Kansas Common Sense

Dear Friend,


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.


Continuing Drought in Kansas and Delay in Washington

Despite a few showers in parts of the state, each of the 105 counties in Kansas remain locked in a destructive drought. While this may be the worst drought since 1956, we are not experiencing a dust bowl. Credit must be given to farmers and ranchers who have adopted new land and livestock management techniques focused on conservation and preventing wind and water erosion.

Unfortunately, the conservation programs included in the 2008 Farm Bill will expire next month, bringing more uncertainty to producers. In addition, several livestock disaster programs have already expired leaving ranchers vulnerable. Consistent farm policy is vital for drought recovery, continued conservation work, and maintaining an affordable food supply for Americans. Agriculture producers shouldn’t have to keep guessing – it is too important to their families, their industry, and consumers around the globe. Read more of my thoughts on the drought and Congress’ delayed response in an op-ed I wrote for CNBC by clicking here.

For those who did receive rain this week, it was a welcome reminder of how rain feels, smells and sounds. Click here to watch a video from that rainfall. We need much more rain and in more parts of the state before any problems are solved.


Restoring Commercial Air Service to Topeka

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the grant selections for the 2012 Small Community Air Service Development Program (SCASDP). Topeka was a recipient of a grant to restore commercial air service to the Capital City. The City of Topeka and the state of Kansas have partnered to identify growth opportunities, improvements to market services, and demand for regional jet service to Chicago, Illinois. The SCASD grant gives Topeka the opportunity to negotiate with and incentivize airlines to provide service to Topeka from airports like Chicago O’Hare.

Over the past three years, major corporations including Frito-Lay, Home Depot, Mars Chocolate, Target and Bimbo/Allen Foods have established logistic centers and manufacturing plants in the South Topeka Economic Growth Corridor. These companies have added almost 1,500 new jobs to the region with an average wage of $52,000 annually. For the corridor’s growth to continue, companies have made it clear that there must be scheduled air service at Topeka’s commercial airport, Forbes Field.   

The state legislature approved a local match of $ 1 million earlier this year, so this federal grant is welcome news. I extend hearty congratulations to all in the Topeka community who advocated for this federal funding and help make the bid a successful one.  I wish Topeka leaders success in brining commercial airlines, and the economic opportunities that come with them, to Topeka in the near future.

Speaking to the Blue Rapids Rotary

On Thursday I spoke at the Blue Rapids Rotary Club at the Community Center. We discussed many issues on the minds of residents including the drought Kansans are facing and overregulation by Federal agencies. The Blue Rapids Rotary club is an essential part of the community and its members have worked hard to serve their town. The Rotary has also regularly partnered with other clubs in the area to make a difference in the Marshall County region. I enjoyed the opportunity to visit Blue Rapids and view the new Ice Age monument installed this year in the town center. Thank you to John Schwartz of Blue Rapids State Bank for arranging my visit. Click here to see a photo.


Opening of the Hilton Garden Inn

On Friday I attended the preview event for the Hilton Garden Inn and Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse in Olathe. The new business-class hotel and restaurant is a perfect fit for Olathe, capable of catering to business travelers, tourists and locals alike. This redevelopment project ha spurred neighboring developments to invest in their own properties, creating additional economic growth in the community.

The Hilton Garden Inn facility is pursuing LEED Certification for energy and environmental sustainability. In addition, we unveiled two sculptures outside the Hotel done by Guinotte Wise. This is the same artist who crafted the Horse sculpture outside the building that our Olathe office is located in. Thank you to owner Mike Whalen and Mayor Mike Copeland for the invitation to participate. Click here to see a photo.


Visiting SafeMart in St. Mary's

On Friday morning I stopped by SafeMart, a security systems company based in St. Mary's which has more than tripled its workforce over the last two years. I enjoyed visiting with several SafeMart employees and hearing the story behind this company's success. Small businesses are an important part of the Kansas economy and SafeMart demonstrates this through the jobs they have created and their ability to meet the growing needs of their customers.

Thanks to Robert Lindstrom for facilitating my visit and to Bob Cole, Pottawatomie County Economic Development Director and members of the St. Marys Chamber of Commerce for joining me on the tour. Click here to see a photo from my visit.

Touring Bloom and Associates Physical Therapy in Topeka

On Friday, I visited Bloom and Associates Physical Therapy in Topeka. During my tour, owner and physical therapist Carolyn Bloom and I discussed the Medicare rehab therapy cap and helping increase the number of physical therapists in rural Kansas. We also talked about the challenges that come with operating a small business in today’s economy. Thank you to Ms. Bloom and her staff for the warm welcome during my visit. Click here to see a photo.

Now Accepting 2012 Service Academy Applications

As summer ends and a new school year begins, I want to remind students of the opportunity to apply to a United States Service Academy. Appointing Kansans to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, is one of my favorite duties as a Member of Congress. 

To find out the requirements and apply, please download an application from my website or contact my Olathe office. All application materials are due to my Olathe office by October 1, 2012. After applications have been reviewed, applicants will be notified of interviews with my Service Academy Selection Board, which will take place on Saturday, November 17, 2012 at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.

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:


Lloyd Northrop
Connie Northrop

John Kelly
Karen Kelly

James Gunkel
Vicky Gunkel
Rachel Gunkel
Elizabeth Gunkel
Nicholas Gunkel
Abigail Gunkel
Jessica Gunkel
Seth Gunkel

Karen Tuttle
Brandon Tuttle
Rebekah Demaranville

Contact Me

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,



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