Kansas Common Sense
Nov 16 2020
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.
Honoring America’s Veterans
In the absence of many of the traditional gatherings for Veterans Day – parades, school assemblies and local American Legion or VFW events this year – Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy and I want to make certain all veterans know they are not alone and that we are grateful for their service and dedication to our nation. I encourage all of us, especially Kansans, to reach out to the veterans in our lives and tell them: we respect you, we thank you for your service, and we love you.
Read our editorial in Military.com to learn more about how the Senate and the Army is working to support those who have served our country.
To commemorate the lives of all American veterans, I was honored to speak at the dedication of Bucklin’s new Veterans Memorial Park and attend the town’s Veterans Day parade. Boy Scout Garin Stimpert created a new park for his Eagle Scout project to honor local veterans, and it was dedicated to the local American Legion Post #269. Thank you to everyone who came to recognize veterans, and to Garin for going above and beyond to honor our nation’s heroes.
As November sees a rise in COVID-19 cases both across the country and throughout Kansas counties, please continue to take precautions to keep you and your families safe, including wearing a mask. It is important that as individuals, we each take a personal responsibility to stop the spread of COVID-19 for the protection of our communities. As the holidays approach and as this pandemic continues to pose a serious threat to personal health and public safety, it is important to continue to be vigilant with our efforts to care for and protect each other.
To find further resources on how to protect you and your family, visit coronavirus.gov or the Kansas Department of Health and Environment website here.
Protecting Consumers During COVID-19
As the chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection, I introduced the COVID-19 Home Safety Act along with my colleague Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) this week to protect consumers from injuries and deaths related to consumer product use during the coronavirus pandemic.
Recent reports indicate that pediatricians and emergency room doctors have seen an increase in patients seeking treatment for home injuries, such as broken bones due to biking and trampoline injuries, as well accidental hand sanitizer poisoning in children. The COVID-19 Home Safety Act requires the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to study the injuries and deaths caused by consumer products during the coronavirus pandemic. The study will examine products and evaluate the impact of these injuries on members of vulnerable groups—including children, minorities, seniors and people with disabilities. This bill also directs the CPSC to collaborate with the media to distribute information, such as the CPSC’s Home Safe Checklists, to help improve home safety during the pandemic. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure lasting protection for American families as COVID-19 continues to affect our daily lives.
Liftoff! Viewing the Crew-1 Mission Launch
Congratulations to SpaceX and NASA on the successful launch of the Crew-1 Mission at the Kennedy Space Center. This is the first crew rotation flight to the International Space Station (ISS) by a U.S. commercial spacecraft, and Crew-1 member Shannon Walker became the first woman to fly on a commercial orbital spaceflight.
As the chairman of the Senate committee that provides resources for NASA, I was pleased to join Vice President Pence, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Astronaut and Kansas native Nick Hague for a launch that marks a huge milestone for our space program. Also present at the Kennedy Space Center for the launch was Chief of Space Operations General Jay Raymond, Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett and U.S. Space Command Commander General James Dickinson allowing me the opportunity to continue to promote Kansas as a center of leadership for American aviation advancement and aero-technologies.
This is the first launch I have witnessed at the Kennedy Space Center, and it reminded me of the Apollo era and the strength and perseverance it took to make certain our first steps on the Moon were a success. Getting the opportunity to watch the first commercial crew launch was inspiring as the United States achieves yet another landmark in space flight.
Prior to the launch, I had the opportunity to visit with four aerospace industries located near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The industries included were Blue Origin, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and United Launch Alliance. On each tour, I was able to witness the important contributions each company is making toward our nation’s goals in space exploration and national security. Kansas suppliers and the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University also have an impact on the companies’ respective projects, and it was great to see the important work they are contributing to firsthand.
Speaking to Service Academy Student Candidates
On Saturday, I addressed a group of Kansas students before their interviews with my Service Academy Selection Board, another step in the process of securing a nomination to one of our nation’s service academies. Each year, I am impressed at the caliber of young men and women that apply through my office for a nomination to follow their dream of serving our country, and this year was no different.
I am proud of these young Kansans for their desire to serve our nation and wished them the best of luck in their interviews.
Receiving COVID-19 Updates with Kansas Hospital Leaders
This week, I spoke virtually with Kansas hospital leaders and county health administrators as they continue to respond to COVID-19 across our state. For months, our health care providers have worked tirelessly to keep Kansans safe, and they continue to do so throughout the many uncertainties they face each day. I am deeply appreciative of the work they do.
During the virtual meeting, they conveyed the importance of wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across our communities and the importance of public trust in a vaccine to help bring an end to this pandemic. They also shared their concerns regarding hospital capacity for treating COVID-19 patients due to difficulties associated with available bed space and staffing during the recent spike in cases throughout Kansas and across the Midwest.
I will continue to work with both our hospitals and county health departments to provide the flexibility for federal support necessary to cover COVID-19-related expenditures.
Thank you to all Kansas health care personnel as you continue to keep our state safe.
Speaking with Kansas County Health Departments
I spoke virtually with Kansas County Health Departments about their concerns regarding both federal and state funding, and making certain that federal funding deadlines do not prevent these local health departments from spending their available funds in the best manner possible. Extending the deadline for Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) payments will allow Kansas and other states to strategically target areas of need over a longer period of time, making certain our taxpayer dollars are making the greatest impact to help our communities as they continue to care for Kansans throughout this pandemic.
In October, I introduced the RISER Act with Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) to address these issues and provide funding for states and local governments to combat COVID-19 and the economic impact of the pandemic. We also spoke of the importance of wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID across our communities and the importance of public trust in a vaccine to help bring an end to this pandemic. Thank you to our county health departments for working tirelessly throughout this pandemic to keep Kansans safe.
Joining the Pratt Kiwanis
On Veterans Day, I drove to Pratt to meet with members of the local Kiwanis Club. Each year on Veterans Day, the Pratt Kiwanis place American flags around the Pratt Regional Medical Center and around the Pratt Community to honor the lives of those lost defending our country. I took the opportunity to thank Pratt’s Kiwanis for their work – some of them veterans themselves – recognizing those who have served.
This was also an opportunity to discuss the current spike of COVID-19 cases in Pratt County with officials at the medical center. In Pratt and across our state and nation, hospitals are facing availability and staffing shortages. I thank all of those in medical professions who continue to guide our nation through this pandemic.
Thank you to the Pratt Kiwanis Club and Brian Atteberry for organizing the visit and to Andie Dean for providing an update on PRMC.
Touring Russell Child Development Center
While in southwest Kansas for Veterans Day, I toured the new Russell Child Development Center (RCDC) building in Garden City. As a community-based nonprofit organization, RCDC served 5,700 children (birth to age five) in 2019, providing seven different childhood development programs to help children learn and grow, as well as offering parent services and assistance. RCDC has satellite offices in Dodge City, Liberal, Syracuse and Scott City, and it serves nearly 20 counties throughout the state.
I enjoyed hearing success stories from a couple parents whose children were helped by RCDC. Thank you to Executive Director Deanna Berry, Coordinator Scott Kedrowski and other staff members who helped with the tour.
Joining Ulysses Rotary
I enjoyed seeing fellow Rotarians in Ulysses this week. I appreciated the opportunity to relay concerns surrounding the health and wellbeing of Kansas’ communities as we await the success of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, as well as discussing my role on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and my recent legislation protecting the health and wellbeing of our nation’s troops.
Thanks to Warren Baldwin for allowing me time to speak. Thank you also to State Senator John Doll, Pioneer Communications CEO Catherine Moyer, Chamber Director Marietta Hauser, Economic Development Director Bob Dale and all community leaders who attended.
Plains Cotton Cooperative
I enjoyed returning to the Plains Cotton Cooperative Association’s (PCCA) Liberal Plant on Tuesday. PCCA is a coop owned by farmers in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico dedicated to supplying sustainably-grown, high-quality cotton fiber around the world. During my visit, the PCCA gave me an update about how the coop provides benefits directly to Liberal and the Liberal community, as well as throughout the lower-Midwest and Southwest. During my visit, the PCCA announced that it will add high-efficiency train loading capabilities to improve access to global markets.
A big thanks to Liberal Warehouse Plant Manager Jim Pittman who helped organize the meeting. I was pleased to see community leaders State Representative Shannon Francis, Economic Development Directors Eli Svaty and Cindy Wallace, Seward County Community College President Brad Bennett and Chamber Board President Celeste Donovan at the meeting as well.
Meeting with Leaders of Seaboard Energy
I appreciate the leaders of Seaboard Energy for meeting with me at their new location in Hugoton to discuss their role as a responsible energy provider in Kansas. Seaboard Energy joined the Hugoton region in February of 2019 and is making southwest Kansas a priority as they continue to assess the potential for Hugoton’s biodiesel plant.
Thank you to Vice President of Operations Bill Patrick for helping set up this meeting. It was also great to talk with CEO Gary Louis, Plant Manager William Newton, Stevens County Economic Development Director Jan Leonard and many others regarding Seaboard Energy’s future in the region. Seaboard is one of Kansas’ largest companies and is headquartered in Shawnee.
Joining Derby Rotary
I joined members of the Derby Rotary Club to provide a virtual update on the ongoing impact of COVID-19, including supply chain issues and the economic recovery of Kansas’ small businesses, as America continues to confront and responded to this pandemic as case numbers rise across the state.
Thank you to Derby President Rob McDonald for organizing the event. Many thanks to all the rotary members for your feedback, and to city and community leaders who attended. I appreciate the input I hear from Kansans during these visits, and the work rotary members do to strengthen community ties across Kansas is commendable.
I stopped in Montezuma where I was able to talk to folks from Gray County about the issues they face as a rural town and what I can do to help them in Washington. One of my priorities as a United States senator from Kansas is preserving Kansas’ rural lifestyle and the close-knit, community-based relationships of small towns across the state. Thank you to everyone who took time out of their day to speak with me while I was in town.
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.
Newsletter Sign-up Form
Note: Fields marked with an * are required.