Kansas Common Sense
Kansas Common Sense - Senate Approved Amendment to Maintain Southwest Chief Train Services
Aug 06 2018
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On Wednesday, the Senate passed my amendment to maintain Amtrak train services along the established, long-distance passenger rail route of the Southwest Chief, which makes several stops in Kansas communities, including Lawrence, Topeka, Newton, Hutchinson, Dodge City and Garden City.
In response to recent indications from Amtrak that it does not intend to fulfill its committed share of project costs to preserve the Southwest Chief, this amendment will compel Amtrak to make good on its promise to the Kansas Department of Transportation and local communities who raised their own matching funds, and will require Amtrak to set aside resources for maintenance and safety improvements along the route. Importantly, the amendment will halt Amtrak’s plans to substitute rail service with bus service over large segments of the route except in cases of emergency. The House must now pass this bill before it can be signed into law.
As the divide between urban and rural communities in America continues to expand, passenger rail services like the Southwest Chief are invaluable in connecting Kansans to the rest of the country while also bringing visitors from out of state to our local communities. I applaud the bipartisan efforts to keep the Southwest Chief operational for our rural communities and will continue working with Amtrak to make certain this route remains available for the Kansans who need it. Read more about my amendment here, or in the Lawrence Journal-World here, The Hutchinson News here and the Newton Kansan here.
Prioritizing Cybersecurity to Protect from Cyber-Attacks
On Tuesday, I spoke on the Senate floor to highlight the critical cybersecurity needs of our nation and the role that the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) plays in propelling our inefficient, outdated federal IT systems into the 21st century to promote productivity and strengthen cybersecurity of our federal agencies. With examples of breaches exposing the personally identifiable information of tens of millions of Americans, like the 2015 breach within the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the ability to compromise data and networks in the federal government cannot be overstated. Private companies must do all they can to prevent hackers from gaining access to their customers’ information – the federal government and state officials must do the same.
Additionally, I promoted the leadership demonstrated by the Kansas Intelligence Fusion Center in analyzing and comparing cyber data and intelligence among public-private partners and federal agencies to identify similarities, anomalies and ways our cyber defenses can improve. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress and across federal agencies to provide the necessary resources to the TMF, which, used responsibly, is a vital tool for the federal government’s task of keeping our nation’s critical IT infrastructure efficient and secure. Watch my full remarks here.
One of the most sacred privileges we as Americans are afforded is our freedom to participate in democracy through elections. Therefore, we must make certain our elections remain honest, secure and free from invasive influences. I am a cosponsor of the Secure Elections Act, which includes $380 million for states and local election entities to implement expert-generated cybersecurity guidelines and replace outdated and vulnerable voting machines. This legislation would help better safeguard our systems while reaffirming the leadership role states play in administering federal elections. Additionally, Congress recently approved $380 million for states to improve election security.
Sending the Farm Bill to Conference
This week on the Senate floor, I moved to advance the 2018 Farm Bill one step closer to the president’s desk and one step closer to providing our producers with more stability during tumultuous times for farmers and ranchers. With low commodity prices and uncertainty in trade markets, it is important that a Farm Bill be passed on time to provide a safety net for producers. The Farm Bill is also important for rural development, conservation and agricultural research programs. The Farm Bill is now in conference where the Senate and House will have a chance to work out differences between our two bills. I will continue working to pursue Kansans’ priorities in the final legislation.
On Wednesday, the Senate unanimously confirmed Mrs. Holly Teeter of Lenexa to serve as a federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. Filling this seat, which has been vacant for nearly four years, also fills the entire federal bench in Kansas. I had the pleasure of getting to know Judge Teeter during her confirmation process. Coming to the bench with both a legal and chemical engineering background, she will serve Kansas well. I introduced Judge Teeter in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee as the committee considered her nomination – watch my remarks here.
Meeting with Olympic National Governing Bodies
This week, I met with the leaders of three Olympic National Governing Bodies (NGB) at the National Headquarters and Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to discuss ways to prevent athlete abuse within the Olympic movement. The CEOs of USA Taekwondo, USA Weightlifting and US Figure Skating shared with me the steps their NGBs have taken to create a safe environment for athletes, but more importantly, offered suggestions of steps that still need to be taken to rid these organizations of abuse.
Our work on this important issue is far from over. I am dedicated to continuing the bipartisan approach this subcommittee has taken in its comprehensive investigation. In consultation with law enforcement, survivors and advocates, we are working closely together to identify meaningful reform in the best interests of athletes and their families.
Hosting a Listening Tour Stop in Bonner Springs
Thank you to Wyandotte County residents who shared their thoughts with me during my townhall meeting at the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs. Topics from our discussion included the Farm Bill and the importance of food assistance programs, the Supreme Court vacancy and the president’s nominee, election interference and legislation I’ve cosponsored to protect us from Russia’s efforts, the ongoing Mueller investigation, my support for NATO and my opposition to the ongoing tariff war.
Thanks to the Center for hosting my visit and to University of Kansas Medical Center staff for attending to discuss the importance of NIH funding and efforts to end diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Visiting with Kansas Bankers Association
This weekend, CEOs and senior leadership representing member institutions of the Kansas Bankers Association (KBA) held their annual meeting. I was honored to join them and share my perspective on the state of community banking through my work on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. In May, Congress passed a broad piece of legislation that I co-authored to make certain community lenders are better able to best serve their customers by right-sizing federal regulation while layering on additional consumer protections. This weekend's gathering was an opportunity for me to hear directly from many of these Kansas lenders about how lending and borrowing issues can be further improved.
Congratulating Chuck Stones on his Retirement
In addition to the forum, the events included a retirement reception for long-time KBA CEO Chuck Stones. I have worked alongside Chuck for many years in an effort to make certain federal law and regulations are consistent with the needs of the communities served by the banks KBA represents. I wish Chuck and his wife, Sandy, well as they enter retirement and I thank Chuck for his many years of service. Thanks also to incoming KBA CEO Doug Wareham who helped arrange my visit.
Now Accepting 2018 Service Academy Applications
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
Senate Finance Committee
Mark McDermed of Atchison
Senator Roberts’ Office
Jason Haberkorn of Berryton
Kansas Regenerative Medicine Center
John Farley of Manhattan
Local Lodge 639
Jeffery Grippi of Wichita
Arlene Denning of Hays
Dean Denning of Hays
Andrew Entsminger of Topeka
Chad Entsminger of Topeka
Karen Entsminger of Topeka
Brooklyn Hellwig of Pittsburg
Mattie Hellwig of Pittsburg
Bette Hirst of Hutchinson
Ronald Hirst of Hutchinson
Jennifer Klaus of Hays
John Klaus of Hays
Annika Linin of Goodland
Blair Linin of Goodland
Brian Linin of Goodland
Janda Linin of Goodland
Mirari Linin of Goodland
Andrea McCloskey of Pittsburg
Kallie McGuire of Pittsburg
Erik Moore of Caney
Jason Moore of Caney
Lance Moore of Caney
Nancy Moore of Caney
Charles Rist of Basehor
Janice Rist of Basehor
Kortney Rist of Pittsburg
Evie Shawn of Pittsburg
Bridget Quam of Wichita
Craig Quam of Wichita
Zachary Quam of Wichita
Xavier Pittman of Leavenworth
Jesse Taggart of Hays
Meg Taggart of Hays
Brandy Treaster of Lawrence
Grant Treaster of Lawrence
Joshua Wolf of Topeka
Linda Wolf of Topeka
Rosalia Wolf of Topeka
Joshua Schulte of Victoria
Tony Wolf of Topeka
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,
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