Kansas Common Sense

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New NAFTA Announcement is a Positive Development for Kansas
Over the past year and a half, I have expressed directly and repeatedly to President Trump, Ambassador Lighthizer, Secretary Ross and my colleagues in the Senate that we need more trade, not less. I have been clear that both Canada and Mexico – Kansas’ top two export markets – must be part of any final agreement. I appreciate the administration working to make certain these markets remain available to Kansas farmers, ranchers and manufacturers, providing them some much-needed certainty. I will further analyze the details of this agreement, but this announcement is clearly a positive development.
Statement on Judge Brett Kavanaugh
As I stated after meeting with Judge Kavanaugh in August, he is a well-qualified nominee with a deep respect for the Constitution, and I still believe that to be true. His intellect and extensive experience in the legal field will serve the Supreme Court well. I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh as Justice Kavanaugh.
Delivering Remarks on Data Privacy and Questioning Tech Executives
On Wednesday, I participated in a Senate Commerce Committee hearing with executives from Amazon, AT&T, Apple, Charter, Google and Twitter to discuss how new data privacy rules in Europe and California have impacted their companies and what they believe is needed in order to have effective data privacy standards. There are many opinions on how these standards ought to look, which is why I have been working with my colleagues to collect the thoughts of all interested parties, including consumer advocates, industry representatives and academics, to identify responsible federal privacy standards.
As chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, I am committed to ensuring that consumers’ personal data is protected from data misuse, while also establishing certainty for businesses to create jobs, innovate and compete domestically and internationally. To view my opening remarks, click here. To view my exchange with the witness panel, click here.

Questioning VA Secretary Wilkie on His First 60 Days on the Job
I participated in a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing where VA Secretary Robert Wilkie testified on the State of the VA. Secretary Wilkie has served in this capacity for approximately 60 days, and has been charged with implementing many of the reforms that have been signed into law over the past year. Particularly of interest to me is his implementation of the VA MISSION Act that was signed into law in June. I worked hard to make certain critical reforms to the VA healthcare system were included in the MISSION Act, and on Wednesday I reminded Secretary Wilkie of my intent to work closely with the VA during the implementation process. We need to make certain the VA is adhering to the intent of Congress as it develops rules and regulations that will determine a veteran’s eligibility to receive care in their community under this program.

I am pleased Secretary Wilkie is committed to making this program veteran-centric, and I look forward to continuing to work together to make certain the MISSION Act is easy to access and understand for the VA, veterans and community providers alike. To watch our exchange, click here.

Meeting with the 2018 Kansas Principal of the Year
This week I met with Dr. Kristy Custer, the 2018 Kansas Principal of the Year and the principal of Complete High School in Maize USD #266. Complete High School is an alternative school designed to help students earn their diplomas through experiential learning. I am impressed by Dr. Custer’s passion for public education and her ability to positively impact students by fostering hands-on learning and job skills that a student can translate into a position in our nation’s workforce. Under Dr. Custer’s leadership, Complete High School Maize was named a 2015 National School of Character by the education non-profit, Character.org. Only 64 schools from 14 states earned this designation, which goes to schools that prioritize building strong character and morals into their curriculum. I’m encouraged by Dr. Custer’s continued values-based leadership, and appreciate her work to educate the next generations of Kansans.

Spending Time with Advocates from the American Cancer Society
I was pleased to have advocates from Kansas on behalf of the American Cancer Society in my Washington, D.C. office this week. During our meeting, we discussed important issues, including increases to the National Institutes of Health, that will drive cancer research forward and help develop improved treatments and cures that will improve patients’ lives. We also spoke about legislation I have cosponsored that will increase access to care, including the Colorectal Cancer Screening Act and the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training (PCHETA) Act. These bills will help improve insurance coverage for cancer screenings and raise awareness of how palliative and hospice care may factor in to a treatment regimen for someone suffering from cancer. I appreciate the conversation with the advocates from the American Cancer Society and look forward to continuing to find better treatments and a pathway to a cure for this tragic disease.

Agreeing to Water Rights for the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas
On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approved my legislation, S. 2154, the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas Water Rights Settlement Agreement Act, that affirms the water rights agreement made between the State of Kansas and the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas in September 2016. After a decade of negotiations involving the State, the Tribe and various federal agencies, this settlement is a classic local solution to a local natural resource matter. Although more remains to be negotiated, including the Tribe’s water storage facilities, the committee’s action represents a significant step forward in providing the Kickapoo vital water security for its reservation and residents. I will continue to work to ensure its passage in the Senate.

Authoring Legislation to Protect Seniors from Scams
Senior citizens are among the most vulnerable consumers in this digital age – mistakenly falling victim to scammers that steal their money, identity and dignity. Now more than ever, it is imperative we bring industry leaders together to examine ways and propose actions American businesses can take to help educate the public, specifically senior citizens, on how to identify and avoid these harmful scams. 

Studies indicate scams like these cost older Americans as much as $36 billion each year, and many seniors are reluctant to report the crime. For this reason, I joined Senator Bob Casey (D-Penn.) to introduce the Senior Scams Prevention Act. This bill would create a federal advisory council charged with bringing together relevant government officials, industry representatives, advocates and consumers to develop educational materials for retailers, financial institutions and wire-transfer companies to use in an effort to stop scams that target seniors. As chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, I am fully committed to making certain all Americans – especially senior citizens, are protected from those who wish to deceive them. To read more about the bill, click here.

Visiting with Students at Victoria High School
Last week, I was in Victoria where I had the opportunity to tour the high school and visit with various student leaders, staff, faculty members and administration. I always value time spent with young people in our state, and my visit to Victoria was no different. I was pleased to hear updates on the new school year and fall sports teams. Thank you to Student Council Secretary Kali Weber, Student Council Vice President Ashlyn Windholz and Student Council President Ally Dinkel for the tour. Thanks also to Counselor Kori Braun, Principal Dylan Dronberger and Superintendent Kent Michael for helping arrange my visit.

Now Accepting Spring Internship Applications
My own interest in public service was sparked by an internship for Kansas First District Congressman Keith Sebelius in 1974. As an intern, I had the chance to learn firsthand how a Congressional office operates and how the legislative process works. I am proud to be able to offer this same opportunity in my Senate office today, where I have interns year-round working closely with my staff on behalf of Kansans.

Applications for internships in my Washington, D.C. and Kansas offices for Spring 2018 are due Friday, October 19. Congressional internships are open to qualified undergraduate and graduate students who have an interest in public service and have achieved academic excellence. Click here for more information.

Kansans in the Office

American Academy of Pediatrics
Dr. Dennis Cooley of Topeka

American Cancer Society
Judith Calhoun of Lawrence
Christina Cowart of Topeka
Theresa Meyer of Palmer
Tracey Nicodemus of Olathe
Jerry Siever of Wichita
Janelle Williamson of Topeka

American College of Rheumatology Advocates and Arthritis
Kent Huston of Leawood

American Optometric Association
Dr. Wayne Gilmore of Parsons

American Planning Association
Chad Bunger of Manhattan
Lauren Driscoll of Salina

American Society of Hematology
Dr. Brian McClune of Prairie Village

Dawn Johnson of Bucyrus

American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
Audrey Kennedy of Shawnee
Jeff Little of Shawnee
Joe Sletcha of North Newton

American Society of Clinical Oncology
Dr. Joshua Mammen of Leawood
Dr. Peter Van Velhuzien of Overland Park

Big Brothers and Big Sisters
Megan McClelland of Anthony
Mary Shannon of Wichita

Bread for the World
Genetta Herrera of Olathe
Steve Kurtz of Topeka
Pastor Jim Wood of Olathe

City of Marysville Local Government
Austin St. John of Marysville
Michlynn St. John of Marysville

Dr. Beth Hudson Meeting
Tom Brungardt of Milford
Dr. Beth Hudson of Junction City
David Wild of Milford

Farm Journal Foundation
Tyler Lund of Salina
Lydia Lund of Salina

Fort Leavenworth School District, USD 270
Dr. Keith Mispagel of Fort Leavenworth

Goodwill of Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas
Ed Lada of Kansas City

Heartland Homecare Services
Tim Rowlands of Overland Park

Home Depot
Connie Fullerton of Fall River
Jennifer Zucker of Wichita

Home Instead Senior Care
Gail Shaheed of Topeka
Peter Shaheed of Topeka

Kansas Automobile Dealers Association
Scott Hatchett of Wichita
Tom Holcombe of Topeka
Greg Maurer of Lawrence
Don Mcneely of Topeka

Kansas Municipal Utilites
Colin Hansen of McPherson

Kansas Principal of the Year
Principal Kristy Custer of Maize

Roni Knight of Garden City
Tori Mitchell of Lawrence
Sandra Walker of Lawrence

Land O'Lakes
Carolyn McGinn of Sedgwick

Midwest Minerals
Steve Sloan of Pittsburg
Becky Sloan of Pittsburg

Tom Poer of Overland Park

NAFSA: Association of International Educators
Diana Carlin of Kansas City

NexStep Alliance
Chris Stayner of Wichita

Northwestern Mutual
John Goodwin of Prairie Village

Chad Girard of Hutchinson
Shawn Riley of Wichita

Professional Association for Customer Engagement
Randy Riggs of Lenexa
Patrick Whalen of Leawood

Smith Interconnect
Gina Prieto of Overland Park
Cassie Forsyth of Kansas City

Capitol Tour
Steve Joice of Overland Park
Rene Cristales of  Wichita
Maria Cristales of Wichita
Gregory Foxx of Dighton
Dale Goter of Wichita
Steve Jonas of Marion
Carol Jonas of Marion
Brett Leopold of Fairway
Laura Maay Lutz of Topeka
Daniel Porter of Roeland Park
Alley Porter of Roeland Park
Steven Simpson of Fairway
Doug Unruh of McPherson
Kathie Unruh of McPherson
Phil Wages of Topeka

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 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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