Kansas Common Sense


Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks 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.

For More and Better Jobs Look to Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is crucial to the health of the greater economy and its role in federal deficit reduction. I am a vocal supporter of innovation because the success of entrepreneurs helps the society at large through the production of better products and services at lower prices, while creating jobs and sparking the engine of economic growth.

The power of growth to cut the deficit is profound: Increased economic growth rates of just 0.1 percent per year for 25 years would add more than $1 trillion in deficit-cutting revenue. Just imagine the impact of significant and sustained growth; it has happened before in America and, with the right pro-growth policies in place, it can happen again. Kansas has a rich history of entrepreneurship and has shaped the nature of our state and its economy. Click here to read my recent editorial on this issue.

Lesser Prairie Chicken Listed as Threatened Species
This week, we received word from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Director Dan Ashe that the lesser prairie chicken will be listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. This is not welcome news because listing the lesser prairie chicken will have real consequences on many sectors in communities across Kansas including agriculture, oil and gas development, ranching, transportation and wind energy.

I am confident there are ways to address conserving the species while not hampering economic growth and farming and ranching activities. As conservation efforts are considered, producers deserve the flexibility to implement plans that fit their operations. Additionally, it will be imperative to account for ongoing species recovery developments. I am committed to working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife to make certain the measures implemented are based on sound science and common sense, as well as represent the best interest of producers. Click here to learn more.

Senate Hearings on Challenges Facing Rural America
Questioning FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioner Ajit Pai on FCC Budget Priorities

On Thursday, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee met with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to discuss their FY2015 budget request. This year’s FCC budget request asks for additional money for technology upgrades to make the agency more efficient and additional staff to enhance enforcement of the E-Rate and Lifeline programs that have shown signs of waste, fraud and abuse. During the hearing, I had an opportunity to question FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Commissioner Ajit Pai about rural broadband, the future of Universal Service and the Connect America Fund, and the upcoming broadcaster incentive auction, which will make new airwaves available for mobile broadband services. Access to affordable broadband is critical for every Kansas community. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure the FCC not only uses their funds wisely to achieve the goals set out by Congress, but also makes common sense policy decisions that increase access to broadband and next generation communications. Click here to watch excerpts from the hearing.

Questioning Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Farm Bill Implementation
As a member of the Subcommittee for Agriculture Appropriations, I had the opportunity to question U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack this week. We primarily discussed implementation of the Farm Bill, and I asked him to provide a timeline so producers know when the new farm programs will be up and running.

The first set of programs to be implemented are the Livestock Disaster Programs, and signups should be available as soon as April 15 with producer payments being delivered thereafter. Right now, USDA is working to draft the rules for the commodity and crop insurance programs, as well as educate Farm Service Agency (FSA) staff and producers on the new programs. USDA is hopeful that by late summer producers will have the opportunity to update yields and acres with their FSA office, and by early fall the final rules for the new programs will be available. Additionally, signups for farm programs should available by the end of the year.

I also reminded Secretary Vilsack that one of his primary roles is to be an advocate for agriculture within the administration. It's imperative that the issues facing rural America are explained and understood by an increasingly urban Congress. I will continue to advocate for agriculture, and implore my colleagues from rural America to do the same.

Overregulation by the Environmental Protection Agency Continues
Proposed Clean Water Act Rule
This week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) proposed a new Clean Water Act rule. The rule would expand their authority of waters regulated by the Clean Water Act. Unfortunately, the EPA continues to draft and implement unreasonable rules that increase burdens for farmers and ranchers in Kansas and across the country. The proposed rule would expand federal authority to almost all waters in the United States including small streams and wetlands on private property that dry up during the summer months. This is yet another example of federal government overreach and unnecessary intrusion into the lives of Americans, and I encourage Kansas producers to make their voices heard. Click here to comment on the proposed rule.

EPA Employment Impact Analysis Act
I also joined Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma this week in introducing the EPA Employment Impact Analysis Act, a bill to prohibit the EPA from finalizing any major regulations until the agency analyzes the economic impact of its current air regulations as required under Section 321(a) of the Clean Air Act.

Once again, American businesses are being put at a competitive disadvantage and losing access to world markets because of government overreach. Our government should not be an adversary when it comes to the success of a business in the United States. The legislation would stop the EPA from implementing any more job-killing regulations until the economic impact of its current regulations are fully known. Hopefully, businesses in Kansas and across our country may be optimistic about the future of the American economy. Click here to learn more.

TRIO Breakfast
On Tuesday, I attended the Kansas TRIO Programs’ 20th Annual Legislative Breakfast. TRIO programs operate in 19 Kansas postsecondary schools and provide services to students from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds, students with disabilities, adult learners and veterans to support them in achieving their goal of completing higher education, and often becoming the first in their family to earn a college degree.

I had the opportunity to meet Kansas TRIO alumni Shanda Burch and Kimberly Woolf, and hear their inspiring personal stories about pursuing higher education with the support of TRIO programs. Thank you to Wichita State’s Kaye Monk-Morgan for emceeing the event and for the Kansas TRIO staffs for hosting the breakfast. As a first-generation college graduate myself, I am proud of the effectiveness of TRIO programs at our schools and have seen their success firsthand.

L’Taken Seminar
On Tuesday, four young Kansans from Topeka’s Temple Beth Sholom met with my staff as part of the 2014 L’Taken seminar. Each year, thousands of Jewish teens from across the nation travel to Washington, D.C., to learn about issues of social justice and visit with their representatives to advocate legislative action. This program is a great way for young people to learn about public policymaking and have a real opportunity to consider and articulate which issues matter to them and why. Thanks to Rabbi Debbie Stiel of Temple Beth Sholom for chaperoning the trip.

Visiting Labette County
Labette Health Visit
On Friday, I traveled to Labette County to visit Labette Health in Parsons. Labette Health, which has provided health care to families in southeast Kansas since 1961, is a 99-bed acute, intensive and rehabilitation care hospital. The hospital provides 24/7 emergency care, surgical services, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services, and laboratory services to name a few. I always appreciate the opportunity to meet with Kansas hospital administrators, medical staff, and other providers to gain insight on the unique challenges they face caring for patients.

During my visit, we discussed Labette Health’s initiatives to increase patient care quality and utilize community resources to enhance health services in the area. They emphasized the importance of targeted rural health initiatives, such as Medicare Dependent Hospital designation and the Low-Volume Hospital adjustment, which support rural hospitals that work under tight operating margins to care for patients across wide areas. We also discussed concerns with federal regulations that fail to account for the reality of delivering health care in Kansas and across rural America. For example, unreasonable and inflexible physician supervision rules relating to the provision of outpatient therapeutic services, which include drug infusions, blood transfusions, wound debridement, and cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services, are making it difficult for many hospitals in Kansas and other rural states to provide these services to patients. The Senate has passed legislation I introduced, S. 1954, to prevent the federal government from enforcing these burdensome regulations for Critical Access Hospitals and other small, rural hospitals in 2014. Another concern we visited about were Medicare audit regulations that are flawed and cause serious financial challenges and unnecessary administrative burdens for Kansas hospitals and other health providers. Reducing fraud, waste and abuse in Medicare is an extremely important goal that I support, however the government also must be careful not to overburden providers to an extent that restricts their ability to care for patients. As Ranking Member of Senate Appropriations Health Subcommittee, I continue to advocate for reasonable regulatory flexibility for rural hospitals and other health providers to deliver the care that is essential to Kansas communities. Thanks to Labette Health CEO Jodi Schmidt for hosting my visit, and to Kansas Hospital Association President and CEO Tom Bell for stopping by.

Zetmeir Health Science Facility Ribbon Cutting
While in Parsons, I participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Sonny and Sophia Zetmeir Health Science Facility on the campus of Labette Community College (LCC). LCC has a major role in educating the skilled workers necessary for economic growth in southeast Kansas and throughout our state. LCC has been tremendously successful in educating the skilled health professionals who will have a positive impact on the lives of all those in the communities they serve. Access to health care providers is essential to the survival and success of communities in Kansas and across the country. The care these providers administer determines whether individuals can remain in the communities they call home and whether their children will return to those communities to raise their families. I appreciate LCC’s commitment to providing high-quality training to the next generation of health professionals who will contribute to the success of our communities for decades to come.

Congratulations to LCC students, faculty and alumni on the opening this new state-of-the-art facility. I extend my thanks to the members of the Board of Trustees, the Capital Campaign Committee and the LCC Foundation and Alumni Association for their many years of hard work and a real team effort on this project. Thanks to all the donors, especially Sophia Zetmeir and her late husband Sonny, for your investment in the future of LCC, Parsons and our state. And thank you to LCC President Dr. George Knox for inviting me to take part in the day’s events.

Kansas Listening Tour Stops in Bourbon and Rooks Counties
Last week, I held a Kansas Listening Tour stops in Bourbon and Rooks Counties.

Prior to my town hall meeting in Fort Scott, I stopped by the courthouse to visit with County Commissioners Barbara Albright, Allen Warren and Harold Coleman and County Clerk Kendell Mason, as well as made a quick stop at the National Historic Site. I appreciated Fort Scott area residents who came out to discuss a variety of issues such as government regulations, banking and the federal budget. Medicare reimbursements, the Affordable Care Act and concerns with the employer mandate were also topics of discussion. Thanks to the Karen Endicott-Coyan and Reta Baker at Mercy Health Systems for hosting my town hall. Thanks to State Representative Adam Lusker; Bourbon County Commissioners Barbara Albright, Allen Warren and Harold Coleman; and Tom Bell with the Kansas Hospital Association for attending.

On Saturday, I continued my Kansas Listening Tour at Barney's in Palco. About 35 folks from around the area turned out to share concerns and give feedback on a wide range of topics — from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to list the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a threatened species, to First Amendment rights and Obamacare. We also discussed the importance of improving health care for veterans and tackling the national debt. Thanks again to everyone who attended including Rooks Co. Commissioner John Ruder. Thanks to Barney’s for hosting the Listening Tour stop.

The issues I focus on and work I do in Washington, D.C., are largely based on the conversations I have with Kansans during these town hall meetings. Thanks to all the folks who came out and shared a dose of Kansas common sense. Check my website for upcoming Kansas Listening Tour stops.

Kansas Community Leaders Visit Washington
This week, leaders from several Kansas communities came to Washington to visit their elected officials. They were also in town to meet with representatives from federal agencies whose projects and programs affect their respective communities. We were happy to host representatives from Dodge City, Garden City, Great Bend, Greensburg, Hays, Leavenworth and Liberal. Thanks to everyone who made the trip and stopped by our office.

Kansans in the Office
Barth Crouch of Salina
Deryl Schuster of Wichita
Judi Stork of Topeka
Kathryn Vratil of Prairie Village
Tom Marten of Wichita 

L'Taken Seminar
Micah Stiel of Topeka                    
Jacob Edelman-Dolan of Topeka                              
Jonah Stiel of Topeka    
Rabbi Debbie Stiel of Topeka                    
Alison Kempf-Haxton of Topeka                              
Doug Samth of Topeka 

City of Hays
Shawn Musil of Hays                    
Ron Mellick of Hays                        
Robert Muirhead of Hays 

Kansas Housing Association
Doug Smith of Topeka                  
Pat Michaelis of Topeka                              
Brett Johnson of Overland Park                
Mark Cox of Wichita                      
Patrick Beatty of Overland Park 

Ecumenical Advocacy Days
Sarah Marsh of Tecumseh                          
Sarah Ullom-Minnich of Moundridge
Clarissa Sents of McPherson      
Kirk Perucca of Prairie Village                    
Douglas Tilton of Prairie Village 

Kiowa County Chamber of Commerce
Sue Greenleaf Taylor of Greensburg 

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
Mark Olive of Derby 

City of Great Bend
Mayor Mike Allison of Great Bend                                                                    
Ken Roberts of Great Bend                        
Howard Partington of Great Bend 

Dodge City Area Chamber of Commerce              
Abby Elliott of Dodge City                                                            
Cherise Tieben of Dodge City                    
Pat Morse of Dodge City                              
Ellwood Smoll of Dodge City                      
Richard Sowers of Dodge City                    
Joyce Warshaw of Dodge City                  
James Lembright of Dodge City  

Garden City Delegation
Roy Cessna of Garden City                                                          
Randy Partington of Garden City                              
Lona DuVall of Garden City                        
Steve Dyer of Garden City                                                                          
Rachelle Powell of Garden City 

City of Liberal
Rozelle Webb of Liberal              
Darrel Webb of Liberal  
Mel Patterson of Liberal              
April Warden of Liberal
CJ Wettstein of Liberal  
Ada Linenbroker of Liberal          
Jack Taylor of Liberal        
Amy Sulley of Liberal    
Dave Harrison of Liberal              
Joe Denoyer of Liberal  
Debbie Giskie of Liberal              
Chris Ford of Liberal      
Marieka Ford of Liberal
Al Sill of Liberal                
Crystal Clemens of Liberal 

Dan Toughy of Lenexa  

Sunflower Electric
Clay Gustin of Hays 

Southwest Kansas Coalition
Doug Smith of Liberal                    
Dave Harrison of Liberal                              
Joe Denoyer of Liberal                  
Cherise Tieben of Dodge City                    
Kent Smoll of Dodge City                            
Rick Sowers of Dodge City                          
Jim Lembright of Dodge City                      
Joyce Warshaw of Dodge City                  
Dan Frankhauser of Garden City                              
Matt Allen of Garden City                          
Ashley Freeburg of Garden City 

Agriculture Future of America
Casey Droddy of Princeton                        
Nathan Laudan of Paola                              
Chad Nuelle of Manhattan
Ben Brown of Manhatan 

Epilepsy Foundation of Missouri and Kansas
Emily Ramza of Mission Woods                
Susan Ramza of Mission Woods 

March of Dimes               
Diane Daldrup of Overland Park                              
Christy Schunn of Wichita 

City of Leavenworth
Mark Preisinger of Leavenworth                              
Scott Miller of Leavenworth  

American Society of Agronomy
James Coover of Manhattan 

International Bank of Commerce
Dave Mengel of Randolph                          
Loiry Shivers of Wakefield 

Southeast Kansas Community Action Program  
Steven Lohr of Pittsburg                              
Linda Broyles of Arma 

Stop Diabetes
Marta Howell of Gardner                            
Elizabeth Casselman of Gardner                              
Michael Casselman of Gardner 

Kansas Alliance for Arts in Education
Barbara Warady of Overland Park 

Kansas American Legion
Elgin Wahlborg of Arkansas City                                                                
David Thomas of Leavenworth 

Hospice Action Network
Marci Overmiller of Smith Center                            
Sandy Kuhlman of Athol                              
Mark Overmiller of Smith Center                            
Julie Pinkerton of Dodge City                    
Aaron Pinkerton of Dodge City 

Kansas Bankers Association       
Chuck Stone of Topeka                
Leonard Wolfe of Marysville                      
Frank Carson of Mulvane                            
Mark Larrabee of Overland Park                              
Scott Nelson of Mulvane
Calvin Coady of Wichita                
John Boyer of Kingman                
Kyle Campbell of Abilene 

American Health Care Association
John Lair of Pittsburg 

American Ambulance Association
Lucas Spillman of Burlington                      
Jered Schulte of Burlington 

Arthritis Foundation
Staci Penner of Newton 

Kansas Housing Association
Jan Peters of Great Bend            
Brett Johnson of Overland Park
Pat Beatty of Salina                        
Doug Smith of Topeka 

Kansas Home Care Association
Jane Kelly of Topeka
Terri Wahle of Junction City 

Kansas Recreation and Park Association
Erika Devore of Lawrence
Linda Lanterman of Pratt
Diana Henderson of Great Bend
Megan Hammeke of Great Bend
Chris Umphres of Great Bend
Ryan Hammeke of Great Bend 

Kansas Small Business Development Center
Gregg Panichello of Topeka
Lisa Roberts of Wichita
Ron Newman of Hays 

American Society of Association Executives
Liz Icenogle of Overland Park
Marilyn Bier of Overland Park 

National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians
Terry David of Lyons
Dave Johnson of Sedgwick
Kerry McCue of Hays
Connie Meyer of Greeley 

Kansas Head Start Association
Erik Vaughan of Lawrence
Monnica Westendorf of Abilene
Dena Hillman of Linn
Amanda Johnson of Hutchinson 

National Association of Conservation District
Ron Brown of Fort Scott

Professional Compounding Centers of America
Eric Everett of Mission 

American Physical Society
Daniel Noonan of Lawrence 

National Association of Professional Insurance Agents
Bob Shields of Oswego
Sue Peachey of Pratt 

Edward Jones
Jeff Seibel of Hays 

Society of Professional Engineering Employees
Earl Carter of Wichita
Brenda Reiling of Wichita 

Disability Rights Center of Kansas
Rocky Nichols of Topeka 

Department of Housing and Urban Development, Region VII
Jennifer Tidwell 

Kansas Department of Corrections
Ray Roberts of Topeka
Kathleen Graves of Topeka 

Hispanic Chamber
Carlos Gomez of Topeka
Mario Urquilla of Olathe
Gabe Munoz of Overland Park 

Capitol Tour
April Warden of Liberal                
Aubrey Warden of Liberal                          
Crystal Clemens of Liberal                          
CJ Wettstein of Kismet                
Linda Wettstein of Kismet                          
Ada Linenbroker of Liberal
Tony Krsnich of Fairway
Fred Bentley of Topeka
Jerry Hohman of Wakefield
Jo Hohman of Wakefield
Jackie Hohman of Newton
Jamie Hohman of Olathe
Jay Hohman of Topeka
Kerry McCue of Hays
Terry Davis of Lyons
Dave Johnston of Sedgwick

Honored to Serve You in Washington
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. Thank you to the many Kansans who have been calling and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the issues our state and country face. I appreciate the words of Kansans, whether in the form of a form of letter, a Facebook comment or a phone call, who wish to make their voice heard.

Please let me know how I can be of assistance. You can contact me by email by clicking 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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