Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you 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.
Startup Act 2.0 Introduced in the House of Representatives
The unemployment rate remains above 8 percent for the 40th consecutive month, and Americans are growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of leadership shown by Congress and the President in addressing our struggling economy and creating jobs. Last month, I introduced legislation to do just that called the Startup Act 2.0 along with Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE). Our bipartisan jobs bill is designed to spur economic growth by targeting policies toward the young companies that research shows are truly responsible for creating jobs. In fact, data from the Kauffman Foundation shows that for close to three decades, companies less than five years old have created almost all of the net new jobs in America – averaging about 3 million jobs each year.
This week, a bipartisan group of lawmakers joined our efforts to jumpstart the economy and create jobs for Americans by introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives. I was pleased to join the House members at a press conference for the introduction of Startup Act 2.0, and I thank Representatives Kevin Yoder (R-KS), Mike Grimm (R-NY), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) and others for leading this introduction. I look forward to working with them to advance this through both chambers. To watch video from the press conference, click here.
Following the House introduction, I lead a conversation on the Senate floor on the importance of passing Startup Act 2.0 along with Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Click here to watch the floor discussion on why now is the time to act – not after the election, not next year.
Congress proved that it could work together successfully when it passed the JOBS Act, and we must keep that momentum going with Startup Act 2.0. These are bipartisan ideas with bicameral support – it’s time for Washington to come together to pass Startup Act 2.0, strengthen the economy, and create jobs. For more information about the Startup Act 2.0, including a summary of the provisions, news coverage, and endorsements, please click here.
Medical Research Saves Lives and Grows Our Economy
Medical research has generated hundreds of groundbreaking discoveries that have improved and saved lives, enabled health care to become more effective and efficient, and lowered overall health care costs. On Tuesday, I spoke on the Senate floor to recognize the importance of medical research and the invaluable contributions made by scientists, doctors and researchers across the United States who are working to overcome cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and many other devastating diseases. Our nation’s consistent, sustained support of medical research is essential to saving and improving lives, growing our economy, and maintaining America’s role as a global leader in medical innovation.
In Kansas, the bioscience industry has grown at a faster rate than the national sector since 2001. This growth opens the doors for new medical and technological advancements. Kansas has already become a leader in advancing biomedical and bioscience research. One example of this great work is the University of Kansas Cancer Center in Kansas City, which has formally applied to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to become an “NCI-designated Cancer Center.” NCI is a component of NIH, and is our nation’s principal agency for cancer research and training. Obtaining NCI designation would dramatically enhance KUCC’s ability to discover, develop and deliver innovative treatments to patients in our state, improving their quality of life.
Currently, there are 66 NCI-designated cancer centers across the country – but none in Kansas. With NCI designation, KUCC patients would have access to the latest clinical trials and the most advanced cancer treatments close to home. This past February, KUCC hosted NCI scientists, who were in town to conduct the official site visit related to the Center’s NCI application. I was honored to speak to the NCI scientists and express my full and ongoing commitment to KUCC in its pursuit of this exclusive designation. Click here to watch my speech this week on medical research.
Senate Action on the Farm Bill
Last Thursday I voted in favor of bringing the Farm Bill to the Senate Floor for debate. There have been 97 amendments introduced to S.3240, The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act, and there are sure to be many more. As we work through the amendment process I will work to make certain the process remains open and fair. It is important that a strong Farm Bill is the result- strong farm policy is a key part of what makes our country the most food secure nation in the world. I will continue to work hard in the weeks ahead to make certain agriculture is well represented in our nation's capital.
Increasing and Strengthening Domestic Energy Production
This week, I introduced legislation with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) to expand eligibility for American energy interests to structure as master limited partnerships (MLPs). The Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act (MLP Parity Act), S. 3275, will allow the renewable energy sector to utilize the advantageous tax structure of MLPs for project development. MLPs in essence combine the business development advantages of a corporation with the tax advantages of a partnership to facilitate easier access to capital markets. Master limited partnerships have been largely responsible for the tremendous growth in our country’s energy infrastructure. In order to grow our economy and increase our energy security, sound economic tools like the MLP should be expanded to include additional domestic energy sources. Allowing emerging technologies in the renewable energy sector to access this structure, American investors can drive development and commercialization as we seek opportunities to make our country more energy independent. This legislation simply builds on a successful model, and I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues on policies that will drive innovation, create American jobs, and grow our economy.
Examining JP Moran and Implementation of Dodd-Frank
On Wednesday I participated in a Senate Banking Committee hearing focused on recent events at JPMorgan Chase as well as the progress of the banking regulators in implementing the Dodd-Frank Act. While it seems clear that the losses at JPMorgan were significant and worth investigating, it is notable that our financial system was unaffected. It is my hope and goal that taxpayers are never again put in the position of bailing out large financial firms from the consequences of their risk taking. I fear that Dodd-Frank has not eliminated the problem of “Too Big to Fail” however, and until we do that, taxpayers remain on the hook. As a part of this hearing, I made a plea to Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) to allow proposals that would modify Dodd-Frank to be considered by the Committee. We have witnessed many of the negative effects of Dodd-Frank, and now is the time to act.
Visiting with Bob Dole, Remembering Dole’s Sister Norma Jean
On Tuesday, we celebrated D-Day, remembering those brave Allied troops who stormed the beaches and cliffs of Normandy 68 years ago to defend our nation's freedom. Before the invasion, General Eisenhower reminded our troops that "the eyes of the world are upon you," and the world watched as evil was defeated and freedom and liberty spread across Europe.
We are fortunate to live in nation where men and women volunteer to defend our freedom. One such man was Senator Bob Dole, who joined the Army shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. I had the opportunity to visit with him this week here in Washington and I was reminded of his great courage and sacrifice. Click here to see a photo from the visit.
Senator Dole once said this about his comrades in arms, a fitting tribute to the greatest generation and all they accomplished for our country: "We were just ordinary Americans who were called on to meet the greatest of challenges… No one knows better than the soldier the futility of war, in many respects the ultimate failure of mankind. Yet there are principles worth fighting for, and evils worth fighting against. The defense of those principles summons the greatest qualities of which human beings are capable: courage beyond measure, loyalty beyond words, sacrifice and ingenuity and endurance beyond imagining.”
Senator Dole’s leadership and character continues to inspire – from WWII veterans, to the folks I represent, to my own life, where he has served as a mentor for pragmatic policymaking and tireless service.
I am saddened by the passing this week of Norma Jean Steele, Senator Dole’s youngest sister. Robba and I extend our deepest sympathies to the Steele and Dole families. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
Paying Tribute to Four Fallen Kansas Troops
On Thursday, I spoke on the Floor of the United States Senate to recognize several fallen American heroes who called Kansas home, including Private First Class Cale Miller of Olathe; Chief Warrant Officer Two Bryan Nichols of Hays; Specialist Spencer Duncan of Olathe; and Sergeant Alexander Bennett, of Tacoma, Washington, who was stationed in New Century, Kansas. On Thursday, Bryan, Spencer and Duncan were honored at Arlington National Cemetery as part of a full honors ceremonial tribute to the 30 service members who lost their lives August 6, 2011 when insurgents fired upon their helicopter as it was rushing to aid troops in a firefight in Wardak Province in Afghanistan. The helicopter crash was the deadliest single loss of American forces in the war in Afghanistan.
The ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery was moving and meaningful as so many members were honored at once for their sacrifice. Much like the service at Arlington National Cemetery, Pfc. Cale Miller was given a hero’s welcome in Olathe on Monday when he was brought back home to be laid to rest at Fort Leavenworth. Cale was killed just two weeks ago during a combat mission in Afghanistan, when the vehicle he was driving was struck by an improvised explosive device.
It is my hope that, in some small way, my tribute appropriately expressed my respect and admiration for these amazing young men. Cale Miller, Bryan Nichols, Spencer Duncan and Alexander Bennett laid down their lives for our country and gave the ultimate sacrifice. We thank God for giving us these heroes, and remain committed to preserving this nation for the sake of the next generation – so they too can pursue the American dream with freedom and liberty. We are indebted to our veterans to do nothing less. Click here to watch my remarks.
Visiting with Kansas High School Students in Washington, D.C.
This week I had the pleasure of meeting with two groups of young Kansans visiting Washington, D.C. Students from Smoky Valley High School of Lindsborg and Solomon Middle School of Solomon visited my office during their trips to our nation’s capital. It is always a pleasure to welcome Kansas students to Washington. From the National Archives to the U.S. Capitol, Washington offers students a better understanding of America’s rich history and provides them with an inside-look at how our government operates. I commend the teachers for encouraging their students to develop a greater interest in the wide range of issues facing our nation today. Click here to see photos of my visit with the students from Solomon Middle School and Smoky Valley High School outside the U.S. Capitol.
Remembering the Bramlage Family of Junction City
This week, Kansans learned of the tragic deaths of Ron Bramlage, his wife Rebecca, and children, Brandon, 15; Boston, 13; Beau, 11; and Roxanne, 8. The Bramlage family was traveling back to Kansas on Thursday when their single-engine turboprop passenger plane crashed in central Florida. Ron was a devoted husband and father, and both he and his wife Rebecca were well known in the Junction City community for their generous spirit. Ron, Rebecca and their children were role models in the community and will be greatly missed. My heart goes out to the family's loved ones during this difficult time. I ask all Kansans to join me in keeping their family and friends in their thoughts and prayers in the difficult days ahead.
Visiting with the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees
On Thursday evening, I attended a reception for the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park. I had the opportunity to visit with several trustees, presidents and academic officers from the 19 community colleges in Kansas. Also in attendance was Dr. Walter Bumphus, President of the American Association of Community Colleges.
Kansas community colleges provide access to affordable, quality educational opportunities that prepare Kansas students to compete for jobs in an increasingly competitive market. These institutions play a major role within the higher education network in Kansas, and the economic successes of our state are in no small way attributable to the performance of Kansas community colleges and Kansas institutions of higher learning as a whole. It was a pleasure to visit with so many folks who are involved in providing such valuable educational opportunities to Kansans. Thanks to Dr. Terry Calaway, President of Johnson County Community College, and Terri Schlicht for their kindness and hospitality in hosting the event.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below. Click here to view photos of some of the visits:
Kansas Soybean Commission
Harold Kraus of Hays
Lance Rezac of Onaga
Mel Davis of Shawnee
Bill Patrick of Shawnee
Kenlon Johannes of Topeka
Dennis Hupe of Topeka
Emily Relph of Lenexa
Propane Marketers Associations of Kansas
Greg Noll of Topeka
Ray Collins of Topeka
Jimmy Ainsworth of Overland Park
Micah Redman of Overland Park
Kurt Rietema of Kansas City
Kansas Credit Union Association
Greg Winkler of Topeka
Stephanie Farber of Wichita
Dan Springer of Hutchinson
Pat Yokley of Lenexa
Larry Damm of Wichita
Jane Hammil of Wichita
Steve Schurle of Manhattan
Susan Dyer of Wichita
Haley Davee of Topeka
American Heart Association
Elizabeth Tatham of Olathe
Tom Linz of Lawrence
Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence
Joyce Grover of Lawrence
Joy Wilner Boyle of Prairie Village
National Education Association
Chris Hicks of Wichita
Risa Edelman of Leawood
Community Mortgage Lenders of America
Mark McDougald of Leawood
Free State Brewing Company
Steve Bradt of Lawrence
Doug Scott of Wichita
Karen Haren of Kansas City
The Competitive Carriers Association
Troy Barnett of Elkhart
Kansas City Board of Trade
Jeff Borchardt of Kansas City
Steve Campbell of Leawood
Wichita Area Builders Association
Carl Harris of Wichita
Gary Pashman of Topeka
Judy Zimbelman of Wichita
Tony Zimbelman of Wichita
Mark WcKenna of Winfield
Terry Robinson of Topeka
American College of Physicians Services
James Gardner of Manhattan
Donna Sweet of Wichita
Jasmine Gordon of Kansas City
Many Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the US Capitol this week including:
Katie Nicol of Scotland
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Please 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,
Newsletter Sign-up Form
Note: Fields marked with an * are required.