Kansas Common Sense
Wishing Kansans a Happy Labor Day
Labor Day is a time to recognize the significant contributions of the American worker and to reflect on the progress our state and country have realized because of the sacrifices of those working to push the economy forward. I have always been proud that Kansans know the value of hard work and appreciate the prosperity our state gains from that work ethic. I hope you were able to spend time with family and friends, with proper social distancing, over the Labor Day weekend.
I spoke with KNSS on Friday to discuss Labor Day and my first jobs delivering Grit newspapers and mowing lawns in Plainville, Kansas. Click here to listen.
Visiting Home Over Labor Day Weekend
Labor Day weekend allowed me the chance to get back home. To Plainville. Before I returned to Washington, D.C., I needed to reconnect with the place where I developed a love for our state and where my interest in serving Kansans began.
It's there I learned to respect others, the importance of working hard, that money doesn't grow on trees, and that all those in uniform are to be honored.
My time with the people of my hometown and my visit to the church where I was baptized, where my mother was my Sunday School teacher, where my sister was married, where I earned Scouting’s God and Country award, and where we celebrated my parents' 73rd wedding anniversary and just a few months later in that church said goodbye to my mom reminded me that faith, family, school, and community are much more important than many of the things so often thought of as important in today’s world.
I have much to be grateful for: my wife, our daughters and their families, the opportunities Kansans have given me.... But today, I say thanks to my hometown – not only for what it did for me in my growing up years, but for what it still does for me today.
Advocating for Spirit AeroSystems’ Ventilator Production Facility
This week, I toured Spirit AeroSystems’ Vanguard Facility that was transformed to produce life-saving ventilators for the United States and countries around the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Spirit and the people of Wichita stepped up to assist the federal government by building this manufacturing and distribution facility in Wichita and were able to employ over 1,000 Kansans to meet the high demand, many of which were trained by the strong programs at WSU Tech. The employees I spoke with took great pride in their work to assist our country and others during this difficult time, and I want to express my gratitude to them for all they are doing for our country.
In May 2020, Spirit and Vyaire Medical, the largest company in the health care ecosystem dedicated to respiratory care, announced a collaboration to build critical care ventilators. In the event of another outbreak, we need to be better prepared and not reliant on other countries for critical medical supplies. Most ventilators are manufactured overseas, which makes this facility in Wichita even more important for our national stockpile. This facility is also the largest critical care ventilator factory in the world.
It was announced this week that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is terminating this contract early, which could impact the work at the facility. The demand for ventilators has not diminished globally, and HHS is still under contract to pay for a majority of what has already been produced in Wichita. However, I have been in contact with the White House and am working with HHS Secretary Azar because I believe there is a good argument for fulfilling the contract and continuing the production of ventilators here in Kansas. I will also work to assist Spirit in international markets so that this facility can continue to meet the demand for ventilators around the globe.
Thank you to Tom Gentile, CEO of Spirit AeroSystems, and Gaurav Agarwal, CEO of Vyaire for the tour of the facility. I also appreciated having Evan Rosell with the Greater Wichita Partnership, Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple, and Sedgwick County Commission Chair Pete Meitzner with us this morning.
Read more about the Vanguard Facility and my visit here in the Wichita Business Journal.
Touring Yingling Aviation in Wichita
I also had the opportunity to tour Yingling Aviation located at Eisenhower National Airport. This family-owned maintenance, repair, overhaul and fixed-based operator has been doing business in the Wichita area for over 75 years. Yingling Aviation recently added a 23,000-sq-ft maintenance hangar and paint facility which will help the company grow even further over the next five years. It was great to see their latest expansion in person, and I am thankful for their time to show me their family business.
Thank you to Andrew Nichols and his leadership team for the kind invitation. Special thanks to Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple, Sedgwick County Commission Char Pete Meitzner, Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce President Gary Plummer and the Greater Wichita Partnership’s Evan Rosell for joining us.
Watch a video about my time in the Air Capital of the World here.
Additional Visits in the Wichita Area
It was good to be in the Air Capital of the World on Thursday. After I visited Spirit AeroSystems and Yingling Aviation (featured above), I spent my afternoon at the Wichita Northwest Lions Club and the First National Bank in Hutchinson.
Speaking with the Wichita Northwest Lions Club
I met local leaders at the Spears Restaurant and Pie Shop to give a federal update on the focused, smaller Phase IV package I am advocating for that supports health-related efforts like testing, vaccines and PPE. I also discussed the importance of veterans having the ability to seek community care under the MISSION Act, the USPS’ critical role to rural America and the need for reform, as well as my advocacy for the local aviation industry and working to secure defense contracts to diversify aviation portfolios in the area. Thank you to Lions Club President Tom Stewart for the kind invitation to speak and everyone who shared their thoughts with me.
Visiting First National Bank in Hutchinson
Later in the day, I traveled to Reno County where I met with the leadership team of First National Bank of Hutchinson. We discussed several issues, including: agriculture, energy, COVID impact, the Paycheck Protection Program, taxes/debt and the regulatory environment. I was also pleased to hear about First National's support of the Hutchinson community as well as its continued focus on relationship banking. Thank you to Keith Hughes, Chairman of the Board, and his team for an informative conversation.
Discussing Skilled Jobs at Great Plains Manufacturing in Abilene
This week, I toured the Great Plains Manufacturing’s Land Pride Division new facility in Abilene which opened earlier this year. On my tour of the 350,000 square-foot facility, I saw the new technology they use in their manufacturing process, which requires employees to have technical training and advanced manufacturing skills. The jobs this plant provides allows Kansans to develop skills that are beneficial to them in the future, and I was pleased to hear they are in the process of hiring additional workers.
Last month, Great Plains Manufacturing, a subsidiary of Kubota, announced an expansion of their Salina operation. Their continued investment in our state, with facilities in nine different locations, is an indication of the strong workforce we have here in Kansas. Thank you to Great Plains Manufacturing President Linda Salem, Director of Facilities James Hall and Operations Manager Norman Brien for the informative tour and conversation. Thank you as well to Salina Community Economic Development Organization Executive Director Mitch Robinson, County Commissioner Lynn Peterson, Mayor Chris Osterman and Economic Development Executive Director Chuck Scott for joining the tour.
Read more about Great Plains and my tour here in the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle.
Providing an Update on Phase IV to the Kansas Chamber
On Wednesday, I joined the Kansas congressional delegation in speaking at the Kansas Chamber of Commerce Congressional Conference. During the meeting, I offered an update on the ongoing federal efforts in Washington, D.C. to craft an additional federal relief package.
Given the important role of small businesses in our communities and state’s economy, I am pleased that nearly 80 percent of small businesses in Kansas have received funding through the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), established by Congress this spring, supporting 75 percent of small business jobs in our state. And while negotiations over additional relief between the White House and Democrats in Congress have slowed in recent weeks, Senate Republicans have continued to work on a new, targeted stimulus package focused on health-related items, like testing and vaccines, as well as relief for working parents to help with childcare, among other relatively urgent needs. I am hopeful the Senate will soon be able to consider these critical matters.
I share the desire of the Kansas Chamber and Wednesday’s audience in making certain that Kansans are soon able to return to work and communities allowed to reopen, in a safe manner based on scientific data and not politics. Thank you to the Kansas Chamber for inviting me to speak and for your efforts to help restore a growing economy in Kansas at this critical time.
Visiting Forbes Field Contract Tower
This Labor Day weekend I had the opportunity to take a tour of Forbes Field in Topeka, an important regional airport serving our military, commercial and business aviation needs throughout Kansas.
During the tour, we had the opportunity to discuss the impact of COVID-19, and I was encouraged to hear the increase in air traffic that has occurred in recent weeks. As a strong advocate for our aviation industry, I am committed to helping our local air traffic control towers and airports throughout this crisis.
I also had the opportunity to discuss the Continuity for Operators with Necessary Training Required for ATC Contract Towers (CONTRACT) Act, legislation I introduced with my colleagues last November. This legislation supports federal contract towers, such as Forbes Field, by removing an unnecessary barrier in the hiring pipeline for contract towers.
Thank you to Kansas’ Coordinator for National Air Traffic Controllers Association Jami Davis, Midwest Air Traffic Control Air Traffic Services Manager Amy St. Pierre, Flight Operations Engineer (FOE) Air Traffic Manager John Wooten, FOE Controller Pierce Osborne and President of the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce Curtis Sneden for the informative tour and conversation. I appreciate each of you taking time out of your holiday weekend to speak with me.
Spending Time in Central Kansas
Visiting the McPherson Center for Health
This week, I visited with the leadership team at the McPherson Center for Health, the local general hospital. We discussed the importance of telehealth services, health care professional recruitment and how the rate of patient care is nearly back to pre-COVID-19 levels. Thank you to President Terri Gehring, COO John Warden, Director of Marketing Cyril Russell, Rural Health Clinic Director Dr. Greg Thomas, Director of Physician Clinics Duane Wedel and Nurse Manager Jacquie Disque for an informative conversation and for working so hard to meet the health needs of the community during the pandemic. Special thanks to Kasi Morales, President of McPherson Industrial Development for joining us on the tour.
Speaking with Beloit Rotary and Lions
I also joined civic, government and business leaders in Beloit to give a federal update and speak about the COVID-19 federal assistance that has come to Kansas. Congratulations to Eric Burks and Bob Severance who received national awards at yesterday’s meeting. Thank you to Rotary President Clint Shoemaker for the invitation and for Kansas State Senator Elaine Bowers and Kansas State Representative Susan Concannon for joining us. Read more about our discussion here in the Beloit Call.
Touring MarCon Pies in Lincoln
While in the area, I passed through Lincoln to visit MarCon Pies. It was great meeting Craig and Mary Ann Stertz and learning more about the history of their small business. For 30 years MarCon Pies has been baking exceptional pies that are handcrafted and made-to-order for cafes, markets, eateries, country stores, wineries and breweries around Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. I was pleased to learn Craig and Mary Ann recently purchased this small business to keep that tradition alive. Small businesses like MarCon Pies keep our main streets in rural Kansas alive and well, and I appreciate the Kansas hospitality shown by Craig and Mary Ann during my visit today.
Attending the Fort Riley Annual BBQ
I joined Major General Douglas “D.A” Sims at Fort Riley for their Annual BBQ this week. MG Sims took command of the 1st Infantry Division just two weeks ago, and I was pleased to welcome him and his wife, Fay, to their first assignment at Fort Riley. I enjoyed getting to know the Sims as we discussed my support for the Big Red One and the families of our soldiers. Our discussion left me optimistic for the future of our Fort Riley community, and I look forward to working with MG Sims.
Honoring the Life of Harold Kraus
This week I attended a Memorial Service for Harold Kraus – a great Kansan, agriculture advocate and friend – who passed away in May. Harold was a Hays soybean farmer that recognized the potential of biodiesel early and played a significant role in advancing our nation’s biodiesel industry into what it is today. He was recognized by the National Biodiesel Board for his efforts and effective advocacy as the primary representative for the Kansas Soybean Commission for many years.
I always enjoyed seeing Harold when he visited my office, but even more so I enjoyed seeing him in our home community of Hays. During my days in the state legislature, I was able to serve Ellis County alongside him during part of his 16 years of service as county commissioner. I have admired his devotion to Hays, Kansas and the ag community and valued his friendship for many years.
There was no kinder couple than Harold and his wife, Virginia. Robba and I will be thinking of Virginia and the rest of his family, especially during these difficult times when the ag community needs champions like Harold fighting for them.
Accepting Service Academy Nominations
I am currently accepting nominations to the United States Service Academies. The academies include the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Those selected will enter the academies in June 2021.
Selections are based on SAT or ACT test scores, class rank, grade point average, school records, extracurricular activities, leadership potential, motivation, recommendations and interview evaluations. Applicants must meet the individual admission requirements of each academy in order to receive Sen. Moran’s nomination: applicants must be legal residents of the state of Kansas, at least 17 years of age but not past their 23rd birthday on July 1 of the year of admission, citizens of the United States, unmarried, not pregnant and without legal obligation to support children or other dependents.
The application deadline is October 1, 2020. Applicants will be required to interview with Sen. Moran’s Service Academy Selection Board on Saturday, November 14, 2020 by Zoom. Academies will make the final decision on who will receive an appointment of admission in early 2021.
Interested applicants can request application materials on Sen. Moran’s website at moran.senate.gov under the “Services” menu, or by calling Sen. Moran’s Olathe office at 913-393-0711.
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.
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