A Wildfire Update

Senator Jerry Moran
2017-03-20 18:49:10
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Kansas Common Sense
March 20, 2017


Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks 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.

An Update on Southwestern Kansas Wildfires & Meeting with the USDA

After my visit to Clark County last weekend, I requested a meeting with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Acting Secretary Michael Young about the challenges facing farmers and ranchers impacted by the wildfires across Kansas this month. We discussed the need for flexibility of Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) program requirements, specifically in the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP). I also pressed for urgency in making payments in a timely manner under ECP and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and other FSA and NRCS programs. Additionally, I inquired about the program payment limits, including how legal entities and partnerships are treated in regard to established limits. I am committed to working with USDA to provide more flexibility on the specifications for fence rebuilding and to expedite payments. My continued prayers are with these families and the many others who are working to rebuild from this disaster.

Discussing Defense Priorities with Secretary Mattis

I had the opportunity to meet this week with Secretary of Defense and retired Marine Corps General James Mattis to discuss the global threats that face our nation and the need to make certain our armed forces are ready to respond. I emphasized my commitment to prioritizing defense appropriations that train, equip and ready those who serve in active duty and reserve forces in Kansas and around the globe. We also discussed my recent visit with German, French and British foreign and defense ministers and the United States’ commitment to NATO.  As a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I look forward to engaging again next week when Sec. Mattis testifies on defense spending.  

Addressing UAS in Commerce Hearing

On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing to examine the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the national airspace system and practical applications of the emerging technology. At the hearing, I called attention to the ongoing research, testing and training efforts at institutions in Kansas. The University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Wichita State University are all part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s ASSURE Center of Excellence, which is at the forefront of UAS development nationally. Additionally, our state was the first to appoint a formal director of UAS, Lt. Col. Bob Brock, who recently released a five-year plan for UAS adoption at the state level.

Wednesday’s hearing featured debate over the many safety and privacy challenges of UAS implementation as well as the exciting potential this technology has for our state and our nation’s economy. In particular, I spoke about the importance of UAS use for disaster response given the devastating grassland fires. The need to review storm damage to neighborhoods, farmland, critical infrastructure and everything in between creates a significant opportunity for Kansans to put UAS technology to use.

As a member of the Senate Aviation Subcommittee and co-chair of the Senate Aerospace Caucus, I look forward to continued work this Congress to address the public policy issues related to implementation and operation of UAS and the economic, privacy and safety implications this technology presents.


Meeting with Community Leaders

Several Kansas municipalities were represented at this week’s National League of Cities conference held in Washington, D.C. Civic leaders from Ottawa, Wichita, Manhattan, Lenexa, Shawnee, Lawrence, Mission, Prairie Village and Roeland Park attended the conference and then met with me and my staff to discuss how federal programs and policies impact their communities. Some of the issues we discussed included infrastructure improvement needs and maintaining the current tax treatment of municipal bonds among others. I appreciated the opportunity to hear directly from local leaders about how actions taken in Washington affect their local economies. My thanks to everyone who took the time to visit with my office.

Breaking Ground at the Shawnee CBOC

This past Friday, the VA broke ground on a new Community-based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Shawnee. This facility will help serve veterans in the Kansas City area who require outpatient medical care and will ensure that those who have dedicated their lives to serving our country are able to receive quality medical care close to home. Shawnee Mayor Michelle Distler, Kansas City VA Medical Center Director Kathleen Fogarty and County Commissioners Jason Osterhaus and Michael Ashcraft were all on hand to get construction underway. I will continue working to make certain Kansas veterans are able to access the care they earned.

Welcoming Senator Warner as Co-Chair of Bipartisan Senate Aerospace Caucus

Founded in 2010, the bipartisan Senate Aerospace Caucus plays a useful role in helping raise awareness of the impact of aerospace industry jobs and provides a forum for discussion about the issues faced by the industry. I’m thankful for the efforts of Senator Murray of Washington as my co-chair in years past, and I am pleased to welcome Senator Warner of Virginia as our new co-chair – I look forward to working with him. In Kansas, the aerospace industry is a place where the priorities of a strong national defense and strong economy converge, and it is important that Congress works to make certain the jobs, economic prosperity, and exciting new technology this industry provides succeeds for years to come.

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.

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