Kansas Common Sense


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Receiving an Update on Fort Leavenworth from Commanding General LTG Lundy
Fort Leavenworth is an integral part of the mission of the U.S. Armed Forces, and I appreciated getting an update this week from Commanding General Lieutenant General Lundy about the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College – the intellectual center of the U.S. Army. During the meeting, we discussed Fort Leavenworth’s military construction projects. He shared the good news that the U.S. Army National Simulation Center is nearing completion. My new subcommittee leadership role gives me an opportunity to make certain military installations like Fort Leavenworth are equipped to support its soldiers and improve the quality of life for Kansas military families. I am committed to continuing my strong advocacy for Fort Leavenworth and all of our state’s military installations. 

Moving Forward With a Nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs
The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs this week unanimously approved Dr. David Shulkin’s nomination to be the next VA Secretary. His nomination will now move forward to the full Senate for a vote in the coming days. At his confirmation hearing, I took the opportunity to express my high expectations for Dr. Shulkin should he be confirmed as secretary. As the current Under Secretary for the Veterans Health Administration, Dr. Shulkin is familiar with many of the problems that currently plague the VA: access to care, accountability, and a backlog of claims and appeals. If confirmed by the full Senate, I will be looking for Dr. Shulkin to use his prior VA experience to immediately start implementing new policies to reform the VA. 

Welcoming KU, K-State and Haskell University Administrators, Deans, Professors and Students to Washington

K-State President Richard Myers
I enjoyed catching up with Kansas State University President Richard Myers, who was in Washington, D.C., this week accompanying the deans of several colleges within the university. We discussed multiple issues important to the future of K-State, including the National Bio-Agro Defense Facility (NBAF) and the important research it will conduct to safeguard Americans. President Myers and I are both focused on bringing to NBAF the best and brightest researchers our nation has to offer and likewise seek partnerships with companies that would benefit from the research. We also discussed my recent appointment as chairman of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee. As a retired 4-star general and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, President Myers has a unique perspective on how this position can benefit Kansas, as well as the importance of maintaining the Department of Defense’s critical infrastructure. 

Haskell University President
I also had the opportunity to discuss critical infrastructure and funding issues with Haskell Indian University’s (HIU) President Venida Chenault, Professor Dan Wildcat, and student leaders. HIU is one of only two four-year universities operated by the Bureau of Indian Education and serves tribal members throughout the nation. I heard from the students how HIU has provided them a path forward in their lives. Haskell has made a difference for generations of Native American students, and I look forward to working with President Chenault to increase the opportunities Haskell can offer to current and future students. 

K-State Deans of Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine, Human Ecology, & Arts and Sciences
I also met with deans of K-State’s colleges of Agriculture, Veterinary Medicine, Human Ecology, and Arts and Sciences about the research underway in their colleges that benefits Kansas farmers, ranchers and consumers. As a member of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, I have the opportunity to communicate with my colleagues about the benefit of research from our Land Grant universities. Thank you to Deans Floros, Buckwalter, Richardson, Chakrabarti and Shanklin for taking time to discuss their work at Kansas State and for their service to Kansans.

KU Dean of Engineering
With University of Kansas Dean of Engineering Michael Branicky, we discussed issues facing higher education and ways we can make Kansas a better place for students wanting to pursue careers in engineering, math and science. The number of engineering graduates from KU has doubled since 2008, which would not have been possible without the support of National Science Foundation grants that helped enable KU’s expansion of research. Thanks to Dean Branicky for his hard work on behalf of the university and its students to provide these important opportunities for our students in Kansas.

K-State Polytechnic in Salina
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, are anticipated to be one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S. economy, and K-State is leading the way in UAS research and development. In fact, K-State Polytechnic University in Salina was the first entity in the country to receive approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct academic and commercial flight training. The school’s UAS program is making significant strides to develop drone technology and train the next generation of drone operators, engineers and technologists who will soon be in high demand. Thanks to Polytechnic CEO Verna Fitzsimmons and other leaders at K-State for their efforts to ensure our state continues to be on the leading edge of this evolving industry. As a member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security, I look forward to working on legislation to unlock the economic benefits of UAS technology while maintaining the world’s highest aviation safety standards. 

Ongoing Recovery Efforts from Last Year’s Anderson Creek Fire
The Anderson Creek Fire in Barber and Comanche Counties last March was the largest fire in Kansas history according to the Kansas Forest Service. While I was disheartened to learn of the loss of nearly 800 cattle and the loss of personal property, such as people’s homes and thousands of miles of fence, I was encouraged by the private, collaborative efforts of people around the state to rally together to help their neighbors recover from the fire. According to this article, local residents donated more than $500,000 to the Kansas Livestock Foundation to aid in the fire relief. Even though many organizations and counties contributed to this effort, local taxpayers still bore part of the cost of the recovery effort. Fortunately, USDA and FEMA have reassured me that these local communities’ expenditures will be recovered going forward.

Standing with Wichitans in Support of a Critically Injured Officer
A Wichita Police Department Officer, Brian Arterburn, was critically injured in the line of duty on Tuesday. Members of my staff added their names to KFDI News’ card wishing a full and speedy recovery to Officer Arterburn who remains in critical condition. I am thankful for the members of our law enforcement community who make sacrifices day in and day out to keep Kansans safe. My thoughts and prayers remain with the Wichita Police and Officer Arterburn.

Accepting Applications for Summer Internships – Deadline this Friday
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 who have a unique opportunity to work closely with my staff on behalf of Kansans. Applications are already being accepted for internships in my Washington, D.C., and state offices for the summer 2017 term. The deadline is this Friday, February 17. 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
Darin Henburg of Holton
Michael Litz of Garden City
Bob Scott of Chase
Izik Clire of Lawrence

Kansas Narcotics Officers Association
Timothy Eldredge of Whitewater
Brian Shannon of Ellis

Kansas Rural Water Association
Allan Soetaert of Gardner
Bill Shroyer of Sabetha

Kansas Small Business Development Center
Greg Panichello of Topeka
Diana Komarek of Topeka
Lisa Roberts of Wichita
Alan Badgley of Wichita

Kansas Rehab Hospital
Bill Overbey of Topeka
Tiffany Kiehl of Overland Park

National Teachers Hall of Fame
Carol Strickland of Emporia

Midwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area
David Mizell of Overland Park

Enlisted Association of the National Guard of Kansas
Troy Abel of Topeka
Steven Peyton of Wichita
Sierra Hodges of Topeka
Tony DeJesus of Topeka

The Downing Foundation
Barry Downing of Wichita

ABC Rental
Jim Brown of Derby
Mike Strong of Hutchinson
Angie McCool of Hutchinson
Laurie Miller of Hutchinson
Debbie Brown of Derby

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America
Sue Matson of Olathe

Haskell Indian Nations University
Chris Sindone of Lawrence
Venida Chenault of Lawrence
Daniel R. Wildcat of Lawrence
Bethany R. Tarbell of Lawrence

Kansas State University
Richard Myers of Manhattan
Sue Peterson of Manhattan
Lacey Pitts of Manhattan
Jeff Morros of Manhattan
Tim de Noble of Manhattan
Peter Dorhout of Manhattan
Asher Gilliland of Topeka
Verna Fitzsimmons of Salina
John Floros of Manhattan
Tammy Beckham of Manhattan
John Buckwalter of Manhattan
Ralph Richardson of Olathe
Amit Chakreberh of Manhattan 

University of Kansas School of Engineering/American Society for Engineering Education
Michael Branicky of Lawrence 

The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers
Debbie Mercer of Manhattan
Cindy Barbager of Manhattan 

Allen County Multi-Agency Team & Haysville Healthy Habits
Paige Crum of Hutchinson
Abbey Pemberton of Hutchinson
Taylor Lang of Hutchinson
Jaime Westervelt of Hutchinson
Eizabeth Hopkins of Iola
Bob Hedberg of Lawrence
Kaela Prall-Moore of Wichita 

National Rural Health Association
Caleb Hurst of Burton
Kiley Floyd of Seneca
Michael Kennedy of Kansas City
Allen VanDrier of Smith Center
Emily Lenherr of Salina
Jodi Schmidt of Olathe 

Custom Harvesters
Taff Hughes of Ellinwood
Rana Zeller of Herington 

The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace Local
Matthew Joyce of Derby
Joe Abbott of Wichita 

Kansas National Education Association
Mark Farr of Topeka
Sandra Walker of Lawrence
Ruth E. Goff of Spring Hill 

IRS Taxpayer Advocate
Traci Wilnerd of Wichita 

BlueCross BlueShield of Kansas
Sunee Mickle of Topeka 

Trey Humphrey of Mission Hills
Dave Lockton of Mission Hills
Marshall Lockton of Fairway 

Capitol Tour
Kathryn Tolle of Wamego
Brian Tolle of Wamego

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.

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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