Kansas Common Sense


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.

National Agriculture Week
This week was National Agriculture Week. Regardless of our job or where we live, agriculture matters to us. Agriculture puts food on our tables, clothes on our backs, and roofs above our heads. If we want strong schools, growing businesses and vibrant communities, we must make certain farmers and ranchers in our state have the opportunity to prosper. When agriculture is successful, Kansas is successful. In addition to being the economic backbone of so many of the towns you and I come from, agriculture is also our link to the past — times when family was the axis around which all things revolved. In today’s fast-paced world, there are few industries where sons and daughters can work side-by-side with moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas. I will continue to work to keep Kansas’ tradition of agriculture alive through strong agriculture policy so that farmers and ranchers can pass on their heritage to the next generation of producers.

Dietary Guidelines Comment Period Extended
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, formulated every five years by USDA and HHS, provide a blueprint for how Americans can have a healthy, nutritious diet. The guidelines also form the basis for our federal nutrition policy and food assistance programs. Recently, a report issued by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, meant to provide unbiased dietary recommendations based on nutritional science, contained a number of concerning and inappropriate recommendations.

The report relegates the role of lean meat in a healthy diet to a footnote in the 500-plus page report, instead recommending that Americans eat a heavily plant-based diet. The report also factors in environmental sustainability into its dietary recommendations – a field outside the committee members’ background or expertise. Not only does the potential harm to Kansas beef producers greatly concern me, but we are left to wonder if the committee simply ignored the extensive, peer-reviewed research that shows lean red meat as part of a healthy diet.

I am pleased USDA heeded our call for an extension of the comment period to make certain stakeholders have enough time to review and comment on the report. However, it is only a small first step. As the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman and as a member of the Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, I will continue to be diligent in my oversight as the agencies finalize the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Reforming the Examination Process for Financial Institutions
This week I introduced much-needed, bipartisan legislation to reform the bank examination process. The Financial Institutions Examination Fairness and Reform Act (S. 774) will give financial institutions reasonable and timely access to their examination results and provide them with the right to have those examination determinations independently reviewed. By creating a culture of openness and transparency around the examination process, financial institutions can have confidence that their concerns are fairly heard. 

Community banks and credit unions continue to be disproportionately burdened by Dodd-Frank’s rules and recordkeeping requirements because they are less able to absorb compliance costs. By improving the examination process, our banks and credit unions can better serve their communities and promote economic growth in the places they call home. Click here to learn more.

Examining the Evolving Cyber Insurance Marketplace
On Thursday, I convened my second hearing as Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security. The hearing examined the emerging cybersecurity insurance market and strategies for companies to improve their cyber posture. American consumers and businesses face serious cyber threats. Just this week, we learned of yet another significant data breach at a health insurer. These types of incidents are all too frequent. One strategy for businesses to mitigate cyber or privacy-related losses is the purchase of cybersecurity insurance.

While an insurer’s primary function is to mitigate financial losses – not defend against cyber threats – cyber insurance may be a market-oriented approach to help businesses improve their cybersecurity posture by tying policy eligibility or lower premiums to better cybersecurity practices. An example of this relationship is an auto insurer offering a “good driver discount” to a customer who avoids accidents or driving violations. This policy creates an additional incentive to a driver to be more cautious and attentive, and while the premium receipt an insurer receives may be lower, in the end they have fewer claims to pay out.

The cyber insurance market is one of the fastest growing commercial lines of insurance. Approximately 50 carriers now offer stand-alone cyber policies, and the total written premiums were $1.5-2 billion in 2014. Some estimates show the market could grow as high as $5 billion by the decade’s end. One topic that was uncovered during the hearing is the difficulty of small businesses to afford and understand their policies. To watch a video of the hearing or to read witness testimony, please click here

Meeting with Secretary of the Army John McHugh
It was a pleasure to meet with Secretary of the Army John McHugh. As a Member of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, I had the opportunity to question Secretary McHugh last week during his testimony regarding the Army’s FY16 Budget Request. As a follow up to our exchange during the hearing, Secretary McHugh stopped by to further discuss important Army issues in Kansas, particularly emphasizing the Army’s requirements and investments in Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley.

I appreciated the Secretary’s candor and willingness to explain the Army’s decision-making process related to potential force reductions that could impact Brigade Combat Teams Army-wide, to include those stationed at Fort Riley. I wanted to make certain the Secretary clearly understood the immense opportunity and advantages that Fort Riley offers the Army and the 1st Infantry Division – from infrastructure, to home base ground and air training, enhanced medical care with a brand new Irwin Army Community Hospital, and the ability to quickly deploy from regional airfields and rail heads. I also described how cost conscious and fiscally responsible Fort Riley is among other division-level bases. The excellent quality of life that soldiers and their families experience in the Junction City and Manhattan communities is a clear indication of how supportive Kansans are to our U.S. Army. This was evident when 4,300 Kansans showed up to support the Big Red One last month at the Army Listening Session. In fact, Big Red One soldiers are more likely to reenlist or extend their active duty service obligation when assigned to the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas, compared to other division-level bases. I will continue my discussions with the Army, particularly senior leaders who oversee these important issues facing Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley. 

ITI Legislator of the Year
I was named a tech legislator of the year this week by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) — the global voice of the tech sector. Throughout my time in public service, I have been an advocate for innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation. Our country was built on innovation, and we must protect that legacy by putting policies in place that foster a pro-growth environment where businesses can succeed and consumers can benefit.

Community Visit in Marion
It was a beautiful day in Kansas on Saturday. On my drive to Wellington, I had the opportunity to stop in Marion to visit with residents and businesses. In addition to the Library, I stopped by Casey’s General Store and Marion Health Mart. Thanks again for being so welcoming and for the good conversation.

TRIO Programs’ 21st Annual Legislative Breakfast
This week, I attended Kansas TRIO Programs’ 21st Annual Legislative Breakfast. I had the opportunity to meet Kansas TRIO Alumni and University of Kansas graduates Jyleesa Hampton, Nicole Humphrey and Allora Richey (pictured with me below), and hear their inspiring stories about pursuing higher education with the support of TRIO programs. 

TRIO programs operate in 19 Kansas postsecondary schools and provide services to students from low-income and disadvantaged backgrounds, students with disabilities, adult learners and veterans. The programs support students in achieving their goal of completing higher education, and often becoming the first in their family to earn a college degree. Thanks to Wichita State’s Kaye Monk-Morgan for emceeing the event and to the Kansas TRIO staffs for hosting the breakfast.

Speaking at Sumner-Cowley Electric Cooperative Annual Meeting
On Saturday, I traveled to Wellington to speak at the Sumner-Cowley Electric Cooperative Annual Meeting. Despite the challenges posed by an ever-growing number of burdensome federal regulations, the cooperative successfully brings affordable, reliable electric service to families and businesses in a 2,500 square mile service area. One of the most burdensome regulations is the decision by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to list the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. In January, I introduced legislation to reverse this ill-advised action which is yet another example of the federal government unnecessarily intruding into private lives and businesses. In fact, a number of industries – farming, ranching, oil and gas development, transportation and wind energy – are already feeling the effects of the listing. I remain committed to reversing this intrusive action which infringes on private property rights and hinders economic development. I also discussed the negative effects of the EPA’s greenhouse gas rules and the President’s veto of the Keystone Pipeline. I also appreciated the opportunity to visit with members and share my support for the important work they do. Thanks to coop CEO Cletas Rains for the kind introduction. A special thank you to board member John Whittington for inviting me to speak.

Grand Opening of A Cup On The Hill Coffee Shop
This morning in Kansas City, I participated in A Cup On The Hill Coffee Shop's grand opening. A Cup on the Hill was first formed in 2009 to give Kansas City residents the opportunity to inspire change within their community and empower disadvantaged youth to be productive members of society. Last year, Community Housing of Wyandotte County (CHWC) – a Community Development Corporation – partnered with A Cup on the Hill to establish the café to bring high-quality coffee to the community and educate its youth. Here, I'm pictured alongside CHWC CEO & Executive Director Donny Smith, Assistant Cafe Manager Jamina Bone, Cafe Manager Jessica Johnson and former KCK Mayor Joe Reardon.

Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center
On Tuesday, I visited with Ed Berger, the Chair of Revitalization Initiatives for the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson. The Cosmosphere is one of the most comprehensive space museums in the world, holding a sizeable collection of more than 15,000 U.S. and Russian space artifacts. Dr. Berger was in Washington, D.C., to give me an update on the progress of the Cosmosphere’s revitalization plan. Last summer the Cosmosphere’s Governing Board approved a revitalization plan with major emphasis on informal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education initiatives. The main goal of the revitalization effort is to position the Cosmosphere as a STEM learning hub in Kansas, and contribute to efforts to increase the STEM workforce by fostering interest in STEM subjects among Kansas youth. This is an important mission considering the number of jobs requiring STEM degrees is increasing at three times the rate of the rest of the job market, all while the number of students pursuing STEM education is declining. If this trend continues, American businesses are projected to need an estimated 800,000 workers with advanced STEM degrees by 2018, but will only find 550,000 American graduates with those degrees they need. I appreciate the Cosmosphere’s efforts to be part of the solution in addressing the need for a stronger STEM workforce in Kansas. Thanks to Dr. Berger for traveling to Washington to share the latest on the Cosmosphere’s progress.

Holton Rotary Club
I made it back from Washington to give remarks at Holton Rotary Club. It was good to visit with fellow Rotarians and get an update on what’s happening in the Holton Community. Thanks to Dr. Jeff Warner for helping to coordinate my attendance.

Kansans in the Office
Stanley P. Sutton of Topeka
Taff Hughes of Ellinwood
Joshua Knotz of Wichita
David O. Hill of Prairie Village
Melissa Hopper of Wichita
Jason Deselums of Mulvane
Monica Kurylo of Lenexa
John Ranney of Wichita

American Society of Hematology
Brea Lipe of Westwood 

National Pest Management Association
Michael Patton of Wichita
Pamela Peckman of Lenexa
Spencer Duncan of Topeka 

Kansas State University
Karen Burg of Manhattan
Sue Peterson of Manhattan 

Clinical Laboratory Scientist
Beckie Hetrick of Garden City
Ruby K. Brower of Manhattan
Suzanne Campbell of Liberal 

NARFE Kansas Federation
Cindy Renee’ Blythe of Burlingame
Carol R. Ek of McPherson 

University of Kansas Hospital
Dorothy Hughes of Kansas City 

Kansas Small Business Development Center
Greg Panichello of Topeka
Lisa Roberts of Derby
John Addessi of Merriam 

American Cancer Society
Jim Miksch of Prairie Village 

KLA Environmental Staff
Kylo Heller of Hunter 

Lonnie Baker of Manhattan
KJ Langlais of Olathe
Rachel Monger of Lawrence
Debra Zehr of Lawrence
Angela Darley of Topeka
Jean Bryant of Cimarron
Karren Weichert of Topeka 

Kansas Cosmosphere
Ed Berger of Hutchinson 

Mark Bescher of New Century
Lauren Beck of Kansas City 

Kansas Farm Bureau
Richard Felts of Liberty
Carl Segerhammar of Courtland
Jennifer Brunkow of Westmoreland
Brad Birzer of Ellinwood
Glenn Brunkow of Westmoreland
John Durst of Morrowville
Gerald Franklin of Goodland
Linda Franklin of Goodland
Jim Sipes of Manter
Keith Miller of Great Bend
Marieta Hauser of Ulysses
Derek Sawyer of McPherson
Katie Sawyer of McPherson
Bob Vanwinkle of Corning
Douglas Zillinger of Logan
Joe Newland of Neodesha
Jim Mueller of Linwood
Kerry Mueller of Linwood 

Nurses in Washington
Armi Holcomb of Overland Park 

American Society of Agronomy
Katrina Sudbeck of Soldier
Trever Rife of Manhattan
Fred Vocasek of Bucklin 

Kansas Soybean Association
Bob Henry of Robinson
Dwight Meyer of Hiawatha
Grant Webber of Sublette 

National Association of Postmasters
Debbie Wright of Alma
Ron Wood of Chetopa
Mark Clark of Valley Center
Albert Bacaston of Arkansas City
Judy Neises of Medicine Lodge 

State Department FLEX Students
Anastasiia Grigoreva of Topeka
Milica Jovanovic of Lawrence
Violeta Milanovic of Osawatomie 

Zero Summit
John Avery of Olathe
Vivian Avery of Olathe
Dale Berlau of Prairie Village 

Apartment Association of Greater Wichita
Jason Charcut of Lake Quivira
Lean Thibault of Wichita 

Kansas City STEM Alliance
Martha McCabe of Kansas City
Glenn Kelley McCabe of Lawrence 

American Associate of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Krista Lerner of Overland Park 

Sikorsky Helicopter
Jarrod Bartlett of Wichita
Chris Falo of Wichita 

Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved
Diane Pettier of Wichita
Jan Stewart of Lawrence
Teresa Lovelady of Wichita
Katrina McGivern of Topeka
Cara Cramer of Olathe
Bryan Brady of Hays
John Birky of Garden City
Krista Postai of Pittsburg
Jason Wesco of Olathe
Douglas Stuckey of Pittsburg 

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Ted Alexander of Sun City 

Fight Colorectal Cancer
Dan Dixon of Olathe

American Society of Association Executives
Liz Icenogle of Overland Park 

Liberty Insurance
Colin Dowling of Liberty 

Black and Veach
Paul Weida of Overland Park 

National Association of Conservation Districts
Ron Brown of Ft. Scott 

Pittsburg State University
Steve Scott of Pittsburg
Shawn Naccarato of Pittsburg 

Kansas Respiratory Care Society
Karen Schell of Emporia 

Christian Church Youth Group
Steve Martin of Topeka
Larin Tucker of Independence
Alyssa Canaely of Columbus
Cassidy Westervelt of Columbus
Katie Owen of Wichita
Hannah Eagon of Pittsburg
Jack Warring of Pittsburg
Andrea Thompson of Pittsburg
Jordan Howard of Ulysses
Kelly Rae Howard of Ulysses
Mary Gathoni of Columbus
Gaisa Westervelt of Columbus
Madison Wells of Columbus
Raymond Felton of Lancaster 

America Water Works Association
Michael Armstrong of Lenexa
Darci Meese of Lenexa 

Kansas Board of Regents
Susan Fish of Topeka 

MOARC Association and Kansas City Industrial Council
Tom Poer of Overland Park 

National Newspaper Association
Steve Haynes of Oberlin
Cynthia Haynes of Oberlin 

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
Randy Ball of Wichita
Gayle Floria of Wichita
Karey Padding of Andover
Margaret Walker of Bel Aire
Tiffany Wilson of Mission

Steve Johnson of Lawrence 

Capitol Tour
Karen Ard of El Dorado
Brenae Ard of El Dorado
Alyssa Adkins of Wichita
Michael Fox of Manhattan
Jim Schmidt of Manhattan
Elaina Schmidt of Manhattan
Ava Schmidt of Manhattan
Samantha Stueven of Augusta
Aubrey Stueven of Augusta
Shirley Stueven of Augusta
Lexi Shaver of Augusta
Kaytlin Nicks of Augusta
Emily Birk of Augusta
Stephanie Nicks of Augusta
Layla Burris of Augusta
Izabella Harrison of Augusta
Sheryl Swendson of Atchison
Larry Hopkins of Lawrence
Jib Felter of Olathe
LeEtta Felter of Olathe
Abby Felter of Olathe
Annabelle Felter of Olathe
Gabe Felter of Olathe
McKenna Felter of Olathe
Trent Hungate of Wichita
Haley Hungate of Wichita
Hayes Hungate of Wichita
Alexis Shaver of Douglass
John Good of Newton
Janice Good of Newton
Addison Bunning of Lindsborg
Cap Gray of Lawrence
Kitty Gray of Lawrence
Sophia Kenyon of Belpre
Karen Schell of Emporia
Sharon Williams of Emporia
Elissa Williams of Gardner
Darren Hillman of Cheney
Adrianne Hillman of Cheney
Dawson Hillman of Cheney
Robert Salem of Salina
Linda Salem of Salina
Scott Salem of Salina
Nichola Salem of Salina
Brandon Hoesli of Salina
Daniel Klaassen of Manhattan
Megan Klaassen of Manhattan
Mike Armstrong of Fairway
Karen Armstrong of Fairway
Ian Armstrong of Fairway
Robert Martin of Solomon
Michelle Martin of Solomon
Grace Martin of Solomon
Noah Martin of Solomon
Richard Wall of Winfield
Kelly Wall of Winfield
Karen Weigel of Berryton
Joe Weigel of Berryton
Taylor Russell of Berryton
Christina Russell of Berryton
Mike Bickley of Overland Park
Elizabeth Bickley of Overland Park
Larry Satzler of Manhattan
Connie Satzler of Manhattan
Julia Satzler of Manhattan
Josiah Satzler of Manhattan
Staca Satzler of Manhattan
Abbi Collins of Riley
Jennifer Welker of Lenexa
Ethan Welker of Lenexa
Michelle Hooper of Shawnee
Dylan Hooper of Shawnee
Sonja Armbruster of Wichita
Bethany Chegwidden of Wichita
Hannah Chegwidden of Wichita
Lisa Theunissen of Manhattan
Stacey Steffers-Sundquist of Wichita
Hayes Hungate of Wichita
Michael White of Manhattan
Mark Mikel of Parsons
Emalee Mikel of Parsons
Marlee Mikel of Parson
Michael Kramer of Overland Park
Cynthia Kramer of Overland Park
Garry Leiker of Salina
Julie Leiker of Salina
Cole Leiker of Salina
Billy Pratt of Salina
Kathleen Pratt of Salina
Bart Chaney of Erie
Lisa Chaney of Erie
Heather Chaney of Erie
Collin Chaney of Erie
Mark Baus of Alexander
Ann Vaus of Alexander
Olivia Baus of Alexander
Veronica Limple of Alexander
Michael Thon of Garden City
Allison Thon of Garden City
Austin Thon of Garden City
Jeffrey Woirhaye of Overland Park
Mary Ann Woirhaye of Overland Park
Andrew Woirhaye of Overland Park
Eleana Woirhaye of Overland Park 

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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