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.

Supporting Kansas Air Travel in FAA Reauthorization Bill
On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee unanimously approved S. 2658, legislation to reauthorize funding and programs for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through Fiscal Year 2017. This legislation will likely be considered by the full Senate in April. While the current FAA authorization expires March 31, the Senate passed a short-term extension through July 15 prior to adjourning for Easter recess. The House of Representatives is expected to clear that extension this week, buying Congress additional time to pass a longer-term reauthorization that will provide certainty and stability to our national aviation system.

Several amendments I offered were ultimately included in S. 2658, including an amendment to require the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) to return security screening to airports across the country that lost commercial service in recent years but have a commitment from a commercial airline to return. This amendment – which mirrors the TSA Fairness Act of 2016 (S. 2549) – provides valuable protections to small, rural airports across the country, but would impact Salina Regional Airport (KSLN) in particular. Set to begin nonstop service to Denver aboard Great Lakes Airlines on April 1, 2016, KSLN is still without a commitment from TSA to provide security screening services. In fact, the agency rejected KSLN’s written request for federal security screening last month. Thankfully, my “TSA Fairness” amendment passed unanimously by voice vote out of the committee. 

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S. 2658) includes many important reforms to modernize our aviation system by streamlining aircraft certification, strengthening protections for airline consumers, integrating unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace while maintaining the safest aviation system in the world. I am encouraged by the strong bipartisan effort to pass this important legislation out of the Commerce Committee and look forward to considering, debating and passing an FAA Reauthorization bill later this spring.

Speaking on the Senate Floor on Behalf of Kansas Veterans
There is no group I admire more than our nation’s veterans. Those who have served our nation deserve timely, quality health care, whether at a VA facility or in their communities. Many times veterans struggle to receive the care they need, and as a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs' Committee, I have fought to expand veterans' access to care through the Choice Act, which allows veterans to receive care in their community if they live more than 40 miles from a VA facility or if the facility nearest to them has a long wait time. Despite the intent of the Choice Act, many veterans are still struggling to receive care. I took to the Senate floor last week to highlight cases in Kansas where the Choice Act should have worked for a veteran, but due to red tape or lack of flexibility from the VA, the veterans were left still struggling. To help fix these issues, I sponsored the Veterans Choice Improvement Act of 2016, which addresses many of the problems veterans currently face trying to utilize the Choice program. We have a duty to care for those who have sacrificed for our nation, and I will continue working to make certain the stories of Kansans are heard here in Washington. To watch my floor speech, click here.

Speaking Out Against KCK Murders, Sanctuary Cities, and Illegal Immigration Problems
I received information from the Department of Homeland Security – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) this week regarding the suspect in the killing spree that took the lives of 5 people in Kansas and Missouri last week. The nation’s immigration system is terribly broken. Not enough has been done to address certain obviously dangerous vulnerabilities that put American lives at risk. 

“Sanctuary cities” facilitate an indifference about the prosecution of illegal immigrants arrested for dangerous crimes. These policies and the Obama Administration’s tolerance of the associated risks contribute to a dangerous weakening of the criminal justice system. The failure to address illegal immigration at all levels of government has been accounted for in lost lives. Sometimes a government failure is just annoying; sometimes it’s deadly. Local, state, and federal policymakers must work to end sanctuary city polices now before more preventable tragedies strike our communities.

To watch my Senate floor speech for more information about this topic, please click below.

Celebrating National Agriculture Day with Kansas Farmers and Ranchers
On Tuesday, I celebrated National Agriculture Day by meeting with Kansas farmers and ranchers who traveled to Washington, including Kansas Farm Bureau members and participants in the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership program. Agriculture is the largest economic driver in Kansas, accounting for 43 % of the state’s total economy. 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. As Chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, I work directly with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make certain our policies are promoting rural America so that we may preserve the unique way of life it provides for the next generation. I enjoyed being able to thank these Kansans for their work on behalf of our state.

Here, I'm pictured with the Springer Family from Sycamore.

Women Airforce Service Pilots at Arlington National Cemetery
Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy responded to a letter I sent last week regarding the eligibility of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) for inurnment at Arlington National Cemetery. Under current Army policy, WASPs and other active-duty designees, such as the Merchant Marines, are not allowed to be laid to rest at Arlington. Secretary Murphy expressed support for honoring these heroes and stated the Army would be supportive of legislation put forward to change the current policy. I am pleased he sees the importance of honoring all those who have served our nation admirably and I will continue to support efforts to allow the WASPs and other active duty designees to be inurned at Arlington National Cemetery. Click here to learn more.

Condemning Iranian-Sponsored Acts of Terror and Human Rights Violations
I joined Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) to introduce the Iran Terrorism and Human Rights Sanctions Act (S. 2726), which comes as a response to Iran’s latest sponsorship of terrorism, missile threats and human rights abuses. These sanctions send a clear message that America condemns the Iranian government’s continued belligerence and that we will act to punish any state sponsor of terror. To read more, click here.

Talking with Leavenworth, Lansing Residents
It was a pleasure to join Leavenworth-Lansing Young Professionals at Meriwether's Coffee Shop this week. I met some wonderful young people and learned more about their businesses and the good things they’re doing in the community. It was great to see Chamber Director Brandon Johannes and Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson. Thanks for the warm welcome!

Eagle Scout Ceremony Honoring Matt VanDyke
It was an honor to give remarks at Matt VanDyke's Eagle Scout Ceremony in my hometown of Plainville over the weekend. The Boy Scouts teaches boys and young men the fundamental truths of duty, honor and responsibility. I also understand the enormous honor that comes with reaching Eagle Scout. Since the inception of the Eagle Scout award in 1912, only two percent of the Boy Scouts in America have achieved Scouting’s highest honor. Congratulations to Matt on this notable achievement and thank you to Troop 109 for having me.

Visiting Washburn University
Topeka South Rotary Club
I brought greetings to the Topeka South Rotary Club at the Washburn University Student Union on Friday. The program was “Up With People” – a global education organization that aims to bring the world together through service and music. Thanks to Jeff Wagaman for the invitation to attend.

Kansas Bureau of Investigation
After Rotary Club, I took at tour of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation Forensic Science Center at Washburn University. The 100,000-square-foot facility opened last fall and employs 70 forensic scientists and also houses classrooms for students studying forensic science, anthropology and computer science. I’m hopeful that students who train here can work here after graduation. The facility is a great combination of science research and keeping Kansans safe and secure. Thanks to KBI Lab Director Mike Van Stratton for hosting me and also to Forensic Science Center Assistant Director T.L. Price for the informative tour. To read more and see pictures, please click on the picture below.

Thanking Veterans in Hays
I joined the Vietnam Veterans of America chapter in Hays on Saturday to thank them for their service and the work they do on behalf of their fellow veterans. The featured speaker was Kris “Tanto” Paranto who was a member of the security team that went above and beyond the call of duty during the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya. I am always honored to meet those who have served our nation, and I was pleased Kris had the opportunity to share his story with Kansans. Thanks to the Vietnam Veterans of America #939 and the Fort Hays State University Student Veterans Association for inviting me.

Kansans in the Office
Brent Stedry of Leavenworth
Yunsuk Stedry of Leavenworth
Abigail Stedry of Manhattan
Adam Stedry of Manhattan
Randy Vance of Lenexa
Jona Vance of Lenexa
Lauren Frederick of Lawrence
Nick Vance of Lenexa 

Wichita State University 
Ray Hull of Wichita 

Richard Jackson of Ottawa

Jarrod Bartlett of Wichita
Kris Atcheson of Wichita
Chris Sannady of Wichita
Eric Haworth of Wichita
Angela Kirk of Wichita
Nick D’Annuzio of Wichita 

National Association of Community Health Centers 
Katrina McGivern of Topeka
Melissa Ward of Topeka
John Kennedy of Tribune
Rachel Hartford of Lawrence
Pam Popp of Hoxie
Bryant Anderson of Hutchinson 

Flint Hills Writing Project 
Roger Caswell of Emporia
Heather Caswell of Emporia
Katherine Miner of Merriam
Debra Stewart of Topeka 

Kansas Head Start Association 
Erick Vaughn of Lawrence
LaToya Mothershed of Manhattan 

US Travel Association 
Suzan Barnes of Cottonwood Falls
Natalie Bright of Topeka
Linda Craghead of Topeka
Roxanne Morgan of Garden City
Donna Price of Goodland
Susie Santo of Wichita 

Westar Energy 
Mark Ruelle of Topeka
John Bridson of Topeka
Laura Lutz of Topeka 

Kansas Federation of Republican Women 
Linda Smith of Salina
Brenda Smith of Salina
Becky Johnson of Parker 

Kevin Harris of Kansas City 

Kansas Association of Conservation Districts 
Ron Brown of Fort Scott

Kansas Society of Land Surveyors 
Larry Graham of Prairie Village
Valeri Peltier of Andover 

American Society of Civil Engineers 
Aaron Frits of Lawrence
Ernesto Longoria of Overland Park 

F-35 Team Supplier 
Hannu Multala of Kansas City
Keith Mills of Kansas City
Tim Roussin of Wichita
Tracy McSwain of Wichita
Jeff Teague of Wichita
Glenn Steele of Wichita
Phil Milazzo of Wichita 

National Multiple Sclerosis Society 
Courtney Eiterich of Lenexa 

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 
Bob Stuever of Wichita
Minisa Childers of Wichita 

Christian Church in Kansas: Disciples of Christ
Sammi Ford of Parsons
Caleb Thompson of Pittsburg
Sarah Lundberg of Pittsburg
Lauren Eagan of Pittsburg
Devine McCart of Topeka
Darik Benson of Cheney
Nicholas Yolum of Wichita
Steve Martin of Topeka 

US Custom Harvesters 
Taff Hughes of Ellinwood 

University of Kansas 
Gopolang Mohlabeng of Lawrence 

Local Lodge 774, Textron Aviation 
Jan Marple of Wichita
Mike Antonelli of Wichita
Rick Dutcher of Wichita
Craig Dutoon of Wichita

US State Department Future Leaders 
Iana Catana of Rossville 

Boys and Girls Clubs of America 
Junnae Campbell of Manhattan 

American Lung Association 
Christy Fischer of Olathe 

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association 
Jane Wegner of Lawrence

Dustin Kuntz of Harveyville
Tim Flax of Hays
Kellie Allen of Parsons
Lori Bammerlin of Council Grove
Chris Boyd of Medicine Lodge
Barry Brandstetter of Overland Park
Billy Brown of Manhattan
Trista Brown Priest of Satanta
Craig Carnahan of Altamont
Nathan Eck of Little River
Andy Fahrmeier of Garden City
Matt Foos of Spearville
Frances Gorman Graves of Bartlett
Anna Govert-Young of Cheney
Amy Heinemann of Garden City
Trisha Janssen of Geneseo
Kathy LaScala of Ashland
Jesse Luckie of Ashland
Lara Moffet of Stockton
Clarke Nelson of Long Island
Brad Parker of Topeka
Shawn Powelson of Scott City
Wyatt Rundel of Wichita
Ben Schrag of Canton
Andrew Sigle of Osborne
Tony Wedel of Moundridge
Nick Weibert of Abilene
LaVell Winsor of Grantville
Mallory Wittstruck of Beloit

Kansas Sheep Association 
Jeff Ebert of St. George
Monica Ebert of St. George 

Kansas Bankers Association 
Kyle Campbell of Abilene
Brad Elliot of Wichita
Lyndy Wells of Wichita
Craig Meader of Waverly
Paige Meader of Waverly
Chuck Stones of Topeka
Mike Larrabee of Overland Park

Lonnie Baker of Manhattan
Nathan Glendening of Phillipsburg
Jeremy Hall of Topeka
Rachel Monger of Topeka
Kendra Ojwang of Olathe
Chris Osborn of Olathe
Erik Wray of Olathe 

Kansas Farm Bureau 
Travis Mason of Marysville
Matt Symns of Atchison
Stephanie Symns of Atchison
Bo Downing Longston
Mick Rausch of Garden Plain
Dean Good of Towanday
Jeff Grossenbacher of Bern
George Pretz of Paola
Joe Newland of Neodesha
Jackie Newland of Neodesha
Christy Spring of Neodesha
Mike Martin, Sr. of Louisburg 

Association of International Educators 
Jeff Hashman of Pittsburg
Diana Carlin of Lawrence 

National Association of Elementary School Principals 
Duane Dorshorst of Oberlin
John Belfort of Ellis
Jason May of Pratt 

Dennis Bixby of Leavenworth 

National Pest Management Association 
Spencer Duncan of Topeka
Maverick Aggson of Manhattan
Travis Aggson of Manhattan
Robert Croom, Jr. of Shawnee 

National Association of Federally Impacted Schools 
Corbin Witt of Junction City  
Keith Mispagel of Fort Leavenworth 

Kansas Society of Clinical Laboratory Scientists 
Linda Hickok of Belle Plaine
Scott Waddell of Salina 

National Association of Postmasters 
Judy Neises of Medicine Lodge
Albert Bacastow of Arkansas City
Judy Wasko of Hanston
Mark Clark of Valley Center 

Kansas Soybean Association 
Charles Atkinson of Great Bend
Lucas Heinen of Everest
Dwight Meyer of Hiawatha
Dennis Hupe of Topeka 

Daniel Greenhalgh of Hutchinson
Garrett Wilkinson of Hutchinson 

ALS Association 
Colleen Wachter of Mission 

American Society of Agronomy 
Mandy Fox of Hays
Michelle Scarpae of Manhattan 

Arthritis Foundation 
Marsha Clark of Newton        
Damon Penner of Newton
Laniese Penner of Newton
Staci Penner of Newton 

United Way of Central Kansas 
Mark Mingenback of Great Bend
Andy Mingenback of Great Bend 

Kerri Lindsay of Olathe 

Capitol Tour 
Russ Henningsen of Hays
Sandra Henningsen of Hays
Trevor Henningsen of Hays
Trenton Henningsen of Hays
Michael Snodgrass of Kansas City
Yila Snodgrass of Kansas City
Nelson Snodgrass of Kansas City
McKayla Snodgrass of Kansas City
Jeff Bathurst of Abilene
Charity Bathurst of Abilene
Emma Bathurst of Abilene
Annie Bathurst of Abilene
Alice Bathurst of Abilene
Eden Bathurst of Abilene
Wyatt Bathurst of Abilene
Wade Bathurst of Abilene
Jesse Prater of Abilene
Christie Prater of Abilene
Breanna Pater of Abilene
Gabriel Prater of Abilene
Elijah Prater of Abilene
Margie Valentine of Douglass
Corey Valentine of Baldwin City
Dayton Valentine of Baldwin City
Leslie Mingenback of Great Bend
Andy Mingenback of Great Bend
Tina Mingenback of Great Bend
Alyvia Mingenback of Great Bend
Deborah Davis of Topeka
Adriana Lane of McFarland
Donna Ginther of Lawrence
Rodger Erickson of Lawrence
Bryce Erickson of Lawrence
Adele Erickson of Lawrence
Jim James of Stilwell
Joelsette Jones of Stilwell
James Jones of Stilwell
Jillian Jones of Stilwell
Jenna Jones of Stilwell
Joshua Efron of Lenexa
Erica Barnes of Lenexa
Jayusha Amamcharla of Manhattan
Neerja Tyagi of Manhattan
Aarush Amamcharla of Manhattan
Aarit Amamcharla of Manhattan
Siddharth Tyagi of Manhattan
Brian Nelson of Leawood
Sarah Nelson of Leawood
Aidan Nelson of Leawood
Meyer Nelson of Leawood
Michael Springer of Neodesha
Christy Springer of Neodesha
Mason Springer of Neodesha
Cooper Springer of Neodesha
Mike Bogard of Lansing
Wendy Bogard of Lansing
Chloe Bogard of Lansing
Lillian Bogard of Lansing
Kurt Cooper of Emporia
Henry Weiner of Sterling
Ezekiel Luna of Emporia
Christopher Williams of Ottawa
Spencer Johnson of Topeka
Billy Garner of Meriden
Paul Reichenberger of Wichita
Abraham Ruffcorn of Basehor
Joshua Woolhiser of Manley
Rebekah Baseor of Burdick
Caitlin Schoeck of Emporia
Danae Williams of McLouth
Harley Roedel of Manhattan
Desiree Dela Pena of Lenexa
David Deatherage of Lenexa
Marcy Deatherage of Lenexa
Benjamin Deatherage of Lenexa
Clare Deatherage of Lenexa
Mica Nelson of Pratt
Jeremy McEntarfer of Pratt
Jude Nelson of Pratt
Adler Nelson Pratt
Gene Paulsen of Wichita
Kate Paulsen of Wichita
Douglas Duval of Prairie Village
Maureen Duval of Prairie Village
Timothy Duval of Prarie Village
Dale Montgomery of Hays
Brian Montgomery of Dodge City
Joey Montgomery of Dodge City
Michael Reynolds of Shawnee
Gina Reynolds of Shawnee
Amanda Reynolds of Shawnee
Rachel Reynolds of Shawnee
Dianne Heeren of Lenexa
Kaitlin Haukos of Wamego
Jill Haukos of Wamego  
Karna Gibson of Prairie Village
Miles Gibson of Prairie Village 

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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