Kansas Common Sense
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This week, the Senate considered legislation to extend the Transaction Account Guarantee (TAG) program. The bill, S. 3637, would have extended through 2014 the program to provide unlimited deposit insurance for noninterest-bearing transactions, as established by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. However, given the cost of the legislation exceeded the spending limits set in the Budget Control Act of 2011, a budget point of order was raised and the bill was returned to committee for additional consideration.
When the budget issue arose, I offered an amendment with Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) to correct them. Unfortunately, no amendments were allowed by Majority Leader Reid. It is my hope that the Senate can reach an agreement on a limited TAG extension by the end of the year.
Supporting Military Families at Fort Riley
On Tuesday, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced that Geary County Unified School District 475 has been awarded a $35.2 million grant to build a new middle school on post at Fort Riley. USD 475 will contribute $6.7 million to this project, and the nearly $42 million total will be used to demolish and replace the existing Ft. Riley Middle School with a new school that will serve more than 700 students on post. The school’s groundbreaking is expected next month with doors opening in 2014.
This is great news for the soldiers and their families at Ft. Riley. Over the past few years, I have worked with USD 475 staff and DOD officials to help address significant overcrowding and condition concerns at Ft. Riley’s schools. The school facilities on post were well beyond their designed capacity as the number of troops stationed at the Fort has nearly doubled. DOD ranked these military schools as some of the most in need of improvement. During my visits to Ft. Riley, it was clear that the Junction City community has worked diligently to accommodate the growth in Ft. Riley’s population. In May 2011, I joined then Secretary of Defense Gates on post to break ground on a new elementary school, now Seitz Elementary. This elementary school opened for students this school year.
This grant recognizes that children of military families are a DOD priority. USD 475 should be proud that it continues to make certain the needs of those who serve our country are met, and their kids have access to quality schools and other educational resources. I commend the efforts of USD 475 Superintendent Ron Walker, and Ft. Riley Deputy Garrison Commander Linda Hoeffner for ensuring that DOD makes Ft. Riley schools a priority. We will continue working to secure the federal support needed to address the remaining educational needs of our military families at Ft. Riley. Click here read more about this announcement.
Bipartisan Cosponsors Ready Startup Act for Reintroduction
This week I met with Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) to discuss the future of Startup Act 2.0, a bill we introduced and co-sponsored earlier this Congress. The Startup Act 2.0 is legislation that seeks to harness the American engine of entrepreneurship and innovation to jumpstart the economy. The provisions of Startup Act 2.0 are engineered to create a better environment for economic growth and equip the United States to better compete in the global battle for talent. Startup Act 2.0 garnered bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress as well as endorsements of much of the business and technology community.
During Tuesday’s meeting, my colleagues and I worked together to develop a new version of the Startup Act that we intend to introduce early in the 113th Congress. We believe that these updates and adjustments will broaden appeal and increase the likelihood of this bill becoming law next year. It’s reassuring to have an opportunity to successfully collaborate with colleagues across the aisle and produce common sense policies. You can learn more about the Startup Act here.
NBAF Land Transfer Announced
On Friday, Kansans received news from the Department of Homeland Security that they've been waiting to hear for a long time: NBAF is moving forward. After years of hard work by Kansans and numerous studies that substantiate the need for NBAF, I’m glad to see that DHS and Secretary Napolitano have signed the land transfer agreement and will work with the state of Kansas to move forward toward construction of the facility. The first step of the land transfer is good news for Kansas and critical to our national security. The facts are clear: without the capabilities NBAF provides, our country is at risk from foreign animal disease threats.
The state of Kansas has committed $105 million dollars of matching state funds to the NBAF project and $35 million dollars of research funding for transitioning the NBAF mission to Manhattan. The approximately 46-acre site is located on the north side of the Kansas State University campus. It provides land acquisition potential; highway access; environmental compatibility; adequate utility infrastructure; an available local work force for skilled labor and academic research; and proximity to agricultural, academic, medical and bioscience resources. Click here to read more about the land transfer and what it means for NBAF.
Increasing Energy Security with Master Limited Partnerships
This week, I joined Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) and Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-01) at a press conference to call attention to the need to expand eligibility for American energy interests to structure as master limited partnerships (MLPs). The Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act (MLP Parity Act), S. 3275 and H.R. 6437, will allow the renewable energy sector to utilize the advantageous tax structure of MLPs for project development. MLPs in essence combine the business development advantages of a corporation with the tax advantages of a partnership to facilitate easier access to capital markets. Master limited partnerships have been largely responsible for the growth in our country’s energy infrastructure. In order to grow our economy and increase our energy security, sound economic tools like the MLP should be expanded to include additional domestic energy sources. Allowing emerging technologies in the renewable energy sector to access this structure, American investors can drive development and commercialization as we seek opportunities to make our country more energy independent. This legislation simply builds on a successful model, and I look forward to working with my Senate and House colleagues on policies that will drive innovation, create American jobs, and grow our economy. Click here to read our letter to President Obama about the MLP Parity Act.
Friend of the Farm Bureau Award
This week I was proud to receive the "Friend of the Farm Bureau” award. Thanks to Kansas Farm Bureau President Steve Baccus for this recognition and for all of his hard work on behalf of Kansas. Kansas Farm Bureau continues to lead the way advocating on behalf of agriculture and rural America. We must continue to work hard to preserve family farms and ranches for the next generation.
Feeding the Hungry this Holiday Season
During the holidays, many Kansas families will celebrate by sharing a meal together. While feasting with loved ones, we should remember that hunger is a reality faced by too many in our country. We live in the world’s wealthiest nation, yet nearly 49 million Americans struggle to put food on their tables. This year, 1 in 5 children in our country will face hunger. In Kansas alone, more than 14 percent of our neighbors are uncertain about where their next meal will come from.
The good news is that many Kansas organizations are actively working to put an end to hunger, including Wichita’s Cargill Cares Complex – a food bank that is helping fill the hunger gap in 86 western, central and south-central Kansas counties. Thanks to generous contributors from around the state, and with the help of thousands of volunteers, this Wichita food bank provides food for thousands of Kansans. It is the primary source of food for hundreds of hunger-relief agencies throughout rural Kansas, including soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and senior delivery programs. The food bank also partners with local schools to provide food and supplies to students who are not receiving sufficient food outside of school on a regular basis.
This holiday season, I encourage you to remember those who are less fortunate by donating to a hunger-relief organization, volunteering at a local soup kitchen, or contributing to a local food pantry. You can also look for opportunities to help in your local community by visiting www.kansasfoodbank.org or www.harvesters.org. This Christmas, I hope you will be mindful that it is “more blessed to give than to receive.”
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below:
Herington UAS Flight Facility
Kansas Farm Bureau
Terry Holdren of Topeka
Major General Lee Tafanelli
Kansas Water Office
Tracy Streeter of Topeka
Rufus Forrest of Wichita
Sunflower Community Action
Mauricio, Jesus, and Isela Alvarez
Many Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the US Capitol this week including:
Steven and Rebecca Behnke
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. 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.
Very truly yours,
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