Kansas Common Sense
Kansas Common Sense
By U.S. Senator Jerry Moran
February 27, 2012
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” This week, the Senate was not in session, so I took the opportunity to visit with Kansans at KU Medical Center, schools, businesses, several Chambers of Commerce meetings and other events across our state. I learn something from every conversation I have and enjoy the opportunity to hear directly from Kansans.
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Kansas Working to Become a Medical Research Powerhouse
On Wednesday, the University of Kansas Cancer Center (KUCC) hosted scientists from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), who were in town to evaluate KUCC’s application to become an “NCI-designated Cancer Center.” I was honored to be in Kansas City to speak to the NCI scientists and express my full and ongoing commitment to KUCC in its pursuit of this exclusive designation.
Last September, KUCC formally applied for NCI designation. Wednesday’s site visit was part of this application process. NCI is a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and our nation’s principal agency for cancer research and training. Obtaining NCI designation would substantially enhance KUCC’s ability to discover, develop, and deliver innovative treatments to patients in our state, improving the quality of life for Kansans. Currently, there are 66 NCI-designated cancer centers across the country – but none in Kansas. With NCI designation, KUCC patients would have access to the latest clinical trials and the most advanced cancer treatments close to home.
Because NCI designation is the highest recognition for an academic cancer center, KUCC would also be better positioned to recruit the brightest researchers and scientists to develop cutting-edge treatments in Kansas City. Furthermore, studies have shown that NCI designation would attract thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to our state’s economy. Economic development on this scale would not only impact thousands of Kansans today, but would benefit residents for years to come.
Thanks to our nation’s commitment to cancer research, more than 12 million Americans have survived cancer and the 5-year survival rate for all cancers has risen considerably. Yet, there is so much more to be done. We must continue to strengthen our nation’s medical research infrastructure. KUCC is uniquely suited to make a lasting impact on the millions of Americans living within its service area that spans 120,000 square miles.
I commend the teams at KUCC, KU Medical Center, KU Hospital, and other partners for their pursuit of NCI designation. The future holds great promise for medical discoveries and supporting this essential mission is one of my highest priorities. By investing in medical research, we are investing in our future and bringing hope to millions of Americans. Click here to view a photo from the visit.
Speaking to the University of Kansas Medical Center Advancement Board
I also spoke at the University of Kansas Medical Center Advancement Board’s annual retreat in Kansas City. Established in 2005, this Board is an 80+ member advisory group made up of business and civic leaders from Greater Kansas City that works to advance education, research, and patient care needs for the University of Kansas Medical Center, The University of Kansas Hospital, and Kansas University Physicians Inc. These board members are committed to improving their community and bolstering the philanthropic efforts of KU’s academic medical center. The Board’s immediate project includes supporting the KU Cancer Center in its quest to become an “NCI-designated Cancer Center.”
Additionally, the Board supports other medical advances at KU that are also receiving national attention, such as KU Medical Center’s Institute for Advancing Medical Innovation and Alzheimer’s Disease Center. I enjoyed visiting with board members about issues such as the U.S. Supreme Court cases regarding the new federal health care law and opportunities for KU to provide solutions to health challenges in Kansas and across our nation. Thank you to former Kansas State Senator David Wysong for inviting me to speak at the Board’s retreat and thanks to Board Director Jyll Kafer for hosting me.
Visiting with Agriculture Producers at Commodity Classic
On Tuesday morning, I spoke with agricultural producers attending the 2012 Kansas Commodity Classic, an annual opportunity for our state’s farmers to gather and discuss issues affecting the livelihood of their businesses and the agriculture industry.
It was great to see so many familiar faces. Unfortunately, the message I delivered was sobering: rural America is under attack. From the new federal health care law that is hurting rural providers and their patients, to a Federal Communications Commission that threatens access to rural telecommunications, to an Energy Department that is slowing the development of our nation’s energy supply, to a Department of Labor that is attempting to restrict the type of work that can take place on family farms, the special way of life we enjoy in rural America is being called into question.
The regulations effecting youth in agriculture are particularly alarming and we need your help to stop them before they fundamentally change the future of agriculture in our nation. You can make your voice heard by visiting www.KeepFamiliesFarming.com to share your story about the importance of family farming and the need to preserve it for the next generation. Click here to read more about my concerns over this destructive regulation.
Thank you to Greg Akagi with WIBW radio for his kind introduction. Thank you also to leadership of the Kansas Corn Growers Association, the Kansas Grain Sorghum Association and the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers for hosting this important event. Click here to view a photo from the event.
Visiting Siemens Energy in Hutchinson
On Monday afternoon I toured the Siemens Energy Wind Turbine Nacelle Assembly Facility in Hutchinson. Since I participated in the plant grand opening in December 2010, 350 Siemens employees have produced 410 nacelles, including 200 in the last five months. 150-200 of those nacelles are placed atop turbines on wind farms located in our state.
This week, I sent a letter along with Mark Udall (D-CO) and 10 of our Senate colleagues, to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Mitch McConnell, calling on them to see that the wind production tax credit (PTC), which is scheduled to expire at the end of this calendar year, is renewed. Wind production in Kansas is growing and the wind PTC has aided this industry’s advances. Kansas ranks second in the nation in wind resources and leads the nation in wind capacity currently under construction. By addressing the wind PTC, Congress can set forth a plan that will finalize the wind industry’s transformation into the cost competitive free market. To not extend the PTC is a tax increase on the wind industry and contrary to the goal of promoting all sources of domestic energy. Click here to read more.
In 2009, the state of Kansas enacted a Renewable Energy Standard (RES) that required 20 percent of the state’s electricity production to come from renewable sources by the year 2020. A viable renewable energy industry will allow Kansas companies to work toward accomplishing this goal, and without the PTC Kansas utility consumers will pay more for electricity. When construction of a wind farm is completed, the electricity produced is purchased by utilities providers while the landowners, on whose property the facility resides, receive lease payments. In 2010 alone, Kansas landowners received $3 million in land lease payments from wind companies.
Thanks to Claus Ungstrup, Hutchinson plant general manager, and his employees for an informative tour. Thank you also to Chair Lowell Peachey and President Monty Montgomery of the Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce; Jamie Gray, project manager and Kimberly Svaty, partner with BP’s Flat Ridge Wind Farm in south central Kansas; Dorothy Barnett and Mark Richardson, Reno County wind energy leaders for taking part in my visit. Click here to view a photo from my visit.
Speaking with Wichita Chamber of Commerce Members
On Tuesday, the Wichita Chamber of Commerce hosted me at a Federal Issues Forum and luncheon. With more than 13 million Americans out of work and our country’s unemployment rate stuck above 8 percent for 36 consecutive months, I appreciated the opportunity to visit with Chamber members about ways to create jobs for our fellow Kansans.
Research from the Kauffman Foundation has shown that companies less than five years old accounted for nearly all net job creation in the United States from 1980-2005. If we want to get our economy growing again, Congress must encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship in America. To do that, I recently asked Sen. Warner of Virginia, who was an entrepreneur himself, to join me in introducing legislation to help jumpstart our economy through the creation and growth of new businesses.
Wichita, among many other cities in Kansas, has an impressive entrepreneurial history. Pizza Hut was founded by Dan and Frank Carney of Wichita in the 1950’s and by 1990, the company had reached $1 billion in sales while employing thousands. Clyde Cessna also embodied the “can-do” spirit of American entrepreneurs. He tried to figure out how to fly a plane 12 times and crashed 12 times in a row. But he didn’t give up. The 13th time, he succeeded and built Cessna. Today, Cessna employs 7,800 workers, including 4,800 in the Wichita area—helping making Wichita the “Air Capital of the World.”
Every entrepreneur who turned an idea or dream into a business is a success story. We should be encouraged and inspired by them – and we should share their stories with others. The next American success story is being created right now. To recognize and help share these stories with others, there is a section on my website at www.moran.senate.gov/startup where you can share your story. By encouraging American entrepreneurs to do what they do best, dream big and pursue those dreams, jobs will be created and our economy will be strengthened. Click here to read more about the Startup Act.
A special thank you to Chamber President Gary Plummer for the invitation to speak about this important issue with his members. Thank you also to Harvey Sorensen, Past Chamber Chair, for the kind introduction. Click here to view a photo from the event.
Visiting with Government Students at Emporia High School
On Friday, I visited with students at Emporia High School. I had the opportunity to discuss a number of issues with about 25 students in Mr. Jay Adkins’ American Government class. I was impressed with their knowledge of current affairs and their wide interests in American government and politics. Our discussion touched on a variety of topics, including my role as a senator, the current political climate and gridlock in Washington, and how to grow the economy and create jobs. It is encouraging when I meet young people that are engaged and concerned about our nation’s future. Thanks to Assistant Principal Steve Turner for the invitation, to Jay Adkins for letting me join his class and to the entire staff at Emporia High School for their hospitality during my visit. Click here to view a photo by Emporia High School student Zaina Delgado.
Attending Emporia State University’s TRIO Day Luncheon
Also on Friday, I was on the campus of Emporia State University (ESU) to attend ESU’s annual TRIO Day Luncheon. TRIO programs provide services to students from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds, students with disabilities, adult learners, and veterans to support them in achieving their goal of completing higher education, and oftentimes becoming the first in their family to earn a college degree. TRIO services include academic tutoring, college and career counseling, financial aid advising, and personal mentoring from the middle school to post-baccalaureate levels. As a first-generation college graduate myself, I am proud of the effectiveness of TRIO programs at ESU and other schools in Kansas and have seen their success firsthand.
One such success story is Derrek Zietz, an ESU TRIO alum and former intern who served Kansans in my office last Congress. Derrek is currently a graduate assistant working for the ESU Student Support Services and preparing to enter a PhD program. Speakers at the luncheon included other ESU TRIO alumni successes: Denise LeRoux, Mario Porras, and Oscar Macias. Thank you to Kristi Bolen and other members of the Student Support Services staff for hosting me at the luncheon and for their commitment to helping Kansas students pursue higher education and fulfilling careers. I also want to wish ESU TRIO Director Trudi Benjamin all the best in her upcoming retirement, and I thank Trudi for her commitment to helping Kansas students pursue higher education and fulfilling careers. Click here to view a photo.
Visiting Butler Community College
On Tuesday, I visited with students and faculty at Butler Community College. I was impressed by the innovative teaching taking place at Butler to fully prepare students for their future careers. Pedro Leite, Dean of Butler’s Advanced Technology Center, demonstrated what students are learning so they will be eligible for the high wage technical jobs that are in demand now and will be in the future. Several students I visited with were working in teams to build a full three-dimensional simulation of Butler’s campus with a state-of-the-art printer that creates models from 3-D computer simulations. Ensuring that students have access to cutting edge technology in the classroom, like that at Butler, will prepare them for careers in the 21st century economy. Thanks to Butler President Dr. Jackie Vietti for her invitation and hospitality during my visit. Click here to view a photo from my visit.
Meeting with JDRF Families
Before my visit to Butler Community College, I had the pleasure of meeting the Allred and Jabara families in Andover. Both families have children that have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D). T1D, also called juvenile diabetes, is usually diagnosed in young people, but it can affect adults as well. This type of diabetes results from the body’s inability to produce insulin to convert sugars and other foods into energy. These families are involved with JDRF (formerly known as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) to raise funds for T1D research, with the hopes of finding better treatments and ultimately a cure for this disease.
Jackson Allred was diagnosed with T1D at the age of two, and Jenna Jabara at age three. Today, Jackson is nine and Jenna is five. Jackson, Jenna, and their families face challenges each day at home and school, but I was inspired by their commitment to advancing the medical research that can improve diabetes care and treatment and hopefully lead to a cure. Click here to learn more about JDRF and their important work. Click here to view a photo from my visit.
Kansas Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner
I appreciated the opportunity to be in Topeka Tuesday night for the annual Kansas Chamber of Commerce dinner. I was able to see many good friends and I enjoyed my conversations with Kansans from across the state. It was also good to welcome Governor Jeb Bush to Kansas and I appreciated his message on economic growth. Click here to view a photo of me with Gov. Bush.
Joining Fellow Lions in Towanda
Communities across our state are strengthened by Kansans who participate in civic clubs. On Monday, I attended the Lions Club meeting in Towanda—one of the 269 clubs in Kansas. I am a Lions Club member and always enjoy visiting other clubs, where I learn what is happening in other communities. Thank you to Leland Kemp for his hospitality. Click here to view a photo.
Visiting with Marion Community Members
On my way to Emporia on Friday, I stopped by the community of Marion to visit with local residents and business owners. I had the chance to visit with folks at the Central National Bank, Marion County Record, Jerry Cady Agency, Casey’s General Store and Straub International. I always appreciate hearing directly from Kansans. Thanks to Marion residents for the warm welcome.
Cheering on the Jayhawks
On Saturday, I was in Lawrence to attend the University of Kansas basketball game against the University of Missouri Tigers. The Jayhawks’ rivalry with Missouri dates back 105 years, but with the Tigers’ departure to the Southeastern Conference next season, Saturday was likely the final game between the two schools at Allen Fieldhouse for years to come. I enjoyed watching the Jayhawks close out the border rivalry with an exciting overtime victory in front of another raucous, sellout crowd. With the victory, the Jayhawks have clinched a share of their eighth consecutive Big XII Conference championship.
I was delighted to be joined by the Coppers family from Hays. Thanks to Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little and the University of Kansas for their hospitality. Click here to view a photo.
Manhattan Chamber Annual Banquet
On Friday I visited with business and community leaders at the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet reception in Manhattan. At the banquet, C. Clyde Jones was honored as 2011 Volunteer of the Year and Bruce Snead received the Lud Fisher Citizen of the Year award. Congratulations to them both on these well-deserved honors. It was also great to visit with K-State President Kirk Schulz who was in attendance.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below:
The University of Kansas
Jack Cline of Lawrence
Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance
Amy Dublinske of Olathe
University of Kansas Clinical Child Psychology Program
Michael Roberts of Lawrence
National Athletic Trainers’ Association
Mark Padfield of Tonganoxie
Several Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the U.S. Capitol this week including: Maj. Douglas Rowland of Wichita and Mrs. Janet Rowland of Wichita.
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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