Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. I spent time this week both in Florida promoting Kansas’ aviation industry and in Kansas, traveling throughout our state, listening to Kansans, and getting feedback on issues we face in Washington. This week, I visited with folks in Johnson, Riley, Russell, Rooks, Graham, Trego and Ellis Counties. You can read more about visits below. Please feel free to forward this newsletter on to your family and friends if it would interest them.
Promoting Kansas Aviation Nationally
On Tuesday, I attended the 65th Annual National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Convention to visit with aerospace and aviation businesses, promote the Kansas aviation industry, and encourage companies to invest in Kansas. Attracting more than 30,000 attendees – including more than 1,000 exhibitors – the NBAA convention is a key opportunity for aviation industry leaders and operators to conduct business, make buying decisions, and establish the direction of business aviation activity in the year ahead.
During the opening ceremony, I spoke to attendees about the importance of general aviation to our nation. The industry contributes approximately 32,000 jobs, more than 450 aviation and aerospace companies, and in excess of $7 billion to the Kansas economy. In order to keep Kansas’ aviation industry strong, we need a growing and prosperous economy. That comes from certainty in the tax code, reining in overregulation, predictable health care costs and a long-term plan to reduce the federal deficit.
While at the NBAA Convention, I met with representatives from many companies that are either based or have a presence in south-central Kansas, including: Hawker-Beechcraft, Bombardier-Learjet, Aviation Dynamix, Tect Aerospace, Flight Safety International, Liebherr Aerospace, Ametek, B/E Aerospace, Greenwich Aerogroup, Triumph Group, Inc., LMI Aerospace, Nordham and Winglet Technology.
It was an honor to join in dedicating the convention to astronaut and American hero Neil Armstrong, who lives on in our hearts and our history books. Congratulations to Cessna chairman emeritus Russ Meyer, Wichita native Clay Lacy, golf legend Arnold Palmer and astronaut Gene Cernan who were recognized for their longtime advocacy and leadership of the general aviation industry.
Thanks to Ed Bolen, NBAA president and Salina native, for including me in the opening ceremony. Special thanks also to Suzie Ahlstrand, president of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition, and her talented team for inviting me to attend the convention and for providing so many opportunities to share the success story that is Kansas and Wichita aviation.
While general aviation has had its struggles, my time at the NBAA Convention reaffirmed my belief that the leaders of this industry embody our Kansas motto: "Ad Astra Per Aspra; To the Stars Through Difficulty." Together, we'll make certain Wichita remains the Air Capital of the World. Click here to see pictures from my visit.
Ensuring Military Members the Right to Vote
My office has received calls and e-mails from active-duty servicemen and women currently in the United States who have not yet received their absentee ballots. With Election Day just one day away, I wanted to let you know that military personnel within the U.S. and their dependents are allowed to e-mail or fax in their ballots. If you are a member of the military who has not received your absentee ballot, you may fill out the form at this link and fax or email it to the election office in the county where you’re registered to vote. They will expedite process your ballot request by the method of your choice (via fax or email), send you a ballot via fax or email and once you fill out your ballot you can fax or email it back to the county election office. Click here for the ballot request form, and click here for county election office contact information.
Unemployment Rate Rises in October
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor reported the nation’s unemployment rate rose to 7.9 percent in October. With 23 million Americans still out of work, it is clear our current economic policies are creating an environment of uncertainty and hampering job growth in America. History shows that sustainable economic growth and job creation starts with the private sector, but when the message coming from Washington is more taxes, more regulation and more government, it is no surprise businesses are slow to hire new workers. Leadership in Washington must change course now if we are going to grow our economy and get Americans back to work. It is past time for Congress and the White House to work together and put in place pro-growth policies that cut spending, rein in over-regulation, replace our convoluted tax code, open up more foreign markets, and develop a comprehensive energy policy. When the policies coming out of Washington give businesses certainty, resources, markets and freedom, our economy will recover and firms will hire more Americans.
One Year Anniversary of MF Global Collapse
One year ago, farmers and ranchers across Kansas and the United States awoke to the stark realization that the integrity of our markets can be easily compromised by a bad player like MF Global. Segregated customer accounts are protected by law, and the events surrounding MF Global cast doubts on the strength of our market protections as well as the ability of the designated federal regulators to prevent violations of the trust of account holders. The disregard for the rules established to protect customers on the part of MF Global, as well as the failure of federal oversight to enforce these rules, will continue to erode confidence in our markets until the accounts are made whole and the perpetrators are held accountable.
Touring Hill City High School
On Thursday I was in Hill City to meet with teachers and students at Hill City High School and learn more about their efforts to provide a high quality education in Graham County. School teachers and administrators play a critically important role in making certain our children develop the skills necessary to be successful in life. The future of both our state and nation is linked to the quality of our children’s education.
During my visit I had the opportunity to speak with the senior class. We discussed a variety of issues currently affecting our nation, including the rising costs of higher education and the economy. We also visited about the importance of young Kansans having the opportunity to stay in our state to live and work after they graduate from school. Another common concern I hear is that mandates from the federal government place considerable strain on the central mission of our schools: educating our children. As a member of the Senate Appropriations education subcommittee I have the responsibility to make sure the Department’s initiatives are effectively serving students in Kansas and across the country. Because parents and teachers know best the educational needs of their children and students, I am committed to working to improve federal education policy so our schools have the flexibility to meet the unique educational needs of their students. Congress and the federal government should be focused on empowering decision making at the local level, not saddling our schools with more burdensome mandates.
I enjoyed being in Hill City and appreciated Principal Alan Stein for hosting my visit. Thanks to Shelby Stewart, Kyle Helberg and Gus Nickelson for the informative tour. Click here to see photos from the visit.
Visiting the Community of WaKeeney
Also on Thursday, I stopped in Trego County to visit with the residents of WaKeeney. I had a nice time chatting with folks along Main Street WaKeeney. At Gibson Health Mart I spoke Pharmacist Sarah Ashmore and a Ft. Hays student and Pharmacy Assistant, Sammy Augustine, about health care, my work as chair of the Senate Pharmacy Caucus, and the upcoming election. I made several other stops around town including to the Courthouse, Western Kansas World, Trego Co. Farm Bureau, First Federal Savings, State Farm Insurance, TWI and Dietz Financial Services, and Always Christmas. Thanks to WaKeeney residents for the warm welcome. Click here to see a photo.
Stopping By the Community of Luray
I also had the opportunity to visit the community of Luray in Russell County on Thursday, and had a nice time catching up with folks around town and stopping in to say hello at a few local businesses including The Farmers Bank, Dolan Hardware, Heinze & Associates. At the Luray Senior Center, I had a good conversation with Arleta Bland, Ila Green, Vivian Berryhill and Greta Libal. While in Luray, I also visited the City Library and chatted with the librarian. Thanks to everyone in Luray for the welcome and for chatting with me about the issues they care about. These conversations help guide my work back in Washington. Click here to see a photo.
Fostering Positive Attitudes Toward Individuals with Down Syndrome
I recently learned about an inspiring project that I wanted to share with Kansans. The Down Syndrome Guild of Greater Kansas City and Just Like You Films, a KC-based film production company, have teamed up to create a film called Just Like You - Down Syndrome. The 13-minute film stars three kids with Down syndrome and their friends, and features personal stories to help viewers better understand the condition and why people with Down syndrome wish to be treated just like you. Each of these stars has their own talents, characteristics, strengths, and challenges. The goal of the film is to promote greater understanding, awareness, and acceptance for people with Down syndrome. It reminds us that knowledge and familiarity of our unique differences make us more compassionate and connected human beings – and shows us all that we are more alike than we are different. Thanks to Jawanda and Rachel Mast of Olathe for contacting me about this film and thanks to Amy Allison, Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Guild of Greater KC, for providing background on this exciting project. Click here to watch the film online. You can also meet the cast and explore the film’s website here.
In the Office
Several Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the US Capitol this week including:
Cheryl Denton, and daughter Ashley Teudean
Robert & Sharon Scherman
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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