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.

Robba and I hope that you were able to spend time with loved ones during the holiday season. 2018 brings us many new opportunities, and I wish you a happy New Year!

Hosting Townhall Meetings in Jewell, Smith, Edwards and Kiowa Counties
This week, I continued my Kansas Listening Tour across the state, spending time visiting with folks in Jewell, Smith, Edwards and Kiowa Counties. I spoke with local residents about tax reform, veterans issues, the farm bill, healthcare, immigration and infrastructure. We also discussed concerns regarding NAFTA and what a withdrawal could mean for American agriculture. I enjoy visiting with Kansans and getting a chance to hear their thoughts and concerns. Thank you to those who attended and to those who helped host my townhalls. What I heard from you, I will be taking back to Washington with me.

Touring Pratt Energy
I had the privilege of touring the Pratt Energy ethanol facility for the first time last week to see the efficiency and advanced processes of this plant, with its average of about 55 million gallons of ethanol production per year. After speaking with a chemist and members of the operations personnel, I was impressed by the number of technical and scientific opportunities available at such a facility here in Kansas. Thanks to plant manager Dave Mog and controller Jennifer Slater for helping organize this visit.

Pleased DHS Listened to Our Concerns, Suspended Plans for Chemical Test Near Ark City
In October, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced its intent to perform chemical and biological tests as part of a scientific study near the Kansas border in Oklahoma. After hearing many concerns from Kansans, I called on DHS to halt its plans to conduct these chemical tests until the department sent representatives to Kansas to explain its proposed course of action.

I am pleased that DHS listened to the concerns of Kansans and made the decision to suspend these tests near the Kansas border. Prior to any sort of chemical testing – hazardous or not – the federal government must make certain local residents understand its intended objective when it conducts any testing of this nature.

While the chemicals DHS planned to use in these tests do not pose any bodily harm, Kansans deserve a thorough explanation when an event of this magnitude is occurring so close to where they live and raise their families. Read DHS’s full letter regarding its plans to halt this testing here.

Voting to Extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
While there are sufficient funds in Kansas to fund the CHIP program through March, that’s simply not the case for all states, which is why I voted in favor of extending CHIP funding through the first few months of 2018 to ensure no children who rely on CHIP are left without insurance. 

Through November and December, the failure to provide a multi-year funding deal for the CHIP program created an unnecessary burden for families concerned about their children's continued coverage. Although this measure will help provide immediate relief, the Senate must act quickly when it reconvenes in the new year to pass a long-term reauthorization of this important program. 

Advocating for Bipartisan Legislative Solutions to the Net Neutrality Debate
I joined my colleague Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) in calling on our colleagues to negotiate bipartisan federal legislation to protect the free and open internet while promoting rural broadband access. Consumers and innovators deserve clear rules of the road that will continue to ensure the internet remains an open marketplace, will drive our online economy and will support investment throughout our internet ecosystem. 

As the Chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, I firmly believe that it is Congress’s duty to codify strong net neutrality protections and conclusively resolve this contentious debate. Consumers want an internet that is free of content-based discrimination and supports the deployment of reliable, affordable broadband access throughout the country. Congress enshrining net neutrality protections based on clear and certain rules into law is necessary to guarantee the internet remains free and open.

Passing My Fallen Educators Memorial Act in the Senate
Our country’s educators play an integral role in shaping the next generations of Americans, and their hard work and dedication to their students too often goes unrecognized. The Memorial to Fallen Educators commemorates the sacrifices made by educators who have lost their lives while performing their jobs. The Senate’s passage of my legislation to give the memorial status as a National Memorial will make certain it continues to recognize fallen educators whose passion and commitment to their students have benefited us all.

The ESU Campus is home to the Memorial to Fallen Educators is operated locally in conjunction with the National Teacher Hall of Fame (NTHF). The memorial lists the names of educators since 1764 who have lost their lives around the nation while working with students. The memorial, which was dedicated in June 2014, is built and paid for. It exists today because of the vision and dedication of Kansans like NTHF Director Carol Strickland, who turned an idea of honoring fallen educators into an inscribed, black granite memorial that Emporia and our state can proudly be home to. 

This legislation carries no cost to taxpayers, instead directing that the memorial continue to be owned and cared for by the NTHF and ESU, with private funds used for maintenance, while also having the prestige of a national memorial. I encourage my colleagues in the House to quickly pass Rep. Roger Marshall’s companion legislation – H.R. 2711, the National Memorial to Fallen Educators Act – so this bill can be signed into law and we can honor our fallen legislators with this memorial designated as a National Memorial.

Click here to read the full text of the legislation.

Sending a Letter to Senate Leadership Regarding Rural Broadband
On December 15, I collaborated with Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) on a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urging the necessary appropriations to address the significant funding shortfall that will harm potentially millions of television viewers and radio listeners across the country starting next year. In April, as a result of their most recent spectrum incentive auction, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued public notice of proposed channel reassignments, commonly referred to as “repack,” for nearly 1,000 television stations and additional radio stations nationwide. The current Television Broadcaster Relocation Fund has an authorized $1.75 billion to assist stations with their relocation costs and make certain that channels nationwide can continue to broadcast, but recent estimates indicate that these funds are woefully inadequate and threaten the impacted broadcasters as a result. 

I remain concerned that rural America will be disproportionately harmed if Congress does not take action to provide adequate resources and an appropriate timeline for the relocation of TV and radio stations. The FCC’s broadcaster incentive auction brought in substantial revenue for taxpayers while empowering communications companies to enhance their networks and improve service. Now we must protect and preserve the rural communities served by broadcasters who provide vital services such as news, weather and traffic, as well as entertainment, to millions of Americans nationwide.

Touring KU Health System St. Francis Campus
I stopped in Topeka on Wednesday to visit the University of Kansas Health System St. Francis Campus and to meet with hospital leadership to get a sense of how I might be helpful in the wake of St. Francis Hospital’s leadership change. In 2017, we worked with community and healthcare officials to respond to the potential St. Francis closure before it was acquired by The University of Kansas Health System and Ardent Health Services. I heard from Interim CEO Mark Gregson about leadership’s progress in making certain that the more than 425,000 patients in their service area have access to the variety and quality of services they need.

I also had the opportunity to see the hospital's special senior care ER, and visit with patients and staff in the cancer center. I appreciate the University of Kansas Health System St. Francis medical staff for the important work they do each day to care for their community. Thank you to Interim CEO Mark Gregson for hosting me and to Reagan Cussimanio for coordinating my visit.

Joining Melissa Brunner on WIBW’s Red Couch
I enjoyed my discussion with Melissa Brunner on WIBW’s Red Couch discussing how tax reform will put more money in your pockets, new opportunities for bipartisanship in D.C., ways our communities and law enforcement can build trust and relationships, and what’s on deck for 2018. Watch the full discussion here.

Sending Tax Reform to the President’s Desk
President Trump has signed a pro-growth tax reform bill that works for Kansas families and businesses. This bill delivers relief to Main Street Kansas by providing a 20 percent deduction to small businesses. By lowering the corporate tax rate, businesses will be encouraged to stay and grow in America, fostering an environment for businesses to create more jobs, better jobs and higher-paying jobs. These jobs and increased paychecks will have a positive impact on middle-class and lower-income Kansas families.

Additionally, by lowering tax rates across the board, significantly increasing the standard deduction and doubling the child tax credit, Kansas families and individuals will be able to keep more of their hard earned money. I am pleased this bill was signed into law so that Kansas families can better prepare for 2018.

Kansans in the Office

Association for Jewish Studies
Samuel Brody of Lawrence
Jessica Kirzane of Overland Park

U.S. Department of Transportation
Greg Vahrenberg of Leawood

Capitol Tour
Jordan Guzman of Manhattan
Priscila Guzman of Manhattan
David McConeghey of Wichita
Susan McConeghey of Wichita
John McConeghey of Wichita
Melissa McConeghey of Wichita
Isaac McConeghey of Wichita
Aileen McConeghey of Wichita
James McConeghey of Wichita
Levi McConeghey of Wichita
Josiah McConeghey of Wichita
Cora McConeghey of Wichita

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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