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.

114th Congress Legislative Accomplishments
Before I introduce legislation in the U.S. Senate, the most important question I ask myself is whether it would improve the lives of Kansans and Americans. During the 114th Congress, I sponsored at least 24 bills – with Senate colleagues from both sides of the aisle – that either passed the Senate or were signed into law including the Better Online Ticket Sales Act of 2016 (S. 3183), the Increasing the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability to Veterans Act (S.290) and the Consumer Review Freedom Act of 2015 (S.2044). I look forward to working with the incoming administration in the 115th Congress on behalf of Kansans and Americans.

Better Online Ticket Sales Act Signed Into Law
The BOTS Act, which President Obama signed into law this week, levels the online playing field and makes ticket prices fairer so a greater number of everyday folks can go to that big football game, see the musical in town or attend a concert their son or daughter is longing to see. I appreciate the support of the president and my colleagues in Congress to get this done in a bipartisan manner. Click here to learn more. 

Praising Passage of the Toxic Exposure Research Act
As I’ve listened to the stories of veterans during my time in Congress, I have heard about health conditions affecting not only them, but also their children and grandchildren. These conditions may stem from exposure to toxic substances such as Agent Orange in Vietnam, Gulf War neurotoxins, burn pits in Iraq and many others. As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I’ve been pushing for research and solutions to address these health conditions for several years. I have been working with Senator Richard Blumenthal and Vietnam Veterans of America on bipartisan legislation – the Toxic Exposure Research Act to achieve this purpose. The bill has passed both chambers of Congress, and I’m hopeful the president swiftly signs it into law.

When service members raise their right hand and take the oath of enlistment or commissioning, they commit their lives to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and to protect the freedoms we hold dear. Their families stand by their side through combat tours and multiple duty stations around the world. We should and we must do all that we can to ensure their loved ones don’t also have to suffer the unintended wounds of war. I am pleased that Congress came together so we can get to work helping these veterans and their families. Click here to learn more.

Veterans Mobility Safety Act is Signed Into Law
The president signed into law this week the Veterans Mobility Safety Act, legislation I led in the Senate to improve the quality and safety of mobility equipment for disabled veterans and to make hearing aid services at VA health care facilities more accessible for Kansans. This commonsense bill will improve hearing aid services by allowing veterans to see licensed hearing aid specialists at VA medical centers, and it requires the VA to develop standards for the installation of automobile adaptive equipment that allows disabled veterans greater mobility and independence. We must uphold our promise to provide quality care to those who sacrificed for our country, and I am pleased that this legislation has been into law. Click here to learn more. 

Visiting Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center
I visited Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center to tour and discuss the role of the facilities in the future of aviation. As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has oversight over NASA, and a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for determining budgetary priorities for the Air Force, I appreciated the opportunity to see how decisions made by Congress directly impact the innovative projects and missions underway. We also discussed ways we can work together to ensure more Kansas students receive a STEM education and can find jobs in aviation and aeronautics.

At Cape Canaveral, I toured the launch vehicle processing facility and United Launch Alliance site and was hosted by Brigadier General Wayne Monteith for the visit. At NASA, I toured the EM-1 Orion multi-purpose crew vehicle and vehicle assembly building, commercial crew and cargo processing facility, mobile launcher and launch pads A & B. I was joined by Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana and Wichita State University National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) Executive Director Dr. John Tomblin to participate as a representative of Wichita’s aerospace community.

Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act
I supported the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act this week. It authorizes waterway improvement projects across the country and provides critical support for flood control projects that thousands of communities rely on. These projects provide greater certainty needed to keep family homes safe and to protect the investments of countless businesses from flood risk. The bill includes provisions that are important to Kansas, such as greater responses to drinking water contamination occurrences, developing our nation’s ports to be able to ship Kansas-produced grains abroad, improving Kansas’ dams to increase water storage capacity and many other priorities. The legislation represents a compromise between the House and Senate and was signed into law this week.

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial
I recently visited the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. to honor and reflect on the sacrifices of our law enforcement officers and their families. At the memorial, I spent some time thinking of three Kansans who were killed in the line of duty this year–Detective Brad Lancaster and Captain Robert David Melton of the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department and Master Deputy Sheriff Brandon Collins of the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office. Especially during this holiday season, I remember these men, their service to Kansas, and their families who are tragically without their loved ones this year.

It is important to thank our heroes for working tirelessly amid dangerous conditions for the sake of others, for upholding the law, for the burdens they shoulder and the risks they take on a daily basis. When we as Americans commit to the safety and support of law enforcement, we can help to secure our neighborhoods, strengthen our communities and hopefully reduce the number of deaths in the line of duty. As an inscription at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in our nation’s capital reads, “In valor there is hope.”

Manhattan and Derby Rotary Clubs

The Manhattan High School Pops Choir really got us in the holiday spirit at Thursday’s Manhattan Rotary Club meeting. Thanks to club president Dale Bradley for the invitation to attend!

I joined the Derby Rotary Club meeting on Friday where I had the honor of hearing keynote speaker Katy Lee discuss her courageous fight against cancer. Katy’s message of how to love and support those suffering from cancer and other hardships was inspiring. I know her husband Ariel, who is a club member, and their two young sons Jackson and Noah are incredibly proud of her. For Katy and her family, and for millions of other Americans, the 21st Century Cures Act that was signed into law last week will help end pain and heartache as well as provide hope. Special thanks to Rotary President Ken Mulanax for the opportunity to attend. 

FAA’s Final Rule on Small Airplane Safety Certification
Under the direction of legislation that I sponsored, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a final rule on Friday to allow manufacturers of certain small, private planes to self-certify, removing current overly prescriptive design requirements and replacing them with performance-based airworthiness standards. The Part 23 rule is a commonsense solution that will empower the general aviation industry to innovate while continuing to improve aircraft safety. This rule will significantly decrease the regulatory burden and costs of certification for aircraft manufacturers in Kansas, strengthening their ability to remain competitive in the global marketplace. Click here to learn more.

Greenwood County Hospital
I visited Greenwood County Hospital on Friday. The 25-bed critical access hospital served more than 2,250 patients in 2015 and is currently pursuing telemedicine initiatives to improve patient care. I have advocated for telehealth issues through my work in the Senate. Thanks to Greenwood County Hospital Human Resources Director Janel Palmer for the informative tour.

Kansans in the Office
Chris Naylor

NTCA and Kansas Telecom CEOs
Brian Boisvert of Wilson
Jimmy Todd of Lenora
Dale & Elaine Jones of Council Grove
Brian Thompson of Home
Jack Odell of Colby
Trent Boaldia of Elkhart
Susan Boaldia of Elkhart 

Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital
Jim Kirkbride of El Dorado

Capitol Tour
Gretchen Farrell of Overland Park
Andrew Farrell of Overland Park
Ryder O’Brien of Olathe
Stephanie O’Brien of Overland Park
Karlyna Canady of Kansas City
Bryonne Cummings of Kansas City
Stacey Canady of Kansas City
Brooklynn Cummings of Kansas City
Kelsey Cummings of Kansas City
Marion Young of Kansas City

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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