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.

Immigration Debate Continues in the Senate
The Senate continues debate on S. 744 — the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act — popularly referred to as the “Gang of Eight” proposal. The bill would allow most of the nation’s 11 million unauthorized immigrants to apply for U.S. citizenship within 13 years, add $6.5 billion to improve border security with Mexico, require all U.S. business owners to check the immigration status of hires, and revamp the legal immigration system to bring in more high-tech workers on short-term visas. To qualify for citizenship, immigrants would be placed in temporary legal status for at least 10 years, pass a criminal background check, learn English, pay taxes, fees and at least $2,000 in fines.

While S. 744 is intended to address the many flaws of our nation’s broken immigration system, the legislation needs to be improved with conservative and commonsense amendments, and I hope they are considered this week. If you would like to share your thoughts on this bill, please contact my office. To read an outline of the legislation, click here

Farm Bill Passes U.S. Senate
Monday, the Senate passed the Farm Bill by a vote of 66 to 27. It met my two benchmarks: strong, stable crop insurance and disaster programs to provide livestock producers with help when faced with Mother Nature’s uncertainty. The legislation puts vital risk management tools and conservation programs back in place, providing farmers and ranchers with the long-term certainty they need to produce food, fiber and fuel for our country and the world. The new bill’s passage will also help to reduce our national debt by reforming and eliminating programs. The bill saves $24 billion and will impact food related programs over the next decade including food stamps and nutrition, commodity programs, crop insurance, conservation, trade and energy. I look forward to the House of Representative’s passage of their Farm Bill so that the legislation can be improved further during conference negotiations before ultimately being signed into law.

Making Certain Rural Americans Have Access to Hometown Financial Institutions
The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on the health of the community banks that featured testimony from officials of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). They shared that while financial institutions of every size were hit hard by the downturn in the economy, community banks that played by the rules weathered the storm better than most. I was encouraged to hear that community banks are still recognized as an important component of our country’s financial system. However, I remain concerned with the closings and consolidations among smaller banks. The mounting regulations aimed at reining in bad financial players have disproportionately affected community banks. These community banks did not cause the downturn in the financial markets, yet they are being punished, thereby putting rural borrowers at risk of losing their hometown financial services. I am committed to responsible oversight and regulation of our financial system. But our national economy cannot grow if our hometown lenders are not able to write mortgages and make small business loans. I will continue to push for needed relief for these important institutions as part of my broader effort to make certain people can continue to call rural America home. Click here to see me discuss this issue at the Senate Banking Committee Hearing.

Introducing Bill to Preserve Rural Health Care Access
On Wednesday, I introduced S. 1143, the Protecting Access to Rural Therapy Services (PARTS) Act, to make certain rural patients have access to a full range of outpatient therapeutic services. “Outpatient therapeutic services” include services such as drug infusions, blood transfusions, and cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services. These health care services have always been administered by licensed, skilled medical professionals in hospitals under the overall direction of a physician. However, in 2009, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) retroactively interpreted existing policy in place since 2001 to require that a supervising physician be physically present in the department at all times when Medicare beneficiaries receive outpatient therapy services, the majority of which are low risk. This policy does not take into account the realities of rural health care. Many Kansas hospitals find these supervision requirements impossible to meet, which jeopardizes continued access to these important health care services. Small and rural hospitals, where medical workforce shortages are most severe, need reasonable flexibility to appropriately staff their facilities so they can continue to provide a full range of services to their communities. The PARTS Act is a commonsense solution that would preserve patient safety and ease unreasonable regulations on hospitals. Click here to read more about this legislation. I introduced a version of the PARTS Act last Congress as S. 778.

Questioning Acting Labor Secretary on Future of Withdrawn Farm Labor Rules
Last spring, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) proposed rules which would have disrupted educating the next generation of farmers and ranchers by doing away with successful farm safety training and certification programs like cooperative extension, 4-H and FFA. DOL ignored research that shows such programs improve safety habits of young people and instead criticized these programs for being too locally driven and lacking federal direction. Additionally, DOL recommended rules that would have resulted in children being unable to perform common farm tasks like rounding up cattle on horseback, operating a tractor, or cleaning out stalls with a shovel and wheelbarrow. Facing significant backlash from Congress and the public, including the many touching stories shared with me by Kansans on the value of working on a farm, the DOL ultimately withdrew its proposed farm labor regulations.

At last week’s Senate Appropriations Labor Subcommittee hearing, I asked Acting DOL Secretary Seth Harris to confirm that the Department has no plans to reintroduce these farm labor rules. I was pleased with the Acting Secretary’s response: “We have no plans to re-propose it and we won’t be re-proposing it during the rest of the Obama Administration.” Farm and ranch families apparently will not be subjected in the years ahead to any arbitrary national standard that would weaken important training programs. Click here to view my questioning of DOL Acting Secretary Harris.

Contract Tower Program
I was delighted to attend U.S. Contract Tower Association Workshop in Washington, D.C. this week, and it was a great honor to join Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut in receiving the Contract Tower Leadership Award. Thanks to Tim Rogers, Executive Director at Salina Airport Authority, Wellington-native Joel Bacon, Vice President of AAAE, and Greg Schoofs and Bill Ellis of Midwest Air Traffic Control Services in Overland Park for hosting me.

Targeted this spring by the Administration for cost savings as a result of sequestration, these towers play a vital role in ensuring the safety of aviation passengers across the country. Just last week, a Southwest Airlines flight from Atlanta to Denver diverted to Garden City Regional Airport (GCK) due to a passenger medical emergency. According to Rachelle Powell, Director of Aviation at GCK, the presence of Garden City’s air traffic control tower, one of five in Kansas previously slated for closure, played a critical role in the pilots’ decision to land at GCK and in coordinating the emergency response.

PTSD Senate Resolution
June is National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month, and I cosponsored a bipartisan Senate Resolution that passed the Senate on Wednesday to help raise awareness about this issue. PTSD affects thousands of brave men and women in the military who risk their lives to protect our freedom, and it’s important to make certain they get the treatment they deserve. Click here to learn more.

Summerfest Parade in Frankfort
Saturday I enjoyed attending the Summerfest Parade in Frankfort and surprising Trent Kennedy who served as a U.S. Senate Page this spring. It was fun to reconnect with Trent and his family and meet the community members and leaders who have shaped his experiences. Events like Summerfest bring communities together and help to remind us what living in rural America is all about — a place where folks know their neighbors and look after them. To learn more about Trent and watch a video about his time in Washington, click here. Click here to see a photo from the parade.


Symphony in the Flint Hills
Saturday at Fort Riley, I enjoyed a beautiful Kansas sunset as the Symphony in the Flint Hills concluded its program with 5,000 Kansans singing along as The Kansas City Symphony played "Home on the Range." Thank you to Ed and Eunice Rolfs and Central National Bank of Junction City for hosting Robba and me.

Touring Procter & Gamble in Kansas City
Monday morning before I returned to Washington, I toured the Procter & Gamble (P&G) facility in Kansas City, Kansas. The plant opened in 1905 and its location was based on access to the railroad. I learned the current facility makes a number of ingredients used in cleaning products and all the Dawn, Joy, Gain and Ivory dishwashing soap used in North America. Thanks to P&G Plant Manager Jack Geissinger for the invitation and informative tour of this Kansas-based facility. Thank you also to Cindy Cash CEO of KCK Chamber for joining us and highlighting the importance of these businesses in KCK. Click here to see a photo.

Now Accepting 2013 Service Academy Applications
Even as students are beginning their summer breaks, I want to remind them of the opportunity to apply to a United States Service Academy. Appointing Kansans to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, is one of my favorite duties as a U.S. Senator.

To find out the requirements and apply, please download an application from my website or contact my Olathe office. All application materials are due to my Olathe office by September 6, 2013. After applications have been reviewed, applicants will be notified of interviews with my Service Academy Selection Board, which will take place on Saturday, October 5, 2013 at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.

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

American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
Patrice Duncan of Wichita
Sharon Iorio of Wichita 

National Student Leadership Congress
Alice Abrams of Wichita
Jose Cisneros of Wichita
Eric Martinez of Lawrence
Ellena Ignacio of Kansas City 

Bread for the World
Miranda Clark of Russell 

Kansas Licensed Beverage Association
Phil Bradley of Lawrence 

American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians
Jon Parks of Wichita
Ray Mahoua of Lenexa
Mayank Gupta of Overland Park 

Joan Kelley of Gardner 

Blue Valley Telephone
Brian Thomason of Home 

AARP Kansas
Maren Turner of Topeka
Glenda DuBoise of Topeka 

K-State Salina
Charles Reagan of Manhattan 

Academy of Doctors of Audiology
Timothy Steele of Lenexa 

National Association of Fixed Annuities
Sarah Mlynek of Topeka
Terry Tiede of Topeka 

National League of POW/MIA Families
Deanna Klenda of Marion 

Connie Kays of Wier 

Kansas Cooperative Council
Leslie Kaufman of Topeka 

National Organic Coalition
Terry Shistar of Lawrence 

Drop In
Tuck Duncan of Topeka 

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Lisa Hollar of Emporia
Barb Nelson of Lenexa 

Kansas FFA for the Washington Leadership Conference
Jeffrey Hadachek of Cuba
Juliana Krotz of Belleville
Jesy Strnad of Munden
Nathaniel Hamel of Hill City
Kimberly Bradshaw of Hill City
Tate Tremblay of Hill City
Cordell Goddard of Penokee
Allison Nickelson of Penokee
Whitney Herman of WaKeeney 

Brian Boisvert of Wilson
Jimmy Todd of Little River
Rhonda Goddard of Penokee 

American Civics Center
Nina Jahnel of Bartlett

Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace
Joe Newberry of Wichita 

American Pharmacists Association
Greg Scott of Lawrence 

DC Capitol Tour
Larry Lyder of Hill City
Linden Duncan of Wichita
Patrice Duncan of Wichita
T’Ondre Beasley of Wichita
Kip Dondlinger of Overland Park
Mitchel Dondlinger of Overland Park
Nancy Dondlinger of Overland Park
Billy Dondlinger of Hutchinson
Mary Dondlinger of Hutchinson
Ronald Bridges of Manhattan
Nancy Bridges of Manhattan
Felix Tsigos of Olsburg
Alice Ghilardi of Manhattan
Ralph Richardson of Manhattan
Beverly Richardson of Manhattan
Rodger LaBeth of Louisburg
Susie LaBeth of Louisburg
Dakotah Watkins of Holton
Jackie Holland of Holton
David Piper of Wichita
Marie Piper of Wichita
Preston Hunt of Wichita
Kent Colwell of Hays
Lisa Colwell of Hays
Cameron Tuai of Emporia
Kimberly Tuai of Emporia
Lillian Tuai of Emporia
India Tuai of Emporia
Mela Lewandowski of Emporia
James Sanko of Kansas City
Patti Puricelli of Kansas City
Ryan Porter of Kansas City
Allison Porter of Kansas City
William Burke of Olathe
Shawna Burke of Olathe
Macy Burke of Olathe
Skyler Burke 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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