Kansas Common Sense

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USDA Approves CP25 Emergency Haying and Grazing
While we've had some great rains in some places in Kansas, the drought continues to burden our livestock producers and communities. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, for weeks we've been asking USDA to release additional grass under CP25 for haying and grazing. This week, USDA announced the request had been granted. USDA’s decision to allow haying and grazing on CP25 acreage is welcome news and will provide some much-needed relief to livestock operations from exceedingly dry conditions.

The majority of the 840,000 acres in Kansas enrolled in CP25 are in the drought region, so this should provide some beneficial relief. USDA authorized this same land to be used for emergency haying and grazing in 2012 and extreme drought conditions have made the authorization necessary again this year.

To apply, producers should contact their local FSA office. Where approved, emergency haying will be allowed until August 31, 2013, and emergency grazing until September 30, 2013. USDA has agreed to a 10 percent reduction in CRP payments rather than the normal 25 percent. Click here to read USDA’s Fact Sheet on Emergency Haying and Grazing for 2013. For further information about CRP program benefits and regulations, go online to www.fsa.usda.gov/crp.

Affordable Care Act – A List of Broken Promises
While the President promised the Affordable Care Act (ACA) would lower health care costs and strengthen our health care system, the reality is the law is increasing health insurance premiums, slowing economic recovery, and hindering job growth. We cannot allow the Administration to continue to ignore this reality. I recently spoke on the Senate floor about the problems with the ACA, my efforts to address these problems, and why we should permanently delay, dismantle and replace this flawed law.

Since enactment more than three years ago, 18 components of the ACA have been changed, cancelled or delayed. While the President continues to downplay the failings of the law by characterizing them as “glitches and bumps” that are to be expected, or blaming opponents for its broken promises, the ACA is unraveling. Every day brings new information about missed deadlines, funding shortfalls, soaring health insurance premium rates, and a technical implementation that is floundering. It is no wonder that this law continues to be publicly unpopular.

With the majority of the mandates, fees and taxes taking effect in 2014, we are already beginning to see the alarming effects of the law on individuals, families, employers and our economy. It is one broken promise after another. Here are three examples:

  • Promise Number One – In attempting to sell the ACA to the American public, the President promised it would “save families $2,500 in the coming years.” But, since 2008 the average American family has seen health insurance premium costs rise by more than $3,000. Non-partisan actuaries estimate that national health spending will grow at an average rate of close to six percent annually between 2011 and 2021. As national spending ticks up, American families will continue to see their monthly premiums increase. States are beginning to release details on the rates consumers will pay for ACA-related health insurance starting January 1, 2014. An unfortunate pattern is emerging: ACA mandated insurance is going to increase costs for many Americans.
  • Promise Number Two – In 2009, the President promised, “no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period.” Reality has since whittled down this promise drastically. If you go to the ACA website today, you will find this far less confident statement: “Depending on the plan you choose in the Marketplace, you may be able to keep your current doctor.” Even large labor unions have recently criticized the President and congressional Democrats for breaking this promise. Notably, the National Treasury Employees Union – the union that represents most IRS employees – is urging its members to write their elected officials to oppose any effort that would force them to participate in the health insurance Exchanges.
  • Promise Number Three – The President promised that the ACA would “lower costs for…the federal government, reducing our deficit by over $1 trillion in the next two decades. It is paid for. It is fiscally responsible.” The only way the Affordable Care Act will reduce deficits is by grossly increasing the fees and taxes associated with this law.

These broken promises are more than just words. I am concerned the Administration’s false starts and failures in implementing the ACA are just the beginning of the harm this law will do to individuals, families and businesses. Click here to watch my speech.

Visiting the Community of Minneapolis
On Monday, I made a visit to Minneapolis to check on the reopening of the Post Office which was shut down on July 7 after the collapse of the Parker House Hotel next door. For the last few weeks, residents have had to travel to pick up and send mail, and they could not even buy stamps locally. I’m so glad to see this community post office open for business. The visit also gave me a chance to walk downtown and hear from folks at The Lyons Den, Fast Stop, Bennington Oil, The Messenger, and to the Courthouse to visit with the County Clerk Office, and the Register of Deeds. The Ottawa County Commission was meeting at the Courthouse and I appreciated my conversation with Commissioners James Kay, Kathy Luthi and Karen Brumbaugh. Click here to see a photo.

Speaking at Colby Rotary
Western Kansas is a very special place, and I always enjoy the opportunity to visit. On Tuesday, I joined the Colby Rotary Club for their meeting at the Colby Community College Student Union. It was great to visit with Kansans during lunch and discuss many important local, state and national issues including banking regulations hurting community banks, rural hospitals' concerns with Obamacare, and our national debt. I'm grateful to everyone who attended and gave me the opportunity to listen to their thoughts, including State Rep. Ward Cassidy and State Sen. Ralph Ostmeyer. The Colby Rotarians clearly live their lives by Four-Way Test and are committed to doing whatever they can to better their community and our world. Thanks for being so welcoming. Click here to see a photo.

Visiting Northwest Kansas District Free Fair
On Tuesday afternoon, I stopped in Goodland and had the opportunity to attend the Northwest Kansas District Free Fair at the Sherman Co. Fairgrounds. September 21, 1886, was the date of the first fair in Sherman County, held north of present day Goodland on the claim of George D. Umphrey, who gave the use of the land at no charge. The tradition continues on today. I enjoyed spending time with folks at the fair, and I joined Curtis Duncan on KLOE Radio to share the news about USDA’s approval of CP25 emergency haying and grazing. I also enjoyed meeting Dani Mangus of Kanorado, a member of the Ruleton Eager Beaver 4-H Club, who was excited to introduce me to Charlie — her boer goat — who she was showing at the fair. Click here to see a photo.

Meeting with Kansas Bankers
On Thursday, I had the opportunity to address the annual meeting of the Kansas Bankers’ Association (KBA). The financial downturn of the past few years could have been avoided if banks across our country operated in the responsible fashion that Kansas banks do. Our national economy cannot fully recover if our community banks are hit with regulations that were intended to reign in irresponsible lenders. 

My remarks centered several bills I’ve introduced, including S.1349, the Community Lending Enhancement and Regulatory (CLEAR) Relief Act. This legislation would provide regulatory relief to community banks and their customers as well as support the housing recovery. By stripping away outdated or unnecessary regulation, the CLEAR Relief Act would help community banks focus on what they do best: providing loans to their communities and helping small businesses grow. I also discussed two other bills I authored: S. 1600, the Communities First Act, and S. 2160, the Financial Institutions Examination Fairness and Reform Act. These two bills would allow smaller responsible lenders to play an important role in our ongoing efforts to put our country back on sound financial footing. 

It was great to see Esther George, president and chief executive of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, as well as Tom Hoenig, the Kansas City Fed’s former president. Special thanks to KBA Chairman Frank L. Carson III and the KBA membership for inviting me to join them.

Attending the 31st Annual Herzogfest and Parade
On Saturday I joined Ellis County residents for the 31st annual Herzogfest in Victoria. I had a great time participating in the parade and had an opportunity to share a few words at the welcome ceremony. This family-friendly event is a favorite summer tradition in Ellis County. The impressive operation is a testament to the people of Victoria and all the hard work they put into Herzogfest. Thanks to Herzogfest Board of Directors Member Jerry Freigtag for driving me in the parade and thanks to the folks at Auto World of Hays for providing the vehicle. Couldn’t make it to Herzogfest? Click here to see a photo or here to read an article about Herzogfest in the Hays Daily News.

Home Grown Energy Production in Oakley
Driving near Oakley last week, I stopped by Western Plains Energy LLC ethanol production plant. This plant will soon produce advanced biofuel from Kansas-grown sorghum. Western Plains Energy utilizes a variety of advanced technologies including an anaerobic digester system which will power the plant with methane. I'm excited for what the future holds for Kansas biofuels and Western Plains Energy. This company is another example of the benefits of a robust portfolio of American energy sources. My bipartisan MLP Parity Act legislation would make it easier for companies like Western Plains to form and create wealth, jobs and energy in Kansas. You can learn more about the MLP Parity Act here.

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

Chuck Owen of Lenexa

Capitol Tours
Allison and Adam White of Lenexa
Mark and Sarah Schiltz of Lenexa
Dr. and Mrs. Yutaka Kawase of Louisburg
Nobuko Kawase of Louisburg
Abigail Kawase of Louisburg
Joshua Kawase of Louisburg
Kirsten Kawase of Louisburg
Dacia Bostrom of Kansas City
Kevin Bird of Lawrence
Marlee Bird of Lawrence
Laurel Bird of Lawrence
Hadley Bird of Lawrence
Erin Bird of Lawrence
Heather and Tom Morrow of Shawnee
Beverly Nichols of Russell
Brooks Nichols of Russell
Gage Nichols of Russell
Matt Nichols of Russell
Emerson Nichols of Russell
Cullen Herron of Overland Park
Don Herron of Overland Park
Kristine Gish Herron of Overland Park
Chris Herron 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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