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.

The Senate passed a stand-alone Energy and Water Appropriations bill this week for the first time since 2009. Upon its enactment, several Kansas priorities will receive the attention they deserve. Chief among them is full funding for the Kansas River levee project. Making upgrades to these levees will help protect thousands of Kansans from future flooding events while providing additional opportunities for economic development in the area. While not a perfect bill, I am pleased that my colleagues recognized the importance of upgrading our infrastructure to better protect lives and property in Kansas and across the country.

Cautious Optimism About Lesser Prairie Chicken Delisting
I welcomed the announcement that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) will not pursue an appeal of the federal court decision to vacate the threatened species listing of the lesser prairie chicken (LPC). The decision highlights the administration’s flawed approach to listing the LPC as a threatened species in the first place. The most recent aerial survey estimates the bird’s population to be 29,162 birds – a nearly 50 percent increase since 2013. The bird’s population decreased largely as a result of the historic, multi-year drought impacting the habitat area. It is clear that more rainfall, plus locally-driven, voluntary conservation plans, are best suited to preserve and grow the LPC population – not more burdensome regulations from the federal government.

My worry is USFWS made a strategic decision to restart the listing process for the bird instead of continuing to fight a losing battle in court. Stakeholders in Kansas need certainty on the listing. I have asked for answers from FWS regarding its future intentions on the listing and will continue to advocate for policies that prevent the service from pursuing efforts to re-list the species. To read more, click here.

Celebrating the Remodel, New Flight Service at Salina Regional Airport
On Friday, I attended the ribbon cutting for the newly remodeled terminal at Salina Regional Airport. Air service means so much to Salina and Central Kansas, and I am glad that Great Lakes Airlines flights from Salina to Denver will begin on June 15. I appreciate the hard work of Salina Regional Airport Director Tim Rogers and Great Lakes Airlines CEO Doug Voss to create greater travel opportunities for North Central Kansas. These flights will create new business opportunity for the entire region and help grow our local economy. I also appreciate the hard work of Salina Mayor Kaye Crawford and Chamber of Commerce President Don Weiser.

Putting Our Veterans First and Understanding Impacts of Toxic Exposure
I sponsored the Veterans First Act – bipartisan legislation to demand a higher level of accountability from employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – this week. The Veterans First Act is designed to ensure the VA fulfills its mission to provide all those who served our country with the care and benefits they deserve. I was pleased the bill includes key provisions of a bill I introduced last year, the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015, which prioritizes studying toxic exposure and the potential connection to heath conditions affecting descendants of veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during their military service. Those who serve our country with honor do not expect their choices to negatively impact the health of their children or grandchildren. Often, the impact of toxic exposure does not appear until long after veterans have returned home. We must address these painful wounds of war for future generations by understanding the health risks and symptoms of exposure. To read more, click here.

Discussing STEM Investments at Commerce Hearing
At a Senate Commerce Committee hearing this week, I had the opportunity to discuss with Information Technology and Innovation Foundation President Dr. Robert Atkinson and National Science Board Vice Chair Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier the roles of the federal government, private sector, and academia in science and technology research and development, STEM education and workforce opportunities. We also discussed the commercial uses of research and development. It’s a priority of mine to promote policies that make it easier for people to start and grow businesses and make certain the government is a good steward of taxpayer dollars. I appreciated the expert witnesses’ testimony about proposals that would do both.

Getting an Update from the Commandant of the Marine Corps
The Commandant of the United States Marine Corps General Robert Neller joined me in my office this week to discuss critical issues facing Marines. I appreciated the opportunity to speak candidly with Gen. Neller, who shares my concern about the pressure that is put on Marines to fulfill growing missions, particularly without the flexibility that increased end-strength levels would provide. Legislation I introduced, the POSTURE Act (S.2563), would halt the current force reductions and provide an increase to the end-strength of our nation’s land forces including the Marines. Gen. Neller recognizes that an increase in end-strength for the Marine Corps allows more time at home and the opportunity to train and reset for future deployments, in addition to carrying out critical missions around the world. I appreciate Gen. Neller’s leadership, and look forward to continuing work with him in the future.

Punishing Iranian Cyber Attacks Against the United States
I cosponsored legislation this week to direct the president to closely examine Iranian cyber-attacks against the United States and report to Congress on those findings. The Iran Cyber Sanctions Act (S. 2756) requires the president to identify and sanction any Iranian entities and nationals found responsible for cyber-crimes against the United States and determine connections of such attacks to the Iranian government. In recent months, Iranian nationals have been identified as perpetrators of hacking and crimes undermining U.S. cyber security, but the penalties of U.S. courts do not effectively extend into Iranian territory. Financial sanctions, on the other hand, punish designated individuals wherever they may reside. The Iranian government’s continued belligerence is of great concern and the United States should take steps to condemn, punish and reduce such acts.

Joining the McPherson Community for the All Schools Day Parade
I joined area residents on Friday for the Annual McPherson All Schools Day Parade. The tradition began in 1914 as a way to celebrate 8th grade graduates. Since then, it has grown into a week-long annual Kansas event honoring graduates from eighth grade, high school and college with hundreds of participants. It was nice to see so many old friends and new faces. A special thanks to Kyler Jost, my driver in the parade; Anna Ruxlow, who helped arrange my visit; and the 2016 chairperson Kendra Hopp. Kendra and her committee did a great job organizing this terrific community event.

I also had the pleasure of seeing the recently completed Veterans Mural which hangs on the north wall of the McPherson American Legion building.  A dedication ceremony was held this past Tuesday to publicly unveil this inspiring tribute to the men and women who have fought and continue to fight for our country and our freedom.  A special thank you to the many sponsors and volunteers who dedicated significant time, talent and financial resources to this impressive effort.  With Memorial Day only two weeks away, this beautiful mural provides a timely reminder that because of the sacrifices of our nation’s veterans, we have the opportunity to live in the strongest, freest and greatest nation in the world.

Congratulating New K-State Veterinary Graduates
It was a real pleasure to be at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine graduation ceremony Friday evening. Veterinarians are very important to our state, helping to support entire sectors of agriculture. Pictured here is my daughter Alex and her mentor Dr. Steve Mosier, DVM. In high school, Alex got a job at Hays Veterinary Hospital sweeping floors and cleaning pens. Ten years later, she earned her DVM at Kansas State University and became Dr. Alex Grieves. Coach Bill Snyder delivered the address — what a great day! Congrats to all the graduates.

Touring Exploration Place in Wichita
I had the opportunity to visit Exploration Place while in Wichita on Saturday. The iconic building was designed by world renowned architect Moshe Safdie, and the exhibits inside were just as impressive as the architecture itself. The educational programs and displays promoted by the museum are enjoyed by children and adults alike. One exhibit that stood out to me was Kansas Kids Connect, which is both hands-on and designed to spark kids’ interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). With about 230,000 visitors and about 70,000 students served through educational programs annually, Exploration Place is a landmark that all Kansans can be proud of. I appreciate President Jan Luth for the invitation and the discussion. I also found a new sandwich spot in Wichita — The Artichoke Sandwichbar.

Now Accepting 2016 Service Academy Applications
Even as students are beginning their summer breaks, I want to remind them of the opportunity to apply to a United States Service Academy. Appointing Kansans to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD; the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.; and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY, is one of my favorite duties as a U.S. Senator. 

To find out the requirements and apply, please download an application from my website or contact my Olathe office. All application materials are due to my Olathe office by September 2, 2016. After applications have been reviewed, applicants will be notified of interviews with my Service Academy Selection Board, which will take place on Saturday, September 24, 2016, at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.

Kansans in the Office
Mike Torrey of Wamego
Justin Prelogar of Leawood 

Kansas Contractors Association
Bob Totten of Topeka
Wendy Moses of Topeka
Chad Girard of Wichita
David Hardwood of Leawood
Chris Rech of Emporia
Jim Ralston of Andover 

H&R Block
Lynn Sousley of Overland Park
Charles Parrish of Gardner

Dan Hebrank of Leawood 

Campaign for Quality Construction
Andy Phelps of Shawnee 

Brain Aneurysm Foundation
Barry Holmes of Overland Park 

Global Business Travel Association
Colleen Blach of Olathe 

Specialty Equipment Market Association
Kyle Fickler of Lenexa
Vic Bennet of Lenexa 

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Local Lodge 639
Kenneth Green of Wichita
Christopher Ray of Andover 

Meals on Wheels
Erika Kelly of Paola 

Nelson Poultry Farms
Greg Nelson of Manhattan 

National Association of Wheat Growers
David Schemm of Sharon Springs
Keira Frauz of Wichita 

ALS Association
Cheyenne Layton of Wichita
Jamie Kennedy of Derby 

International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
Shaun Junkins of Wichita
Ken Lewen of Wichita
Susan Hieber of Wichita
Joni Pierce of El Dorado 

Barclay College
Richard Chard of Haviland
Andrew Stephens of Haviland
Aaron Altvaler of Haviland 

Eisenhower Excellence in Public Service Series
Carol Dengel of Overland Park
Jayna French of Shawnee
Jennifer Hartman of Wichita
Paige Hungate of Wichita
Diane Macheers of Shawnee
Megan Maher of Basehor
Karma Mason of Maize
Tara Mays of Topeka
Connie McLean of Wichita
Roni Paul of Olathe
Meredith Richey of Perry
Tory Roberts of Gardner
Terry Rogers of Lansing
Julie Roller of Lansing
Kelsey Skaer of Andover
Kara Titus of Wamego
May Waldenmeyer of Leawood
Lynn White of Wichita
Hannah Whitlow of Topeka
Miki Bowman of Council Grove
Kathy Herzog of Wichita
Emily Wellman of Lawrence 

One Voice Against Cancer
Garrett Gaybryne of Merriam 
Allen Thomas of Topeka
Peggy Johnson of Wichita 

American College of Rheumatology
Kent Huston of Shawnee 

Alliance for Charitable Reform
Will Coughlin of Kansas City 

Tom Sack of Kansas City 

American Society for Microbiology
Chuck Rice of Manhattan 

Kansas Association of Realtors
Brian Jones of Pittsburg
Chris Rost of Salina
John Brocker of Iola 

American Association of Cancer Research
Roy Jensen of Gardner 

Commissioner of Insurance for Kansas
Ken Selzer of Topeka
John Bauer of Kansas City 

City of Wichita
Pete Meitzner of Wichita
Jim Davenport of Wichita 

Bartlett Cattle
John Gillcrist of Overland Park 

Honor Capital
Marcus Scarborough of Winfield

Capitol Tour
Wes Bowman of Council Grove
Miki Bowman of Council Grove
Jack Bowman of Council Grove
Audrey Bowman of Council Grove
Julia Voss of Derby
Angela Fry of Mulvane 

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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