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.

I joined Fox News this weekend to share my thoughts on the ways we can work to fulfill our commitment to caring for our veterans. We also discussed North Korea's failed missile attempt. Please click here to watch the discussion.

Working to End Veteran Suicide
I convened a hearing on Thursday of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs to discuss the efforts of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and community members to prevent veteran suicide. Even one veteran suicide is too many. While new headlines have brought attention to deficiencies in the VA’s management of certain programs, the news does not often tell the stories of lives that are saved. I wanted this hearing to bring awareness not only to the VA issues that need to be resolved, but also to share the successes mental health professionals at the VA, community providers and non-profit organizations are having every day as they save veterans’ lives. Please click here to watch the hearing. 

In addition, cutting edge research is helping us combat this problem and save lives. I appreciated having two Kansans on our panel of experts: Suicide Prevention Coordinator for the Eastern Kansas VA Health Care System Dr. Stephanie Davis and CEO and founder of the Military Veteran Project (MVP) Melissa Jarboe. Melissa is a Gold Star Wife, and her work to support soldiers and veterans through the MVP is the fulfillment of her promise to her late husband Staff Sergeant Jamie Jarboe, who would have turned 33 the day of our hearing. 

If you or a veteran you know is struggling and in need of help, the VA’s confidential, toll-free hot line, online chat and text services are there to assist. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, or send a text message to 838255 at any time. These services also are available to those who are hearing impaired. 

Discussing Priorities for the National Guard and Reserve
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense held a hearing on Wednesday with the Chief of the National Guard Bureau and the Chiefs of the Reserve Components of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps. I appreciated hearing their perspective on the challenges facing our military, and I was pleased that Chief of the National Guard Bureau General Joseph Lengyel recognized the important work done by the Kansas National Guard at the Kansas Intelligence Fusion Center and its various federal and private sector partners as an asset to our national security. Chief Lengyel also stated his support for maintaining a Kansas National Guard unit based at Fort Riley, the Advance Turbine Engine ‎Army Maintenance team (ATEAM), given the cost efficient readiness capabilities they provides to our army and foreign allies.

Participating in Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue’s Swearing In
I attended the swearing-in ceremony of Secretary Sonny Perdue to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Thursday. Secretary Perdue has a big job ahead of him. Overall farm income has been cut in half since 2013 and is likely to continue to decline this year. Farmers and ranchers in Kansas and across the country count on the USDA to assist with much-needed research, promote American products overseas and increase market access, provide rural housing services and maintain the crucial safety net that empowers our agricultural producers to succeed. These tasks, which impact the livelihoods of millions of Americans, require strong, active leadership.

I also had the opportunity to welcome Secretary Perdue at the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City in his first trip outside of Washington, D.C., as Secretary of Agriculture. I appreciate the conversations I’ve had with Secretary Perdue before and after his confirmation and look forward to working together on behalf of the Kansas ag community. It was also great visiting with Kansas ag industry representatives who were there to welcome Secretary Perdue – and the Allen family, Earl Allen Jr. and the Allen boys Logan, Grady, and Tate from Gardner who were exhibiting livestock for the event. My thanks to Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City Executive Director Bob Petersen and American Royal Association President and CEO Lynn Parman, who partnered to put on the event.

Importance of U.S. Trade Policy to Kansas
The president this week announced that he intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). I believe positive trade relations with Mexico and Canada are critical to the success of American agriculture and the Kansas economy. Our state’s manufacturers, factory workers and agricultural producers depend on the ability to sell their goods and commodities to our two largest export markets. Especially as farmers and ranchers face low commodity prices, U.S. trade policy should be focused on expanding exports to these neighboring countries by reducing non-tariff barriers, enforcing the current trade rules and strengthening these relationships.

Calling for Accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs
I spoke on the Senate floor on Thursday regarding legislation I lead in the Senate, the Increasing Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability to Veterans Act of 2017 (S. 12), which would make certain bad actors at the VA are held accountable. The vast majority of VA employees are committed to working hard on behalf of those who have served our nation – the few who do not share the same values should not have the same benefits as those who honorably care for our veterans. This legislation would ensure that specific VA employees ‎who are found guilty of a felony related to their job at the VA are not receiving certain annuities at the taxpayers’ expense. 

After speaking on the floor, I attended the signing ceremony with the president establishing an Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection within the VA. On his first day in office I wrote to the president to encourage him to make accountability at the VA one of his top priorities, and I am pleased that he is taking much needed action to hold bad actors accountable for their actions.  

Making the Case for Lifting the Cuban Embargo
Last month I reintroduced legislation to lift the trade embargo against Cuba and grant the private sector the freedom to export U.S. goods and services to Cuba. This legislation (S. 472) gives American farmers and producers the chance to operate on a level playing field with the rest of the world. Our country has begun reevaluating our trade commitments and seeking ways to put Americans first. For Kansas’ economy, America first means selling what we produce here and around the globe. Click here to read more of my op-ed in Cuba Trade Magazine about this legislation.

Hosting Community Leaders from Western Kansas
On Monday, community leaders from Liberal, Garden City, Dodge City and Great Bend participated in a full day of congressional panels, briefings, and meetings with their federal elected officials in Washington, D.C. I enjoyed the opportunity to hear their thoughts on what Congress ought to be focusing on in order to improve the lives of the people in their communities.  Among the many topics discussed included Essential Air Service, housing, infrastructure, agriculture, and trade. The comments and concerns raised by these Kansas leaders serve as a good reminder that the American people require a responsible, functional federal policymaking process in order to ensure that the special way of life that we enjoy in Kansas can continue. My thanks to everyone from Liberal, Garden City, Dodge City and Great Bend for taking the time to come to Washington to advocate for their communities.

Staff Open Office Hours Continue
Members of my staff will be in five more communities around the state this upcoming week to hold open office hours to assist Kansans with issues they might be having with the federal government. If you’re experiencing difficulties with Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ affairs or have other concerns regarding federal issues, I encourage you to meet with my staff at one of the times and locations listed below. In addition, this service can always be accessed at my five state offices – my staff in Olathe, Wichita, Pittsburg, Manhattan and Hays, are always glad to help.

Accepting Applications for Fall Internships – Deadline: June 2
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 who have a unique opportunity to work closely with my staff on behalf of Kansans. Applications are already being accepted for internships in my Washington, D.C. and Kansas offices for the fall 2017 term. The deadline for the fall is next Friday, June 2. 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

Doug Francis of Solomon
Patty Francis of Solomon
Denise Laute of Topeka
Ryan Courtney of Wichita
Shawn Smith of Topeka
Roy Meinharder of Wichita
Scott Heidner of Lawrence
Rick Worrel of Overland Park
Joey Drimmel of Overland Park
Kevin Honomich of Overland Park
Tad Kramer of Lecompton
Margaret Kramer of Lecompton

Mid America District Export Council
Robert Rebori of Shawnee

Pet Food Industry
Diane Loiselle of Topeka

American Academy of Ophthalmology
William Clifford of Garden City
Luke Dolezal of Prairie Village
Sean Goodale of Overland Park
Paul Weishaar of Wichita 

American Society of Landscape Architects
Taryn Borelli of Overland Park
David Contag of Overland Park

Kansas Funeral Directors Association
Shane Brown of Gardner
Darin Bradstreet of Garden City
Pam Scott of Topeka

National Teacher Hall of Fame
Carol Stickland of Emporia
Ken Weaver of Emporia

Kansas Orthopedic Society
Nathan Drummond of Wichita
Peter Hodges of Manhattan
Neal Lintecum of Lawrence
Denise Lantz of Topeka
Mary Wine of Wichita
Craig Sutterlee of Prairie Village

Kansas NEA
Mark Farr of Topeka
Ruthe Goff of Kansas City
Sandra Walker of Lawrence

American Baker’s Association
Chris Reusz of Manhattan
Beibei Li of Manhattan
Marissa Stubbs of Manhattan
Sophia Pitney of Manhattan
Abbie Walker of Manhattan
Bailey Preedy of Manhattan
Chloe Shearon of Manhattan
Testane Tadesse of Manhattan
Halye Dogan of Manhattan
Kyle Anderson of Manhattan
Hailey Heizman of Manhattan
Claire Bokelman of Manhattan
Haley Wecker of Manhattan
Aaron Coorl of Manhattan
Nan Gao of Manhattan

Amputee Coalition
Billy Brimblecom of Lenexa
Brendon Allen of Lawrence

Eisenhower Excellence in Public Service
Paula Landoll-Smith of Marysville
Linda Scheer of Leavenworth
Joan Muanunedum of McLouth
Victoria Leiva of Wichita
Jenny Goering of Galva
Lori Graham of Wichita
Kathleen Marsicek of Narka
Roberta Tessendorf of Overland Park
Abby Hoeltirig of Shawnee
Christine Smith of Weskan
Cathy Linaweaver of Wichita
Jessica Scholes of Wichita
Maureen Carroll of Lenexa
Kelly Watkins of Wichita

Black & Veatch
Greg Clum of Overland Park

Military Veteran Project
Melissa Jarboe of Topeka 

Eastern Kansas VA Suicide Prevention
Stephanie Davis of Topeka
Joe Burks of Topeka

NextStep Alliance
Chris Stanyer of Wichita

Kansas Pharmacists Association
Michael Burns of Garnett
Van Coble of Winfield
Toni Shields of Overland Park
Calrini Plummer of Fredonia
Patrick Hileer of Russell
Brian Caswell of Baxter Springs
Jody Reel of Sabetha

Promotional Products Association
Tiffany Tarr of Olathe

Children’s Mercy Hospital
Angel Myers of Olathe

America-Society of Health and Physical Educators
Wendy Scholten of Olathe
Claudia Welch of Topeka
Arianne Seidl of Osawatomie
Verneda Edwards of Spring Hill
Lisa Tatum of Wichita
Nilo Ramos of Emporia
Anderson dos Santos Carvalho of Emporia

Global Business Travel Association
Colleen Black of Olathe
Kyle Brown of Olathe
James Brame of Prairie Village

Pheasants Forever Youth Leadership Council
Jared Austin of McPherson

Kansas Bar Association
Rachael Pirner of Valley Center

American Institute of Physics
Georgette Searan of Girard

Fraternal Government Relations Coalition
Tomas Green of Lawrence
Michael Lee of Lawrence

We Are Golf Coalition
Dick Stuntz of Lawrence
Chava McKeel of Lawrence
Mark Johnson of Lawrence

McPherson Church of the Brethren Student Group
Jerry Bowen of McPherson
Celeste Carlson of McPherson
Ashley Spohn of McPherson
Jessica Ullen-Minnich of Moundridge
Mattea Black of McPherson
Panema Giorgia of Moundridge
Rachael Hendricks of McPherson
Naomi Knuosen of Medicine Lodge
Cameron Clark of Moundridge
Danielle Reese of Canton

NASSP State Coordinator for Kansas
Jacque Feist of Dodge City

Edward Jones
Greg Seibel of Emporia

City of Great Bend
Jan Peters of Great Bend
Mike Allison of Great Bend
Howard Partington of Great Bend
Vicki Berryman of Great Bend

Dodge City County Commission
Chrise Tieben of Dodge City
Tara Burkhart of Dodge City
JD Gilbert of Dodge City
Chris Boys of Dodge City
Brian Delzet of Dodge City
Joyce Warshaw of Dodge City
Doug Smith of Topeka
Jan Sevoy of Dodge City

Liberal Chamber of Commerce
Rozelle Webb of Liberal
Dana Beth Hibbs of Liberal
John Douglas Hibbs of Liberal
Ada Linenbroker of Liberal
Kailey Linenbroker of Liberal
Nathan McCaffrey of Liberal
Joseph Denoyer of Liberal
Jack Harrison of Liberal
Debra Griskie of Liberal
Sheena Jolene Schmutz of Liberal
Christopher Ford of Liberal
Alicia Hidalgo of Liberal
John Anthony Martinez of Liberal
David Webb of Liberal

City of Garden City
Rachelle Powell of Garden City
Nicole Hahn of Garden City

Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Kirk Perveca of Prairie Village
Emily DeVore of Kansas City
Orlando Gallardo-Parra of Kansas City
Margaret Blankers of Lenexa
Gary Blankers of Lenexa
Rick Randolph of Lenexa
Jo Randolph of Lenexa

Child Care Aware
Dean Olson of Kansas City
Kim Engelman of Overland Park
Kaylen Ortiz of Eudora
Lisa Oller of Eudora
Alicia Patrick of Overland Park
Tina Rodden of Olathe
Marina Olson of Kansas City
Cheryl Firsching of Wichita

National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies
Randy Lutgen of Manhattan
Kurt Messmer of Manhattan
Lance Hoopingarner of Great Bend

American Veterinary Medical Association
Samantha Boyajian of Manhattan

Kansas Electric Cooperatives
Allan Miller of Norton
Earnie Lehman of Hays
Trey Grebe of Scott City
Michael Brewer of Ulysses
Michael Brungardt of Ulysses
Marcus Harris of Topeka
Phil Wages of Topeka
Kim Christianson of Topeka
Perry Robert of Ulysses
Bill Riggins of Topeka
Charles Ayers of Leoti
Jim Christopher of Falun
Bruce Mueller of Scott City
Keith Miller of Great Bend
Keith Ross of Long Island

National Grange
Roger Bostwick of Ozawkie

Kansas Teacher of the Year
Jason Sickel of Shawnee
Heather Sickel of Shawnee

Muscular Dystrophy Association
Amy Fulcher of McPherson
Ryan Fulcher of McPherson
Jennifer Tripp of Washington

Kansas Motor Carriers Association
Tom Whitaker of Topeka
Terry Budimlija of Lenexa
Sean Saunders of Overland Park
Jeff Hill of Salina
Mallory Borgan of Bonner Springs
Gale Karlin of Hays
Paul Carroll of Wichita
Edsel Smith of Canton
Janice Smith of Canton
Melissa Kershner of Topeka
John Prather of El Dorado

National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians
Brando Beck of Emporia
Terry David of Lyons
John Gallagher of Wichita
John Hultgren of Junction City
Dave Johnston of Sedgwick
Marvin Van Blaricon of Clay Center

Capitol Tour
Deb Kohn of Salina
Brian Germann of Tipton
Cheryl Germann of Tipton
Galen Unruh of Topeka
Yvonne Unruh of Topeka
Thomas Bonnie of Overland Park
Stephanie Bonnie of Overland Park
Brian Stratton of Valley Center
Lacey Stratton of Valley Center
Donald Wharton of Wichita
Michelle Wharton of Wichita
Diana Ortiz of Topeka
Genevieve Orozco of Topeka
Patricia Brown of Topeka
Linda Finch of Topeka
Bibiana Zweig of Topeka
Kayla Schonlaw Lorson of Topeka
Renee Hall of Topeka
David Hurrelbrink of Kansas City
Juan Victors of Wichita 

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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