Kansas Common Sense

Announcing Federal Investment for KU Cancer Center
On Thursday, I announced a $43 million federal investment to plan and help build a new cancer research facility at The University of Kansas Cancer Center. This funding will play a critical role in supporting the center’s research and development and translating the findings into effective treatments for patients.


In addition to the $43 million in federal funding, the event also featured an announcement regarding the single largest private donation made to the University of Kansas Medical Center and the University of Kansas Health System. The Sunderland Foundation, a family foundation focused on improving the quality of life in Kansas City through philanthropic donations, announced a $100 million donation to the University of Kansas Health System and University of Kansas Medical Center to further the research, patient care and expansion of the institution.

The University of Kansas Cancer Center is a nationally recognized leader in the fight to treat and cure cancer, and last year I announced it was awarded the National Cancer Institute’s comprehensive cancer center designation, opening up new avenues for federal investments and research. With this new facility and the comprehensive designation, the University of Kansas Cancer Center will be able to recruit the best talent from around the world and expand its legacy and capabilities to conduct innovative research to cure and treat cancer.


Currently, The University of Kansas Cancer Center’s labs and researchers are scattered across multiple campuses in the Kansas City metro area and in Lawrence. This grant will help the cancer center consolidate its labs, research and care into one facility. The new building will be located on the 39th and Rainbow campus and will be built in phases, with the goal of breaking ground on the first phase by the fall of 2024 at the earliest. The center will bring expanded cancer care and research together in one place and will offer patients access to more innovative clinical trials and groundbreaking therapies developed on site.

With a new, state-of-the-art cancer center, The University of Kansas Cancer Center can expand its legacy and capabilities to conduct a greater number of innovative research projects, which will undoubtedly lead to improved treatments for patients. It is my priority that our state be a place where Kansans can get a quality education and find a meaningful – or in this case life-changing – career in science and engineering. This announcement is the beginning of a new chapter in the fight against cancer. It also means Kansans will have greater access to the best cancer treatment in the country.

You can read more from The Kansas City Star here.


Hosting Acting NIH Director Dr. Lawrence Tabak in Kansas
In addition to announcing a new federal investment for The University of Kansas Cancer Center, I hosted National Institutes of Health (NIH) Acting Director Dr. Lawrence Tabak to see the incredible impact NIH and National Cancer Institute (NCI) funding has in Kansas and specifically at The University of Kansas Cancer Center.

During Director Tabak’s visit, we toured both The University of Kansas Cancer Center’s Blood and Marrow Transplant Unit and The University of Kansas Health System’s Alzheimer’s Center, and spoke with researchers, students and faculty. Over the course of the day, Dr. Tabak continued to relay how impressed he was not only by the buildings and patient care but by the people who work there. He observed that each member of the team is committed to the mission of offering the most innovative cancer and Alzheimer’s treatments and pursuing research to eradicate these terrible diseases.

The role The University of Kansas Medical Center holds in the national effort to cure cancer and Alzheimer’s is not inhibited by its location in the heartland, away from the larger, well-known institutions on the east coast. While those institutions offer their own unique capabilities, The University of Kansas Medical Center has a team of talented, dedicated individuals surrounded by support from a grateful region and state and is proving itself as a leader in the biomedical research arena.

I am grateful that Dr. Tabak joined me to see firsthand the people who make our community and state the best in the country and to witness the important work being done here in the fight against cancer and Alzheimer’s.


State Department Releases Afghanistan Review
The State Department’s Afghanistan After Action Review offers a damning account of the mismanagement during the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. The inherent difficulties of an evacuation were clearly exacerbated by a void in leadership, which resulted in the deaths of American servicemembers and stranded thousands of our Afghan allies behind enemy lines.

As a supporter of establishing the bipartisan Afghanistan War Commission, our two decades of fighting in Afghanistan must be studied to learn from the mistakes made and make certain they are not repeated for the sake of our military men and women who serve valiantly. In addition, we must continue to assist the Afghans who stood by our servicemembers. As a sponsor of the Afghan Adjustment Act, I will work with my colleagues in the Senate to provide safety and certainty for our allies and friends who risked their lives and their families’ lives to support our troops in Afghanistan.

Supreme Court Strikes Down Biden Student Loan Cancellation Plan
On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that President Biden’s student loan cancellation plan is unconstitutional and cannot stand. The lawsuit, Biden v. Nebraska, was filed by the state of Missouri and joined by Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Carolina and Arkansas.

The court's majority opinion stated that, while the Secretary of Education does have narrow authorities from Congress to adjust student aid programs, the Biden administration’s executive order exceeded the authority Congress delegated to the executive branch.

If you take out student loans, you ought to pay them back. The Supreme Court’s decision strikes down the unconstitutional overreach of the Biden administration and protects the Kansans who worked hard to pay off their student loans. Not only was the Biden administration plan unfair to Kansans who took out their loans and paid them back, but it extremely unfair to Kansans and Americans who decided to bypass college in order to remain free of student debt. Deciding to attend college, taking out student loans and accepting the responsibility to pay the government back are personal decisions and commitments in which the federal government does not have a role.

I am committed to working with my colleagues to address the rising costs of higher education and implement reforms to help students better understand the realities of taking out federal student loans.

Breaking Ground on New 72-Bed Mental Health Hospital in Olathe
On Thursday morning, I joined KVC Health Systems and Children’s Mercy to break ground on a the Mental Health Wellness Campus – a new 72-bed mental health hospital that will provide in-patient care to Olathe and the surrounding area. This state-of-the-art facility is the result of a partnership between KVC Health Systems and Children’s Mercy Hospital, and their commitment to further investing in the health care of Kansans. According to a study released last fall, Kansas has fallen behind the other states in providing much-needed mental health services to Kansans, both adults and children.

The new Mental Health Wellness Campus and the partnership between KVC and Children’s Mercy is a perfect example of two dedicated organizations coming together to improve the lives of Kansans. It is investments like this one, made by KVC, Children’s Mercy and their generous donors, that will revive mental health care in Kansas and provide hope and help to people who are struggling and hurting.

Thank you to Jason Hooper, President and CEO of KVC Health Systems, and Paul Kempinski, President and CEO of Children’s Mercy, for not only identifying the need for an in-patient adult and pediatric mental health facility, but for pursuing a solution to that need. Thank you as well to Governor Laura Kelly and Representative Sharice Davids for joining this event.


$451 Million in Broadband Funding Awarded to Kansas
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced it will provide $451 million to Kansas for broadband deployment. In this digital age, access to reliable internet can determine the success of farms, businesses and even health care in rural communities. Every taxpayer dollar should be used efficiently and in a way that best serves Americans, which is why I have been working with the Federal Communications Commission to update broadband deployment maps before this funding was allocated. The accuracy of these maps will make certain funding reaches places in need of broadband access and does not overbuild areas that already have internet access. I will continue to use my Appropriations Subcommittee and Commerce Committee roles to conduct oversight of federal broadband deployment programs.

You can read more from the Kansas Reflector here.

De Soto Local Road Improvement Project Groundbreaking
On Thursday, I spoke at the groundbreaking of the De Soto Local Road Improvement Project. Last July, Panasonic announced the construction of a $4 billion, 2.74 million square-foot battery manufacturing facility, which is expected to create 4,000 jobs. In order to facilitate this project, 4.5 miles of road which currently make up a two-lane road will be upgraded to a new four-lane highway.

Panasonic chose to invest in Kansas because our state is recognized as a destination for opportunity and growth, a talented workforce, a welcoming community and quality of life. Thursday’s event marked one more advancement in Panasonic’s historic investment in Kansas. By expanding to a four-lane road, the project will deliver the transportation infrastructure improvements necessary to support the plant, enhance service to existing and growing business in the area and bolster safety for traffic, facilitating better travel time for emergency responders and commuters. This project will set Kansas up as a place where more companies want to do business.

Thank you to Governor Laura Kelly, Representative Sharice Davids, Kansas Transportation Secretary Calvin Reed, De Soto Mayor Rick Walker, Assistant Johnson County Manager Aaron Otto, Allan Swan of Panasonic and Bill Clarkson of Clarkson Construction who joined the groundbreaking.


Meeting with U.S. Army Major General John Meyer III at Fort Riley
On Friday, I met with U.S. Army Major General John Meyer III, the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley Commanding General. We discussed potential changes to force structure the Army as a whole may be making, as well as what these changes could mean for Fort Riley. We also spoke about the positive relationships between Fort Riley and the surrounding communities and the regional economic impact of Fort Riley on the area. As Co-Chair of the Senate Army Caucus and the lead Republican of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, I look forward to continuing to work with Major General Meyer to support to Fort Riley and the servicemembers of the 1st Infantry Division.


Kansas Community Visits
On Wednesday, I was in Concordia to join Police Chief Brent Gering, Fire Chief Eric Voss and Cloud County Sheriff Ken Davis to mark the completion of a public safety project made possible by federal funding I secured for the Concordia Police Department in my role as a senior appropriator. The department utilized this funding to fully remodel and update the central dispatch system, install backup generators to keep emergency communication systems running during power outages and update radios in patrol vehicles and portable radios for officers. I want to offer special thanks to City Manager Amy Lange for coordinating this event.

You can read more from the Concordia Blade-Empire here.


It was great to be back in Hays this week to meet with residents at the local businesses in town, including the Bank of Hays, Davidson Chiropractic, The Press Restaurant, Salon 1007, Master Cleaners and Coldwell Banker Executive Realty.

On Thursday, I stopped at the Olathe City Hall to meet with Tim Dannenberg, Director of External Affairs and Issues Management for the City of Olathe. While there, I also visited the Olathe Public Library to pay my respects to the late Mayor Michael Copeland – the longest serving mayor of Olathe – at the park which was renamed the Michael Copeland Civic Center in his honor.


VA Committee Staff Visit Kansas Veterans Care Centers
My staff from the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs visited Kansas to see the care, benefits, pharmacy services and other support available to veterans across Eastern Kansas. These oversight visits included stops at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Leavenworth, the Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center in Topeka and the VA Community-Based Outpatient Clinic in Lenexa. They also visited the existing Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy in Leavenworth and the future Consolidated Mail Outpatient Pharmacy in Shawnee, which will open in January 2024 and provide state-of-the-art mail order prescriptions to veterans in our state and others across the region.

My staff also visited with Horses & Heroes, Inc. in Leavenworth, which provides equine-assisted therapy at no-charge to servicemembers, veterans and first responders struggling with mental health conditions. They also visited the Veterans Community Project in Kansas City, which provides housing, peer support and a free community food bank to homeless and at-risk veterans across the greater Kansas City area. These organizations play an important role in supporting veterans in the region, and I am grateful to have them here.

While in Kansas, staff also spent time with representatives from the Kansas Department of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and Kansas Department of The American Legion to hear their insight regarding the challenges facing Kansas veterans and the impact of the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our PACT Act on those who were exposed to Agent Orange, burn pit or other toxic substances during their military service. In addition, they met with Director Turner and officials from the Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs to discuss the proposal to build a new State Veterans Home in Topeka to care for the growing number of veterans in Eastern Kansas in need of long-term care. 

Providing world-class services to servicemembers, veterans and their families is one of my highest priorities, and I am grateful that my role as the lead Republican of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs allows me to make certain that Kansas continues to provide world-class care to the military and veteran community.

PACT Act Open House for Kansas Veterans
VETERANS: The Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center and Wichita Regional Office are partnering to host an open house for veterans and their family members in Hutchinson to learn more about the resources provided by the PACT Act. During this event, you can address disability claims, enroll in health care, attend educational sessions and receive a toxic exposure screening if you are already enrolled in VA health care.

If you are a veteran in the Hutchinson area, I hope you will attend this event and share with other veterans who may be helped by this information. You can learn more here.


Kansans in the Office

Capitol Tour
Craig Warren of Overland Park

Jennifer Warren of Overland Park

Ken Swygard of Overland Park

Linda Swygard of Overland Park

Jeremy Swygard of Olathe

Abby Swygard of Olathe

Christopher Swygard of Olathe

Corrie Swygard of Olathe

Aletheia Swygard of Olathe

Justin Swygard of Olathe

Bonnie Rubottom of Plainville

Kelden Rubottom of Woodston

Trentin Maupin of Paradise

Gregory Pluimer of Kansas City

Kathleen Pluimer of Kansas City

James Kline of Dwight

Vickie Kline of Dwight

Olivia Kline of Dwight

Jared Kline of Dwight

Dr. Paul Adams of Hays

Janet Stramel of Hays

Victor Salazar of Garden City

Lacy Brite of LeRoy

Katherine Flax of Ransom

Ella Showalter of Nekoma

Dr. Monica Bachamp of Salina

Jeffery Easter of Salina

Gearld Bachamp of Concordia

Aaron Wiens of Overland Park

Kelly Wiens of Overland Park

Avery Wiens of Overland Park

Lucas Wiens of Overland Park

Waruna Seneviratne of Wichita

Nirosha Seneviratne of Wichita

Dimitri Seneviratne of Wichita

Natasha Seneviratne of Wichita

Henry Volante of Olathe

Amelia Volante of Olathe

Washburn University
President Dr. JuliAnn Mazachek of Topeka

John Pinegar of Topeka

Dave Spears of Moundridge

Allan Wenr of Moundridge

Brandi Miller of Wamego

Doug Biswell of Rossville

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Chad Childs of Wichita

Leigha Dobson of Hays

Jodi Jakylovich of Lawrence

Land O’Lakes
Stan Stark of Pratt

Ross Plumberg of Vermillion

Georgetown University Center on Faith and Justice
Callie VanVonderen of Bucyrus

General Visitors
Doug Kroencke of Overland Park

Marrion Kroencke of Overland Park

Jim Dooley of Jewell

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