As a Senator, my job requires that I spend many hours in Washington, but Kentucky is my home and I make it a priority to be in the state when the Senate is not in session. Over the last two weeks, the Senate was not in session so I decided to again travel throughout the Commonwealth as I often do. Not only is this a great way to engage with Kentuckians from every corner of the state, but it’s also a great way to ensure I can continue my work most effectively as Kentucky’s voice in the Senate.
I had many productive discussions with economic development leaders across the Commonwealth. From a business roundtable in Leitchfield to meetings with Northern Kentucky realtors and homebuilders, I answered questions leaving no topic off limits. In Daviess County, I met with farmers and agriculture leaders and heard about their concerns for the future. I also had the opportunity to speak with students in Western Kentucky about my work in Washington. In Louisville, I had meetings with community members and policy experts. At many of my events throughout the state, I spoke with the local media about matters important to their area. I appreciate these opportunities to hear directly from Kentuckians about the issues that affect their lives.
One of the greatest privileges of being Kentucky’s senior Senator is to be able to help when asked. Last fall, the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center asked for my assistance when it applied for a competitive grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I wrote a letter to the NIH Director about the groundbreaking research being done at UK. And we were all pleased to see the Markey Center was awarded an $11.2 million federal grant to study the connection between cancer and obesity. I believe that UK will continue its extraordinary research to lead in the fight against cancer and make a real impact on the health outcomes of patients right here in Kentucky. I am proud to have advocated on UK’s behalf and to have participated in the grant announcement on campus while working back home.
In Richmond, I participated in a roundtable discussion about the devastating effects of substance abuse in Kentucky communities. Dozens of leaders from Madison, Garrard, and Estill counties described their efforts to reduce drug abuse in the region and offered their perspectives on the best ways to promote recovery. Through this and similar community conversations across the state, it has become clear that we can’t incarcerate our way out of this problem. To save lives in Kentucky, we should also emphasize treatment and rehabilitation in our communities.
Last year, I shepherded two pieces of legislation through the Senate that can help us win this fight. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) expands education and prevention initiatives, improves treatment programs, and bolsters law enforcement efforts. The 21st Century Cures Act authorizes $1 billion over two years to states to help combat the prescription opioid epidemic. This week, the Administration announced that the first of these resources are now on their way to Kentucky.
There is still much more to be done to end the opioid crisis and many communities are looking at innovative ways to do so. For example, Madison County Judge/Executive Reagan Taylor told me about his plans for a new rehabilitation facility in the region. I am hopeful that our communities will be able to secure the resources necessary for this type of project, and I look forward to supporting them.
This has been a productive state work period, and the insights I’ve gained will be helpful as I continue my work on behalf of Kentuckians in Washington, D.C. We have an ambitious legislative agenda ahead of us – including funding the government and negotiating comprehensive tax reform. I will keep the thoughts and concerns of the people of Kentucky foremost in mind as these and other issues come before the Senate, and I hope you will continue to share your thoughts with me as I work on Kentucky’s behalf in Washington.
By writing a letter, emailing through my website, or calling my office, you can always voice your thoughts and concerns about the federal government and my work in the United States Senate.