Kansas Common Sense
Dec 27 2021
Wishing You and Yours a Merry Christmas
Robba and I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of holidays.
As friends and family gather this holiday season, please remember the military men and women serving our nation who are unable to be with their loved ones and family. Being away from family over the holidays is one of the many sacrifices our servicemembers, first responders and law enforcement officers make. I am grateful for their dedicated service and pray for their health and safety. We wish you a Merry Christmas.
To the troops serving overseas, we are thinking of you and your families this Christmas season. Watch my full message here.
On Christmas day, it's a Moran family tradition to watch the Washburn Holiday Vespers concert on KTWU. Robba and I were thankful to enjoy the beautiful performance at home surrounded by our family. Thank you to the talented musicians of Washburn for helping us all get into the Christmas spirit and to KTWU for making the performance available to the public.
Assessing Fire Damage with the Kansas Forest Service
On Thursday morning, I met with Shawna Nells, Eric Ward, Darci Paull and Jason Hartman at the Kansas Forest Service who work to protect Kansans and Kansas landowners through protection and management of forests, woodlands and windbreaks. They showed me satellite images from the National Interagency Fire Center as well as data from National Fireguard Detections, a program that monitors heat rather than fire perimeter and helps fill in any informational gaps from the satellite images. From the images and data, I was able to learn more about the extent of the damage from the December 15 fires as farmers, ranchers and communities begin to rebuild. Recovery takes time, and I am ready to assist.
Thank you to Shawna, Eric, Darci and Jason for their time this week.
Resources for Kansans Affected by Severe Weather
Fire Recovery Meeting
The Kansas Livestock Association, Kansas Farm Bureau and other local organizations are hosting an informational meeting to discuss disaster assistance available for producers affected by severe storms and wildfires. The dinner meeting will take place at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 29 at the Natoma Elementary Gym (610 3rd Street) or those interested can join by Zoom. For more information, click here. To register, click here.
Mental Health Resources
If you are a farmer or rancher in crisis, or know of someone in need of immediate mental health assistance, contact your local Kansas Community Mental Health Center or call the Kansas Suicide Prevention Line at (785) 841-2345. Additional Mental Health Resources can be found through the Kansas Ag Stress website.
For Those Looking to Help
Donations can also be made through the Kansas Livestock Association here.
Kansas Recovery Resources can be found through the Kansas Department of Agriculture here.
If you can offer help to these communities, HitchPin is working coordinate assistance through this form.
If I can be of assistance to you or your family, please reach out to my office at DisasterAssistance@moran.senate.gov.
Visiting with Kansans
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to congratulate Hayden Newton on his admission to West Point. Admission into our nation's military academies is an extremely competitive process and a tremendous honor, and it was a privilege to highlight Hayden's achievement to local community leaders. Nominating Kansas students to attend service academies is one of my greatest responsibilities as a U.S. Senator, and I was pleased I could meet with Hayden and his family in his hometown to say thank you for his desire to serve our nation.
During the Rotary meeting we discussed the importance of rural America and preserving Kansas’ special way of life, how we must continue to find purpose in our work and how that transfers to improving and sustaining Kansas’ workforce. We discussed current federal spending, and I reiterated that American families cannot afford for the federal government to spend its way out of its problems.
Thank you to Rotary President Mike Burns, State Senator Caryn Tyson and all those in attendance for allowing me to speak with you.
It was great to spend Monday afternoon with Rotary Club members in Marysville. We discussed rural broadband, health care and commodity prices. We also discussed the importance of supporting our law enforcement and how first responders acted quickly earlier this month when high winds and fires threatened homes, livestock and families across the state. In the aftermath of the fires, Kansans continue to look for ways to help, and I was able to share programs that are coordinating assistance.
Thank you to Club President Paula Landoll-Smith for the invitation to join and to the Rotary members for sharing your thoughts with me.
Demanding HHS To Reverse Its Flawed Liver Allocation Policy
The United Network for Organ Sharing’s (UNOS) move to change the liver allocation policy nearly three years ago has negatively impacted patients awaiting transplants in Midwestern states, including in Missouri and Kansas. UNOS is the sole contractor for organ procurement and allocation for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and their decisions can be the difference between life and death for patients awaiting liver transplants.
The new policy that UNOS implemented redistributes the organs from states and regions that have high donor organ rates, like Kansas, to areas that have historically underperformed – resulting in patients in Kansas and those in the Midwestern and Southern states having to wait a much longer time for a lifesaving organ.
Senator Roy Blunt and I have sounded the alarm repeatedly not just about the allocation policy itself, but also the troubling process by which it came about, which ignored the recommendation of experts on the Liver and Intestine Committee. But new documents released this week due to an appeals court ruling show clear collusion and bias by UNOS officials during the process of rewriting the nation’s liver policy.
Read our full joint statement here or below:
“These newly-released emails are disgusting and absolutely unacceptable. They show clear collusion by UNOS and several organ procurement organizations prior to the liver allocation policy being announced, leaving no doubt that the liver allocation policy must be overturned. From the time the changes to the national liver allocation policy were first announced three years ago, we raised the alarm about the major flaws in the policymaking process. UNOS overruled the expert Liver and Intestine Committee, excluded certain public comments in the deliberations, and arrived at an outcome that was radically different from the decision previously reached. What we learned today is that the process was not simply flawed, it was deliberately designed to deny patients in the South and Midwest their fair chance at a lifesaving liver transplant.
“UNOS tried to use the legal system to cover their tracks. Thankfully they were unsuccessful and their callous arrogance has now been laid bare. We have repeatedly said the process and policy for determining liver allocations needs to be made fairly and transparently. Neither UNOS nor the Department of Health and Human Services have lived up to this standard. These emails perfectly illustrate our biggest fears and what we’ve known all along – that the process is totally biased and fundamentally flawed. We demand that the Department of Health and Human Services immediately reverse its implementation of the misguided liver allocation policy.”
Sen. Blunt and I will continue to demand a fair policy that takes into account the expertise of the Liver and Intestine Committee. The creation of that policy must be conducted in an open and transparent process.
Meeting with Community Leaders Across Kansas
Onaga Community Hospital
On Monday, I visited Onaga Community Hospital to meet with CEO Todd Willert, Communications Director Sarah Hancock and Chamber of Commerce President Chase Farber. Like so many rural hospitals across Kansas, one of the biggest issues facing health care providers today is the lack of adequate staffing, particularly nurses. Critical access hospitals like Onaga offer a lifeline to Kansas' rural communities by providing high- quality care nearer to their homes, and I thank all of Onaga’s staff for their commitment to ensuring Pottawatomie County has access to local care.
Thank you to Todd, Sarah and Chase for meeting with me, and to the Onaga staff who took time to visit with me.
Blue Valley Technologies
On Tuesday, I met with Candace Wright, John Smith and Terry Force of Blue Valley Technologies to discuss the importance of rural broadband and how improved access to high-speed internet will continue to better the lives of all Kansans.
Blue Valley Technologies coordinates its Giving Tree program each holiday season, which provides Christmas gifts and household essentials to over 1,000 local children and families in need. It’s wonderful to see how local businesses like Blue Valley help their communities during the holiday season, and it was great to see so many of the family baskets filled for Christmas. Thank you John, Candace and Terry for your time.
Ottawa Corner Market
On Tuesday, I also met with City Manager Richard Nienstedt, Mayor Sara Caylor, Chief of Police Adam Weingartner and Owner Josh Walker at the Corner Market in Ottawa. Recently, the building has been renovated into upstairs housing for Ottawa University and the ground level now houses a restaurant and other business offices.
We discussed the success of local businesses due to private sector housing at Ottawa University, Ottawa University’s increased enrollment and the importance of broadband. Thank you to Richard, Sara, Adam and Josh for hosting me in Ottawa.
EMP Shield, Inc.
This week, I also met with the executive team at EMP Shield in Burlington to discuss their Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) defense technology. EMP attacks can wipe out electronics and communication networks and are a major concern for the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security. EMP Shield’s products are designed to prevent these attacks for homes, business and vehicles.
I appreciated learning more about this technology and how EMP Shield continues to find ways to protect anything from hospitals to electrical grids. Thank you to Founder Tim Carty, President Pete Keegan, Vice President Rowdy Meyer, Bobby Skipper of Coffey County Economic Development and Tim Fowler of United States Strategic Command for speaking with me.
Radiation Detection Technologies
On Monday, I visited Radiation Detection Technologies (RDT) in Manhattan, a tech research, development, design and manufacturing small business. We discussed the demand for these services and value that tech small businesses bring to the industry. RDT’s technology is used in equipment ranging from health care to precision agriculture. Thank you to CEO Steve Bellinger and his team for providing an update on the work being done in Manhattan to promote jobs, research and development in the STEM field as well as Trent Armbrust with the Kansas Department of Commerce for joining me.
GI Bill Benefits Signed into Law by the President
On Tuesday, the President signed my legislation into law to protect GI Bill benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. The extension ensures this rule stays in effect until summer of 2022. The rule ensures that veterans, their dependents and servicemembers, who are using their GI Bill benefits, will be able to continue receiving their full tuition and monthly housing payments as universities and other approved programs are continuing to have classes online to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Last year, Congress acted quickly to make certain student veterans and their families could keep their benefits as classes moved online to stop the spread of COVID-19. Extending this rule as universities work to continue to mitigate the spread of the virus is a commonsense solution that will help us keep our communities and universities healthy.
It was great to meet folks from Bank of Tescott in Lincoln on Wednesday morning and to visit city hall and local businesses while I was in town. Thank you to everyone who stopped to visit with me.
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