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. Also, do not forget to exercise your right to vote on Election Day this week.

Stops on My Kansas Listening Tour
McPherson County
On Monday morning, I hosted a Kansas Listening Tour Stop in McPherson. More than 60 area residents were at the Cedars Conference Center to discuss a number of issues, including: the need to preserve Medicare and Social Security, the Affordable Care Act, our nation’s unsustainable federal debt, the importance of a strong military and the need for a functional United State Senate. I appreciated the thoughtful questions and individual conversations. Thank you to Cedars administrator, Leigh Peck, for organizing my visit. Special thanks to Congressman Dick Nichols, Mayor Tom Brown and County Commissioner Duane Patrick for joining me. For a full listing of my upcoming Kansas Listening Tour stops, visit my website.

On Thursday afternoon I had good company and conversation at my town hall meeting in Iola. Discussion included VA and Veterans issues, rural health care, costs of over-regulating community banks, ISIS and need for military readiness, increasing cost of national debt when interest rates begin to increase. Thanks to all who attended for making their opinions heard.

On Friday afternoon my listening tour took me to Eureka, in Greenwood County, where I met with about 20 area residents and had the chance to hear their comments and concerns. It was an informative discussion focused on the economy, overregulation by the federal government, ag policy and frustration with Obamacare. Thanks to the Eureka Public Library for allowing us to meet at the library and to Representative Larry Hibbard for joining us. For a full listing of my upcoming Kansas Listening Tour stops, visit my website.

Visiting Community Hospitals in Kansas
This week, I met with hospital administrators and health care providers at three Kansas Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs) to learn more about the consequences of sequestration, ObamaCare, increasing regulation, and proposed changes in CAH funding and criteria on efforts to provide quality care to patients. During my time representing Kansans in Washington, D.C., I have had the opportunity to visit each of the 128 community hospitals in Kansas. As Ranking Member of Senate Appropriations Health Subcommittee, which has funding jurisdiction over most agencies within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that impact hospitals and providers, meeting with Kansas hospital administrators, physicians, nurses and other staff gives me important insight on the challenges they face caring for patients.

On Tuesday I visited Holton Community Hospital (HCH). HCH provides a wide range of services including 24-hour emergency services, skilled nursing, OB/Maternity Care, surgical, cardiovascular, laboratory, home health, hospice, radiology, outpatient care, and various health and wellness programs. It was good to sit down with HCH leadership and local officials, including Holton Mayor Robert Dieckmann, Assistant City Manager Kerwin McKee, and former Kansas House member Becky Hutchins.  Thanks to HCH CEO, and Holton native, Carrie Saia for hosting my visit.

Later that afternoon, I headed to Winchester to tour the F.W. Huston Medical Center Jefferson Clinic and visit with staff.  F.W. Huston also operates clinics in Valley Falls and Perry. I appreciated the chance to visit with administrators and health care providers about the ranges of health services they provide to patients at their various facilities.  Thanks to the Jefferson Clinic team, including Chief Nursing Officer Douglas Norton of Lamont, for the visit. It was also good to see Winchester Mayor Nancy Curry and Council Member Lorraine Herring.

On Thursday morning, I visited Anderson County Hospital in Garnett where hospital CEO Dennis Hachenberg and members of the Anderson County Board of Trustees gave me a tour of the brand new hospital being built directly behind the current facility. Groundbreaking on this new hospital took place in August 2013 and the facility is set to open in 2015. The new hospital will improve health care for the community by having two new surgical suites that will allow for more outpatient surgeries provided by the specialists, an expanded outpatient specialty clinic, improved ER access and function, and a space for therapy services. I commend the community’s dedication to improving health care to residents and attracting health care professionals to Garnett. Thank you to Dennis and his team for the tour.

Tragedy in Wichita
Four lives were tragically lost Thursday as a plane crashed into a building at Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport. These four and their loved ones are in my thoughts and prayers as their families and friends deal with this most difficult time. On Friday, I met with Vice Mayor Jeff Blubaugh, Wichita Airport Authority director Victor White and city of Wichita government relations director Dale Goter. My purpose was to offer sympathies, thank the first responders and offer help dealing with federal agencies if needed.

Kansas Cosmosphere: A Leader in Applied STEM Education
I began the week in Hutchinson on Monday visiting one of our state’s great attractions, the Kansas Cosmosphere. As home to the largest collection of international space artifacts in the world, this Smithsonian-affiliated Cosmosphere welcomed more than 100,000 visitors last year while offering programs for children, adults and educators. Efforts are currently under way to focus and expand this programming so that over the next two years, the Cosmosphere is internationally recognized for excellence through innovative applied STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.

A recent study from the Partnership for a New American Economy predicts that by 2018, America will have roughly 800,000 jobs that require STEM skills, but only 550,000 Americans to fill those jobs. America used to be a leader in one STEM field – engineering – but now the United States produces just 4 percent of the world’s engineering graduates each year. The Cosmosphere is uniquely suited to help meet that need by inspiring young people, through knowledge of space exploration, to pursue STEM careers. I look forward to being a partner in that effort.

Thanks to the Cosmosphere leadership team for taking time to meet with me, including Chief Executive Officer Dick Hollowell, President and Chief Operation Officer Jim Remar, and Dr. Ed Berger, who now serves as the Cosmosphere’s chair of revitalization initiatives.

Salina Rotary Club Meeting
I joined the Salina Rotarians on Monday at the Bicentennial Center for their weekly Monday meeting. I had the opportunity to visit with a number of community leaders, as well as get a make-up slip to overcome my many missed meetings for my hometown club in Hays. Thanks to Club President Brian Boyer for allowing me to stop in. 

Visiting AuBurn Pharmacy in Garnett
While in Garnett on Thursday before visiting Anderson County Hospital, I stopped in to visit with folks at AuBurn Pharmacy. Kansas pharmacies – quintessential community small businesses – face a variety of regulatory challenges that are both health and business related.  In 2011, I founded the Senate Community Pharmacy Caucus to advocate for pharmacy issues and to serve as a forum for ideas and information about the role of pharmacists as health care providers. Pharmacists have an essential role in caring for patients by helping them manage the safe use of medications, administering immunizations, and working collaboratively with doctors and other health care providers to improve care. It was a pleasure to visit with pharmacists Mike Burns, Ryan Moore, and Nathan Wiehl and hear about how federal policy impacts community pharmacies.

Speaking with Students at Burlington High School
Finally on Thursday I traveled to Burlington High School to visit with students and hear about what they are learning. I stopped by two AP American Government classes and enjoyed visiting with the students. We discussed a range of topics including the situation in the Middle East, how to end the gridlock in Washington, D.C, the economy and how I got my start in public service. I was impressed with the questions the students asked. Thanks to Mayor Gene Merry for stopping by.

Concluding Breast Cancer Awareness Month
As October and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month conclude, I would like to thank Kansas cancer survivors, their families, volunteers, research and care advocates, and health care providers for their tireless work to increase breast cancer screening rates throughout our state and the country. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is intended to increase awareness of the disease and help raise funds for important research, prevention, diagnosis and treatment initiatives. It is important that these efforts continue throughout the year. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), more than 232,000 American women were diagnosed with breast cancer last year. Breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in the U.S. Thanks to advances in research and screening, more women are detecting this cancer early and improving their chances at beating the disease.  Regular screening is the best way for women to lower their risk, because breast cancer is most treatable when it is detected early. To learn more about cancer prevention and screening, please visit the NCI’s website at www.cancer.gov.

Teagarden Named Kansas Livestock Association CEO
This week in Topeka, I had the opportunity to visit with and congratulate Matt Teagarden following the announcement that after a nationwide search he was selected to assume the role of Chief Executive Officer of the Kansas Livestock Association (KLA). Matt will be following in the footsteps of long-time KLA leader, Dee Likes. For more than three decades, Dee worked tirelessly on behalf of Kansas livestock producers. Under his steadfast leadership, KLA truly developed into one of the premier state livestock associations in the nation. Dee will step aside from his current role in January, but will remain in an advisory capacity for KLA.

While Dee leaves big shoes to fill, I could not think of a better choice than Matt to lead KLA in the future. Matt joined KLA in 2001, serving as director of industry relations and information technology. I am excited about Matt’s vision for the future of the association and look forward to working with him on behalf of Kansas livestock producers.

Kansas City Royals Make Kansans Proud
This week saw the end of a wild, exciting month for Kansas City Royals fans across the state. Having waited 29 years for their team to reach the playoffs, the fans united as the Royals won dramatic games with outstanding defense and big home runs en route to the World Series. In my travels this month, the Royals were a popular subject as many wore their blue colors with pride. I know many farmers who listen to the Royals while in the fields and families who take a trip to Kansas City every summer to watch a game or two. Although Kansas City couldn’t get Alex Gordon home to tie Game 7 in the World Series, the city of Kansas City and so many across the state are proud of what the Royals accomplished. We’ll look forward to next season!

Kansans in the Office
American Academy of Pediatrics
Pam Shaw of Overland Park
Dennis Cooley of Topeka

National Telecommunications Cooperative Association
Beau Rebel of Rush Center
Greg Aldridge of Ark City
Rhonda Goddard of Lenora
Brent Cunningham of Glen Elder
Zack Odell of Medicine Lodge
Catherine Moyer of Ulysses
Brian Thomason of Home
Gary Slough of Goodland
Dale Jones of Topeka
Scott Leitzel of Topeka
Brian Boisvert of Wichita
Evangeline Armstrong of Home
Chris Schroeder
Pam Schneider

Wheat State Telephone
Archie Macias of Udall

Capitol Tour
Doug Gruenbacher of Quinter
Shelly Gruenbacher of Quinter
Eli Gruenbacher of Quinter
Ethan Gruenbacher of Quinter
Ella Gruenbacher of Quinter
Kevin Mallott of Overland Park
Corrie Mallott of Overland Park
Jackson Mallott of Overland Park
Darren Mallott of Overland Park
Brady Mallott of Overland Park
Steven Siegel of Leawood
Angela Siegel of Leawood
Charles Siegel of Leawood
William Siegel of Leawood
Steven Cross of Leawood
Barbara Cross of Leawood
Grace Cross of Leawood
Spencer Cross of Leawood
Ann Stegall of Lawrence
Theo Stegall of Lawrence
Deborah Niemann of Overland Park
Cecilia Niemann of Overland Park
Lloyd DeRemus of Garden City
Linda DeRemus of Garden City
Kathryn Chandler of Garden City
Emily Chandler of Garden City
Stacey Lang of Hays
Heather Sramek of Hays
Kathryn Pfeifer of Victoria

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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