Kansas Common Sense
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Senate and House Pass Compromise Veterans’ Health Bill
On Thursday evening, I supported the passage of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act, which will offer veterans the choice to access the timely and quality health care they have earned. The U.S. House of Representatives also passed the bill this week, and now it heads to the President’s desk for his signature.
Our veterans should receive the best quality health care our nation has to offer, and this bill was developed as a response to the deplorable situations veterans have been experiencing at VA medical facilities across the country. This legislation is a step toward making certain veterans no longer struggle with unacceptable wait times in seeking care at VA facilities.
Another important issue this legislation addresses is the burden of distance and time in seeking care at VA facilities, which Kansans know all too well when the average driving time is two hours to a VA medical facility. Veterans should have easy access to health care services regardless of where they call home. This legislation is modeled after a pilot program that I led in the House of Representatives and became law in 2008, the Access Received Closer to Home (ARCH). Like ARCH, this legislation is offering veterans a choice, and it will begin to improve the lives of veterans who have lost hope in the agency that was created to serve them. Creating this access to health care is necessary for our nation’s veterans to receive the quality treatment they have dutifully earned. Click here to read more about the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act.
Voting to Confirm New VA Secretary
On Tuesday I reiterated my support for Bob McDonald as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on the Senate floor and voted in favor of his confirmation, which was approved in the Senate by a vote of 97 to 0. Mr. McDonald is a leader in the tradition of the 82nd Airborne – paratroopers who are well regarded as the first to be called when there’s a military emergency; as they say, ‘When the President calls, the 82nd Airborne will answer.’ When the President called, he answered that call – he answered the opportunity to serve the veterans of this country. I believe new leadership throughout the institution, starting with Mr. McDonald at the top, must command the VA to head down a new path of redemption and hope. We must create an agency that is more cost-effective, more compassionate, more caring toward the veterans it was created to serve. Click here to watch my full remarks on the Senate floor.
Touring A&E Custom Manufacturing in Kansas City
On Monday before returning to Washington, D.C., I visited A&E Custom Manufacturing in Kansas City, Kansas, which does high-end fabrication and metal stampings. A&E is a great example of a successful company that is now getting jobs that were going to China because of their innovative technology and educated workforce. As A&E continues to compete globally for business, I will continue to work in Washington to put in place pro-growth politics that lower energy and health care costs – two issues owner Steve Hasty mentioned have an impact on his business. Thanks to Steve for the opportunity to tour and learn about A&E and the great work they are doing in Kansas. Thanks also to Steve Dailey of Fairfax Drainage District and Marty Quinn of Industrial Lumber – both Fairfax Industrial Association board members – for joining me on the tour. I appreciated the update Steve Dailey shared on the levee system surrounding the businesses in Fairfax. During my visit, I also enjoyed learning about the partnership A&E has with Kansas City Kansas Community College to train students on equipment used in fabrication and metal stampings. Click here to read more about my visit to A&E Custom Manufacturing.
Encouraging President Obama to Listen to Kansas Businesses
President Barack Obama visited Kansas City on Tuesday where he delivered a speech on the American economy. Before he arrived, I encouraged the President to use his trip as an opportunity to listen to the concerns and experiences of entrepreneurs, workers and business owners in Kansas City. While our local economies are growing, it’s important that President Obama learn that many of our businesses are fighting an uphill battle against Washington’s heavy-handed policies and that reckless regulation limits the American economy from realizing its potential.
As the founder of the Senate Economic Mobility Caucus, I have sought to draft policies that help all Americans and facilitate economic growth. After studying the economic data, including the work of Kansas City’s own Kauffman Foundation, I’ve concluded that one of the best ways to get our economy back on track is by passing Startup Act 3.0. Since I introduced this legislation, it has received bipartisan support and was endorsed by the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. With the President’s support, Congress can pass this bill and bring a commonsense approach to regulation, allow businesses to attract talent, stimulate investment, and unleash American innovation, growth and job creation.
Protecting Descendants of Veterans Exposed to Toxins During Service
We are fortunate to live in a nation where men and women voluntarily offer their service and sacrifice in support of our country. Standing by their side, through combat tours and multiple duty stations around the world, is their family and we must acknowledge that their family members make sacrifices as well. Some wounds of war may be passed from the service member to their children and grandchildren.
On Thursday, I introduced the Toxic Exposure Research Act with Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. The legislation would provide for research on the health conditions of descendants of veterans who were exposed to toxins during their service to our nation, such as Agent Orange in Vietnam, Gulf War Neurotoxins, burn pits in Iraq or other chemicals from recent conflicts overseas. Ultimately, my hope is that this medical research will determine which conditions are a result of debilitating toxins and lead to the appropriate support and benefits these family members deserve. Military families support our nation in their love and commitment to those who serve in the Armed Forces, they should not inherit the residual wounds of war that puts their lives at risk long after the military operation is over. Toxic exposure research is a necessary step toward making certain our military men and women and their descendants will be properly cared for in the future. We must keep our promise to our veterans and their families, who have made great sacrifices for the sake of our country’s security and freedom. I spoke about this vital issue on the Senate floor on Thursday. Click here to watch me remarks.
Honoring Herb Schwartzkopf on the Senate Floor
Also on Thursday, I honored Herb Schwartzkopf of Ransom, Kansas, for his dedication to advocating on behalf of our nation’s veterans. Herb served in the United States Navy and after returning to Kansas he joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars, of which he is considered a Life Member. Herb’s dedication to his fellow veterans is exemplified by being named an All-American Post Commander, which adds to his previous accolades which include being named an All-American State Commander and All-American District Commander. To have earned all three of these recognitions is an extraordinary and rare achievement for one individual. It is often referred to as the “Triple Crown”. In the VFW’s 115 years of existence, there are only 79 “Triple Crown” recipients, and Herb is the first Kansan to receive this unique recognition. The Ransom VFW’s success is the result of Herb’s true selflessness, and I want to say thank you to Herb for his dedication to veterans and Kansans. Click here to watch my tribute to Herb Schwartzkopf.
Lesser Prairie Chicken Legislation to Protect Producers
I recently introduced S.2623, legislation to protect producers from the consequences of the listing of the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act with Senator Pat Roberts. I am confident there are ways to address conserving the species while not hampering economic growth and farming and ranching activities. My legislation would prohibit the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of the Interior from altering any land management practices based on the listing. I am also a cosponsor of legislation to remove the lesser prairie chicken from the list for a five-year period to allow state-based conservation plans to take effect before revaluating the listing. These commonsense solutions would address the effects the listing is already having on a number of Kansas industries including agriculture, oil and gas development, transportation and wind energy.
Participating in the Phillipsburg Rodeo Parade
On Saturday I joined local residents for Kansas' Biggest Rodeo Parade through downtown Phillipsburg. I had a great time seeing the herd of longhorns and visiting with the folks from Phillips County, as well as those who came to town for the event. Thanks again to Denis Miller for inviting me and Tad Felts for letting me continue the tradition of joining him on his broadcast during the parade.
(Photo credit: JJJ Photography of Ord, Nebraska)
Attending the Tipton Picnic at St. Boniface Parish
Also on Saturday afternoon, I attended the 68th annual Tipton Picnic and Alumni & Friends Celebration at the St. Boniface Parish in Tipton, Kansas, and had a great time visiting with members of the community. This is a top-notch community event with all proceeds going to support Tipton Catholic High School. Thanks again to Father Damian Richards for extending the invitation.
I also visited with the children of Harry and Phyllis Schmitt, who grew up on the Harry Schmitt Farm just south of Tipton. I have fond memories of visiting the Schmitt family farm as part of the 2006 Partners in Conservation Tour along with the Chair of the House Ag Committee. Pictured are Travis and Kathy Schwerdtfager of Lincoln, Don and Mary Read of Winfield, Col. Bob and Sandy Law of Ft. Riley, and Becky Schmitt of Tipton.
Kansas in the Office
Ken Canfield of Overland Park
National Youth Leadership Conference
Omar Hall of Leavenworth
Joe Mendoza of Holcomb
Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics
Randall O’Donnell of Leawood
True North Outdoor, Inc.
Michael Jones of Kansas City
Kansas City Board of Public Utilities
Joe Dick of Kansas City
Kansas Coalition for School Readiness
April Holman of Topeka
National Council on Independent Living
Shannon Jones of Lenexa
Lou Ann Kibbee of Hays
David Lane of Topeka
Matraca Ochs of Hoisington
Kate McKinney of Overland Park
George McKinney of Overland Park
Mary McKinney of Overland Park
Charles McKinney of Overland Park
Harrison McKinney of Overland Park
Jeffrey Dehnert of Lenexa
Kelly Dehnert of Lenexa
Jeffrey Dehnert Jr. of Lenexa
Andrew Utech of Shawnee
Brad Hodson of Pittsburg
Abigail Hodson of Pittsburg
Jeremiah Platt of Manhattan
Gina Platt of Manhattan
Hayden Platt of Manhattan
Kenley Platt of Manhattan
Reed Howard of Olathe
Megan Howard of Olathe
Scott Gales of Topeka
Cheryl Gales of Topeka
Morgan Gales of Topeka
Ally Gales of Topeka
Jacob Gales of Topeka
Richard Walker of Newton
Ann Walker of Newton
Andrew Walker of Newton
Jerry Cox of Anthony
Lee Cox of Anthony
Jacob Cox of Anthony
Robert Thomas of Larned
Rebekah Thomas of Larned
Amber Thomas of Larned
Christian Brunner of Larned
Dmitri Baklanov of Leawood
Elena Baklanov of Leawood
Anna Baklanov of Leawood
Andrew Baklanov of Leawood
Leah Baklanov of Leawood
Grant Norris of Bel Aire
Alissa Norris of Bel Aire
Jason Bayless of Wichita
Sarah Bayless of Wichita
Jason Bina of Derby
Linda Miller-Bina of Derby
Lloyd Lantz II of Linn Valley
Lloyd Lantz III of Linn Valley
Maureen Barry of Manhattan
Daniel Barry of Leawood
Carol Barry of Leawood
Keith Hagel of Stilwell
Nicole Hagel of Stilwell
Laura Sullivan of Overland Park
Brooke Prondzinski of Olathe
Paige Prondzinski of Olathe
Taylor Hughes of Olathe
Jeff Webster of Shawnee
Jeanie Webster of Shawnee
Hannah Webster of Shawnee
Royce Dunn of Olathe
Rolanda Dunn of Olathe
Amber Dunn of Olathe
Andrew Dunn of Olathe
Matthew Dunn of Olathe
Christopher Dunn of Olathe
Jade Piros de Carvalho of Hutchinson
Alex Carvalho of Hutchinson
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.
Very truly yours,
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