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.
Veterans Choice Improvement Act Becomes Law
Legislation I led that supports our nation’s veterans – the Veterans Choice Improvement Act – was signed into law on Wednesday. This bipartisan bill extends the Veterans Choice Program and makes certain our veterans won’t have to wait weeks or months, or drive long distances, to get the care they need when they need it. This bill, also led by Senators John McCain, Jon Tester and Johnny Isakson, eliminates the Choice Program’s August 2017 expiration, streamlines the process between the VA and community providers, and helps to ensure the roughly 1.5 million veterans who benefit from Choice will continue to have an option to access quality health care closer to home from participating community providers. I authored a joint op-ed with Sen. McCain for FoxNews.com to discuss this new law further – click here to read the piece.
I joined Fox News Channel on Thursday morning to discuss this law and the future of VA community care for our veterans. We still have a long way to go to live up to our promise to those who served, but this new law is an important step forward. As chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees the VA and a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I will continue to work to make certain that those who have sacrificed for our country have timely access to the high quality care they deserve.
Solving Global Hunger to Make America More Secure
As co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus, I wrote this op-ed published by CNN.com about the importance of food aid programs in solving hunger across the world. Click on the link above to read more about why I support hunger assistance programs including Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole Food for Education. I will continue urging my colleagues to consider the implications of global hunger and join me in supporting policies that help solve this problem.
Working to Save St. Francis Hospital
With news that St. Francis Health is at risk of closing its doors, I met with Greg Schwendt and JuliAnn Mazachek of the St. Francis Board of Directors, along with Chamber President Matt Pivarnik and Shawnee County Commission Chair Bob Archer over the weekend. We discussed the impact the hospital's potential closure could have on area residents and how I might be of assistance to the community during this challenging time. St. Francis sees more than 9,000 annual admissions, over 35,000 emergency room visits, maintains 378 licensed beds and employs about 1,600 people. The hospital plays a central role in providing for the health needs of the community, and has a considerable impact on the local economy. During this time of uncertainty, I am committed to assisting the community served by St. Francis Hospital in any way I can.
Joining Kansas Department of Education Board Meeting in Topeka
On Saturday morning at an official Kansas State Department of Education meeting, board members and I discussed federal education issues. During my visit I heard a presentation from Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson on the board’s “moonshot” plan for the future of education in Kansas called Kansans CAN. We discussed how certain federal education programs tie into the board’s vision for education in Kansas, as well as the importance of special education support, career and technical education programs and impact aid. I appreciated the opportunity to meet with board chair Jim Porter and members Jim McNiece, past president of the National Association of State Boards of Education, Steve Roberts, Janet Waugh, Sally Cauble, Deena Horst, Ann Mauh, Commissioner Randy Watson and Secretary Peggy Hill.
Learning More about the Mission of NASA
I had the pleasure Wednesday of touring NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. As the leader and originator in human space flight, JSC’s mission has expanded to pursue more distant “deep space” explorations, with new spacecraft known as Orion that will carry Americans into these challenging new frontiers. Manufacturing suppliers for the Orion program include ten Kansas companies.
Joining me was Dr. John Tomblin, Executive Director of the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University. Serving as the lead institution on the Kansas Space Grant Consortium, WSU is a proud partner with NASA in advancing aviation and space education and research, including direct student involvement in NASA projects through the Jump Start Program. By good fortune, I had the opportunity to visit with a number of other Kansans during the tour, including Tony Williams of Kansas State University. Serving as an intern this semester at JSC, Tony is a K-State senior double-majoring in physics and digital media, and has a bright future in the industry. Also at JSC on Wednesday from the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson were President and Chief Operating Officer Jim Remar and Director of Information Technology Jack Graber. The Cosmosphere was recently selected for participation in the renovation of the Mission Operations Control Room exhibit at JSC, set to be unveiled for the 50th anniversary of the first steps by man on the moon in 2019. The only Smithsonian-affiliated museum in Kansas, the Cosmosphere claims the Apollo 13 command module among its 13,000 spaceflight artifacts – the largest collection in the world.
On March 21, 2017, Congress passed into law the NASA Transition Authorization Act, providing stability for NASA to sustain and build upon existing national space investments designed to advance space exploration and science. As a member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, I will continue my efforts to highlight the importance of STEM education while advancing opportunities for Kansas research institutions and manufacturers in this exciting industry.
Thanks to JSC Deputy Director Mark Geyer, Kevin Templin and the team at JSC for their hospitality and the opportunity to visit their impressive facilities.
Joining KU Chancellor Search Committee & Lawrence Rotary Club
I had a chance to stop by Rotary Club Monday afternoon in Lawrence where we heard from Codi Bates, who co-owns two local restaurants with delicious food: Bon Bon and The Burger Stand. Rotary meetings reinforce a sense of community among members, and I enjoyed the discussions I had with fellow Rotarians.
Afterward at the Dole Institute of Politics, I met with students, alumni, faculty and community leaders who all were selected to play a role in the search for the next chancellor of the University of Kansas. Chancellor Gray-Little will be tough to replace. Who leads our universities is one of the most significant ways we can determine the future success of our students and our state. I am glad to contribute to a process with a result as momentous to our state as this one.
Staff Available for Help with Federal Issues
Members of my staff will be in communities around the state this upcoming week to hold open office hours to assist Kansans with issues they might be having with the federal government. If you’re experiencing difficulties with Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ affairs or have other concerns regarding federal issues, I encourage you to meet with my staff at one of the times and locations listed below:
Accepting Applications for Fall Internships – Deadline: June 2
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. and Kansas offices for the fall 2017 term. The deadline for the fall is next Friday, June 2. 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
Jennifer Payne of Olathe
William Payne of Olathe
Nicholas Payne of Olathe
Masen Payne of Olathe
Gregory Payne of Olathe
Doug Engleman of Shawnee
Kari Engleman of Shawnee
Linda Marshall of Hays
Rich Marshall of Hays
Leslie Mark of Mission Hills
Nurul Zamzami of Mission Hills
Connie Buckley of Wichita
Kyle Buckley of Wichita
Cory Swords of Wichita
Mary Ellen Swords of Wichita
Connor Swords of Wichita
Joe Brummer of Anthony
Judy Brummer of Anthony
Kelsey Torkelson of Maize
Stefanie Randall of Maize
Heather Douglass of Maize
Steven Wilson of Garnett
Karlee Hammond of Colony
Shelby Ramsey of Kincaid
Nate Berry of Colony
Joseph Hendrix of Colony
Laurel Godderz of Colony
Miranda Golden of Colony
Gerri Godderz of Colony
Eric Godderz of Colony
Kayla Taylor of Yates Center
Scot Phillips of Sedgwick
Fernetta Phillips of Sedgwick
Daniel Phillips of Sedgwick
Kansas Bostwick Irrigation District
Jared Gile of Scandia
Federal Bar Association
Jere Sellers of Prairie Village
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.