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.

National Prayer Breakfast
Thursday morning was the 64th annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. The inaugural event was started in part by two Kansans: President Dwight D. Eisenhower and U.S. Senator Frank Carlson. The breakfast is a time to put politics aside and join with other national and international leaders to pray for our nation and for the world. 

FAA Reauthorization
On Wednesday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released its proposal to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for six years. I am pleased the House has taken this first step, as Congress must act to reauthorize the FAA in the coming weeks before funding expires March 31. I am hopeful Congress can pass a robust long-term bill that will provide certainty and stability to our nation’s aviation system. 

While the House FAA legislation includes important provisions to streamline aircraft certification and expand pilots’ rights, much of the debate in Congress will center on the House proposal to privatize the national air traffic control system – removing it altogether from the FAA and Congressional oversight. I have serious concerns with the legislation as written, as well as the long-term implications of privatized air traffic control on general aviation, Kansas’ largest industry, and the small airports and rural communities the industry serves.

As a member of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety and Security, I will make certain the interests of Kansas and rural America are front and center as the Senate soon considers legislation to reauthorize the FAA.

Legislation to Extend Equus Beds Authorization
I introduced legislation (S. 2488) this week to extend the federal funding authorization for the Equus Beds Aquifer Recharge and Recovery Project. Ten years ago, Congress determined and the president agreed that the Equus Beds project should be a priority and that determination is still true today. The Equus Beds Aquifer Recharge and Recovery Project has significant consequences for the city of Wichita and the state of Kansas as a whole, and we cannot allow this project to expire. The legislation will help make certain the citizens of South Central Kansas will have a safe drinking water supply for decades to come. Companion legislation was also introduced in the House of Representatives. Click here to learn more.

Meeting with Air Force Assistant Secretary Miranda Ballentine
I met with the Assistant Secretary for the Air Force for Installations, Environment, and Energy, Ms. Miranda Ballentine this week. I was pleased to hear about the military construction projects we can expect to see in Kansas to support various missions, including additional projects on McConnell Air Force Base as the home of the KC-46A Refueling Tanker. Ms. Ballentine shared that our own 18th Air Refueling Squadron of the 931st Operations Group – soon to become a Wing – earned the honor of “Flying Squadron of the Year” for their fuel efficiency of the KC-135 tanker.

Legislation to Protect Second Amendment Rights of Social Security Beneficiaries
This week I sponsored legislation (S. 2495) that would prohibit the Social Security Administration (SSA) from making determinations that would deny millions of Americans the right to own a firearm. Currently, Social Security beneficiaries can have a representative appointed for them to assist in handling benefits, such as buying groceries, but a recent memorandum issued by the White House could require the SSA to report such beneficiaries as “mentally deficient” and thus unsuitable to own a gun. The Second Amendment and our constitutional rights are too important to be arbitrarily taken away, and I look forward to this common-sense legislation receiving the vote it deserves.

Preserving Tax Time Savings Bond Option for American Workers
In an effort to help Kansans as they prepare for tax season, I sponsored legislation this week to preserve the Tax Time Savings Bond program. The SAVINGS Act (S. 2478) reinforces an important existing avenue for Kansans to save and invest their tax refunds. The Tax-Time Savings Bond Program is one of many tools Congress can support to ease the path to saving for Americans of every income level. The program provides taxpayers the option to receive IRS returns in the form of a paper U.S. Savings Bond and is an important savings opportunity, particularly for consumers without a checking account, a savings account, or other type of banking product. Without action, the Tax Time Savings Bond program is set to expire after the 2016 tax season. Savings are a critical component of financial security and upward mobility. Lawmakers should pursue policies like this that increase opportunities people have to save for their futures. Click here to learn more.

Kansas Hospital Association
I was happy to meet with representatives from the Kansas Hospital Association, National Rural Health Association, hospital administrators and medical students from across Kansas on Wednesday in my Washington office. I appreciated hearing their valuable perspectives on how we can continue to improve the health care provided to Kansans. I particularly enjoyed speaking with medical students who represent the future of health care in Kansas, and will go on to play a major role in how health care is provided to our rural communities: Michael Ziegler from the KU Med Salina campus, Brandon Haefke from the KU Med Kansas City campus and Samantha Claassen from the KU Med Wichita campus. 

I will continue to prioritize protecting Kansans’ health care from burdensome federal regulations and make certain that everyone across Kansas has the opportunity to visit their local hospital, see their hometown physician, and have their prescriptions filled by their local pharmacist. 

God Bless Pittsburg
This week, an activist group from out of state pressured the local post office in Pittsburg to remove a patriotic banner – a sign raised by veterans and post office employees in response to the attacks of 9/11. The banner has been proudly displayed since Sept. 11, 2001. I commend the Pittsburg community for rejecting this decision and I stand with them. The Constitution guarantees a right to freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. This banner is an expression of faith and of love for country. Expressions of patriotism, faith, and community should be welcome in our society and I have contacted USPS officials to express my concerns about their decision and to request reconsideration. Since the local post office branch is unable to display the banner, I am proudly to displaying it at my own office in Pittsburg. Click here to learn more.

Kansas Listening Tour Stops Continue
Jackson County
Before heading back to D.C. on Monday, I visited Holton where more than 20 Jackson County residents came by the courthouse to share their thoughts and concerns with me. Topics of discussion included access to health care and the importance of rural, Critical Access Hospitals; making certain decisions about public education are made locally; the cost of running a small business in rural America and strategies to facilitate their survival; the Clean Power Plan; and holding the VA accountable for providing veterans with quality care. Thanks to Jackson County Clerk Kathy Mick for helping to arrange the stop.

Doniphan County
On Monday I also visited Doniphan County to hear from Kansans. Troy-area residents shared concerns about veterans’ issues, the appropriations process, and the pros and cons of the filibuster rule. Thanks to Shirley Clary for help in securing the Pioneer Center for the event.

Ottawa County
My Kansas Listening Tour continued this week in Ottawa County at the VFW in Minneapolis. About 40 Kansans came to visit about numerous issues facing our state and nation including improving access to health care in rural parts of the country, the stifling impact of government overregulation, care for our veterans, and dysfunction in Congress. Thanks to Eleanora Leech for coordinating and hosting my visit.

Republic County
I also stopped in Republic County to continue my Kansas Listening Tour stops. More than 60 area residents joined me for the Lions club meeting at Bel Villa Family Dining. The issues on Kansans’ minds were similar to my Minneapolis stop – improving the care we provide to our veterans and how to preserve the special way of life that exists in rural communities, particularly from the perspective of health care access. I always appreciate the opportunity to hear concerns and comments about the many important issues facing our state nation. Thanks to Tim Gottschalk and the Belleville Lions Club for coordinating and hosting my visit.

Apply to be a Summer 2016 Intern
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 who have a unique opportunity to work closely with my staff on behalf of Kansas. Applications are already being accepted for internships in my Washington, D.C. and Manhattan, Kansas, office for the summer 2016 term. Congressional internships are open to qualified undergraduate and graduate students who have an interest in public service and have achieved academic excellence.

Kansans in the Office
Golden Prairie Honey Farms
Gary LaGrange of Manhattan 

U.S. Custom Harvesters
Taff Hughes of Ellinwood 

Kansas Wheat
Daniel Heady of St. George
David Schemm of Sharon Springs
Jay Armstrong of Muscotah
Brian Linin of Gardland
Mike Jordan of Beloit
Ken Wood of Chapman 

Kansas Small Business Development Center
Greg Panichello of Topeka
Lisa Roberts of Derby 

Bill Barloon of Overland Park 

SEK-CAP Head Start
Joanie Burke of Girard
Shelli Walrod of Girard
Jessica Carrier of Girard 

Kansas State University
Dr. Schulz of Manhattan
Dr. Peter Dorhout of Manhattan
Dr. Tammy Beckham of Manhattan

Kansas Hospital Association
Chad Austin of Topeka
Jason Barb of Wichita
Rob Monical of McPherson
Donna Douglas of Leawood
Robert McVay of Leawood
Kathy Siress of Leawood
Kiley Floyd of Osbone
Aaron Walker of Hutchinson
Jodi Schmidt of Mission
Samantha Claassen of Kansas City
Brandon Haefke of Kansas City
Michael Kennedy of Kansas City 

Marion County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition
Debbie Gray of Hillsboro
Jami Lawless of Canton 

Farm Credit Association
Scott Whitington of Burlington
Mark Wulfkahle of Berryton
Bill Miller of Council Grove
Ron Dunbar of Princeton
Stan Powers of Chanute
Alan Hells of Alma
Lee Mueller of Hiawatha
Ron Koelsch of Great Bend
Janet Barrowy of Manhattan
Ron Rahies of Kensington
Greg Reno of Wichita
Joe Schanu of Byers
Josiah Thompson of Lawrence
Larry Hoobler of Manhattan
Bill Fleming of Lawrence
Mike Collinge of Hamilton
Larry Kepley of Ulysses
Virginia Kepley of Ulysses 

Dave VangerGriend of Colwich
Jeff Scharping of Colwich 

Johnson County Mental Health Center
Megan Clark of Olathe 

Local Taxpayer Advocate
Traci Wilnerd of Wichita 

National Sorghum Producers
Kent Winter of Andale
Shelby Howard of Hiawatha
Dan Atkisson of Stockton
Samuel Knauss of Paola
Janette Spafslag of Hiawatha
Sarah Sexton-Bowser of Holton 

Garden City PD
Chief Michael Utz of Garden City
Darin Henburg of Topeka 

Kansas Grain and Feed Association
Tom Tunnell of Topeka
Pete Goetzmann of Overland Park
Glen Hofbauer of Overland Park
Kevin Brady of Benton
Clark Pearson of Reading
Gary Beachur of Parsons
Matt Trip of Overland Park
Ben Dye of Kansas City 

Credit World Services
Bruce Lopez of Shawnee Mission 

Kansas Independent College Association
Dr. Lynne Murray of Baldwin City
Kevin Ingram of Manhattan
Matt Lindsey of Topeka 

National Narcotics Officers Association
Karrina Brasser of Maize
Tim Eldredge of Bellville 

Liz Icenogle of Overland Park 

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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