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.
Responding to Gas Pricing Increases Following Severe Winter Weather
With many Kansans worried about a steep increase in their gas bill following the spike in natural gas prices last week, I am working with the White House to find federal support to limit the financial strain this event will have on Kansas families.
I’ve also been in contact with Kansas energy officials to hear firsthand the culmination of events, including mechanical disruptions, that led to this unprecedented spike, as well as engaged with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to help develop solutions to prevent this type of market volatility in the future.
Read more from The Newton Kansan here.
For more information on road safety and Kansas road conditions, click here. For information covering severe weather preparedness and making a plan, click here.
Calling on the VA Secretary to Oversee Interagency Cooperation in Service to K2 Veterans
This week, I joined with three of my colleagues on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee (SVAC) in urging Secretary Denis McDonough to find answers and ensure care for veterans affected by toxic exposures at Camp Stronghold Freedom at Karshi-Khanabad Airbase (K2) in Uzbekistan.
Since returning home from war, those who served at K2 have suffered from increasingly high rates of rare cancers and other negative health outcomes. Last Congress, I supported legislation that was signed into law to mandate further research regarding the long-term health of servicemembers who were stationed at K2. This research, along with a January 2021 executive order mandating a detailed assessment of the conditions at K2, will help better determine how best to provide proper care for these veterans. These efforts show commitment and collaboration at the federal level to take care of our veterans who served at K2.
There is no group of individuals I respect more than our nation’s veterans, and ensuring they receive proper care and treatment is one of my top priorities. I urged Secretary McDonough to oversee coordination of these efforts and keep Congress, but more importantly, K2 veterans themselves, informed throughout this process.
Supporting Law Enforcement Education at Fort Hays State University
This week, I toured Fort Hays State University’s (FHSU) Center for Public Safety (COPS). COPS houses the FHSU Police Department and provides a controlled and secure environment for the convergence of all department operations. During my visit, I also had the opportunity to visit with Dr. Tamara Lynn, Chair of the FHSU Criminal Justice Department, and learned how their department is offering hands-on curriculum to prepare its students for a professional career in law enforcement, corrections or the legal system.
Currently, FHSU is in the process of becoming a regional de-escalation training center for law enforcement officers from a multi-state region, including Kansas, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma. This training will be offered both in-person and virtually, and it aims at providing special assessment and situational skills training that are needed to reduce conflict and avoid potential tragic scenarios for both citizens and officers. This past year, I wrote legislation for a new grant program to support organizations like FHSU in providing this important training to law enforcement professionals.
As the lead Republican of the subcommittee that funds the Department of Justice grant programs for state and local departments, I remain committed to supporting our nation’s law enforcement by ensuring organizations like FHSU have the tools they need to educate and prepare our officers. Thank you to Chief Ed Howell for providing the tour, and to Dr. Tamara Lynn and Dr. Paul Faber for taking time out of their day to talk to me about their great work.
Providing Oversight to Space Exploration Priorities
Perseverance Rover Lands on Mars
This week, I visited NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), met with the leaders of the Perseverance mission and witnessed the rover land on Mars. This mission has been years in the making, and the Perseverance rover will exponentially advance our scientific knowledge of the planet while testing new exploration technologies critical to future missions and possible human exploration on the planet.
During my visit, I also had the opportunity to tour the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, the center of robotic space exploration at JPL. It was great to see first-hand the sight where the first probes launched to the Moon and all of NASA’s Mars rovers were assembled.
As the ranking member of the Senate committee that has oversight and provides resources to NASA, I look forward to continuing to engage with missions like Perseverance and helping set our country’s space priorities, as the talented teams at JPL and NASA continue to showcase our country’s leadership in exploration. This was an incredible feat during a particularly difficult time, and the team’s dedication and service to this mission is commendable. The opportunity to watch the Perseverance landing was inspiring as the United States achieves yet another landmark in space exploration, and I look forward to seeing the continued images and research that will be unveiled throughout this mission.
Seeing NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope
I also visited Northrop Grumman, a company pioneering space innovation and leading the industry team for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the largest and most complex space telescope ever built. Designed to succeed the Hubble Space Telescope and become NASA’s primary telescope for astrophysics missions, JWST will be 100 times more powerful than Hubble, providing scientists with comprehensive research that has previously been inaccessible. JWST is scheduled to launch this fall and has been in production for over 20 years. Last December, I also visited the Goddard Space Center which conducts the operations for JWST. Thank you to the team at Northrop Grumman and special thanks to NASA’s Acting Administrator Steve Jurcczyk for joining me during the visit and meetings.
Now Accepting Summer 2021 Internship Applications
Applications for the Summer 2021 Intern Session are now available. Undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in public service, the legislative process and serving Kansas are invited to apply by March 19th. Please visit my website to hear from past interns, find application links and learn more information.
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.
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