Kansas Common Sense
Aug 29 2016
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter.
Learning More About Zika Research at K-State’s Biosecurity Research Institute
I toured Kansas State University’s Biosecurity Research Institute this week and received a briefing on the impact of the Zika virus from their director, Dr. Stephen Higgs. The Zika virus continues to affect people across the globe and has spread to more than 60 counties since its initial outbreak in April 2015 with more than 1,900 cases in the continental United States. The BRI shared that there are two species of mosquito that carry the virus – the Asian Tiger and the Aedes Aegypti. Both are present in Kansas and primarily live indoors. As researchers work to develop a vaccine, one way we can help protect ourselves is by draining any standing water in and around our homes. I appreciate the hard work those at BRI are doing to help fight this ongoing threat. Click here to read the write-up in the K-State Collegian about the visit. Click here to read my op-ed that ran in the Wichita Eagle this week.
Wrapping Up My Third 105-County Listening Tour
I wrapped up my third 105-County Kansas Listening Tour in Sharon Springs on Thursday. My thanks to Jayne Pearce of the Sharon Springs Rotary Club for helping to host the meeting and to all who attended. At these meetings, I often meet people whose views vary from my own. In some ways, that’s the most crucial part. It’s certainly easier to spend time with people who agree with me, but I undoubtedly learn more from those with different perspectives. At a time where partisan rancor and gridlock seem more prevalent than ever, there is nothing more valuable than having a real dialogue about the things that matter most to all of us. I enjoyed seeing several high school students in attendance yesterday as well.
I also met with a group of Jefferson County locals on Monday in Oskaloosa. Attendees shared their concerns about executive overreach and Congress’ ability to stop it, the importance of fiscal responsibility on the federal level, and the impacts of Obamacare. We also discussed the IRS and our responsibility to care for veterans.
Visiting Kansas Air Force Cadets
One of the most fulfilling responsibilities as a U.S. Senator is nominating Kansans to our nation’s military educational institutions. As a member of the United States Air Force Academy Board of Visitors, I was pleased to pay another visit to the academy last week and meet with Kansas Cadets – some I had the distinct pleasure of nominating to attend. I always enjoy hearing about their experiences at the academy and plans for their military careers. I was impressed by their sense of service to our nation and am grateful they joined me for lunch. Click here to see a video of the cadets' warm welcome.
Joining Kiwanis Club Members in Topeka
Following my Jefferson County town hall in Oskaloosa, I joined the Kiwanis Club of Downtown Topeka meeting to share a conversation with club members about the need for better access to mental health care and concerns about our national debt. Visiting with community civic clubs like the Topeka Downtown Kiwanis reminds me of the importance of selfless service to one’s community. I’m always impressed by the positive impact that can be made when we join together to make our communities better places to live, work and raise a family. Thanks to Club Secretary Patricia Wiechman for the invitation to attend, and Club President Jim McEntire for hosting me.
Frito-Lay employs more than 1,000 Kansans in Topeka and has expanded production and distribution significantly over the last decade. During my visit this week, we discussed workforce development, recruitment and retention, as well as several federal matters including the Food Safety Modernization Act and nutrition labeling. As Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman, this discussion provided valuable insight about the impact of federal policy on food producers and manufacturers in Kansas. Thanks to Mark Brinker for hosting me, and to Allen Moore for coordinating my visit.
Speaking with the Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association
I spoke at the Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association (KARA) Annual Meeting this week. Ag retailers play a critical role in providing farmers with both the products and know-how to feed the world. We need to be certain that during challenging times, our policies and regulations reflect the importance of keeping rural America strong and sustaining farmers, ranchers and the agribusinesses that serve them. With so much uncertainty already inherent in agriculture, it doesn’t make sense for the government to add more burdens through unnecessary regulations, such as OSHA’s Process Safety Management and EPA’s Waters of the U.S. rules. As a member of the Senate Appropriations committee, I have supported legislation that rolls back these burdensome regulations. I also met with the Board and management of the Central Kansas Coop. Thanks to KARA members for the invitation to attend and share these priorities with you – the feedback I hear from you helps me represent Kansas agriculture issues in Congress.
Touring Hospitals in Sabetha and Great Bend
This week I visited two hospitals working hard each day to provide quality care to their communities. I stopped at Sabetha Community Hospital on Tuesday afternoon and toured the facilities there. Critical Access Hospitals like Sabetha and many others represent a major part of how health care is provided to Kansans across our state. Thanks to Hospital CEO Lora Key for coordinating my visit.
During my visit to Great Bend Regional Hospital on Wednesday afternoon, I met doctors and nurses and discussed Medicare regulations that impact the hospital, their ongoing work with the VA Choice program, and their physician recruitment efforts. Pictured with me here is Lori Soeken who works as a post surgical supervisor. Thanks to CEO Kerry Noble for hosting me.
Back to School at Hays High
I had the opportunity to meet with student leaders and educators and tour Hays High School (HHS) on Thursday morning. During my visit, I also met the new Hays USD 489 Superintendent of Schools, John Thissen. Mr. Thissen previously served as the superintendent at USD 487 in Herington, having served in various roles within public education prior to that. I am certain his visionary leadership will serve the district well, and I look forward to the opportunity to work with him on education issues affecting the district.
While touring the school, I visited with students, teachers and administrators about the good work taking place to prepare Kansas students for their future. HHS Student Council President Keegan Chapman, Vice President Jeanie Balzer and Public Relations Officer Cooper Flores took the time to share with me their positive educational experience at HHS and their appreciation for their teachers. Thanks to Superintendent Thissen and Principal Martin Straub for hosting my visit and to Keegan Chapman, Jeanie Blazer and Cooper Flores for joining me on the tour.
Kansans in the Office
Greg Shondell of Prairie Village
Cecilia Woods of Prairie Village
Ronald Julian of Ellis
David Julian of Ellis
Brooklyn Julian of Ellis
Kayla Julian of Ellis
Angel Rybeck of Ellis
James Lairmore of Hutchinson
Karen Lairmore of Hutchinson
Merle Mahoney of Hutchinson
Belinda Mahoney of Hutchinson
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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