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.

I attended the first NCAA tournament game that Wichita has hosted in 24 years this week at InTrust Arena and as expected, this great basketball city was an amazing host to fellow Kansans and fans from around the country. Proud of the three Kansas universities that represented our state in the NCAA tournament, and I look forward to watching KU and K-State in the Sweet Sixteen!

Providing Relief for Kansas Borrowers
Congress took a significant step forward this week by passing S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, bipartisan legislation that right-sizes regulation for smaller financial institutions and includes important consumer protections for veterans, senior citizens and victims of fraud.

This legislation will create a better environment for credit-worthy borrowers to have access to local sources of credit from hometown lenders, giving folks an opportunity to extend home loans, assist a small business or help farmers and ranchers in times of emergency. Much of my focus in Washington is on educating my colleagues about how things work in rural America. We earn a living in Kansas through small businesses and farms, and we need access to credit to do that. It is important that small banks or credit unions, where lenders know their community and know their borrowers, can provide that financing. Relationship banking still works for us in rural America, and this bill supports our system of banking.

Earlier this month, I spoke on the merits of this bill on the Senate floor – you can view my remarks here.

Advocating for Fort Riley and Wichita State
I got to know Undersecretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy last August, when we traveled together to Poland, Germany and Afghanistan to visit with our servicemembers abroad. We have continued to enjoy a positive relationship, and last month I joined him at Fort Leavenworth where we addressed students at the Command and General Staff College about the tools one must have to be an effective leader.

This week, Undersecretary McCarthy and I discussed a new, innovative initiative – Army Futures Command – which will streamline processes and get solutions to warfighters more efficiently. This new command will empower the Army to think about the future and execute Chief of Staff General Mark Milley’s priorities by reducing layers of management and increasing accountability. This new command should be located in a town that shares this innovative vision, and has the experience and talent in academia and industry to aid in the mission of Futures Command. Between Wichita State’s innovation campus, the National Institute for Aviation Research, a proven track record of working with the federal government and the growing global aerospace industry with a significant presence, Wichita is uniquely suited to serve as the headquarters for Army Futures Command – which is why I urged Undersecretary McCarthy to consider the city for the headquarters.

We also discussed the Army’s plans to convert a current Infantry Brigade Combat Team to an Armor Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) to restructure our force to better respond to current threats. I strongly believe that Fort Riley is the ideal location for the new ABCT, and I am confident the data shows Fort Riley is the best place to live, train, deploy from and come home to in the Army. As the Army continues its decision-making process, I will continue to engage Army leaders to show all that Fort Riley and the surrounding communities have to offer.

Discussing Infrastructure with Cabinet Secretaries
This week, in a Commerce Committee hearing on the legislative outline for rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, I questioned Secretaries Elaine Chao, Wilbur Ross, Rick Perry, Sonny Perdue and Alexander Acosta on a variety of issues, including broadband mapping, buildout efforts and public transit in Kansas City. For years, Washington has neglected to adequately address the unique issues affecting rural America, including the growing Digital Divide. We must equip Americans living in rural areas with high-quality modernized communications networks, roads and bridges, and the ability to quickly create and build infrastructure important to each community. These kinds of investments will make a clear difference in the lives of Kansans across our state. I look forward to working with my colleagues to send an infrastructure bill to the president’s desk that streamlines the permitting process, cuts cumbersome red tape and quickly deploys broadband infrastructure to rural America.

I also used this opportunity to address an ongoing issue in Kansas City. In 2017, Kansas City was selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide to receive small start grant funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), having been awarded $29 million for its plan to develop enhanced transit along the Prospect Avenue corridor downtown. Unfortunately, these funds have remained idle at the U.S. Department of Transportation for nearly a year, costing the project more money with each month of delay. DOT Secretary Chao assured me she would look into this situation expeditiously.

Veterans Community Project
I enjoyed meeting with Teresa Loar from the Veterans Community Project in my D.C. office this week. The Veterans Community Project is working to end veteran homelessness and assist veterans in need by providing transitional housing at their Veterans Village – a conglomeration of 50 tiny houses and a community center to provide homeless veterans housing with dignity and access to the resources they need to be successful. The organization recently finished phase one of its project, opening 13 tiny houses to veterans in need. The enthusiasm Teresa has for the work they are doing is infectious, and I look forward to visiting Veterans Village soon.

Encouraging Women in Aviation
Born in Atchison, Amelia Earhart – never one to back down from a challenge – became the first woman in history to fly solo across the Atlantic. During Women’s History Month, we honor Amelia Earhart’s determination and passion for flying and all of the women she has inspired to pursue careers in aviation.

I am proud to sponsor the Promoting Women in the Aviation Workforce Act, legislation inspired by the determination of Amelia Earhart. Currently, women make up only four percent of flight engineers, six percent of airline pilots and 26 percent of air traffic controllers – clearly, there is a large pool of untapped potential and a gender imbalance in the aviation industry. This bill would direct the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to create an advisory board to promote organizations and programs that provide education, training, mentorship, outreach and recruitment for women in aviation. This legislation would also direct the FAA to submit a report to Congress on common trends that prevent women from pursuing aviation careers and develop coordinated professional training and recruitment programs that encourage women to pursue aviation careers. Read more about the bill here.

Another FMCSA Extension for Livestock Haulers
This week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced an additional 90-day temporary waiver from the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule impacting agriculture-related transportation. While I appreciate FMCSA’s recognition of the unique needs of the country’s ag industries, consecutive 90-day waivers are not enough to provide small businesses and rural America with the certainty required to make a living transporting agricultural commodities. I will continue working with FMCSA and my colleagues in Congress to provide these carriers – especially livestock haulers – relief from the ELD rule to attain the flexibility from hours of service and driving time to continue doing their job effectively.

Highlighting the Good Work of Boy Scouts of America
For generations, Boy Scouts of America has helped shape young people across Kansas and the country by teaching them the value of integrity, honesty and commitment to serving their fellow man. Robba and I attended the Konza District’s Friends of Scouting banquet in Manhattan, which raised funds for the scouting program. At the banquet, I received the Jack Goldstein Good Scout Award named in honor of a great Scout who dedicated his life to the Scout rule.

As a Boy Scout and having served for many years on Coronado Area Council of the Boy Scouts, it was a pleasure to visit with former award recipients Dr. David Pauls, Don Wissman, Gene Klingler, Tom Fryer, Mark Knackendoffel and Phil Howe, and the scouts of Troop 284, who are pictured below.

Thank you to all who attended and contributed, and to the young people across Kansas who are committed to the Scouts and strive to live in Jack's legacy. No law written in Washington, D.C. can change the way people treat each other — far more important is your example and character that will change the world.


Emergency Haying and Grazing of Conservation Reserve Program Lands
As Kansas continues to suffer through devastating wildfires and a years’ long drought, our farmers and ranchers must have all resources available for haying and grazing. I sent a letter with Sen. Roberts and Rep. Marshall to Department of Agriculture Secretary Perdue calling for emergency haying and grazing of Conservation Reserve Program lands, as extreme drought conditions currently cover almost 20 percent of the state, with severe drought covering 56 percent and moderate drought covering an additional 26 percent. I urge USDA to approve the request to allow the use of Conservation Reserve Program acres for these emergency activities as soon as possible. Kansans need flexibility to continue their operations as they fight these conditions, and we must provide them timely and thoughtful assistance. Read the full letter here.

Abilene Rotary Club
I spoke with and took questions from Abilene Rotarians at their meeting at Mr. K’s on Friday, where I discussed some of the ongoing issues being worked on in Washington and how they’ll impact communities like Abilene. We discussed the Senate’s bipartisan banking reform bill, which will help borrowers in rural communities access credit, the ongoing appropriations process and the importance of fighting sex trafficking worldwide. I also spoke about how we all – Rotary International, taxpayers, the Gates Foundation – have a role to play in eradicating polio around the globe. I thanked Rotarians for their ongoing support of this cause. I was pleased to share that the National Archives and Records Administration has made major renovations to the Eisenhower Library complex a funding priority in the upcoming fiscal year – helping to modernize the library and make certain it remains a point of pride for all Kansans.

It is always good to be at Mr. K’s Farmhouse, a business built on the determination of one dedicated Kansan named Lena, still going strong today through the work of Tammy and Todd Kuntz. My thanks to all who attended and shared their perspectives with me. It was great to see retired business owner Bud Bankes; former director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum & Boyhood Home Mack Teasley; Rotary president and small business owner Kimmy Phillips; and today’s keynote speaker, Duane Schrag, with Abilene Heritage Homes Association.

Getting an Update on Rice County Fires
I visited Rice County on Saturday to see some of the areas damaged by the recent wildfires east of Sterling, which burned an estimated 1200 acres. Rice County Emergency Management Director Greg Klein shared with me information about the impact and I also had the opportunity to personally thank some of the dedicated first responders who have been fighting this fire. Through their hard work they have the wildfires roughly 95 percent contained now. Reno County responders have also been able to make a real difference in their efforts to contain the fire. Please join me is saying thank you to the professionals and volunteers who are fighting grass fires. 

Touring HaysMed The University of Kansas Health System
I visited HaysMed to welcome and get acquainted with new CEO Eddie Herrman, and to offer my assistance to him and the hospital. The success of of HaysMed is important to the Hays community and all of western Kansas.

The hospital is now affiliated with The University of Kansas Health System, so I wanted to hear more about how things are going after this transition. I also appreciated the opportunity to visit with physicians and staff.

Kansans in the Office

American Astronomical Society
Ayanna Jones of Overland Park

ACG Advocacy
Chris Israel of Overland Park

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Ayesha Hasan of Shawnee
Carrie Wieneke of Kansas City
Charles Gibbs of Overland Park
Christopher Graber of Salina
Hana Reissner of Kansas City
Hillary McLaren of Fairway
Madhuri Reddy of Leawood
Maggie Woods of Bel Aire
Meredith Gray of Kansas City
Laura Parisi of Kansas City
Tana Friesth Perry of Kansas City
Tara Chettiar of Overland Park
Kathryn Lindsay of Kansas City
Valerie French of Kansas City
Verda Hicks of Leawood

American Lung Association
Kathleen Wolford of Overland Park
Paul Wolford of Overland Park

American Society of Civil Engineers
Ernesto Longoria of Prairie Village
Jennifer Taylor of Overland Park
Mariah Schroeder of Overland Park
Tony Kulesa of Lenexa

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Cole Campbell of Kansas City
Jane Wegner of Lawrence

American Urological Association
Ajay Nangia of Kansas City
James Gilbaugh of Wichita

Apartment Association of Greater Wichita
Leah Thibault of Wichita
Ryan Farrell of Goddard

Arthritis Foundation
Staci Penner of Newton

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas
Sunee Mickle of Topeka

City of Lenexa
Andy Huckaba of Lenexa
Corey Hunt of Lenexa
Mandy Stuke of Lenexa
Mike Boehm of Lenexa
Mike Nolan of Lenexa

City of Shawnee
Lindsey Constance of Shawnee
Mickey Sandifer of Shawnee
Nolan Sunderman of Shawnee
Stephanie Meyer of Shawnee

City of Manhattan
Jared Wasinger of Manhattan
Jason Hilgers of Manhattan
Jerred McKee of Manhattan
Linda Morse of Manhattan

City of Ottawa
Blake Jorgensen of Ottawa
Kelly Jorgensen of Ottawa
Mike Skidmore of Ottawa
Richard Nienstedt of Ottawa
Rita Niensteadt of Ottawa

City of Wichita
Bryan Frye of Wichita
Brandon Johnson of Wichita
Cindy Claycomb of Wichita
James Clendenin of Wichita
Jeff Longwell of Wichita
Jeff Blubaugh of Wichita
Jim Davenport of Wichita
Pete Meitzner of Wichita
Robert Layton of Wichita

City Year
Audra Clark of Overland Park

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Alexander Donnell of Viola
Dana Wilson of Mission
Karey Padding of Andover

Eagle Picher Technology
Gordon Walner of Pittsburg

Employers Council on Flexible Compensation
Bob Berry of Topeka
J. Ogdon of Topeka
Janet LeTourneau of Johnson County

Flint Hills Writing Project
Andrea Marshbank of Topeka
Heather Caswell of Emporia
Katherine Miner of Olathe
Roger Caswell of Emporia

Globe Engineering
Tracy McSwain of Wichita

Independent Baptist Pastors
Daniel Knight of Coffeyville
Darvin Shipman of Kansas City
Jarred Shipman of Kansas City
Rodney Howell of Parsons

Infectious Diseases Society of America
Tom Moore of Wichita

Cynthia Haynes of Oberlin
Monica Diaz of Manhattan

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Amelia Caylor of Ottawa
Kerri Lindsay of Olathe
Madheeri Reddy of Leawood
Sara Caylor of Ottawa

Kansas African Studies Center Kansas University
Emily Riley of Lawrence

Kansas Alliance for the Arts in Education
Ken Adams of Bonner Springs

Kansas Bostwick Irrigation District
Jared Gile of Scandia

Kansas Psychological Association
Theresa Cuddington of Overland Park

Kansas PTA
Debbie Lawson of Lenexa

Kansas Soybean Association
Dennis Hupe of Peabody
Dwight Meyer of Hiawatha
Grant Webber of Sublette
Jason Unruh of Peabody
Lucas Heinen of Everest

League of Kansas Municipalities
Erik Sartorius of Lawrence
Trey Cocking of Topeka

Ryan Branfort of Salina
Scott Perkins of Kansas City

National Association of Community Health Centers
Amy Folk of Kansas City
Katrina McGivern of Topeka
Matthew Schmidt of Newton
Michelle Keller of Kansas City

National Association of Postal Supervisors
Ayesha Hasan of Kansas City
Christopher Coraber of Salina
Charles Gibbs of Kansas City
Katherine Rogers of Wichita
Kelly McCartney of Lawrence
Lori Moats of Wichita
Will McIntyre of Kansas City
Jeremy Moats of Wichita
Gary Townson of Rose Hill

National Court Reporters Association
Lynelle Gottschalk of Ellis
Miranda Cummings of Lawrence

National Humanities Alliance
Bonnie Lynn-Sherow of Manhattan

National Sunflower Association
Karl Esping of Lindsborg

New York Life Insurance Company
David Kim of Overland Park
James Whittaker of Lawrence

Society for Human Resource Management
Joyce Morford of Lansing
Tara Geer of Overland Park

The American Association of Immunologists
Mariana Guerra-Maupome of Manhattan

Curan Mehra of Leawood

U.S. District Court Judges
John Lungstrum of Lawrence 
Eric Melgren of  Wichita

Veterans Community Project
Denise Sult of Overland Park
Devin Wilson of Lenexa
Monica Crowe of Kansas City

Capitol Tour
Alex Orth of Prairie Village
Alex Taylor of Overland Park
Amelia Caylor of Ottawa
Andrew Wittwer of Overland Park
Anita Barnhart of Salina
April Schoenberg of Olathe
Ava Bermond of Overland Park
Brad Bachman of Wichita
Brad Burgess of Overland Park
Brian Burmaster of Salina
Brian Williams of Overland Park
Brielle Williams of Overland Park
Brooks Baughman of Overland Park
Bruce Idol of Leawood
Catherine Denesia of Overland Park
Chad Smith of Overland Park
Chance Baughman of Overland Park
Charles Reynolds of Baldwin City
Chase Burgess of Overland Park
Cheryl Bermond of Overland Park
Chris Lundquist of Overland Park
Chris Wittwer of Overland Park
Christopher Stevens of Salina
Clark Blair of Lenexa
Cohl Meraz of Overland Park
Cooper Lundquist of Overland Park
Courtney Pfluke of Topeka
Darin Parker of Olathe
David Adamson of GardnerBen
Elee Reynolds of Baldwin City
Ella Meraz of Overland Park
Ellie Wittwer of Overland Park
Gabriel Williams of Overland Park
Gregg Bermond of Overland Park
Hailey Meraz of Overland Park
Harper Heath of Salina
Heather Baughman of Overland Park
Holly Manske of Overland Park
Jack Smith of Overland Park
Jaclyn Adamson of Gardner
James Anthony of Spring Hill
James Reynolds of Baldwin City
James Winger of Lenexa
Jason Kennedy of Olathe
Jennifer Smith of Overland Park
Jentry Heath of Salina
Jessica MacNider of Olathe
Jill Winger of Lenexa
Jim Orth of Prairie Village
Joseph Bachman of Wichita
Kaitlyn Foster of Lawrence
Karsten Schoenberg of Olathe
Kate Schoenberg of Olathe
Kathleen Bachman of Wichita
Katie Stevens of Salina
Kristi Taylor of Overland Park
Kristina Bermond of Overland Park
Kristina Foster of Lawrence 
Lillian Smith of Overland Park
Lisa Lundquist of Overland Park
Louise Adamson of Gardner
Lucas MacNider of Olathe
Madeline Bermond of Overland Park
Madelyn Hall of Leawood
Matt Manske of Overland Park
Max Manske of Overland Park
Olivia Anthony of Spring Hill
Owen Burgess of Overland Park
Owen Smith of Overland Park
Patrick Meraz of Overland Park
Philip Heath of Salina
Polly Blair of Lenexa
Randall Blair of Lenexa
Robert Schoenberg of Olathe
Samantha Reynolds of Baldwin City
Sandra Hall of Leawood
Sandra Wittwer of Overland Park
Sara Anthony of Spring Hill
Sara Caylor of Ottawa
Scott Baughman of Overland Park
Scott MacNider of Olathe
Shellie Ellis of Leawood
Stella Idol of Leawood
Steve Adamson of Gardner
Suzanne Williams of Overland Park
Sylvie Idol of Leawood
Tara Burgess of Overland Park
Taylor of Overland Park
Ted Morgan of Manhattan
Teddy Blair of Lenexa
Thomas Manske of Overland Park
Thomas Winger of Lenexa
Toni Reynolds of Baldwin City
Trish Orth of Prairie Village
Tyler MacNider of Olathe
Ward Taylor of Overland Park
Weston Anthony of Spring Hill
Zachary MacNider of Olathe
Zoie Burmaster of Salina

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 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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