Kansas Common Sense

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Advancing Legislation to Crack Down on Robocalls
Recently, I introduced the FCC Reporting Modernization Actlegislation that would require the Federal Communications Commission to provide more updated, clear and robust reports to Congress on the nationwide issue of robocalls and spoofed calls. These reports would provide Congress with a better understanding of this pervasive and harmful practice.

On Wednesday, my legislation was successfully included as an amendment to the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, which passed the Senate Commerce Committee and will now be considered by the full Senate.

Not only are robocalls annoying and disruptive, but they can be dangerous. Far too often these calls coerce unsuspecting Americans into providing sensitive personal and financial information with highly-sophisticated and deceitful tactics. Being able to identify the patterns scammers use will help guide Congress’ lawmaking efforts to combat this issue. As Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Manufacturing, Trade, and Consumer Protection, I will continue to work with my Senate colleagues and federal agencies to find solutions to this problem. Click here to read more on this legislation. 

Questioning HHS Secretary Alex Azar on Liver Allocation Policies
During a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, and Health and Human Services (HHS) hearing on Thursday, I questioned HHS Secretary Alex Azar on a number of issues impacting Kansans. During my questioning, I discussed recent issues concerning hospitals in Horton, Oswego and Hillsboro, and requested the Secretary look into potentially fraudulent practices implemented by an out-of-state, for-profit entity that has been detrimental to Kansas community hospitals.

I also questioned Secretary Azar on the short-sighted policy change at the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN) that would negatively impact Kansas patients. I’ve been working with Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) over the past several months to halt any new policies that would move organs – specifically livers that were donated in our region – away to coastal states with low organ donation rates, like California and New York. I remain a strong opponent of this policy change, and will maintain focus on protecting Kansans’ access to donated organs. Click here to watch my questioning.


Supporting the NATO Alliance
On Wednesday, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addressed federal lawmakers during a Joint Session of Congress. During this address, the Secretary General emphasized NATO’s central role in preserving peace during the post-World War II era.

The NATO alliance remains important in preserving American peace and prosperity by ensuring European security, deterring Russian aggression and participating in operations in Afghanistan and against the Islamic State. Secretary General Stoltenberg has positioned NATO to remain unified in confronting 21st century challenges, including cyber-threats, terrorism and migration. With an increased joint contribution from our allies of $100 billion in 2018 alone, it is encouraging that our allies have shown NATO is a priority as they work to meet commitments for collective defense. I will continue to work with my Senate colleagues to maintain and build America’s relationships to safeguard freedom at home and abroad.

Efforts to Preserve the Southwest Chief
On Tuesday, I joined Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) to accept the Golden Spike Award by the Rail Passengers Association for our work to continue the Southwest Chief train service route that runs through Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico.

Last year, the future of the Southwest Chief was in jeopardy, as Amtrak had released plans to separate the route with bus service and refused to pay the contribution it had promised to pay to help perform critical maintenance on the line. Through our coalition’s efforts, Amtrak kept its commitment to release its $3 million contribution and maintain current service on the route.

The Southwest Chief is a critical link for the many Kansans who rely on passenger rail to reach destinations around the country. As a nation, our support for passenger rail routes in regions like the Northeast Corridor is well established, but our rural communities remain just as vital. I appreciate the members of the Rail Passengers Association and my Senate colleagues for their steadfast advocacy to protect not only the Southwest Chief, but all rail transportation, which plays an important role in our state. I look forward to continuing this close partnership, both with America’s rail passengers and our bipartisan group of senators, to ensure a bright future for the Southwest Chief route.


Chairing CJS Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing
On Tuesday, I held a hearing in my Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, to review the president’s FY2020 funding request for the Department of Commerce. The Department of Commerce executes a broad range of activities critical for our nation, which include conducting a cost-effective and accurate Decennial Census, working with distressed communities to support economic development, promoting and increasing trade and investment for U.S. companies, enforcing trade laws to ensure American businesses can compete on a level playing field, improving broadband access in rural communities, and operating weather satellites and forecasting severe weather, among others. 

During the hearing, I discussed recent Economic Development Administration grants to entities across Kansas and the impact they’re having on communities large and small. I appreciated the testimony of the expert witness panel and look forward to working with the agency to ensure it can fulfill its mission to promote job creation, economic growth, sustainable development and improved standards of living for Americans. Click here to watch my opening statement.


Meeting with the Hispanic Chamber of Kansas City
On Tuesday, I met with members of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City, including President and CEO Carlos Gomez, Alad Aguirre, Israel Mendez, Max Pecina, Angelique Rodriguez-Gunion and Becky Gripp. During the meeting, we discussed the unique challenges facing their member businesses and community, including international trade and immigration policies. The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has been a pillar of the Kansas City business community for decades, and their attention and advocacy on important issues has helped the entire Kansas City metro area develop into the leading economic hub that it is today. I look forward to seeing their members back in the Kansas City area and appreciate their conversation with me this week.

Hearing from Military Health and Medical Leaders
On Tuesday, I questioned the top military medical officers during their testimony in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Defense. During this questioning, I highlighted the need for the Department of Defense to work with the VA to monitor toxic exposure in servicemembers during their service and as they transition to the VA system.

Additionally, I reiterated the need for collaboration between the Department of Defense and the VA in suicide prevention efforts, such as those put forth in the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act that I introduced with Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) last month. I also asked witnesses in the hearing to assess the potential of establishing a National Intrepid Center of Excellence satellite campus at Fort Riley to provide this capability to active duty servicemembers stationed at Fort Riley, as well as the 25,000 veterans in the surrounding area. Through my role on both the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Defense, I will continue to make certain the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs are working together to address the needs of servicemembers and veterans during and after their service.

Meeting with the Kansas Livestock Association
On Wednesday, I met with cattlemen from the Kansas Livestock Association. During our meeting, we discussed the importance of trade to livestock producers, including the need for Congress to quickly pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and for the administration to work to reach a bilateral trade agreement with Japan. We also discussed the impact of Hours of Services rules and Electronic Logging Devices on livestock haulers, and how the regulations ought to be amended to meet the unique needs of hauling live animals across the country.

Additionally, we spoke about the importance of the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) to ranchers recovering from losses as a result of several destructive weather events in Kansas this year. Recently, I joined my Senate colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary Purdue expressing the importance of LIP and urging USDA to delegate more authority and flexibility to county FSA committees to determine eligible losses in a timelier manner. I always appreciate visiting with Kansas cattle producers about the significance of the livestock industry to our state.

Hearing from Alzheimer’s Association Advocates
As part of their recent Impact Movement Advocacy Forum, I met Kansas representatives from the Alzheimer’s Association in Washington, D.C. During our meeting, we discussed the impact the disease has had, directly or indirectly, on nearly everyone in our state and nation.

We also discussed legislative solutions that can help individuals with Alzheimer’s and their families, including improvements to individual care planning or access to certain benefits for individuals with younger-onset Alzheimer’s. Additionally, we discussed the importance of continued funding in order to work toward a cure to this degenerative disease. Through my position on the Appropriations Committee, and the subcommittee that oversees funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, I have been a strong supporter of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the groundbreaking research the men and women of NIH perform. As we consider the FY2020 budget, I will continue to support resources for Alzheimer’s disease research at NIH so that our nation’s top research entity has the resources necessary to combat and defeat this terrible disease.


Meeting with Officials from the City of Leavenworth
On Tuesday morning, I met with Leavenworth Mayor Jermaine Wilson and City Manager Paul Kramer, where we discussed infrastructure, federal prison expansion and support for the Leavenworth community. Mayor Wilson noted the recent flooding of the Missouri River and expressed concern as we near the summer season for the potential of additional flood waters. Having just visited northeast Kansas flood damage, I shared my similar concerns and reiterated my desire to work with local partners and across the federal government to mitigate this risk and do what I can to prevent additional flooding that has impacted the Midwest.


Hosting a Kansas Listening Tour Stop in Russell County
On Saturday, I was in Russell to hold a stop on my Kansas Listening Tour. During Saturday’s meeting, we discussed the many challenges being faced by Kansas farmers and ranchers, including the need for more trade and export markets and heartbreaking mental health concerns among Kansas producers. We also discussed immigration and the need to secure our border, as well as the importance of agricultural diversification and ethanol to Russell County. Thank you to the many local residents who took time to visit with me on Saturday, and to the local VFW chapter for hosting my visit.


Attending the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership Graduation
On Saturday, I attended the graduation reception for Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership (KARL) participants in Manhattan. KARL is a is a two-year course offering in-depth study, training and travel opportunities for leaders in Kansas agriculture and rural communities. Each class is composed of up to 30 individuals who will be either actively involved as operators of production agriculture or from agribusiness, related organizations, and rural community leadership roles. Graduates of this program represent current and future leaders of our state who work tirelessly to advance the interests of agriculture and rural Kansas.

I was especially pleased to see Simone Elder and Jordan Hildebrand graduate from KARL. Both Simone and Jordan are former interns in my office, and I’m proud of their continued service to our state.


Receiving an Award from the Kansas Rural Water Association
Although I could not attend due to votes in Washington, D.C., I was honored that a member of my staff could accept the “Friend of Rural Water" award from the Kansas Rural Water Association (KRWA) on my behalf. KRWA is an organization comprised of elected leadership and employees from nearly 500 communities and more than 265 water supply districts in Kansas to support and improve access to water across the rural areas of our state. I will continue my support of USDA Rural Development and EPA water programs, my work to reduce the regulatory burden on public water and wastewater utilities, and will continue to prioritize ways to secure a safer, more affordable water supply for rural Kansans.

Thank you to longtime KRWA General Manager Elmer Ronnebaum for his distinguished leadership of the organization as well as the many members, employees and board members who make an important contribution to the quality of life in our state.

Kansans in the Office

Ginger Harper of Topeka
Tracy Streeter of Valley Falls

Acting Bank Commissioner
Mike Enzbrenner of Topeka
Tim Kemp of Pretty Prairie

AFS-USA Organization
Nancy Bridges of Manhattan
Jean McDonald of Topeka

Alzheimer’s Association
Stephen Benson of Wichia
Karen Clond of Prairie Village
Jamie Gideon of Wichita
Jan Johnson of Bucyrus
Glenda Owens of Garden City
Jennifer Owens of Wichita
Gia Smith of Lenexa
Ben Woodworth of Wichita

American Coalition for Ethanol
Adam Belyamani of Wichita
Dennis McMinch of Arnold
Josh Roe of Manhattan
Phil Near of Wichita
Cheryl Werth Near of Wichita

American College of Surgeons
Dr. Jody C Olson of Shawnee

American Physical Therapy Association
Cody Barnett of Wichita
Troy Moore of Great Bend
Tim Turner of Kansas City

Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa District
Joe Slites of Wichita 

Jody Donohue of Lenexa
Matt Falk of Shawnee Mission
Ron Seeber of Topeka

Capitol Tour
Emma Bishop of Abilene
Keith Bremer of Hays
Chad Cook of Overland Park
Frederick Cook of Overland Park
Ashten Clark of Hays
Ed Hammond of Hays
Jack Herbert of Abilene
Seth Hokanson of Abilene
Connor Mountford of Hays
Julie Mohajir of Hays
Marco Mohajir of Overland Park
Conor Phelan of Hays
Heidi Reeves of Abilene
Jauni Reeves of Abilene
Trey Schooley of Abilene
Criquet Smith of Hays

Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau
Weston Burcham of Mission
Bret Keeler of Assaria

Cerebral Palsy Research Foundation of Kansas
Pat Jones of Wichita
Pat Terick of Augusta

Child Care Awareness
Kim Engelman of Overland Park
Dean Olson of Kansas City
Karen Ortie of Eudora
Rob Ortie of Eudora

City of Leavenworth
Paul Kramer of Leavenworth
Mayor Jermaine Wilson of Leavenworth

City of Wathena
Mayor John Cluck of Wathena

College of Surgeons
Joshua Mammen of Leawood

David Kight of Olathe
Bob Lahr of Overland Park
Sandy Lahr of Overland Park

Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City
Alad Aguirre of Kansas City
Carlos Gomez of Kansas City
Becky Gripp of Kansas City
Israel Mendez of Overland Park
Max Pecina of Overland Park
Angelique Rodriguez-Gunion of Lenexa

Kansas Funeral Directors Association
Adam Renschler of Smith Center
Pam Scott of Topeka
Justin Smith of Derby
Deyna Smith of Derby
Halley of Derby 

Kansas Housing Association
Andrew Danner of Kansas City
Beth Easter of Lawrence
Matt Gillam of Prairie Village
Tony Krsnich of Mission Hills
Chris Palmer of Topeka
Devin Rhodes of Gardner
John Wiechmann of Topeka
Joshua Yurek of Lenexa

Kansas Livestock Association
Barb Downey of Wamego
Harry Moser of Wheaton
Aaron Popelka of Topeka
Lee Reeve of Garden City
Matt Teagarden of Topeka 

Kauffman Foundation
Jerry Bohn of Wichita
Jim Correll of Independence
Miguel Johns of Wichita
Melissa Roberts of Overland Park
Joanne Smith of Independence
Jerry VanDalen of Overland Park

Livestock Marketing Association
Dakota Davis of Caldwell

Michael Dobanski of Lenexa
Thomas Dobanski of Lenexa
Ralph King of Overland Park
Hugh O’Reilly of Overland Park

Mortgage Bankers Association
Richard Monley of Overland Park

National Association for Home Care & Hospice
Jane Kelly of Topeka
Jen Sharman of Overland Park

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

National Association of Professional Insurance Agents
Trina Ceballos of Topeka
Vonda Copeland of Manhattan
Sue Peachey of Pratt
Bob Shields of Manhattan

National Association of Clean Water Agencies
Kurt Bookout of City of Eldorado
Lorrie Hill of Olathe

National PACE Association
Heidi Pickerell of Valley Falls
Brushra Hashmi of Arnold

National Roofing Contractors Association
Kevin Gwaltney of Dodge City

National Water Resources Association
Randy Hayzlett of Laken
Jason Norquest of Garden City
Mark Rude of Garden City
Clay Scott of Ulysses

Pizza Hut
Joe Linot of Wichita

Physicians Leadership Coalition
Holly Fritch of Leawood

Save the Children
Jennifer Howerton of Overland Park
Megan Smith of Lawrence
Michelle Talley of Lawrence
Maggie Vinduska of Lawrence

Think Realty
Teri Moszyk of Leawood

Waterways Council & Bunge
Trina Challa of Topeka
Vonda Copeland of Manhattan
Bob Shields of Oswego

Wichita State University
John Tomblin 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 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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