Kansas Common Sense
May 20 2013
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IRS Targeting: Pursuing Answers to the Many Questions Americans Have
The politicization of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is not a conservative or liberal issue. No matter your political stripes – the revelations that surfaced this week of the IRS’ intentional targeting of groups based on their political leanings are highly offensive. On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released a report detailing the targeting of applications for conservative groups seeking tax exempt status based solely on the presence of political buzzwords such as “tea party” and/or “patriot” listed in the application. TIGTA’s formal recognition that this entirely inappropriate protocol took place gives real credibility to numerous reports over the last year that the IRS also "inadvertently" released donor information from conservative groups – and that information ended up in the hands of political opponents. I believe this is one more facet of a scandal that is not going away anytime soon.
I am a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over the budgets of the Department of Treasury and Internal Revenue Service. Last Wednesday, May 8, I questioned Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller in this committee directly about the troubling evidence that the IRS illegally released donor lists for partisan political purposes.The release of nonprofit donor lists is not only highly illegal – it is terribly damaging to our Democracy. To make matters worse, evidence suggests the groups that improperly received this information intended to use it for partisan political purposes. Even though publishing unauthorized tax returns or return information is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000, or both, the group that received the information appears to have done just that. Less than 48 hours after I questioned Secretary Lew about this issue, the IRS apologized for the unfair targeting of conservative nonprofit applicants.
I have further questions as to whom and how protected Schedule B donor lists were released to the political opponents of targeted conservative groups. In a formal written inquiry to Secretary Lew and Acting Commissioner Miller, I questioned the extent of the improper release of these documents by IRS employees as well as the status of any pending criminal investigation into the political groups who knowingly published this legally protected information. Click here to read my full list of questions.
Every American should expect even-handed treatment by the Internal Revenue Service – and that clearly is not the IRS we have. I look forward to receiving answers from the Administration. Click here to watch my discussion of this issue on Fox News.
Discussing Importance of Medical Research with NIH Chiefs
On Wednesday, I participated in a Senate Appropriations Labor-Health-Education Subcommittee hearing on the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget request for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). I serve as the lead Republican of this subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over funding for NIH – the focal point of our nation’s health research infrastructure. NIH Director Francis Collins and several of NIH’s institute chiefs were the witnesses at this hearing, so it presented a good opportunity to visit with them about the medical research advances that are enabling Americans to live longer, healthier lives as well as the challenges currently facing our nation’s role as a global biomedical research leader.
Science and research are the foundation of innovation, growth in our economy, and the solution to the myriad of issues that confront the health and well-being of our nation. Because of our sustained commitment to biomedical research, U.S. cancer death rates are now falling 1 percent each year, with each 1 percent decline saving our nation about $500 billion. U.S. death rates from heart disease and stroke have declined more than 60 percent in the last half-century. And, between 1997 and 2006, the death rate among adults with diabetes declined by 23 percent.
While health advances are paramount, the reduction of health care costs in the future may be one of the most significant contributions medical research can make to society. As baby boomers age, the cost of health care will continue to increase. For example, data shows that the cost of dementia care is projected to double over the next 30 years, surpassing health care expenses for both heart disease and cancer. Without a way to prevent, cure, or effectively treat dementia, it will be difficult – if not impossible – to rein in costs. But science has enabled us to confront similar health care challenges in the past and prevailed.
As we confront difficult spending choices over the next few years, I believe we must prioritize our federal commitment to NIH. It is crucial that our next generation of biomedical researchers – those who will develop better and more cost-effective health care – remain in the scientific research field. Without continued investment in the NIH, we jeopardize our current scientific progress, risk losing a generation of scientists, and stunt our nation’s global competitiveness. This is not the time to waiver on America’s commitment to the NIH and the health of all Americans.
Click here to see video clips of my discussions with the NIH chiefs, which included updates on: The Learning Collaborative, the first-of-its-kind partnership among NIH, the University of Kansas, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to identify new drug therapies for patients with rare blood cancers; and KU Medical Center’s participation in NIH’s Network for Excellence in Neuroscience Clinical Trials (NeuroNEXT), a coalition of research institutions working to expedite the development of new treatments for neurological disorders.
Working to Make Certain Veterinarians Can Fully Practice Veterinary Medicine
Veterinarians play a crucial role in public safety and making certain animals in Kansas and across the country are cared for properly. That is why on Wednesday, I introduced the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act – bipartisan legislation to allow veterinarians to legally carry and dispense controlled substances necessary to protect the health and welfare of the nation’s animals, ensure public safety, and safeguard the nation’s food supply. This legislation is particularly important for veterinarians who work in rural areas, conduct research, or respond to emergency situations. Companion legislation, H.R. 1528, was also introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation is endorsed by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Click here to read more about the Veterinary Medicine Mobility Act.
Visiting with the Kansas Honor Flight
On Thursday, I welcomed Kansas veterans making their first visit to the World War II Memorial as part of the Honor Flight program. One gentleman fought at Bastogne and another survived the Bataan Death March. All of them played such important roles in achieving a common goal of preserving our freedom and values. I was grateful for the opportunity to visit with them and thank them for their service and sacrifice. The day reinforces my commitment to working for a better country for future generations. Please click here to see photos from the day.
Celebrating National Police Week
This week was National Police Week, in which we honor the service of our peace officers and take time to remember in a special way those who died in the line of duty. This past year, Kansas tragically lost two brave men, Officer Jeff Atherly and Corporal David Gogian, both of the Topeka Police Department. Words cannot adequately express the sorrow felt for the loss of these two men. I spoke with Officer Atherly’s parents, loved ones, and fellow officers in my office on Thursday to convey my condolences for their loss. The goodness and strength of those closest to Officer Atherly was apparent, and I am appreciative of them taking the time to visit with me and share their stories.
A candlelight vigil was held Monday at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, and a memorial service was held at the Capitol on Wednesday. Back home in Kansas, flags were at half-staff in honor of the fallen. This week serves as a reminder of the danger so many men and women face in protecting our communities – a fact that we should not lose sight of in our daily lives – and I am deeply grateful for their service.
(Pictured here are Topeka Police Officers in my Washington, D.C., office)
Touring Cashco, Inc. in Ellsworth
On Friday, I had the opportunity to tour and meet with staff from Cashco, Inc. in Ellsworth. It is companies like Cashco that exemplify the resiliency and pride of Kansas. In 1984, instead of letting Cashco be sold and closed, a group of local investors organized by-then Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, came together to purchase and retain this important company for the benefit of the Ellsworth community. As a manufacturer of a broad line of regulators and valves, as well as of fuel burning parts for Riley Stoker Corporation, Cashco continues to be an integral part of Ellsworth County and Central Kansas. Thanks to Cashco General Manager Clint Rogers for the invitation, the opportunity to learn more about the good things happening in our state, and discussing the issues in Washington effecting this and other small businesses. Click here to see a photo from my visit.
Paola High School Graduation
On Saturday I was honored to speak at Paola High School’s Commencement, where we celebrated the 125th anniversary of the school. I challenged the class to become people of character who pursue excellence and put others first. I left them with a few words spoken by one of Kansas’ most famous sons – President Dwight D. Eisenhower – to a gathering of college students more than half a century ago: “Sooner or later the day will come when the decisions which control the affairs of your community, your nation, your world, must be made by another generation – yours. The nation’s future is what you make it… I have faith in America’s young men and women, and in the future they will build.”
I wish all the 2013 graduates true success, marked not only by your achievements but by the kind of person you become. Thanks to Superintendent Judy Welter, Assistant Superintendent Matt Meek, Principal Phil Bressler, Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Jeff Hines, and to graduate Zach Trigg, who was a Senate Page in the spring of 2012, for the invitation to speak. Click here to see a photo from the graduation.
Miami County Multi Chambers Business After Hours
While in Kansas I enjoyed visiting with chamber members about the issues in Washington, D.C. at the 2nd Annual Miami County Multi Chambers Business After Hours. It was held at the Jayhawk Marina at Hillsdale Lake which is owned by entrepreneurs who are growing a recreational business enjoyed by many. Thanks to the Miami County Chambers, including Osawatomie, Paola, Louisburg and Spring Hill for hosting a great event. Click here to see a photo from the event.
Now Accepting 2013 Service Academy Applications
Even as students are beginning their summer breaks, I want to remind them of the opportunity to apply to a United States Service Academy. Appointing Kansans to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York, is one of my favorite duties as a U.S. Senator.
To find out the requirements and apply, please download an application from my website or contact my Olathe office. All application materials are due to my Olathe office by September 6, 2013. After applications have been reviewed, applicants will be notified of interviews with my Service Academy Selection Board, which will take place on Saturday, October 5, 2013 at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.
In the Office
Last week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below:
Kansas World Languages
Phyllis Farrar of Lawrence
Omar Vargas of Ulysses
Thales Air Traffic Management
Mark Boguski of Olathe
Kansas Dental Association
Brett Roufs of Newton
Hal and Cindy Hale of Wichita
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
Tim Franta of Wichita
Shelly Smith of Wichita
Brian Alexander of Wichita
Stan Chapman of Wichita
David Robertson of Viola
Gary L. Hall of Wichita
Tim Johnson of Wichita
Howard C. Thompson of Augusta
Lynne Strickland of Wichita
Mark Jorgenson of Overland Park
John Elmore of Lawrence
American Feed Industry Association
Bill Barr of Overland Park
University of Kansas
Ngondi Kamatuka of Lawrence
National Industries for the Blind
Michael Monteferrante of Wichita
Teri Monteferrante of Wichita
Jay Gibson of Wichita
50 States United for Healthy Air
Erin Flory-Robertson of Wichita
Kansas Academy of Family Physicians
Gretchen Dickerson of Wichita
Lynn Fisher of Plainville
Wakon Fowler of Prat
Carolyn Gaughan of Wichita
Mike Munger of Overland
Physician Hospitals of America
Paul Kerens of Leawood
Tim Hand of Wichita
Eisenhower Women National Leadership Series
Sue Colaluca of Wichita
Mellinda Craft of Wichita
Kay Curtis of Ottawa
Ann Hoelting of Shawnee
Ashley Moretti of Lawrence
Cheryl Reynolds of Topeka
Juvetta Slane of Wichita
Kristy Straub-Hogan of Great Bend
Jennifer Szambecki-Benninga of Wichita
Marisel Walston of Lenexa
Kristey Williams of Augusta
Jennifer Cook of Topeka
Emily Wellman of Lawrence
Russell Stover and Mars
Kansas Highway Patrol
Mike Blood II of Topeka
Sharity Kranz of Topeka
Joni Atherly of Berryton
Mike Burns of Topeka
Steve Atherly of Berryton
Tammy Krane of Whiting
Stephen Evans of Topeka
Kansas Association of Realtors
Dan Sight of Leawood
Linda Briden of Topeka
John Brocker of Iola
Rob Curtis of Overland Park
Angie Danner of Manhattan
Jon Fort Garden City
Jamie Holt of Wichita
Rob Hulse of Lawrence
Joe Vaught of Kansas City
Liesel Kirkfink of Topeka
Steve McCullough of Newton
Kathy Minden Paola
John Ringgold Topeka
Cindy White Independence
Aaron Mesmer of Overland Park
Petroleum Marketers Association of America
Scott Zaremba of Lawrence
Marvin Spees of Topeka
Tom Palace of Topeka
Association of American Cancer Institutes
Roy Jensen of Kansas City
Society of Hospital Medicine
Harold Taylor of Manhattan
D.C. Capitol Tours
Frederick and Kim Davis of Wichita
Joseph and Marilyn Wasser of Wichita
Donald and Carolyn Durham of Goddard
Max and Jane Harris of Wichita
Ben Heusted of Topeka
Richard Huested of Topeka
Jason Dunderdale of Topeka
Jared Strathman of Topeka
Christopher Keil of Topeka
Justin Mackey of Topeka
Gene Dixon of Topeka
Jared Hall of Shawnee
Sarah McNeal of Shawnee
Ronald and Leslie Gish of Topeka
Natalie Gish of Topeka
Caleb Gish of Topeka
Nancy Prosser of Overland Park
Alexandra Prosser Overland Park
Bab and Nancy Kellerman Overland Park
Anna Hand of Ellsworth
Steve and Carol Naylor of Topeka
H. Philip and Becky Martin of Larned
Daniel and Lisa Linhart of Olathe
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.
Very truly yours,
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