News Releases


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.

This week we mourn the loss of former First Lady Barbara Bush. Barbara was a kind and gracious person who had the ability to make her views known and respected. She was a First Lady who made immense contributions to our nation and made Americans proud. Robba and I express our condolences to the entire Bush family.

Olympic Abuse Investigation
On Wednesday, I chaired a hearing, “Olympic Abuse: The Role of National Governing Bodies in Protecting Our Athletes,” where we heard from athletes who suffered abuse at the hands of their sports organizations. My Senate Commerce subcommittee has congressional jurisdiction over amateur athletes and therefore initiated an investigation in January 2018 surrounding the failures to protect these athletes from sexual abuse.

It is clear that the failed protocol and procedures must be reevaluated and we must identify the policy changes already made to improve conditions for amateur athletes – such as the establishment of the U.S. Center for SafeSport – and determine recommendations to make certain no young athlete’s cries for help go unheard. I appreciated hearing and learning from Ms. Jordyn Wieber (Gymnast and 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist), Ms. Jamie Dantzscher (Gymnast and 2000 Olympic Bronze Medalist), Ms. Bridie Farrell (Speedskater and 2014 Olympic hopeful), and Mr. Craig Maurizi (competitive figureskater). Gymnast and 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist McKayla Maroney shared written testimony with our subcommittee. 

Fallen Educators Legislation Heads to President’s Desk
The House of Representatives passed my legislation with Rep. Roger Marshall (KS-01) this week to recognize the Fallen Educators Memorial at the National Teachers Hall of Fame (NTHF) in Emporia as a national memorial – sending the bill to the president’s desk. Educators play an integral role in shaping the next generations of Americans, and their dedication to the safety of their students too often goes unrecognized. This memorial, which honors 119 American educators who have lost their lives while performing their professional duties, will be the first nationally designated memorial in Kansas. This legislation carries no cost to taxpayers. Instead it directs that the memorial continue to be owned and cared for by the NTHF and Emporia State University, with private funds used for maintenance while also having the prestige of a national memorial.

Fighting for our Servicemembers and Veterans
Providing Funds for State Veterans Homes
During my time as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, I made it a priority to clear the backlog in the VA State Veterans Home Construction Grant Program. For years the program has experienced a demand that had not been met by sufficient funding, leading to a backlog in applications for construction of new state veterans' homes. My subcommittee recently provided the largest appropriation in the program’s history at nearly $700 million, and I was pleased this week to learn that the VA would be putting those funds to use by providing funding for at least 52 projects around the nation. This funding will help our veterans receive care close to where they live.

Honoring the Fallen of the Fighting First
This week I introduced legislation that honors those who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our nation in the Army’s First Infantry Division by authorizing for the names of fallen soldiers from Operation Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn, Operation Enduring Freedom and future operations to be added to the First Division Monument located on White House grounds in Washington, D.C. Since 1917, Big Red One soldiers have fought bravely to protect our nation from global threats and preserve freedom for all, and it is an honor to introduce legislation that will recognize all fallen Big Red One soldiers at the monument that memorializes their sacrifice. As the Big Red One motto states: “No Mission Too Difficult, No Sacrifice Too Great, Duty First!” I am proud to represent Fort Riley and work with the Society of the First Division on this effort.

Advocating for the Military Funeral Honors Program
This week, Rep. Roger Marshall and I led a bipartisan group of colleagues in calling on the Director of the National Guard Lieutenant General Timothy J. Kadavy to fully support and resource the Military Funeral Honors (MFH) program. To our concern, the Army Guard announced its intention to eliminate MFH coordinator positions in eight states and to consolidate operations through other state coordinators. MFH coordinators are essential to ensuring military funerals are performed fittingly. They are primarily responsible for determining the eligibility and appropriate honors for deceased veterans, but they also train service members to conduct military funeral honors, coordinate with units and Veterans Service Organizations, provide immediate assistance to families in need of assistance and serve as a contact for follow-up services regarding family related issues and benefits. Together, we urged the National Guard to maintain an MFH coordinator position in every state. I believe eliminating these positions is a disservice to our veterans and their families and I’m glad our congressional delegation is standing together on this important issue. Please read our letter here.

Meeting with the Secretary of the Navy
On Wednesday, I sat down with Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer to discuss his force modernization efforts to better equip sailors and marines and maximize taxpayer dollars. We also discussed ways in which certain capabilities in Kansas can support the Navy’s efforts, particularly in research, development and testing. For example, the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University currently supports the Navy on several initiatives and is capable of expanding their support given the engineering talent available and research capacity resident on campus. I was pleased to hear from the secretary that he’s focusing more on academia and ways in which the Navy can benefit from institutions outside the Navy itself that can fill gaps to improve readiness of the force. I look forward to continuing this discussion with the secretary and hearing him testify before the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee on Tuesday.

Encouraging the Administration to Consider my Bipartisan Postal Reform Legislation
On Tuesday, I sent a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin encouraging the administration’s special task force on postal reform to consider the bipartisan Postal Service Reform Act of 2018 during their upcoming deliberations. I joined Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) in introducing this legislation to stabilize, preserve and improve the Postal Service – an essential part of our nation’s infrastructure and economy.

I would urge the administration to pay special attention to postal service in rural communities. This legislation would provide much-needed stability, preserve and improve mail services across Kansas and the country. Kansans expect their mail to be delivered in a timely fashion and I’m confident the Postal Service Reform Act of 2018 gives the postal service the necessary resources to achieve this. I encourage the task force to consider this bipartisan legislation as a blueprint for its work.

Prioritizing Farmers’ Mental Health
I sponsored the Farmers First Act, legislation that would provide greater resources for mental health support initiatives for our agricultural community, with Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) this week. A 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found agricultural workers have a higher suicide rate than individuals with any other occupation. This legislation will provide resources to state departments of agriculture, state extension services and non-profits to establish helplines, provide suicide prevention training for farm advocates, create support groups and reestablish the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this legislation and better address this critical issue.

Meeting with New Cerner CEO
I met with Cerner Corporation’s new CEO Brent Shafer last week and was pleased to hear his vision for the organization. I welcomed him and his family to Kansas, and congratulated him on his new role. Cerner is an important business to our state and I encouraged Shafer to continue to bring innovation and investment to Kansas.

Touring SugarCreek Foods
On Friday, I visited with company owners and management at SugarCreek Packaging, a large independent bacon processor with a domestic and international clientele, in Frontenac. The Frontenac facility, which opened in 1982 to grow the company’s Midwest footprint, processes bacon, bacon bits, pizza toppings and bacon jerky for retail and food service. Today, SugarCreek has over 500 employees with plans to grow its southeast Kansas operations.

Thank you to SugarCreek officials both locally and from Ohio for inviting me to learn more about the company and discuss the economic impact on Kansas agriculture. Thanks to State Representative Adam Lusker, Mayor Linda Grilz and City Administrator Brad Reams for joining me on the tour. My thanks also to the Kansas Department of Agriculture staff for their organization and attendance in hearing firsthand the success story of another Kansas business.

Attending KU Chancellor Girod’s Inauguration
Following the visit to SugarCreek, Robba and I attended KU Chancellor Dr. Doug Girod’s inauguration ceremony. I served on the chancellor selection committee created by the Kansas Board of Regents and chaired by David Dillon – I have enjoyed working with Dr. Girod in his role as Vice Chancellor at KU Medical School and I look forward to working with him in his new role, as well.

Visiting with Members of the Hispanic Chamber
Upon my return from Washington, D.C., I visited with members of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City during an event hosted by PCS VoIP in Olathe. I enjoyed catching up with Hispanic Chamber CEO Carlos Gomez about Kansas’ entrepreneurs and the significant growth of our state’s Hispanic-led businesses in recent years. I also visited with area business owners to hear more of their perspectives on how entrepreneurs can be empowered to grow their businesses and create quality jobs for Americans. Thanks to PCS VoIP CEO Tamer Christo for hosting the gathering.

Applauding Nomination of Kansan Michelle Bowman to Federal Reserve Board
Michelle Bowman has distinguished herself as an important leader in the Kansas banking community, and I am pleased that the president nominated her to serve on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, D.C. I know that Miki’s experience as our State Bank Commissioner coupled with her roots in small-town Kansas will bring a unique and important perspective to the board. As a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs committee that will formally consider her nomination, I look forward to Miki’s confirmation and the needed perspective she will bring to the Federal Reserve.

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.

Kansans in the Office

Afterschool Alliance
Marcia Dvorak of Lawrence
Rachel Willis of Lawrence
Steven Willis of Lawrence
Tony Yungeberg of Waterville

American Association of Ophthalmology
William Clifford of Garden City
Michael Gilbert of Prairie Village
Denise Hug of Lenexa
Paul Weisheer of Wichita

American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons
Matthew Lowe of Pittsburg
Bill Whitlow of Hutchinson

American Beverage Association
Mike Berry of Topeka
Mitch DePriest of Topeka
Ron Hein of Topeka
Julie Hein of Topeka
John Monroe of Topeka
Norm Ross of Lenexa

American Chemical Society
Peter Dorhout of Manhattan

American College of Gastroenterology
Allan P. Weston of Galena

American Council of Engineering Companies of Kansas
Mark Bachamp of Manhattan
Joe Drimmel of Stilwell
Mark McFarland of Lenexa
Scott Randle of Peck
Mark Sherfy of Shawnee
Rick Worrel of Overland Park

American Water Works Association
Andrew Hansen of Kansas City
Darci Meese of Lenexa          
Ellen Parker of Lenexa

Amputee Coalition
Billy Brimblecom of Lenexa

Association of Women's Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses
Heather Scruton of Olathe

Alfred Botchway of Stilwell
Wayne Carter of Lawrence
Jody Donohue of Lenexa
Alexandra Erwin of Lawrence
Dennis Livesay of Wichita
Dennis Ridenour of Fairway
Ronald Seeber of Topeka
Joshua Sestak of Lawrence
Christopher Standlee of Colwich
Kevin Sweeney of Kansas City

Brent Shafer of Fairway
Peter Henry from Fairway

Child Care Aware
Kami Cohorst of Salina
Kim Engelman of Overland Park
Dean Olson of Kansas City
Gary Rodden of Olathe
Jina Rodden of Olathe
Whitney Rodden of Spring Hill

Angela Watson of Rantoul

Institute for Portfolio Alternatives
Mike Huisman of Kansas City
Missty Lechner of Topeka
Scott Thellman of Lawrence

Juniper Hill Farms
Scott Thellman of Lawrence

Kansas Association of Insurance Agents
Lauren Bousen of Overland Park
Lyle Davidson of Delphos
Brock Elliott of Louisburg
Bob Fee of Hutchinson
Cindy Hower of Holton
Dave Hulcher of Lawrence
Dan Murray of Lawrence
Robert Richey of Wichita
Scott Strong of Nashville

Kansas Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army
Mike Hockley of Overland Park

Kansas Council of the Military Officers Association
John Becker of Westwood Hills
Sandy Law of Tipton

Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association
Bob Carmichael of Topeka
Adam Mills of Wichita
Janes Lomshek of Leawood
Gene Sullentrop of Wichita

Kansas State Firefighters Association
Steve Hirsch of Oberlin

Land O'Lakes Board of Directors
Tom Benoit of Damar
John McClelland of Holcomb
Doyle Pearl of St. Marys
Stan Stark of Haviland

Livestock Marketing Association
Chelsea Good of Leawood
Mark McKee of Parsons
Brody Peak of Emporia

National Association of Clean Water Agencies
Joe Foster of Olathe
Lorrie Hill of Olathe

National Industries for the Blind
Nikki Freeman of Wichita
Robin Stewart of Wichita

Natural Products Association
Brian Frisby of Sterling

National Telecommunications Cooperative Association
Brian Boisvert of Wilson
Trent Bouldin of Elkhart
Susan Bouldin of Elkhart
Terry Force of Wheaton
Ben Foster of Overland Park
Rhonda Goddard of Lenora
Todd Huston of Dodge City
Dale Jones of Council Grove
Scott Leilzel of Miltonvale
Rob McDonald of Madison
Catherine Moyer of Ulysses
Zach O’Dell of Colby
Beau Rebel Rush Center
Jason Smith of Everest
Jimmy Todd of Lenora
Candace Wright of Marysville

National Tooling and Machining Association
Brandon Bohning of Leawood

North American Deer Farmers
Jesse Seltman of Mayetta

Pet Food Institute
Carlos Gonzalez of Topeka

Psychology Division, University of Kansas Medical Center
Ned Hunter of Overland Park

WSU's Kansas Procurement Technical Assistance Center
Terri Bennett of Wichita

46 Mommas Hill Day
Kara Cunningham of Louisburg

Capitol Tour
Donna Castleberry of Wichita
Kerry Castleberry of Wichita
Martin Dickinson of Lawrence
Sallie Dickinson of Lawrence
Alex Grieves of Manhattan
Cole Grieves of Manhattan
Kelli Grieves of Manhattan
Ryan Grieves of Manhattan
Cinda Hudson of Lenexa
Steve Hudson of Lenexa
Tamara Niles of Arkansas City
William Niles of Arkansas City
Lindsay Payer of Westphalia
Evan Smith of Hays
Dustin Smith of Hays
Tanya Smith of Hays
Seth Smith of Hays

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,