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.

An Update on Southwestern Kansas Wildfires & Meeting with the USDA
After my visit to Clark County last weekend, I requested a meeting with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Acting Secretary Michael Young about the challenges facing farmers and ranchers impacted by the wildfires across Kansas this month. We discussed the need for flexibility of Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) program requirements, specifically in the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP). I also pressed for urgency in making payments in a timely manner under ECP and the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and other FSA and NRCS programs. Additionally, I inquired about the program payment limits, including how legal entities and partnerships are treated in regard to established limits. I am committed to working with USDA to provide more flexibility on the specifications for fence rebuilding and to expedite payments. My continued prayers are with these families and the many others who are working to rebuild from this disaster.

Discussing Defense Priorities with Secretary Mattis
I had the opportunity to meet this week with Secretary of Defense and retired Marine Corps General James Mattis to discuss the global threats that face our nation and the need to make certain our armed forces are ready to respond. I emphasized my commitment to prioritizing defense appropriations that train, equip and ready those who serve in active duty and reserve forces in Kansas and around the globe. We also discussed my recent visit with German, French and British foreign and defense ministers and the United States’ commitment to NATO.  As a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I look forward to engaging again next week when Sec. Mattis testifies on defense spending.  

Addressing UAS in Commerce Hearing
On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing to examine the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the national airspace system and practical applications of the emerging technology. At the hearing, I called attention to the ongoing research, testing and training efforts at institutions in Kansas. The University of Kansas, Kansas State University and Wichita State University are all part of the Federal Aviation Administration’s ASSURE Center of Excellence, which is at the forefront of UAS development nationally. Additionally, our state was the first to appoint a formal director of UAS, Lt. Col. Bob Brock, who recently released a five-year plan for UAS adoption at the state level.

Wednesday’s hearing featured debate over the many safety and privacy challenges of UAS implementation as well as the exciting potential this technology has for our state and our nation’s economy. In particular, I spoke about the importance of UAS use for disaster response given the devastating grassland fires. The need to review storm damage to neighborhoods, farmland, critical infrastructure and everything in between creates a significant opportunity for Kansans to put UAS technology to use.

As a member of the Senate Aviation Subcommittee and co-chair of the Senate Aerospace Caucus, I look forward to continued work this Congress to address the public policy issues related to implementation and operation of UAS and the economic, privacy and safety implications this technology presents.

Meeting with Community Leaders
Several Kansas municipalities were represented at this week’s National League of Cities conference held in Washington, D.C. Civic leaders from Ottawa, Wichita, Manhattan, Lenexa, Shawnee, Lawrence, Mission, Prairie Village and Roeland Park attended the conference and then met with me and my staff to discuss how federal programs and policies impact their communities. Some of the issues we discussed included infrastructure improvement needs and maintaining the current tax treatment of municipal bonds among others. I appreciated the opportunity to hear directly from local leaders about how actions taken in Washington affect their local economies. My thanks to everyone who took the time to visit with my office.

Breaking Ground at the Shawnee CBOC
This past Friday, the VA broke ground on a new Community-based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) in Shawnee. This facility will help serve veterans in the Kansas City area who require outpatient medical care and will ensure that those who have dedicated their lives to serving our country are able to receive quality medical care close to home. Shawnee Mayor Michelle Distler, Kansas City VA Medical Center Director Kathleen Fogarty and County Commissioners Jason Osterhaus and Michael Ashcraft were all on hand to get construction underway. I will continue working to make certain Kansas veterans are able to access the care they earned.

Welcoming Senator Warner as Co-Chair of Bipartisan Senate Aerospace Caucus
Founded in 2010, the bipartisan Senate Aerospace Caucus plays a useful role in helping raise awareness of the impact of aerospace industry jobs and provides a forum for discussion about the issues faced by the industry. I’m thankful for the efforts of Senator Murray of Washington as my co-chair in years past, and I am pleased to welcome Senator Warner of Virginia as our new co-chair – I look forward to working with him. In Kansas, the aerospace industry is a place where the priorities of a strong national defense and strong economy converge, and it is important that Congress works to make certain the jobs, economic prosperity, and exciting new technology this industry provides succeeds for years to come.

Kansans in the Office

Washington University
Bilal Hassan of Wichita

Kansas Chiropractic Association
Brian Asbury of Wichita
Thad Schneider of Manhattan
Tobi Jeurink of Mission
Maithy Ta of Augusta
Lauren Strickler of Olathe
Katie Benson of Overland Park

National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association
Carol Ek of McPherson
Cindy Renee Blythe of Burlington

City of Wichita
Jeff Longwell of Wichita
James Clendenin of Wichita
Lavonta Williams of Wichita
Robert Layton of Wichita

Kansas Society of Land Surveyors
Larry Graham of Prairie Village
James Meis of Hays
Ryan Branfort of Salina
Taylor Sitton of Salina

ULA Suppliers
Charlie Simpson of Overland Park
Chuck Simpson of Overland Park

Pest Management Professionals
Ravi Sachdeva of Manhattan
Robert McElwain of Olathe
Travis Aggson of Manhattan
Connor Aggson of Manhattan
Bryce McElwain of Olathe

David Love of Leawood

Kansas Association of Agriculture Educators
John Bergin of Maple Hill
Alicia Hampton of Spring Hill
Linda Chase of Wellington

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

Dana Carlin of Lawrence
Sara Thurston of Manhattan
Jeff Hashman of Pittsburg

National Summit on Youth Homelessness
Rita Carr of Lenexa
Evie Cray of Lenexa

City of Ottawa
Blake Jorgensen of Ottawa
Richard Nienstedt of Ottawa
Mike Skidmore of Ottawa

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Tara Chettiar of Overland Park
Lauren Christman of Wichita
Christopher Graber of Salina
Kathryn Lindsay of Roeland Park
Hillary McLaren of Kansas City
Madhuri Reddy of Leawood
Evan Schwenk of Wichita
Carrie Wieneke of Fairway
Laura Parisi of Kansas City
Thomas Wrenns of Wichita

American College of Emergency Physicians
Jeffrey Norvell of Fairway
John Gallagher of Wichita

Nurses in Washington Internship Program
Heather Scruton of Olathe

Jessica Bramhall of Seneca
Jordan Ebert of Kinsley
Jay Weeks of Manhattan
John Holman of Manhattan

City of Lenexa
Mike Boehm of Lenexa
Andy Huckaba of Lenexa
Mandy Stuke of Lenexa
Mike Nolan of Olathe
Skyler Stuke of Lenexa

League of Kansas Municipalities
Leslie Soden of Lawrence
Casey Toomay of Lawrence
Quinn Bennion of Prairie Village
Ted Odell of Prairie Village
Becky Fast of Roeland Park
Carol Gonzales of Shawnee
Brandon Kenig of Shawnee
Stephanie Meyer of Shawnee
Jim Neighbor of Shawnee
Cindy Green of Atchison
Erik Sartorius of Lawrence

City of Manhattan
Kiel Mayus of Manhattan
Karen McCulloh of Manhattan
Ron Fehr of Manhattan
Jesse Romo of Manhattan
Usha Noddi of Manhattan

Capitol Tour
Robyn Peterson of Olathe
Laynie Peterson of Olathe
Sydney Peterson of Olathe
Sam Peterson of Olathe
Rob Peterson of Olathe
Amy Peterson of Olathe
Doug Fielder of Leawood
Christine Fielder of Leawood
Ryan Fielder of Leawood
Maggie Fielder of Leawood
Denise Killian of Wichita
Masy Markiewicz of Leawood
Hannah Markiewicz of Leawood
Zach Markiewicz of Leawood
Dan Markiewicz of Leawood
Sheldon Wheaton of Olathe
Matthew Wheaton of Olathe
Jennifer Klimek of Olathe
Bryan Klimek of Olathe
Griffin Klimek of Olathe
Grayson Klimek of Olathe
Amy Kotwitz of Olathe
Cameron Kotwitz of Olathe
Christian Kotwitz of Olathe
Bill Wright of Garden City
Annette Wright of Garden City
Elly Murrell of Garden City
Reagan Wright of Garden City
Katanna Moore of Kansas City
Sandra Egidy of Kansas City
Robert Egidy of Kansas City
Wendy Schmidt of Oakley
Tegan Schmidt of Oakley
Shana Bruce of Windom
Rickey Bruce of Windom
Brenda Colwell of Overland Park
Annie Colwell of Overland Park
Kevin Colwell of Overland Park
Joe Colwell of Overland Park
Quinn Colwell of Overland Park
Karen Colwell of Shawnee
Christine Colwell of Shawnee
John Fulcher of Shawnee
Joleen Fulcher of Shawnee
Ryan Fulcher of Shawnee
Jack Fulcher of Shawnee
Meg Tibbits of Ozawkie
Ali Tibbits of Ozawkie
Mickey Sandifer of Shawnee
Kaylee Elder of Shawnee
Jacqi Lambert of Manhattan
Brett Seaton of Olathe
Hannah Seaton of Olathe
Mary Morrow-Bax of Lenexa
Mallory MacDonald of Lenexa
Anna Bax of Olathe
Krista Baehr of Overland Park
Sophie Baehr of Overland Park
Wyatt Baehr of Overland Park
Diane Conghenour of Leawood
Erin Slicker of Leawood
Ben Slicker of Leawood
Ella Slicker of Leawood
Grey Slicker of Leawood
Whitney Mamminga of Overland Park
Ian Mamminga of Overland Park
Jake Mamminga of Overland Park
Reese Mamminga of Overland Park
Jessica Adams 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 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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