting policy that empowers a thriving manufacturing sector with the goal of more and better jobs in Kansas. Thanks to Brad Smith for his kind introduction and the whole team at Thermo Fisher for hosting Monday’s event.
Accepting Applications for Fall Internships
My own interest in public service was sparked by an internship for Kansas First District Congressman Keith Sebelius in 1974. As an intern, I had the chance to learn firsthand how a Congressional office operates and how the legislative process works. I am proud to be able to offer this same opportunity in my Senate office today where I have interns year-round who have a unique opportunity to work closely with my staff on behalf of Kansans. Applications are already being accepted for internships in my Washington, D.C. and Kansas offices for the fall 2017 term. The deadline for the fall is Friday, June 2. Congressional internships are open to qualified undergraduate and graduate students who have an interest in public service and have achieved academic excellence. Click here for more information.
Kansans in the Office
Janet Matthias of Ottawa
Tim Matthias of Ottawa
Eli Matthias of Ottawa
Emily Matthias of Ottawa
Ellen Bertels of Overland Park
Mark Bertels of Overland Park
Elizabeth Bertels of Overland Park
Heather Longenecker of Abilene
Katie Carr of Abilene
Lyle Dockter of Wichita
Barbara Dockter of Wichita
Harold Crispin of Hays
JoAnne Crispin of Hays
Jerry Gormley of Grinnell
Jeanie Gormley of Grinnell
Guy Simpson of Roeland Park
Melissa Madsen of Olathe
Brad VanDeWoestyne of Olathe
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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