Kansas Common Sense

Announcing Honeywell’s Expansion in Olathe
This week, Honeywell Aerospace announced an $84 million expansion to grow its manufacturing facility in Olathe.

My goal is to make Kansas a place where young people can get a quality education, find a fulfilling job and build a life. This expansion will create more than 150 jobs at Honeywell and generate approximately $47 million for the Kansas economy. Additionally, it will bolster the U.S. domestic industrial base in the aviation sector and better secure our nation. This would not have been possible without the hard-working men and women of Kansas who have earned a reputation in the aviation manufacturing community for exceptional work.

Thank you to Honeywell CEO Jim Currier, the City of Olathe, the state of Kansas and all those who made this event possible.

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The Immigrants We Shouldn’t Forget
This week, I wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal about the current immigration debate and why the Afghans who helped America deserve a path to permanent legal residency.

When the Taliban came to power after the Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, many Afghans fled their country for fear of persecution and death. These are men and women targeted for helping U.S. servicemembers during our decadeslong war as translators, guides and intelligence sources.

As Kabul fell, U.S. servicemembers and veterans extended the creed “leave no man behind” to those who had helped them at great personal risk. As a result, many Afghan families are building lives in the U.S. after being granted temporary protected status. Their future, however, is uncertain due to our backlogged asylum process.

This is why Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and I introduced the Afghan Adjustment Act – a bill that establishes a path for Afghan partners to apply for permanent legal residency after having undergone additional security vetting.

Granting Afghan refugees stability, the legal ability to work and a path to permanent residency sends a message to U.S. partners and allies around the world that we honor our word. It also demonstrates that the American system works for those who abide by the law and come here legally.

You can read my full Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal here.

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Inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame & Receiving the Wichita Aero Club Trophy
As a Senator for the “Air Capital of the World,” I have had the privilege of advocating for and highlighting the talented workforce in Wichita and the state and working to promote policies that support the aviation industry. It was an honor to be awarded the 2023 recipient of the Wichita Aero Club Trophy at their annual dinner and to be inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. I am committed to continue promoting the incredible accomplishments happening in Wichita.

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The night was also one of remembrance honoring the late Daniel McCoy and Jerry Siebenmark – two Wichita aviation and business reporters who always demonstrated their passion for the industry and community. Thank you to Nicole Alexander and her team at the Wichita Aero Club, Dr. John Tomblin and Lynn Nichols for a wonderful evening.

You can watch this year's video about the 2023 Wichita Aero Club here.


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Speaking at the Annual Meeting of the Olathe Chamber
On Friday, I gave the keynote speech at the Olathe Chamber of Commerce meeting. There are great things happening in Olathe and surrounding areas, such as Honeywell’s recent expansion, Panasonic’s near completion of its facility’s first wing, and Heartland Coca Cola developing a bottling facility. I highlighted past projects that have brought exponential growth to Kansas, including the KU Cancer Center and the BioNexus Tech Hub in Kansas City. I look forward to seeing how Olathe continues to grow and cultivate an environment that allows businesses and organizations to flourish.

Thank you to CEO of Honeywell Aerospace Technologies Jim Currier, Mayor of Olathe John Bacon, CEO of Olathe Chamber of Commerce Tim McKee, the Outgoing Chair of the Olathe Chamber Oscar Healy, the Incoming Chair of the Olathe Chamber Gina Riekhof and all those who joined the event.

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Introducing Legislation to Remove Derogatory language from US Code
This week, I introduced a bill with my co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Down Syndrome, Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.), that would update the District of Columbia Code by eliminating derogatory language addressing individuals with disabilities. The Words Matter for the District of Columbia Courts Act would replace “mental retardation” in Title II of the D.C. Code with  "persons of moderate intellectual disabilities" to maintain the dignity of individuals with disabilities.

You can read more about the legislation at KCTV here.

Providing Certainty for the 340B Program
On Friday, I joined my colleagues in the bipartisan Senate 340B Working Group in releasing a legislative discussion draft that would make updates to the 340B program. Last year, the Senate 340B Working Group sought input on bipartisan policy solutions that would provide stability and transparency to the 340B program to ensure the program can continue to achieve its original intent of supporting entities serving eligible patients. The 340B program is critical to Kansas’ hospitals, health centers and safety-net providers and enables these covered entities to use savings on discounted prescription drug prices to provide services to low-income and uninsured patients and their communities.

You can read more about the program here.

Meetings with Kansans
Kansas Association of School Boards              
On Tuesday, I met with the Kansas Association of School Boards to discuss the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funding, which offers grants to states for schools to use in educating students with disabilities. As a member of the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, I will continue supporting robust funding for IDEA grants so schools have the resources necessary to ensure all our children receive a quality education. 

Thank you to Council Grove school board member Tina Rae Scott, Labette County school board member Kevin Cole, Wichita school board member Julie Hedrick, Kansas City, KS school board member Valdenia Winn, Olathe school board member Brad Boyd, Perry-Lecompton school board member Emily Riner, Blue Valley school board member Jan Kessinger, Cherryvale Superintendent Travis Githens, Seaman school board member Christy Weiler, Washington County school board member Rod Stewart and Leavenworth school board member Judi Price for meeting with me this week and for your service to Kansas students.

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K-State Alumni Association
I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Kansas State University President Richard Linton, Vice President Marshall Stewart and members of the Kansas State Alumni Association on Tuesday. During our conversation, we discussed K-State’s plans to grow and expand over the next decade through partnerships with universities in the surrounding area. As a land-grant university, K-State offers educational opportunities to students through partnering with industry leaders to build networks in the fields of agriculture, aerospace and biosecurity.

Thank you to President Linton, Vice President Stewart, Dr. David Rosowsky, Dr. Hans Coetzee, Matt Casey, Jaylen Lane, Lindley Lund and Adam Walker for taking the time to speak with me this week and for their dedication to making certain Kansas State University remains a place to achieve an outstanding education.

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K-State University Student Governing Association
It was great to meet with members of the Kansas State University Student Governing Association this week. During our conversation, I learned about the priorities of the K-State Student Government, including expanding access to mental health services and making college more affordable for students.

Thank you to Caleb Stout, Jess Binckley, Logan Cone, Jacob Brown, Kate Thomas, Brady Kappelmann, Andrew Navarro and Bentley Taulbert for the conversation and for the work they’re doing on behalf of Kansas State University students. 

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Competitive Carrier Associations
On Wednesday, I met with regional wireless carriers to discuss the importance of federal broadband programs to continue cellular service in rural areas of the country. We also discussed the importance of renewing the FCC’s authority to auction off bands of electromagnetic spectrum that wireless carriers use to connect Americans to the rest of the world. Regional carriers, represented by the Competitive Carriers Association, play an important role in providing Kansans quality wireless service, and I will continue to support their efforts to bring high-quality connectivity to the state. 

Thank you to Daron Jamison with Nex-Tech Wireless for coming to meet me.

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Leadership Sorghum
On Wednesday, I met with members of Leadership Sorghum Class VI. Leadership Sorghum seeks to develop the next generation of leaders for the sorghum industry and members are exposed to various aspects of the sorghum industry from basic and applied research to international marketing. Members also gain a better understanding of the grain sorghum value chain, checkoff programs and future uses of sorghum.

Thank you to Greg Reuhle of Dodge City and Clint and Amy France of Scott City for the conversation.  

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Jawanda and Rachel Mast
It was great to see Jawanda and Rachel Mast this week. I spoke with Rachel, a self-advocate in the disability community, about her job at the University of Kansas Health System and discussed the barriers to marriage that individuals in the disability community face within the federal tax code. Additionally, we discussed the ABLE Age Adjustment Act, my bill that passed last Congress, which expanded ABLE Accounts for the disability community to ensure they can fully save and plan for the future.

I appreciated Jawanda and Rachel for being available to meet with me this week and a special thank you to Rachel for being a such cheerful, inspiring self-advocate for the disability community.

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Jeron Ravin, CEO, Swope Health
This week I met with Jeron Ravin, the CEO of Swope Health. Swope Health is the Kansas City region’s largest federally qualified health center (FQHC) that has 19 locations in Kansas and Missouri. Recently, Swope Health opened a facility in Leavenworth and Jeron shared that the new location is expanding nicely and now consists of five physicians. Jeron updated me that once the new facility is built, Swope Health will be providing comprehensive and quality primary care services, dental services, OBGYN and women’s health, behavioral health and pediatric care.

Thank you, Jeron for meeting with me and sharing the impact Swope Health is having in our state.

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