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Department of Transportation Delayed Closure of FAA Control Towers
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s
(DOT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it will delay the closing of 149 airport control
towers until June 15, 2013 due to the multiple legal challenges to the decision. The first 24 closures
had been scheduled for Sunday, April 7, 2013. While airports and air travelers across the country are
breathing a sigh of relief, the DOT’s decision to delay the closing of air traffic control towers
is not a solution. In order to protect air traffic control towers and preserve aviation safety across
America, Sen. Blumenthal will join me this week in introducing legislation that will prohibit the DOT
from closing any air traffic control towers — including those that are FAA-operated.
initial amendment to stop the control
towers closures was blocked from a vote, it brought together a bipartisan coalition of Senators who demonstrated
that there are more responsible ways to cut spending than by compromising safety. Closing control towers
is equivalent to removing stop lights and stop signs from our roads, and there is no reason they should
be disproportionately targeted for an arbitrary and unfair 75 percent cut. It’s vital that we seize
this opportunity to put politics aside and work toward a common-sense solution. Click
here to read more about my upcoming
Nations Arms Trade Treaty Update
Last month, the United
Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) failed to reach consensus on treaty text; however,
last week with the support of the United States delegation, the U.N. General Assembly passed the ATT
by majority vote. By agreeing to the hasty process that sent the treaty to the General Assembly for a
majority vote, the Administration abandoned its previous insistence on consensus and sets a dangerous
precedent. Consensus is a vital tool for defending U.S. interests in multilateral negotiations, and served
as the basis on which the Administration defended its participation in the ATT negotiations. The passage
of a treaty that Iran, Syria and North Korea objected to, and China, India and Russia abstained from
supporting, makes clear that the only nations who will be held accountable are law-abiding democracies
like the United States.
March 13, 2013, I introduced a bipartisan resolution making clear that an Arms Trade Treaty that undermines
the Constitutional freedoms of American gun owners will not be ratified by the U.S. Senate. Despite 35
Senators united in strong opposition to a treaty that puts us on level ground with dictatorships who
abuse human rights and arms terrorists, there is real concern that the Administration feels pressured
to sign a treaty that violates our Constitutional rights. On June 3, the treaty is expected to be open
for signatures from U.N. countries, so in the coming weeks I will continue working with my colleagues
in the Senate to make clear that any treaty that violates our Second Amendment freedoms will be an absolute
nonstarter for ratification by the U.S. Senate.
Southeast Kansas Elementary Schools and the Ottawa Campus of Neosho County Community College
was great to accept the invitations to visit Marshall Elementary School in Eureka and Garnett Elementary
School in Garnett last week. Last year, Marshall was named a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S.
Department of Education — the only elementary school in Kansas to receive this honor. The National
Blue Ribbon Schools program recognizes schools where students perform at very high levels or where significant
improvements are being made in students’ academic achievement. Garnett Elementary is enjoying a
new facility this school year, which I enjoyed touring.
am committed to doing everything I can back in Washington to make certain every Kansas student has the
opportunity to receive a quality education. Congress must be careful not to pass federal mandates that
restrict ingenuity, responsiveness, and development in education at the local and state levels. Since
parents and teachers best understand the educational needs of their children and students, Congress should
allow local school districts to determine how to best use education resources. As ranking member of the
Senate Appropriations education subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over funding for all accounts at
the U.S. Department of Education, it is important I stay up-to-date with what is going on in classrooms
across our state to help make sure that Kansas teachers, administrators, and school boards have the flexibility
to effectively meet the unique needs of their students. Click
here to see photos from my time at
the two schools.
in Ottawa, I also had the opportunity to visit Neosho County Community College’s (NCCC) Ottawa
campus, which has experienced tremendous growth over the last several years. In fact, the college is
currently ranked 19th in the United States in enrollment growth among like-sized institutions. NCCC provides
a variety of educational opportunities in high-skilled fields such as health information technology,
occupational therapy assistant, surgical technology, energy management, and forensic science.
my visit, I toured NCCC’s state-of-the-art Simulated Hospital training facility. The facility is
a key feature of NCCC’s health programs and central to its effort to meet the growing demand for
skilled health care professionals in Kansas. Its patient care rooms are complete with patients whose
vital statistics, aches and pains, and other symptoms can be simulated for students by their instructor.
Training sessions can also be recorded so that students can critique their own performance. I appreciated
the opportunity to try my hand at performing a simulated surgery with the assistance of Kelly Warren,
Director of the Surgical Technology program. I also enjoyed visiting with Peggy Carman, Instructor, and
Barb Flett, Director of the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program, who showed their training area and
explained how they train Occupational Therapy Assistants. Thanks to NCCC President Brian Inbody, Ottawa
Campus Dean Dale Ernst, and Assistant Dean for Outreach and Workforce Development Tony Brown for leading
my campus visit and providing me with valuable insight on NCCC’s efforts to produce a skilled workforce
equipped to meet the current and future needs of the Kansas economy.
Visiting the Ericsson Network Operations Center in Overland
I met with executives from Ericsson and Sprint to discuss the partnership between the two companies.
Ericsson is the world’s largest maker of equipment for building mobile communication networks.
During my visit, I toured Ericsson’s Network Operations Center located within the Sprint Campus
in Overland Park to learn about how the Sprint network operates and to better understand the technology
that allows Americans to utilize mobile technology. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee,
I serve on the Subcommittee with jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Committee, the federal agency
responsible for regulation of the telecommunications sector.
my tour, employees demonstrated how they maintain the Sprint network across America and how the facility
is responsible for responding to natural disasters so that those affected have adequate mobile service.
My visit coincided with the 40th anniversary of the first call made from a handheld cell phone, and it
was fascinating to see how technology keeps us all connected, improves our safety, and provides opportunities
for entrepreneurship and innovation. Thank you to Brian Jones from Ericsson for inviting me and arranging
Hospital Foundation Annual Meeting Address
evening, I spoke at the Anthony Hospital Foundation Annual Meeting. Based on results of a community survey,
the foundation is soliciting funds to renovate and expand the emergency room at Anthony Medical Center.
In less than a year, the foundation secured more than one-third of the $600,000 needed to complete the
project — with more than $14,000 in pledges from hospital employees. Anthony Medical Center and
other rural hospitals across the country deliver health care to more than 60 million Americans and are
the health and economic backbone for communities across our nation. These facilities are often the sole
source of comprehensive health care in their areas, and are typically the largest employer and an economic
engine in the communities they serve. I was pleased to offer words of congratulations and encouragement
to the citizens of Anthony for working to improve access to health care, and in the process help keep
Anthony a place where current residents and future generations can call home. Thanks to Mitchell Hall
for the kind introduction and to Anthony Hospital Foundation Executive Director Tami Greve and Anthony
Hospital CEO Bryant Anderson for their leadership.
at Ribbon Cutting for Children’s Mercy Clinic in Wichita
Monday afternoon, I spoke at the dedication of Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics first permanent
location in Wichita. Children’s Mercy provides more than 40 pediatric specialty services to patients,
has the area’s highest and most comprehensive level of neonatal intensive care, the region’s
only Level I pediatric trauma center, and boasts nationally recognized pediatric specialists, surgeons,
and nurses. For 20 years, Children’s Mercy has provided outreach services in Wichita; however,
last year alone, more than 4,500 patients from Sedgwick County traveled to the Children’s Mercy
facility in Kansas City for treatment. With a clinic now conveniently located inside Wesley Medical Center,
families in Wichita and south central Kansas will have access to life-saving care much closer to home.
Thank you to the following individuals at Children’s Mercy for including me in this special occasion:
Randall O’Donnell, President and CEO; Marshaun Butler, Vice President of Regional Medical Practices;
Michael Artman, Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Director of Research Strategy; and Dallas Polen,
Chief of Public Policy Strategy. Click
here to see a photo from the visit.
Emphasizing the Importance
of the Manufacturing Industry in Kansas and in the United States
Last week, I met with representatives from Carlisle
Trans Power Products in Fort Scott. Carlisle is a leading producer of a wide variety of industrial belts,
specialty tires and wheels for many types of equipment. During my tour with plant manager Gary Richards,
I learned several jobs were recently moved from China back to the United States. The move highlights
the company’s commitment to Kansas and their desire to grow domestically. Last month, Carlisle
was recognized by the Fort Scott Area Chamber of Commerce as Business of the Year. Thank you to Gary
for the tour and to Fort Scott Mayor Jim Adams, City Manager Dave Martin, and Chamber Director Lindsay
Madison for joining me.
a state that is home to nearly 3,200 aviation and manufacturing businesses, I understand the importance
of investing in jobs and manufacturing right here in the United States. Exports are vital to the Kansas
economy and Kansas jobs, and our state must continue to build quality products to stay competitive in
the global marketplace.
was also honored to be presented with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) Award for Manufacturing
Legislative Excellence by President of YRC Freight Jeff Rogers in Overland Park. Thank you to the associates
of YRC Worldwide for hosting the event and Mike Kelley coordinating it.
COF Training Services in Ottawa
Last week, it was great
visiting COF Training Services in Ottawa. COF is a not-for-profit social services organization that empowers
individuals with disabilities. “COF” stands for Coffey, Osage, Franklin, which are the three
counties served by the organization. During my visit, clients carefully assembled oxygen masks that are
designed to drop from the overhead compartment of airplanes in the event of a loss of cabin pressure.
Each COF client has a tailored plan allowing them access to the services and support they need to foster
greater independence. It was also good to meet the Friends of COF who are volunteers that assist COF
clients in numerous ways. During my visit, I was honored to receive a beautiful drawing from COF community
member and artist Steven Terry. Click
here to see a photo from my visit.
Speaking at Iola Rotary Club
week, I joined the Iola Rotary Club for their weekly meeting. I had the opportunity to speak with my
fellow Rotarians about local, state, and national issues such as Iola’s new Allen County Hospital,
education, Medicaid, and our national debt. Also during the meeting, we honored Gary McIntosh as Rotarian
of the Day. Gary and the rest of the Iola Rotarians clearly live their lives by Four-Way
Test and are committed to doing whatever they can to better
their community and our world.
Small Businesses Rate Kansas
and Kansas City Metro Among Most Business Friendly
A study published by the Kauffman
Foundation last week confirmed something I’ve known
for a long time, Kansas is a great place to start a business. A 2013 survey of nearly 8,000 small businesses
across the country showed that Kansas is one of America’s friendliest states for small business.
Kansas received an ‘A’ grade, placing it in the top eight nationwide. The study cites Kansas’
ease of business formation and favorable tax and regulatory environment as factors in its exceptional
ranking. The Kansas City metro area also received high marks, earning an A- grade. As small businesses
form and thrive across our state, Kansans will have better access to products and services, more job
opportunities, and increased economic growth. Click
here to view an interactive map with more information from
Cake Shop Honored with Emerging Business of the Year
in Pittsburg, I stopped by the Sweet Designs Cakery to meet with owners Heather and Roger Horton. Heather
and her mother started the business in 2003 as a hobby, but now the husband and wife duo are busy creating
sweets and cakes year-round for all occasions. Recently, they were honored with the Emerging Business
of the Year Award from the Kansas Small Business Development Center. I enjoyed my visit and a sweet treat! Click
here to see a photo from my visit.
Addressing Pittsburg YMCA
at the Annual Dinner
On Wednesday evening, I spoke at
the YMCA annual dinner in Pittsburg. With more than 10,000 members and a wonderful facility, the YMCA
is focused on promoting healthy lifestyles and playing a positive role in community development. In 2012,
the Pittsburg YMCA provided 3,956 memberships to those in the community who could not afford to join.
I appreciate the value organizations like these add to our Kansas communities. Thanks to board president
Mark Werner for his warm welcome and to director Jack Bache for his hospitality. Congratulations to Judy
Westhoff and Joe Hart on their induction into the Hall of Fame. Click
here to see a photo from the event.
State University Shockers
The excitement of the NCAA
Men’s Basketball Tournament this year was amplified with Wichita State’s run to the Final
Four in Atlanta. On my way back to Washington, I was joined by my wife, Robba, in Atlanta to root on
the Shockers as they faced the Louisville Cardinals. The turnout of black and gold was great, and the
team and fans represented their school and our state so well. Robba and I had a memorable experience,
and we are proud of Coach Gregg Marshall and his team. Congratulations on a fantastic season!
Last week we had several visitors in the Washington,
D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below:
Association of Chronic Disease Directors
Marti Macchi of
Disease Society of America
Judi Bruning of Robinson
Madison Biondo of Lenexa
Warren and Jane Kohtz of Hays
John and Kelly Cotter of Overland Park
Ryan Cotter of Overland Park
Megan Cotter of Overland Park
Steve and Laura White of Council Grove
Evelyn White of Council Grove
Leo White of Council Grove
Karen Zimbelman of Wichita
Josh and Katie Eicholtz of Olathe
Brian and Marcella Stevens of Paola
Diana Feuerborn of Lane
Debra Bearden of Buffalo
Keli Baird of Overland Park
Kenna Gates of Lawrence
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.
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.