Kansas Common Sense
June 6th, 2011
Jun 06 2011
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.
Next week, the U.S. Senate reconvenes and I will return to Washington, D.C., but I spent this week back in Kansas traveling our state to visit with Kansans at town hall meetings, local businesses and organizations, hospitals and community civic clubs. I learn something from every conversation I have with Kansans and they impact the work I do in Washington.
- Time for Congress to Spur Economic Growth
- Meeting with Military and Veterans Advisors
- Visiting Yingling Aviation in Wichita
- Business Success Key to Kansas Economy
- Via Christi: Providing Kansans with Health Care and Compassion
- Recognizing the Importance of Local Businesses
- International Hunger Relief Efforts in El Dorado
- Law Enforcement Torch Run Lighting Ceremony and Riverfest Sundown Parade
- Attending Kansas Lions Club State Convention Luncheon
- A Friend of Agriculture’s Well-earned Retirement
- Listening Tour Continues to Douglas and Allen Counties
- Upcoming Listening Tour Stops
- In the Office
This week, the U.S. Department of Labor reported the nation’s unemployment rate rose to 9.1 percent in May, and the economy gained 54,000 jobs. Unfortunately, that number is less than half of what is needed to keep pace with the expanding working-age population. Given this dismal jobs report, it is clear the current economic policies are not working; in fact, they are creating an environment of uncertainty and hindering job growth in America. It is no wonder businesses are slow to hire new workers when the message coming from Washington is more taxes, more regulation and more control over businesses.
History has shown that economic growth starts with the private sector, so it is more important than ever for Congress to spur economic growth by enacting a fair, simple and certain tax code; reigning in overregulation by the EPA and other government agencies; and exporting manufactured goods and agricultural products produced and grown in the U.S. rather than exporting jobs. The federal government must also cut government spending. Failure to do so will result in increased inflation, higher interest rates, fewer jobs and a lower standard of living for every American. By implementing pro-growth policies and restraining spending, businesses will have the confidence to move forward and put people to work. When businesses have certainty, resources, markets and freedom, they will succeed and our economy will recover.
On Tuesday I met with my Military and Veterans Advisory Committee in Wichita at McConnell Air Force Base (AFB). I formed the Advisory Committee in 2009, to inform me on the issues affecting our military and veterans in Kansas.
As we celebrated Memorial Day week last week, we were especially mindful of the sacrifices made by those who wear our nation’s uniform to keep our country safe. Our service members and veterans have always been a priority for me and this Advisory Committee gives me insight and a better understanding of the issues they face. I value the advice given by these respected Kansas military and veteran leaders.
A number of issues facing Kansas military and veterans were discussed at the meeting, including: placement of the new KC-46A tanker; my recent visit to Afghanistan and ongoing military missions; efforts to assist overcrowding at Ft. Riley schools; and a proposed joint Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs surgical center on McConnell AFB. Additionally, we were briefed on McConnell AFB’s refueling tanker and intelligence missions by Colonel James Crowhurst, Commander of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing, and Colonel J.J. Hernandez, Commander of the 184th Intelligence Wing.
Before the end of the meeting, I was humbled to be presented an award by members of the Command and General Staff College Foundation, Inc., for my support of the Army’s Command and General Staff College and its graduates. Thank you to all the members of the Advisory Committee for their commitment, and special thanks to Colonel Crowhurst, Colonel Hernandez, and all the Airmen and civilian staff for their hospitality. Click here to see a photo from the meeting.
General aviation is Kansas’ largest industry, contributing more than $7 billion each year to our economy and achieving more than $2 billion in exports last year alone. The aviation industry in Kansas also accounts for about 20 percent of the manufacturing employment in our state, providing jobs for tens of thousands of Kansans. This is due much in part to Wichita’s role as a leading general aviation manufacturing center in the United States. That is why I was pleased to visit Yingling Aviation in Wichita this past Tuesday. Yingling is a full general aviation services provider located at Mid-Continent Airport, and is the largest independent Cessna parts supplier in the world.
Yingling Aviation has been synonymous with Cessna Aircraft Company since 1946, and was selected in February 2011 to be a Cessna Sales Team Authorized Representative for single-engine piston aircraft. In addition to this new role, Yingling continues to serve as a Cessna authorized single-engine, multi-engine and propjet service center. During my visit I learned that Yingling keeps so many loyal customers because they provide them with after-the-sale service support and warranty assistance. Thank you to Yingling’s President and CEO Lynn Nichols, and Dave Franson, Executive Director of the Wichita Aero Club, who joined me on my tour. Click here to view some great photos from Yingling.
UCI Construction, the fifth largest general contractor in Wichita, employs approximately 100 people on industrial and municipal projects in 15 states. On Tuesday, I visited the company’s Operations Support Center (OSC). My conversation with UCI Construction President Chuck Grier, Community Development Officer Jeff Grier, and Industrial Development Officer Steve Nikkel provided me with additional insight into the challenges small businesses face – including an increasingly uncertain tax and regulatory environment.
I was also very pleased to learn that UCI puts the health and safety of its employees first, and the company has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor for not suffering a lost time accident since December 2005, and for not having a recordable incident in more than two years. As a result, the OSC is one of only two Occupational Safety and Health Administration Voluntary Protection Program facilities in the nation. This prestigious designation is awarded only after meeting a stringent set of worksite-based health and safety standards. Congratulations to Chuck, Jeff, Steve and their employees – I look forward to sharing UCI’s challenges and successes with my colleagues on the Small Business Committee. Click here to view a photo from my visit.
While in Wichita, I had the opportunity to learn about the range of healthcare services that Via Christi Health provides the citizens of south central Kansas. This non-profit organization formed in 1995 when the healthcare ministries of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother and the Sisters of St. Joseph combined.
On Tuesday, I visited Via Christi Hospital on St. Teresa. This 68-bed facility, which has been open less than a year, offers acute and outpatient medical care services to the citizens of west Wichita and the surrounding region. The state-of-the art, 144,000 square-foot facility features a full-service emergency department with 14 private treatment rooms, four high-tech labor/delivery suites, and has nearly 240 physicians on staff. In addition, the hospital provides comprehensive radiology and laboratory services, state-of-the-art operating and endoscopic suites, and an inpatient pharmacy.
When this beautiful facility opened, more than 5,000 citizens turned out for open house tours. Since that time, patient usage and satisfaction scores have continually been high. Thank you to CEO Kevin Strecker and members of the medical staff for giving me such an informative tour. Congratulations to Kevin and his team for meeting the healthcare needs of our fellow Kansans in a professional, high-quality manner.
On Wednesday, I visited staff at Via Christi HOPE (Healthcare Outreach Program for Elders), and toured one of the 16 Via Christi Villages, which serve more than 1,500 residents. More than 1,400 employees offer independent, assisted and skilled living options as well as Medicare and Medicaid certified healthcare. In addition to resident based services, Via Christi HOPE is offered as a way for Sedgwick County seniors to remain independent in their homes and active in the community. To accomplish this goal, the program tailors comprehensive health and social services to meet the unique needs of each individual. Among the services provided are medical care, nutrition counseling, home care, social services, wheelchair accessible transportation and access to medical specialists.
I enjoyed learning more about the comprehensive approach Via Christi takes to meeting the needs of its patients. Thank you to Jerry Carley, CEO of Via Christi Villages, and Justin Loewen, CEO of Via Christi HOPE, as well as their staffs for providing me an informative tour of their facility located on West Central Avenue. Click here to view photos from my visits to the Via Christi facilities.
On Wednesday evening, I was pleased to deliver the keynote address at the Harvey County Economic Development Council (EDC) annual meeting in Hesston. We have many wonderful places in Kansas and Harvey County is certainly one of them. Because of local leadership and cooperation among communities good things have and will continue to happen. Harvey County is on the move with good schools, quality health and senior care, a solid business community and viable agriculture. Several local businesses were recognized during the event for their contributions to their local communities this year, including: Millennium Machine and Tool, Inc., the City of Newton, Bunting Magnetics Co., and AGCO. The month of June serves as Kansas Business Appreciation Month, so it was a fitting time to recognize their positive impact within our state. I appreciated the opportunity to visit with attendees about how we create a bright future for the citizens of Harvey County and all Kansans. What happens in Washington, D.C. matters – but where we really make a difference is in our communities. Thanks to Mickey Fornaro-Dean, EDC Executive Director for the invitation. Congratulations to outgoing board president Larry Williams and incoming president Jim Heinicke for their leadership. Click here to view photos from the event.
This week I also had the pleasure of touring Numana, Inc. – a non-profit international hunger-relief organization based in El Dorado. Founded in 2008, Numana CEO Rick McNary has cast an ambitious vision that includes partnering with international organizations such as The Salvation Army, Outreach Africa and local communities in Kansas to bring food to those most in need. Over 120,000 volunteers have worked with Numana to provide nourishing meals for 30 cents to those in need. Additionally, Numana is building a partnership with Kansas farmers and Kansas State University by exploring ways to better teach others around the world how to grow and sustain their own agricultural production capacity.
On Friday evening I spoke to law enforcement officers, athletes and supporters of Special Olympics Kansas at the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) lighting ceremony. In the past, I have served as the Honorary Chairman for the LETR, which began in Kansas in 1981 when Wichita Police Chief Richard LaMunyon saw the need for increased awareness and funding for Special Olympics Kansas. The event's success in Kansas enabled the Torch Run to expand into a national event.
This year marks the 30th anniversary for the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, which is now the movement's largest grass-roots fundraiser and public awareness vehicle. All of the funds raised directly benefit the athletes of Special Olympics Kansas. The torch run and lighting ceremony are the prelude to the 2011 Special Olympics Kansas Summer Games. After the inspirational lighting ceremony, I joined the torch runners in participating in the Wichita River Festival Sundown Parade. Click here to view photos from the torch lighting and parade.
On Saturday, I joined Lions Club members from across the state at the annual convention in Lawrence. Lions Clubs provide members the opportunity to make a difference in their local communities. With more than 1.35 million members participating in 45,000 clubs worldwide, Lions Clubs represent the world's largest service club organization. The first Club in Kansas was the Lions Club of Wichita, chartered in 1919. I have enjoyed being a member of the Hays Lions Club and truly believe citizen involvement in civic clubs like the Lions Clubs help keep Kansas communities strong. Thank you to all who give back by being involved in their communities.
This week I also had the pleasure of attending a reception honoring the career and celebrating the retirement of my friend Bill Hanson – a true friend of agriculture and man of integrity. Bill Hanson has served as Vice President of Insurance Sales for American AgCredit since 2007, although it is among a list of other endeavors Bill pursued in his long career dedicated to serving American farmers. Throughout his career Bill promoted the common interests of farmers, ranchers and the crop insurance industry. Whether through his work at the USDA’s Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service or Risk Management Service, as an insurance agency employee and owner, or as co-founder of the Cop Insurance Professional Association, Bill has strived to promote good Ag policy and integrity throughout his career. Congratulations to Bill on an esteemed career and well-earned retirement.
I continued my listening tour this week visiting five communities in the following counties: Sedgwick, Butler, Chase, Marion and Douglas. My Tuesday stop Wichita was hosted by the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce, and main topics of conversation were job creation and the aviation industry – this coincided very well with my visit to Yingling Aviation later that day. The Wichita town hall was attended by about 250 local residents who came to the Hyatt Regency to share their thoughts and concerns about our country. Thanks to Pat Gallagher and the Wichita Chamber for hosting and organizing a lunch for the attendees.
On Wednesday I visited Butler, Chase and Marion Counties. In El Dorado and Florence residents came to share their thoughts and concerns with me on a wide variety of topics, including the need to reduce cumbersome federal regulations on small businesses, America’s dependence on foreign oil, our complicated and burdensome tax code, and the unsustainable national debt. Thanks to Matthew Rehder, El Dorado Rotary Club President, for allowing me to conduct my listening tour stop in conjunction with their weekly meeting at the El Dorado Civic Center. Thanks also to Judy Mills, owner of Doyle Creek Mercantile, for hosting my Florence stop.
In Cottonwood citizens shared their concerns about government over-regulation, the economy, Social Security and Medicare. I appreciated the reminder by Mike Holder that we need to keep the EPA out of the pasture. Special thanks go to Sue Smith, who graciously opened “Prairie Pastimes” as our meeting location. I also enjoyed seeing Dr. Leo Pauls, Kay Hutchinson, Ed Martin and Charlie Rayl at the meeting.
Finally on Saturday, I was pleased to hold my Dickinson County Listening Tour at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene. I enjoyed spending time in Dickinson County and listening to Kansans' concerns about the local environment, small business overregulation and our national debt. Thank you to the staff at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum for hosting. Also, thank you to Mayor Lynn Peterson, Dr. Alex Scott, Rep. Vern and Susie Swanson and many good friends for attending. Click here to view photos from all five town hall meetings.
This month, I am continuing my statewide listening tour. Please find more information about my upcoming town hall meetings below. If you’re nearby, I encourage you to stop by to share your thoughts.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Lincoln County, Sylvan Grove
Location: Main Street
Time: 8:00-9:00 a.m.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Greenwood County, Eureka
Location: The Greenwood Hotel
Address: 301 N. Main
Time: 11:45a.m. – 12:45p.m.
Woodson County, Yates Center
Location: Woodson County Rural Fire Department, Meeting Room
Address: 809 W. Mary
Miami County, Paola
Location: Miami County Farm Bureau
Address: 725 S. Silver
Time: 4:00-5:00 p.m.
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 Association for the Medically Underserved
Connie Hubbell of Topeka
Christie Appelhanz of Topeka
Daniel Minnis of Topeka
Melinda Miner of Topeka
Anne Lambertson of Topeka
HIV Medicine Association
Sharon Lee of Kansas City
Free State Brewing Co.
Steve Bradt of Lawrence
Many Kansans stopped by this week for a tour of the United States Capitol including Larry, Carla and Blane Steckline of Garden Plain; Shaylee and Shanay Wewe of Pretty Prairie; Ed and Kristy McKechnie of Pittsburg; Gabriel, Stephanie, Keneddy and Kyra Poro of Olathe; Carol Frieden, Amy and Allison DuLac of Atchison; Rodney, Deborah, Danielle and Nicole Gieselman of McPherson; Reta Griffin and Debra Obermiller of Norton; Nikki and Scott Schwerdfeger of Coolidge; Stephanie Roehl of Iola; Dennis and Marsha Bieker of Hays; Greg, Lorrie, Natalie and Lacey Windholz, and Erin Kilgore of Lawrence; Marc Harrell, Mitchell Neal and Hanna Wise of Overland Park; Christopher Vaughn of Gardner; Eugene and Margaret Logan of Salina; Darlene and Richard Nicholson, and Stephanie and Jordan Mahone of Bonner Springs; Repha Titus of Basehor; Richy, Nora, Mariana, Marissa and Madison Shuck of Hugoton; Thomas and Lana Ryan of Towanda; and Kristen Apple, Charles, Rose and Jackson Bibb of Prairie Village. Kansas from Wichita included James, Donna, Alena, Emilie, Madeline and Jameson Logan; Ron, Renae, Xavier and Xelexus Ryan; Bruce and Ruth Ellis; and Lexy Cochran.
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,
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