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.

There have been many questions raised about the effect of Russian interference in our elections, and I welcome the naming of a special counsel to conduct the investigation. With this appointment, my hope is that the distractions can stop, the counsel can do his job and Congress and the president can deal with the many challenges facing our country. I expect Mr. Mueller’s pursuit of truth to be conducted in a manner that gives the American people confidence in the findings, regardless of the outcome.

Honoring the Fallen on the Senate Floor
In 1962, Congress and then-President John F. Kennedy designated May 15 of each year to be Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week of May 15 to be National Police Week. Each spring, we take time to recall the men and women of law enforcement who were lost in the previous year. While I have paid many solemn visits to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. to honor, to respect, and to remember fallen officers, my visit this year was especially somber.

In 2016, Kansans suffered the loss of three law enforcement officials. I spoke on the Senate floor this week to recognize and honor these three heroes: Detective Brad Lancaster of the Kansas City Kansas Police Department, Captain Robert “Dave” Melton of the Kansas City Kansas Police Department, and Master Deputy Sheriff Brandon Collins of the Johnson County Sheriff's Office.

The losses of these men have caused tremendous hurt and sorrow for their families, the agencies where they served, the neighborhoods they protected and the communities they lived in. But our memory of their service to others and acts of valor offer us all hope and inspiration to carry on their missions: to better our communities, to protect the vulnerable and to stand for what is right. As we remember, let us tirelessly pursue those ends, and do all we can to honor the fallen. Click here to view my remarks. 

Welcoming the Wichita Regional Chamber to Washington
I had the pleasure of visiting with business leaders on Wednesday who traveled to Washington, D.C. as part of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual visit. While in town, they had the opportunity to meet with members of the Kansas congressional delegation as well as take part in policy briefings offered by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The message I received from these leaders is that, while some progress has occurred, much work remains to be done to ensure that Washington’s laws, regulations and excessive spending do not create an environment that hinders business growth, job creation and opportunity for Kansans. Chamber members shared with me their views that our country must continue to move forward on health care, energy, infrastructure, tax and debt policy if we are to create a promising future for the next generation. My thanks to the group of more than 20 members who visited our nation's capital, and special thanks to Chamber Chair Scott Schwindaman for his leadership and Chamber Vice President Toni Porter for organizing the trip.

Fighting Hunger
I met with USAID Acting Administrator Wade Warren this week to discuss global hunger and our efforts to provide food assistance to the famine stricken countries of Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. Acting Administrator Warren shared USAID’s estimates that about 50 million people in those four countries alone need emergency assistance in addition to millions living in other countries such as Ethiopia and Kenya. We discussed how utilizing the abundance of food grown by American farmers helps save millions of lives through programs such as Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole Food for Education. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I fought for funding to combat the famine. Providing food assistance to people who are starving or suffering from malnutrition raises our moral standing and leadership in the world and leads to greater stability in regions of the globe important to America's strategic interests. The historic level of famine we are witnessing today reminds us that our work to end this crisis must continue.

Kansas Veterans at the World War II Memorial
On Thursday, I joined a group of WWII, Vietnam and Korean War veterans visiting Washington, D.C. from Kansas as part of an Honor Flight. It was a privilege to spend time with the group at the National World War II Memorial and to share my gratitude for their service. I especially enjoyed catching up with Jeff Spahn, a Korean War vet from Wichita who I’ve gotten to know over the past several years, and his family. My thanks to the chaperones and organizers who work hard to honor our veterans by making these trips an unforgettable experience for those who have sacrificed for our nation.

Trade Matters to Kansans
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer notified Congress this week in a letter of the administration’s intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). During my meeting with Mr. Lighthizer this month, I stressed the importance of trade with Mexico and Canada for Kansas farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and small businesses. Our country’s economic success is dependent on our ability to sell the food and fiber we grow. Strong trade relationships enable our rural communities to survive and our agriculture and manufacturing industries to continue employing millions of Americans. We must maintain these important relationships and expand market access for American producers. I look forward to the administration continuing to consult with Congress and providing more detailed plans to achieve that goal.

The Health and Safety of American Athletes
I participated in a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Wednesday focused on issues in American sports and ways to keep American athletes healthy and safe. During the hearing, we touched on a number of topics that impact athletes’ safety such as the promotion of professional and amateur athletes’ physical and mental health, anti-doping and measures to prevent opioid abuse. I was pleased to hear about the important neurological research being done to identify the long-term impacts of brain trauma with the support of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We also heard testimony from the president and CEO of the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which was established this past March and given new authorities to protect American Olympic athletes. Lastly, we heard from a mother from South Dakota who lost her son to opioid addition. More work remains to be done to keep our athletes safe and healthy – the recent reports of sexual misconduct within the U.S. Olympic Commission make that clear. As Chairman of the Consumer Protection Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over amateur and professional sports, I will continue to promote the physical, mental and emotional health of our nation’s athletes. Click here to watch video of the hearing. 

MGT Act Passes the House of Representatives
In April, I introduced bipartisan legislation, the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act, to reduce wasteful IT spending and strengthen information security in the federal government, accelerating the transition to modern technology like cloud computing. On Wednesday, the House passed this legislation with bipartisan support. Last week’s worldwide ransomware attack, which impacted hundreds of thousands of computers in more than 150 countries across the globe, reminds us just how critical bringing federal government IT into the 21st century is to keeping Americans and our valuable data protected. As Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security, I will continue to push for critical reforms like these, and I look forward to the Senate’s consideration of the MGT Act through the committee process.

Leading Legislation to Protect Veterans Receiving Care in the Community
I joined Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin in introducing the Veterans Acquiring Community Care Expect Safe Services (ACCESS) Act, bipartisan legislation that would protect veterans seeking care through VA community care programs for being treated by providers who have been fired or suspended from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Healthcare providers who have been removed from the VA should not be allowed to continue caring for our nation’s veterans, and this commonsense legislation would help protect veterans from those who put their health at risk – whether at a VA hospital or outside the VA – and keep veterans out of harm’s way.

Working to Improve In-Flight Child Safety
Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii and I this week introduced S. 1167, the Airplane Kids in Transition Safety (KITS) Act of 2017. This bipartisan legislation would direct the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to update its regulations regarding the medications and equipment required to be carried in airplane medical kits in order to better serve children in flight.

The FAA requires that an emergency medical kit (EMK) be carried on board any flight with a flight attendant. However, because Congress has not required the FAA to update EMK contents since 1998, the current contents are outdated and do not contain suitable medications and devices for treating children who are the most vulnerable passengers in the case of an emergency. This legislation does not mandate what should or should not be included in EMKs, but instead directs the FAA to begin the public rulemaking process to ensure EMKs contain appropriate medication and equipment to meet the emergency medical needs of children.

With the current authorization of the FAA set to expire on September 30, 2017, I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security to address this important issue in the context of FAA reauthorization legislation this summer. Please click here to read the text of the bill.

Continuing Conversations with Kansas Healthcare Providers
Blue Cross Blue Shield, Kansas Anesthesiologists, the American Organization of Nurse Executives and the Kansas Hospital Association were in my office this week to discuss the impact of ongoing efforts to reform our healthcare system for Kansans. I also met with Big Lakes Development Center President and CEO Lori Feldkamp of Manhattan. It is essential that Congress finds real solutions to improve our system and provide real choice for individuals and families. I appreciate having the chance to listen to these groups of Kansans share their feedback and I look forward to continuing these discussions in Washington and at home as the Senate works on our own reform bill.  

Overland Park Chamber of Commerce
I made a stop at the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting for QPS Employment Group, a temp agency opening a new office in Overland Park. QPS’ newest office is their second in the Kansas City metro area – they have nearly 50 branches in five states. I appreciated meeting with the attendees and hearing more about QPS’ work to help employ more Kansans. My thanks to the Chamber for the invitation and their hospitality.

Hearing from Kansans at the Independence Rotary Club
On Friday, I spent time in southeast Kansas where I had the opportunity to speak with members of the Independence Rotary Club and many guests from the community. Our discussions focused on keeping rural America alive, serving our veterans, the Senate's work on healthcare reform and my views on the DOJ's appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the investigation into Russian intervention in our election. Thank you to the residents and business owners who came to share their thoughts and concerns with me, to Independence City Commissioners Fred Meier and Leonhard Caflisch for joining us, and to Dennis Pinkerton for the invitation.

Touring Independence Health Care Center’s New ER
While in Independence, Labette Health provided me with a tour of the construction underway for a new emergency room and health care center in the community. When Independence’s Mercy Hospital closed its doors in 2015, almost 9,500 residents were left without an emergency room in their hometown. The new facility is expected to open in July and will provide emergency care and other outpatient services, including a trauma room, advanced imaging, laboratory services and helicopter accessibility. Thank you to Labette Health Foundation Director Rod Landrum for the tour.

Kansans in the Office

National Athletic Trainers Association
Mark Padfield of Tonganoxie
Christopher Fleming of Wichita 

ALCS Association Mid-America Chapter
Chris Rahimian of Olathe
Scott Vanvelsor of Lenexa
Chris Vanvelsor of Lenexa
Coleen Wachter of Mission

Chad Mohwinkle of Overland Park

American Society of Anesthesiology
Dr. Adam Striker of Mission Hills
Dr. John Erkmann of Leawood

Kansas Chapter of the National Utility
Bill Jackson of Lenexa
Tony Prieitera of Overland Park

Heartland Credit Union Association
James Holt of Velley Center
Amy McLand of Topeka

American Organization of Nurse Executives
Katherine Howell of Overland Park
Amy Garcia of Overland Park 

Mason Contractors Association of America
Peter Browning of Salina
Colson Browning of Salina

Specialty Equipment Market Association
Vic Bennett of Kansas City
Kyle Fickler of Tonganoxie

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas
Sunee Mickle of Topeka

Nelson Poultry Farms
Greg Nelson of Manhattan

United Egg Producer
Mike Porter of Neodesha

Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association of Kansas
Tom Palace of Topeka
Marvin Spees of Topeka
Mark Powers of Junction City
Scott Zaremba of Lawrence

Kansas Contractors Association
Chad Girard of Wichita
Bob Totten of Topeka
Chris Rech of Emporia
Austin Hedges of Wichita

Toby Rush of Roeland Park

American Veterinary Medical Association
Dr. Cary Christensen of Overland Park
Dr. Vern Otte of Leawood

Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture
Doug Keesling of Chase

SAMHSA Minority Fellowship Program
Jessica Cless of Manhattan
Lauren Ruhlmann of Manhattan
Chelsea Spencer of Manhattan

Capitol Tour
Ken Swart of Topeka
Debi Swart of Topeka
Roger Brokke of Topeka
Vickie Brokke of Topeka
Ryan Brokke of Topeka
Chase Brokke of Topeka
Kurt Ronnekamp of Leawood
Susan Ronnekamp of Leawood
Jacob Ronnekamp of Leawood
Rolf Penner of Wichita
Scott Kirkpatrick of Kansas City
Andy Seal of Kansas City
Annie Seal of Kansas City
Jamie Lancaster of Kansas City
Brianna Lancaster of Kansas City
Karel Umscheid of Kansas City
Peter Browning of Kansas City
Colson Browning of Salina
Scott Schwindaman of Goddard
Janet Schwindaman of Goddard
Lori Kraus of Colwich
Patrick Kraus of Colwich
Eric Borland of Wichita
Connie Borland of Wichita
Kavan Jobe of Wichita
Barby Jobe Myers of Wichita
Walter Berry of Wichita
Peggy Deiter of Wichita
Bill Wood of Wichita
Sam Sackett of Wichita
Steve Hieger of Wichita
Toni Porter of Wichita
Courtney Sendall of Wichita
Jill Pfannenstiel of Hays
Danielle Sartain of Overland Park
Chris Sartain of Overland Park
Debbie Sartain of Overland Park          
Tegan Louw of Manhattan
Brendon Mousley of Manhattan
Samantha Hubbard of Manhattan
Coleman Forst of Manhattan
Austin Baalman of Manhattan
Dustin Rottinghaus of Manhattan
Drew Bormann of Manhattan
Jeffrey Hadachek of Cuba
Ben Hutton of Wichita
Holli Schletzbaum of Wichita
Gary Schmitt of Wichita
Mike Montana of Wichita
C.R. Hall of Wichita
Natalie Hill of Leawood
Audrey Larios of Overland Park
Kristin Larios of Overland Park
Chris Larios of Overland Park
Joseph Tatro of Bel Aire
Kenneth Tatro of Manhattan
Karen Tatro of Manhattan
Matthew Tatro of Manhattan
Commander John Rush of Overland Park
Patricia Rush of Overland Park
Miles Herren of Overland Park
Becky Jones of Holcomb
Kahlen Jones of Shawnee
Colin Keltner of Shawnee
Holly Dyer of Wichita
Satchel Owens of Wichita
Alex Owens of Wichita
Daren Lang of Victoria
Dana Lang of Victoria
Katelyn Lang of Lawrence
Charles Sciolaro of Leawood
Vicki Sciolaro of Leawood
Rachel Sciolaro of Leawood
Lynsey Sciolaro of Leawood
Ryan Sciolaro of Leawood
Jonathan Sciolaro of Leawood

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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