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.

Wishing Senator Bob Dole a Happy 90th Birthday
It’s an honor to wish Sen. Dole a happy birthday today. Americans know the sacrifice Sen. Dole made on their behalf during WWII, and every Kansan knows that he’s been there for them every day since. God bless Sen. Dole — a true role model for us all. Here, we’re pictured at the WWII Memorial in front of a plaque that was dedicated in his honor.

Video: Capturing Wheat Harvest in Kansas
Wheat harvest is a special time of year across the state, but even as it winds down, we know Kansas farmers work hard year-round to put food on our tables and keep the shirts on our backs. To celebrate our farmers and all they do, watch this video that captures the long days and hard work through the poem,“Wheat Harvest,” by Marjorie Maydew Bell of Smith Center. Thank you to all the farmers, farm families and everyone who helped to make it a safe and productive wheat harvest.

Bipartisan Student Loan Interest Rate Agreement in the Senate
This past week, we were successful in reaching a bipartisan agreement in the Senate regarding federal student loan interest rates. Negotiations have been ongoing to reverse a hike on interest rates for new federally subsidized undergraduate student loans that went into effect July 1, 2013. These subsidized undergraduate Stafford loans account for roughly 40 percent of all federal student loans. A vote on this agreement, which would base the interest rate on all federal student loans on the 10-year Treasury bill, is expected this week and I intend to support it. Throughout these negotiations I have advocated for legislation to permanently address interest rates for all students, rather than another short-term rate extension covering only a portion of students that would be paid for by permanent tax increases. Education is often a family’s most important investment and ought not be complicated by short-sighted Washington politics.

This bipartisan agreement would base loan interest rates for undergraduate students, graduate students, and parents off of market rates. This would lower the rates for 100 percent of borrowers who take out a new federal student loan after July 1, 2013, compared with current law. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects this proposal will save taxpayers $715 million over 10 years. The plan also provides certainty by fixing the rate borrowers pay at the time they take out their loan. You should visit with your high school counselor or college financial aid advisor for more information, and to see how the legislation will impact your financial planning.

U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Bill Including $404 Million for NBAF
On Thursday, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee debated whether to include funding for the construction of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan in the Fiscal Year 2014 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill. As a member of this Committee, I defended this national security priority and world-class facility as a vital component to protecting Americans against biological threats. After much deliberation among Senate Appropriations Committee members, the bill was approved with bipartisan support and includes $404 million for construction for NBAF, an amount equal to the U.S. House of Representatives approved appropriations bill. I’m committed to making certain NBAF remains a top priority and the passage of this bill is good news for Kansas and for the country. With Kansas as the home for NBAF, there will be more opportunities to develop our state as a research epicenter, ultimately creating jobs for Kansans in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Click here to listen to me debate during the committee markup meeting Thursday.

House Passes ACA Employer and Individual Mandate Delays
On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on a bipartisan basis to delay the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) employer and individual mandates. President Obama has already acknowledged that a significant component of the ACA, the employer mandate, is unworkable and has delayed its enforcement. By passing legislation to delay both the employer mandate and the individual mandate, the House acted to protect individuals, families and businesses from the cost and complication of this law. This is a step in the right direction, but the problem continues to be the entire ACA. President Obama and Senate Democrats should delay the individual mandate and stop forcing Americans to pay the price of health care cost increases, paralyzing regulatory uncertainty, burdensome new taxes, and other dysfunction brought about by this misguided law. If Senate Democrats agree with the President that employers should be protected from the ACA’s costly mandates, they should also afford individuals and families relief.

Last week, as Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee, I offered several ACA-related amendments during deliberation of the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2014, two of which would delay the ACA’s individual and employer mandates. Click here to read more about my amendments. And click here to watch me discuss the amendments and permanently delaying the ACA.

Protecting Minority Rights in the U.S. Senate
On Tuesday, the Senate came together to avert changes to the rules of the Senate that were being proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in order to protect the Obama Administration’s unconstitutional “recess” appointments. The 60-vote threshold needed to pass presidential appointments and vital pieces of legislation forces Republicans and Democrats to work together and compromise in the best interests of Americans. Lowering this threshold to a simple majority would make it much more difficult to have bipartisan compromise in the Senate and effectively shut Americans living in smaller states like Kansas out of the debate in Washington.

Sen. Reid’s retreat from implementing the “nuclear option” made it clear that his threat was never about making the Senate run better and blocked nominations. In fact, Senate Republicans have worked with Democrats to confirm more than 99 percent of the President’s nominees over the past four-and-a-half years.

Touring Russell Regional Hospital
Back in Kansas for the weekend, I toured the Radiology Department and the Rehabilitation Services Department at Russell Regional Hospital. During my visit, I met with the new CEO Harold Courtois. It was great to speak with Harold, a Russell native, about issues facing critical access hospitals like Medicare reimbursement rates as well as the many advances the hospital is making in medicine and healthcare delivery. Russell Regional is a 25-bed Critical Access Hospital and provides 24-hour physician coverage. Click here to see a photo from my visit.

Amelia Earhart Festival Garden Party
Saturday night I attended the Amelia Earhart Festival in Atchison, which is held in honor of its favorite daughter, Amelia. A garden party was held on the lawn of the home Amelia was born in, which was built in 1861 and sits on a river bluff with a beautiful view overlooking the Missouri River. Her home is now the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum and is a tourist destination to learn about Amelia’s life as a female aviator. Thank you to Jacque Pregont, Atchison Chamber for the invitation and to Rick Berger for the hospitality.

At the festival, I also met Amelia Rose Earhart (pictured below) who is the recipient of the Amelia Earhart Pioneering Achievement Award. The award exists to honor those who carry her spirit, and she happens to be a distant relative of Amelia and is a former Tonganoxie resident. Amelia Rose is currently an NBC reporter in Denver and has started the Fly With Amelia Foundation to help provide flight scholarships for high school-aged girls and educational opportunities for people of all ages. Learn more here.

In the Office
Last week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below:

Falun Dafa Association of Kansas City
Sarah Woellhof of Overland Park 

National Turkey Federation
Ruth Kimmelshue of Wichita
Eddie Troutman of Wichita
Mike Martin of Wichita 

Fort Scott Community College
Nicole Foster of Fort Scott
Beth Towner of Fort Scott
Santos Manrique of Pittsburg
Lynne R. Wheeler of Fort Scott
Clayton Tatro of Fort Scott 

K-State Research and Extension
Karaline Mayer of Paxico
Curtis Thompson of Manhattan 

Kansas Association of Conservation Districts                     
Pat Lehman of Lawrence
Bevin Law of Longford
Gene Albers of Cunningham
Ronald Brown of Fort Scott 

Policy Institute
Sharon McCue of Andover 

Kansas Corn Growers Association
Bob Timmons of Fredonia
Brian Baalman of Menlo
Dennis McNich of Utica
Roger Pine of Lawrence
Pat Ross of Lawrence
Charles Foltz of Garnett
Sue Schulte of Princeton
Sue Hardman of Garnett 

National Young Leaders Conference
Jeanetta Davis of Kansas City
Mark Stevens of Lawrence 

American Mental Health Counselors Association
Eric Beeson of Manhattan 

Northeast Magnet High School
Sharon McCue of Wichita 

Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics
Randall O’Donnell of Leawood
Genny Nicholas of Kansas City
Dallas Polen of Overland Park
Sandra Lawrence of Kansas City 

Capitol Tour
Allen Snyder of Overland Park
Eric Snyder of Overland Park    
William Bolton of Wichita
Anne Bolton of Wichita
Noah Bolton of Wichita
Madeline Bolton of Wichita
Ronald Zink of Tecumseh
Virginia Zink of Tecumseh
Shea Polzin of Olathe
Kinley Polzin of Olathe
Lucile Kaiser of Redwing
David Stokka of Leavenworth
Stephanie Stokka of Leavenworth
Evan Stokka of Leavenworth
Andrew Stokka of Leavenworth
Ben MacGill of Manhattan
Allison MacGill of Manhattan
Mark Ford of Olathe
Christine Ford of Olathe
Rachel Ford of Olathe
Olivia Ford of Olathe
Eric Geesling of Turon
Danielle Geesling of Turon
Kayley Geesling of Turon
Abigail Geesling of Turon
Jack Iturralde of Shawnee
Brian Gates of Beloit
Julie Gates of Beloit
Riley Gates of Beloit
Parker Gates of Beloit
Avery Gates of Beloit
Tyson Gates of Beloit
Chris Cooper of Enterprise
Vicki Cooper of Enterprise
Gene West of Greensburg
Janet West of Greensburg
Curtis Thompson of Wamego
Meri Thompson of Wamego
Tyler Jordan of Manhattan
Kyle Jordan of Manhattan
Jeffrey Ellis of Lake Quivira
Ed Stevenson of Liberal
Alicia Stevenson of Liberal

Honored 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 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.

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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