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.
Beginning tomorrow at sundown, families in Kansas and around the world will begin observing Yom Kippur. This Day of Atonement is the holiest day of the year for Jewish people. I wish all who will be observing a meaningful day and an easy fast.
Today: Atchison County Kansas Listening Tour Stop
I’m hosting a Kansas Listening Tour stop this afternoon in Atchison at Benedictine College (at the Ferrell Academic Center on the 4th Floor in the McAllister Board Room) at 1:30 p.m. If you’re in the Atchison area, I encourage you to join me to share feedback on the critical issues facing Kansas and the nation.
Democratic Minority Continues Effort to Silence Bipartisan Majority on Nuclear Agreement
This week, the Senate held more votes to move ahead to final action on a resolution that would disapprove of the Iran nuclear deal. In this case, a 60-vote majority was necessary. Democrats supporting the Iran deal continued to block the critical final vote on the resolution.
The path that the Senate Democrats have taken the Senate in recent days is an unfortunate one. Their decision to silence the voice of the people is a mistake that risks the future of our country and the security of our citizens. I spoke on the Senate floor to condemn these stalling tactics and lament what this once great deliberative institution has become. I encourage you to click here to watch my speech.
Despite this disappointment, I will continue to investigate and pursue all possible policies that prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability and limit the harm this dangerous nuclear deal may inflict upon Americans and our allies.
Agriculture Appropriations Hearing on FDA
Americans expect that the food they purchase at a grocery store or restaurant will be safe, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is largely tasked with maintaining that confidence. Unfortunately, nearly one in six Americans fall victim to foodborne illness each year. I held a hearing this week – as Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman – with representatives from the FDA to review efforts to improve and maintain the safety of the food supply in the United States. The implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) by the FDA was a major topic of discussion.
The tragic death of three Kansans due to foodborne illness from Blue Bell ice cream products earlier this year served to highlight the importance of food safety practices. I want to be sure as FSMA is implemented, the new food safety system is better able to prevent the spread of foodborne pathogens responsible for the death and illnesses of Americans each year. It is also important that we don’t impose unnecessary regulations on our farmers, ranchers and food manufacturers that fail to improve food safety but instead result in higher food prices for consumers. The safety of our food supply is a vital issue that impacts all of us, from farmer to consumer. I look forward to continuing to work with FDA on FSMA implementation and other food safety issues.
Rally for American Association for Cancer Research
I was pleased to speak at the Rally for Medical Research this week, which highlighted the importance of the supporting the National Institutes of Health (NIH) — the focal point of our nation’s health research infrastructure. NIH-supported research saves and improves lives, lowers overall health care costs, and is an economic engine that strengthens American global competitiveness. Special thanks to the American Association for Cancer Research for hosting the event. Pictured with me below are Ph.D. candidates Christopher McNair and Ela Dylgjeri.
In April, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill for fiscal year 2016 that would increase the NIH budget by $2 billion over the fiscal year 2015 level. Our nation has long recognized the importance of a sustained commitment to advancing medical research, and Congress’ long-standing bipartisan support of NIH has been an integral part of establishing the United States as a world leader in research and innovation. If researchers cannot rely on consistent support from Congress, we will squander current progress, stunt America’s global competitiveness, and lose younger generations of doctors and scientists to alternative career paths. Our nation’s researchers and scientists must know Congress supports their work and will ensure they have the resources needed to carry out their important work.
Consumer Review Freedom Act
On Wednesday, I joined U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) in introducing the Consumer Review Freedom Act (S. 2044). This bipartisan legislation protects consumers from unfair non-disparagement clauses that are stifling free speech by silencing customer criticism in public forums or online reviews. Currently these clauses are appearing in a number of non-negotiable form contracts, and these businesses are able to seek fines or pursue litigation against customers for negative but truthful reviews of their products or services on websites such as Yelp or TripAdvisor. The Consumer Review Freedom Act would prohibit this practice, while still allowing companies to seek repercussions against reviewers who make dishonest misrepresentations about their business.
Just as word-of-mouth is used by family and friends to share experiences with particular brands or businesses, Americans are placing an increasingly high value on candid third-party online reviews that allow users to share information which ultimately benefits fellow consumers in their purchasing decisions. Non-disparagement clauses are not necessarily limited to prohibiting negative reviews online, either; often they prohibit any sort of public criticism such as a letter to the editor of a newspaper. The effect is clearly detrimental to both speech and commerce and harms consumer choice. As Chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security, I am proud to support this important legislation to make certain Kansans and consumers across the country are able to make their voices heard without fear of lawsuits or financial repercussions for honest feedback. Click here to learn more.
Promoting National Aerospace Week
As Co-Chair of the Senate Aerospace Caucus, I was pleased to exchange ideas and offer support for numerous stakeholders in the aerospace industry who were in Washington D.C. for National Aerospace Week. With more than 450 aerospace companies and suppliers in our state that employ nearly 32,000 Kansans, the aerospace industry has a long history with significant contributions to our state’s economy. I was proud to take part in several events highlighting the successes, growth and advancements in this critical industry.
On Tuesday, the Senator Aerospace Caucus hosted the Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James on Capitol Hill to share her insights about future challenges and opportunities in the Air Force with lawmakers and aerospace industry partners. On Thursday, I was honored to receive the Wings of Liberty Award from the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), which recognizes Members of Congress who engage with industry and government leaders to maintain U.S. leadership in national security technology, civil aviation and space research and exploration.
The aerospace industry is where two of our country’s most fundamental priorities converge: creating a strong national defense and fostering a strong national economy. The opportunity to grow aerospace in the United States is at a critical point – we must support and promote education and workforce and research development, as well as increase manufacturing to strengthen our national security. I am committed to continue working to support this vital industry and all those who work hard to sustain American dominance in aerospace.
National Suicide Prevention Month
September is National Suicide Prevention Month and one group of individuals that faces an alarmingly high number of suicides is our nation’s veterans. Too often our nation’s veterans return from combat and struggle to find the support they need and deserve. I supported the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for America’s Veterans Act (S. 167), which Congress passed and was signed into law in February 2015. Although the implementation of the law is still underway, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for America's Veterans Act will help veterans better access critical resources and information about mental health services.
If you are a veteran or know a veteran struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, I encourage you to reach out to your local VA provider or the Veterans Crisis Line for confidential help by calling 1-800-273-8255 or texting 838255. You are not alone.
Ben Vidricksen Tribute
Kansas lost one of its great citizens with the passing of Ben Vidricksen this past week. Flags in Saline County were flown at half-staff on Saturday in his honor. I had the opportunity to work alongside Ben during my time in the Kansas State Senate, but had known Ben long before we were colleagues. As I reflect on my time spent with Ben, what stands out to me is his optimistic spirit and relentless, Kansas work ethic.
Ben was particularly instrumental in bringing two major points of pride to Salina: the Kansas Highway Patrol Training Academy and Kansas State University–Salina’s College of Technology and Aviation. These two additions made a significant impact on Salina’s local economy, and would not have been possible without his leadership. All of Ben’s accomplishments were guided by his desire to treat every person with respect and dignity, and a belief in the value of hard work. Ben was loved by all who knew him, but especially by his family. Robba and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to them – I know Ben will be greatly missed.
(photo courtesy of Salina Journal)
Kansas State Fair
The Kansas State Fair wrapped up in Hutchinson on Sunday. I hope you had a chance to enjoy the exciting rides and the wonderful – and sometimes wacky – as well as the exhibit halls, livestock barns and countless educational opportunities. I spent time at my booth in the Pride of Kansas Building, as well as wandering the fair grounds to visit with fair attendees. Thanks to the Kansas State Fair Board Members and staff who put in countless hours of planning to ensure the fair’s success.
Emporia State University Visit
On Friday afternoon I stopped by Emporia State University (ESU) to meet with president Jackie Vietti and tour the campus. During the visit, we discussed a number of university-related issues including TRIO programs, Perkins Funds and Pell Grants. I also spoke to a number of students about their experiences at Emporia State and what they hope their futures hold.
I also shared with them the legislation I plan to introduce next week to designate the Memorial to Fallen educators as a national memorial. The memorial – dedicated in 2014 – would still be owned and cared for by the dedicated hands at the National Teacher Hall of Fame and Emporia State University, but would have the deserved prestige of a national of memorial. Tragically, educators have lost their lives while carrying out their profession. This memorial is about making certain those educators are forever remembered for the sacrifice they made while serving those around them. It is the only memorial in the country dedicated to fallen educators, and a worthy memorial to be deemed the “National Memorial to Fallen Educators.” There is no taxpayer cost associated with this legislation, and private funds will continue to be used to maintain the memorial. Thanks to ESU Governmental Relations Legislative Liaison Brian Denton for coordinating my visit.
(photos courtesy of Emporia State University's Dustin Michelson)
Burlington High School Tailgate
It was great to catch up with Kansans in Coffey County on Friday night before a high school football game — the Burlington Wildcats took on the Cherryvale Chargers. Thanks to Gene Merry for hosting and to Kansas Speaker of the House Pro Tempore Peggy Mast for stopping by.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kansans in the Office
Ed Raines of Topeka
Amanda Martin of Goodland
Ed Witt of Norton
Melba Witt of Norton
Jim Cauthon of Topeka
Denise Cauthon of Topeka
Claudette Glenn of Wichita
Ronald Lucas of Sublette
Cathy Lucas of Sublette
David Rambo of Overland Park
Della Rambo of Overland Park
American Farm Bureau Federation
Derek Sawyer of McPherson
Safe States Alliance
Lori Haskett of Topeka
Mike Cook of Wichita
Jim Brown of Wichita
American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers
Chris Ostmeyer of Wichita
Monty Smith of Hays
American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
Amber Lucas of Olathe
Phil Schneider of Lenexa
Kansas Pharmacists Association
Mike Larkin of Topeka
American Medical Information Association
David McCallie of Stillwell
Wichita State University
Andy Schlapp of Wichita
Peter Perna of Wichita
Kansas Home Care Association
Jane Kelly of Topeka
Michael Chisom of Hutchinson
Michael Kreutzer of Lenexa
Employee-Owned S Corporations of America
Alan Roach of Shawnee
Paul Faletti of Overland Park
David Schaefer of Overland Park
Joe Athon of Lenexa
Harold Mitts of Overland Park
Greg Klein of Overland Park
National Farmers Union
Donn Teske of Wheaton
Stephanie Teske of Wamego
Jeff Kindel of Aurora
David Heiens of Abilene
Donald Stull of Lawrence
Olivia Taylor-Puckett of McLouth
American Association for Cancer Research
Leesa Gabel of Olathe
Rebecca Peterson of Lawrence
Barbara Duffy Stewart of Kansas City
Voices for National Service
Brittany Crabtree of Topeka
U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Kansas
Chief Judge Nugent of Wichita
Sarah Patterson of Wichita
Jennifer Wilbert 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 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,
Newsletter Sign-up Form
Note: Fields marked with an * are required.