Kansas Common Sense
Jan 23 2012
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A Free and Open Internet
Due to the strong opposition by so many Americans, Majority Leader Reid has withdrawn his plan to consider the Protect IP Act this Tuesday. This is the outcome so many of us have been working to achieve. I am grateful that the Kansans and citizens across this country who came together to voice strong opposition to both PIPA and its House companion bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), have had their voices heard. In November, I joined forces with Senator Wyden as the lead Republican Senator in opposing PIPA. We worked together to see that PIPA did not become law, and we were prepared to filibuster this legislation next week to keep it from coming to a scheduled vote on Tuesday.
PIPA had support from many influential Senators and powerful interest groups, but the Majority Leader’s decision to withdraw it from the Senate calendar demonstrates the power of engaged citizens using the internet. I will continue to work to protect the creative rights of innovators, but any solution to this real problem must also protect Americans’ freedom of speech and thought, safeguard internet security, and allow the internet to remain a driving force in American innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. I expect this threat to resurface. I will remain vigilant in making certain any bill that is brought up protects a free and open internet. Click here to read more.
Honoring a Vietnam Veteran in Salina
This weekend, I had the privilege of presenting the Purple Heart medal to Vietnam Veteran Danny Manion of Assaria. Mr. Manion joined the United States Army in 1967 and proudly served his country, attaining the rank of Sergeant. He fought in the Vietnam War in 1968 where, on October 22, 1968, Sgt. Manion and his unit were tasked with securing a downed Chinook helicopter. During their mission, they came under attack and Sgt. Manion suffered shrapnel wounds to his head. After receiving treatment for his wounds at a field hospital, he bravely returned to active duty. Following his service in the U.S. Army, Sgt. Manion served in the U.S. Army Reserve before his honorable discharge in 1973.
Sgt. Manion received a Purple Heart medal as a result of his wounds, but none of his military records indicated his entitlement to this recognition. After working for several years to locate the documents confirming he had earned this medal, my office was contacted to provide help. I appreciated the opportunity to assist with his search, and we successfully obtained the missing documents needed to update his records. In front of Sgt. Manion’s family and friends, I presented him with the Purple Heart medal as well as the documents that verify this award is rightly his.
I am forever grateful to the men and women who have served our country courageously. Special thanks to Dorothy Sparacino for contacting my office regarding Sgt. Manion’s Purple Heart, and thanks to the American Legion Post 62 for hosting this ceremony. Click here to see photos from the ceremony.
Energy Security and American Jobs
I was disappointed this week that President Obama denied TransCanada’s application to build the Keystone XL pipeline. Our country cannot afford to further delay long-term energy security. The Obama Administration has already spent three years reviewing the Keystone XL permit and conducting two comprehensive environmental evaluations of the project. Furthermore, the Canadian government has made it clear they will pursue other markets if this project cannot be completed. If we allow this opportunity to pass us by, America will take a step backwards in energy security, as we are forced to continue to rely on unstable nations for our energy needs.
The completed 1,700 mile Keystone XL pipeline would transport 700,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada and the U.S. Bakken region to U.S. refineries and create thousands of new jobs. Canada’s oil sands are among the largest oil reserves in the world. As global demand for oil surges and Canada increases production, the addition of the Keystone XL pipeline will make certain Americans will benefit from reliable and secure oil from our largest trading partner. Additionally, TransCanada – the Canadian Keystone XL pipeline developer – is required to adhere to local, state and federal law, protect the environment, and respect the rights of landowners as construction goes forward.
Wednesday’s announcement does not bring an end to this story. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to clear the unnecessary hurdles, so this vitally important project can move forward, create tens of thousands of jobs and help our country obtain greater energy security. Click here to read more.
Hays Rotary Club
On Monday I had the privilege of joining my fellow Rotarians at my local club in Hays. Kansas State Senator Allen Schmidt was the keynote speaker at the meeting. I enjoyed his discussion on the upcoming legislative session. It was great to visit with everyone and enjoy the special camaraderie. Thank you to the Hays Rotary Club for their commitment, dedication and countless hours of volunteer work to ensure that good things continue to happen in the Hays area.
Encouraging Innovation at the Gigabit Challenge
Over a year ago, Google announced it was accepting applications from communities across the United States to deploy a one-gigabit internet connection, which is roughly 100 times faster than what users experience on fiber networks today. Last March, Google made the exciting announcement that they had selected Kansas City as the Google’s first gigabit city. With this enhanced technology comes the challenge of leveraging products and services on this new network capacity. On Wednesday, I joined entrepreneurs for the Think Big Partners’ Giagbit Challenge in Kansas City. Think Big Partners created the Gigabit Challenge asked entrepreneurs to submit ideas for consideration. They also offered to award three significant prizes for ideas that could use the gigabit connection.
The response was overwhelming: 113 ideas were submitted, including ideas from 5 continents, 7 countries and 22 states. Competitors included individuals, teams or businesses with a conceptual idea, a complete business plan, or an early-stage operating business that is enabled by Google’s 1 Gigabit Fiber network. Think Big Partners narrowed their list down to just 19 companies they thought could best utilize the new bandwidth. On Wednesday, these companies presented their ideas to a panel of expert judges. Just be before the judging, I delivered remarks about the potential of this new technology and the importance that Congress promote innovation instead of creating barriers for those who innovate. Congratulations to grand prize winner SEIN Analytics & Asset Management, “Born Global” prize winner Kauzu, and “People’s Choice” award winner Paruzia Technologies. Click here to see a photo from the event.
Touring Paola High School
Following the Think Big Partners Gigabit Challenge on Wednesday morning, I headed to Paola to tour the High School and visit with students. My tour guide was Zach Trigg, a junior who will be leaving for Washington, D.C., later this week to be a Senate Page for the semester. I enjoyed meeting Zach’s parents Chuck and Elizabeth Trigg and thanked them for supporting Zach in his dream of being a Senate Page. Superintendent Judy Weltner, Principal Phil Bressler and Assistant Principal Jeff Hines joined us on the tour. We visited the Shop, FFA and the physical education classes. Thank you to everyone who joined us on the tour and special thanks to Guidance Counselor Debbie Baldwin for the invitation. Click here to see a photo.
Visiting Fort Scott
It was my pleasure to deliver the keynote address at a meeting of the Fort Scott Rotary Club on Wednesday afternoon. Around 90 residents including members of Fort Scott Kiwanis and Pioneer Kiwanis, the Southeast Kansas Regional Leadership Academy, and the business community shared their concerns about the federal government with me. The visit also provided an opportunity for me to honor Mallory Shelton, a local high school student, for being accepted to the U.S. Naval Academy. I was proud to nominate her. Congratulations to Mallory and her family on this significant accomplishment. I am so glad to know Kansas produces smart, hard-working, civic-minded people like Mallory who want to serve their country. I appreciate Mike and Jennifer Jackman for taking time out of their schedules to join me at Rotary. Jennifer is a national officer for American Gold Star Mothers and both she and Mike truly understand the sacrifice of our military personnel. Thanks also to Tim and Anne Emerson for arranging my visit, Mayor Jim Adams for joining us, and Fort Scott Rotary President Jared Leek for his hospitality. Click here to view a photo.
Greenbush Education Service Center
Also on Wednesday afternoon, the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center in Greenbush welcomed me for a tour of their facilities. Greenbush offers more than 75 alternative education programs at six different facilities, and gives students who have previously dropped out of high school the opportunity to earn a high school diploma. Their cooperative is a model for student education and is used by numerous school districts to teach a vast array of subjects including science and foreign languages. Greenbush also offers leadership tools for school administrators. I appreciate their instructors sharing their time and thoughts with me on topics ranging from No Child Left Behind and technology advancements to internet access, school financing and biosciences. Special thanks to Director Mike Bodensteiner and staff members Lisa Blair, Denise Grasso and Carol Woolbright. Click here to see a photo from my visit.
Cheering on Two Great Kansas Basketball Teams
On Wednesday night, I cheered on two great Kansas men's basketball teams in Parsons. The crowd cheered on the Labette Cardinals alongside the Cowley Tigers fans. At halftime, I was able to visit with Steve Lardy of Parsons KLKC radio to discuss the upcoming session of Congress. In a close game, the home team Cardinals won by a score of 86-79. Earlier in the afternoon, the Labette’s women’s basketball team fell to Cowley by a close score of 74-82. Thanks to Labette President Dr. George C. Knox for hosting me as well Steve Lardy for visiting with me.
Going Back to School in Parsons
On Thursday morning, I visited with the members of Eddie Kearns’ Social Studies class at Parsons Middle School. The class has been profiling famous Kansans for a class project. I was honored to be the guest of student Bridgette Gilmore who chose me as the topic of her paper and class presentation. I spoke to the class about why I chose to seek public office and about my life growing up in the great state of Kansas. Thank you to Mr. Kearns and Principal Terry Smith for allowing me to visit the school. Click here to see a photo from Bridget’s presentation.
Touring Wilson Medical Center in Neodesha
On Thursday, I also had the opportunity to tour Wilson Medical Center (WMC) in Neodesha. Founded in 1913, WMC is a county, not-for-profit, critical access hospital consisting of 15 private patient rooms, an emergency department with two treatment and trauma rooms, lab and imaging department, and a surgical recovery suite. During my tour, I saw WMC’s Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine, which provides care options unique to Southeast Kansas, and learned about the hospital’s efforts to implement an electronic health records system and open a digital mammography unit. Thank you to CFO John Gutschenritter for hosting my visit and to staff members Julie Nichol and Janice Reese for accompanying me on my tour. Special thanks to Kansas Hospital Association President Tom Bell and Francie Currie with Twin Rivers Industrial Group for joining me on my visit. Click here to view a photo.
I traveled to Fredonia Thursday afternoon to speak to the Fredonia Lions Club and students at Fredonia High School. More than 6,300 Kansans are members of Lions clubs like the Fredonia Lions. Their motto is “We Serve” and Kansas Lions are involved in many projects to strengthen their communities and help their neighbors. Thank you to Jennifer Lawrence, club president, and to my former classmate Susan Welton for joining us. Click here to view photos from the meeting.
After speaking to the Fredonia Lions Club, I spoke with the student body at Fredonia High School about a range of topics. Students were particularly interested in the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) and my opposition to these bills. We also discussed the Department of Labor’s proposal for child farm labor regulations and immigration policy. I always appreciate hearing the perspective of Kansas students on issues currently impacting our state and nation. Thank you to Fredonia USD #484 Superintendent Jim Porter, Fredonia High School Principal Jim Lambert, and Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Tony Blackwell for hosting my visit to the school. Thanks also to Wilson County Commissioner Russ Walker for attending.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below.
Johnson County Sheriff’s Office
Captain Bob Keller of Olathe
Captain Michael Raunig of Olathe
Major Bret Cortright of Olathe
Ryan M. Rezzelle of Olathe
Captain Robert Bieniecki of Olathe
GSA Heartland Region
Tanner Banion of Shawnee
Angela Brees of DeSoto
Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition
Brenda Bandy of Manhattan
Kansas Hospital Association
Fred Lucky of Topeka
Joe Reardon of Kansas City, KS
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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