Kansas Common Sense

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Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you 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.

Sequestration Cuts Begin
On Friday, the deadline to prevent government spending cuts known as “sequestration” passed without a resolution. The $85 billion, across-the-board cuts will be implemented throughout the month of March. On Thursday, the Senate considered two proposals to avert sequestration. The Republican-led legislation would have granted the President flexibility in implementation, so as to protect valuable programs by focusing cuts on areas of waste and inefficiency. The Democrat proposal sought to replace many of the spending cuts with further tax hikes. Both bills failed to achieve the necessary votes to pass. 

Friday afternoon President Obama held a closed door meeting with top congressional leaders, but no deal was reached nor would one have prevented government agencies from preparing to carry out cuts that went into effect earlier in the day. I was disappointed by the signal this meeting sent to Americans who are tired of eleventh hour, backroom deals that don’t address the true problem: spending. Congress and the President must put an end to this crisis-to-crisis mode of governing, and work in an open and honest fashion to reduce federal spending. The best way to do that is to pass a budget and live by it. Crafting a budget is one of the basic responsibilities of Congress, but Senate Democrats have not passed a budget in more than 1,400 days. Kansans expect better from their elected officials in Washington, and I will continue to work with my colleagues in the U.S. Senate to achieve meaningful spending reform.

Meeting with Air Mobility Command’s General Paul Selva
On Monday, I had the pleasure of getting to know General Paul Selva, Commander of Air Mobility Command (AMC). The AMC leads global mobility operations for our Armed Serves including the vital aerial refueling missions that Kansas-based Forbes Air Force Base and McConnell Air Force Base carry out on a daily basis. Both have been selected as finalists for the Formal Training Unit, Main Operation Base #1 and Main Operation Base #2, and currently provide their aerial refueling mission with KC-135 tankers. We discussed the KC-46A basing selection process, and it was valuable to hear his perspective and outlook as the AMC Commander.  As the Air Force continues to evaluate base finalists for the new KC-46A tankers, I wanted General Selva to know the imperative and strategic role Kansas plays to execute global mobility with the airmen at McConnell and Forbes.

Joining Entrepreneurs for Startup Day on the Hill
This week, I joined entrepreneurs from across the country for the second annual Startup Day on the Hill. The event gives startups an opportunity to meet with lawmakers, demonstrate their products, and advocate for issues important to America’s startup community. Participating startups included Etsy, Lyft, and Yelp, as well as other young companies creating products ranging from semantic search tools to heart scanning technologies. One of the issues these companies discussed was the need for the creation of an Entrepreneur Visa. Coincidentally, the Kauffman Foundation released a study this week indicating the Entrepreneur Visa provision in Startup Act 3.0 would create, at a minimum, 500,000 to 1.6 million jobs. To view an infographic that outlines the study, click here.

Corporate Jet Loophole
At a time when our country faces enormous fiscal challenges, it is unfortunate that what Americans are hearing from the White House is a relentless focus on political gimmicks, such as closing the so-called “corporate jet loophole,” instead of working with Congress to avoid the sequestration cuts that took effect Friday.

The five-year depreciation schedule for general aviation aircraft, relative to seven-year depreciation for commercial planes, has been law for nearly a quarter century. This law was created not for the benefit of the “rich” or “wealthy,” but for the 1.2 million middle-class Americans who make a living building and servicing these planes. General aviation manufacturing centered in Wichita contributes $7 billion annually to the Kansas economy, hardly the “narrow, special interest” the President so frequently claims.

Thousands of Kansans, along with the rest of rural America, would be negatively impacted by any change in the depreciation schedules for non-commercial aircraft. Farmers use general aviation planes to dust their crops, and rural small businesses rely on these planes to connect with the rest of the world.

According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, closing this “loophole” would generate $3 billion in revenues over the next ten years – less than our government borrows in a single day. That is not a plan, it’s a political sound bite. It is long past time to address the real problem with meaningful spending reductions, and every moment spent attacking “corporate jets” is a moment wasted.

REINS Act to Increase Accountability and Transparency
On Wednesday, the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, of which I am an original cosponsor, was introduced in the Senate. The REINS Act requires Congress to approve any “economically significant” regulation that would cost more than $100 million, lead to a major increase in consumer prices, or adversely affect employment. The REINS Act would increase accountability and help to make certain common sense policies are passed that preserve our freedoms and foster an environment for economic growth. This bill, which you can read here, currently has 21 cosponsors. I am committed to upholding the principles of limited government, separation of powers, and checks and balances.

United Nations Arms Trade Treaty Negotiation Concerns
On Wednesday, I co-hosted a panel discussion for Members of Congress and staff in Washington, D.C., about the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) with Congressman Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania. During the U.N. Conference on the Treaty last July, I led 50 of my Senate colleagues in informing the Obama Administration that any arms treaty infringing upon our Second Amendment rights in America was dead on arrival in the U.S. Senate. The conference ultimately dissolved without a consensus treaty, so I was disappointed when only one day after President Obama’s reelection the Administration announced its intent to reengage in negotiations. 

As a result, the U.S. delegation will be participating in the upcoming and supposedly final United Nations ATT Conference in March. Given the draft treaty text, several fundamental concerns remain. The failure to exempt civilian firearms from the scope of the treaty or recognize the individual right to self-defense presents significant concerns for law-abiding gun owners in America, who would be subject to the same laws as dictatorships abroad under the all-encompassing treaty. The ATT will not succeed where several U.N. Security Embargoes have failed in the past, for the same reason that more laws won’t prevent lawless nations from abusing them, but will impact law-abiding democracies like the U.S. Simply put, if the treaty could work, it wouldn’t be necessary.

In the next couple weeks, Congressman Kelly and I will be introducing a concurrent resolution in each chamber of Congress to outline the necessary criteria for Congress to consider ratification and implementation of any United Nations ATT. As this issue progresses, I will continue my efforts to defend our country’s firearms freedoms.

National Geographic’s Speak Up for Geography Day
On Thursday morning, I was honored to receive the 2012 Geography Legislator of the Year Award from the National Geographic Education Foundation (NGEF). The mission of NGEF is to promote and advance geographic education through partnerships with geography educators, advocacy, and improving public awareness. Geographic literacy is critical to America’s global competitiveness and position of diplomatic leadership, and lies at the foundation of each citizen’s civic awareness and responsibility. I am proud to support states and local nonprofit organizations’ efforts to promote innovative geography education programs for students. It was a pleasure to visit with Kansas professors Paul Phillips (Fort Hays State University) and John Harrington (Kansas State University), who attended this event on behalf of the Kansas Geographic Alliance.

Meeting with Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS Integration Office Manager
On Wednesday, I met with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) UAS Integration Office Manager, Jim Williams. The FAA is responsible for integrating UAS platforms into our national airspace, and I wanted to become better acquainted with their process and the people who oversee the undertaking. Mr. Williams and I discussed the progress Kansas is making in UAS’ emerging aviation enterprise. Kansas already boasts the necessary attributes to manage UAS activities: airspace for UAS operations; multiple airport support facilities; university research and development on sensors, airframes, and engines; university flight and operations training; and avionics development and manufacturing capabilities. Additionally, the economic growth and impact the UAS industry could have for Kansas is immense. The FAA still has much to do to make certain UAS is properly incorporated and accounted for in our skies, and I look forward to future updates.

WalMart Foundation Presentation
On Friday afternoon, I had the honor of speaking at the WalMart Foundation Kansas State Giving Program in Wichita. Through their foundation, WalMart supports area nonprofits in their efforts to combat hunger and strengthen the local community. During the presentation, WalMart awarded more than $275,000 in funds to Inter-Faith Ministries, Dress for Success, Catholic Charities, Union Rescue Mission, Medical Service Bureau, Goodwill Industries of Kansas, and Kansas Food Bank Warehouse.

Public-private partnerships like these drive our communities and help make Kansas a great place to live, work and raise a family. Thank you to WalMart and to the nonprofit organizations for investing in the place we call home.

Receiving the Champion of Internet Innovation Award
On Wednesday, I joined the Internet Infrastructure Coalition for their inaugural Internet Advocacy Day. The event was designed to teach Members of Congress, staff, and regulators about Internet infrastructure, cyber security, cloud computing and technologies that allow the Internet to operate. I was honored to receive the Coalition’s Champion of Internet Innovation Award for protecting and promoting a free and open Internet. Click here to view a picture from the event.

In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below:

National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth
Tate Toedman of Sabetha

Kansas Athletic Trainers Society
David Carr of Lawrence
Mark Padfield of Tonganoxie 

Kansas Elementary Principles
Duane Dorshorst of Oberlin
Jody Baker of Andover 

Disabled Veterans of Kansas
Michael Dreiling of Victoria
David Brader of Parsons
Kerin Brader of Parsons
McKayla Brader of Parsons
James Price of Salina
Ken Gile of Benton
George Jaso of Newton
Robert Lea of Wichita
Bobby Riddle of Wichita
Franklin Bergquist of Wichita
Jerry W. Young of Great Bend
Veronica Bergquist of Wichita
Cliff W. Dillard of Colwich
Charles Lovinas of Wichita
Ellen Price of Salina
Justin Minette of Wichita
Shelby Reynolds of Wichita
Ardith Dillard of Colwich 

The American Legion
Paul Sanford of Newton
Dorothy Sanford of Newton
David Warnken of Hutchinson
David Thomas of Leavenworth
Emery McKimmy of Overland Park 

Kansas Public Television of Wichita
Tom Zwemke of Wichita 

Dave Kishler of Overland Park 

National Association of Health Underwriters
Beverly Gossage of Lawrence
Claude Thau of Overland Park
Terry Dressman of Overland Park 

American Association of Nurse Practitioners
Goldie Benz of Kansas City
Judith Bunting of Manhattan 

Kansas Fraternal Order of Police
Ken Gorman of Topeka
Hans Asmussen of Wichita
Mark Bundy of Kansas City
Mike Toeppfer of Manhattan
Scott Kirkpatrick of Kansas City 

K-State’s CARET Delegates
Ernie Minton of Manhattan
Susan Peterson of Manhattan
Steve Irsik of Ingalls
Connie Pelton Kays of Weir

Parkinson’s Action Network
Angela Lawrence of Spring Hill 

U.S. Cattleman’s Association
Allan Sents of McPherson
Deanna Sents of McPherson 

Kansas Emergency Management Association
Vaughn Lorenson of Johnson City
Doug Schmitt of Oskaloosa
Keri Korthals of Eldorado 

National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys
Richard Wallace of Lenexa 

Kansas Credit Union Association
Priscilla All of Augusta
Mike Augustine of Olathe
John Beverlin of Olathe
Richard Blue of Augusta
Chuck Bullock of Wichita
Bob Church of Augusta
Larry Damm of Wichita
John Davis of Wichita
Stephanie Farber of Wichita
Dwight Greenlee of Wichita
Jane Hammil of Wichita
Jim Holt of Valley Center
Don Homan of Valley Center
Molly Homan of Valley Center
Chad McCluskey of Augusta
John Sherwood of Wichita
James Nastars of Wichita
Paul Oliver of Augusta
Caroline Phelps of Kingman
Robert Reeves of Wichita
Sue Reeves of Wichita
Dan Springer of Hutchinson
Byron Stout of Andover
Duane van Camp of Wichita
Wayne Warfel of Wichita
Mike Welli of Wichita
Kenny Williams of Augusta
Rick Schier of Overland Park
Marla Mach of Wichita 

MIQ Logistics
John Carr of Overland Park
Tom Pelliccio of Overland Park 

Kansas Foundation for Medical Care
Ken Mishler of Topeka 

Kansas Association of County Farm Service Agency Employees
Ernie Battin of Syracuse
Joan Polifka of Gove
Joan Sander of El Dorado
Darin Slack of Oakley 

United Dairy Industry Association
Lynda Foster of Fort Scott 

National Treasury Employees Union
David Foran of Kansas City
Whitney Foley of Basehor 

Kansas Geographic Alliance
Paul Phillips of Hays 

Kansas State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory
Gary Anderson of Manhattan 

National Hemophilia Foundation
Mark Cox of Leawood
Aimee Tempera-Parks of Wichita
Connie Hoyt of El Dorado

Kansas Wing Civil Air Patrol
Colonel Rick Franz of Salina
Captain Joshua Schwanke of Junction City 

D.C. Capitol Tours
Jeffery Heimbach of Olathe
Lynda Heimbach of Olathe
Dr. Robert Reeves of Manhattan
Sue Reeves of Manhattan
Mike Toepffer of Manhattan
Kenny Gorman of Topeka
Han Asmussen of Wichita
Mark Bundy of Kansas City
Scott Kirkpatrick of Kansas City

Honored to Serve You in Washington
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. In recent weeks, I’ve been listening to Kansans calling and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the debt crisis and big issues our country faces. Whether your thoughts are in the form of letter, a Facebook comment or a phone call, please know that I am listening and I appreciate messages from Kansans who wish to make their voice heard. 

Please let me know how I can be of assistance. To send me an email, click here. You can also click here to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.

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