Kansas Common Sense


Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter.

Welcome Home to Major General Joseph Martin
It was an honor to be with the Fort Riley community on Tuesday as we celebrated the return of Major General Joseph R. Martin and his assumption of command of the Big Red One. Having previously served as a Company Commander and Brigade Commander for the 1st Infantry Division, MG Martin knows better than most the invaluable support of Kansans and the vital contributions of the Big Red One at home and abroad. During the ceremony, MG Martin stated, “Fort Riley is truly the best place to live, train, deploy from and come home to.” With upcoming deployments to the Republic of Korea and Iraq, it is reassuring to Kansans and Big Red One families to know that soldiers deploying under MG Martin will be commanded by a steadfast commander who is battle-tested and ready to lead. Please join me in keeping our troops in your thoughts as they continue to protect Americans and our way of life.

Reputation of Distrust, Mismanagement Continues at VA
Several years ago, our nation was appalled to learn Department of Veterans Affairs employees were encouraged to create secret waiting lists that stood between veterans and the care they deserved. Veterans died waiting for care because of deceptive practices at the VA, and at that point, I called for the resignation of then-VA Secretary. At the time, I didn’t think things at the agency could get any worse. But, I now know I was wrong. I penned an op-ed recently to shine light on the VA’s handling of a case of ongoing sexual abuse of veterans at the Leavenworth VA hospital. While the VA regrets what occurred, I’m frustrated the current VA Secretary doesn’t seem to share my sense of urgency about investigating this situation to make certain this never happens again. To read more, please click here or here.

National Down Syndrome Month
My wife Robba attended a National Down Syndrome Society (NDSS) event in Overland Park to mark Down Syndrome Awareness Month and recognize legislators at the federal and state level for championing the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. The ABLE Act allows people with disabilities and their families to open tax-exempt savings accounts that can be used to maintain health and quality of life. It also allows individuals with disabilities (or the parents of a child with a disability) to save money to cover long-term expenses. We look forward to the first ABLE account being opened in Kansas soon to enhance the independence of individuals with disabilities. This is one of many reasons I am proud to chair the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus. I was presented with the award earlier this month and was pleased Robba could accept it on my behalf. Here, Robba’s pictured with Jawanda and Rachel Mast.

Recognizing W.R. and Yvonne Robbins’ Contributions to Fort Hays State University
I participated Thursday in Fort Hays State University’s (FHSU) dedication ceremony for what is now the W.R. and Yvonne Robbins College of Business and Entrepreneurship. The Robbins family has made a lasting, positive impact on FHSU. Their example will continue to inspire FHSU students to be leaders in their communities. I look forward to seeing FHSU’s Robbins College of Business and Entrepreneurship continue its tradition of preparing generations of Kansas students for success. Thank you to President Dr. Mirta Martin, Foundation President Jason Williby, College Dean Dr. Mark Bannister and the Robbins family for the invitation to be a part of this event.

Hays Area Chamber of Commerce Agriculture Appreciation Dinner
I joined area farmers and ranchers Thursday evening for the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce’s Agriculture Appreciation Dinner. During the event, I had the opportunity to discuss current agriculture policy before Congress and the important role farmers and ranchers play at the local, state, national and global level. Season to season, farmers and ranchers work tirelessly to put food on our tables and they have a significant impact on our small towns and local economy.

I also stopped by Dr. Brittany Howell’s history of agriculture class to visit with some of our future ag leaders. Thanks to all of those who attended this event to show their appreciation for the farmers and ranchers of Ellis County. Special thanks to Chamber Director Tammy Wellbrock for the invitation to attend.

Visiting High Schools in Washington, Belleville and Downs
I visited three Kansas high schools this week to meet with students, teachers and administrators and get updates on the work being done in schools across our state to prepare our young people for future success.

Washington County High School
At Washington High, students shared with me their experiences in FFA, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) and the school’s sports programs and how their extracurricular activities are shaping their post-graduation plans. Thanks to Principal Carol Whisman and Superintendent Denise O’Dea for hosting me.

Republic County High School
During my stop at Republic County High School in Belleville, I asked the students I met about the quality of their education and which extracurricular activities they were enjoying most. I also visited the band room and learned the school band has been selected to perform at the Fiesta Bowl Parade this December and they are busy preparing for the occasion. Thanks to Principal Alan Sheets for arranging my visit.

Lakeside High School
In Downs Friday morning, I met with Lakeside High School Principal Bob Becker and student council representatives who gave me a tour of their school and shared their perspectives on the issues that impact their lives. They had thoughtful questions about work in the Senate and we discussed the importance of higher education. My thanks to all who met with me – to the students for their efforts to learn and to the faculty and administrators working hard to have a positive impact on Kansas students.  

Higher Education Tours in Beloit and Concordia
I toured North Central Technical College (NCK Tech) and Cloud County Community College (CCCC) on Friday. At these visits I met with NCK Tech President Eric Burks and CCCC President Danette Toone to hear from them about their school’s latest initiatives. Students shared with me their experiences at the schools, as well as their perspective on the current state of higher education. I appreciate the efforts of all the educators and staff at these colleges for working to help Kansas students have bright futures. Thanks to Presidents Burks and Toone for hosting me.

Hearing from Meridian Way Employees
During my visit to Meridian Way Wind Farm south of Concordia, I met with two employees named Kolt and Lucas. They both grew up in the area and returned home to take their current jobs on the farm. I enjoyed hearing them talk about the roots they’ve put down in the community and learning about the work they do. The wind farm’s 67 turbines produce enough wattage to power more than 50,000 Kansas homes. The view from the top of a turbine over the plains wasn’t bad either. Thanks to Lead Technician Lucas Chavey and Michelle Graham for hosting my visit.

Visiting Great Bend
I stopped by the Great Bend Chamber Coffee hosted by Tele-Communications, Inc., on Thursday. I appreciated the feedback I received from a number of Great Bend area business owners. Thanks to chamber president Jan Peters for the introduction. Click here to read more in the Great Bend Tribune.

Returning to KU for Homecoming
It was a tough loss for my alma mater this weekend against Oklahoma State. Still, it was great to be in Lawrence to root them on – rock chalk!

Accepting Applications for Spring Internships
My own interest in public service was sparked by an internship for Kansas First District Congressman Keith Sebelius in 1974. As an intern, I had the chance to learn firsthand how a Congressional office operates and how the legislative process works. I am proud to be able to offer this same opportunity in my Senate office today where I have interns year-round who have a unique opportunity to work closely with my staff on behalf of Kansans. Applications are already being accepted for internships in my Washington, D.C., Manhattan, and Olathe, Kansas, offices for the spring 2017 term. The deadline for the spring is this Friday, October 28. Congressional internships are open to qualified undergraduate and graduate students who have an interest in public service and have achieved academic excellence. Click here for more information. 

Kansans in the Office

Washburn University
Jerry Farley of Topeka
John Pinegar of Topeka 

The University of Kansas Hospital
Reagan Cussimanio of Olathe 

Rural Broadband and Telephone
Scott Bannister of Caldwell
Jerry Horton of Manhattan 

Capitol Tour
Christopher Allen of Prairie Village
Rachel Allen of Prairie Village
Eleanor Allen of Prairie Village
Peggy Allen of Prairie Village
Wesley Wright of Clay Center
Kristin Wright of Clay Center
Matt Weller of Clay Center
Nichole Weller of Clay Center
Caleb Hanes of Lawrence
Kacey Hanes of Lawrence
Devin Glasgow of Topeka
Bailey Farness of Topeka
Timothy Madden of Topeka
Mary Madden of Topeka
Marion Farr of Salina
Lynette Farr of Salina
Grace Sadiq of Wichita
Matthew Hartig of Wichita
Downer Hull of Woodston
Jace Hull of Woodston
Bella Musselman of Manhattan
Tracy Musselman of Manhattan
Lydia Bowyer of Manhattan
Anna Peace-Bowyer of Manhattan
Max Bowyer of Manhattan
Michael Musselman of Manhattan
Aaron Bowyer of Manhattan
Bianca Musselman of Manhattan
Kelly Norcross of Overland Park
Jill Norcross of Overland Park
Scott Coates of Chanute
Robynn Coates of Chanute
Sophia Coates of Chanute
Isabella Coates of Chanute
Richard Lee of Andover

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.

Please let me know how I can be of assistance. You can contact me by email by clicking 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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