Kansas Common Sense

Dear Friend,

Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you 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.

Show Your Patriotism Through Service
The Fourth of July is an all-American holiday – a day when communities across the country come together to wave the Red, White and Blue, and commemorate our nation’s independence with parades, fireworks and good barbecue. Every Kansas family celebrates in their own special way, but we are all united in our cause for celebration: the many blessings we enjoy as Americans and the sacrifices made in the name of our freedom. However you choose to celebrate Independence Day, take time to reflect and thank our veterans as well as the current generation in our Armed Forces who continue to bravely defend freedom, liberty and the American Dream. Click here to read my op-ed that highlights ways to show your patriotism through service.

Seeing the Role of Government in Environmental Policy Differently than the White House
This week, President Obama called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to craft regulations that will set greenhouse gas limits. If the EPA succeeds in ending coal-fired energy production, this economically disastrous approach will cause prices to skyrocket and send many more Americans to the unemployment line. President Obama’s plan will do little to curb emissions at great cost to the American workforce. And states like Kansas, which rely on coal for electricity and have a large manufacturing base, would be especially hurt. Kansans could see the loss of thousands of good-paying jobs sent overseas to developing countries – like China and India – that are massive energy consumers, as well as significant increases in natural gas, electricity and gasoline costs, and pocket-numbing decreases in household incomes.

The President fails to see that the free market – not heavy-handed government regulation – has brought about an American CO2 policy that is “greener” than even the policies in Europe. Voluntary efforts on the part of U.S. utilities producers have led to a drastic decrease in emissions. Rather than recognizing and celebrating these efforts, this Administration continues the pattern of overreach – and Kansans should pay close attention. His latest end-run around Congress will hurt our economy, your family’s pocketbook, and the quality of life that we want for our children and grandchildren.

Rather than penalizing current producers, we should be focusing on market-based solutions to lower the costs of all energy, both traditional and renewable. That is why I am leading the effort, alongside Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), to see S. 795, the Master Limited Partnerships (MLP) Parity Act. The MLP Parity Act will allow the renewable energy sector to utilize the tax structure of MLPs for project development. MLPs in essence combine the business development advantages of a corporation with the tax advantages of a partnership to facilitate easier access to capital markets. MLPs, currently available to oil, gas, coal, and some real estate ventures, have been largely responsible for the growth in our country’s energy infrastructure. In order to grow our economy and increase our energy security, sound economic tools like the MLP should be expanded to include additional domestic energy sources. Allowing emerging technologies in the renewable energy sector to access this structure, American investors can drive development and commercialization as we seek opportunities to make our country more energy independent.

If we are to grow our economy, compete globally, and be good stewards of our natural world, then proposals like the MLP Parity Act should take precedence over a regulatory, punitive proposal such as the one outlined by the President.

U.S. Senate Passes Gang of Eight Immigration Bill
On Thursday, the Senate passed the Gang of Eight Immigration Bill, which will now move to the House of Representatives for consideration. I opposed passage of this legislation because I am skeptical that the rushed, 1,200-page bill will create an immigration system that is fair, efficient, meets the needs of the American economy, and discourages future illegal activity.

Our immigration system has long been broken and our borders are not secure. I had hoped Congress would solve the critical issues before us for national security, economic and humanitarian reasons. Unfortunately, rather than focusing on tackling the problem in manageable increments and delivering the reforms Americans are asking for, the Senate chose to lump every immigration and border security problem together into one massive and flawed bill. This irresponsible method of legislating has gotten us in trouble in the past – but the Senate has clearly learned nothing from the failure of the 1986 immigration reform bill, and more recently the rushed passage of both Dodd-Frank and Obamacare.

The open debate on the proposal I had hoped for was replaced by backroom talks, limited amendments and excessive haste. In total, more than 530 amendments were offered but votes were blocked on all but ten of those amendments. On an issue of such significance, the American people deserved to have their voices heard through an open process that allowed their elected representatives to debate and vote on amendments.

Americans want Congress to fix our flawed immigration system the right way – and fix it for good. This bill does not meet that standard; the Congressional Budget Office estimates it would only reduce the number of immigrants entering our country illegally by 25 percent, and it fails to adequately address those who enter legally but then overstay – 40 percent of those who are here illegally. The bill passed by the Senate fails to fix our broken immigration system and I could not support it.

Constitutionality of President Obama’s “Recess” Appointments
Back in May, I joined 44 Senate colleagues in filing an Amicus brief in a challenge (Noel Canning v. NLRB) to the constitutionality of President Obama’s January 2012 recess appointments. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed with Senate Republicans and is reviewing the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruling on presidential recess appointments.

The decision validates my concerns with the alarming pattern of overreach by the Obama Administration. Whether it’s the Environmental Protection Agency’s Cross State Air Pollution Rule or the Department of Labor’s Farm Labor Rules, this Administration continues to side step the role of Congress when they find it politically expedient. I look forward to the Supreme Court evaluation, and remain hopeful that the Administration will choose to put both the U.S. Constitution and best interests of Americans first.

The legal controversy with the appointments is tied to whether brief Senate breaks called pro-forma sessions, which Congress states are not formal recesses, are in fact recesses. The federal court of appeals ruled that the only congressional break that counts as recess is the one that occurs between formal, year-long sessions of Congress. Even then, the president may only fill vacancies that come open while the Senate is in recess.

Abilene Memorial Hospital Ribbon Cutting
This weekend I was honored to give remarks at the ribbon cutting ceremony for a new Memorial Hospital in Abilene. This hospital provides critical care services to residents in the Abilene Community. Ensuring accessible health care in rural communities impacts many Kansans and remains a priority for me. As ranking member of the Senate Appropriations health subcommittee, I will continue to advocate for quality healthcare and the vital role hospitals play in strengthening our communities. Thanks to CEO Mark Miller and the Memorial Health System Board of Directors for hosting a great event. Click here to see a photo.

Ringing the Final Closing Bell at the Kansas City Board of Trade
On Friday I had the opportunity to ring the final closing bell at the Kansas City Board of Trade (KCBT). KCBT was founded in 1856 and been an important part of wheat trading in the market. Hard red winter wheat futures and options will be transitioned to the Chicago trading Floor on July 1st. Last fall, Chicago-based CME Group acquired the KCBT, but the evolution of electronic trading has also had a significant impact. While I was there, they reported better-than-expected yields are coming out of this year’s harvest in Kansas. Thank you to Jeff Borchardt, President and CEO of KCBT for the opportunity to participate in the bittersweet, historic day. Click here to see a photo.

For the Love of Country Music
This weekend I had the pleasure of joining 20,000 country music fans at Country Stampede, which is held at Tuttle Creek State Park near Manhattan. The annual concert is a four-day festival, and as a country music fan myself, I always enjoy the talented performers and visiting with Kansans. This year, I had the opportunity to introduce the Friday night headliner Jason Aldean. Aldean is famous for singing about the small town life that many Kansans know and love in popular chart toppers such as “Fly Over State” and “Amarillo Sky.” Thanks to Jeff and Marla Copper for arranging the details of my visit. Click here to see a photo.

Share Your Harvest Photos With Kansas
Harvesting the amber waves of grain is a sight to see every summer in Kansas. I invite you to upload your favorite harvest photos to my Facebook Page, and I’ll choose some to feature. Feel free to post several photos, but remember to include where the photo was taken and any background information on the photo that you would like to share. Thank you to all who make harvest possible and keep the agricultural industry alive in well in Kansas.

In the Office
Last week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below: 

Leroy Kreutzer of Hays
Sandy Kreutzer of Hays
Diana Vetter of Overland Park
Ken Hachmeister of Natoma
Sheila Hachmeister of Natoma
Seth Hachmeister of Natoma 

Angel Capital Association
Marianne Hudson Overland Park
Central Finance Corporation
Earl McVicker of Hutchinson 

National Concrete Masonry Association
Adam Lusker of Frontenac 

Lupus Foundation
Sarah Loquist-Berry of Topeka
Kim Cantor of Kansas City 

Arts Partners
Katie Lynn of Wichita 

Troy DeDecker of Overland Park
Jim Grocholski of Wichita 

Washington Youth Summit on the Environment
Maren Berbliner of Hutchinson 

Kansas Association of Secondary School Principals
Jacque Feist of Dodge City 

Citizens Climate
Lynate Pettengill of Lawrence
Alex Lenferna of Lawrence 

Spirit AeroSystems
Sam Marnick of Wichita
Sam Sackett of Wichita 

Riley County 4-H
Cassandra Anderson of Leonardville
Bryan Armbrust of Manhattan
April Ascher of Alta Vista
Nelsa Backman of Manhattan
Stormie Clemens of Manhattan
Katherine Culbertson of Manhattan
Natalie Dick of Manhattan
Reid Erdwein of Manhattan
Whitley Eyestone of Manhattan
Piper Fowler of Manhattan
Soichiro Hiromasa of Manhattan
Kendal Howard of Wamego
Anna Jackson of Manhattan
Kylie James of Manhattan
Harley Roedel of Manhattan
Taylor Schalles of Manhattan
Katherine Sundgren of Leonardville
Madalyn Taylor of Riley
Makayla Tegtmeier of Riley
Dennis Tegtmeier of Riley
Lexy Wilson of Riley
Mark Fowler of Manhattan
Kristen Garcia of Manhattan
Bob Sawyer of Manhattan
Gwen Eyestone of Manhattan
Tiffany Erdwein of Manhattan 

United Motorcoach Association
Bronwyn Wilson of Overland Park 

Highway 69 Association
Jim AuBuchon of Overland Park
Ken Brock of Pittsburg
Daron Hall of Pittsburg
Dave Martin of Fort Scott
Blake Benson of Pittsburg 

American Nurses Association
Laura Sidlinger of Topeka 

Dan Toughey of Lenexa

Kansas Music Educators Association
Avian Bear of Lenexa
Craig Manteuffel of Hays
Paula Manteuffel of Hays 

Capitol Tour
Carl Davis of Wichita
Christine Davis of Wichita
Drew Davis of Wichita
Trey Davis of Wichita
Dan Thelen of Olathe
Sherrie Thelen of Olathe
Jeremy Thelen of Olathe
Trenton Horn of Abilene
Peyton Horn of Abilene
Drew Miller of Abilene
Hannah Diercks of Chapman
Paige Altwegg of Junction City
Josh Haynes of Junction City
Elaine Mull of Pawnee Rock
Chase Harter of Pawnee Rock
Samantha Harter of Pawnee Rock
John Mull of Larned
Kristen Mull of Larned
Gabriel Mull of Larned
Karen Frick of Larned
Ava Mull of Larned
Sue Carlson Blackman of Topeka
David Blackman of Topeka
Adam York of Ashland
Anna Lambertson of Lawrence
Olivier Mozziconacci of Lawrence
Janette Labbee-Holdeman of Lansing
Darby Mance of Leavenworth
Danielle Brink of Manhattan
Rusty Newman of Leawood
Gale Newman of Leawood
Madison Allen of Shawnee
Kevin Vollrath of Overbrook
Shandy Vollrath of Overbrook
Kate Vollrath of Overbrook
Caroline Vollrath of Overbrook
David Chan of Overland Park
Kristi Chan of Overland Park
Anna Chan of Overland Park
Elisa Chan of Overland Park
James Chan of Overland Park
Ken Redeker of Olpe
Debra Redeker of Olpe
Douglas Weller of Salina
Nancy Arnoldy of Salina
Ian Weller of Lawrence
Susanna Weller of Salina
Carolyn Orozco of Topeka
Leah Helvey of Salina
Shala Bloomberg of Olathe 

Honored to Serve You in Washington
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. In recent weeks, I’ve been listening to Kansans calling and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the debt crisis and big issues our country faces. Whether your thoughts are in the form of letter, a Facebook comment or a phone call, please know that I am listening and I appreciate messages from Kansans who wish to make their voice heard.

Please let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click 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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