Kansas Common Sense

Dear Friend,

Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. Please feel free to forward it on to your family and friends if you think it would interest them. This week's headlines are:

This week I recorded the first video response to “Ask Jerry” questions. Stephen from Meade and Norma from Salina asked about America’s dependence on foreign oil. Click here to watch my response and visit the “Ask Jerry” page on my website.

This week's headlines are:

•    Health Care Reform: First Annual Check-up
•    Calling on President Obama to Support Comprehensive Deficit Reduction
•    Honoring Farmers and Ranchers During National Ag Week
•    Meeting with the Taiwan Ambassador to Discuss Beef Trade
•    Senate Hearing About Future of American Housing Finance
•    Holding FDA Accountable to Kansas Livestock Producers
•    Meeting with President of Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
•    Visiting Network Integration Services in Olathe
•    Upcoming Stops
•    In the Office

Health Care Reform: First Annual Check-up

Wednesday marks the one year anniversary of the passage of President Obama’s health care reform law. A year later, the negative impacts of this law are even more clear: health care costs continue to rise and access to quality care has been jeopardized for thousands of Americans. During the debate, supporters of the flawed law pledged to put an end to escalating health care costs with the passage of the $2.6 trillion law. However, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office now estimates the law, when fully implemented, will increase annual premiums for families by an average of $2,100. Medicare’s chief actuary estimates the law will increase health care spending by $311 billion over the next decade. And, consumers will face increases of $813 billion in taxes.

Rather than strengthen the existing Medicare program, according to Medicare’s actuary, the new law will cause more than one in 10 hospitals to face severe financial challenges within a decade, and one in four in the longer-term. This could have a devastating impact on communities in Kansas.

Despite the popular pledge that Americans could keep their current health care coverage under the new law – the Obama Administration now estimates 69 percent of all businesses will be forced to give up their current insurance plans.

Clearly, the law fails to accomplish what was promised and makes many problems worse. Instead of growing the government and forcing patients, providers and taxpayers to foot the bill, we must replace this law with commonsense reforms that increase competition and choice in our health care system. The result would be exactly what Kansans asked for in the first place: lower costs and greater access to quality care.  Click here to read more about my ideas to address our health care challenges without sacrificing quality and access to care.

Calling on President Obama to Support Comprehensive Deficit Reduction

The debate about the right level of spending is not just another philosophical argument between Republicans and Democrats; it is the issue of our generation. Whether we are willing to make the tough choices today to reduce our debt will determine the future of our country, the standard of living Americans enjoy, and whether or not there is an American dream to be lived by our kids and grandkids.

That is why I joined my colleagues Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) – along with a bipartisan group of 61 other senators – in calling on President Obama to support a comprehensive deficit reduction package in budget negotiations. 

We asked President Obama to engage in budget negotiations beyond fiscal year 2011, and to include discretionary spending cuts, entitlement changes and tax reform in those discussions in order to bring about meaningful deficit reduction. In addition, we commended the efforts of a bipartisan group of our senate colleagues, who have been working to craft a comprehensive deficit reduction package based upon the recommendations of the president’s Fiscal Commission.

By approaching deficit reduction negotiations comprehensively, with strong support from President Obama, we believe we can achieve consensus on the important fiscal issues facing our nation. It would send a powerful message to Americans that Washington can work together to tackle this critical issue. Click here to read our entire message to President Obama.

Honoring Farmers and Ranchers During National Ag Week

Regardless of your job or where you live, agriculture matters to Kansans and Americans. That is why communities across the country honored the contributions of farmers and ranchers this week by celebrating National Ag Week.

Kansas producers in particular deserve a big thank you for what they do for our state’s economy. Our well-being depends on agriculture; if we want strong schools, growing businesses and vibrant communities, we must make sure farmers and ranchers in Kansas have the opportunity to prosper. In today's fast-paced world, there are few industries where sons and daughters can work side-by-side with moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas. As your U.S. Senator, I will continue my work to create better awareness and understanding in Washington of the challenges facing the agricultural community and the critical importance of strong agriculture policy.

Meeting with the Taiwan Ambassador to Discuss Beef Trade

On Thursday, I met with Taiwan Ambassador Jason Yuan. During the meeting we discussed the current relationship between the U.S. and Taiwan, including recent developments in the beef trade. As a result of a protocol agreement signed in the fall of 2009, the United States increased its beef sales by 53 percent in 2010. However, in January of this year, Taiwan rejected multiple shipments of U.S. beef for testing positive for residue from a common feed ingredient called ractopamine.  Despite having been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in cattle feed since 2003, and approved by 25 other countries across the globe, Taiwan maintains a zero tolerance level for ractopamine. I expressed to the ambassador that Taiwan’s government must work to swiftly establish a minimum residue level (MRL) for ractopamine. I was encouraged to hear from Ambassador Yuan that Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou called for a symposium to review the science related to ractopamine and consider whether an MRL would be appropriate. I thank Ambassador Yuan for meeting with me and I will continue to monitor this situation and work toward a science-based resolution that restores U.S. beef access to Taiwan.

Senate Hearing About Future of American Housing Finance

On Tuesday, I participated in a hearing with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan concerning the future of housing finance in America and possible options to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  The hearing kicked off a much-needed debate in Congress about how to provide access to credit for families looking to purchase a home without burdening taxpayers with irresponsible risks.  

During the hearing, I asked both secretaries to take steps to unfreeze the housing markets and make sure private capital is able to flow to both urban and rural America. Click here to visit my YouTube page and view a clip of my discussion with Secretary Geithner at the hearing.

Holding FDA Accountable to Kansas Livestock Producers

On Thursday, I participated in a Senate Appropriations’ Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Other Agencies hearing with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. At the hearing I questioned Dr. Hamburg about concerns raised to me by Kansas livestock producers that FDA has departed from science-based decisions in its rulemaking and is reacting to popular political pressure. 

Click here to view video of the subcommittee hearing.

Meeting with President of Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

On Wednesday I met with Tom Hoenig, the President of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank, to discuss the state of the economy and other issues affecting Kansans. In particular, President Hoenig cautioned that the financial crisis we are still working to emerge from has left us with a handful of “too big to fail” banks.  This fundamental flaw in the financial system hurts competition and disadvantages community banks like those found in every town in Kansas. Mr. Hoenig and I also discussed the state of agricultural lending in Kansas.

Visiting Network Integration Services in Olathe

On Monday, I toured Network Integration Services (NIS) in Olathe to learn about the important work they do and why Olathe serves as a great location for them to do business. NIS provides cloud computing services – computer resources on demand via a network – for engineering, healthcare, financial service firms and governments that require both high security and accessibility. They have been in business for 15 years and expanded a few years ago to Olathe. NIS was attracted to the market because of the availability of a highly-skilled workforce, low energy costs and internet accessibility. 

I really enjoyed meeting with both members of the staff and customers who shared their concerns about the budget and fiscal issues facing our nation. I appreciated the opportunity to learn about the innovative ways NIS is providing needed internet services to businesses. Thank you to CEO Bob Jewell and his wife Barb, as well as Marketing Director Jason Kruse, for giving me a tour of the facility. Thank you also to Olathe Councilman Larry Campbell for joining us on the visit. Click here to view photos from my visit.

3-14-11 Network Integration Services

Upcoming Stops

This month and next, I will be continuing my statewide listening tour. Please find more information about my upcoming town hall meetings below. If you’re nearby, I encourage you to stop by to share your thoughts.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Saline County Listening Tour Stop
Location: Bicentennial Center, room 201
Address: 800 The Midway, Salina, KS
Time: 9:30-10:30 a.m.

McPherson County Listening Tour Stop (hosted by Kiwanis Club)
Location: Perkins Restaurant
Address: 2111 E. Kansas Avenue, McPherson, KS
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m.

Thursday, March 24, 2011
Sherman County Listening Tour Stop
Location: Western State Bank
Address: 815 Center St., Goodland, KS
Time: 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. (MST) 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Shawnee County Listening Tour Stop (hosted by Topeka Chamber of Commerce)
Location: Holiday Inn
Address: 605 SW Fairlawn, Topeka, KS
Time: 12:00-1:00 p.m. 

In the Office 

This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office from across the state. Click here to view some photos of these groups.

 Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System

Cynthia Smith of Lenexa

Kansas Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Tracy Mackey of Mission Hills

Kansas Psychological Association

Bruce Nystrom of Wichita

Jason Deselms of Wichita

Carrie Crownover of Wichita

Melissa Hopper of Wichita

Aaron Harris of Wichita

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD) Foundation

Angie Hoer of Overland Park

Society for Human Resource Management

Dina Cox of Topeka

Sue Schmidt of Shawnee Mission

Mindy McPheeters of Wichita

Good Samaritan Society

Susan Nickerson of Hays

Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved

Edward Dismuke of Wichita

Kansas Foundation for Medical Care, Inc.

Ken Mishler of Topeka

Progressive Medical Equipment, LLC

Gerald Sloan of Lenexa

Megan Sloan of Lenexa

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Barb Mares of Lenexa

American Association for Homecare

Robert Wernsman of Olathe

National Association for Sport and Physical Education

Jodie Leiss of Emporia

American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons

Donald Girard of Silver Lake

Kimberly Templeton of Kansas City

Terence McCliff of Kansas City

Fales Pediatric Dentistry

Dr. John Fales DDS of Olathe

Life Star of Kansas

Greg Hildenbrand of Topeka

Mick McCallum of Topeka

Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center

Sandy Johnson of Overland Park

Susan Estes of Overland Park

Jeff Gray of Kansas City

Paul Kaeb of Sabetha

Child Care Aware of Kansas

Rebecca Clancy of Garden City

Deanna Berry of Garden City

Lyndsay Crisenberry of

Dawn Miles of Pittsburg

Monica Murnan of Pittsburg

Reva Wywadis of Topeka

Cheryl Dunn of Wichita

Leadell Ediger of Garden City

Angie Saenger of Hays

Kami Cohorst of Salina

Jennifer Hecker of Hays

Kansas Public Transit Association

Tuck Duncan of Topeka

Topeka Metropolitan Transit Authority

Janlyn Nesbett-Tucker of Topeka

Jim Ogle of Topeka

Kansas National Association of Postmasters of the United States

Tom Lippert of Hays

Shelly Lippert of La Crosse

Marty Wright of Strong City

Debbie Wright of Dwight

Judy Wasko of Burdett

Rex and Marlene Poole of Wamego

State Department FLEX Foreign Exchange Students

Anastasiya Shishkina of Wellsville

Crop Quest, Inc.

Roy and Mary O’Hanlon of Dodge City

Kansas Independent Oil and Gas Association

Ed Cross of Topeka

Kansas Geological Survey

Rex Buchanan of Lawrence

Kansas Soybean Association

Bob Henry of Robinson

Dwight Meyer of Hiawatha

Kenlon Johannes of Topeka

Brad Parker of Topeka

Dennis Hupe of Topeka

John Wrag of Ottawa

Kansas Recreation and Parks Association

Doug Vance of Topeka

Mike Buchanan of Manhattan

Jill Geller of Merriam

Bob Johnson, Jr. of Overland Park

Mid-America Lumberman’s Association

Harold Baalmann of Wichita

John Duncan of Topeka

Hawker Beechcraft

Bryan Steele of Maize

McConnell AFB

Col. Jamie Crowhurst of Wichita

CMSgt. Michael Edwards of Wichita

Capt. Gabe Arrington of Wichita



Kansas Association of Mortgage Professionals

Craig Yaryan of El Dorado

A.W. Pickel of Olathe

Ryan Wiebe of Kansas City

Kansas Bankers Association

Chuck Stone of Topeka

John Boyer IV of Kingman

Frank Carson III of Mulvane

John Dicus of Topeka

David Herndon of Kansas City

Donald Lackamp of Great Bend

Mark Larrabee of Shawnee Mission

Earl McVicker of Hutchinson

Craig Meader of Waverly

Kent Needham of Overbrook

Nolen Taton of Saint John

James Turner of Topeka

Lydon Wells of Wichita

National Association of Home Builders

Wess Galyon of Wichita

John McKay of Wichita

Larry Higgins of Wichita

Don Klausmeyer of Wichita

Leon Greaser of Wichita

Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City

Steven Cowen of Kansas City

Mike Brown of Olathe

Mark Hoffman of Shawnee

Michael Snodgrass of Kansas City

Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City

Tom Hoenig of Kansas City

Diane Raley of Kansas City

Kansas Humanities Council

Julie Mulvihill of Topeka

Warren Hixson of Hutchinson

Gene Merry of Burlington

National Association for the Gifted

Peggy Thorpe of Wichita

Elaine Wellborn of Topeka

National Pest Management Association

Michael Patton of Wichita

Lora Patton of Wichita

Pamela Peckman of Lenexa

Kansas State Council of Firefighters

Matt Jackson of Junction City

Robert Wing of Kansas City

Nathan Coffman of Lawrence

Dean Garrison of Lawrence

City of Olathe

Mike Copeland of Olathe

Jim Randall of Olathe

Ron Rychman of Olathe

Michael Wilkes of Olathe

Erin Vander of Olathe

Tim McKee of Olathe

City of Manhattan

Bruce Snead of Manhattan

Loren  Pepperd of Manhattan

Ron Fehr of Manhattan

Jason Hilgers of Manhattan

City of Mission

Laura McConwell of Mission

Sue Grosdidier of Mission

Debbie Kring of Mission

Martin Rivarola of Mission

City of Ottawa

Linda Reed of Ottawa

City of Shawnee

Jeff Meyer of Shawnee

Mickey Sandifer of Shawnee

Jim Neighbor of Shawnee

Carol Gonzales of Shawnee

City of Topeka

Vic Miller of Topeka

Norton Bonaparte of Topeka

Larry Wolgast of Topeka

Jeff Preisner of Topeka

James Davis of Topeka

Neil Dobler of Topeka

Doug Kinsinger of Topeka

Camp Wood YMCA

Phil Guries of Salina

Ken Wold of Elmdale

Kansas Licensed Beverage Association

Philip Bradley of Topeka


Scott Perkins of Overland Park

American Land Title Association

Roger and Sally Hannaford of Marion

Denise Robinett of Overland Park

Linda Webbe of Overland Park

Donna Abney of Overland Park

National Apartment Association

Leah Thibault of Wichita


Dan Lord of Wichita

Students in with the National Youth Leadership Council

Emily Runge of Newton

Anthony Moncada of Garden City

Many Kansans stopped by this week for a tour of the United States Capitol including Craig Smith of Manhattan; Mark and Paige Walsh of Leawood; Mike, Melinda and Spencer Dennis of Bucyrus; Steve, Kristen and Kathryn Ostmeyer of Colby; and  Joel and Andrew Krieger of Lenexa. Kansans from Overland Park included Corban, Tina, Nicolas and Cole Ruiz; Brian, Amy, Grant and Nicholas Paulsen; Thomas Warner, Holly and Zachary Hull; and Barry and Jackson Gum. Kansans from Olathe included Maria, Olivia, Abigail and Joshua Copeland; Robert Marsonette; Sue Corkran; and Jon, Diane, Kyler and Madison Buckman. Students from Lakeside High School also stopped by, including Annie Henke, Coe Weis, Hannah Renken, Alida Drawwyer, Audrey Doane, Shayna Winkel, Connor Storer, Jordan Nicholson, Connor Shoemaker and Charlene Beougher. Visiting from Garden City High School were Debbie Berkley, Megan Kinney, Linda Almanza, Kasey Hernandez, Tiffany Miller, Virginia Garcia, Thuy Cao, Mario Garcia, Rebekah Fitzpatrick, Stephanie Frayre, Joanna Rodriguez, Julie Damian, Rene Hernandez, Adrian Garcia, and Liandro Rodriguez.

Contact Me

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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