Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you 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. I have enjoyed my conversations with Kansans during this state work period when there were no votes or hearings in the Senate; however, I’m anxious to return to Washington, D.C., to continue to work on the numerous critical issues facing our state and nation.
Kansas Listening Tour Stops in Southwest Kansas
Thanks to the Southwest Kansas communities—Dodge City, Meade, Lakin, Ulysses, Hugoton, Rolla, Johnson and Syracuse—for the warm welcome this week. I appreciate everyone who took time to visit with me about issues affecting Kansas and the country. For upcoming town hall meetings, visit my website.
About 35 Dodge City-area residents asked questions and shared concerns about quality health care for veterans, the cost of higher education, agriculture, and the lesser prairie chicken. Thanks to Dodge City Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Dan Schenkein and Dodge City Rotary Club President Jeff Forrest for hosting my visit.
Our conversation focused on the regulatory burdens placed on agriculture due to the lesser prairie chicken listing and the proposed rule to define waters of the United States. We also discussed social security, health care and the future of the Affordable Care Act, ISIS and the Authorization for Use of Military Force. Thanks to all the folks who came to the town hall meeting and to Meade County Hospital CEO Mickey Thomas for hosting.
Great listening tour stop in Lakin—area residents came out to discuss concerns with access to quality health care for our veterans and rural Kansans, the threat of ISIS, Farm Bill implementation, immigration, and the newly functioning Senate. Thanks to Cindy Sprunger for helping to coordinate the visit.
Thanks to the nearly 50 Ulysses area residents who attended my Grant County town hall meeting in conjunction with Rotary Club on Tuesday. We discussed the lesser prairie chicken listing, executive actions, and federal government regulatory burdens. Thanks also to Mike Andrusak for the invitation to speak.
I visited with 40 Stevens County residents on Tuesday about a number of issues including immigration, education, the threat of ISIS, VA reform and prioritizing federal spending. Below, I’m pictured with Moscow High School Students Bryce Valdez, Zach Pierson and Vance Thompson. Thanks to Ruth Van Horn with the local chamber for organizing the meeting. It was also nice to catch up with Sharon Concannon, USD 210 Superintendent Marc Crawford, Hugoton Mayor Neil Gillispie and County Commissioner Joe D. Thompson.
Rolla area residents expressed concern with the postal service, Farm Bill implementation, sequestration, the lesser prairie chicken, tax reform and the transportation bill. Thanks to City Clerk Jean Hull for helping to organize the meeting. I also appreciated former state representative Bill Light and longtime County Commissioner Ron DeGarmo for joining me. Below, I’m pictured with Steve Hittle.
Thanks to the 30 folks who came out to my town hall meeting in Johnson to discuss numerous issues of importance to Kansas and the country. Below, I’m pictured with Stanton Deputy County Appraiser Katie Denney who shared a story about her son’s military service in Afghanistan. Other area residents discussed reining in federal agency regulations, preserving Critical Access Hospitals, immigration, ISIS and the Keystone XL Pipeline. Thanks to Stanton County Clerk Sandy Barton for organizing the meeting. Thanks also to Suzette Gerber for bringing the senior high school government class, Stanton County Hospital Administrator Jay Tuston, Chamber of Commerce Director Karla Dimitt, Stanton County Commissioner John Smith, County Attorney Dave Black and Judge Vernon Butt for taking time to attend.
Syracuse residents shared concerns with me about education, the Farm Bill, tax reform, the importance of a functioning Congress and the threat of ISIS. Thanks to the Hamilton County Farm Bureau for hosting and providing refreshments. It was great to see the local elementary school principal Beck Clark, Syracuse High School Principal Paul Zuzelski and Syracuse High students in attendance. Thanks also to Hamilton County Commissioners Randy Braddock, Keith Puckett and Nikki Schwerdfeger, as well as Syracuse City Councilman Steve Schell and Syracuse Economic Development Director Leslie Carlholm for taking time to participate.
Redeployment Ceremony for 1st Brigade
This week, it was a real honor to welcome the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team home to Fort Riley from their recent deployment in Kuwait. There is nothing more patriotic than seeing 300 soldiers welcomed home by family, friends and fellow soldiers after serving their country overseas for nine months. Moments like this are a reminder of the difficulties military families face that many Americans fortunately never have to experience. The sacrifice of these soldiers is incredible, responding to their country’s call anywhere, anytime in order to protect our nation.
Liberal Pancake Feed
On Tuesday, I had the honor of speaking to hundreds of attendees to Liberal’s annual Pancake Day Breakfast. The community hosts a variety of events over the course of a week in conjunction with the International Pancake Race—a competition between Liberal, Kansas, and Olney, England, with women running down the streets of each town flipping pancakes. This is a tradition that has been held in both communities for more than 60 years. Thanks to Mayor Joe Denoyer for the invitation to attend.
Conestoga Energy Visit in Garden City
On Monday afternoon, I stopped by Conestoga Energy’s Bonanza BioEnergy Plant in Garden City. We discussed the facilities operations, current employment levels, and ways the United States can become more energy independent. In addition to the plant in Garden City, Conestoga has facilities in Liberal, Kansas and Levelland, Texas. I appreciated the time given by CEO Tom Willis for the productive conversation. (photo by Garden City Telegram's James Dobson)
Meeting with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
Next week I am scheduled to meet with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to discuss issues important to farmers, ranchers and others in rural Kansas. As chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) budget, my goal is to work with Secretary Vilsack to make certain we are prioritizing spending on policies that are important to Kansans. My subcommittee will also be taking a hard look at spending in areas of the budget and programs that are not working, and sometimes even harming our farmers and ranchers.
As I travel across the state and conduct town hall meetings, I hear many concerns that I will bring up in our meeting. If you have a particular issue that you would like for me to discuss with the Secretary of Agriculture, please contact my office at 785-539-8973. I look forward to a productive meeting with Secretary Vilsack and the opportunity to convey the importance of agriculture to our state. Agriculture drives our state’s economy and provides a special way of life for many Kansans. It’s critical that we work to protect and preserve our agricultural heritage for the next generation of producers.
A VA Worthy of Veterans’ Service – Tell Your Story
Veterans deserve a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that is worthy of their service and sacrifice for our nation. When the Senate and House came together to pass the Choice Act last summer, there was a sense of hope among veterans, their families and the American people that it was the start of dramatic change at the VA. Six months later, many veterans are still unable to access the care they need because of numerous problems with Choice Act implementation.
It is clear that we are not prepared for the servicemen and women who are returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and we are not capable of caring for our aging veterans – particularly those from the Vietnam era – as we promised we would and as every American knows we should. Unfortunately, common sense is not prevailing and the VA continues to operate in the same bureaucratic fashion.
To veterans and their families – I want to hear about your experience with the Choice Act Program. Too often the personal story of a veteran who is struggling to get the help he or she deserves goes unheard. I want to make certain the VA listens and commits to transformation of a bureaucracy that is a disservice to our veterans. Click here to share your experience. I will do my best to respond in a timely fashion and make certain the VA hears your story.
Wamego High School Visit
On Friday morning, I traveled to Wamego to visit with students and staff at Wamego High School. My visits to Kansas schools help me to learn more about the successes and challenges educators face in providing Kansas students opportunities to a quality education. These visits provide me valuable insight as Congress works on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – the primary source of federal aid for K-12 education – a reauthorization which is urgently needed and long overdue.
During my visit, I briefly visited with students in a World History class, and met with three students who interviewed me as part of a project for their Future Business Leaders of America club. I discussed with them the importance of business education and entrepreneurialism and my efforts in Congress to advance policies that promote the creation of new businesses and increase job opportunities for Americans. Our country benefits from having more young people like those I met with at Wamego High School, who take an interest in the issues facing our country. Thanks to Principal Tim Winter for taking the time to visit with me about various issues impacting education in Kansas, and for guiding me on my tour of the school.
Manhattan Chamber Meeting and Banquet
On Friday evening, I joined a big crowd at the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce 90th Annual Banquet. Congratulations to Dan Yunk for being named Lud Fiser Citizen of the Year and to Mark Knackendoffel for being named the 2014 Volunteer of the Year. Your commitment to Manhattan is vital to the community. During the meeting the chamber also inaugurated Lucy Williams as the new board chairman. I have no doubt Lucy will lead the board through a successful year.
Kansas Lions District 17-A Convention
Saturday, I was invited to speak at the Kansas Lions District 17-A Convention in Manhattan. The special guest was International Director Michael Molenda from Hastings, Minn. This photo is with him, his wife, Linda, and Past International Director, Ernest Young, Jr., from Lansing. As a long-time member of the Hill City Lions Club, I was honored for the invitation to speak. The Lions are strongly committed to service and a desire to make the world a better place through humanitarian efforts. Thanks to District Governor Bev Greenwood for inviting me.
Meeting with 27 Committee
It was helpful for me to meet with members of the 27 Committee over the weekend to discuss Ft. Leavenworth. They are a civic organization that supports and advocates for Ft. Leavenworth. We discussed the new command structure with Army University, which offers opportunities for Ft. Leavenworth to remain the "Intellectual Center of the Army," equipping our soldiers with the professional education they need to become capable Army leaders.
Applications Available for Summer 2015 Internships
I am currently accepting internship applications for my Washington, D.C. and Kansas offices for summer 2015. An internship, either legislative or communications, provides a unique opportunity to work closely with Senate staff on behalf of the state of Kansas. Legislative interns in Washington, D.C., will gain a better understanding of the legislative process in the U.S. Congress, and develop knowledge and professional skills valuable to future career pursuits. Interns based in Kansas will focus on constituent services.
The application deadline is Friday, March 6, 2015. Application forms are available under the ‘Services’ section of my website at www.moran.senate.gov. Applicants should submit a completed application form, resume, academic transcript, two letters of recommendation and a cover letter explaining the applicant’s interest in public service and goals of serving as an intern. Please submit required materials to: email@example.com.
Kansans in the Office
Kansas Department of Labor
Justin McFarland of Topeka
Physician Assistant Education Association
Daniel Bequlliard of Wichita
LPC Conservation LLC
Chaston Hoeme of Scott City
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.
Very truly yours,
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