Kansas Common Sense

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Working to Increase Kansas Wheat Exports
On Wednesday, I called on U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to take action to resolve a longstanding trade barrier ag producers face when exporting wheat to Brazil. Brazil agreed to establish a 750,000 metric ton duty-free tariff-rate quota (TRQ) for wheat under the Uruguay Round agreement. However, since that time, Brazil has failed to live up to its commitment to the detriment of Kansas wheat farmers. Rather than open the TRQ, Brazil continues to apply a 10 percent tariff on U.S. wheat exports.

Kansas is the largest wheat producing state in the nation. As Kansas farmers continue to face low prices and declining revenues, it is critical that Congress and the Administration work to grow export markets for U.S. ag commodities. It has been conservatively estimated that opening the TRQ would result in $75 million in additional annual U.S. wheat sales to Brazil. By challenging Brazil’s failure to implement the wheat TRQ – including launching a trade enforcement action at the WTO if necessary – USTR has the opportunity to increase wheat exports to the country. I will continue working to make certain Kansas wheat farmers have access to the Brazilian market and that my colleagues understand our Kansas producers need more trade, not less.

Speaking in Support of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act
On Monday, the Senate considered the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Act, which I co-sponsored upon introduction in January. This legislation would require healthcare practitioners to provide for children who survive an abortion attempt “the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious healthcare practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.”

A failure to provide care to a child who has already beaten the odds to survive will create significant long-term impacts to the definition of healthcare. Care cannot depend on whether or not the child is wanted. Sadly, Senate Democrats rejected the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act on the Senate floor. While this is shocking and disappointing, we must not be deterred from continuing our fight for life. Click here to watch my remarks. 


Securing a Grant Match for the Southwest Chief
On Wednesday, Amtrak announced that it will provide $3 million in matching funds to complete the federal TIGER IX grant awarded in January of 2018 for safety upgrades and maintenance on the Southwest Chief’s route in Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico. It was announced last year that the U.S. Department of Transportation had awarded $16 million in TIGER grant funding to the Southwest Chief Route Stabilization Project, although Amtrak indicated that it did not intend to fulfill its committed share of project costs to preserve the line.

Support for passenger rail routes in regions like the Northeast Corridor are well established, but rural transportation alternatives are also important. As the divide between urban and rural communities in America continues to expand, passenger rail services like the Southwest Chief are invaluable in connecting Kansans to the rest of the country. Local communities whose residents and businesses depend on Amtrak should be provided the stability of rail service that the Southwest Chief has delivered to them for decades, which is why I am pleased that Amtrak has upheld its commitment to repair, improve and continue the Southwest Chief rail line. I appreciate my colleagues from New Mexico and Colorado and our bipartisan efforts to keep this line in service.

Meeting with Student Leaders from KU and K-State
Student leaders at our state’s universities work hard to advance their schools and their diverse student bodies who will soon lead our state and nation. This week, I met with the University of Kansas and Kansas State University student government leaders on how we can best support and bolster their efforts. Our discussion included the need for affordable digital resources in the classroom, Title IX protections and my continued support for TRIO programs – programs that provide opportunity for young people, including many first-generation college students, pursuing higher education across the country. Thank you to these students for their service to our state’s institutions and for this productive conversation.


Introducing Legislation to Increase Opportunities for Student Veterans
On Tuesday, I joined Senator Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) to introduce the Hire Student Veterans Act. This legislation that would expand the existing Work Opportunity Tax Credit to incentivize businesses to hire more student veterans, making certain that veterans who are utilizing their GI Bill benefits have more flexibility to pursue paid internships and part-time employment to gain valuable work experience while in school.

Expanding the Work Opportunity Tax Credit is a positive step in growing opportunities for our veterans as they join the civilian workforce, and I will continue to advocate for measures that increase veterans’ success in all aspects. It is critical that we provide those who have sacrificed for our nation with every opportunity to successfully transition to civilian life.

Urging the President to Fill State Department Vacancies Amid Situation in the Kashmir
As tensions between the nuclear-armed states of India and Pakistan increased rapidly this week, I wrote President Trump encouraging diplomacy to build a lasting peace in the region, even after the latest crisis settles. I was joined by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), a fellow member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies. We were encouraged by the President and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s diplomatic engagement in defusing the crisis, but called for nominations to fill critical State Department vacancies that are essential in responding to these periodic hostilities. While we affirm India’s right to self-defense in the face of terrorism, the United States has a key role to play in resolving the underlying disputes in South Asia in order to protect us and our allies in the long term. Read our letter to the president here.

Questioning Tech Executives on a Framework for Data Privacy Legislation
On Wednesday, I participated in a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing that examined the principles behind national framework legislation to protect consumers and their personal data. I questioned industry and academic representatives from across the internet ecosystem on existing and needed authorities of the Federal Trade Commission to effectively protect consumers from harms associated with unfair and deceptive uses of their personal information.

As chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection, I am committed to making certain that consumers’ personal data is protected from data misuse, while also establishing certainty for businesses to create jobs, innovate and compete domestically and internationally. To watch my questioning, click here.


Meeting with Kansas National Guard Adjutant General
On Thursday, I met with Adjutant General of Kansas Major General Lee Tafanelli to discuss critical issues impacting the Kansas National Guard. The Kansas National Guard has a mission – both in our state and around the globe – as a key part of our total defense strategy and we must make certain that our Guardsmen are ready to carry out their mission in the homeland and abroad. Major General Tafanelli and I discussed several opportunities to support members of the National Guard, and I will continue working with him to make certain our citizen soldiers and airmen have every opportunity for success both in and out of uniform.


Reintroducing the DRIVE-Safe Act
I joined a bipartisan group of Senators in reintroducing the Developing Responsible Individuals for a Vibrant Economy (DRIVE-Safe) Act, legislation to address the driver shortage in the trucking and logistics industry, and enhance safety training and job opportunities for young truckers. Currently, federal law prohibits those under 21 who have obtained a commercial driver’s license from moving goods across state lines. The DRIVE-Safe Act would create a training program that, once completed, would allow young drivers to operate a commercial vehicle across state lines prior to their 21st birthday. Additionally, it would make certain young drivers are adequately trained through rigorous safety standards and performance benchmarks. I encourage my colleagues to support the DRIVE-Safe Act that would open up new career opportunities previously unavailable for young Kansans and help alleviate a critical shortage of truckers. 

Fighting for Korean DMZ Veterans with the American Legion
On Wednesday, I introduced the Fairness for Korean DMZ Veterans Act alongside Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.). This bill would increase access to healthcare for Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) veterans who served in the region during the testing of Agent Orange and other dangerous herbicides. Declassified Department of Defense documents indicate that the testing period for Agent Orange along the Korean DMZ occurred outside of the current dates for a veteran to be eligible for presumption of Agent Orange exposure.

Many veterans who served in the Korean DMZ are suffering from significant health conditions associated with exposure to toxic herbicides, and those exposures are currently not recognized by the VA. I encourage my colleagues to support this legislation so we can resolve this issue and so Korean DMZ veterans can begin receiving the benefits they deserve. Read more about the legislation here.

I’m proud of my partnership with the American Legion that helped us make the Fairness for Korean DMZ Veterans Act a reality. On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to discuss the merits of the bill with American Legion National Commander Brett P. Reistad during a joint hearing of the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees. Watch that discussion here.

Members of the American Legion were on Capitol Hill presenting their annual legislative agenda, and I appreciate Commander Reistad and the the American Legion’s strong endorsement of this bill. Additionally, I met with several Kansas Legionnaires including David Warnken, Gaylord Sanneman, and Dan Wiley. I appreciate all that the American Legion does in Kansas and around the country for our veterans, and I look forward to continuing our work to make certain veterans have access to the benefits they deserve.


Participating in a Senate Banking Hearing with Fed Chairman Jerome Powell
On Tuesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell delivered the Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to Congress during a Senate Banking Committee hearing. During the hearing, I urged Chairman Powell to expand the Fed’s implementation of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act to loosen up burdensome regulation of banks. This legislation is especially important to community banks and ag lenders, who we know play a critical role in the rural Kansas economy. I stressed to Chairman Powell that if the end result of the bill is as modest as it currently appears to be, then Congress has not achieved our goal of allowing community and regional banks to better serve their customers.

Many Kansans – from small business owners to farmers and ranchers – need more access to credit, and allowing banks to increase safe lending without the burdensome costs of excessive regulation will continue to be one of my priorities. To view CNBC's coverage of my questioning of Chairman Powell, click here.


Spending Time with the Kansas Association of Broadcasters
On Tuesday, I hosted members of the Kansas Association of Broadcasters during their annual trip to Washington, D.C. The group accompanied me between votes in the Capitol to discuss the many issues facing the broadcasting community and their viewers and listeners. I always enjoy when Kansans travel to D.C. to visit with me and staff, especially when I am able to share the history of our nation’s capital with folks from home. Thank you to the Kansas Association of Broadcasters for all you do to provide news to communities across our state.


Receiving an Update on Hillsboro Community Hospital
On Tuesday, I sat down with Hillsboro City Administrator Larry Paine to receive an update on the status of Hillsboro Community Hospital. We discussed the hospital’s financial stability, its future outlook and the importance of maintaining the hospital for the Hillsboro community. I appreciated Larry bringing me artwork from Hillsboro Elementary students who expressed how much they love their hospital. Rural hospitals are the backbone of communities across our state, and I will continue to maintain a special focus on keeping hospital doors open in communities across Kansas.

Kansans in the Office
MG Lee Tafanelli of Meridan
Alex Erwin of Fairway
Dr. Peter Dorhout of Manhattan
Vicki Sciolaro of Leawood
Charles Sciolaro of Leawood
Rachel Sciolaro of Leawood
Lynsey Sciolaro of Leawood 

American Academy of Neurology
Tyler Allison of Overland Park
Lori Noorollah of Overland Park

American Academy of Orthodontists
Ken Dillehay of Wichita
Don Wilcoxon of Leawood

American Alliance of Museums
Lisa Dodson of Wichita
Jan Loth of Wichita
Zan Popp of Topeka

The American Legion
Dan Wiley of McPherson
Dave Warnken of Hutchinson
Gaylord Sanneman of Newton

American State Utility Services
Jeff Bozman of Ft. Riley
Gabe Willis of Ft. Riley

Big XII Student Governing Association
Grant Huck of Lawrence
Jordan Kiehl of Fariway
Noah Ochsner of Tribune
Mat Orzechowski of Olathe
Lacy Pitts of Buhler
Noah Ries of Leawood
Faith Tuttle of Gove

Steve Patrick of Wichita

Capitol Tour
Matt Blassingame of Topeka
Dianna Brenn of Lenexa
Ken Gorman of Topeka
Harlie Morgan of Lenexa
Victoria Morgan of Lenexa 

CEO Kansas City PBS
Kliff Kuehl of Leawood

Debbie’s Dream Foundation: Curing Stomach Cancer
Susan McDonald of Marquette

Distributed Wind Energy Association
Tony LoBrutto of Overland Park
Chris Giacoponello of Overland Park

Disabled American Veterans
Ron Boykins of Wichita
David Brader of Leavenworth
Richard Cole of Leavenworth
Richard Fisher of Salina
Cody Helms of Great Bend
Galen Jamison of Quintar
Eric Owens of Wichita
Winnie Kingsbury of St. Peter
Richard Wessley of Wichita

Enlisted Association of the National Guard of Kansas
Eugene Bradley of Topeka
Chris Hargis of Topeka
Steven Peyton of Wichita

Greater Kansas City Association of Health Underwriters
Beverly Gossage of Eudora
Porter Guthrey of Lenexa
Pamela Hayek of Overland Park
Michael Sabin of Olathe

Edward Jones Grassroots
Greg Seibel of Emporia
Steve Hentzen of Leawood

Farm Credit
Janet Bailey of Manhattan
Mark Fischer of Dodge City
Linda Franklin of Goodland
Jennifer Gehrt of Alma
Tony Horinek of Colby
Bill Miller of Council Grove
Shane Tiffany of Allen
Roger Vanlandingham of Kingman 

Kansas Appleseed
Durell Gilmore of Wichita
Joey Hentzler of Lawrence
Quinn Ried of Olathe

Kansas Broadcasters Association
Kent Cornish of Topeka
Larry Riggins of Topeka
Sacha Sanguinetti of Colby
Ron Thomas of Emporia
Sarah Smith of Kansas City
Brad Moses of Wichita
John Hoffman of Pittsburg

Kansas Family Dentists
Dr. Trey Anderson of Wichita
Dr. John Fales of Olathe
Dr. Nick Roers of Arkansas City

Kansas Fraternal Order of Police
Matt Blassingame of Topeka
Mark Bundy of Kansas City
Ken Gorman of Topeka
Scott Kirkpatrick
Robert Schmeidler of Wichita

Kansas Municipal Utilities
Colin Hansen of McPherson
Paul Mahlberg of Overland Park
David Alvey Wyandotte
Stan Luke of Burlington
Bob Milan of Kansas City
Don Gray of Kansas City
David Mehlhaff of Kansas City
Tim Maier of McPherson
Greg DuMars of Lindsborg
Mike Muirhead of Garden City
Duane Banks of Russell
Merl Page of Wamego
Brad Modlin of Mulvane
Taggart Wall of Sterling
Randy Frazer of Moundridge
Larry Paine of Hillsboro

Kansas School Nutrition Association
Tara Cox of Topeka
Patty Gaul of Atchison
Cheryl Johnson of Topeka
Terri Markham of Chanute
Steven Newman of Olathe
Debbie Ollek of Benton
David Paul of Wichita
Jennifer Tatro of Hutchinson
Lisa Wilkins of Wichita

Kansas State Association of Letter Carriers
Michelle Jellison of Topeka
Brad Johnson of Salina
Andy Tottle of Lawrence
Mike Wamsley of Manhattan

KC Healthy Kids
Dustin Hare of Kansas City
Beth Law-Smith of Kansas City
Karen Siebert of Kansas City
Mamiko Vuillemin of Kansas City 

Doug Byers of Lawrence
Doug Wright of Kansas City

KU Law School Student Group
Kaylee Trost of Shawnee
Wesley Williams of Tonganoxie
Jennifer Schmidt of Lenexa

Dana Anderson of Lawrence

National Association for the Education of Young Children
Tristen Cope of Lincolnville
Amy Gottschamer of Lawrence
Kasey Kile of Lawrence

National Fragile X Foundation
Brooke Stack of Olathe
Jay Stack of Olathe
Ryan Stack of Olathe
Jean James of Overland Park
Bruce Bodie of Prairie Village

National Pest Management Association
Travis Aggson of Manhattan
Robert McElwain of Olathe
Brian Meitler of Sylvan Grove
Shonda Meitler of Salina
Time Richardson of Kansas City
Ravi Sachdeva of Manhattan

ONE Campaign
Ronaldo Lopez of Dodge City
Megan Peters of Overland Park
Rachel Schuster of Gardner

Security Benefit
John Guyot of Topeka 

United Nations Foundation Shot@Life Cmapaign
Ritu Agrural of Overland Park
Jill Ariagno of Leawood
Abhina Dronavall of Overland Park
Arianna Fallahian of Overland Park
Askshat Gupta of Overland Park
Ellen Hancock of Overland Park
Brooke Lapke of LaMotte
Gaylord Sanndman of Newton
Vinay Thiagarajan of Overland Park
Avanyish Toniappa of Overland Park
Kendall Walter of Lawrence
Dave Warnkey of Hutchinson
Dan Wiley of Leavenworth
Hunter Woosley of Leawood

ZERO- The End of Prostate Cancer
Vivian Avery Zero of Olathe
John Avery of Olathe
Steve Hentzen of Kansas City

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,


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