Far too often, elected officials do too much talking and not enough listening. As Kansas’ United States Senator, I have the privilege of taking my marching orders directly from Kansans. When it comes to making certain your voice is heard on Capitol Hill, I believe I can best serve my constituents if I’ve personally listened to your questions and concerns.
Since being elected to Congress, it has been a top priority to return home each weekend to visit with the folks who sent me to Washington. Whether our conversations occur in line at the grocery store, at church, or when I’m filling up my truck at the gas station, the input I get from Kansans impacts the decisions I make on your behalf in our nation’s capital.
As a Member of the House of Representatives, I launched the “Big First Listening Tour” and held annual town hall meetings in each of the First District’s 69 counties. I have continued this tradition as Senator with the “Kansas Listening Tour,” and now travel to each of our state’s 105 counties to hear directly from Kansans.
This April, I wrapped up my latest Kansas Listening Tour with a town hall meeting at the South Hutchinson Public Housing Authority. I was proud to lead my Senate colleagues in town hall meetings last year. Now, with 210 completed during my time as U.S. Senator, I have no intention of slowing down. In fact, I kicked off another Kansas Listening Tour just last week in Leavenworth where more than 100 Kansans came out to the Riverfront Community Center to share what’s on their minds.
During my travels, I’ve found that no matter the region of the state, my conversations with folks are consistent. First and foremost, Kansans want to be able to pass on to the next generation the special way of life we love and lead in our state. In so many of our communities, keeping the local economy alive is about having a Main Street with a hardware store, grocer, doctor and a pharmacy. Few of my colleagues in Washington understand how these seemingly simple things can be major issues, but the decisions made on Capitol Hill directly impact the communities we call home and whether our children will return to those communities to raise families of their own.
From Overbrook Public Library to Colby Community College Student Union, folks are concerned about the increasing costs of Obamacare. They are also frustrated with how government overregulation and intrusion is impacting job creation, community banks and small businesses.
From the Community Hall in Frontenac to Fire Station #3 in Lenexa, I heard questions about why Washington isn’t being good stewards of taxpayer dollars and doing more to get out-of-control federal spending under control.
And from the Ranch House Café in Ashland to the Community Center in Randall, Kansans want to know what is being done to provide certainty to the agricultural community.
Finally, in virtually every county I visit, Kansans voice concerns about whether the Department of Veterans Affairs is upholding its commitment to our veterans. Even with the passage of the Choice Act last summer, more must be done to correct the bad policies of the past and improve the quality of life for our nation’s veterans. In Kansas, this means increasing access to timely, quality care, especially for those living in the rural areas of our state.
Though some things have changed since my first town hall meeting in Marion back in July 1997, the focus of efforts in Washington, D.C., remains much the same today as it was when I was first elected – to see that we have prosperity in the communities we call home.
As Bill New recently said at my Listening Tour stop in Leavenworth, “It’s important that elected officials come back into our community so they can communicate with the citizens that elected and put them in office.”
I agree. Personally visiting with Kansans reinforces my long-held belief in the strength and spirit of our communities and the values that make Kansas a great place to live, work and raise a family. I believe our state will continue to thrive thanks to the work ethic, concern and kindness of its people – but it’s vital that Congress to be an ally of the people, not an adversary.
I will continue to fight on behalf of Kansans on Capitol Hill, and truly appreciate the input I get from you during my Listening Tour stops. Please continue to give me your questions, complaints and marching orders. I will work to make certain policymakers in our nation’s capital understand them as well.
You can learn more about my upcoming Kansas Listening Tour stops by subscribing to my weekly newsletter at www.moran.senate.gov.