Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. Congress has returned to session in Washington and much work remains to be done. Without Congressional action, Americans will be saddled with $500 billion in tax increases, nearly $4,000 per household, on January 1. At the same time, as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act, mandatory spending cuts known as “sequestration” will take place, creating what is being referred to as a “fiscal cliff.” While Congress must rein in government spending, it needs to be done in a responsible manner. It is past time for Congress and the President to work together, set aside the game of politics, and make certain the country remains strong for generations to come. You can read more about my activities this week below. Please feel free to forward this newsletter on to your family and friends if it would interest them.
Elected to Serve in Senate Leadership
On Wednesday, I was elected unanimously by my Republican colleagues in the U.S. Senate to serve as Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC). I am thankful to my colleagues for giving me the opportunity to serve in this position.
Before pursuing this position, I spoke with Senator Bob Dole about his time representing Kansas in the United States Senate. We discussed both the challenges and opportunities that accompanied his role in Senate leadership and how he used his leadership post to better represent Kansas. Though my new position will bring additional responsibility, I am deeply committed to fulfilling my duties as a senator to promote the interests and values of Kansas. I look forward to working with Leader McConnell and others within our Conference to make certain we make the right decisions for Kansas and our country as a whole.
Concerns over U.N. Arms Trade Treaty Continue
This summer, 50 of my Senate colleagues joined me in sending a powerful bipartisan message to the Obama Administration: A United Nations Arms Trade Treaty that does not protect Americans’ Second Amendment rights will not be ratified by the Senate. When the U.N. Conference dissolved in July without a treaty, it was clearly a positive conclusion for American gun owners and I’m glad we were able to steer the Administration toward this outcome.
Unfortunately the threat to our Second Amendment rights remains. Within hours of securing his reelection, President Obama declared his support for continued negotiations of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty now scheduled for March 2013. The President’s insistence on continued treaty talks is alarming. It is now clear that Congress must reiterate its concerns with the latest draft of the treaty. I intend to lead this effort once again, and make certain President Obama knows there is sufficient opposition in the new Congress to block ratification. A copy of the letter that my colleagues and I sent to the President in July can be found here.
Global Entrepreneurship Week
This week, I spoke on the Senate floor to share with my colleagues the importance of supporting our nation’s entrepreneurs during Global Entrepreneurship Week. Started in 2008 by the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, Global Entrepreneurship Week is the world's largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth, and expand human welfare. Since its founding, the celebration has grown to 129 countries with some 35,000 activities that engage millions of people.
Entrepreneurship remains a key component of our growing economy. In fact, startups - businesses 5 years old or younger - are responsible for all net job creation in the economy between 1980 and 2005, creating about 3 million jobs each year. But recent economic data suggests that America’s startup engine is slowing down because of a number of factors including regulatory burdens, lack of access to talent, difficulties in attracting capital, and a host of other issues. Earlier this year, I introduced the Startup Act 2.0 to reduce these burdens so more American entrepreneurs will take a chance to provide a new product or service, tackle some of our world’s greatest challenges, and in the process get Americans back to work. Click here to view a video of my remarks.
Supporting Israel’s Right to Defend Itself
When I traveled to Israel in 2008, I visited the town of Sderot. Located a mile east of Gaza, residents of this border town have been the target of rocket and mortar attacks launched by terrorists in Gaza for years. When the warning of an attack sounds, residents have just 10 seconds to find shelter. No one should have to live like this.
Yet, more than a million Israelis live within range of the rockets Hamas and other terrorists fire daily into Israel. This year alone, more than 1,900 rockets have been fired at Israel. A recent increase in the number of attacks from Gaza led Israel to respond this week. Like any nation, Israel has the right and responsibility to defend its citizens.
I sponsored a resolution this week expressing support for Israel as it battles to protect its people from acts of terrorism. Passage of this legislation with unanimous support sends a powerful message that in this difficult time, America stands with Israel at it defends itself.
Senate Banking Committee Reviews Proposed Regulations
On Wednesday, I participated in a hearing held in the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs focused on reviewing the new international banking standards set forth in the Basel Accords. These international finance summits are held periodically in Basel, Switzerland, with the intent of stabilizing and standardizing global banking practices. The most recent meeting resulted in a set of capital standards referred to as Basel III. The Federal Reserve Board of Governors (FRB), Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) who regulate U.S. banks, have begun to draft new rules for our banks in accordance with the Basel agreements. The recently concluded public comment period resulted in well over one thousand comments from U.S. banks and insurance interests requesting more information on how these rules were formulated.
Wednesday’s hearing was scheduled to make certain these proposed rules were appropriate for our national financial system. If implemented as currently proposed, Basel III would have far reaching negative effects on smaller banks. Smaller financial institutions are unable to comply with complex international standards and they should not be expected to do so. Forcing small town banks to comply with standards intended for large, complex financial institutions with international interests will result in fewer home and business loans in our rural communities. As the Banking Committee continues to review the proposed rules set forth by the regulators, I will continue to push back on over burdensome, one-size-fits-all regulations that will further stall growth in our communities.
Discussing Health Care with Kansas Hospital Administrators
On Friday, I had the opportunity to visit with hospital leaders from across our state at the Kansas Hospital Association 2012 Convention in Overland Park. This annual event allows Kansas’ hospital administrators to get together and discuss strategies to meet today’s challenges and future expectations in the changing health care arena. I appreciated hearing our hospital administrators’ valuable perspective on a wide range of post-election issues that President Obama and Congress must work together to address. Several of these important issues include the adverse consequences of the looming “fiscal cliff,” automatic sequestration cuts and other reductions to Medicare reimbursements to doctors and other providers, and a number of questions surrounding implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Thank you to KHA President Tom Bell and new KHA Board Chair Vicki Hahn for inviting me to this event.
Additionally, I wanted to wish KHA’s Senior Vice President, Fred Lucky, best wishes on his upcoming retirement. Congratulations to Fred on more than 20 years of dedicated service to our state’s hospitals and their patients. Throughout his career, Fred has been a strong advocate for hospitals and a knowledgeable resource on health care legislative and regulatory issues affecting Kansans. I appreciate having the opportunity to have Fred’s advice and counsel. Click here to view a photo from the event.
Selection Board Interviews Applicants for U.S. Service Academies
On Saturday, I had the honor of meeting more than 60 students from Kansas at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library in Abilene as part of my annual Service Academy Selection Day. Students applying for admission to the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy interviewed with my Selection Board, and the Board provided me with recommendations regarding nominations. This day has always been a favorite of mine because I get to meet some of the best and brightest of Kansas. The day once again served as a reminder that Kansas produces smart, hard-working, civic-minded people who want to serve their country.
Big thanks to Karl Weissenbach, DeAnn Stone, and Linda Smith at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library for hosting us. And, this important process would not be possible without the help of my Selection Board, made up of community leaders from across the state who take great interest in seeing students succeed. The members review applications and conduct interviews before giving me their recommendations.
Members of the 2012 Service Academy Selection Board include: Mike Junk of Salina; Ron Whitney and Steve Harmon of Emporia; Ron Lucas of Goodland; Paula Ripple of Dodge City; Frank Clepper, Chris Meyer and John O’Leary of Wichita; Robin Jackson of Hutchinson; Jacque Oakes of Independence; Jill McCarthy and Ernie Garcia of Overland Park; Sam Turner of Leawood; Cecil Webb of Olathe; Bill Clifford of Garden City; Wendell Maddox of Kansas City; Karen Clark of Leavenworth; Corinne Nilsen of Andover; Daralyn Arata of Manhattan and Betty Click of Lawrence. I would like to thank Midshipman Brent Cline of the U.S. Naval Academy for traveling home to Kansas to visit with this year’s applicants. Brent is the son of Kevin and Wendy Cline of Mulvane. Click here to see a photo from the event.
Visiting the Overland Park Rotary Club
En route to the airport I had the opportunity to visit the Overland Park Rotary meeting. Their program featured students who are Youth Leadership Institute participants. The Youth Leadership Institute promotes leadership skills, civic awareness and exposure to Rotary values to high school students across the Kansas City area. I enjoyed speaking to members of this year’s Institute class including Lauren Adamson, Ali Campbell, Willis Cook, Emily Hathhorn, Daniel Huhn, Sarah Smoot, Cindy Wang, Stardust Wehmeyer, Elizabeth Wolock and scholarship winners Bobby Goheen, Logan Reilly and Matt Schmitz.
Johnson County Community College (JCCC) President Dr. Terry Calaway was also honored at the meeting. Dr. Calaway recently announced he will be retiring in August of 2013. During his tenure at JCCC, the college has seen increased enrollment and campus expansion, as well as several other numerous accomplishments. Dr. Calaway’s exemplary leadership has been a model for many, and I greatly appreciate his service and dedication to students, faculty and community members. I enjoyed attending the Rotary Club and appreciated the hospitality of member Greg Musil, Youth Leadership Institute 2012 Program Chair Ryan Cook and club President Doug Young. Click here to view a photo.
Attending Eagle Scout Ceremony in Plainville
On Sunday, I attended the Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony for Brennan Foster at the First Methodist Church in Plainville. As a former scout in Plainville’s Troop 109, I was especially pleased to attend and personally congratulate Brennan on achieving Scouting’s highest honor. Brennan worked diligently to achieve Scouting’s highest honor, earning more than 20 merit badges, taking a leadership role in his Boy Scout troop, and developing and completing a service project for the Plainville community. The path to becoming an Eagle Scout calls on young men like Brennan to adopt a spirit of service and prepare themselves for life’s great challenges. I encourage Brennan and all other Eagle Scouts to stay involved in their Troops, continue to invest in their communities, and provide leadership to the next generation of Scouts. Click here to view a photo from the ceremony.
Recognizing National Adoption Day
November is National Adoption Month and Saturday was recognized as National Adoption Day. As a member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, I am proud to celebrate the many families in Kansas and across our nation who have made a lasting difference in the lives of thousands of children through adoption. Their compassion and commitment has given these children both a family and a bright future. Every child deserves the opportunity to be part of a permanent and loving family. When dedicated individuals make a major difference in a child’s life through adoption, families are strengthened and communities are enriched.
National Adoption Day is a nationwide effort to raise awareness of the more than 104,000 children in foster care in the United States waiting for families to adopt them. More than 400 communities across the country, including in Kansas, hosted events on or around this day to finalize adoptions out of foster care and celebrate families who adopt. Since 2000, nearly 40,000 children have been adopted from foster care on or around National Adoption Day and this year thousands more children are expected to be adopted. This week I sponsored S. Res. 595, a resolution promoting national awareness of adoption and the children awaiting families, celebrating children and families involved in adoption, and encouraging Americans to secure safety, permanency and well-being for all children.
Remembering Charlie Staab
This week I was saddened to learn of the passing of Charlie Staab, Jr. of Hays. On Saturday I joined friends and family in celebrating Charlie’s life at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Hays. Charlie was a kind and special person who made an incredible impact upon the Hays community. He believed in serving God, his community and others, made evident through his involvement in so many local causes including Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas, Immaculate Heart of Mary, and the Knights of Columbus.
As a World War II veteran, Charlie remained extremely involved in his local VFW and American Legion and worked to make certain no veteran was ever forgotten. Charlie’s involvement in the community resulted in him being chosen as a past Hays Citizen of the Year. Charlie was a devoted husband to Marcella, who passed away in 2005, and a loving father to his sons Charles of Federal Way, Washington; Ronald of Victoria; Douglas of Lawrence and Conrad of Russell. I was honored to call Charlie a dear friend for many years and will greatly miss him. Robba and I extend our sympathies to his family and friends during this difficult time.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below.
President Ed Leonard of Lindsborg
Close Up Foundation
Courtney Madden of Lawrence
Alejandra Hernandez-Castro of Lawrence
Kayla Moore of Topeka
Margarita Nunez of Emporia
Biak Nun of Kansas City
Miguel Dominguez of Garden City
Gary Shorman of Hays
Jay Gibson of Wichita
Govind Ramakrisha Pillai of Wichita
William Payne of Overland Park
Herbert Hansen of Overland Park
Hayleigh Howe of Wichita
Kansas Health Consumer Coalition
Anna Lambertson of Topeka
Kansas Independent College Association and Fund
Matt Lindsey of Topeka
Marshall Elementary, Blue Ribbon Award Winners
Principal Rob Leis
Pleasant Green Baptist Church
Reverend Jarvis Collier of Kansas City
Society for Human Resource Management
Dan Hamel of Wichita
Phillip Hayes of Wichita
Claudia Saenz of Garden City
Dan Schultz of Manhattan
Value Place, LLC
Ed Watson of Wichita
Eddie Estes of Dodge City
University of Kansas Medical Center CHC Executive Fellowship
Marsha Killian of Kansas City
Mike Grasso of Kansas City
Many Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the US Capitol this week including:
Alejandra Hernandez-Castro of Lawrence
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. 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,
Newsletter Sign-up Form
Note: Fields marked with an * are required.