Kansas Common Sense
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10 Years Later: Are We Safer?
On Tuesday morning, I participated in a conversation with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew Olsen during a Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee (HSGAC) hearing focused on assessing the terrorist threat against the United States 10 years after the 9/11 attacks. The witnesses discussed our country’s successes against al Qaeda, but warned that the terrorist threat continues and is more complex and diverse today. I am particularly concerned about the vulnerability of our agriculture economy and food supply to acts of terrorism. Secretary Napolitano agreed that it is critical that the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) be constructed in Manhattan so we can increase our country’s capacity to develop the vaccines, anti-virals and diagnostics to safeguard our country from foreign animal disease outbreaks, whether introduced naturally, accidentally or deliberately by terrorists.
That afternoon, I attended another HSGAC Committee hearing specifically focused on examining our nation’s agriculture and food defense policy. These industries are a significant part of the U.S. economy, especially in states like Kansas. It is critical we have the right policies and capabilities – like NBAF – in place to protect America’s farms and food. Kansans have an inherent interest in protecting our agricultural livelihood, and as a result our state has been at the forefront of addressing our vulnerabilities. At the hearing, I highlighted the ongoing efforts in Kansas, especially at Kansas State University, to improve our country’s preparedness and response to the many threats facing agriculture.Comment on:
Amendment Approved to Expand Agricultural Sales to Cuba
On Thursday, I was successful in convincing the Senate Appropriations Committee to adopt an amendment I offered that will remove an impediment to selling U.S. agricultural products to Cuba, by allowing direct cash payments from Cuban buyers to U.S. financial institutions during the 2012 fiscal year (FY). The amendment was adopted by a 20-10 vote to the FY 2012 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill. Current U.S. trade policies hurt American farmers and ranchers by making it more expensive for Cuba to purchase agriculture products from the United States. This means Cuba is buying more of its food from countries such as Vietnam and China, instead of U.S. farmers and ranchers.
The change is an important step toward increasing American export sales and supporting thousands of American jobs without increasing the debt. In addition to this amendment, the FY2012 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill includes a provision making cash payments due when a Cuban buyer receives their goods, which is standard trading practice. Without the provision to fix the definition of “payment of cash in advance,” which has been included in appropriations bills for the last three years, payments would be due before ships leave U.S. ports. This bill was voted out of committee and will now move to the full Senate for a vote. Click here to read more.
Kansas Business Leaders Weigh in on Economy
Before boarding the plane to return to Washington on Monday, I met with business leaders in northeast Kansas on the campus of Johnson County Community College to discuss the reasons behind our country’s slow economic growth. Several reasons were cited during the discussion: government regulations are stifling business activity, the tax code keeps changing and needs to be reformed, and the actions of the President and Congress are creating uncertainty about the future – making it harder for businesses to grow and plan for the future.
Joining me to share their perspective on economic recovery were John Dicu with Capitol Federal, Clay Blair with Clay Blair Services Corporation, LaVerne Epp with the Lawrence-Douglas County Biosciences Authority, Rick Berger with Berger Leather Company, Lou Wiens with True North Hotel Group, Linda Campbell with MarksNelson, Charlie Newell with Valent Aerostructures, Brooke Moorehead with Prairebrooke Galleries, Mike Boyce with PQ Corporation, Robin Sterneck with Highland Birch Group, Nick Powell with Colt Energy, John Martin with Price Waterhouse Coopers, John Gillcrist with Bartlett and Company, Joe Sopcich with Johnson County Community College, Steve Vehlewald with Fry-Wagner Moving and Storage, Keith Molzer with Balance Innovations, Lirel Holt with U Inc., Joel Wiggins with the Enterprise Center of Johnson County, Rachel Hack with the Software and Information Technology Association of Kansas, Cameron Cushman with the Kauffman Foundation and Mike Lerner with Rail Logistics. Thanks to the many business leaders for participating and sharing their unique insight, as well as to Dick Carter and Debbie Drake for helping organize the discussion.
Congress Considers Disaster Assistance Funding
Many areas across the county have been hit hard this year by natural disasters, including tornadoes and flooding caused by storms and hurricanes. The Senate this week considered legislation to replenish disaster relief funds for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers flood control programs. It is important that federal disaster assistance be available to help struggling communities get back on their feet. However, given our country’s dire fiscal situation, I believe this assistance should be paid for instead of adding to our debt and further damaging the economy. The House and Senate this week are expected to continue consideration of disaster relief legislation. Congress should act responsibly and provide this needed disaster assistance without recklessly borrowing money we do not have.
Visiting Allen Community College and Neosho County Community College
After completing votes this week in Washington, I had the opportunity to return to Kansas and toured two community colleges in Southeast Kansas: Allen Community College and Neosho County Community College. Both of these institutions play a vital role in equipping Kansans with the skills needed to begin a new career or to continue their education.
I first stopped by the Allen Community College just north of Iola, to learn more about their Student Farm. During my visit, I spoke with students and Farm Manager Jeff Nemecek about their programs, which prepare students to transfer into as many as 15 different agricultural degree programs at four-year universities. I also had a good visit with President John Masterson, and several faculty members and trustees. I was pleased to learn that Allen has been named a “veteran-friendly” college, and that employees at Allen enjoy employer support of the guard and reserve, having received recognition from the local National Guard. I also learned that Allen has applied to the Higher Learning Commission for accreditation to offer on-line degrees. Thanks to President Masterson and all who made this visit so enjoyable. Click here to view a photo from my visit.
After my stop in Iola, I drove to Chanute to visit Neosho County Community College (NCCC), where more than 3,700 students are continuing their education. I appreciated the opportunity to visit with President Brian Inbody about the progress and challenges facing NCCC 75 years after its creation. I was impressed to learn that over the past seven years, NCCC has been the second fastest growing community college in our state. I also learned more about the opportunities being created for students through their Center for Academic and Vocational Excellence (CAVE) as well as through their hands-on learning facility for the nursing program. I can understand why so many students have chosen to attend NCCC with the wide variety of programs it offers – from nursing to education to business administration. Thanks to President Inbody and the faculty members for taking time out of their busy day to visit with me.
Meeting with Kansans at the State Fair
On Saturday, I was back at the State Fair in Hutchison to visit with Kansans to hear their thoughts and concerns in person. During my visit, I had the privilege of meeting Sergeant Travis Schwing and Corporal Rachel Hammond who were representing Ft. Riley at the fair. Both soldiers are assigned to the Big Red One and have served overseas in Iraq. We are blessed to live in a nation where individuals volunteer to defend our country and way of life – no matter the cost. I’d like to thank these two soldiers, and all of our troops who work hard each day to protect our freedoms.
The State Fair wrapped up on Sunday after another successful year of attendance, events and exhibits. Again this week, members of my staff were on hand at my information booth located in the Pride of Kansas Building. Thanks to the Kansas State Fair Board of Directors: Ron Hinrichsen, Daryl Buchholz, Angie Clark, Jeff Deeds, Harmon Bliss, Mary Alice Lair, Carole Jordan, Mary Treaster, Secretary Dale Rodman, Brad Rayl, LeAnn Cox, Tom Tunnell, Virginia Crossland-Macha, and Denny Stoecklein for their hard work to ensure this year’s fair was another great success. Click here to view photos from my visit to the State Fair.
Preparing for Flood Waters in Southeast Kansas
Residents in Southeast Kansas receive most of the rain in our state, but with heavy rainfall comes the increased possibility of flooding. Rising flood waters can not only damage homes and businesses – but can destroy cropland and wipe out vital infrastructure like roads and bridges. So flood control has been and will continue to be an important priority to me and to all Southeast Kansas residents.
One way to help control rising flood waters is through the establishment and maintenance of regional watersheds. Our country has more than 2,000 watersheds from coast to coast that help with flood control, supply vital drinking water, help improve overall water quality and enhance the conservation of our natural resources. On Friday, I joined residents from Barber, Allen and Crawford counties to recognize the completion of four large flood control lakes within the Marmaton Watershed. These lakes will help reduce flooding in the region, but will also help conserve water for years to come. Special recognition and thanks goes to former Senator Sam Brownback for his past efforts in supporting the construction of these flood structures. Thanks also to Herb Graves and the many local officials who worked on this project for many years. Congratulations on its completion. Click here to view a photo from my visit.
Announcing Upcoming Conservation Tour
At the end of the month, I will be hosting my 11th Annual Partners in Conservation Tour, which will take place on Thursday, September 29 and Friday, September 30. This year’s conservation tour will focus on water conservation and will feature stops in Sedgwick, Butler, Harvey and Greenwood Counties.
Conserving our natural resources is critical to preserving Kansas for the next generation. Water conservation and natural resource management is particularly important to our economy and quality of life. Water is the lifeblood of our municipalities, the foundation for statewide recreation, and will direct the future of manufacturing and production agriculture. This annual conservation tour gives me the opportunity to learn how farmers and businesses, conservation groups and government programs are partnering together to maintain and improve our beautiful state.
This year’s tour attendees will be able to learn firsthand about a variety of conservation practices important to water quality and quantity throughout Kansas. Site visits will feature presentations by landowners, Natural Resources Conservation Service district conservationists, groundwater management district representatives, municipality representatives and others. If you would like more information about the tour, please click here or contact my Wichita office at: 316-631-1410.
Now Accepting 2012 Service Academy Applications
I am now accepting applications for nominations to the United States Service Academies. The academies include the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland; the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado; and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York. Those selected will enter the academies in June 2012.
If nominated, applicants must then meet the individual admission requirements of each academy. The academies will make the final decision on who receives an appointment of admission. Interested applicants should visit my website or contact my Olathe office for more information. Applications are due to my Olathe office by October 1, 2011. Applicants will be required to interview with my Service Academy Selection Board on Saturday, November 19th at the K-State Student Union in Manhattan. Click here to learn more.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office from across the state, including the Kansans listed below. Click here to view photos of some of the visits.
Kansas Livestock Association
Ken Grecian of Palco
Frank Harper of Sedgwick
Mark Smith of Sharon Springs
T.J. Curtis of Cimarron
Dee Likes of Topeka
Matt Teagarden of Topeka
National Farmers Union
Jerry Cady of Marion
Enid Cady of Marion
Lauren DeMott-Clary of McPherson
Donn Teske of Wheaton
Richard Boxum of Osborne Co.
Lavern Potuzak of Agenda
Sunflower Electric Power Corp
Stuart Lowry of Hays
Procter & Gamble
Mia Wise of Kansas City
Crop Insurance Professionals Association
Bill Hanson of Manhattan
Michael Phillips of Wichita
Joni Jackson of Hays
Sue Peachey of Pratt
Jerry Cady of Marion
Kansas Corporation Commission
Mark Sievers of Topeka
Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy
Frank Whitchurch of Overland Park
American College of Cardiology
Carol Bragdon of Topeka
Lambert Wu of Topeka
Randall Thompson of Leawood
American Psychological Association
Michael Roberts of Lawrence
President Jerry Farley of Topeka
John Pinegar of Topeka
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas
Sunee Mickle of Lawrence
Dialysis Patient Citizens
Mike Guffey of Kansas City
University of Kansas Medical Center
Marcia Nielsen of Kansas City
Brown Foundation for Educational Equity, Excellence and Research
Cheryl Brown Henderson of Topeka
Bruce Mactavish of Topeka
Donald Cameron of Topeka
American Moving and Storage Association
Larry Fry of Overland Park
Mid-American Green Industry Council
Curby Hughes of Olathe
Ed Fogarty of Olathe
Gail Messenger of Stilwell
Bill Gordon of Olathe
Mike King of Wichita
Deborah Gann of Wichita
Procter & Gamble
Mia Wise of Kansas City
Pat Doran of Topeka
Dave Fisher of Topeka
Eric Haar of Topeka
National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors of Kansas
Sandy Braden of Eudora
Robert Olvera of Shawnee Mission
Gus Suarez of Holton
Kathy Holmes of Manhattan
Glenn Jagodzinske of Topeka
Michael Holmes of Manhattan
Scott Colby of Wichita
Lee Thaete of Shawnee
Shari Walls of Salina
Mark Begley of Atchison
Greg Braden of Eudora
The Wendy’s Company
Donald Haynes of Wichita
International Franchise Association
Bryan Gerstner of Overland Park
Chandler Thayer of Leawood
Grundfos Pumps Corp
Greg Towsley of Lenexa
Association of Advanced Life Underwriting
Dex Umekubo of Salina
Asian American Hotel Owners Association
Dean Patel of Topeka
Bhavik Taylor of Topeka
Transportation Equity Network
Doug Smith of Overland Park
Kansas City Power & Light
Paul Snider of Lenexa
National Association of Letter Carriers
Rod Holub of Manhattan
Many Kansans stopped by this week for a tour of the United States Capitol including: Ryan, Nikki and Katarina Reach of Wichita; Maj. Gen. Greg Gardner and Gina Vervynck of Lawrence; Jerry and Enid Cady of Marion; Lauren DeMott-Clary of McPherson; Joseph and Holly McCown of Shawnee; Larry and Pamela Whiteley of Olathe; Paul and Alice Snider of Lenexa; and Dr. and Mrs. Abraham Tatpati of Andover. State Rep. Tom Sloan of Lawrence and Jeremy and Danielle Demuth of Pratt also stopped by to visit.
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Please let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.
Very truly yours,
My email address is only equipped to send messages. I encourage you to send me a message through my website: https://www.moran.senate.gov
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