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.
Congress was out of session for the spring district work period. This week, the Senate plans to resume consideration of S. 2230, the Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012, commonly referred to as the “Buffett Rule” bill. This legislation would require Americans, including many small businesses, earning more than $1 million per year to pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes. I agree that all Americans should pay their fair share of taxes, and support the elimination of tax loopholes that are based on politics and not economics. Unfortunately, this tax increase on the wealthy will do little if anything to reduce the budget deficit, strengthen the economy, and create jobs. The “Buffett Rule” bill is quite simply a political messaging bill.
It is also possible that S. 1789, the Postal Reform bill, will be brought back to the Senate floor for consideration. I was disappointed when the Senate recently voted to delay consideration of this legislation that would help address the U.S. Postal Service’s financial troubles. With the USPS plan to start closing post offices on May 15 if there is no reform in place, it is critical that Congress considers this legislation soon.
Touring Wichita to View Tornado Damage
On Saturday night and into the early hours of Sunday morning nearly 100 tornadoes, accompanied by straight line winds and torrential rain, hit Kansas as part of a massive storm system that ravaged the Great Plains. My thoughts and prayers go out to residents and business owners who suffered great loss and devastation. Amazingly, no fatalities and only a few minor injuries have been reported.
I traveled to Wichita Sunday afternoon to Governor Brownback, Congressman Pompeo, and local, county and state officials for a tour of some of the hardest hit areas and to receive an update on relief efforts. An initial damage estimate for Sedgwick County alone exceeds $280 million. As I witnessed the destruction at McConnell Air Force Base, Spirit Aerosystems, Pinnaire Mobile Home Park and other impacted residential areas in the Oaklawn neighborhood, It was clear that the estimate is much more than a number; it represents families, employees and business owners in need.
And less than 24 hours after the tornado, Kansans were already reaching out to meet those needs. One group that’s making a difference is the Salvation Army, which provided shelter to more 200 people immediately after the tornado and has provided water and meals to more than 600 affected residents and first responders. Thank you to local commander Douglas Rowland and his wife Janet for their leadership. Click here to learn more about how the Salvation Army is helping our fellow Kansans in their time of need.
Thank you to Mayor Carl Brewer and his fellow city council members, Chairman Tim Norton and his colleagues on the county commission, Sedgwick County Emergency Management Director Randy Duncan, State Adjutant General Lee Tafanelli, and Kansas Division of Emergency Management Deputy Director Angee Morgan for taking time to visit with me and show me around the damaged parts of the community. A special thank you to Jeff Turner, CEO of Spirit Aerosystems, for exhibiting calm and courageous leadership during a most trying time for the company and his employees.
I pledge to do whatever I can to support the recovery effort in Sedgwick County and throughout our great state. Click here to view photos from my visit.
Goodland Regional Medical Center Capital Campaign
On Tuesday, I was in Goodland to help Goodland Regional Medical Center (GRMC) and its partner, the Northwest Kansas Area Medical Foundation, kick off their capital campaign called “Project Healthcare: Invest in Your Future.” The goal of this campaign is to raise funds to update GRMC’s facilities and strengthen the health care network serving the citizens of Sherman County and northwest Kansas. Funds raised from the campaign will be focused towards the following five initiatives:
- Completion of the High Plains Dialysis Service Center and recruitment of a renal specialist to manage the center;
- Upgrading GRMC’s computer and imaging technology;
- Physician and medical staff recruitment initiatives;
- Remodeling and facility upgrades at GRMC; and
- Establishment of an endowment for future community investment.
I had the opportunity to speak at this kickoff event along with Jay Jolly, CEO of GRMC; Jeff Mason, Foundation Chair; and Ron Vignery, Campaign Chair. Kansans’ access to quality health care services at GRMC and other rural hospitals is essential for communities in our state to survive and flourish. Many of these hospitals operate on thin margins to provide the care that Kansas families need. I commend GRMC staff and Goodland residents for their determination and willingness to face community challenges head on in order to preserve the special way of life we live in Kansas towns. Thank you to these individuals for hosting me and thanks to Frank Albert for coordinating my visit. Click here to see a photo from the event.
I was pleased that the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced their partnership with Western Plains Energy, LLC to support the construction of a biogas anaerobic digester in Oakley, KS. The completed project will replace natural gas with agricultural waste from a nearby cattle feedlot in the production of liquid transportation fuel. This announcement is great news for the economic development of Western Kansas because by investing in new technologies, Western Plains Energy is charting a path for future growth, creating jobs and opening the door for the use of feedlot waste in future energy projects. Western Plains Energy expects to complete construction of the biogas digester in August, which is scheduled to become fully operational in 2013. The digester should produce enough biogas to replace 89 percent of the fossil fuels that Western Plains currently uses to provide process heat at its Oakley, KS, ethanol plant, which produces 50 million gallons of ethanol annually.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below. Click here to view photos of some of the visits:
Black and Veatch
Paul Weida of Kansas City
Umbilical Cord Blood Banking
Bonnie Hill of Kansas City
Cassidy Hill of Kansas City
Many Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the U.S. Capitol this week including residence from:
Brian Waggoner of Plainville
Jennifer Waggoner of Plainville
Chloe Stampler of Plainville
Ella Waggoner of Plainville
Samuel Waggoner of Plainville
Tami Koenigsman of Hays
Thomas Diederich of Lenora
Cheryl Diederich of Lenora
Doug Powers of Maize
Robert Allen of Salina
Ernestine Allen of Salina
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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