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.

On Thursday, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY2020 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. From farmers and ranchers to researchers and veterinarians, this appropriations bill includes a number of measures to support agriculture across our state during an extremely tough time for the ag community. Many of my Kansas priorities are included in this legislation.

The legislation includes measures to fully-fund the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan and provides the necessary resources for the USDA to relocate the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to Kansas City.

In addition, this bill includes measures to support the expansion of rural broadband and assist veterans in agriculture. I appreciate the Senate coming together in a bipartisan fashion to show our care, appreciation and support for our nation’s producers and all those who support this noble work. To read more on my priorities included in this bill, click here.

On Saturday I hosted the annual U.S. Service Academy Day in Hutchinson. Throughout the day, prospective candidates interviewed with members of my Service Academy Selection Board, who submitted recommendations to me on who I should nominate to the United States Service Academies. These include the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

Service Academy Interview Day has consistently been one of my favorites, and the responsibility of nominating young men and women to our nation’s service academies is a task I take very seriously. The individuals we interview represent some of the best, brightest and most dedicated young people our state has to offer. Their willingness and desire to serve our country and attend such rigorous institutions is inspiring and makes me optimistic for the future of our country.

Thank you to the Cosmosphere Museum in Hutchinson for hosting us and to members of my 2019 Service Academy Selection Board who helped me make these challenging decisions. The 2019 Selection Board includes Bob Brock of Topeka; Myca Bunch of Garden City; Larry Burks, Sr., and Sean Ritchie of Wichita; Dennis Butler and Katrina Lewison of Manhattan; John Cluck of Wathena; Ardith Dunn of Satanta; Michael Farris of Altamont; Sue Givens of El Dorado; Robin Jackson of Hutchinson; Cheryl Kerns and Brian Kessens of Overland Park; Jayne Humphrey Pearce of Wallace; Rachael Pitchford of Dodge City; Halley Roberson of Oberlin; Mike Souder of Prairie Village; Sam Turner of Leawood; Ron Whitney of Emporia and Beth Wilson of Girard.

If nominated, applicants must then meet the individual admission requirements of each academy. The academies will make the final decision on who will receive an appointment of admission in early 2020. Those selected will enter the academies in June 2020.

This week, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense approved the FY2020 Department of Defense Appropriations Act. As a member of this committee, I was proud to have a number of Kansas priorities included in the legislation.

Specifically, the legislation includes plans to leverage the ability of Kansans to design and manufacture the future of our defense strategy, and support our men and women in uniform. I’m pleased to see our appropriations committee provide stability to those who protect our nation, and I look forward to supporting these provisions when we vote in the full Senate.   

This week, Kansan Candice Millard was the guest of honor at the Library of Congress’ Congressional Dialogue Series. Before a full room of Members of Congress and special guests in the library’s Great Hall, she discussed at length her book on the death of President James Garfield, which she compellingly argues was the result of medical malpractice. Candace also touched upon her works on Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill before fielding questions from the audience. Candice’s love of history and passion for our country were evident during her presentation. Following her time at the Library of Congress, I met with Candice and we discussed her work, her travels throughout the world and her home state of Kansas.

On Wednesday, I met with members representing the Wounded Warrior Project, Paralyzed Veterans of America and Blinded Veterans of America to discuss my bill, S. 2022, The Paul Benne Specially Adaptive Housing Improvement Act of 2019. This bill will expand the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) program and allow veterans to use this vital grant in a way that best fits their needs. My bill is named after Spring Hill, Kansas-native Colonel (Ret.) Paul Benne, who served 23 years in the Army before developing a medical condition that led to his retirement. Col. Benne has been confined to a wheelchair and used an SAH grant to renovate his home to accommodate for his disability. Ryan Kules, Tom Zampieri, and Shaun Castle are veterans I met with this week who benefit from an expanded SAH program. Thank you to these American heroes for their decades of selfless service to our nation and for their advocacy, resiliency and willingness to share their stories for the benefit of others. Click here to see more on this legislation.

On Thursday, it was great to meet with with the National Bison Association (NBA). The NBA represents members in all 50 states and from each segment of the bison industry. During the meeting, we discussed meat labeling, bison management and livestock hauling issues that are impacting bison producers. Each year, I cosponsor a Senate resolution marking National Bison Day to celebrate the important role bison play in our nation. I look forward to the Senate passing this resolution again this year and working with my colleagues on other efforts to support bison producers in Kansas.


This week, I met with Land O’ Lakes CEO Beth Ford to discuss issues facing farmer cooperatives and rural America. During the meeting, we discussed the importance of investing in rural broadband to make certain farmers and ranchers, as well as hospitals, schools and businesses in our rural communities, have access to the technology available today and in the future. I look forward to working with Land O’Lakes and other farmer cooperatives in assisting producers during these challenging times in agriculture.

On Tuesday, my resolution with Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) to recognize the centennial celebration of the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) unanimously passed the Senate.

Congratulations to AIA on 100 years of advocating for the aerospace industry. Communities across Kansas understand the enormous impact this industry has on our state, and we’re proud of the countless contributions we make to advance this sector of our economy.

On Friday, I was honored to attend the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police annual meeting in McPherson. The annual meeting includes law enforcement leaders from across Kansas to discuss important public safety topics. Together, we are increasing partnerships between local, state and federal law enforcement officials to support our men and women in uniform and keep our communities safe. Thank you to the many men and women in uniform who attended the meeting and for all they do to serve our state. And, a special thanks to Garden City Police Chief Michael Utz for the kind introduction and invitation and to State Senator Rick Wilborn for attending.

The Alzheimer’s Association is an incredible advocate for those living with Alzheimer’s, and a steadfast partner in our work to end Alzheimer’s. Thanks to hundreds of Wichitans for participating on Saturday in the 2019 Wichita Walk to End Alzheimer’s. It was great to be with this group that is committed to seeing a day where no one suffers from this tragic disease. A special thanks Susan Peters and Greg "The Hitman" Williams for emceeing the event and for all those who helped organize Saturday’s event. Click here for more on this event from KAKE news.

On Friday, I joined folks from across Manhattan and Kansas State University to celebrate the career and work of John Pence as he begins his retirement. Since joining Kansas State’s Division of Housing and Dining in 1963, Pence has served the university and its students in a variety of capacities. At nearly every turn, Pence has had a positive impact on those he worked with and the students in which he mentored. One of my favorite restaurants in Manhattan – JP’s – is named after Pence. This is a sign of the legacy he’ll leave and his innovative spirit that has bolstered the entire university. Thanks, John, for your friendship. Robba and I are wishing you and Karen all the best in this new chapter.

On Friday, I held another stop on my Kansas Listening Tour in Hesston. Folks from across Harvey County joined me to discuss a number of issues including veterans’ healthcare, the recently-implemented VA MISSION Act, my work to get USMCA across the finish line, climate change, rural broadband deployment, access to healthcare in our communities, immigration and gun violence. Thank you to the State Representative Stephen Owens and former American Legion State Commander Paul Sanford for attending.

My own interest in public service was sparked by an internship for Kansas First District Congressman Keith Sebelius in 1974. As an intern, I had the chance to learn firsthand how a Congressional office operates and how the legislative process works. I am proud to be able to offer this same opportunity in my Senate office today, where I have interns year-round working closely with my staff on behalf of Kansans.

Applications for internships in my Washington, D.C. and Kansas offices for the spring 2020 session are due October 25. Congressional internships are open to qualified undergraduate and graduate students who have an interest in public service and have achieved academic excellence. Click here for more information and to apply.

Kansans in the Office

Association of Community Mental Health Centers of Kansas (ACMHCK) / Kansas Association of Addiction Professionals Organization (KAAP)
Carol Dalke of Hutchinson
Ric Dalke of Emporia
Time DeWeese of Mission
Heather Elliott of Topeka
Walt Hill of Hays
Dave Kishler Overland Park
Michelle Ponce of Emporia
Colin Thomasset of Topeka

Association of Flight Attendants
Leah Krier of Great Bend

Auto Care Association
Bras Kraft of Emporia
Joel Rosenthal of Lenexa 

Eric Fitzsimmons of Manhattan

Capitol Tour
Darrin Ashby of Wichita
Diana Ashby of Wichita
Gerald Atkinson of Abilene
June Atkinson of Abilene
Cruz Donley of Kanopolis
Eula Donley of Kanopolis
John Donley of Kanopolis
Owen Donley of Kanopolis
Thaddeus Donley of Kanopolis
Tammy Kuntz of Abilene
Todd Kuntz of Abilene
Beula Postlewait of Leawood
James Postlewait of Leawood
Lloyd Roatch of Olathe
Sharon Roatch of Olathe
Evelyn Stancil of Overland Park
Julie Tan of Overland Park
Keegen Tan of Overland Park

DIPG Advocacy Group
Jace Ward of Wamego
Lisa Ward of Wamego

Kansas Automobile Dealers Assoc.
Tom Holcombe of Manhattan
Jason Hover of Manhattan
Greg Maurer of Lawrence
Don McNeely of Topeka

Kansas Corn Association
Josh Roe of Manhattan

Amber Rollins of Olathe

KU Dean of Education
Jack Cline of Lawrence
Rick Ginsberg of Lawrence

National Association of international Education
Diana Carlin of Lawrence

National Bison Association
Dick Gehring of Moundridge
Jim Wells of Stanley

National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO)
Sandy Kuhlman of Athol

National League of Cities
Lindsey Constance of Shawnee City
Mayor Mike Kelly of Roeland Park

Nova Nordisk
Carlos Trujillo of Goddard

Pet Food Institute
Tod Morgan of Overland Park

ProPartners Healthcare
Troy Burns of Leawood

Radiology Business Management Association
David Smith of Mission

Rally of Medical Research
Nikki Cheng of Prairie Village
Roy Jensen of Gardner

Salina Surgical Hospital
LuAnn Puvogel 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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