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 voted to keep the government open, fully fund our military and provide much-needed disaster relief related to recent natural disasters across the country. I am frustrated with the habit of short-term spending bills and will continue to fight for fiscal responsibility in the Senate. This agreement, however, was important to deliver on our commitment to Defense Secretary Mattis to fully fund our national defense, help rebuild our military and implement his strategy to prepare for rapidly evolving threats. The budget agreement also makes critical investments in America’s veterans, disaster relief, and medical research for the National Institute of Health, and specifically included two of my provisions to help farmers and ranchers impacted by wildfires in Kansas and across the country last year.

Two of My Livestock Disaster Relief Provisions Signed into Law
I was pleased the Bipartisan Budget Agreement that was signed into law Friday included two of my provisions  to expand the Livestock Indemnity Program to help farmers and ranchers who were impacted by wildfires in Kansas and across the country. Following last year’s wildfires, many of our nation’s farmers and ranchers experienced devastating losses that crippled their ability to do what they do best – feed the American people. This is an extraordinary situation that requires an extraordinary response, so we are improving the Livestock Indemnity Program, which is administered through the USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA), to make it more effective and to increase support for our ag community.

The retroactive change will bring assistance to many of the ranchers affected by the southwest Kansas wildfires last year, especially those who suffered the greatest losses. This assistance will make it possible for them to continue their efforts to rebuild, which are still taking place to this day.

Broadening My Investigation into US Olympic Committee Regarding Systemic Abuse Claims
As chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security with jurisdiction over the health and safety of amateur athletes, I demanded answers from USA Gymnastics (USAG), U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) and Michigan State University (MSU) in January about systemic failures to protect athletes from sexual abuse and the reported filing of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to silence a victim of abuse.

Last week, I requested information from the remaining 53 National Governing Bodies (NGBs) to broaden our ongoing investigation and prepare for hearings regarding these widespread systemic failures, which  revealed that two USOC executives were alerted of possible sexual misconduct by USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar a year before he was suspended from treating athletes. On Friday, I received responses form USOC, USGA and MSU. Our deadline for response from the remaining NGBs is set for this Friday, February 16.

On Wednesday, I joined Fox News' Dana Perino live to further discuss this investigation. Watch our exchange here.

Subcommittee Hearing on Uber’s Data Breach
As chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security, I held a hearing on Tuesday entitled “Data Security and Bug Bounty Programs: Lessons Learned from the Uber Breach and Security Researchers.” The hearing examined the October 2016 Uber data breach along with allegations of impermissible payments by the company to conceal the security incident. The hearing also examined the overall value of so-called “bug bounty” programs and other approaches to identify vulnerabilities in private companies and government agencies. As the American public becomes more and more dependent on innovative technologies to complete everyday tasks, cybersecurity vulnerabilities continue to pose an even greater threat to consumers. Cyber threats are continuously evolving with the technology we rely on, and the U.S. must continue to innovate to remain the world’s leader in cybersecurity defense. Watch the full hearing here.

Meeting with Acting FAA Administrator
On Wednesday, I met with Dan Ewell, acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), to discuss his priorities for a long-term FAA reauthorization and to emphasize the importance of FAA reform for Kansas.

Last year, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation passed legislation that addresses priorities from both sides of the aisle – in my meeting with Administrator Ewell, I made certain he understands my commitment to seeing this long-term bill signed into law. We also discussed the future of unmanned aerial systems and some of the issues critical to Wichita’s aviation industry, such as streamlining aircraft certification processes and growing our manufacturing sector.

Lastly, I reiterated my opposition to any proposal that would privatize our air traffic control system, harming all but our nation’s largest airports.

Receiving the 2017 Wheat Advocate Congressional Award
I was honored this week to be presented with a congressional award for my support of wheat farmers over the past year by the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the National Association of Wheat Growers. Prior to being presented with the Wheat Advocate award, we had a productive discussion regarding the need for market access now, the importance of an on-time farm bill, and the effectiveness of crop insurance and safety net programs for our producers. Our wheat growers are an indispensable component to the global food supply and I look forward to being a wheat advocate for years to come.

Introducing Kansan Donn Teske During Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Hearing
I introduced Donn Teske, a farmer from Wheaton, Kansas, to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this week about the impact environmental regulations have on the agriculture community. Throughout the many years that I’ve known Donn, he’s been a tireless advocate for farmers, ranchers and rural communities. He’s passionate about promoting clean air and water and helping farmers be responsible stewards of the land. I appreciate Donn’s work on behalf of agriculture and his willingness to spend time testifying and answering questions from my colleagues on the committee.

Now Accepting Summer Internship Applications
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 Summer 2018 are due Friday, February 23. 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.

Kansans in the Office
Kansas Association of School Boards
Dr. Alicia Thompson of Wichita
Amy Martin of Overland Park
Blaise Bauer of Girard
David Goble of Girard
Mike Seitz of Overland Park
Deb Zila of Shawnee Mission
LeEtta Felter of Olathe
Brian Geary of Olathe
Dayna Miller of Basehor
Patrick Woods of Topeka
Shannon Kimball of Lawrence
Frank Henderson of Topeka
Leah Fliter of Manhattan

Kansas Grain and Feed Association
Ronald Seeber of Topeka
Tom Tunnell of Topeka
Jeremy Girard of Salina
Robert Tempel of Garden City
Dustin Kuntz of Harveyville

Simon Scholl of Mission
Julian Scholl of Mission

US Bishops Catholic Social Ministry Gathering
Bill Scholl of Mission

Kansas Independent College Association and Fund
Dr. Amy Bragg Carey of Wichita
Dr. Brad Andrews of Winfield
Matt Lindsey of Topeka

UAW Local 31
Anthony Shumate of Kansas City
Jeff Manning of Kansas City
Alfanso Vargo of Kansas City
Dan Kandchuier of Kansas City
Tract Smith of Olathe
Chris Hagis of Topeka
Steve Peyton of Wichita
Nicole Sallee of Topeka

Enlisted Association of the National Guard of Kansas
Troy Abel of Topeka
Bryan Pirrone of Wichita
Steven Peyton of Wichita

Kansas Local Taxpayer Advocate
Tracillia Wilnerd of Wichita

Rural Hospital CEOs
Chad Austin of Topeka
Dawn Downes of Merriam
Kiley Floyd of Seneca
Olivia Gehring of Wichita
Austin Gillard of Clay Center
Michael Kennedy of KCKS
Jodi Schmidt of Westwood
Dennis Shelby of Neodesha
Grace Strella of Bel-Aire

National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance
Darrin Unruh of Pretty Prairie 
Jimmy Henning of Lexington

ABC Rental, Wichita
Jim Brown of Wichita
Debbie Brown of Wichita
Mike Strong of Hutchinson

Kansas Rural Water Association
Allan Soeraert of Gardner
Bill Shroyer of Sabetha

American Burn Association
Debbie Mercer of Manhattan

Kansas State University
John Floros of Manhattan
Peter Dorrous of Manhattan
Amit Chakrbath of Manhattan
Verna Fitzsimmons of Salina

The University of Kansas
Dean Brancicky of Lawrence
Jack Cline of Lawrence 

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America
Paige Crum of Haysville
Penny Schuckman of Wichita
Carla Smith of Hutchinson
Vanessa West of Olathe

The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers
Nancy Mellard of Leawood

Sunflower Pediatric Clinical Trials Research Extension
Dr. Russell of Overland Park
Mary-Beth Warren of Pittsburg

Andrew Bias, Housing Developer, Wichita
Andrew Bias of Wichita

Sunflower Community Action
Guadalupe Magddeno of Wichita
Karina Gill of Wichita

Kansas Association of Wheat Growers
Kennith Wood of Chapman
Doug Keesling of Chase
Chris Gyandall of Lawrence
Ghenn Adams  of Lawrence
Kyles Millershaski of Lakin
Gary Millershaski of Lakin

Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
Glenn Adams of Lawrence
Chris Crandall of Lawrence

Dr. Paula Peters, Assistant Director, K-State Research and Extension
Dr. Paula Peters of Manhattan
Janelle Rankooten of Manhattan
Sue Lim of Manhattan
Sandy Proctor of Manhattan
Lisa Ross of Manhattan

National Sorghum Producers
Jesse McCurry of Colwich
Craig Meeker of Wellington

Magnet Schools of America
Terrell Davis of Wichita
Phyllis Cottner of Wichita
Jesse Milne of Wichita

Lawrence Memorial Hospital
Brian Bradfield of Lawrence

Capitol Tour
Adria Budke of Manhattan
Tyler Budke of Manhattan
Steve Peyton of Wichita
Bryan Pirrone of Wichita
Chris Hargis of Wichita
Nicole Sallee of Wichita
Ana Charlino  of Wichita
Karen Dean of Lawrence
Madelyn Dean of Lawrence
Chief Michael Utz of Garden City
Thomas Butz of Wichita
Denise Butz of Wichita
Nils Gabrielson of Wichita
Chad Higgins 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,

Newsletter Sign-up Form

Note: Fields marked with an * are required.