Kansas Common Sense
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Welcoming the Secretary of the Army to Fort Riley
I joined Secretary of the Army Mark Esper during his first visit to Fort Riley since becoming Secretary. We had discussed the merits of Fort Riley as “the best place to live, train, deploy from, come home to, and retire at,” during our meeting last week, and I was pleased to join him as he saw these attributes firsthand this week. I joined him for a Senior Leader Forum, where brigade Commanders and Command Sergeant Majors spoke directly with the Secretary about issues and concerns they have in their roles.
The Army is considering several strategic stationing decisions to better balance the force to respond to global threats. I have been vocal with Army leadership about the unique attributes of Fort Riley, as well as the unparalleled community support the base receives from the Manhattan and Junction City area, which contributes to the readiness of Army units at Fort Riley and the experience of servicemembers and their families. We also discussed how to best support our servicemembers who are struggling with mental health. I believe Fort Riley is the installation of choice for the Army as it makes stationing decisions, and I appreciated the Secretary making time to visit Fort Riley to see all it has to offer.
Continuing my Kansas Listening Tour
One of my top priorities as a senator is to stay connected to Kansans by hosting Kansas Listening Tours across the state, where Kansans have an opportunity to share their thoughts, concerns and ideas with me. This week, I continued my Kansas Listening Tour in Nemaha, Decatur, Norton, Gray, Stanton, Lincoln and Ottawa counties.
I began my week in Baileyville, where I discussed with Kansans the importance of trade to the Kansas economy, ways we can combat the opioid epidemic and how we can help people with disabilities succeed. I heard from a Kansan who is disappointed by the VA’s inability to move quickly to provide care – yet another reminder of why we desperately need VA reform and leadership at the top who understands how to manage the department. I will continue advocating for a VA secretary that meets these standards and I encourage anyone who is having difficulty with the VA to please reach out to my office to see how we can assist.
Decatur and Norton Counties
On Tuesday, I visited Oberlin and Norton, where we discussed issues including rural development, healthcare reform, the quality of care our veterans receive, and immigration policy.
We also discussed what kinds of trade agreements the United States should participate in — including renegotiating NAFTA and reconsidering TPP — and what Kansans would like to see in the upcoming farm bill. Thanks to everyone who attended for sharing their thoughts with me.
Gray and Stanton Counties
I continued my Listening Tour in Montezuma and Johnson on Wednesday, where we discussed wildfire relief, the farm bill, veterans’ healthcare, the importance of rural development, immigration reform, ways to drive down the rising cost of healthcare, combatting the opioid epidemic and rural school funding.
Thanks to Kansas FSA Chair and former State Senator Garrett Love and South Gray Superintendent Jay Zehr for attending my meeting in Montezuma. Special thanks to the Stanton County High School senior government class, including government teacher Aaron Sperber and Superintendent Kim Novack, for joining my Johnson townhall – I hope you all will remain active in government as you begin your next chapters and will choose to keep calling Kansas home.
Lincoln and Ottawa Counties
On Friday in Lincoln and Tescott, we discussed the importance of agriculture to rural Kansas and how a trade war with China could harm our producers. I shared what I hope to see in a farm bill – one that encourages low commodity prices and maintains crop insurance. We also discussed rural development outside of agriculture, including the importance of maintaining a grocery store and a hospital in rural towns to keep them thriving.
We also discussed VA reform, the Farmers First Act to help provide farmers mental healthcare, rural broadband and infrastructure, immigration reform and how we can start to help heal the division in our country. Thanks to all who attended both townhall meetings, especially Lincoln Junior/Senior High students and their teacher, Cody Wolting.
Lunch with Kansas Air Force Academy Cadets
On Thursday, I joined several Kansas cadets at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs for lunch. I enjoyed visiting with them about their Academy experience and their future goals in the Air Force. One of the most meaningful responsibilities I have as a senator is nominating young Kansans for our service academies and helping them achieve their dream of serving the nation. These young men and women are some of Kansas' best and brightest and are representing our state extremely well at the Air Force Academy. Continue to make us proud.
Thanks to Cadet First Class Lucas Scott from Olathe, Cadet Fourth Class Samuel Wittman from Herington, Cadet Third Class Nicholas Clark from Manhattan, Cadet Fourth Class Colby Moretensen from Leavenworth, Cadet Fourth Class Kitt Regier from Hesston, Cadet Fourth Class from Camryn Mathis and Cadet First Class Scott Rider from Wichita for joining me.
Now Accepting 2018 Service Academy Applications
As students are finishing up the school and beginning their summer breaks, I want to remind them of the opportunity to apply to a United States Service Academy. Appointing Kansans to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.; the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo; and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., is one of my favorite duties as a U.S. Senator.
To find out the requirements and apply, please download an application from my website or contact my Olathe office. All application materials are due to my Olathe office by September 7, 2018. After applications have been reviewed, applicants will be notified of interviews with my Service Academy Selection Board, which will take place on Saturday, September 22, 2018, at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.
On Thursday, I toured the United States Center for SafeSport in Denver, Colorado. Established in 2017, SafeSport is an independent entity tasked with providing a safe, professional and confidential place for individuals to report sexual abuse within the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movements. In its first year alone, Safe Sport received 540 reports across 38 Olympic sports – in part due to the elimination of statute of limitations for cases considered – and subsequent investigations have already led to 73 individuals being issued lifetime bans.
As Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, through which I am conducting an ongoing investigation into sexual abuse within the Olympic movement, it was encouraging to see the tremendously talented and dedicated team at SafeSport working to make athlete health and safety the top priority in our nation’s sports culture. Thanks to Shellie Pfohl, SafeSport Chief Executive Officer, for her leadership and hospitality.
Looking forward, the Subcommittee will continue its investigation with a hearing scheduled for Tuesday, May 22, to examine failures in the process to report abuses and how the U.S. Olympic Committee and its national governing bodies can prevent such tragedies in the future.
Memorial for Fallen Educators at Emporia State
President Trump signed legislation I introduced with Rep. Roger Marshall into law this week officially deeming the memorial located at the National Teacher Hall of Fame (NTHF) as the National Memorial to Fallen Educators. The memorial, which sits on the campus of Emporia State University (ESU), honors educators who have lost their lives while performing professional duties. It is the first and only nationally designated memorial in Kansas. Educators play an integral role in shaping the next generations of Americans, and their dedication to the safety of their students too often goes unrecognized. The designation carries no cost to taxpayers as the memorial will continue to be owned and cared for by the NTHF and Emporia State University. A special thank you to Executive Director Carol Strickland and her team at the NTHF for their ongoing efforts to honor our educators.
Speaking at the Kansas Wheat Tour Kickoff
On Monday, I spoke at the Wheat Quality Council 2018 tour to help kick off the event. The tour – which this year starts in Manhattan and travels through Colby and Wichita – spreads across the state so folks on the tour can observe this year’s wheat crop. Kansas farmers’ and ranchers’ ability to produce and export wheat is vital to our state’s economy and to feeding hungry people around the globe – remaining in and modernizing trade agreements, such as NAFTA, is important to accomplishing this goal. I will continuing advocating in Washington for our farmers and ranchers by working to make certain they have every market available to them to export grains to make a living.
As chairman of the Senate Hunger Caucus, one of my top priorities in the Senate is making certain we can provide American-grown food to hungry people around the world, allowing children to remain in school and parents to hold steady jobs, promoting economic stability. I am also working to get USAID to use wheat in foreign aid.
Thank you to everyone who attended, and to our farmers and ranchers for working so hard to put food on our tables. I hope all non-Kansas who attended the event were able to see all of the things that make our state special.
Congratulations to Manhattan Christian College Graduates
I was honored to give the commencement address at Manhattan Christian College senior graduation on Saturday and to congratulate students on their outstanding achievement. I shared the following thoughts with Manhattan Christian College graduates, and would like to extend them to all Kansans graduating this spring: I hope this is a time of celebration, of joy found in new opportunities and of decision-making – enabling you to redefine who you are and who you want to be. As you step into this exciting period in your life, I hope you remember that you are capable of achieving great things. Continue to recognize that there is right and wrong – and that it’s not relative, it’s resolute. And we must recognize each of our responsibilities to our fellow man and to one another.
Look up. Keep your eyes open and you will find people to serve. Do something to help somebody else and you will continue to work toward your highest potential. You will have many opportunities to reach out to make a new friend, cross the street to say hello to a new neighbor, or donate your time and talents to a local cause. I urge you to take advantage of these opportunities to serve the interests of others.
Success comes not from the accolades or things that we accumulate for ourselves, but by living a life in service to others. I hope we will all face the future with the realization that we can make a difference, and that the change we desire in our country comes in large part by changing ourselves. We have every right to be hopeful for our lives and our futures. Despite the challenges, God does not fail us.
Now Accepting Fall Internship Applications
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 working closely with my staff on behalf of Kansans.
Applications for internships in my Washington, D.C. and Kansas offices for fall 2018 are due Friday, June 15. 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
Association for Advanced Life Underwriting (AALU)
Scott Johnson of Overland Park
Brandon Paulseen of Wichita
Ronald Rahjes of Kensington
Scott Whittington of Burlington
College of American Pathologists
Richard Gomez of Ozawkie
Jessica Kozel of Overland Park
Healthy Food Financing Initiative
Tina Khan of Emporia
Mark Farr of Nickerson
Roni Knight of Garden City
Sandra Walker of Lawrence
Kansas Respiratory Care Society
Crystal Irwin of Topeka
Terri Lesser of Topeka
Karen Schell of Frankfort
Kansas Teacher of the Year
Samantha Neill of Buhler
Brian File of Kansas City
Tanner Fritz of Kansas City
Shao Jiang of Kansas City
Christina Ray of Kansas City
Bernie Haselhorst of Hays
Jennifer Heiman of Kansas City
Sara Heiman of Manhattan
Elizabeth Nurre of Overland Park
Kyle Ochs of Manhattan
Tawny Ochs of Manhattan
Brian Perkins of Wichita
Jerry Quiring of Topeka
Saundra Quiring of Topeka
David Smith of Wichita
Paula Smith of Wichita
Jake Smith of Wichita
Katie Smith of Wichita
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 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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