Kansas Common Sense
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Honoring the Fallen Heroes of Our Nation on Memorial Day
Yesterday, I joined many veterans and local residents at the 54th annual Resthaven Memorial Day Celebration in Wichita. 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 nation’s veterans, we have the opportunity to live in the strongest, freest and greatest nation in the world. Today, our nation’s young men and women are still risking their lives for the sake of others and fighting for those principles we hold most dear – freedom and justice.
As citizens, we have a duty to preserve those freedoms and liberties that generations of Americans gave their lives to establish and protect. Let us commit our lives to preserving this nation for the sake of the next generation – so they too can pursue the American dream with freedom and liberty. Special thanks to General Manager Mark Hansen for his invitation to participate in the special event. Click here to read an editorial I wrote to honor our nation’s men and women on Memorial Day. Click here to view photos from the service.
Launching Startup Act 2.0 to Jumpstart the Economy
Americans need jobs, and research shows that the best way to create jobs for Americans is to make it easier for entrepreneurs to start and expand businesses. Data from the Kauffman Foundation shows that for close to three decades, companies less than five years old have created almost all of the net new jobs in America – averaging about 3 million jobs each year. The 394,000 companies that started in 2010, for example, created 2.3 million jobs, while existing private-sector companies shed more than 1.5 million jobs in the same period.
On Tuesday, Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.) joined me in introducing a bipartisan jobs bill, called Startup Act 2.0. This legislation builds upon the Startup Act I introduced in December as well as the AGREE Act, legislation written by Senators Rubio and Coons that was introduced last year. To get America’s economic engine roaring once again, entrepreneurs must be free to pursue their ideas, form companies in the United States, and hire employees. Startup Act 2.0 will create jobs for Americans by creating a circumstance in which entrepreneurs can succeed and the United States can win the global battle for talent. Click here to watch our press conference launching Startup 2.0.
Conventional wisdom in Washington says Congress does little during an election year. Startup Act 2.0 sets out to prove the critics wrong: Congress can get something done during an election year by coming together to strengthen the economy and create jobs. I had the opportunity to discuss the importance of taking action this year on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street, MSNBC’s Daily Rundown, and CNN’s Starting Point this week. I also had a column in Politico along with my Startup Act 2.0 cosponsors that discusses the economic benefits of our bill.
The provisions of Startup Act 2.0 have support from fast-growing companies that only a few years ago were startups, like Google, and entrepreneurs across the country. Click here to learn more about Startup Act 2.0.
Department of Labor Officially Withdraws Controversial Rule
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued a public statement indicating that the Department would formally withdraw the proposed rule containing restrictions on youth working on family farms. In March of this year, I introduced legislation, the Preserving America’s Family Farm Act, to prevent the DOL from enacting this controversial rule. Proposed last year by DOL Secretary Hilda Solis, these rules would have prohibited youth under the age of 16 from participating in common livestock practices, operating certain farm machinery, completing tasks at elevations over six feet high, and even working at stockyards and grain and feed facilities. Following a strong bipartisan backlash from Congress, the DOL declared last month its intent to withdraw the rule, but to date had not taken the legal steps towards doing so.
I am pleased the Administration has listened to the concerns of American farmers and ranchers and will not re-propose the rule. If the Department had moved forward with regulating the relationship between parents and children on their own farm, a dangerous precedent would have been set – virtually nothing would be off limits when it comes to government intrusion into our lives. Not only would the shrinking rural workforce have been further reduced and nation’s youth deprived of valuable career and training opportunities, but a way of life would have begun to disappear.
This is a victory for farmers and ranchers across the country, but we still have plenty of work left to do. Our argument throughout this fight was that parents, grandparents, neighbors, local vocational agriculture instructors, and local 4-H and FFA teachers are in a better position to teach our youth how to be safe on the farm or ranch, than a bureaucrat in Washington. Now that we’ve won the argument we must live up to the standard we’ve set.
I encourage all youth involved in agriculture to call their local county extension office to find a nearby farm safety program. To find more information about farm safety, click here to visit K-State Research and Extension’s ag safety website. As this year’s wheat harvest is underway, I wish everyone a safe and productive harvest season.
Holding the Secret Service Accountable
On Wednesday, I attended the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing titled, “Secret Service on the Line: Restoring Trust and Confidence.” As many of you know, the Secret Service prostitution scandal that occurred in Cartagena, Colombia, in April has cast a cloud of doubt on our United States Secret Service and an investigation on this extremely disappointing and alarming incident is underway. I attended this hearing to understand why this happened and what is being done to ensure this unacceptable behavior does not occur in the future.
The witnesses who testified before the Committee, Director Mark Sullivan and the Acting Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security, Mr. Charles Edwards, explained the various steps and policy changes that will be implemented as a consequence to this incident. Based on their testimony, the Secret Service is also taking measures to determine if this is a systemic, cultural issue in the agency or if this is an isolated incident with a small number of irresponsible agents. The Secret Service will report back to the Committee with their findings starting in July and they have committed to keeping us apprised of developments as they continue their investigation and review process.
Protecting Second Amendment Rights of Americans
On Thursday, I successfully offered an amendment in the Senate Appropriations Committee to protect the rights of American gun owners from the effects of a U.N. Arms Trade Treaty. My Second Amendment Sovereignty Act passed in committee and would prevent the Obama Administration from using the “voice, vote and influence” of the United States during Arms Trade Treaty negotiations to restrict in any way the Second Amendment rights of U.S. citizens, including the regulation of civilian firearms and ammunition.
Our freedoms and our country’s sovereignty are in danger of being undermined. As the treaty process continues, the Second Amendment Sovereignty Act seeks to further reinforce to the Administration that our country’s sovereignty and firearm freedoms must not be infringed upon by an international organization made up of many countries with little respect for gun rights. America leads the world in export standards to ensure arms are transferred for legitimate purposes and my bill will make certain that law-abiding Americans are not wrongfully punished.
This amendment seeks to reinforce that our country’s sovereignty and firearm freedoms will not be infringed upon by an international organization made up of many countries with little respect for gun rights. By prohibiting funding for the negotiation of an Arms Trade Treaty, this amendment will help make certain the rights of Americans are protected. Click here to read more.
Honoring the Life and Career of Kansas State Representative Bob Bethell
This week, I paid tribute to Kansas State 113th District Representative Bob Bethell, who passed away in a car accident on May 20th at the age of 69. Following the adjournment of the Kansas Legislature, Bob was returning to his home in Alden when tragedy struck. Bob represented the 113th district since 1999. Over the course of his life, Bob also served as a Baptist minister, as an educator, and as a long term healthcare provider for the elderly. Bob’s dedication to God, his fellow Kansans, and his family serve as a model for the right way to live one’s life. Robba and I join the many Kansans who express our condolences to Bob’s wife, Lorene. Click here to watch my tribute to a faithful public servant.
One Year, Major Progress since Reading Tornado
Just over one year ago, the community of Reading was struck by an EF-3 tornado that destroyed dozens of homes and nearly all of its businesses. I’m proud to report that one year later, much progress has been made. The community rallied together to restore Reading and preserve its future. Resident Barbara Schlobohm described the positive spirit of Reading when she said, “It's like a rebirth for the town. People want to move forward. The past is a wonderful history for this town, but we have a new beginning.”
One of the local establishments that has yet to be rebuilt is the local post office, which first opened its doors the year of Reading’s founding in 1870. I recently requested that Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe work with local citizens to restore traditional service to a community that is recovering. I commend the residents of Reading for helping one another during such a tough time. We will continue to support Reading as the community works to rebuild.
Two Generals Join Fort Leavenworth Hall of Fame
I would like to congratulate U.S. Marine Corps General Charles Krulak and the late U.S. Army General Michael Davison, on their recent induction into the Fort Leavenworth Hall of Fame. Gen. Davison graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, served in combat in World War II and Vietnam, and went on to serve as Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Army Europe. Gen. Krulak graduated from the United States Naval Academy, served as a platoon commander in Vietnam, and later became the 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps. These men join a celebrated list of distinguished military leaders, including President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Our nation is fortunate to have had such talented men leading our troops and defending our country.
Visiting SELEX Systems Integration, Inc. in Overland Park
Before returning to Washington last Monday, I visited SELEX in Overland Park which designs, manufactures, commissions and supports a complete line of ground-based radio navigation and landing aids. The company is a fully owned subsidiary of Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica, which operates in the aviation, defense, energy and transportation sectors. Surveillance products designed and produced in the SELEX U.S. office include Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast radios (ADS-B) and Secondary Surveillance Radars. During my visit I learned that recently, SELEX reached a historical high of $63 million in new orders including $37.5 million from the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Air Force. SELEX employs 120 Kansans, and based on existing orders, they anticipate their high-tech workforce to double in the near future. SELEX and their parent company have made a great investment in the in Kansas, and the company expects future economic growth to occur in our state, based a multi-year production backlog to fuel operations. Thank you to CEO Mike Warner, CFO Gary Stevens, and Vice Pres. of Manufacturing Randy Harper, for the tour and hospitality.
Claflin 125th Jubilee Parade
On Saturday, I was pleased to join local residents for Claflin’s 125th Jubilee Parade. It was exciting to see folks take pride in their community’s past and express optimism for its future. Congratulations to local historian Charles Disque who was honored as grand marshal. A special thanks to Charles’ brother, Wally, for driving me in his Mustang convertible and to Murine Prosser for organizing this wonderful celebration. Click here to view photos from the parade.
Visiting Lucas Residents
On Friday, I stopped by the community of Lucas in Russell County, to visit with local residents and businesses. I enjoyed hearing what was on the minds of folks at the places I visited, including the Lucas Publishing Company, Brant’s Meat Market, Bennington State Bank, Lucas Motors and the local post office. In 1996, Governor Bill Graves named Lucas the “Grassroots Art Capital of Kansas” given the number of sites in the community devoted to local folk art, such as the permanent outdoor sculpture called the “Garden of Eden,” which was built between 1905-1927 by local sculptor Samuel P. Dinsmoor. Thanks to all Lucas residents for their warm hospitality during my visit. Click here to view a photo from my visit.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below. Click here to view photos of some of the visits:
Kansas Real Estate Appraisers
Michael Septer of Overland Park
Golf Course Superintendents Association of American
Chava McKeel of Lawrence
Steve Bradford of Augusta
Ann Bradford of Augusta
Hongbo (Rick) Xu of Augusta / Foreign Exchange Student from China
National Air Traffic Controllers Association
Connie Presley of Wichita
Michael Biro of Overland Park
National Rural Letter Carriers' Association
Sandy Borne of El Dorado
Tony Kruse of Wellington
Wichita Technology Corporation
Trish Brasted of Wichita
Angel Capital Association
Marianne Hudson of Overland Park
Joel Wiggins of Overland Park
American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Stephen Higgs of Manhattan
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
David Enslen of Prairie Village
Greg Alejos of Leawood
Kortney Hamm of Overland Park
American College of Emergency Physicians
Sabina Braithwaite of Wichita
American Public Health Association
Ellen Averett of Leawood
Association of Surgical Technologists/Association of Surgical Assistants
Hui Han Wen of Topeka
Jim Barrett of Hays
Hannah Barrett of Hays
Many Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the U.S. Capitol this week including:
Norman Dawson of Leavenworth
Nancy Dawson of Leavenworth
Yuezhen Yang of Overland Park
Yue Zheng of Overland Park
Michael Gimotty of Overland Park
Susan Gimotty of Overland Park
Micahel Gimotty of Overland Park
Madison Gimotty of Overland Park
Nicholas Gimotty of Overland Park
Grace Gimotty of Overland Park
Bill Mumford of Overland Park
Ivy Mumford of Overland Park
Vincent Wesolowsky of Wichita
Joan Wesolowsky of Wichita
Todd Sigler of Wichita
Sheila Sigler of Wichita
Haley Sigler of Wichita
Mason Sigler of Wichita
Dale Knipp of Salina
Dustin Young of Eudora
Angie young of Eudora
Mary Young of Eudora
Steven Young of Eudora
Michael Unruh of Hillsboro
Jodi Unruh of Hillsboro
Gordon Jenkins of Cimarron
Mary Jenkins of Cimarron
Nathan Jenkins of Cimarron
Mike Spinden of Cottonwood Falls
Bernice Spinden of Cottonwood Falls
Ryan Spinden of Cottonwood Falls
Trey Spinden of Cottonwood Falls
Morgan Spinden of Cottonwood Falls
John Spinden of Cottonwood Falls
Rita Spinden of Cottonwood Falls
Robert August of Bel Aire
Keri August of Bel Aire
Lauren August of Bel Aire
Charles Gilmore of Pittsburg
Charles Gilmore of Leavenworth
Michael Christensen of Tonganoxie
Lisa Christensen of Tonganoxie
Steve Harrell of Tonganoxie
Hunter Cook of Tonganoxie
Tom Graham of Lenexa
Erin Graham of Lenexa
Mauren Graham of Lenexa
Ann Graham of Lenexa
Archit Patel of Shawnee
Vishal Patel of Shawnee
Royce Haynes of Merriam
Tamara Haynes of Merriam
Kenneth Knust of Peabody
Beverly Knust of Peabody
Luke Gilmore of Parsons
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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