Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you 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.
Last week, the Senate completed work on S. 3240, the 2012 Farm Bill, led in part by my colleague Senator Roberts, the Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. It was passed by a vote of 64-35.
This week, the Senate will resume consideration of an extension for the National Flood Insurance Program, after voting 96-2 in favor of a procedural motion to proceed to the bill on Thursday. It is my hope that the Senate can pass the final Flood Insurance Bill with broad bipartisan support later this week.
Hosting an Airbus Supplier Summit in August
On Tuesday morning, I joined Airbus Americas Chairman McArtor and Wichita-area community leaders on a conference call to announce the partnership between my office and Airbus for the first-ever Airbus Air Capital Supplier Summit. The event will take place at the National Center for Aviation Training (NCAT) in Wichita, Kansas, on August 6, 2012. The conference will help facilitate more business between Kansas companies and Airbus, and will enable suppliers to meet one-on-one with representatives from Airbus and other suppliers.
This announcement comes on the heels of Airbus’ 10-year anniversary in Wichita. Over the last 10 years, Airbus has been instrumental in the growth of our economy in Kansas. They recognize the talents of Kansans in the business of aviation engineering and manufacturing. Currently, there are more than 450 companies in the Kansas’ aerospace industry, accounting for more than 32,000 direct jobs. Airbus has an engineering center based in Wichita with more than 350 employees – up from 27 employees when it first opened 10 years ago - and has contracts with many Kansas companies including Alcoa (Hutchinson), B/E Aerospace Interiors (Lenexa), Honeywell (Olathe) and Spirit Aerosystems (Wichita).
Airbus spent $12 billion for aircraft-related procurement with U.S. companies in 2011, and they have set a goal to double procurement spending in the United States over the next 10 years. This week’s announcement is about solidifying Kansas’ reputation as the national leader in aviation manufacturing and job creation. The Air Capital Supplier Summit in Wichita will help make certain that when Airbus looks for new U.S. suppliers, it looks to Kansas companies. Click here to learn more and register your business to participate in the Summit.
Thanks to Chairman McArtor for choosing Wichita, as the next venue for a statewide supplier summit. Thanks also to the other participants on Tuesday’s call including Walter Berry, Chairman of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce; Suzie Ahlstrand, Interim President of the Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition; and Dr. John Tomblin, Executive Director of the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University, an NCAT partner.
Rural Housing Amendment
During the Senate’s consideration of the Farm Bill, I was pleased that an amendment I co-authored that will make certain rural communities throughout Kansas remain eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development loan and grant programs was adopted with unanimous support. If Congress fails to act, several communities throughout Kansas will no longer be able to compete for scarce rural development funds because of small increases in population identified by the most recent 2012 Census. USDA Rural Development programs go toward the production of affordable housing, water and sewer infrastructure, and a host of other critical needs for rural America. My amendment re-defines the term “rural” so that communities like Hays, Garden City, and Liberal can continue to benefit from these programs. I am pleased that the Senate adopted my amendment and I hope we can send this solution to the President in short order. Click here to learn more.
Welcoming Our Nation’s Entrepreneurs to Capitol Hill
This week, I joined some of our nation’s entrepreneurs at the U.S. Capitol for the inaugural Startup Day on the Hill. Eighteen companies participated in the event, including Kansas City startup AgLocal. I also had the opportunity to visit with Ty Walrod of Elkhart, Kansas, cofounder of San Francisco-based startup BrightFunds. Ty served as a page for me during my time in the Kansas State Senate.
Startup Day on the Hill gave these startup companies - the new companies that are responsible for nearly all net job creation over the past few decades - the opportunity to showcase their products and services as well as discuss policy issues with lawmakers and staff. Many of the participants expressed support for the Startup Act.
Startup Day on the Hill comes at a critical time, as recent data suggests America’s startup engine is slowing down. Other countries recognize the importance of entrepreneurs to job creation and are changing their laws to attract entrepreneurial talent in order to grow their economies. The United States can’t afford to be left behind in this global competition. Click here to learn more about Startup Act 2.0
Meeting with Israeli Ambassador Oren
Israel is one of America’s closest allies. The deep friendship that exists between our two countries is a result of our shared values. Israeli Ambassador to the United States Dr. Michael Oren and I met Tuesday to talk about security challenges and how the United States and Israel can work together to address common threats.
Israel faces threats in Gaza, Egypt, Syria and Iran. This week, a new wave of rocket attacks from Gaza hit southern Israel and Iran’s nuclear program continues despite three rounds of international negotiations. The strength of our alliance with Israel is critical at this time. Click here to see a photo from our meeting.
United Nations Arms Trade Treaty
On Wednesday, I spoke at the Heritage Foundation on the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty and its potential threat to our Second Amendment freedoms. The Arms Trade Treaty will be negotiated during a U.N. conference in New York next month, and the basic framework of a finalized treaty was recently made public by the Chairman of the conference. Based upon what I have seen of the Chairman’s “Draft Paper,” I am concerned about its language, which is vague and potentially dangerous to law-abiding American citizens. U.N. organizations have in the past argued that gun control is mandated by international human rights law, and many of the countries negotiating the Arms Trade Treaty have little respect for our Second Amendment freedoms.
Any Arms Trade Treaty should explicitly recognize the legitimacy of hunting, sport shooting and other lawful activities related to the private ownership of firearms. This week, I am again working with my colleagues in the Senate to strongly encourage the Administration to uphold our country’s constitutional protections of civilian firearms ownership as the treaty process continues.
Visiting with Frankfort High School Students
A group of students from Frankfort High School stopped by the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, and I enjoyed meeting with them and discussing the Senate’s work on Capitol Hill. Visiting Washington offers Kansas students a better understanding of America’s rich history and provides them with an inside-look at how our government operates. Click here to see a photo of us on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
Remembering the Bramlage Family
On Monday, I attended the memorial service for the Bramlage Family in Junction City. Ron, Becky, Brandon, Boston, Beau and Roxanne Bramlage passed away on Thursday, June 7, 2012 as the result of a plane crash southwest of Orlando, Forida. Their deaths were a tragic loss to not only the Junction City community but to our state. Ron was a devoted husband and father, and Rebecca was a loving mother and public servant. Ron, Rebecca and their children were well known for their generous spirits.
More than 2,000 people attended the service at Junction City Middle School to honor the memory of this wonderful family. Ron, Rebecca and their children were role models in the community and will be greatly missed.
Speaking at Kansas Pharmacy Conference
On Saturday, I spoke to community pharmacists and pharmacy suppliers at the PBA Health annual conference in Overland Park about the important role they play in our health care delivery system. PBA Health is a pharmacy services organization based in Kansas City that assists independent and regional chain pharmacies with managing costs, improving efficiency, and generating growth.
In many Kansas towns, the local pharmacist is the most accessible health care provider in a community, and I appreciated the opportunity to share my thoughts about how pharmacists care for patients by helping them manage the safe use of their medications, administering immunizations, and working collaboratively with physicians and other health care providers to improve patient care. We also discussed federal policies to increase transparency in the pharmacy industry, eliminate wasteful health care spending, and enable patients to go to the pharmacy of their choice. Thank you to Nick Smock, President and CEO of PBA Health, for inviting me to speak at this event, and thanks to Michael Burns, President and CEO of AuBurn Pharmacy in Garnett, for hosting me. Click here to see photos from this event.
Country Stampede – An Annual Summer Highlight for Kansans
This weekend, I had the great pleasure of joining thousands of Kansas country music fans at the Country Stampede - just north of Manhattan. This annual event is a four-day music festival held at Tuttle Creek State Park. I enjoyed spending the evening visiting with Kansans and listening to many talented performers. I also had the opportunity to introduce the award-winning “Artist of the Decade,” country super star Toby Keith.
I joined Kansas State Football Coach Bill Snyder and golfer Jim Colbert in meeting Toby Keith in his motor coach prior to his performance, and I thanked Toby for his love of our military men and women and welcomed him to Kansas.
Thanks to Jeff and Marla Copper for arranging the details of my visit and thanks to all the event organizers for their hard work to ensure this year’s Country Stampede was a great success.
Visiting Chapman Residents
On Friday, I stopped by the community of Chapman in Dickinson County, to visit with local residents and businesses. I enjoyed hearing what was on the minds of folks at the places I visited. I started the day at the Shamrock Cafe where I had the chance to talk with the morning coffee group. While in Chapman I also visited City Hall, Londeen's Hardware, the Insurance Store, the Post Office, Astra Bank and the USD 473 Education Center. Thanks to all Chapman residents for their warm hospitality during my visit.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below. Click here to view photos of some of the visits:
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
Ray Berry of Topeka
Sandy Kuhlman of Athol
Jenny Niblock of Colby
Karren Weichert of Topeka
Pam Berry of Topeka
Quinlee Niblock of Colby
Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation
Nicole Harr of Overland Park
Sue Full of Overland Park
Dave Switzer of Overland Park
Julie Thompson of Overland Park
Blue Valley Telecom
Terry Force of Wheaton
Pam Lauer of Westmoreland
Candace Wright of Marysville
Dennis Doyle of Marysville
US Presidential Scholar
Tina Wei of Overland Park
Ellen Zhan of Overland Park
Michael Wei of Overland Park
Jimmy Todd of Little River
Kansas Bankers Association
John Boyer of Kingman
Frank Carson III of Mulvane
David Herndon of Kansas City
Keith Hughes of Hutchinson
John Kilroy of Kansas City
Mark Larrabee of Shawnee Mission
Judd Liebau of Junction City
Adrian Morales of McPherson
Dr. Bruce Morgan of Shawnee
Kent Needham of Overbrook
Laura Polite of Valley Falls
Jeannette Richardson of Hutchinson
Mark Schifferdecker of Girard
Bruce Schriefer of Wichita
David Shepherd of Shawnee Mission
Melisa Sorenson of Wichita
Kevin Moeder of LaCrosse
Kathey Taylor of Topeka
Terri Thomas of Topeka
Tommy Wagner of Wichita
Gary Yager of Topeka
Scott Cooper of Garnett
Sharon Iverson of Holton
Chuck Stones of Topeka
Mark T. Lair of Chanute
22nd Refueling Wing
Col. Ricky Rupp of Wichita
Major Justin Dahman of Wichita
Chief Master Sergeant Kaleth Wright of Wichita
Airman 1st Class Christopher Lange of Wichita
Lt. Col. Steve Strain of Wichita
Pizza Hut Franchises
Jim McNerney of Wichita
MidAmerica Nazarene University
Tyler Heiderbrecht of Olathe
Mark Heiderbrecht of Olathe
Jon North of Olathe
Hayden North of Olathe
Sarah Zeller of Topeka
Lousia Malisi of Sabetha
National Association for Fixed Annuities
Janet Terpening of Leawood
Chris Conroy of Leawood
Cindy Underwood of Wichita
Paul McGillivray of Overland Park
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas
Sunee Mickle of Topeka
Andy Corbin of Topeka
Evies Cranford of Wichita
Maren Turner of Lawrence
Kurt Van Keppel of Leawood
Lung Cancer Alliance
Chris Draft of Salina
Kansas Cooperative Council
Leslie Kaufman of Topeka
Jeana Hultquist of Bonner Springs
Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce
Lyle Butler of Manhattan
Dick Carter, Jr. of Manhattan
Sue Peterson of Manhattan
Jackie Hartman of Manhattan
Fred Willich of Manhattan
Dan Yunk of Manhattan
Frank Beer of Manhattan
Oren Pepperd of Manhattan
Ron Fehr of Manhattan
Jeff Chapman of Manhattan
Reid Beer of Manhattan
Dawn Callaghan of Manhattan
U.S. Institute of Peace Essay Contest
Bill Boisture of Wichita
Derek Hess of Wichita
Jesse Manning of Manhattan
Kansas Advisory Group of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Brandon Johnson of Wichita
Bernice Gregory from Leavenworth
Global Business Travel Association
Christina Shinners of Mission
Many Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the US Capitol this week including:
Richard Sigle Jr.
James McKinnon III
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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