Kansas Common Sense


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Honoring the Fallen and Our Veterans
Remembering the Service of the Fallen on Memorial Day
Each May since the Civil War, Americans have come together to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. On Memorial Day, we honor the courageous souls who laid down their lives protecting and defending our great nation’s ideals. We share our gratitude with the families who have lost loved ones serving in our armed forces. I was in Emporia on Monday to commemorate the occasion with local veterans and community members at the All Veterans Memorial. It was wonderful to visit with so many of the attendees.

Joining Visitors from the Kansas Honor Flight Program
I joined a group of veterans who were visiting D.C. from Parsons as part of the Kansas Honor Flight Program this week. I enjoyed meeting these veterans and their companions, who were all Parsons Senior High School students, and getting to catch up with Senator Bob Dole. It is inspiring to see young people volunteering to help make certain that those who sacrificed for our freedoms have the chance to experience their memorials firsthand. I look forward to continuing to work with the Kansas Honor Flight program to honor our great heroes in the nation’s capital.

Celebrating Rich Roemer
I joined friends and family in celebrating Rich Roemer’s life at his funeral service at Gove Bible Church on Saturday. Another member of the greatest generation lost. Rich was a WWII vet and Purple Heart recipient, a former county commissioner and longtime supporter of Fort Hays State University. All those who knew Rich know how dedicated he was to his family, church, community and nation. Robba and I extend our sympathies and prayers to Rich’s family and friends and especially his wife Florence of 69 years.

Marking the American Legion’s Centennial
I recently joined a bipartisan group of senators in introducing legislation to honor the 100th anniversary of the American Legion. Our bill would create a variety of commemorative coins available for purchase in 2019. Veterans who serve other veterans are to be cherished, and the American Legion has had an incredible impact on the lives of generations of heroes who have served our nation. Throughout its history, the organization has advocated for the priorities of veterans, securing passage of landmark legislation such as the G.I. Bill, which was drafted by former National Commander and Kansan Harry Colmery in 1944. Proceeds from the sale of the commemorative coins will go toward supporting the organization's programs and efforts to continue their work on behalf of our nation’s veterans and their families.

Legislation to Make the VA Accountable
The Senate this week unanimously passed bipartisan legislation I led to empower the VA to hold employees to the highest standards in service to veterans. My bill, the Increasing the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability to Veterans Act of 2017, reforms the VA by holding leaders accountable for department mismanagement, hiring well-qualified people, and addressing employee performance; preventing employee conflicts of interest; and improving manager training. The legislation is now headed to the U.S. House of Representatives where I hope it will be swiftly passed.

In addition, I am a sponsor of the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, which passed the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee last week and now heads to the Senate floor. This bill would give the VA the tools to fire bad employees who fail to serve our veterans while ensuring appropriate due process and protections for whistleblowers.

The VA must continue working to earn the trust of veterans who rely on the agency that was created to serve them. As part of that mission, we must uplift those who should be commended for their service and make certain that there are consequences for those who do not perform their duties to serve.

Sharing Vision for Senate Healthcare Reform
This week we saw more evidence that the Affordable Care Act isn’t working as it forced Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City to withdraw from the marketplace for 2018 due to steep financial losses. We also know the House’s legislation is not the right solution. The Senate now has the opportunity to craft legislation that will have real and personal consequences in the lives of millions of Americans. With that in mind, I hope that my colleagues and I can focus on lowering healthcare costs, increasing access and investing in medical research with the power to save us billions in the long term. The task ahead of us is serious and I look forward to working to find solutions to make certain that healthcare is something that every American has access to. I spoke on the Senate floor on Thursday – please watch for more of my vision for healthcare reform.

Raising Awareness About Pool Safety As Summer Begins
As Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Product Safety, I convened a hearing Wednesday to examine the issue of pool and spa safety. Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the start of summer swimming season, but because drowning unfortunately continues to be ranked among the leading causes of death in America – particularly for young children – Wednesday’s hearing aimed to promote greater awareness of the issues surrounding pool safety.

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (VGB), legislation signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007 to enhance the safety of pool and spa drains and educate the public on the need for constant supervision of children in and around water. Nancy Baker, whose daughter Graeme died tragically from suction entrapment and became the namesake for the VGB bill, testified at the hearing. Other witnesses on the hearing panel included representatives of the American Red Cross, which works with its partners to teach 2.5 million people to swim every year; the Association of Pool and Spa Professional (APSP), the world’s oldest and largest association representing swimming pool, hot tub and spa manufacturers; and the ZAC Foundation, which has provided water safety instruction to over 10,000 underserved children in cities across America and reached tens of millions more through media outreach efforts.

Prior to the hearing, I joined a group of colleagues in introducing a bipartisan resolution recognizing the month of May as “National Water Safety Month.” Recreational swimming is a time-honored American tradition, and public pools such as The Big Pool in Garden City – the largest outdoor municipal concrete swimming pool in the world – are fixtures in local communities and popular destinations for fun and relief from the summer heat. As such it is critical for Americans to recognize the importance of pool safety to help prevent tragedies. Even when attentive parents and adults are around accidents can still happen.

Pushing for Swift Consideration of Bill to Modernize Government Technology
I authored a letter on Wednesday to the chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee requesting swift consideration of the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation to modernize government information technology (IT), eliminate wasteful spending and strengthen cybersecurity. In the time that has passed since I first introduced this legislation, the threats of hacking, espionage and cybercrime have only grown more real. This month we saw a worldwide ransomware attack that impacted hundreds of thousands of computers in more than 150 countries. Protecting our data has never been more important. By bringing government IT systems into the 21st century, not only can we strengthen the security of our data, but we can save billions of taxpayer dollars by reducing long-term wasteful spending. Please click here to read the letter.

Sharing Trade’s Importance in Kansas with Mexican Ambassador Gutiérrez
I met with the Mexican Ambassador to the United States, Gerónimo Gutiérrez, this week to discuss Mexico’s importance as an economic partner and the upcoming negotiations surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In 2016, Mexico became the top export market for Kansas products, purchasing $1.8 billion worth of goods from our state including beef, grain and manufactured goods. Strong trading relationships give our farmers, ranchers and manufacturers the ability to sell what we produce to the consumers in Canada and Mexico, which generates economic activity and creates jobs in our state. Along with driving exports, deep economic and diplomatic ties between our nations make North America more competitive in the global marketplace, including versus China. I will continue to work with Commerce Secretary Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer to make sure they understand the importance of strong relationships with Canada and Mexico to Kansas ag producers and manufacturers.

Protecting Community Voices in Determining Future of Our Local Post Offices
The United States Postal Service (USPS) is a critical component of the American economy, and the opening or closing of a post office can make a big difference to small towns and rural communities. This week I joined in the reintroduction of legislation to protect post offices in Kansas and across the country from indefinite “emergency closure.” The Post Office Discontinuance Accountability Act (S. 1204) would prevent the USPS from using its emergency suspension process – intended to be temporary – to indefinitely close post offices without notice to the community, opportunity to appeal or a timeframe for either reopening or permanently closing the facility. This bipartisan legislation will help to make certain that the postal service remains accountable and transparent to all Americans and maintains a dependable presence in communities across our country.

Meeting with Rural Letter Carriers
This week I also met with representatives of the National Rural Letter Carriers Association to discuss the importance of dependable postal delivery in rural areas and efforts to reform the USPS to best meet the needs of the changing American economy. Thanks to Kansas Rural Letter Carriers’ Association President Tammy Goodyear and Vice President Jim Hornbostel for visiting with me to discuss how these important issues affect us all.


Joining Lions Clubs International Members in Washington, D.C.
I was honored to receive a Lions Club Centennial Coin from Lions Clubs International President Bob Corlew this week to mark the 100-year anniversary of the founding of Lions. In 2012, legislation I introduced to make the minting of these coins possible was signed into law – it is a pleasure to see the coin firsthand. I joined Lions in Hill City 40 years ago and have been a member of the Hays Lions Club for decades. Sales of the minted coin will advance the charitable work of the millions of volunteers who have worked with Lions Clubs since the group’s establishment. Lions are now in more than 206 countries with more than 45,000 clubs including more than 270 in Kansas. We serve! First photo by Becky Funke. 

Kansans in the Office

Kansas Society of CPAs
Jay Langley of Salina
Aron Dunn of Wichita
Bob Schuster of Wichita
Jim Boomer of Prairie Village

American Academy of Family Physicians
Natasha Schamberger of Lawrence
Chad Sohanning of Lawrence
John Feehan of Olathe
Doug Gruenbacher of Quinter
Rick Kellerman of Wichita
Carolyn Gaugler of Wichita
Cheryl Dobson of Wichita

ABATE of Kansas
Bill Cooper of Mulberry
Jodi Stutzman of Whiting
Robin Garza of Sabetha
Eric Marshall of Whiting

Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission
Pete Meitzner of Wichita

Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation
Janelle Reichuber of Olathe

American Thoracic Society
Samiran Patel of Overland Park

National Rural Letter Carriers Association
Tammy Goodyear of Atlamont
Jim Hornbostel Palmer

Alliance for Nuclear Accountability
Ann Suellentrop of Kansas City

Wichita Chapter of Links
Kenya Cox of Wichita
Mildred Edwards of Topeka

Angelica Baker of Kansas City

Dales Jones of Council Grove
Jason Smith of Everest

Care USA
Elysia Chao of Overland Park
Lacee Roe of Lawrence
Carol Ann Petersen of Atchison

National Air Traffic Controllers Association
Aaron Merrick of Overland Park
Caden Merrick of Overland Park
Greg Metevelis of Olathe
Jami Davis of Olathe

American College of Physicians
Issac Opole of Overland Park
Jesse Richards of Mission

National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors of Kansas
Rhonda Knudson of Great Bend
Jim Moore of Lawrence
Jim Garrison of Topeka
Russ Jenkins of Emporia

Meals on Wheels America Executive Board of Directors
Erika Kelly of Paola

Scott Heizman of Overland Park

Heating, Air-Conditioning, & Refrigeration Distributors International
Phillip Martin of Wichita
Lauren Roberts of Wichita
Thomas Roberts of Wichita
Greg Borr of Lenexa

Spark Bookhart of Kansas City

American College of Radiology
James Owen of Topeka
John Lohnes of Wichita
Jacob Wallace of Wichita
Jeremy Jones of Wichita
Serge Srour of Wichita
Rob Gibbs of Parsons

National Association of Music Merchants
Nick Petrella of Leawood
Mike Keyer of Overland Park

US Bank
Mark Jorgenson of Kansas City

TechServe Alliance
Charlie Fossell of Overland Park
Doug Washington of Prairie Village

American Association for Justice
Melody Dickson of Bonner Springs

Citizens for Space Exploration
Sophia Porter of Leawood

American Association for Homecare
JD Rein of Great Bend
Robert Clock of Winfield

Aaron Popelka

Capitol Tour
Robert Dema of Great Bend
Carol Dema of Great Bend
Christopher Stuhlsatz of Great Bend
Julie Stuhlsatz of Great Bend
Tyler Stuhlsatz of Great Bend
Trent Stuhlsatz of Great Bend
Marc Mahlios of Lawrence
Jan Mahlios of Lawrence
Elizabeth Carroll of Overland Park
Keith Peters of Cheney
Michael Peters of Cheney
Robert Watson of Hillsboro
Susan Watson of Hillsboro
Jack Unruh of Topeka
Samiran Patel of Leawood
Neeta Patel of Leawood
Shivam Patel of Leawood
Ishan Patel of Leawood
Shivali Patel of Leawood
Anmol Patel of Leawood
Atrik Patel of Leawood
Kelly Girton of Sabetha
Elaine Girton of Sabetha
Harry Sheldon of Olathe
Mary Sheldon of Olathe
Tyler Jensen of Council Grove
Aaron Diedrich of Hanover
Sydney Pralle of Hanover
Grace Callison of Overland Park
Rich Rykert of Paola
Sheriff Burton of Goodland
Roberta Pianalto of Goodland
Mark Pianalto of Goodland
Richard Kerschen of Wichita
Hannah Kerschen of Wichita
Will Kerschen of Wichita
Patty Smith of Topeka
Isaac Sell of Topeka
William Hoffman of Overland Park
Angela Hoffman of Overland Park
Luke Hoffman of Overland Park
Nicholas Hoffman of Overland Park
Trudie Hoffman of Westmoreland
Dan Crook of El Dorado
Catherine Crook of El Dorado
Brittan Towner of El Dorado
Tim Johnson of Augusta
Michelle Johnson of Augusta
Thomas Johnson of Augusta
Michael Johnson of Augusta

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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