Kansas Common Sense
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Yesterday, I returned to Washington, D.C., for a Sunday session of the United States Senate. We continue to consider legislation regarding the authorities of the National Security Agency. Last week after participating in several Memorial Day ceremonies, I spent the remainder of the week with Kansans across the state.
Breaking Ground on NBAF, Safeguarding Americans
This week marked an important milestone for our country because it moved us one step closer to better safeguarding America and its citizens from biological threats. On Wednesday, I was proud to join Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and the Kansas Delegation to break ground on the site of construction for the modern, world-class National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan – a project of immense importance to our state and nation. NBAF will ultimately create jobs for Kansans in the fields of engineering, science and technology. The talented young men and women who grow up here will have more opportunities to work and live in Kansas, which is poised to become a research epicenter.
Construction of the main laboratory for NBAF will bring the United States into the 21st century. NBAF will address a broader and more complete spectrum of threats beyond our current abilities and make certain we are prepared for any kind of attack, including an attack with biological weapons. Additionally, research conducted at NBAF will enhance our nation’s capability to protect its citizens and livestock from animal disease threats. An outbreak would have a devastating impact on the animal and agricultural industry and would be detrimental to our economy. Without NBAF, our country remains at risk.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I committed myself to making certain NBAF remained a top priority. Final funding to complete construction of NBAF was approved and signed into law earlier this year – bringing the decade-long battle to fund NBAF to a close. As this essential part of our national security apparatus moves forward, Kansans and Americans can have confidence that we will stand ready to combat outbreaks of dangerous diseases that threaten the nation’s livestock, agriculture and public health. Thanks again to Secretary Johnson and Secretary Vilsack for being in the Little Apple for this historic event. No longer are people asking, “Is NBAF going to be built?” The answer is now unequivocally yes.
Encouraging News on Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center Emergency Department
On Tuesday, I visited the Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center and met with Medical Center Director Rudy Klopfer to get an update on the emergency department, which has been closed since January 2014 due to understaffing issues. Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins joined me during the visit, and the director introduced us to Dr. Fatima Khan, the new emergency department chief. They shared encouraging news that everything medically necessary to open the emergency room is accomplished and all that remains is authorization from the central office in Washington, D.C.
I first raised concerns about the shuttering of the emergency department with then-VA Secretary Eric Shinseki in August 2013. I also expressed frustration with the Veterans Health Administration in January 2014 once the emergency room at Colmery-O’Neil was temporary closed. In order to resolve the ongoing issues, in April 2015, Rep. Jenkins and I asked the VA Heartland Network Director about the support the Network is receiving from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in Washington, D.C. Last week, we received a response from the VA Heartland Director dated April 27, 2015, which stated that “we anticipate the temporary ‘pause’ on the Emergency Department to be removed by the end of May.” During our visit on Tuesday, Colmery-O’Neil Director Klopfer also indicated that the emergency department should re-open at the end of this month — good news for Topeka-area veterans.
I am hopeful there are no unnecessary delays in the paperwork and Topeka-area veterans will once again be able to count on emergency services at Colmery-O’Neil on the first of June as promised. Thanks again to Director Klopfer and Dr. Khan for the tour and update. Click here to read the Topeka Capital-Journal story on our visit.
Federal Government Overreach Continues with Waters of the U.S. Rule
Also on Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized a deeply flawed regulation aimed at expanding their regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act. The nearly 300-page regulation is a blatant overreach by the federal government and unnecessary intrusion into the lives of Kansans. By ambiguously redefining streams and ditches classified as “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS), the administration has given the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) broad authority to regulate waters on private property well beyond the original intent of the law. Under the new regulation, farmers and ranchers will be forced to obtain permits from the EPA for activities that might impact a stream or ditch on their property. Violations of the regulation – even if unintentional and not harmful to the environment – could cost the stakeholder thousands of dollars in fees.
After receiving substantial amounts of feedback expressing serious concerns when the draft rule was released, the EPA should have gone back to the drawing board, engaged with stakeholders, and drafted a rule that was clear and workable. Instead, the administration conducted an aggressive advocacy campaign aimed at convincing people the regulation is only intended to clarify the scope of the law. It only takes a cursory review of the language to discover this is not the case. Rather than clarifying the scope of Clean Water Act, it has expanded the regulatory authority and added uncertainty among stakeholders.
In Congress, we should move quickly to block the regulation from being further implemented. I am a sponsor of Federal Water Quality Protection Act, legislation to shield stakeholders from the regulation and provide clear direction to the administration on redrafting a new rule based on the original intent of the law. It is critical that we keep up the fight to blunt the impact of the regulation before it harms our farmers, ranchers, small business owners and communities across Kansas. Click here to read more.
Visiting Kansas Intelligence Fusion Center with DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson
Following the groundbreaking for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan on Wednesday, I accompanied Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson on a visit to the Kansas National Guard Joint Force Headquarters and Kansas Intelligence Fusion Center (KIFC) in Topeka. The secretary oversees DHS coordination efforts with fusion centers around the country and was interested in learning more about the unique coordination and structure of the KIFC.
The KIFC coordinates with state and federal agencies as well as private sector partners to prevent terror, biological and cyber threats in Kansas and across the country. The secretary and I received a briefing from the KIFC team including Major General Lee Tafanelli highlighting the Fusion Center’s innovative and resourceful analytical capabilities to prevent and protect Kansans and all Americans from existing and emerging threats. It was instrumental for the secretary to see the KIFC’s success supporting federal and state missions toward a common goal of protecting our country. I am grateful to those who work in the KIFC to provide this capability for our state and I look forward to working with Secretary Johnson on ways to make certain other states and entities are just as capable in the future.
Touring Hays Regional Airport
On Thursday, I stopped by the Hays Regional Airport for a tour of their renovated facility and to receive an update on airport operations from city officials. Recent renovations include an expanded terminal with a new lounge, security areas, a secure hold room and restrooms, a new roof, upgraded HVAC systems, and an upgraded look with new paint and flooring. More upgrades are planned for the airport, including the addition of a roller belt for baggage claim and redoing the crosswind runway.
During my visit, we discussed several issues including SkyWest's passenger jet service which currently offers a mid-morning and early-evening flight from Hays to Denver. We also discussed the important role air service plays in the community, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and legislative issues affecting General Aviation. As a member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security, seeing firsthand the challenges faced by rural airports is valuable to me as the subcommittee drafts FAA Reauthorization legislation this summer.
Thanks again to Hays Vice Mayor Shaun Musil, City Commissioner Lance Jones, Director of Public Works I.D. Creech, Assistant Director of Public Works John Braun, Airport Advisory Committee Members Errol Wuertz and Mike Konz, Hays Area Chamber of Commerce Director Tammy Wellbrock and Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development Director Aaron White for taking part in the visit. Thank you also to Airport Manager Nathan Marcucci for leading the informative discussion.
Speaking to the Agri-Business Council of Wichita
On Friday, I enjoyed speaking to the Agriculture Business Council of Wichita. We discussed a number of issues related to investing in policies that are vital to Kansas’ rural communities. Now, more than ever, there exists a need for producers, agriculture leaders and elected officials from rural states to educate legislators and folks from urban areas about the importance of modern agriculture. One of my top priorities in the Senate is working to preserve our special way of life in Kansas. As Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee it is important for me to remain connected to farmers and ranchers in our state. Thanks to the Agriculture Business Council of Wichita President Mick Rausch and Executive Director Rhonda McCurry for the invitation to speak.
Visiting the B-29 Restoration in Wichita
On Friday afternoon, I had the opportunity to visit "Doc," a historic Boeing B-29 Superfortress that is currently being restored to flying condition. Doc was built in 1945 in Wichita, which is also where the restoration is taking place. Currently, there is only one Superfortress in flying condition known as “Fifi.”
The restoration is being spearheaded by Doc's Friends – a nonprofit organization founded in 2013 by a group of Wichita aviation enthusiasts. Doc is expected to fly in the coming months. Thanks to Fred Berry for the invitation to see this incredible project.
Touring the Kansas National Guard Cyber Unit
I ended the day Friday at McConnell Air Force Base where I was able to tour the Kansas National Guard Cyber Unit – home of the 177th Information Aggressor Squadron, a uniquely capable Kansas National Guard unit that specializes in “threat emulation.” The tour reinforced my belief that cyber defense is at the forefront of our nation’s security needs. Non-state and state-sponsored cyberattacks occur on a daily basis – whether it’s Iran’s actions toward U.S. financial institutions or a movie that upsets the North Koreans.
Last week, I met with Ash Carter, Secretary of Department of Defense, about the importance of increasing our country’s cyber defenses. We discussed the cyber red team at McConnell and the secretary’s strategy for cyber defense and recruitment to attract the nation's best, brightest and most competitive talent in cyber. My tour of the Cyber Unit on Friday reinforced my belief that Kansas plays a key role in our cyber security efforts. I appreciate Col. Jeffry Jordan for taking the time to show me around the National Guard Cyber Unit.
Now Accepting Applications for Fall 2015 Internships
The deadline for fall internship applications is quickly approaching, and anyone interested should submit their application before Friday, June 26. Application forms can be obtained and completed under the “Services” section of Sen. Moran’s 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For questions, please contact Sen. Moran’s office at email@example.com or call 202-224-6521 and request to speak with the Intern Coordinator.
Kansans in the Office
Betty Frank of Manhattan
Catherine McMulkin of Colby
Michael Gimotty of Overland Park
Susan Gimotty of Overland Park
Michael Gimotty of Overland Park
Madison Gimotty of Overland Park
Nicholas Gimotty of Overland Park
Grace Gimotty of Overland Park
James Baker of Garden City
Grace Baker of Garden City
Rebecca Padilla of Hutchinson
Isabella Padilla of Hutchinson
Andre Padilla of Hutchinson
Tyler Brakner of Paola
Joan Brakner of Paola
Glen Brakner of Paola
Erik Brakner of Paola
Isaac Brakner of Paola
Todd Pelham of Lenexa
Aletha Pelham of Lenexa
Zachary Pelham of Lenexa
Addison Pelham of Lenexa
Lorene Bethel of Alden
Scott Harder of Wichita
Stephanie Harder of Wichita
Sam Harder of Wichita
Lily Harder of Wichita
Rev. David Bell of Garden City
Debbie Bell of Garden City
Jeffrey Crumrine of Wichita
Carin Crumrine of Wichita
Christopher Crumrine of Wichita
Ashley Crumrine of Wichita
Robert Cardell of Richmond
Melinda Cardell of Richmond
Shelby Cardell of Richmond
Nash Cardell of Richmond
David Bradbury of Hutchinson
Dana Bradbury of Hutchinson
Kaitlyn Goodrum of Wichita
Tom Cox of Hutchinson
Sam Cox of Hutchinson
Denise Bertoncino of Pittsburg
Jackson Bertoncino of Pittsburg
Eve Bertoncino of Pittsburg
Domenic Bertoncino of Pittsburg
Donna Bertoncino of Pittsburg
Kenneth DeLuca of Hutchinson
Dominic DeLuca of Hutchinson
Dylan DeLuca of Hutchinson
Larry Dunlap of Salina
Catherine Dunlap of Salina
Caroline Dunlap of Salina
Debra Anderson of Newton
Lindsey Kuye of Newton
Hunter Lujano of Newton
David Warry of Goddard
Vicky Warry of Goddard
Harlan Baker of WichitaLinda Baker of Wichita
Ronny Lieurance of Wichita
Carie Lieurance of Wichita
Jonathan Ware of Olathe
Kelly Ware of Olathe
Caitlin Ware of Olathe
Spencer Ware of Olathe
Seth Ware of Olathe
Matt Logan of Prairie Village
Michael Sadrakulz of Basehor
Melissa Sadrakulz of Basehor
Quinn Sadrakulz of Basehor
Gage Sadrakulz of Basehor
Dennis Wanklyn of Frankfort
Patricia Wanklyn of Frankfort
Kendall Fox of Holton
Evan Fox of Holton
Shelby Fox of Holton
Kate Schwab of Manhattan
Davany Schwab of Manhattan
Larry Burmingham of Baldwin City
Dieadra Burmingham of Baldwin City
Rebecca Burmingham of Baldwin City
Spencer Burmingham of Baldwin City
Bradley Eisenbarth of McPherson
Megan Eisenbarth of McPherson
Wyatt Eisenbarth of McPherson
Melinda Flacks of Olathe
Wayne Ifft of Overland Park
Nancy Ifft of Overland Park
Christine Riffel of Topeka
Robyn Dudney of Silver Lake
Teresa Couch of Gardner
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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