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.

Syrian dictator Assad’s violation of international law this week had horrible consequences and was worthy of a response by our nation. But, further military action requires a strategic plan. I encourage President Trump to consult with Congress so we can work together to determine our long-term goal for Syria. If military action is necessary, Congress must approve.

Confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court
This week the Senate voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch to be an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, filling the vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last year. Justice Gorsuch previously served as a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which includes Kansas, and was a highly qualified nominee who demonstrated his fitness for the job during congressional hearings and in my private meeting with him in March. After months of highly politicized debate and confirmation hearings, a bipartisan majority of the Senate voted to support his confirmation. 

Veterans Legislation Sent to the President’s Desk
I was joined by Senator John McCain of Arizona, Senator Jon Tester of Montana, and Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia in spearheading the Veterans Choice Improvement Act, which will extend the Veterans Choice Program beyond the original August 7 expiration date. This legislation will streamline the processes between the VA and community providers that serve our veterans, helping to cut red tape and reducing the burden on veterans and their healthcare providers. While we work to reform the Veterans Choice Program, this legislation is an important step to preserve access to timely, high-quality care for veterans through a program on which many veterans in Kansas and across the nation rely. I look forward to the president signing this important legislation into law in the coming days.

Legislation to Revitalize the Kansas Manufacturing Sector
On Wednesday, legislation I introduced advanced through the Senate Commerce Committee on a bipartisan basis. The Made in America Manufacturing Communities Act would help create and support good-paying manufacturing jobs in Kansas communities and across the nation by codifying into law the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership (IMCP), a successful program that is administered by the Economic Development Administration (EDA). This program allows communities, like the “South Kansas Manufacturing Community” in Wichita, to compete to receive preferential consideration for federal economic development funds from participating federal agencies. The competitive designations are based on the community applicant’s ability to train a capable workforce, conduct innovative research, attract investment, and develop successful infrastructure among other competencies. I am proud to support this legislation to allow Kansas communities to grow their manufacturing capabilities and foster steady careers for future generations of Kansans. I hope to soon see it considered by the full Senate. To read more, click here

100th Anniversary of World War I
Thursday marked the 100th anniversary of our nation’s entry to World War I, and the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City held an event to commemorate the significant occasion. I was pleased so many Veterans Service Organizations participated in the event, which included flyovers by U.S. aircraft and the French Air Force’s acrobatics team, the Patrouille de France, the U.S. 1st Infantry Division Band and Color Guard, Native American Color Guard, Army and Air Force legacy units that served during World War I, and special video presentations and musical performances from the World War l period.

Additionally, the VA hosted wreath-laying ceremonies throughout the week to recognize the sacrifice of the 353,082 WWI veterans interred in VA sites across the country. The VA operates 135 national cemeteries and 33 soldiers’ lots and monument sites in 40 states and Puerto Rico. More than 4 million Americans, including veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in VA’s national cemeteries.

USDA Approves Increase to Grazing Acreage for Ranchers Affected by Wildfires
In response to the wildfires in Southwestern Kansas, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved emergency grazing of ranch land effected in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas that was enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) under certain conservation practices for the rest of 2017. Allowing emergency grazing of CRP acres will give producers additional options as they search for grassland for their livestock. I am currently working with USDA officials to provide the same access to CRP acres enrolled under conservation practice 25 (CP25) to provide ranchers with every available acre of grass to feed the surviving cattle. I appreciate USDA’s continued attention on relief efforts and will continue to urge them to utilize every tool available to assist families devastated by the fires. To read more, click here.

Discussing Kansas Aviation Priorities in Subcommittee Hearing
The Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security convened a hearing on Thursday to examine issues related to rural air service. This was the second in a series of committee hearings expected this spring as the Senate works to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as its authorization expires September 30.

As a member of the subcommittee, Thursday’s hearing provided me the opportunity to discuss issues critical to the Kansas aviation community and air travelers, including the Essential Air Service (EAS) and federal contract tower program. Included in the president’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget outline released this March is a proposal to eliminate the EAS program, which would end most rural commercial air service and harm rural economies and people across Kansas. For thousands of Kansans, EAS provides an essential connection point for travel throughout the country; and without the program, these Kansans would be hundreds of miles away from the nearest hub airport.

Kansas is home to eight contract towers – air traffic control towers that are privately operated in partnership with the FAA. The program has been a public-private success story, saving taxpayers millions of dollars each year. Without it, small airports would be forced to operate without the important safety benefits that control towers provide. I will continue to advocate on behalf of EAS and contract towers which play vital roles in connecting rural parts of the country with the national air transportation system.

Advocating for U.S. Beef Exports
In advance of the recent meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, I joined a bipartisan group of senators in urging the president to raise the critical issue of U.S. beef’s current denied access to China. China announced last September they would lift the ban on U.S. beef that has been in place since 2003. However, attempts since then to negotiate the technical terms of the agreement have faltered. As our country continues to reevaluate our trade relationships, it is critical that we place greater focus on enforcing current rules and eliminating unfair trading practices that harm Americans’ ability to export commodities abroad. With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside of America’s borders, it’s essential that we pursue trade policies that promote market access for Kansas commodities around the world.

Meeting with Our State’s Future Leaders
I met with the Student Government leaders of the University of Kansas and Kansas State University this week as part of their Big XII Day on the Hill. We discussed topics important to the students at their universities including college affordability, student loans, campus sexual assault and the need to increase mental health awareness and access to services for our students. I appreciate their insights and proposed solutions for how the federal government fits into these issues. I continue to be impressed with the intelligent, articulate, high-quality individuals who involve themselves in leading our Kansas universities into the future.

Championing the Down Syndrome Community on Capitol Hill
It was great to meet with Kansans representing the National Down Syndrome Society in my D.C. office on Wednesday. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Task Force on Down Syndrome, I am committed to advocating for the needs of the Down syndrome community and working to fully fund IDEA so our schools may adequately provide for our students’ needs. My hope to see us make strides toward a better understanding of Down syndrome is also one of the reasons I’ve pushed for funding medical research through the National Institute of Health. I want to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to strive for the American Dream, and for these individuals, a big part of that is the ability to make use of ABLE accounts. To keep the momentum going for these accounts, I sponsored a new proposal – the ABLE Act 2.0 – this week to make them more available and flexible.

It was good to see the impact that my friend Rachel Mast’s ABLE account is having in helping her plan for her bright future – she was the first in the country to open an account last year after the ABLE Act was signed into law. I also enjoyed meeting the students she introduced me to: Ted Clayton, Tavrick Lawless, Hanna Bradford, Conner McCaulley, Allie Petracek, Kyle Winegar and some of their parents.

Advocating for Aerospace Investment in Kansas
I met Tuesday with various aerospace companies to explain the many advantages of working with Kansans to support their operations, technology, innovation and productivity. The talented engineers and technicians within the Air Capital of the World in Wichita and throughout Kansas have much to offer aerospace companies looking to expand their business and their reach in the commercial and defense industries. Safeguarding our nation means both a strong national defense and a strong economy. The aerospace industry is where these two priorities combine. In today’s global economy, aerospace provides vital opportunities for America at home and abroad. Kansas is fortunate to be at the crossroads of the aerospace industry, and it’s a priority of mine to make certain that continues to be the case.

Saturday Morning Community Breakfasts
I dropped by a few events in Geary and Dickinson Counties Saturday morning where Kansans are raising money for causes important to them. In Junction City, Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church teamed up with those fighting Alzheimer’s – an important cause and a fabulous breakfast. Later on, I visited Woodbine Lions Club where they’re raising funds for community improvement projects. My final stop was in Abilene at Kiwanis Club, where I enjoyed visiting with Battle of the Bulge veteran Marvin Ledy and former Dickinson County Commissioner Joe Nold. It was nice to start the weekend in the company of so many Kansans looking to make a difference!

Kansans in the Office

American Psychological Association
Johanna Nilsson of Kansas City

Thales ATM
Tony LoBrutto of Overland Park
Chris Gravonelle of Overland Park 

International Pizza Hut Franchise Holders Association
Joe Luot of Wichita 

Live Nation Entertainment
Clinton Baker of Wichita
Marc Johnson of Lenexa
Steve Meadows of Wichita 

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Alexandra Erwin 

Growth Energy
Tom Willis of Liberal
Rock Ormiston of Liberal
Mike Chisam of Lyons
Derek Peine of Oakley
Jesse McCurry of Colwich 

Union of Concerned Scientists
Cynthia Annett of Manhattan 

Kansas Association of Professional Insurance Agents
Bob Shields of Oswego
Sue Peachey of Pratt
Trina Ceballer of Topeka 

SourceAmerica Design Challenge Finalists
Shari Gillett of Olathe
David King of Olathe
Isaac Taylor of Olathe
Tanner Williams of Olathe
Cameron Wasinger of Olathe
Matt Reichmuth of Olathe
Holden Hartley of Olathe 

National Down Syndrome Society
Hanna Bradford of Overland Park
Tavrick Lawless of Wichita
Rachel Mast of Olathe
Rebecca McCaulley of Wichita
Jonathan Mast of Olathe
Allie Petracek of Overland Park
Anita Raghavan of Wichita
Kathryn Winegar of Olathe
Kyle Winegar of Olathe
Sarah Clayton of Olathe
Ted Clayton of Olathe 

Central Plains Area Agency on Aging
Annette Graham of Wichita
Julie Govert Walter of Manhattan 

American Lung Association
Linda Crider of Stilwell
Helen Unruh of Hutchinson
Wayne Unruh of Hutchinson 

Kansas Council of the Military Officers Association of America
Andy Trager of Wichita
Antonio Pimentel of Wichita 

K-State Research and Extension Public Issues Leadership Conference
Daryl Buchholz of Manhattan
Gary Snyder of Lewis
Sandy Jacquet of Lecompton
Greg Davis of Greenwood
Carmen Crandall of Highland
Michelle Buchanar of Hunter
Mark Buchanar of Hunter
John Forshee of Clay Center
Sarah Keatley of Manhattan
Mary Sullivan of Ulysses
Donna Krug of Great Bend
John Krug of Great Bend
Laurie Chandler of Topeka
Trudy Rice of Lawrence 

National Shooting Sports Foundation
Aaron Oelger of Shawnee 

Kansas Chamber Executive Committee
Justin Hill of Lawrence
Doug Guamer of Lawrence
Kent Beisner of Lawrence
Alan Cobb of Topeka
Kerb Maxwell of Mission Hills 

IBEW Local Union 226
Brian Threadgold of Topeka 

American Osteopathic Association
Sirus Saeedipour of Olathe 

Endangered Species Act Discussion Group
Kris Kobach of Topeka
Bill Myers of Topeka 

K-State Student Government Big XII on the Hill
Trenton Kennedy of Frankfort
Sarah Niederee of Great Bend
Jack Aors of Manhattan
Jessica Van Ranken of Manhattan
Bryan Swartz of Manhattan 

Frank Friedman of Leawood 

North American Deer Farmers Association
Jesse Seltmann of Denison 

Kansas Association of Nurse Anesthetist
Ruth Morris of Overland Park
Leah Coyle of Olathe
Brady Strahm of Sabetha
Jed Weber of Pittsburg
Paul Hertel of Shawnee 

Dennis Ridenour of Fairway
Wayne Carter of Lawrence
Matt Falk of Fairway
Kevin Sweeney of Fairway
Julia Stephanus of Leawood
Chris Standlee of Wichita
Jonny Kot of Leawood
Joshua Sestak of Lawrence 

Kansas Respiratory Care Society
Karen Schell of Frankfort
Elissa Williams of Gardner 

American Legal and Financial Network
Michael Zevitz of Overland Park 

Kansas Housing Association
Dony Smith of Topeka
Beth Easter of Lawrence
Matt Gillam of Prairie Village
Trey George of Topeka
Sophie George of Topeka
Pat Michaelis of Topeka
Tony Krsnich of Mission Hills
David Rhooe of Olathe
John Wirehmenn of Topeka 

Kansas Secretary of Commerce
Antonio Soave of Topeka
David Soffer of Topeka
Sue Schlapp of Wichita 

School Nutrition Association of Kansas
Glenda Johnston of Garner
Terri Markham of Chanute
Elaine Gammis of Kansas City
Stan Vallis of Topeka
Cheryl Johnson of Topeka 

Greater Kansas City Building & Construction Trades Council
Frank Carpenter of Olathe
Mark Dominguez of Topeka
Russell Haroy of Berryton 

Fort Hays State
Brett McGee of Yates Center
Allison Railsback of Mankato
Brittany Howell of LaCrosse
Briauna Fahrenbruch of Pratt 

Stephen Samuels of Kansas City 

Kansas City Area Transportation Authority
Steve Klika of Overland Park
Daniel Serda of Kansas City
Dick Jarrold of Overland Park
Paul Snider of Lenexa
Becky Weber of Overland Park
Dennis Bixby of Tonganoxie 

Construction Owners & Executives
Sheila Ohrenberg of Overland Park
Adneme Fosts of Roeland Park 

KU Student Government Big XII on the Hill
Stephonn Alcorn of Gardner
Gabby Naylor of Lawrence
Whit Collins of Leawood
Abdoulie Njai of Wichita 

Capitol Tour
Brynn Peter of Basehor
Mary Sousa of Basehor
Peggy Stout of Atlanta
Dwain Stout of Atlanta
Matthew Stout of Atlanta
Teresa Stout of Atlanta
Aidan Stout of Atlanta
Isaac Stout of Atlanta
Mark White of Shawnee
Sheryl White of Shawnee
Bob Buxton of Kansas City
Linda Buxton of Kansas City
Bruce Trapp of Havea
Kathleen Trapp of Havea
Danny Hewett of Overland Park
Pat Duggan of Overland Park
Lanlina Ly of Wichita
Kin Ma of Wichita
Quang Ly of Wichita
Nga Tran of Wichita

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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