Kansas Common Sense

Introducing Landmark Legislation to Reduce Veteran Suicide 
I teamed up with Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) this week to introduce the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act of 2019 to expand mental health efforts in local communities, to allow the VA to hire and train more professionals in this field and to develop innovative methods for the delivery of this care. This legislation complements the president’s endeavor to end suicide among veterans through his recently-announced PREVENTS initiative and I am hopeful that a holistic approach – partnering with experts and scientists outside the federal government and among academia – will help end this national tragedy. One veteran lost to suicide is too many and our nation’s heroes deserve the best our nation has to offer.


Honoring the Work and Legacy of WSU President John Bardo 
I join the Wichita community in grieving the loss of Wichita State University President John Bardo. Working with President Bardo to advance the interests of students in Kansas and across the country has been a distinct pleasure, and his impact on Wichita State University will be felt for generations to come. President Bardo was a public servant, believing wholeheartedly that as president of WSU, his job was to help students transform their lives and build meaningful careers that would have an impact on the Wichita region, Kansas and the country. Please join Robba and me in praying for the Bardo family and the entire Wichita family as we celebrate and reflect on President Bardo’s life. To read more from the Wichita Eagle on his career impacting students and his legacy, click here.



Working to Make Orally Administered Cancer Drugs More Affordable
Breakthroughs in medical research have greatly increased the number of life-saving, orally administered medications available to those fighting cancer. This week, I joined Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) in reintroducing the Cancer Drug Parity Act, bipartisan legislation to bring down healthcare costs for cancer patients by making certain insurance companies cover orally administered cancer drugs in the same way as traditional intravenous (IV) chemotherapy.

As the number of orally administered cancer drugs increase each year, patients ought to be able to immediately benefit from these medical advancements. This sensible legislation would keep health insurance on pace with the latest cancer treatments, build on laws already implemented in 43 states and expand access to orally administered cancer drugs for 100 million individuals covered through group and individual health plans. I am a strong supporter of medical research to find new treatments, therapies and cures, and I will work to make certain these cutting-edge treatments can reach cancer patients and ultimately save lives.

The Cancer Drug Parity Act is supported by KU Cancer Center Director Dr. Roy Jensen, the American Cancer Society, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and more. Read more about this bipartisan legislation and its widespread support here.

Introducing Legislation to Give Back Powers to Congress 
On Wednesday, I joined Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) and a number of my Republican colleagues in introducing the ARTICLE ONE Act, legislation that would amend the National Emergencies Act, which, at present, cedes too much of Congress’s authority to the Executive Branch and opens the door for a president to take action that upsets the balance of power established by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution. The ARTICLE ONE Act would safeguard Congress’s authority over taxpayer funds as set forth in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, while still giving the president the ability to act quickly when facing a national emergency. Click here to read more on this legislation. 

Urging the President to Take Action and Increase Wheat Exports to Brazil
I led a group of 11 senators this week in urging President Trump to take action and resolve a longstanding trade barrier that U.S. agricultural producers face when exporting wheat to Brazil. President Trump is scheduled to meet with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro next week at the White House.

Brazil agreed to establish a 750,000 metric ton (MT) duty-free tariff rate quota (TRQ) for wheat over two decades ago. Unfortunately, Brazil has failed to fulfill that commitment and continues to apply a 10 percent tariff on wheat from countries not included in the South American Mercosur trade bloc. I am encouraged by President Bolsonaro’s stated support for building a stronger relationship between the United States and Brazil, and believe eliminating this longstanding trade barrier for U.S. wheat exports would be a demonstrable action to strengthen the economic ties between our countries.

With low commodity prices and declining farm revenues, it is critical to continue to expand opportunities to sell the food and fiber grown by Kansas farmers and ranchers to consumers around the world. Click here to read our letter.

Authoring Legislation to Provide Stability for Aviation During a Government Shutdown
This week, I introduced the Aviation Funding Stability Act that would protect Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs and personnel and provide stability for the U.S. aviation industry in the event of a government shutdown. Aviation is fundamental to the success of the Kansas economy, employing tens of thousands in our state while strengthening the ability of local businesses to compete in a global marketplace.

In the event of a government shutdown, this legislation would allow the entire agency to operate at current funding levels. Previous shutdowns have affected every function of aviation and air travel and have specifically harmed regional airports and put a strain on air traffic controllers nationwide. While I’ve long said that we must avoid government shutdowns, it is important to pass this legislation that would provide much-needed certainty to those who rely on the FAA. Click here to read more on this legislation. 

Touring the NOAA National Hurricane Center
On Monday, I met with National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials at the National Weather Service’s Hurricane Center. The National Weather Service provides climate data, forecasts and warnings ahead of major weather events across the globe, and as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science, with funding jurisdiction over NOAA, it was important to hear more about the priorities, challenges and opportunities associated with our nation’s extreme weather tracking and disaster readiness. I appreciate the dedicated public servants at NOAA and I am confident that the United States will continue to lead the world in emergency preparedness.


Announcing Partnership Between the VA and Sanford Health for Veterans’ Healthcare
On Tuesday, I joined Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie to announce a groundbreaking new partnership between the VA and Sanford Health to provide free genetic testing for veterans to help determine which medicines are most effective for each specific patient.

The genetic testing offered as part of this partnership will help providers make the best decisions about which medication(s) a veteran needs, helping to provide better outcomes for those who have sacrificed for our nation. I’m grateful for Mr. Denny Sanford’s generosity, whose gift made this possible, and for the leadership of Secretary Wilkie, who is paving the way for VA to partner with outside organizations to help augment veterans’ care.


Legislation to Expand and Modify the Fort Scott National Historic Site Signed Into Law
On Wednesday, the President signed into law the Natural Resources Management Act, a package of over 100 bills relating to public lands, natural resources and water projects. Included in this package was a measure I authored, the Fort Scott National Historic Site Boundary Modification Act, which will expand and modify this Historic Site.

I have enjoyed working with Fort Scott community leaders over the past several years to secure this boundary modification – it is because of their continued dedication and enthusiasm that this bill has finally crossed the finish line. I know that the Fort Scott National Historic Site will remain a point of pride for Kansans, and safe and enjoyable for visitors. 

Voting to Require Congressional Authorization of the War in Yemen
I voted on Wednesday to reassert Congress’s constitutional responsibility to authorize involvement in overseas conflicts and to bring an end to America’s participation in the war in Yemen. That war began four years ago this month, furthering tensions in the region and creating the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. More than 14 million Yemenis are on the brink of famine, and Yemen is home to one of the world’s worst cholera outbreaks in history. The United States’ involvement in providing support to Saudi Arabia – which was never properly debated or approved by Congress in 2015 – has prolonged needless suffering, and our engagement in this war must come to an end. Last Congress, I voted twice for a similar resolution, and wrote the Administration expressing concerns with the humanitarian situation and questioning the certification of Saudi compliance with American law. By passing this resolution, the Senate took an important step to promote peace and security on the Arabian Peninsula.

Questioning Industry Representatives on Rural Broadband Investments
On Tuesday, during a Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communication, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet hearing that examined broadband investment in rural America, I spoke with several experts on the importance of broadband investment in rural areas and how we can better equip our local carriers to reach those underserved communities. Kansans know all too well the challenges of keeping pace with the rest of the country in our ever expanding technological world.

While I am excited for the next great advancement improved broadband technology can bring to the nation, we must make certain our rural communities don’t continue to fall even more behind their urban counterparts. I will continue to work with my Senate colleagues to ensure rural communities have adequate access to broadband. Click here to watch our discussion.


Meeting with Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley
I met with U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Mark A. Milley this week to discuss Army’s modernization efforts and how those efforts are reflected in the FY2020 Army budget request, which was released on Tuesday. We also discussed Army Futures Command, and I look forward to learning more about how initiatives led by academia in Kansas can be incorporated into the Army’s innovative new Command. General Milley also painted a clear picture regarding the threats Russia and China pose to our nation’s security and Army’s efforts to deter these threats. I look forward to checking in with him again later this month, when Army leadership testifies before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Defense.


Hosting Numerous Kansas Municipalities in Washington, D.C.
This week, the National League of Cities gathered in Washington, D.C., and I enjoyed meeting with leaders from the cities of Lenexa, Lindsborg, Manhattan, Olathe, Overland Park, Shawnee and Wichita. While each city highlighted specific local issues of interest, consistent themes from the meetings were: needed investments in infrastructure, Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and mental health programs.

In 2015, Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the most recent multi-year federal infrastructure legislation. With FAST Act authorizations set to expire in September 2020, Congress must get to work on a new long-term plan to provide dedicated funding for local transportation improvements. Our state’s infrastructure needs run the gamut from local roads and bridges to water projects, airport improvements, broadband access and more. I am fortunate to sit on committees in the U.S. Senate such as Appropriations, Banking and Commerce, which all play a role in many facets of infrastructure planning and investment, and I look forward to using this platform and to partnering with Kansas communities as we work to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I offered my commitment to city representatives to continue my strong support for CDBG funding and efforts to strengthen mental health treatment. While the president’s budget has again requested the elimination of funding for the CDBG program, I believe it is one of the most effective federal block grant programs and one critical to local governments’ abilities to address community, economic development and housing needs. Mental health treatment continues to be an area of significant need across Kansas communities as well, with cities specifically sharing with me their desire to help veterans, young students, and combat the spread of opioids. This week I joined Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) in introducing bipartisan legislation to expand local community efforts to provide veterans with mental healthcare, and I will continue to advocate for robust federal funding for programs administered through the Department of Health and Human Services, such as Community Mental Health Services Block Grants that can help make a difference in Kansas communities.  

Thanks to the League of Cities and each of the local leaders in Kansas for making the trip to Washington, D.C. and visiting with me. I look forward to seeing each of you again soon in Kansas.

Discussing Kansas’ Contributions to Space Exploration with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
On Wednesday during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing that examined how NASA and other federal agencies plan to maintain United States’ global leadership in space exploration and research, I questioned NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine about the importance of STEM education and the need to get our children interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics so our nation will continue to have the qualified workforce it needs to keep America as the world leader in space.

Administrator Bridenstine and I also discussed his trip to Kansas last December. While he was in Wichita, I showed the Administrator the incredible work the folks at WSU are doing to create wonderful new technology, as well as the rich history our state has with space exploration at the Kansas Cosmosphere. The future of America in space is bright and Kansas will be at the forefront of the new Space Race. Click here to watch our exchange.


Questioning Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson on the Light Attack Program
On Wednesday, I questioned Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein during their FY2020 budget presentation in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. I pointed out the mixed messages within the Air Force regarding the procurement of light-attack aircraft, as I am concerned with how the Air Force has slowed what was intended to be a rapid acquisition process to meet warfighter, ally and special operations demands. As a staunch advocate for providing the warfighter access to capabilities they need, I want to make certain that the Air Force follows through on procuring turboprop platforms that meets requirements. Watch the exchange here.

Attending a Chamber Chat in Hays
On Friday, I attended the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce’s “Chamber Chat,” a weekly event spotlighting a local business or organization in the community. This week’s Chamber Chat was at Fort Hays State University (FHSU), where the Student Government Association provided an overview of their organization and highlighted their upcoming ninth annual Big Event, scheduled for April 13 – a day of service geared toward the Hays Community in appreciation of all their support to FHSU. This visit also gave me a chance to touch base with Kansans on the votes I cast earlier in the week. Thank you to the many in attendance for their thoughtful conversation, and I wish FHSU SGA continued success with their Big Event.


Kansans in the Office 

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Dr. Stephanie Amaya of Prairie Village
Dr. Emily Solverson of Kansas City
Dr. Tara Chettiar of Kansas City
Dr. Karen Estrada-Stephan of Kansas City
Dr. Valerie French of Kansas City
Dr. Charles Gibbs of Overland Park
Dr. Meredith Gray of Kansas City
Dr. Thomas Greaves of Wichita
Dr. Erin Hecker of Gardner
Dr. Verda Hicks of Leawood
Dr. Caitlin Linscheid of Kansas City
Dr. Hillary McLaren of Fairway
Dr. Holly Montgomery of Wichita
Dr. Madhuri Reddy of Leawood
Dr. Hana Reissner of Kansas City
Dr. Kimberly Swan of Shawnee

American Postal Workers Union
Christine Pruitt of Wichita
Emily Weber of Caldwell

American Seed Trade Association
Eric Woofter of Osborne 

American Television Alliance
Kent Wells of Garden City

Arthritis Foundation
Marsha Clark of Newton
Danny Friesen of Newton
Damon Penner of Newton
Laniese Penner of Newton
Staci Penner of Newton
Dooli Rugg of Greendburg
Emiily Rugg of Greendburg

Brain Injury Association of Kansas
Robin Abramowitz of Overland Park

Capitol Tour
Trevor Bartz of Larned
Sandra Bartz of Larned
Suzanne Bennent of Topeka
Amy Carey of Welda
Laney Chism of Elk City
Lauryn Chism of Elk City
Whitney Chism of Elk City
Hayleigh Chudik of Overland Park
Karlie Clarkson of Independence
Stacie Clarkson of Independence
Baylee Cloward of Wichita
Conner Cloward of Wichita
Jacob Cloward of Wichita
Monica Cloward of Wichita
Bryan Coffey of Herington
Marcus Coffey of Herington
Shannon Cook of Andover
Wesley Cook of Andover
Addison Coleman of Galena
Ethan Coleman of Galena
Jennifer Coleman of Galena
Clow Cunington of Winfield
Gretchen Cummings of Lenexa
Melissa Edloff of Olathe
Abigail Fritz of Garnett
Logan Fritz of Garnett
Saundra Fritz of Garnett
Joseph Fritz III of Garnett
Kent Foerster of Lawerence
Beth Foerster of Lawerence
Anna Foerster of Lawerence
Colby Garrelts of Leawood
Megan Garrelts of Leawood
Colin Garrelts of Leawood
Madilyn Garrelts of Leawood
Addison Greig of Topeka
Alessa Greig of Topeka
Alex Greig of Topeka
Lawson Greig of Topeka
Stacey Greig of Topeka
Michael Grossman of Leawood
Greta Grossman of Leawood
Jason Habiger of Topeka
Christina Habiger of Topeka
Sophie Habiger of Topeka
Troy Habiger of Topeka
Sheri Harris of Ottawa
Andrea Irwin of Olathe
Brooks Kehoe of Topeka
Francis Kehoe III of Topeka
Miles Kehoe of Topeka
Stephanie Kehoe of Topeka
Clint Kettler of Garnett
James Kitchens of Lenexa
Lynn Kitchens of Lenexa
Brit Kring of Lawrence
Caroline Kring of Lawrence
Hannah Kring of Lawrence
Lisa Kring of Lawrence
Madelyn Kurtz of Topeka
Morgan Kurtz of Topeka
Alyson Losson of Olathe
Marissa Losson of Wichita
Scott McKinley of Topeka
Janessa McKinley of Topeka
Mitchell McKinley of Topeka
Mark McKinley of Topeka
John McKinney of Prairie Village
William Mechnig of Garnett
John Mulvihill of Eudora
Kelly Mulvihill of Eudora
Bryce Mulvihill of Eudora
Brooke Mullvihill of Eudora
Ava Oglesby of Shawnee
Cori Oglesby of Shawnee
Julie Oglesby of Shawnee
Daniel Paschke of Overland Park
Carrie Paschke of Overland Park
Micah Paschke of Overland Park
Cameron Paschke of Overland Park
Kinley Paschke of Overland Park
Caleb Pfaff of Overland Park
Cristina Pfaff of Overland Park
Grayson Pfaff of Overland Park
Jeff Pfaff of Overland Park
Julia Pfaff of Overland Park
Quinton Pfaff of Overland Park
Margaret Reinert of Garnett
Erin Riley of Galva
Jarett Riley of Galva
Tanner Riley of Galva
Joel Rodell of Wichita
Edward Rosson of Lawrence
Mary Ruble of Overland Park
Lee Ruble of Overland Park
Michael Russell of Kansas City
Carla Russell of Kansas City
Joseph Russell of Kansas City
Benjamin Russell of Kansas City
Kristen Rodell of Wichita
Maddie Rodell of Wichita
Miles Rodell of Wichita
Clifford Seastrom of Overland Park
Michelle Seastrom Overland Park
Montgomery Seastrom of Kansas City
Luke Shiew of Jetmore
Grace Shiew of Jetmore
Jennifer Shiew of Jetmore
Christopher Sirridge of Olathe
Lisa Sirridge of Olathe
Camille Snyder of Eastborough
Elizabeth Snyder of Eastborough
James Snyder of Eastborough
Michael Snyder of Eastborough
Nathan Snyder of Eastborough
Hayes Stueve of Leawood
Dr. Jacob Stueve of Leawood
Lincoln Stueve of Leawood
Taft Stueve of Leawood
Cindy Sutherland of Cherryvale
Marianne Swaney-Stueve of Leawood
Betsy Tedman of Sabetha
Madeline Tedman of Sabetha
Paul Tedman of Sabetha
Martin Walter of Overland Park
Neil Wakefield of Kansas City
LaRae Wakefield of Kansas City
Hilma Webber of Winfield
Jarrell Webber of Winfield
Dr. Michael Weltsch of Manhattan
Debi Wahl of Manhattan
Matthew Wiese of Overland Park
Nathanael Womelsdorf of Welda 

City of Olathe
Michael Copeland of Olathe
Tim Danneberg of Olathe
Wes McCoy of Olathe
Tim McKee of Olathe
Jim Randall of Olathe
Dean Vakas of Olathe
Michael Wilkes of Olathe

City of Overland Park
John Thompson

City of Lenexa
Michael Boehm of Lenexa
Andy Huckaba of Lenexa
Bill Nicks of Lenexa
Mike Nolan of Lenexa
Mandy Stuke of Lenexa
Skyler Stuke of Lenexa 

City of Lindsborg
Becky Anderson of Lindsborg
Greg DuMars of Lindsborg

City of Manhattan
Dennis Marstall of Manhattan
Jerred McKee of Manhattan
Usha Reddi of Manhattan
Jared Wasinger of Manhattan

City of Shawnee
Lindsey Constance of Shawnee
Angelina Lugo of Overland Park
Stephanie Meyer of Overland Park
Mickey Sandifer of Shawnee
Nolan Sunderman of Shawnee
Matt Zimmerman of Shawnee

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

Education Policy Fellowship Program
John McKinney Prairie Village

Geological Society of America
Saugata Datta of Manhattan

Growth Energy
Ronald Seeber of Topeka
Tom Willis of Liberal
Rock Ormiston of Liberal
Mike Chisam of Lyon
Megan Vincent of Lyon
Trevor Hinz of Colwich

Human Rights Campaign
Sarah Derks of Overland Park

Shan Hanes of Elkhart
Doug Wareham of Topeka

Kansas Federation of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association
Louis Bornman of Shawnee
Marty Fadden of Burlington
John Ourada of Salina 

Kansas Gang Investigators Association
Troy Robinson of Hutchinson

Tom Zwemke of Goddard

Kansas State Council of Fire Fighters
Chris Booth of Wichita
Matt Jackson of Junction City
Bob Wing of Kansas City

Kansas Psychological Association
Dr. Bruce Nystrom of Wichita

League of Kansas Municipalities
Trey Cocking of Topeka
Ken Davis of Mission
Sollie Flora of Mission
Daron Hall of Pittsburg 
Linda Morse of Manhattan
Debbie Kring of Mission
David Neal of Merriam
Nick Schlossmacher of Mission 

Midwest Innocence Project
Tricia Bushnell of Kansas City

National Association of Conservation District
Dan Meyerhoff of Hays
Allen Roth of Hays
Bevin Law of Longford
Rod Vorhees of Fredonia
Karen Woodrich of Salina
Rod Reschke of Manhattan

National Association of Postal Supervisors
Rebecca Barr of Wichita
Kelly McCartney of Lawrence
Will McIntyre of Kansas City
Jeremy Moats of Wichita
Lori Moats of Kansas City
Ramon Moats of Wichita
Kit Rogers of Wichita
Chas Rogers of Wichita

New York Life Insurance Company
David Kim of Overland Park 

Society of American Florists
Jennifer Barnard of Wichita
Tristen Barnard of Wichita
Kenneth Denton of Wichita 

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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