Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter.
A 4th of July Weekend with Family
Independence Day is a time when we come together as Americans to commemorate our nation’s founding by renewing our commitment to fulfilling the responsibilities of citizenship. As you gathered to celebrate with your families and friends, I hope you took a moment to remember the sacrifices our veterans and current members of the military have made that allow you and I to continue living in the land of the free.
Lenexa Community Days
I had the privilege of kicking off Independence Day in Lenexa by participating in the annual Community Days Parade. Thousands of Kansans came together to celebrate our nation’s 240th birthday in Old Town Lenexa. I always love catching up with old friends and make some new ones. Special thanks to Ted Halpin for driving.
144th Annual Wamego Independence Day Parade
Robba and I finished the day Monday in Wamego for the 145th Annual Independence Day Parade – one of the largest in the state. The theme this year was “Wamego 150 – The Place We Call Home.” Robba and I appreciated the opportunity to see so many patriotic Kansans celebrate our nation’s independence and the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. Thanks again to Lonnie Paquette for driving us in this great community festival.
Joining the 22nd Annual Wild West Festival in Hays
The Hays community got together for their 22nd Annual Wild West Festival Parade, Rally ‘Round the Flag! over the weekend, and I had the privilege of participating. The Wild West Festival is one of Hays’ biggest community events. The four-day celebration concludes every year with a firework show. I was happy to be back in Hays and benefitted by hearing from Kansans. Thanks to Shauna Zweifel for driving me and to Don and Sharon Barton for providing my parade transportation. Also, a special thanks to the Wild West Festival Committee for all their hard work on this year’s event.
Robba also joined the Hutchinson and Sterling communities for their Independence Day gatherings.
Senate Considers Bill to Battle Zika, Fund Military Construction
I voted in favor of the Military Construction and Department of Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill this week, which also included funding for battling the Zika virus. The threat that the Zika virus poses to Kansans and Americans—particularly pregnant women and newborn babies—must be taken very seriously. Providing experts with the resources they need to keep us healthy is critical, and I am disappointed this bill did not receive enough votes to advance. As a result of not advancing this bill, a number of real steps forward to support veterans and critical military construction projects like those at McConnell Air Force Base and Fort Leavenworth remain uncertain. I will continue to work to make certain we meet the need of our military, veterans, and those at risk from the Zika virus. Click here to read my full statement.
Addressing Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Crisis
The Senate considered legislation this week to address the ongoing fiscal problems in Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory. As a territory, Puerto Rico does not have access to traditional bankruptcy process like U.S. states and municipalities. Without action, Puerto Rico was scheduled to default on $1 billion in bond payment responsibilities on July 1. However, I am unconvinced that the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) passed by the House and considered by the Senate puts Puerto Rico on a sustainable path or provides appropriate U.S. taxpayer protections. For example, the legislation creates an oversight body to make recommendations to the Puerto Rican government. The Puerto Rican government, however, retains the right not to act on those recommendations by simply informing Congress and the White House that they cannot or will not comply.
I am committed to economic growth for all Americans, including Puerto Ricans. This legislation failed to provide assurances that taxpayers will not be called upon to assist Puerto Rico in the future, but I will continue to support pro-growth policies for the territory. A growing economy will better prevent future emergency legislation through job creation and increased opportunity.
Meeting with the New Air Force Chief of Staff
I had the opportunity on Tuesday to meet with General David Goldfein, the incoming chief of staff of the Air Force. During our visit he shared information on the important mission carried out at McConnell Air Force Base, the progress on the KC-46A tanker, and the need to maintain readiness to be able to carry out our missions around the world. Gen. Goldfein also shared his admiration for the Wichita community and their support of McConnell and the airmen who serve there. I am pleased that the Senate voted to confirm his nomination on Wednesday, and I look forward to working with him in the future.
Getting Close to Completing 105-County Listening Tour
I benefitted from spending time with Salina residents on Thursday afternoon during a townhall meeting. I heard about the need to better care for our veterans, the Second Amendment and our shared concern with improving health care in Kansas. Area residents also shared that flights from the newly renovated Salina Regional Airport are providing a great opportunity to expand commerce in Saline County. Appreciated Sue Peterson and Eric Cole helping to set up the meeting at Kansas State University Polytechnic. Thanks to Salina Airport Director Tim Rogers, Rep. Steve Johnson, Salina City Manager Jason Gage and Tom Bell of the Salina Regional Health Center for participating.
I visited Anthony on Friday and received some great perspective during a stop on my Kansas Listening Tour. Harper County area residents shared feedback and asked questions about taking care of our veterans, strengthening the agricultural economy and community banks. I always appreciate the opportunity to hear from Kansans on the many federal issues facing rural America. Thanks to Anthony Kiwanis Club Treasurer Bob Hottman for helping to arrange the productive discussion.
During a town hall meeting in Chanute today, I had the privilege of hearing from a group of Chanute residents who had great questions and insight to share. We discussed their concern with keeping community banks in business, experience with Pell grants helping our students succeed, worry about federal agricultural regulations such as the WOTUS rule and their thoughts on many ongoing national security concerns. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be with these Kansans today and for the assistance of Community National Bank CEO Dan Mildfelt and Ronda Whelchel in helping arrange the meeting. Thanks also to Neosho County Community College President Dr. Brian Inbody, former state legislator Dick Reinhardt and his wife Linda for attending. It was great to see Chanute Superintendent Richard Proffitt, City Manager Jeff Cantrell, Chamber Director Jane Brophy and Chanute Regional Development Authority Director Matt Godinez.
Stopping by Yates Center
I had the opportunity to stop in at some of the local businesses in Woodson County on Tuesday morning. While in Yates Center, I visited with Kansans at the Sek Multi-County Health Department, Woodson Chamber, the post office, Yates Center News, Woodson County Courthouse, Yates Center Pharmacy and Woodson County Farm Bureau. I also had a nice conversation with Bill Steiner, who owns a barber shop in town. Great to see so many friendly faces.
Celebrating the Annual Tradition of Wheat Harvest
It’s harvest time in Kansas. And while most Americans associate harvest with autumn leaves and Thanksgiving, Kansans think of hot southern winds that ripen the wheat and signal it’s time to get the combine ready for what they hope will be a good crop. Harvest is a time when sons and daughters work alongside their parents and grandparents. It’s a time when values are passed down and life lessons are learned – not just those of hard work, but of how to manage disappointment and make the most of success. I encourage you to check out this video to commemorate this year’s harvest.
Thanks to a Talented Group of Summer Interns
My D.C. office has benefitted from the help and efforts of a talented group of interns this summer serving Kansans. Mark, Jesse, Kate, Taylor, Justin and Austin have helped my staff provide tours of the Capitol building for Kansas visitors, researched legislative initiatives and greeted callers. I appreciate all of their hard work and all that they do on behalf of Kansans.
Apply to be a Fall 2016 Intern – Deadline July 15
My own interest in public service was sparked by an internship for Kansas First District Congressman Keith Sebelius in 1974. As an intern, I had the chance to learn firsthand how a Congressional office operates and how the legislative process works.
I am proud to be able to offer this same opportunity in my Senate office today where I have interns year-round who have a unique opportunity to work closely with my staff on behalf of Kansans. Applications are already being accepted for internships in my Washington, D.C. and Manhattan, Kansas, offices for the fall 2016 term. The deadline for the fall is Friday, July 15. Congressional internships are open to qualified undergraduate and graduate students who have an interest in public service and have achieved academic excellence.
Kansans in the Office
Kimberly Trigg of Salina
Garret Williamson of Hutchinson
Daniel Greenhalgh of Hutchinson
Nick Bouzianis of Topeka
United Spinal Association
Michael Korwal of Overland Park
Patricia Kowal of Shawnee
Nate Faflick of Wichita
Tyler Samuelson of Olathe
Kansas Soybean Commision
Dennis Gruenbacher of Andale
Suzanne Gruenbacher of Andale
Kenlon Johannes of Topeka
Danielle Comstock of Fredonia
Garret Heath of Topeka
Ashlie Koehn of Burns
Health Industry Distributors Association
Dennis Clock of Winfield
National Teachers Hall of Fame
Carol Strickland of Emporia
Kansas Air National Guard
David Weismaar of Maize
Joe Deeds of Sedgwick
Joe Jabara of Wichita
Megan Torline of Wichita
Nathan Pearce of Ellinwood
Kyla Pearce of Ellinwood
Peyton Kaeding of Overland Park
Amanda Kaeding of Overland Park
Chris Atkins of Overland Park
Michael Sykes of Olathe
Jennifer Sykes of Olathe
Jack Sykes of Olathe
Maggie Sykes of Olathe
Kate Martens of Salina
John Tiffany of Olathe
Cheron Tiffany of Olathe
Vaughn Tiffany of Olathe
Savannah Tiffany of Olathe
Joeseph Zlatnik of Overland Park
Leah Zlatnik of Overland Park
Alan Zlatnik of Rossville
Tammy Zlatnik of Rossville
Patricia Welicky of Bonner Springs
Alice Neal of Edwardsville
Luke Martin of Bonner Springs
Joshua Welicky of Bonner Springs
Sasha Welicky of Bonner Springs
Nate Faflick of Wichita
Codi Fenwick of Hays
Ella Fenwick of Hays
Brian Schwanz of Lansing
Bethanie Courtney of Lansing
John Taylor of Wichita
Holly Taylor of Wichita
Ann Taylor of Merriam
Lillian Taylor of Wichita
Codi Fenwick of Hays
Ella Fenwick of Hays
Michael Nielsen of Council Grove
Maraya Nielsen of Council Grove
Ryan Norton of Manhattan
Alexis Jones of Lawrence
David Fernkopf of Topeka
Paula Ackerman of Topeka
Jeannett Moore of Liberal
Melody Stratton of Lawrence
Warren Hays of Lawrence
Chad Uhl of Bonner Springs
Jacob Carter of Bonner Springs
Ashlie Koehn of Burns
Todd Sazama of Hutchinson
Heather Sazama of Hutchinson
Taiten Sazama of Hutchinson
Kenzie Sazama 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.
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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