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.
I am heartbroken by the senseless violence in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Staging an attack like this in a place of worship is unthinkable. I will continue to monitor this investigation as more details become available regarding the shooter, his motive and his methods.
I ask you to join me in keeping Sutherland Springs and the families of all who were impacted in your prayers.
Moving Forward on Tax Reform
This week, the House of Representatives introduced its tax reform proposal, and the Senate plans to introduce our tax reform plan in the coming days. Reforming our tax code gives us the opportunity to help more Kansans find good paying jobs, increase their personal income, reduce their cost of living and save for the future. Our tax code should work for American families, not against them. As I continue working with my colleagues on the details of our proposal, I will be mindful of how this will impact our deficit and will remain focused on how to make our tax code simpler and fairer for all Americans.
Introducing Legislation in Response to Recent Southwest Kansas Fires
This week, I introduced legislation to improve and reform the livestock disaster programs that Kansas farmers and ranchers rely on in times of natural disaster. In response to the wildfires that devastated southwest Kansas ranches this past spring, as well as the earlier fire Anderson Creek Fire in Barber County, and the difficulties expressed to me in conversations with impacted ranchers, the legislation includes four bills to make changes to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Emergency Conservation Program (ECP).
The legislation would allow producers to receive partial LIP payments for severely injured livestock sold to a processing facility at a discounted rate; give producers the option to be paid upfront for replacing damaged fences under ECP to expedite the payment process; and increase the maximum level of assistance producers may receive under each program to help them recover from a natural disaster.
I was not surprised that Kansans worked together as friends and neighbors to overcome many of the challenges they faced earlier this year, but I also want to make sure federal disaster programs are providing assistance. The changes to the LIP and ECP programs in this legislation will make certain that the FSA resources get to agricultural producers in need quickly and efficiently and help them recover from future natural disasters. You can find more information on the legislation, which I introduced with Rep. Roger Marshall in the House of Representatives, here.
I hope you'll watch this powerful video of Ashland community members sharing the difficulties they experienced with federal recovery programs following the wildfires earlier this year, which devastated parts of Clark County and the surrounding areas, and how they could benefit from this legislation.
Introducing Legislation to Help Korean DMZ Veterans
On Tuesday, I introduced the bipartisan Fairness for Korean DMZ Veterans Act of 2017, which would change the dates of presumption for Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) veterans. The VFW brought to my attention that many veterans who served in the Korean DMZ during the Vietnam War are suffering from significant health conditions associated with exposure to toxic substances, and under current law some of these veterans are still excluded from qualifying for the healthcare benefits they need.
I introduced the Fairness for Korean DMZ Veterans Act of 2017 with Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a bill that would change the dates of the law to cover the entire period of potential exposure to help more Korean DMZ veterans suffering from health conditions resulting from toxic exposure gain access to the critical healthcare benefits they have earned. You can find more information on the legislation here.
Urging the FCC to Protect Rural Broadband
I sent a bipartisan letter to the Federal Communications Commission with 39 colleagues on Wednesday urging the FCC to ensure its commitment to affordable and reliable broadband for consumers in the hardest to reach communities across rural America. The letter reads, in part:
“A lack of resources to meet our [shared national broadband] goals is undermining investment and consumer access to affordable broadband across much of rural America. For this reason, we write to encourage the FCC to take the much-needed step of addressing the High-Cost Universal Service Fund (USF) budget shortfall.”
“Many of the providers that serve rural consumers and businesses in our states have already begun to feel the pain of an arbitrary budget cap on High-Cost USF support. We urge the FCC to take action as quickly as possible to ensure the High-Cost USF program provides sufficient and predictable support to help deliver affordable, high-quality broadband to rural consumers.”
Full letter here.
Participating in a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Oversight Hearing
As Congress prepares to consider tax reform, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on Wednesday held an oversight hearing on tax priorities for Indian Country. Liana Onnen, chairwoman of our state’s Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, testified before the committee in support of reforms necessary to bolster economic growth for our nation’s tribes. A good start is ensuring the tax code treats tribal governments equally with state and local governments.
We discussed legislation that I recently introduced, S. 1935, the Tribal Tax and Investment Reform Act, which seeks to offer tribal governments the same means to promote prosperity that other levels of government currently enjoy. Promoting tribal tax parity is a common sense approach that can result in a better way of life for tribal members and non-members alike, and I hope to see such measures included in the upcoming tax bills.
Attending an Honor Flight at the World War II Memorial
I attended an Honor Flight at the World War II Memorial in D.C. on Thursday. With Veterans Day quickly approaching, I enjoyed the opportunity to speak with Kansas veterans and thank them for their service. Several of them were headed to the President Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial groundbreaking ceremony to recognize another great Kansan who dedicated his life to serving our country – an exciting step forward in making the National Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial a reality. I look forward to the day when Americans visiting the nation’s capital can honor President Eisenhower, the principles he stood for and our state’s favorite son.
Meeting With Kansans at the Belleville Lions Club
After returning from D.C. to Kansas for the weekend, I was the keynote speaker at a Belleville Lions Club meeting. Civic club visits serve as an important reminder that our best work is truly done at home. I shared my long held beliefs in regard to protecting the rural way of life and discussed taxes and healthcare legislation. I remain committed to making sure decisions in D.C. do not negatively affect our hospitals, schools or Main Street. As a longtime Lions Club member, I was grateful for the chance to speak with the Belleville Club.
Bethany College Loan Announcement
On Saturday, I traveled to Lindsborg to address Bethany College with a very special announcement. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is awarding the college a $21.2 million loan enabling the school to continue providing quality education for young people in Kansas and many other states. Bethany College is a special place important to many students and their families, and Kansas is better because of Bethany College and its graduates who contribute to the well-being of communities across our state. I look forward to returning to Bethany College to see the progress made on this project.
It was great to see so many friendly faces and Bethany alumni. Thank you to President William Jones for the invitation and the warm welcome.
Inquiring About Slow Post-Office Response to Out-of-Order Handicap Accessible Door
In early October, I read an article in the Emporia Gazette that concerned me about a situation regarding an out-of-order handicap accessible door at a U.S. Post Office in Emporia. The article noted the handicap door had been in a state of disrepair for several months and was causing hardship for Post Office customers – especially those who depend upon accessibility accommodations to utilize the facility and its services.
After I read the article and spoke with Emporians, I wrote a letter to the U.S. Postal Service Central Plains District office as to why this problem has gone insufficiently addressed for months and what plan of action the Post Office has devised to properly restore access to all citizens. While I am not satisfied with the length of time it took to address this issue, I was pleased to hear the Emporia Post Office showed "Kansas Kindness" to help hold the door for those in need while repairs took place. This week, the Central Plains District office reported back to me that the door has been repaired and the handicap accessible entrance has returned to full usage. Thank you to the Emporia Gazette for reporting on this important issue and to those who helped make certain all citizens of Emporia have access to essential post office services.
Kansans in the Office
Mike King of Hesston
Peggy King of Hesston
Cheryl Giefer of Girard
Marian Jamison of Topeka
Victoria Mosack of Wichita
Wichita State University
Andy Schlapp of Wichita
John Tomblin of Wichita
John O’Leary of Wichita
Kansas Obesity Advocate
Nicholas Brown of Wichita
American College of Emergency Physicians
Bradley Jackson of Mission Hills
Four Star Lawns
John Johnson of Olathe
Dalton Hermes of Lenexa
Overland Park Chamber of Commerce
Mike Hess of Stilwell
Tracey Osborne of Overland Park
Tom Robinett of Overland Park
Michael Tracy of Overland Park
Brett Bogan of Abilene
Kansas National Guard
Roger Murdock of Topeka
Dana Graf of Topeka
National Home Infusion Association
Tom Shaughnessy of Lenexa
Ted Kramm of Overland Park
Jessica Knieff of Topeka
Johannah Knieff of Topeka
Michael Loritz of Olathe
Crystal Loritz of Olathe
Braden Loritz of Olathe
Haley Loritz of Olathe
Brock Loritz of Olathe
Jaime Berry of Wichita
Chris Berry of Wichita
Emma Hayes of Wichita
Ethan Hayes of Wichita
Duane Williams of Olathe
Marilyn Williams of Olathe
Laura Heiman of Axtell
Brad Heiman of Axtell
Kass Heiman of Axtell
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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