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.

Tragic Violence in Johnson County
I am shocked and sickened by the violence that occurred in Overland Park and Leawood on Sunday afternoon. Kansas is a place where every person of every kind should be safe from violence or persecution. My deepest regrets are with the victims’ loved ones and my thoughts are with the entire community, which has had its sense of comfort and safety threatened by these events. I join all Kansans in proclaiming that these horrific acts of violence have absolutely no place in our communities, our state or our country.

Working to Protect Air National Guard Cyber Red Team
This week, I met with Air National Guard Director Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke to discuss the 177th Information Aggressor Squadron (IAS) of the Kansas Air National Guard. Lt. Gen. Clarke praised the talented Air National Guardsmen who make up the Cyber Red Team Squadron of the 177th. He affirmed his commitment to the Air Guardsmen by giving up plans to make any manpower changes to the Squadron in Fiscal Years 2014 and 2015, which was previously resolved in Section 933 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2014.

As a condition of Section 933 in the NDAA and maintaining the 177th, a study and report to Congress on “Mission Analysis for Cyber Operations of the Department of Defense” will assess the capabilities of the Squadron and their capacity to meet emerging threats in the cyber domain. I intend to continue working with Lt. Gen. Clarke and the United States Air Force to make certain the exceptional talent of the Cyber Red Team Squadron of the 177th will be retained to perform cyber missions and defend the nation.

Overregulation of Family Farms
Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Thomas Perez testified before the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee on Wednesday. As Ranking Member of the subcommittee, I took the opportunity to question him about the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) recent attempt at regulation of family farms. 

Since 1976, Congress has prohibited OSHA from targeting small farms – defined as those with fewer than ten employees – for excessive regulation. Yet in 2011, OSHA issued a memo declaring the Congressional prohibition does not apply to many family farms by classifying certain farm operations – such as the storing, drying or fumigating of grain – as not being part of the farm. The intent by OSHA to circumvent Congress became clear in recent months when a family farm in Nebraska was fined $132,000 based on rules that should not even apply to them. On December 20, 2013, I joined 42 of my Senate colleagues, from both sides of the aisle, in calling on OSHA to immediately stop their unlawful regulation of small farms.

On Wednesday, Secretary Perez confirmed that DOL has withdrawn the OSHA policy memorandum and that the department takes the issue “very, very seriously.” In response to my question, the Secretary stated: “We have instructed the team at OSHA that when you are in a circumstance where you discover that it is a family farm – case closed.” I hope this statement is reassuring to the thousands of family farms throughout Kansas and rural America, who can breathe easier knowing out-of-touch bureaucrats from Washington won’t be knocking down their doors to tell them what does or does not count as farming. I will remain committed to working with my colleagues in the U.S. Senate to protect the values and individual rights of farmers of ranchers.

Commitment to Alzheimer’s Research
On Tuesday, I attended the Alzheimer’s Association National Dinner and was pleased to join nearly 1,000 advocates from across the nation who gathered in Washington, D.C. for the Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum to educate members of Congress on the urgent need to address Alzheimer’s disease. During the dinner, I was honored to receive the Alzheimer’s Association Humanitarian Award. I am humbled to be recognized by those who I consider to be the true champions for Alzheimer’s patients and their families.

Nearly every minute, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s disease. Experts predict that with the aging of the U.S. population, the number of Alzheimer's cases may triple by the year 2050.  Furthermore, caring for those with Alzheimer’s and other dementias is expected to cost $214 billion this year, with $150 billion covered by the federal government through Medicare and Medicaid. Without a way to prevent, cure or effectively treat Alzheimer’s, the suffering and costs will only continue to climb.

We must strive to achieve not only an effective treatment, but a cure for Alzheimer's over the next decade, and I recently spoke to my colleagues on the Senate floor about the urgent need to pursue this goal.  Please click here to watch this speech. I look forward to continue working to defeat Alzheimer’s disease. Click here to see a photo from the event.

Kansan Deb Miller Confirmed
On Wednesday, the Senate voted to confirm the nomination of Deb Miller for the Surface Transportation Board (STB). Ms. Miller served as Kansas Secretary of Transportation under three Kansas Governors – both Democratic and Republican. The three-member STB is tasked with overseeing the rail industry, ruling on rate disputes between shippers and railroads.

The first woman to lead the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), Deb went on to become the longest-serving KDOT Secretary and only member of the Democratic cabinet retained by current Governor Sam Brownback. She has garnered high praise from all sides of the political spectrum for her drive for good transportation policy, as evidenced by her unanimous confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate. After being nominated in September, I am pleased Deb’s nomination has been confirmed to fill the STB’s vacant seat, restoring certainty for rail shippers who rely upon the board’s timely case reviews.

Hunger Strike in Cuba
This week, the Washington Post reported that American Alan Gross has begun a hunger strike in Cuba. I am saddened to learn that detained Mr. Gross is now in a state of even greater suffering as he continues to be held unjustly by the Cuban government. The United States government must continue to push Cuba for the release of Mr. Gross. His return is long overdue, and it is extremely disappointing that it requires life-threatening action to draw attention to his plight. We must do everything possible to return Alan to the United States and bring his family’s terrible nightmare to an end.

Great Bend Farm and Ranch Expo
It was good to kick off my weekend back in Kansas at the Great Bend Farm and Ranch Expo. The three-day event featured more than 700 exhibitors who highlighted the latest in farming technology and practices. Topics of conversation at the booths ranged from the farm bill and crop insurance, to the FAA to rural Kansas. I was glad to have the opportunity to visit with many Kansans, including Ned Brack from Great Bend – a U.S. Navy Veteran who served during the Vietnam War. Thanks again to everyone who shared their thoughts and concerns with me. Click here to see a photo from the Expo.


Kansas Listening Tour Stop in Rush County
I continued my statewide listening tour in LaCrosse at the Rush County Courthouse. I enjoyed the opportunity to visit with more than 25 local residents about a wide range of topics including the need to protect rural hospitals, protecting 2nd Amendment rights, support for the Keystone XL pipeline and concerns about costly regulations coming out of the federal government that are hurting farmers, bankers, and hospitals in the area. Thanks to Rush Deputy County Clerk Tacy Keener for helping set up the town hall meeting.

The work I do in Washington and the issues I focus on are largely based on the conversations I have with Kansans. I greatly appreciate the hundreds of Kansans who take the time to visit with me at town halls because I learn something from every conversation. Check my website for upcoming Kansas Listening Tour stops.

Livestock Disaster Program Sign-up
I am pleased that on April 15 the USDA will begin signups for livestock disaster programs that were reauthorized in the new Farm Bill. These programs will be retroactive back to October 1, 2011. Livestock Indemnity Payments (LIP) provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who have suffered livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather. Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses due to drought or fire. I would encourage producers to contact their local FSA office for more information.

Kansans in the Office
Harmony Hines of Topeka
Greg Reser of Topeka
Bruce Harris of Wichita
Macaela Harris of Wichita
Donna Stephens of Shawnee
Ruth Burress of Augusta
David Smith of Lawrence 

Regional Administrator for the US GSA, Heartland Region
Jason Klumb of Kansas City 

Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists Grad Students
Emily Thompson of Hutchinson 

American Physical Therapy Association
Jennifer Westerberg of Overland Park
Carolyn Bloom of Topeka
Marsha Lawrence of Stilwell
Cody Barnett of Wichita 

National Telecommunications Cooperative Association
Catherine Moyer of Ulysses
Rhonda Goddard of Lenora
Brian Boisvert of Wilson
Gary Slough of Brewster
Greg Aldridge of Ark City
Mark McEachern of Caldwell
Scott Bannister of Caldwell
Candace Wright of Home
Brian Thompson of Blue Valley
Becki Regier of McPherson
Shawn Tiffany of Herington
Dale Jones of Council Grove
Terry Force of Wheaton
Sallie Force of Wheaton
Dale Hudson of Brewster 

Kansas Academy of Family Physicians
Wendy Biggs of Kansas City
Wakon Fowler of Pratt
Carolyn Gaughan of Wichita
Chad Johanning of Atchison
Mary Beth Miller of St. Francis
Amanda Steventon of Wichita
Ashley Bentley of Ottawa 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Colonel Andrew Sexton of Shawnee
Steven Iverson of Lenexa
Jennifer Switzer of Overland Park 

Kansas Association of Nurse Anesthetics
Ruth Morris of Overland Park
Kyle Nevills of Scott City
Rhonda Brammer of Wichita
Christel Burke of Junction City
Jenny Hermes of Wichita
Emily Covington of Wichita
Melinda Finkerbirch of Wichita 

Delta Dental of Kansas
Michael Herbert of Wichita
Sarah Patterson of Wichita 

Johnson County Wastewater
John O’Neil of Olathe
Susan Pekarek of Olathe
Joe Foster of Olathe 

Warrior Protection and Readiness Coalition
Dean Richardson of Wichita 

Public Issues Leadership Development
Gary Thompson of Quenemo
Rhonda Gaede of Hoxie
Tatum Kimzey of Catharine
Sue Thompson of Quenemo
Joseph Kimzey of Catharine
Jennifer Wilson of Riley
Ken Moldenhauer of Valley Center
Cindy Evans of Topeka
Beth Drescher of Wichita
Debra Forshee of Clay Center
John Forshee of Clay Center
Shaylee Arpin of Salina
Kaci Foraker of Burton
Sam Davis of Madison
Anna Muir of Stockton
Dary Beuhhy of Manhattan 

Vietnam Veterans of America
Larry MacIntire of Hays 

Kansas Livestock Association
Jaret Moyer of Emporia
Mark Harms of Lincolnville
Ken Grecian of Palco
Vance Kells of Santana
Tracy Brunner of Ramona
Matt Teagarden of Topeka
Aaron Popelka of Maple Hill
Barb Grecian of Palco 

American Psychological Association
Yo Jackson of Lawrence 

University of Kansas Medical Center
Doug Girod of Kansas City 

Patrick Murphy of Olathe
Tony Pimentel of Wichita 

Kansas Council on Developmental Disability
Steve Gieber of Topeka
Bill Story of Overland Park

Institute of Real Estate Management Organization
Ryan Huffman of Kansas City
Brad Ashley of Prairie Village
John Peavsall of Wichita 

Outdoor Executives Industry
Jennifer Mull of Wichita
Travis Campbell of Washington
Catherine Walker of Washington 

National Youth Leadership Council
Ma’Kayla Coller of Topeka
Andrea Blackwell of Topeka
Jalen Blackwell of Topeka
Andrea Scipio of Topeka
Brandy Wheeler of Topeka
Kim Jackson of Topeka 

Alzheimer's Association
Ruth Burress of Augusta 

BATS Global Market
Joe Ratterman of Lenexa 

Wayne Carter of Kansas City
Kevin Sweeney of Kansas City
Paul Terranova of Kansas City 

Kansas State University
John Buckwalter of Manhattan
Peter Dorhout of Manhattan
Debbie Mercer of Manhattan
Carol Shanklin of Manhattan
Gary Clark of Manhattan
Tim DeNoble of Manhattan
John Floros of Manhattan
Ron Trewyn of Manhattan
Prema Arasu of Olathe
Gary Clark of Manhattan
Verna Fitzsimmons of Salina
Ralph Richardson of Manhattan
Jim Amikema of Manhattan
Darren Dawsen of Manhattan
Sue Maer of Manhattan
Eli Schooley of Manhattan
Jake Unruh of Manhattan
April Mason of Manhattan
President Kirk Schulz of Manhattan
Sue Peterson of Manhattan
Kristin Holt of Manhattan 

North American Millers' Association
Mark Kolkhorst of Overland Park 

Kansas Emergency Management Association
Brian Stone of Dexter
Vaughn Lorenson of Johnson
Dan Robeson of Johnson 

American Academy of Ophthalmology
John Sutphin of Prairie Village
Blu Culifford of Garden City
Eric Fry of Garden City
Andrew Wang of Prairie Village
Emily Broxterman of Prairie Village
Emily Sutphin of Leawood 

Kansas Bar Association
Rachel Pirner of Wichita
Tom Hamill of Leawood 

Land O'Lakes
Darin Marti of Manhattan
Dave Christiansen of Moundridge 

Elizabeth Dole Foundation
Allyson Bowers of Manhattan 

Mortgage Bankers Association
Taylor Nedrow of Overland Park
Lori Casey of Overland Park 

Kansas Association of Insurance Agents
Stephanie Mullholland of Topeka
Rob Lessen of Arma
Bob Wood of Pittsburg
Ron Bolz of Lyndon

East Kansas Agri-Energy LLC
Jeff Oestmann of Garrett
Robert White of Olathe 

High Plains Journal
Larry Dreiling of Hays 

New Birth Company
Cathy Gordon of Shawnee
Kendra Wyatt of Overland Park

National PACE Association
David Wensel of Topeka
Karren Weichert of Topeka
Harmony Hines of Topeka
Greg Reser of Topeka

Capitol Tour
David Ast of Topeka
Deborah Ast of Topeka
Ashley Bentleg of Overland Park
Wendy Biggs of Overland Park
Wakon Fowler of Pratt
Doug Gruenbacher of Quinter
Chad Johanning of Atchison
Mary Beth Miller of St. Francis
Amanda Steventon of Wichita
Carolyn Gaughan of Wichita
Brian Thomason of Marysville
Brock Edmonds of Topeka
Darrel Stiles of Overland Park
Rexanne Stiles of Overland Park
Alex Birge of Olathe
Michael Roberson of Olathe
Summer Roberson of Olathe
Mariah Roberson of Olathe
Natalie Roberson of Olathe
Austin Roberson of Olathe
Tyler Roberson of Olathe
Gyla Roberson 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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