Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter.
Examining the FDA’s Role in Generic Drug Price Setting
I chaired a Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee this week to examine the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) role in the generic drug marketplace. It included testimony from FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Director Janet Woodcock. We’ve seen the impact that escalating costs of name-brand drugs has on Americans and their families. While the FDA doesn’t determine drug prices, it plays a critical role in getting life-saving drugs to the marketplace to create competition and lower prices.
In 2012, Congress approved the Generic Drug User Fee Act to speed up efforts to bring generic drugs to the market. Over the past three years, the FDA has hired an additional 1,000 employees and replaced antiquated information technology systems. Despite the influx of resources, there are still thousands of generic drug applications awaiting approval. Click here to learn more.
Pressing Wells Fargo CEO During Senate Banking Hearing
On Tuesday, I participated in a Senate Banking Committee hearing in order to learn more about the creation of millions of unauthorized customer accounts at Wells Fargo. I questioned Wells Fargo President and CEO John Strumpf about the inappropriate actions taken by Wells Fargo employees while noting that the relationships that banks develop with customers should always benefit the customer. Trust and communication are an important part of the financial services relationship as demonstrated by the way we do business in Kansas. That relationship was taken advantage of at Wells Fargo. I look forward to the continued examination of this situation and will continue to work to ensure that Kansans are appropriately protected. Click here to watch video from the hearing.
Pushing for Stronger Sanctions Against North Korea
This month, the communist regime in North Korea completed their fifth nuclear test, demonstrating the clear threat their nuclear weapons program presents to global security. In response, I joined my Senate colleagues in sending a letter to President Obama urging him to impose secondary sanctions on countries that provide assistance to North Korea. These secondary sanctions were authorized when the Senate unanimously passed the North Korea Sanctions and Policy Enhancement Act in February of this year. Failure to impose sanctions on those who assist North Korea enables the regime to continue its dangerous behavior, and the President should use the tools Congress has provided to curtail nuclear proliferation and testing.
Bill to Improve Consumer Access to Entertainment Events Passes Commerce Committee
My bill, the Better Online Tickets Sales (BOTS) Act of 2016, passed out of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee this week. The bill is now ready to be considered on the Senate floor. I introduced this important legislation to address an age-old issue, ticket scalping, which has been made even more prevalent by advances in technology. “Ticket bots” cut the line, buy available tickets, and then sell them on secondary markets at a significant markup – making it harder and more expensive for Kansans to attend live performances. This bipartisan bill levels the playing field for consumers, and I’m pleased to see it move forward with widespread, bipartisan support.
Visiting Blue Valley Northwest High School
I met with student leaders and educators and toured Blue Valley Northwest High School (BVNW) this week. While at BVNW I had the opportunity to meet with Principal Dr. Amy Murphy and to hear from her about the school’s efforts to prepare students for the future. Students shared with me their educational and extracurricular experiences at BVNW, as well as their perspective about their teachers. I appreciate the efforts of all the educators and administrators at BVNW working to make a difference in young Kansans’ lives.
Learning More at K-State Olathe
Kansas State University Olathe is primarily focused on graduate studies in biosciences and biotechnology careers. I visited with Dr. Ralph Richardson about K-State Olathe’s community outreach partnership with local high schools and the benefits of this program for our local students and the university’s research potential. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which oversees funding for agriculture and biomedical research, I appreciated the valuable discussions I had with university staff about how their research will impact the future.
Visiting the KU School of Medicine in Salina
I visited Salina on Friday and toured the University of Kansas School of Medicine Salina campus. I had the pleasure of visiting with Sean Webb, a 3rd year student from Wamego, the Salina campus’s director Dr. Cathcart-Rake and Salina Community Foundation Executive Director Tom Martin (pictured).
The KU School of Medicine Salina campus was created to address the shortage of physicians across the state. The Salina facility admits eight students each year, making it the smallest four-year medical education site in the country, and is specifically designed for students who wish to practice medicine in rural areas. The campus is a great step forward in addressing the unique challenges of rural health care delivery in Kansas.
The campus’ proximity to the Salina Regional Health Center is ideal for students who benefit from interaction with practicing physicians. Their curriculum matches the University’s Kansas City and Wichita campuses. In their third and fourth years, students complete clinical clerkships at hospitals and physician offices in the region.
Service Academy Interview Day
I had the honor of meeting more than 50 students from Kansas at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library in Abilene on Saturday as part of my annual Service Academy Selection Day. Students applying for admission to the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy interviewed with my selection board. Applicants submit an application to my office that includes a personal statement, resume, letters of references, academic transcripts and standardized test scores.
This day has always been a favorite of mine because I get to meet some of the best and brightest young people in our state. It also reminds me that Kansas produces smart, hard-working, civic-minded people who will do great things in the future.
Thanks to Linda Smith of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library for hosting us. Also, this important process would be not be possible without the help and hard work of my selection board. The members of the board are leaders from across Kansas who take a great interest in seeing students succeed. The board members review applications and conduct interviews before giving me their recommendations.
Members of the 2016 service academy selection board include: Dennis Butler of Ottawa; Ardith Dunn of Satanta; Sue Givens of El Dorado; Robin Jackson of Hutchinson; Ryan Kriegshauser and Andy Tompkins of Topeka; Cheryl Kerns and Brian Kessens of Overland Park; Sam Turner of Leawood; Katrina Lewison of Manhattan; Marche Fleming-Randle, Sean Ritchie and John O’Leary of Wichita; Jayne Pearce of Wallace; Paula Ripple of Dodge City; Delbert Stanton of Hays and Ron Whitney of Emporia.
Getting to Know Synchrony Financial
I had a good visit before heading back to Washington Monday morning at Synchrony Financial in Merriam. As a member of the Senate Banking Committee and the appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over federal financial services, it’s a priority of mine to learn more about the businesses operating in that sector in our state. The services they provide facilitate businesses' growth – from retail store credit cards to health clinic financing. Synchrony is also growing rapidly, aiming to employ 1,000 area residents by year’s end. I appreciate the folks at Synchrony for hosting me and for their commitment to good corporate citizenship in Kansas.
Recognizing Angels in Adoption
I had the privilege of welcoming Tony and LaDawna Smith of Sterling to my Washington, D.C., office this week as my nominees to be recognized as Angels in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition for Adoption Institute. With their three eldest children grown up and living independently, Tony and LaDawna sought to assume a new role as adoptive parents. Working with St. Francis Community Services in Salina and the Kansas Department for Children and Families, they added to their family six children—three brothers and three sisters—who were at the time between the ages of 19 months to 10 years old. The adoption was finalized in early 2015. Tony and LaDawna, with the support of their three grown children, exemplify the best in Kansas values, and I congratulate them on this well-deserved honor. Click here to learn more about the Smith family.
Celebrating the Life of John Zutavern
I attended funeral services for John Zutavern in Abilene Friday afternoon. John will long be remembered for his many years of service and leadership in the Abilene community. John served as a member of the City Commission since 1991 and twice as mayor. During his lifetime, he worked tirelessly to improve educational opportunities for Kansas children and was actively involved in a number of local government organizations, including the Governor’s Advisory Committee for Children and Families, the Kansas Health Institute, and the League of Kansas Municipalities. I am thankful I was able to attend the services and will be keeping John’s wife Martha and his family and friends in my prayers.
Accepting Applications for Spring 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., Manhattan, and Olathe, Kansas, offices for the spring 2017 term. The deadline for the spring is Friday, October 28. 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
Ryan Kinsler of Kingman
Judy Kinsler of Kingman
Ross Kinsler of Kingman
Aaron Borland of Overland Park
Shanna Borland of Overland Park
Bill Griffith of Olathe
Will Griffith of Olathe
Ben Griffith of Olathe
Chad Von Ahmen of Overland Park
Lara McGrew of Arkansas City
Anthony Garvin of Topeka
Victoria Garvin of Topeka
Wendy Bell of Topeka
Teresa Crandall of Topeka
Ronda Bratton of Atchison
Rex Tedrow of Eudora
Janice Tedrow of Eudora
American Academy of Pediatrics
Dennis Cooley of Topeka
American Association for Cancer Research
Roy Jensen of Gardner
American Society of Clinical Oncology
Joshua Mammen of Leawood
KU School of Education
Dean Rick Ginsburg of Lawrence
Jack Cline of Lawrence
Communities in Schools
Malissa Martin of Lawrence
Brandy Tofel of Lawrence
American Society of Health System Pharmacists
Rick Couldry of Shawnee
Amber Lucas of Olathe
Joe Slechta of North Newton
National Association of Farm Service Agency County Office Employees
Marla Hammer of Sublette
Benjamin Hanson of Leonardville
Lory Scott of Stafford
Kansas Automobile Dealers Association
Don McNeely of Topeka
North McArthur of Salina
Mike Carpino of Columbus
Tony Holcombe of Manhattan
Larry Carl of Overland Park
Debra DeBiasse of Salina
Angels in Adoption
Tom and LaDawna Smith of Sterling
Worldwide Innovations and Technology, Inc.
John Cadwalter of Overland Park
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas
Sunee Mickle of Topeka
Lyman Adams of Hillsboro
Carolyn McGinn of Sedgwick
Derek Peine of Hays
Mike Chisam of Hutchinson
Nathan VanderGriend of Wichita
Jesse McCurry of Colwich
Denis Miller of Phillipsburg
American Occupational Therapy Association/American Society of Hand Therapists
Amy Acuna of Chanute
National Peace Corps Association
Ruth Ficek Stepien of Olathe
Jessica Szalawiga of Mission
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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