Kansas Common Sense
May 29 2018
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.
Commemorating Memorial Day
Today and every day, we should thank God for the heroes we have been given and recognize the debt of gratitude we owe them. I commemorated the day in Winfield at the Kansas Veterans’ Cemetery, where we paid tribute to our fallen and reflected on the blessings of freedom their service has provided. It was a privilege to speak with many of our Kansas veterans after the ceremony and it was especially meaningful to meet Chaplain Knoester and his family. Their pride in country helps me remain confident that future generations will continue to honor our nation’s greatest heroes.
My thanks to Cemetery Manager Chet Sweet, the Winfield Municipal Band, American Legion Post 10, American Legion Post 10 S-A-L, American Legion Post 10 Ladies Auxilary, VFW Post 3544, the participating Boy Scout troops, Cowley County Sheriff’s Office, Winfield Fire Department, Winfield Police Department, Senior Chief Petty Officer Laurie Hickle and Dr. Gail Burden for their participation in Monday’s ceremony.
Passing the VA MISSION Act
The Senate this week overwhelmingly supported and passed S.2372, The John S. McCain III, Daniel K. Akaka, and Samuel R. Johnson VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks, or VA MISSION Act, of 2018. This legislation empowers our veterans and provides our nation’s heroes with the timely and quality healthcare they deserve through the Veteran’s Choice program, something I have worked for years with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on developing and codifying. It makes numerous Department of Veterans Affairs reforms, propelling the department into a 21st century healthcare provider for our nation’s heroes.
Named in part after Sen. McCain, the VA MISSION Act includes provisions we have both pursued to establish access and quality standards for veteran eligibility to care in the community and strategic planning to improve the VA’s integrated healthcare system – it has been an honor to work alongside my friend and colleague Sen. McCain to reform access to community care in the VA and to provide greater choice for veterans.
Prior to the on the VA MISSION Act, I compiled a list of what I consider to be the 12 most important provisions in this legislation; however, the list could have gone on and on. This is the most significant VA reform Congress has passed in decades, and I was pleased this reform was supported by almost every member of the U.S. Senate. You can read more about these 12 provisions here.
Questioning NASA Administrator Bridenstine
As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, I convened a hearing this week to hear from the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Jim Bridenstine, as the Senate considers the agency’s FY2019 appropriations request. The administration has proposed a funding level of $19.9 billion for NASA in its 2019 request, covering activities on earth, our solar system and the far distant galaxies of the universe.
While NASA is often associated with space, we should not forget that the first “A” in NASA is aeronautics. Kansas’ rich aviation history is one I am proud of, and I am especially focused on making certain NASA is prioritizing its aeronautics research and development. Looking to the future, NASA’s experimental aircraft and research efforts are helping integrate unmanned aircraft into the nation’s airspace. These efforts hold the potential to further grow our nation’s economy.
Just this month, hundreds of students – including a team from De Soto – participated in the finals of a rocketry competition in our nation’s capital. This is the kind of learning we should applaud and support. I shared with Administrator Bridenstine my objection to proposals to close NASA’s education office given the impact this would have on NASA’s role in STEM education. I look forward to continuing to work with the administrator to encourage students to get involved in rocket science by building on the current education-related programs at NASA, which help harness excitement and inspire future leaders in science and technology.
Offering a Permanent Solution for Livestock Haulers
I joined a group of colleagues this week to introduce the Transporting Livestock Across America Safely (TLAAS) Act to establish a permanent solution for livestock haulers. Currently, overly-burdensome trucking regulations from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) require mandatory rest time that put livestock at risk, especially during summer and winter months. This bipartisan legislation would give American agriculture the flexibility it needs to safely transport livestock. Over the past year, I have been a vocal advocate for a permanent solution to provide this flexibility, from leading a letter to Senate leadership encouraging delayed implementation to ongoing conversations with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) within DOT. Unfortunately, the current regulations are designed to encourage truck drivers to do what they can to cover more miles within a limited timeframe.
In Kansas, our economy and ability to create jobs relies upon the success of our agriculture industry. This bipartisan legislation will give our livestock haulers flexibility to the hours-of-service rules that have threatened the ability of drivers to get safely to their destinations without causing unnecessary stress to the animals. I will continue to urge my colleagues to support this legislation that will make transportation easier on livestock, haulers, ranchers and the general public.
Introducing Bipartisan Aeronautics Legislation to Spur American Innovation
This week, my Senate Aerospace Caucus co-chair, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), and I introduced the Aeronautics Innovation Act, legislation to help boost innovation, research and development in the aerospace industry. The future of the industry depends on our investment in research, testing and manufacturing. Kansas has demonstrated the significant impact a commitment to forward-thinking can have, and continues to play a prominent role on the national level. Across the country, the industry is poised to make groundbreaking discoveries, perfect new technology and build better and more efficient aircraft. The investment that can be made by passing this legislation will make certain our successes can continue into the next generation. Our bill is endorsed by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Small UAV Coalition, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), Spirit AeroSystems and the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University. Please read more about our legislation here.
I welcomed the news this week that the administration is putting a pause on implementing tariffs that threatened to harm Kansas farmers, ranchers and manufacturers. We ought to continue tough enforcement of trade rules – especially in regard to trade with China – in methods other than erecting tariffs in order to be sure Americans are being treated fairly in global commerce. As the U.S. continues discussions with China on the future of our trade relationship, I will urge the administration to push for greater access to China’s growing market and to fully enforce fair trade practices.
I also sent a letter with my colleagues to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer urging the administration against a take-it or leave-it strategy on NAFTA. Recent reports have indicated some members of the administration are pushing to withdraw from NAFTA while at the same time submitting a revised agreement for congressional approval. I believe this strategy, which would mean forcing a choice between a revised NAFTA or complete withdrawal from the agreement, would hurt the chances of gathering strong bipartisan support for a renegotiated agreement. When discussing NAFTA modernization legislation with Congress, it is important for the administration to employ a strategy that emphasizes collaboration rather than conflict.
Introducing the Mobile Accuracy and Precision (MAP) Broadband Act
On Thursday, I introduced the Mobile Accuracy and Precision (MAP) Broadband Act in an effort to improve the data that informs the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision-making related to the Mobility Fund Phase II auction. This is an upcoming reverse auction of up to $4.5 billion in federal universal service support for the deployment of 4G LTE broadband to unserved areas of the country. Bridging the Digital Divide and deploying high-speed internet to rural communities continues to be a top priority for me and for my colleagues representing rural America. However, effective and efficient deployment of federal resources like the FCC’s Mobility Fund is completely reliant upon the accuracy of the data collected. This bill seeks to improve the map’s accuracy by bolstering the challenge process in an effort to better target areas that lack quality broadband services – especially rural areas – and make certain the economic competitiveness needs of all Kansans are addressed.
Welcoming the Wichita Regional Chamber to Washington
I had the pleasure of visiting with business leaders on Tuesday who traveled to Washington, D.C. as part of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual visit. While in town, they met with members of the Kansas congressional delegation and took part in policy briefings offered by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The message I received from these leaders is that progress must continue to occur to make certain Washington’s laws and regulations create an environment that allows for business growth, job creation and opportunity for Kansans. Chamber members shared with me their views on ways our country can move forward on infrastructure, trade, regulatory reform and workforce development policies so we can support a promising future for the next generation. We also discussed the importance of proactive leadership to ensure that Wichita remains the Air Capital of the World. My thanks to the group of more than 20 members who visited our nation's capital, and special thanks to Chamber Chair Bill Wood for his leadership and Chamber President Gary Plummer and his team for organizing the trip.
Photo from the Wichita Chamber
Spending Time with KCMO FBI
I visited the Kansas City Missouri Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) field office and held a townhall with FBI field agents from across Kansas on Monday. We discussed the mission of the FBI: protecting Americans from foreign and terrorist threats, cybercrimes and corruption. I reiterated my support for the FBI’s mission and my pride in the work our agents do every day to protect Kansans and Americans.
As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, my subcommittee oversees funding for the FBI and other enforcement agencies. We heard testimony from FBI Director Wray earlier this month. I was pleased to hear how the FBI works in tandem with state, local and other federal law enforcement agencies and I look forward to continuing to work with these agencies to keep our homeland safe. Thank you to Special Agent in Charge Darrin Jones, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Thomas Relford, Assistant Special Agent in Charge Shelley Doherty, Supervisory Senior Intelligence Analyst Trish Sola and Administrative Officer Mariann Bozeman for the tour and update.
Continuing my Kansas Listening Tour in Pawnee, Reno and Riley Counties
On Friday and Saturday, I hosted townhall meetings in Larned, Buhler and Manhattan.
In Larned, our conversation focused on rural healthcare, the VA MISSION Act, homelessness, mental health, the importance of free trade, the challenges farmers face, including crop insurance and commodity prices, and immigration, including border security and DACA. Thanks to new Hospital Administrator Kendra Barker, Larned City Administrator Bradley Eilts, State Representatives Leonard Mastroni and Greg Lewis for attending.
In Buhler, our discussion centered on infrastructure, the newly passed VA MISSION Act, agriculture, trade and recent regulatory reform successes. I also shared that Congress is working to get out of the continuing resolution business as we begin working to pass FY2019 appropriations bills. Thank you to USD 313 Board of Education Member Matt McCabe for arranging my visit to Buhler and to USD 313 Superintendent Mike Berblinger and grade school principal Melissa Kennedy for hosting. Special thanks to Hutchison Community College President Carter File, Hutchinson City Council Member Jade Piros de Carvalho, former Kansas Senate President Dave Kerr, Reno County Administrator Gary Meagher and Pretty Prairie City Council Member Darrin Unruh for participating. I appreciated Buhler Mayor Daniel Friesen’s kind introduction.
In Manhattan, I heard from Riley County residents about the importance of caring for our veterans, ways to prevent gun violence, the impact of trade on our economy and supporting our ag community. Thank you to the Kansas Farm Bureau for hosting and to State Representatives Tom Phillips, Sydney Carlin and Susie Swanson and Commissioners Marvin Rodriguez and Jerred McKee for attending. I appreciate the dedication and leadership Kansas Farm Bureau provides daily to our farmers and ranchers here in Kansas.
Now Accepting Fall Internship Applications
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 working closely with my staff on behalf of Kansans.
Applications for internships in my Washington, D.C. and Kansas offices for fall 2018 are due Friday, June 15. Congressional internships are open to qualified undergraduate and graduate students who have an interest in public service and have achieved academic excellence. Click here for more information.
Now Accepting 2018 Service Academy Applications
As students are finishing up the school and beginning their summer breaks, I want to remind them of the opportunity to apply to a United States Service Academy. Appointing Kansans to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.; the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo; and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. is one of my favorite duties as a U.S. Senator.
To review requirements and move through the application process, please download an application from my website or contact my Olathe office at 913-393-0711. All application materials are due to my Olathe office by September 7, 2018. After applications have been reviewed, applicants will be notified of interviews with my Service Academy Selection Board, which will take place on Saturday, September 22, 2018, at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.
Kansans in the Office
American College of Emergency Physicians
John Gallagher of Wichita
John McMaster of Wichita
Jeffrey Norvell of Kansas City
American College of Physicians
Aileen McCarthy of Topeka
Isaac Opole of Overland Park
Sachin Srinivasan of Wichita
Ky Stoltzfus of Kansas City
Donne Sweet of Wichita
Ben Quick of Prairie Village
American College of Radiology
Rob Gibbs of Parsons
John Lohnes of Wichita
Kim Mckenna of Wichita
Mary Mitchell of Leawood
Andrew Topham of Wichita
American College of Surgeons
Scott Coates of Chanute
Amanda Hangge of Kansas City
Denise Lantz of Topeka
Erich Wessel of Mission Hills
Robert Winfield of Mission Hills
American Land Title Association
Randy Barbour of Prairie Village
Nate Crow of Olathe
Michael Malone of Wichita
David Scott of Topeka
John Stauffer of Olathe
Association of Credit and Collection Professionals
Candye Daughhetee of Wichita
Irene Hoheusle of Wichita
Lacee Roe of Lawrence
Committee on Pipe and Tube Imports
Jim Cassada of Atchinson
Edward Jones Grassroots Legislative Task Force
Dan Asikainen of Prairie Village
Greg Siebel of Emporia
Heating, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors
Phillip Martin of Wichita
Lauren Roberts of Wichita
Thomas Roberts of Wichita
Kansas Academy of Family Physicians
Carolyn Gaughan of Wichita
Doug Gruenbacher of Quinter
Rick Kellerman of Wichita
Jeremy Presley of Wichita
Eugene Barner of Overland Park
Kathy Neufeld Dunn of McPherson
Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission
Pete Meitzner of Wichita
Brad Ralpha of Dodge City
National Air Traffic Controllers Association
Jami Davis of Olathe
Aaron Merrick of Olathe
Greg Mertevelis of Overland Park
National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors of Kansas
Traa Abannuelos of Wichita
Greg Braden of Lawrence
Sandy Braden of Lawrence
Jean Curry of Salina
Elizabeth Gaitan of Lawrence
Jim Garrison of Topeka
Jim Moore of Lawrence
Bob Reynolds of Salina
Tom Roberts of Lenexa
Shari Walls of Salina
Jim Whitlock of Lawrence
National Association of Music Merchants
Nick Petrella of Leawood
National Limousine Association
Diane Forgy of Leawood
National Newspaper Association
Tonda Rush of Kansas City
Mark Johnson of Lawrence
National Rural Letter Carriers Association
Tammy Goodyear of Altamont
Jim Hornbostel of Palmer
National Utility Contractors Association
William Jackson of Overland Park
Tony Privitera of Overland Park
Organic Trade Association
Brad Gamper of Kansas City
Robyn Raile of Saint Francis
Tim Raile of Saint Francis
The Alliance for Regenerative Medicine
Debra Webster of Leawood
Mark Jorgenson of Kansas City
Dave Agnew of Topeka
Mark Elder of Topeka
Alex Jones of Topeka
Jody Juarez of Topeka
Wichita Area Chamber of Commerce
Walter Berry of Wichita
Andy Buessing of Wichita
Jason Cox of Wichita
Junetta Everett of Wichita
Peggy Deiter of Wichita
Dan Flynn of Wichita
Pat Gallagher of Wichita
John Gonzales of Wichita
Tammy Goodyear of Wichita
Shelley Hansel of Wellington
Steve Hieger of Wichita
Brett Letkowski of Wichita
Karma Mason of Wichita
Michael Monteferrante of Wichita
Tram Ngo of Wichita
Gary Plummer of Wichita
Sean Robinson of Wichita
Sam Sackett of Wichita
Gabe Schlickau of Wichita
Holly Schletzbaum of Wichita
Gary Schmitt of Wichita
Scott Schwindaman of Wichita
Courtney Sendall of Wichita
Bill Wood of Wichita
Wichita Area Builders Associaiton
Wess Galyon of Wichita
Kyle Gilster of Husch-Blackwell
Lasondra Aurand of Belleville
Mary Breeden of Leawood
Randall Breeden of Leawood
Ella Brummer of Hays
Ethan Brummer of Hays
Judy Brummer of Hays
Stephen Brummer of Hays
Carl Brunner of Belleville
Darsha Enns of Belleville
Robert Flack of Atchinson
Chelsea Flack of Atchinson
Austin Gearheart of Kansas City
Gloria Hiller of Overland Park
Del Kaps of Garden City
Julie Kaps of Garden City
Debra Krotz of Belleville
Hayley Piroutek of Belleville
Marc Poppeof Belleville
Jaycie Warner of Salina
Jeanie Warner of Salina
John Warner of Salina
Joshua Warner of Salina
Linda Wood of Topeka
Shannon Woods of Abilene
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 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,
Newsletter Sign-up Form
Note: Fields marked with an * are required.