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.
Hearing on the Urgent Child Migrant Crisis
On Thursday, I attended a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the Administration’s $3.7 billion emergency “supplemental” spending request to address the unprecedented influx of unaccompanied children from Central America arriving at the United States' border. Since 2011, the number of unaccompanied children crossing the Southwest border has increased 2,000 percent. Next year, more than 145,000 children are expected by the Administration’s latest projections.
So far, the Administration has failed to address the root causes of this crisis, and I do not believe this supplemental funding request alone will remedy this humanitarian crisis. Without policy changes that hammer smugglers that prey on children and that make it easier to return them more quickly to their home countries, this multi-billion dollar emergency funding request will be the beginning of many more funding requests. The numbers of both children and dollars will continue to increase. Additionally, concerns have been raised about the lack of detail on how the supplemental funding would help expedite the legal processing of detained migrants. This problem is becoming larger by the day. We must address the root causes behind the flood of unaccompanied children placing themselves at the mercy of smugglers. This is a humanitarian crisis that cannot continue to be ignored.
The Federal Communications Commission Considers Changes to the E-Rate Program
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a proposal by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to alter the E-Rate program – the largest federal program supporting broadband internet connectivity for schools and libraries. Improvements to E-Rate are needed as the program has remained relatively unchanged since its inception 18 years ago. In order to make certain the E-Rate program provides all American students with the opportunity to obtain a 21st century education, we need to make reforms to make the fund more effective and efficient. On Friday, an editorial with a Commissioner of the FCC and native Kansan, Ajit Pai, ran in The Wichita Eagle to highlight commonsense reforms to improve the E-Rate program and support access to important broadband technologies for all American students, including rural and low-income students. Click here to read this editorial.
The FCC has touted the E-Rate modernization proposal as a bipartisan effort to make much-needed changes to the program. However, significant bipartisan opposition has emerged as the public has learned more about the Commission’s proposal. Like many Kansans, I am concerned that the FCC’s proposal falls short on what should be the main objectives of the modernization effort. Ahead of the FCC’s Friday vote on the proposal, I sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler urging the delay of the Commission’s vote to allow more time to make certain the proposed changes will effectively and efficiently serve all American students. Click here to read this letter, which was signed by all of my colleagues in the Kansas Congressional Delegation. I will continue to monitor developments as the FCC considers proposals to improve and modernize the E-Rate program.
Ensuring Rural Fire Departments Have Resources Needed To Protect Local Communities
Last week, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that it would bar the transfer of excess trucks, generators, humvees, and other diesel-powered equipment because they might not meet federal emissions standards. This decision was a reversal of decades of past policy where such equipment was granted a national security exemption by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In Kansas, there are currently 445 vehicles issued to rural fire departments. In fact, of the 50 million acres in Kansas, nearly 95 percent of all land is protected by rural volunteer fire departments.
This week, I spoke on the U.S. Senate Floor, as well as joined my colleagues in the Kansas Congressional Delegation in calling for a commonsense solution to make certain rural fire departments in Kansas and across the country continue to have access to the excess equipment. Twenty-four hours later, I received word from the Defense Logistics Agency that “the restriction on the release of equipment including military trucks has been rescinded.” This decision will allow Kansas fire departments continue to utilize excess equipment to save lives and protect property. I will continue to monitor this situation moving forward as these agencies determine exactly which excess items will be available through the programs. Click here to see me speak about this issue on the U.S. Senate Floor.
Working to Protect Producers from Consequences of Lesser Prairie Chicken Listing
This week, Senator Roberts and I introduced an amendment to the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014 to prohibit the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of the Interior from altering any land management practices based on the listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a threatened species.
As conservation efforts for the Lesser Prairie Chicken are considered, farmers and ranchers deserve the flexibility to implement plans that fit their operations. I am committed to making certain the measures implemented are based on sound science and common sense, as well as represent the best interest of farmers and ranchers. We will continue to do what we can to resolve the problem and avoid thwarting industries vital to our state’s economy. To learn more, click here.
Condemning Hamas Attacks on Israel
Violence has escalated in Israel since the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers and rocket attacks launched from the Gaza strip by Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. Israeli Defense Forces have conducted air strikes targeting rocket-launching sites, Hamas facilities, militant command posts, weapons storage facilities and smuggling tunnels.
Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system has intercepted some of the several-hundred rockets fired at Israel last week, but there is growing concern about long range rockets that enable militants in Gaza to fire further than ever into Israel. Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer estimates that three-fourths of Israel’s population, approximately six million people, are now within striking distance.
On Thursday, I sponsored a bipartisan resolution to condemn the militants’ attacks and express support for Israel’s right to self-defense. The resolution also calls on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to break political ties with Hamas, a push that follows recent Congressional efforts to restrict American assistance to Palestinians so long as Palestinian government continues to ally itself with Hamas.
Wheat Harvest in Kansas
Wheat harvest is a special time of year in Kansas. It is a time when families and communities come together for a common purpose. Even through difficult times like the current drought, Kansas farmers work year-round to feed and clothe Kansans, people across the country and individuals around the globe. This video captures Kansas farmers’ long, hard days and features a poem entitled “Wheat Harvest,” by Marjorie Maydew Bell of Smith Center. Thanks to all farmers and farm families who are making this year’s harvest safe and productive.
Chapman High School FFA Visit
This week, I welcomed Chapman High School FFA to our nation’s capital. They were an engaging group, and I enjoyed answering their questions about important issues facing Kansas and the country. We discussed business currently before the U.S. Senate, EPA regulations and higher education. Often, there is a disconnect between rural America and the rest of the world. We need to continue to educate consumers on where their food, fuel and fiber come from and the process in which it is grown. I applaud National FFA Organization’s efforts to make certain rural values are preserved for the next generation of American farmers and ranchers.
Kansas in the Office
University of Kansas Medical Center
Douglas Girod of Kansas City
Richard Barohn of Kansas City
Kansas Soybean Association
Bob Henry of Robinson
Terry Reschke of Hiawatha
Lucas Heinen of Everest
Kenlon Johannes of Topeka
Dennis Hupe of Topeka
National Migration Conference
Kasie Garlington of Olathe
Americans for Prosperity
Jeff Glendening of Olathe
Lathrop & Gage
Joel Voran of Leawood
Mary Birch of Overland Park
Dan Carroll of Prairie Village
Joe McGrath of Lenexa
Johanna Altland of Lenexa
Jeff Cropsey of Lenexa
Ward Cook of Prairie Village
One Voice Against Cancer
James Miksch of Prairie Village
James Hamilton of Topeka
Leesa Gabel of Olathe
Molly Johnson of Wichita
International Speedway Corporation
Pat Warren of Leawood
Kansas Superintendents Association
Brenda Dietrich of Topeka
Tom Trigg of Overland Park
American Trucking Association
Stephanie Fisher of Overland Park
Doug Farmer of Topeka
Jerry Jones of Kansas City
Michelle Ponce of Emporia
Kathy Mosher of Salina
Dana Pugh of Kansas City
Bryan Brady of Hays
Teresa Lovelady of Wichita
Rachel Marsh of Wichita
Marlene Willis of Pittsburg
Christie Appelhanz of Topeka
Robert Stiles of Coffeyville
Lisa Moritz of Tribune
Tawny Stottlemire of Topeka
Janis DeBoer of Topeka
Billie Hall of Topeka
Melissa Ness of Topeka
East Kansas Agri-Energy LLC
Jeff Oestmann of Garnett
Kansas Council for Social Studies
Glenn Wiebe of Hutchinson
Michael McNeil of Overland Park
Angela McNeil of Overland Park
Peter McNeil of Overland Park
Fielding Norton of Prairie Village
Janice Norton of Prairie Village
Russell Hart of Manhattan
Erika Hart of Manhattan
Vicki Gieber of Abilene
Cheyenne Stroda of Lebo
Jordan Hern of Hays
Bailee Hern of Hays
Kevin Wissman of Manhattan
Jeff Kuhlman of Ness City
Dylan Wissman of Albert
Ekambaram Padmanaban of Overland Park
Kalaivani Padmanaban of Overland Park
Jyoshika Padmanaban of Overland Park
Nidhish Padmanaban of Overland Park
Perry Crume of Shawnee
Joanne Crume of Shawnee
Evan Crume of Shawnee
Lisa Klein of Overland Park
Barbara Heideman of Netawaka
Alysia Heideman of Netawaka
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.
Very truly yours,
Newsletter Sign-up Form
Note: Fields marked with an * are required.