Kansas Common Sense


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Announcing New Fort Riley Battalion
New EOD Battalion Headquarters at Fort Riley
I was pleased that Fort Riley announced this week it will be the home of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) battalion headquarters in the near future. The headquarters expands the EOD mission on Fort Riley and highlights the contributions that 1st Infantry Division units will make to the future of U.S. Army readiness. I know the Flint Hills region is ready to welcome and support the over 50 military men, women and families that the EOD will bring. This kind of growth of mission reflects the Big Red One’s standing as the longest serving division in the U.S. Army. I am proud of the Army’s confidence in and commitment to the Big Red One and I will continue to work to make certain our soldiers are fully equipped and ready to face any mission. 

Fort Riley continues to live up to its motto as the ‘best place to live, train, deploy from and come home to’ and it’s always good to see that recognized by the Army. I was glad to hear General Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the Army, recognize that “this move will improve the overall EOD readiness of the U.S. Army. We know the soldiers and families will be in good hands as they transition to Kansas.” For more on this announcement, click here.

Planned Deployment of Fort Riley Soldiers
Last week, Secretary of the Army Mark Esper announced the planned deployment of units from three Fort Riley 1st Infantry Division brigades. The upcoming deployments of thousands of Big Red One soldiers exemplifies the critical role of the First Infantry Division in the U.S. Army's engagements in Afghanistan and Europe. While news of deployments will always bring about mixed emotions for the soldiers, families and communities involved, the greater Big Red One community can take pride in the First Infantry soldiers who will be carrying out vital missions, and the country stands behind them. Deployments are a time when Kansans can reach out to soldiers and their families to express our gratitude for their sacrifice. The soldiers serving at Fort Riley have trained hard to be manned, equipped and ready to deploy, and I am confident they will serve the Army well around the globe. 

Update on My Investigation Regarding Abuse in the Olympic Movement
On Wednesday, former USA Gymnastics CEO Steve Penny was arrested and indicted for tampering with evidence in the investigation of abuse at the hands of Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar. During my subcommittee hearing on June 5, 2018, Penny invoked his 5th Amendment right to not answer questions from the subcommittee. During the same hearing, former USAG official Rhonda Faehn provided new information that Penny had instructed another USAG employee to remove gymnasts’ medical records from the Karolyi Ranch – a well-known USAG training facility in Texas – including information relevant to the abuse perpetuated by Nassar. This information helped lead authorities to the arrest of Penny.

Steve Penny’s indictment and arrest further illustrate what we already knew to be true — under Penny’s leadership, USA Gymnastics went to great lengths to alleviate its institutional liability in response to sexual misconduct by Larry Nassar, when that effort should have been spent protecting young athletes. This indictment, coupled with Penny’s unwillingness to cooperate in our subcommittee’s investigation, highlights the systemic leadership issues within USAG that survivors have been sharing with us for months. It is imperative USAG secures leadership that first and foremost supports the well-being of its athletes. To all adults or coaches tasked with caring for our young athletes: when a child entrusts you with reports of sexual abuse, you report immediately. For more information on my investigation, click here.

Touring Fort Scott Airport and Meeting with Local Officials Regarding Mercy Hospital
On Monday, I was in southeast Kansas to tour the Fort Scott Municipal Airport. City officials and business leaders were on hand to share with me the need for a longer and wider runway to allow for safer aircraft landings and to attract new stakeholders to the community. Airports are an important part of many local economies and act as an invaluable entry point for large industry in rural areas: we utilize them to connect businesses to customers, transport supplies and increase the reach of businesses. Local airports also play a critical role in healthcare delivery, and at Fort Scott, the airport is utilized by several medical helicopter services. I’m pleased Congress continues to provide support through the Airport Improvement Program for small rural airports to make necessary improvements to encourage businesses to stay and grow in places like Fort Scott. 

While I was in town, I also met with city, county and community college personnel to discuss the recent announcement by Mercy to close the hospital in Fort Scott. I am encouraged to hear that this opportunity is being looked at as a chance to restructure the area’s healthcare model to better reflect the region’s needs – I look forward to seeing what partnerships come together to sustain healthcare services for the city. The conversations I had with local officials provided me with a better understanding of the community’s options, and I’ll continue working with local leaders to support these efforts. I appreciate what civic leaders are doing to make certain area residents have access to quality, affordable healthcare.

Kansas Delegation Letter to FCC Chairman Pai
On Monday, I led the Kansas congressional delegation in a letter calling on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai to restore sufficiency and predictability to the Universal Service Fund (USF) High Cost program’s budget. The letter was signed by every member of the delegation, including Senator Pat Roberts and U.S. Representatives Roger Marshall (KS-01), Lynn Jenkins (KS-02), Kevin Yoder (KS-03) and Ron Estes (KS-04).

Full funding of the program, as designed, helps ensure that rural Kansans have access to high-quality, affordable broadband and voice services comparable to those available in urban areas as mandated by current law. In Kansas, insufficient funding to the program is estimated to eliminate support that broadband carriers would otherwise have received for deployment of broadband by nearly $13 million over the 2018-2019 twelve-month period. As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee with jurisdiction over the FCC, I will continue to advocate on behalf of rural Kansans seeking high-speed broadband for a reasonable price while enabling them to participate in the global internet economy. To view the letter, click here.

Urging Secretary Mnuchin to Protect Community Banks
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has stimulated economic growth and job creation in our communities. This week, I led an effort to call on the U.S. Department of Treasury to improve TCJA regulations by allowing Subchapter S community banks to fully take advantage of the pass-through business deduction contained in the law. This deduction will help community banks remain competitive, maintain their independence, and continue to offer a wide range of financial services to their communities. I will continue to support tax policies that will produce better economic outcomes for all of Kansas. To view my letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, click here

Recognizing World Food Day
On Tuesday, I joined people around the globe in recognizing World Food Day. On this occasion and every day, we must reinvigorate our commitment to ending hunger in the United States and around the globe. World Food Day is an opportunity to raise awareness and promote action for the one in every nine people who suffer from hunger. Hunger is an issue that transcends politics, and together we must remain committed to finding new and innovative ways to bolster food security and combat hunger. As the co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus, I’m proud to carry on Sen. Dole’s legacy and represent the compassionate spirit of Kansans and the farmers who help feed the world.

Hosting General Perna at Fort Riley to Visit ATEAM
I hosted the Commander of the Army Materiel Command, General Gustave Perna, while he visited the Advanced Turbine Engine Army Maintenance Team at Fort Riley alongside 1st Infantry Division Commander, Major General John Kolasheski, and Kansas Adjutant General Lee Tafanelli on Friday.

The Advanced Turbine Engine Army Maintenance (ATEAM) of the Kansas National Guard provides the Army, particularly Army National Guard tank units, with a cost-efficient sustainment capability offering the highest quality repair work and customer service to commanders. The ATEAM also provides second-to-none services to foreign partners who specifically seek to increase the readiness of their tank units utilizing ATEAM expertise. The repair work for foreign partners will translate into growth for the ATEAM from the existing 58 personnel to approximately 240 in fiscal year 2019. I invited General Perna to Fort Riley to witness firsthand the unique and cost-effective capabilities of the ATEAM and I am proud they were able to demonstrate their value to the total force of the U.S. Army.

Visiting Junction City High School and Announcing West Point Nomination
On Tuesday, I toured Junction City High School and visited with various students, administrators and faculty. During my tour, I was able to learn more about the school’s personalized learning pilot program that personalizes students’ education to improve outcomes. I also visited Spanish, JROTC, journalism, and autoshop classrooms. It was clear to me that Junction City High School takes great pride in preparing students with career and technical skills so that they can succeed after high school in whatever path they may pursue. 

During my visit, student leaders gave me a tour of the school. I was happy to surprise one of those student leaders, Corbin Sanner, with the news that he will be my principal nomination to the United States Military Academy at West Point. Every year, I have the distinct privilege of nominating students to the U.S. Service Academies. Corbin recently underwent the application and interview process, and as my principal nomination, he will now be considered for acceptance to the Academy. Thank you to Corbin, and fellow student leaders Joel Nieves and Sierra Garner, for the tour. Thanks also to Principal Melissa Sharp and Athletic Director Matt Westerhaus for arranging my visit and joining us on the tour.


Visiting with Kansans in Rozel
I enjoyed being in Rozel on Wednesday morning where I visited with Pawnee Heights High School students and faculty, as well as patrons of the local café, The Gathering Place. Opportunities to visit local schools and businesses allow me to hear first-hand from Kansans, students, business owners and community leaders about the issues most important to them. At Pawnee Heights High School, I was able to tour classrooms and visit with the seniors during their history class. Thank you to Superintendent Dan Binder and Principal Mark Pywell for the tour, and to the many teachers and staff members for allowing me to visit with their students. Thanks also to the many folks at The Gathering Place for taking time to visit with me and for their thoughtful discussion. I enjoyed visiting with the women’s coffee group and sampling their homemade cookies and brownies!

Visiting Liberal High School
On Wednesday, I toured Liberal High School, one of just a few schools in the state who are participating in redesign. The redesign allows administrators, faculty and staff to take an innovative approach to curriculum and instruction. Students and teachers at LHS told me that this has allowed more hands-on learning and a more individualized approach to education. Thank you to student leaders Josh Diazdeleon, Merrick Dodge, Sandy Vo and Brady Kappelmann for leading my tour. Thanks also to USD 480 Superintendent Renae Hickert, Director of Secondary Education Sheri King and Lisa Stowe for arranging my visit to LHS and for joining us on the tour.


Keynoting the Garden City Rotary Club’s Meeting
After touring Liberal High, I was in Garden City where I gave remarks during the Rotary Club’s regular meeting. Following my remarks, we discussed a variety of issues including K-12 and career and technical education, Amtrak, the Garden City airport, tariffs and ongoing trade tensions, veterans’ affairs, immigration, DACA and the potential return of a Drug Enforcement Agency office to Southwest Kansas. It is always a pleasure to be Rotarians who, across the state, are dedicated to their communities and serve tirelessly on behalf of others. Thank you to local Rotary Chapter President Marc Cottrell for arranging my visit. Thanks also to Garden City Manager Matt Allen, Police Chief Michael Utz, School Board member Jean Clifford, and Chamber President Myca Bunch for attending the meeting.


Continuing my Kansas Listening Tour in Hamilton and Kearny Counties
On Thursday, I continued my Kansas Listening Tour with stops in Syracuse and Lakin. These stops took me to various locations in both counties where I was able to visit with residents, business owners and community leaders. Our discussions included a number of issues ranging from tariffs and recent news surrounding trade, to veterans’ healthcare, rural broadband and economic development. I appreciate the many residents of both Hamilton and Kearny counties who took time to visit with me and for their thoughtful conversation. 

Now Accepting Spring Internship Applications
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 working closely with my staff on behalf of Kansans.

Applications for internships in my Washington, D.C. and Kansas offices for Spring 2018 are due Saturday, October 27. 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

Charles Cammack of Lenexa 

Capitol Tour
Blake Angell of Gove
Kirsten Angell of Gove
Jackson Chien of Olathe
Maeve Collins of Neodesha
Emily Depew of Neodesha
Grant Glenn of Mission
Abigail Glenn of Overland Park
Elizabeth Glenn of Prairie Village
Sydney Glenn of Overland Park
Caroline Glenn of Overland Park
Lee Gilliam Of Oberlin
Jane Gilliam of Oberlin
Grant Gilliam of Oberlin
Matt Gish of Manhattan
Sarah Gish of Manhattan
Mason Gish of Manhattan
Segen Gish of Manhattan
Lucas Gish of Manhattan
Donn Higgins of Wichita
Jan Higgins of Wichita
Larry Hollenbeck of Leawood
Paula Hollenbeck of Leawood
Kevin Horsch of Wichita
Shawna Horsch of Wichita
Diana Johnson of St. Johns
Cynthia Morse of Olathe
Cody Newdigger of Macksville
Donna Reynolds of Mission
David Stark of Wichita
Carolyn Stark of Wichita 

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 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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