Kansas Common Sense


Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks 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.

In the midst of tornado season, this past week saw tornadoes and severe weather across our state. I appreciate the emergency management personnel tracking and responding to the destruction. Please stay safe and take precautions with inclement weather continuing in the coming months.

Honoring Fallen Americans on Memorial Day
I joined veterans and more than 2,000 local residents at the 58th Annual Resthaven Memorial Day Service in Wichita Monday afternoon. Since the Civil War, Americans have gathered each year to remember those courageous men and women who answered the call to serve. We gather together to remind our children and grandchildren that because of the sacrifices of our veterans and active duty military, we are blessed to live in the strongest, freest and greatest nation in the world. It was wonderful to visit with so many of the attendees, including Truman and Ellenora Meyer, originally of Palco. Special thanks to Commander of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing at McConnell Air Force Base Colonel Albert Miller, City of Wichita- Government Mayor Jeff Longwell and Resthaven Cemetery General Manager Mark Hansen for their participation in today's event. To watch KAKE's coverage of the event, click here.

Beginning Debate on the National Defense Authorization Bill
The Senate began consideration of the National Defense Authorization Bill (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) this week, which authorizes funding for Department of Defense programs to make certain our military is trained, ready and equipped to face global threats. I introduced several amendments to the NDAA, including two that strengthen prohibitions on the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo Bay’s Naval Station and make it impossible to plan for construction of facilities in the United States. The administration has failed to provide a comprehensive plan that legally justifies the closure of GITMO, and our national security is too important to risk by hastily transferring dangerous individuals in a rushed attempt to fulfill a campaign promise.

Additionally, I introduced an amendment that revises the permanent active duty end strength minimum levels for the Armed Forces and certain FY17 end strengths for the Selected Reserve components. With the ever changing threats to our national security, our military cannot afford the reduced readiness that results from force reductions. Increased end strength will aid our ability to shape security environments and will help to make certain our Armed Forces are able to readily respond to threats to the United States worldwide. To read more, click here.

Passing Legislation to Protect Americans from Sex Offenders
I was proud to join my colleagues to unanimously pass the Adam Walsh Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S. 2613) on Monday afternoon. This bill would increase public safety by boosting information sharing between law enforcement agencies and supporting nationwide notification and registration standards for convicted sex offenders. Swift passage and signing of this reauthorization legislation into law will make certain state and local law enforcement agencies continue to have the support necessary to track known offenders and prevent future crimes. To read more, click here.

Preparing for the Consolidation of non-VA Care Programs
Since 2011, the Access Received Closer to Home (ARCH) program has been operating in five rural sites across the country including Pratt. ARCH serves rural veterans by giving them access to health care from a community provider close to home instead of traveling hundreds of miles to seek care at a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility. This week during a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing, I received assurances from VA Deputy Secretary Sloan Gibson that veterans currently enrolled in the ARCH Program will not experience any lapse in health care as the VA consolidates non-VA community care programs. Sec. Gibson made it clear that the VA is in favor of my legislation to codify their plan and provide for ARCH veterans, and I am grateful for his support. Our veterans deserve timely, quality care, and I will continue working closely with VA to make certain care coordination for ARCH veterans and community care providers under the ARCH Program is maintained.

Fighting for Middle-Income Americans’ Retirement
I joined my colleagues this week in the Senate and House in supporting a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval to formally object to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) rewrite of the definition of a “fiduciary.” The Obama Administration’s harmful new regulation will have devastating effects on the retirement planning of hardworking families and small businesses. Rather than working with Congress to address the need to better protect current and future retirees, the DOL has been pursuing this issue without regard for the everyday people planning for their retirement. The DOL finalized its rewrite of the definition of a “fiduciary” on April 6, 2016.  In practice, the new rule will make retirement planning unaffordable for low- to middle-income Americans whose accounts are not valuable enough for advisers to take on the new legal liability created by DOL. The passage of this resolution of disapproval sends a strong signal that the majority of Congress finds this rule unacceptable and sets the stage for future action that better protects current and future retirees. To read more, click here.

Appropriations Markups for the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security
The Senate Appropriations Committee passed bills this week to fund the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17). Included in the Department of Homeland Security bill is an amendment I introduced to aim attention at the TSA’s ongoing efforts to decrease wait times without compromising the security of the airline industry and the millions of Americans who board flights each year. More and more Americans depend on the airline industry for their travel, and the TSA plays a critical role in the safety of these travelers. However, the excessively long wait times we see at TSA security checkpoints in airports around the country put a strain on passengers individually and the airline industry as a whole. It is vital that we maintain a safe security screening process that is not only effective, but also efficient, and my amendment seeks to make certain our screening process meets both those objectives.

Visiting with Jewell County Residents
My Kansas Listening Tour continued this weekend with a stop in Jewell this morning where I heard from more than 20 area residents. Topics of discussion were how federal regulations like the redefinition of "Waters of the United States" and restrictive farm labor laws are damaging to Kansans who make their living in agriculture; the need for improved veteran health care; the Bostwick Irrigation District; and dissatisfaction with dysfunction in Washington, D.C. These conversations motivate me to return to D.C. and fight for the special way of life in places like Jewell. Thanks to those who came out and to Cindy Barrett for her assistance in organizing the event. I'll be continuing my Kansas Listening Tour this week with stops in Iola, Greensburg, Minneola, Liberal, Scott City and Dighton. Let me know what's on your mind – click here for more details.

Kansans in the Office
David Thurlow of Wakefield

Propane Marketers Association of Kansas
Greg Noll of Winchester
John Pankratz of Wichita
Gordon Roth of Nickerson 

Afterschool Alliance
Brandon Hutton of Lawrence
Rachel Willis of Lawrence 

Kansas Pharmacists Association
Brian Caswell of Baxter Springs
Peter Stern of Topeka
Jody Reel of Sabetha
Michael Larkin of Topeka
Michael Bellesine of El Dorado
Sam Boyajian of Gardner
Van Coble of Winfield
Nate Rockers of Paola
Matt Morrison of Dodge City
Debbie Bellesen of El Dorado
Jim Young of Lenexa 

931st Air Refueling Wing, McConnell AFB
Col. Mark Larson of Derby 

National Rural Letter Carriers Association
Bob Penn of Paola
Tammy Goodyear of Altamont 

National Air Traffic Controllers Association
Connie Presley of Wichita
Aaron Merrick of Overland Park
Caden Merrick of Overland Park 

National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation
Kirk Thompson of Meade 

Kansas Health Care Association
Cindy Luxen of Ellinwood 

American Association of Crop Insurers
Brad Fink of Topeka 

National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors
Greg Baden of Eudora
James Garrison of Topeka
Russel Jenkins of Emporia
Rhonda Kundston of Great Bend
James Whittaker of Lawrence
James Moore of Lawrence 

Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International
Thomas Roberts of Kansas City
Greg Borr of Lenexa
Bill Summers of Lenexa 

National Industries for the Blind
Teresa Houston of Wichita
Michael Monteferrante of Wichita
Gina Gowin of Wichita 

Rural LISC Annual Seminar
Brian Boeckman of Holton 

Portland Cement Association
Jacqueline Clark of Overland Park 

Johnson County Department of Health and Environment
Eldonna Chesnut of Gardner 

National Association of Music Merchants
Mike Meyer of Overland Park 

Promotional Products Association
Brian Porter of Overland Park
Tiffany Tarr of Olathe 

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

Kansas Farmers Union
Donn Teske from Wheaton 

Capitol Tour
Jared Jones of Hays
Stacey Jones of Hays
Paul Jones of Hays
Nancy Jones of Hays
Lt. Col. Chris Sorrentino of Lawrence
Elisa Fierro of Lawrence
Will Kent of Overland Park
Kristen Kent of Overland Park
Andrew Kent of Overland Park
Adrian Kent of Overland Park
Adam Kent of Overland Park
Anna Kent of Overland Park
Kelley Bartlett of Edgerton
Patrick Bartlett of Edgerton
Dawson Bartlett of Edgerton
Hayden Bartlett of Edgerton
Morgan Bartlett of Edgerton
Luke Willenbring of Overland Park
Cathy Willenbring of Overland Park
Jake Willenbring of Overland Park
Cole Willenbring of Overland Park
Cydney Willenbring of Overland Park
Pete Brungardt of Salina
Rosie Brungardt of Salina
Nicholas Suttle of Olathe
Lewis Suttle of Olathe
Sean Ryland of Olathe
Michelle Ryland of Olathe
Elliot Ryland of Olathe
Olivia Ryland of Olathe
Robin Lanborg of Manhattan
Abigail Howard of Manhattan
Kirk Dye of Garden Plain
Martha Dye of Garden Plain
Joshua Dye of Garden Plain
Erin Dye of Garden Plain
Anna Dye of Garden Plain
Nathan Barker of Larned
Kendra Barker of Larned
Hunter Barker of Larned
Halle Barker of Larned
Gerald Milholland of Iola
Linda Milholland of Iola
Kadden Milholland of Salina
JD Rein Great Bend
Sonya Rein of Great Bend
Brad Thiessen of Inman
Amy Thiessen of Inman
Blaine Thiessen of Inman
Brenton Thiessen of Inman
Col. Chuck Sexton of Manhattan
Melody Sexton of Manhattan
Robert Hamman of Salina
Jonathan Hamman of Salina 

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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