Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. Please feel free to forward it on to your family and friends if it would interest them.
State of the Union Expectations
This week, I urged President Obama to speak about the important role entrepreneurs play in economic growth and job creation in his State of the Union address on Tuesday. Since 1980, entrepreneurs and their young companies have been responsible for nearly all of the net job creation in the U.S. economy – creating an average of three million new jobs each year. The lesser known, but equally hard-working, entrepreneurs who open a small business on Main Street provide livelihoods for their families and keep communities across our nation strong. Entrepreneurial icons like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Sergey Brin have not only created new products and services that changed the way Americans live and work, but also provided tens of thousands of jobs to our citizens. We need both kinds of entrepreneurs to restore prosperity to America and there are steps Washington can take to achieve this goal.
In May 2012, Sens. Warner, Coons and Rubio and I introduced legislation called the Startup Act 2.0 to jumpstart the economy through the creation and growth of new businesses, which we plan to reintroduce next week. The bill builds on recommendations made by the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness to jumpstart economic growth. Click here to read more about Startup Act 2.0. To see the letter to the President in its entirety, please see below or click here.
Speaking at the State of Entrepreneurship Address
The state of entrepreneurship is a good barometer with which to measure the state of our economy. Since 1980, entrepreneurs and their young businesses have been responsible for nearly all of the net new jobs created in the United States. Yet, as we begin 2013, the data on entrepreneurship is mixed. Fewer entrepreneurs are starting businesses and those who do are hiring fewer workers. The good news, however, is that interest in entrepreneurship is growing and more young people are considering entrepreneurship as a career path. Advances in technology are also making it easier for entrepreneurs to create innovative products and services.
On Tuesday, the Kansas City-based Kauffman Foundation hosted its fourth annual State of Entrepreneurship Address at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. I had the privilege of introducing Kauffman Foundation President and CEO Tom McDonnell as well as welcoming guests to this important event. Thanks to Tom, Thom Ruhe, Dane Stangler, Jonathan Ortmans, Bob Litan, and Wendy Guillies for inviting me to participate. Click here to see a photo from the event.
Resolution on Importance of Rural Health Care
On Thursday, I introduced S. Res. 26, a Senate resolution recognizing the importance of access to rural hospitals and other health care providers to the survival and success of communities in the United States. Many of these rural providers face unique challenges in administering care to patients spread across a wide area. Our country’s rural areas experience higher rates of poverty and chronic disease compared to urban areas, and millions of rural Americans have limited access to a primary care provider. The geography and weather of rural areas can make accessing health care difficult for patients. Despite these various challenges, rural hospitals achieve high levels of performance, according to standards for quality, patient satisfaction, and operational efficiency, for the care they provide. Also, rural health care providers are vital to their local economies and are typically one of the largest types of employers in their communities. Without access to health care, patients are forced to travel long distances for care or delay receiving care, leading to decreased health outcomes, higher costs, and added burden to them and their families.
It is important that the Senate understand how the care provided by hospitals and other health care providers contributes to the lifeblood of a rural community. In addition to the health care they provide, rural providers are critically important to the local economy of a community. To read the resolution in its entirety, click here.
Eliminating Saturday Mail Delivery Not a Comprehensive Solution
On Wednesday, the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced that it would eliminate delivering mail on Saturdays. While this decision was made with the intention to save money, it will not solve the Postal Service’s financial crisis as a whole. It is past time for Congress to act on real reforms that will address the annual budget gap that USPS faces. In 2012, I voted in favor of the 21st Century Postal Service Act (S. 1789), which would have reformed the USPS with cost-saving solutions before resorting to service cuts. Although the bill passed the Senate, it failed to reach the President before the 112th Congress concluded in early January. After numerous meetings with the Postmaster General, postal employees, and businesses within the mailing industry, it is clear that smart reforms are necessary to make certain the Postal Service can compete in a digital world, increase revenue, and not become a taxpayer liability. Click here to read more about the USPS announcement.
Meeting with Kansas State University
On Wednesday morning, I met with Kansas State University President Kirk Schulz, Vice President for Research Ron Trewyn, and Director of Governmental Relations Sue Peterson to discuss progress on the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan. On December 28, 2012, the land transfer from the state of Kansas to the Department of Homeland Security was finalized, signaling a major milestone to constructing and moving forward with NBAF. The facility will be located in close proximity to the K-State campus to leverage university resources and research on NBAF-related projects in veterinary medicine, agriculture, bio-security and public health.
We also visited about a number of other K-State initiatives including the university’s upcoming sesquicentennial celebration. As America’s first land grant institution and Kansas’ first public university, K-State has a rich tradition of excellence, which has led to record enrollment and giving numbers, increased research dollars, and internationally recognized programs and research. Click here to see a photo from the meeting.
Visiting Shawnee Mission Medical Center
On my way back to Washington Monday, I visited Shawnee Mission Medical Center (SMMC) to tour the construction site of the new SMMC Birth Center, which will open later this month. SMMC President and CEO Ken Bacon and Administrative Director of Women’s and Children’s Services Denise Martinek led the tour. SMMC delivers more babies than any other hospital in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area – about 4,000 per year – so this is a much-needed expansion. The new 100,000 square foot birth center will feature a 24 bed Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, which will be the first in the Kansas City area to offer private, single-family rooms to mothers and their babies. The facility will also include 26 labor delivery and recovery suites and 36 private post-partum rooms, which will help to enhance the hospital’s capacity to provide quality, patient-centered care to women, children and families. Thanks to Ken Bacon and Denise Martinek for taking the time to update me on SMMC’s latest initiatives and thanks to Karen Schefter of SMMC for setting up the visit. Click here to see a photo from the visit.
Meeting with GE Aviation
On Wednesday, I met with representatives of GE Aviation, a subsidiary of General Electric, at my office in Washington, D.C. President and CEO David Joyce, along with Global Government Relations Executive Director Peter Prowitt and Federal Government Relations Manager Lynn Harding Thomson came by for a visit to update me on developments at their facility at Strother Field, Kansas. Located in Cowley County near Arkansas City, the GE Aviation facility at Strother Field currently employs more than 1,500 Kansans. Built in the 1970s, the Strother Field facility is a strategically important part of General Electric’s aviation footprint and fuels the Cowley County economy with a base of successful businesses. I am proud of all the hard-working Kansans at Strother Field and am delighted with GE Aviation’s enduring commitment to the aviation industry in Kansas.
Supporting Cancer Research
Also on Wednesday, I was honored to receive the 2012 Distinguished Public Service Award from the Association of American Cancer Institutes (AACI). AACI is dedicated to promoting the nation’s leading research institutions’ efforts to eradicate cancer through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary program of cancer research, treatment, patient care, prevention, education and community outreach. This honor was especially meaningful because it was presented to me by Dr. Roy Jensen, Director of University of Kansas Cancer Center (KUCC). Given the vast amount of progress made over the last century and the great potential current cancer research holds, we should not waiver on America’s commitment to advancing further treatments. I am proud to support tremendous research advances in Kansas, including KUCC’s successful pursuit of National Cancer Institute designation – the highest recognition for an academic cancer center – last July. I look forward to continuing to advocate for efforts to combat cancer and bring new hope to patients and their families.
National Prayer Breakfast
On Thursday morning, Robba and I attended the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event where national and international leaders put politics aside and come together to pray for our nation and for the world. This special occasion was started 61 years ago by a group of government leaders, including two Kansans, President Eisenhower and Senator Carlson. Also in attendance at this year’s breakfast were several Members of Congress, Senator Elizabeth Dole, the President and First Lady, Vice President Biden, Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas, and countless diplomats, heads of state, members of the community, and religious leaders. The breakfast concluded with Andrea Bocelli, world famous Italian tenor, singing Ave Maria. It was a privilege to be able to take the morning to lift up our world leaders in prayer.
Attending the Salina Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet
On Friday evening, I attended the Salina Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet featuring former NFL quarterback and four-time super bowl champion quarterback Terry Bradshaw. Special thanks to outgoing Chairman Dan Mendicina, incoming Chairman Clark Renfro, Chamber President Dennis Lauver, Senior Vice President Don Weiser, and the Chamber staff for making the special event possible. Their hard work throughout the year enhances the Salina community and makes it a better place to call home. Click here to see a photo from the event.
Recognizing Stafford with the “Building Better Communities” Award
On Saturday, I presented my “Building Better Communities” award to Stafford residents for their efforts to revitalize and invest in their hometown. I created the “Building Better Communities” award to spotlight positive community action in Kansas and show how creative thinking and teamwork make a positive difference in our state and country. Click here to view a video about why Stafford was chosen. In addition, click here to see a speech I gave on the floor of the Senate honoring Stafford. Thank you to Carolyn Dunn, Stafford County Economic Development Director, for helping to coordinate the event.
Attending the FasterCures and Friends of Cancer Research Briefing
On Wednesday afternoon, I stopped by a medical research briefing hosted by FasterCures and Friends of Cancer Research to learn more about how new medical discoveries get from the lab to the patients who need them. The panel was led by University of Kansas Cancer Center Director Dr. Roy Jensen, National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins, U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg, and other experts in medical research and development.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations health subcommittee, I believe that our nation’s consistent support of medical research is essential to saving and improving lives, reducing health care costs, and strengthening America’s position as a global leader in medical innovation. Click here to see a photo.
Fort Hays State University Tiger Men's Basketball
Saturday I joined Fort Hays State University President Edward Hammond at Gross Memorial Coliseum to enjoy a great Tiger victory over Kearney. As always, it was good to see my friends in Hays and listen to their feedback about what I should be doing in Washington.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below:
National Federation of the Blind of Kansas
Donna Wood of Wichita
Rob Tabor of Lawrence
Leonard Silkey of Wichita
Serena Nickell of Wichita
Sharon Loftspring of Leawood
Elana Loftspring of Leawood
UAW Local 31
AJ Shumate of Kansas City
Tony Pryor of Kansas City
Tracy L. Smith of Olathe
Donna Bricks of Kansas City
Sally Dwyer of Mission
David Wurth of Mission
Central Kansas Foundation/Community Anti-Drug Coalition Conference
Brenda Haaga of Salina
Kelly Nichols of Salina
Misty Lewis Salina
Kansas League of Postmasters
Judy Raney of Lawrence
Mike Behrend of Olathe
Deena Joy of Antdona
Kansas Rural Health Association
Michael Kennedy of Lenexa
Chad Austin of Topeka
Roger Mass of Ellsworth
Jessica Parrish of Kansas City
Scott Rempel of Newton
Jason Barb of Wichita
Joe Watt of Fairway
Kelly Humpherys of Eskridge
Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America
Denise Briggs of Emporia
Dorothy Stevenson of Emporia
Scott Boden of Goessel
Ashlee Gann of Hillsboro
Max Heinrich of Hillsboro
Linda Ogden of Marion
The Counsel of Insurance Agents and Brokers
Nancy Mellard of Leawood
Ryan Wilerson of Mission
First United Methodist Church
Rev. Patrick McLaughlin of Manhattan
Frontier National Heritage Area
Fred Conboy of Lawrence
Haskell Indian Nations University
Steven Prue of Lawrence
Tyler Levier of Lawrence
Shere Wright of Lawrence
International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers' Association
Curt Diebel of Overland Park
Tom Jacob of Wichita
Kurt Van Keppel of Leawood
Kansas Home Care Association
Jane Kelly of Topeka
Bob St. Peter of Topeka
Kansas Independent College Association & Fund
Matt Lindsey of Topeka
President T.J. Arant of Wichita
Kansas National Education Association
Bob Thesman of Shawnee
Kim Howard of Udall
Sherri Schwanz of Lansing
Kansas State University
President Kirk Schulz of Manhattan
Ron Trewyn of Manhattan
Sue Peterson of Manhattan
Kansas State University Research and Extension
Paula Peters of Manhattan
Sandy Procter of Manhattan
U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas
Chief Judge Kathryn Vratil of Kansas City
Marcia Dvorak of Lawrence
Mark Farr of Topeka
Laura Kaiser of Overland Park
Many Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the U.S. Capitol this week including:
Joshua and Dorothy Stevenson of Emporia
John and Teresa Briggs of Emporia
Julianne Jacques of Roeland Park
Kale Monk of Manhattan
Allie Teagarden of Manhattan
Honored to Serve You in Washington
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. In recent weeks, I’ve been listening to Kansans calling and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the debt crisis and big issues our country faces. Whether your thoughts are in the form of letter, a Facebook comment or a phone call, please know that I am listening and I appreciate messages from Kansans who wish to make their voice heard.
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