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Luther King, Jr. and Inauguration Day
Monday, America celebrated two historic occasions: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and the 57th
you’re in Washington and have a chance to see the new Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial
it’s definitely worth a visit. Inspirational messages from Dr. King’s sermons and speeches
are etched into the stone of the monument. One quote in particular stood out to me: “The ultimate
measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at
times of challenge and controversy.”
inauguration is a time for new beginnings and to celebrate that we live in a nation where democracy rules.
I think greatest responsibility we have as American citizens – certainly us as elected officials
– is to make certain the American Dream can be lived by those who follow us. I look forward to
working with my United States Senate colleagues in the 113th Congress in pursuit of a solid future.
had the opportunity to attend the Kansas Commodity Classic in Manhattan on Wednesday. Producers and organizations
from across the state traveled to hear experts discuss the issues that are affecting producers and listen
to them address the 2013 outlook for Kansas agriculture. Farmers and ranchers will be faced with uncertainty
as early weather forecasts are suggesting another dry summer. I know what producers don’t need,
and that is more uncertainty coming out of Washington.
of the issues discussed was the 2008 Farm Bill, which was extended until Sept. 30, 2013. My hope is to
get a new bill completed and passed soon. It is too important for producers and ultimately American consumers
to push this off any longer. No one expressed this better than my friend and convention keynote speaker
Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh. He is a K-State professor emeritus and renowned agricultural economist and policy
expert. It was great to be back with Dr. Flinchbaugh and friends talking about issues that are so important
to our state.
House Gun Violence Recommendations
the wake of the recent tragedies in Connecticut and Colorado, President Obama announced 23 executive
actions his Administration will take in an effort to curb gun violence. Additionally, he called upon
Congress to pass legislation that would ban assault weapons and magazines larger than 10 rounds.
are ready to engage in a meaningful national conversation to determine a path that will keep our children
safe. However, we must be careful not to penalize responsible, law-abiding citizens or infringe upon
civil liberties guaranteed in our Constitution. The President’s call for a ban on certain types
of weapons is troubling, as such a measure would endanger the rights of Americans while not making us
must examine all factors that lead individuals to commit these monstrous acts, but the President’s
plan in its entirety is not the proper way to implement a comprehensive strategy that will better protect
our nation from gun violence.
Medal of Honor
week, I learned that the Medal of Honor nomination for former Army Captain William Swenson has made its
way to the White House for Presidential approval. I have been diligently following the case of Will,
who saved numerous lives on Sept. 8, 2009, in Ganjgal, Afghanistan, after his team was ambushed by insurgents
in an attack killing and wounding a number of U.S. servicemen and
Afghan soldiers. At the time of his selfless acts, Will was deployed from Fort Riley and wore the 1st ID
badge as a member of a Military Transition Team working with Afghan soldiers. In the months following
the attack, Army leadership in Afghanistan recommended Will for the Medal of Honor and a nomination then
proceeded through official Army channels. Unfortunately, Will’s nomination was somehow lost and
the Army has since conducted an investigation as to what happened to his file and fittingly reissued
the nomination. Much time has passed, but I’m happy to see that Will’s nomination is finally
at the White House where it should receive Presidential attention immediately. I will continue to follow
this case and ensure Will receives the respect and gratitude he deserves for his service to our nation.
Center Lions Club
Tuesday, I spoke to the Clay Center Lions Club at Maury’s Restaurant, and it was good to be among
fellow club members and community leaders. We discussed many important issues facing our state and nation
including our growing national debt, taxes, the Farm Bill, education and Obamacare.
also spoke with reporters from the Clay Center Dispatch,
KCLY and KFRM radio. Listen to my KCLY “Up-Close” interview here,
where I discuss my family and growing up in Western Kansas.
a member and former club president of the Hays Lions Club, I’ve seen the value organizations like
these add to Kansas communities. Thanks to club president Dusty Mullen for his warm welcome, hospitality
and for allowing me to be the program this week.
American Pastor in Iran
was troubled to once again hear of a Christian pastor in Iran being persecuted for his beliefs. Pastor
Saeed Abedini was arrested earlier this summer and after being held in one of Iran’s most notorious
prisons went to trial yesterday before a judge known to sentence so-called “political criminals”
to death. Although there were reports of release on bail, it’s been confirmed that Saeed remains
case is all the more important because Pastor Saeed is an American citizen.
week, I joined my colleagues in calling on the State Department to urge action to secure his release.
No person should be detained, tortured or face execution for their religious beliefs. Iran’s treatment
of Pastor Abedini is another example of the Iranian government’s disregard for fundamental human
rights and religious freedom. It is important to get him home to his wife and children. My prayers are
with the pastor and his family.
Methodist Church Soup Supper
I enjoyed speaking with Kansans at the Industry United Methodist Church’s soup supper. Events like
these are a great way for me to listen to constituents and receive feedback for consideration as I travel
back to Washington.
Care and Reducing Costly Hospital Readmissions for Medicare Patients
to my tour of the Stormont-Vail Cancer Center, I visited with leaders of Saint Francis Hospital, Stormont-Vail
HealthCare, and Brewster Place about their proposal to improve patient care transitions from the hospital
and reduce costly hospital readmissions for Medicare patients. The Capital Care Transitions Coalition,
comprised of the two hospitals, Brewster Place, and several other community-based organizations serving
northeast Kansas, is working to implement an evidence-based care transitions model where Medicare patients
being discharged from the hospitals, who are determined to be at risk of readmission, may be referred
to the coalition led by Brewster Place. Upon referral, patients would be assigned a Transitions
Care Coach who would ensure coordination and continuity of care after they are discharge from the hospital.
It is estimated that readmission of Medicare patients to the hospital carries a national cost of $17
billion annually. It is also estimated that 76 percent of these readmissions are avoidable. The Coalition’s
model has the potential to improve care transitions, enhance the quality of care, and reduce hospital
readmissions for Medicare patients, and reduce overall costs to the Medicare program. Thanks to Brewster
Place President and CEO David Beck, St. Francis President and CEO Bob Erickson, and Stormont-Vail President
and CEO Randy Peterson for briefing me on this exciting project.
Cancer Center Visit
was in Topeka Wednesday afternoon to visit the Stormont-Vail Cancer Center and learned from physicians,
staff and administrators about the advancements in cancer treatment, research and patient care taking
place there. The Cancer Center opened in 2006 and consolidates the outpatient cancer services of Stormont-Vail
and Cotton-O’Neil. The Center is also home to Cotton-O’Neill’s medical oncology practices,
an infusion center and a clinical research center that provides patients access to new and promising
Cancer Center has made considerable strides in advancing comprehensive patient and family-centered cancer
care in its short existence. In 2009, the program received accreditation as a comprehensive cancer program
by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. Last year, it achieved accreditation
for its radiation therapy services through the American College of Radiology (ACR), making it the sole
ACR-accredited center of its kind in Kansas — a testament to the Cancer Center’s high standards
in radiation oncology practices.
I visit cancer research and treatment facilities in Kansas, I’m reminded of the value and importance
of our nation’s commitment to medical research. That commitment has saved more than 12 million
American lives. Given the vast amount of progress made and the great potential current research holds,
we cannot afford to waiver on America’s promise to advancing cures and treatments for disease.
As a member of the Senate Appropriations health subcommittee, I am committed to fighting for consistent,
sustained support of medical research essential to saving and improving lives, growing our economy and
maintaining America’s role as a global leader in medical innovation. Kansans are fortunate to have
access to advanced cancer treatments in their own communities, such as those provided by Stormont-Vail
Cancer Center and its excellent team of physicians and staff. Thank you to Stormont-Vail HealthCare President
and CEO Randy Peterson for hosting me and to Kathy Davis for coordinating my visit.
Tuesday I officially opened a regional office in Manhattan. This office will serve Kansans in the surrounding
region and allow staff to act as liaisons with the region’s community leaders, local government
officials and businesses. It is located at 923 Westport Place, Suite 210, which can be reached by calling
(785) 539-8973. Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Hockett’s 100th Birthday
was fun to get back to Codell on Saturday to celebrate Ellen Hockett’s 100th birthday with her
friends and family. I enjoyed speaking with folks at the event and received lots of instruction before
I headed back to Washington, D.C.
week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office including the Kansans listed below:
Meeting with Foundation for Pavement
Scott Bergkamp, Salina
John Rathbun, Lawrence
Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the U.S. Capitol this week including:
& Barbara Musgrove and son, James
to Serve You in Washington
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.
let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click
here. You can also click
here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or
my Washington, D.C., office.
Very truly yours,