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. The attack on two military sites that killed four Marines last week is a tragedy for the Chattanooga community, state of Tennessee, United States Armed Forces and the nation. I humbly ask all Kansans to join Robba and me in keeping victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers.

Listening Tour Stops Across Kansas Continue
This morning, I’ll be stopping in Wakefield to continue my Kansas Listening Tour. Since being elected to Congress, it has been a top priority to return home each weekend to visit with the folks who sent me to Washington. Whether our conversations occur in line at the grocery store, at church, or when I’m filling up my truck at the gas station, the input I get from Kansans impacts the decisions I make on your behalf in our nation’s capital. 

This April, I wrapped up my latest Kansas Listening Tour – making another round of stops in all 105 Kansas counties – at the South Hutchinson Public Housing Authority. I was proud to lead my Senate colleagues in number of town hall meetings last year, and I have no intention of slowing down. On Saturday, I’ll be at the Wilson Czech Festival Legislative Coffee – I hope you’ll stop by to share feedback on the issues facing our state and nation. My upcoming town hall meetings are listed on my website here.

Iran Nuclear Deal Raises Serious Concerns
This week, President Obama announced that his administration reached a nuclear deal with Iran as part of the P5+1 negotiations. I have grave concerns about this deal – offered by the same president who called ISIS the ‘JV team’ and who mismanaged American foreign policy across the Middle East. 

From what I’ve examined, the terms of this proposal do not effectively enhance our national security, verify accountability from Iran, or increase stability in the Middle East. My initial reaction is this agreement has conceded too much and has not sufficiently reduced Iran’s nuclear capabilities. I have serious concerns about the risk of this agreement allowing money to flow back through Iran to the pockets of terrorist organizations working against America and its allies. I am also disappointed the administration failed to secure the release of Americans held captive in Iran, including Pastor Saeed Abedini and former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati who have both been held for several years.

President Obama has indicated he will seek to circumvent Congressional review and move to ease U.N. sanctions on Iran as early as today. Unilaterally lifting these sanctions now is an irreversible step that would make the world a more dangerous place.

Senate Appropriations Committee Passes Agriculture Appropriations Bill
The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2016 Agriculture Appropriations bill by a 28-2 vote this week. As chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees spending at USDA and FDA, I had the opportunity to write an ag spending bill that prioritizes research and extension activities, promotes rural development efforts, supports food safety and public health initiatives, and encourages the development of new medicines and medical devices. Additionally, the bill reins in the Obama administration’s regulatory overreach by limiting the scope of the dietary guidelines and delaying the implementation of overly broad menu labeling rules. 

Important to farmers and ranchers, the bill supports Farm Bill implementation efforts and protects crop insurance as a key risk management tool. It invests $2.7 billion in new and ongoing ag research initiatives conducted by USDA and Kansas land grant and non-land grant universities. The bill also provides assistance to landowners for conservation efforts, and rejects the President’s proposal to reduce USDA conservation technical assistance to producers. The bill continues investments important to rural Kansas communities, including by increasing funding for USDA rural development programs that are designed to help foster economic growth in rural areas. The policies funded include rural housing programs and loans for rural water, waste, electric and telephone infrastructure projects.

The bill exhibits a strong commitment to fiscal responsibility by reducing overall spending by $3.7 billion compared to FY2015 enacted levels. The U.S. Senate now has an opportunity to debate 11 of the 12 appropriations bills required of Congress annually. If all 12 appropriations bills are passed into law, the U.S. government would save $74 billion in fiscal year 2016 as compared to President Obama’s budget proposal.

Senate Passes No Child Left Behind Rewrite
On Thursday, the Senate passed the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Initially enacted in 1965, ESEA is the primary source of federal aid for K-12 education and was most recently amended and reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). I opposed passage of NCLB in 2001 because I believe education is too important to our families and to our future for so many decisions to be made in Washington. I voted against S. 1177 because it does not go far enough in reducing the counterproductive federal mandates currently dictating K-12 education. Washington bureaucrats will still have a substantial say in curriculum development, school testing and assessment decisions – functions best handled by states and local school districts. Unfortunately, this bill misses an opportunity to give responsibility back to those who best know the unique needs of students, families and educators. Senate passage of the bill sets up a conference with the House, which passed its ESEA reauthorization measure on July 8, 2015.

Older Americans Act Reauthorized by the Senate
The Senate unanimously passed the Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act (S. 192) on Thursday. I am a sponsor of this legislation, which would update the Older Americans Act (OAA) for the first time since 2006. The OAA directs the delivery of a wide range of social services and programs for older persons. These services include Meals on Wheels and other home-delivered nutrition services; family caregiver support; and services to prevent the abuse, neglect and exploitation of older persons. This law also helps support senior centers in Kansas, which serve as a base for a wide range of important initiatives such as health screenings, counseling and support services for seniors and their families. The availability of these health, nutrition and community services often determines whether Kansas seniors can remain in the communities they call home. Reauthorization of this law is more than three years overdue. I now urge the House to take up this legislation.

Examining Corruption, Bribery and Deaths at FIFA Hearing
On Wednesday, I chaired a subcommittee hearing to examine the integrity of international soccer governance. I am not one who thinks Congress should investigate every scandal in the professional sports, but as chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee with jurisdiction over professional sports, I do believe the issues of corruption, bribery, and deaths related to soccer deserve the public’s attention. The hearing shed light on impending leadership changes at FIFA, the role of the United States in international soccer, and concerns about the labor conditions of workers in Qatar – the host of the 2022 World Cup. According to some reports, as many 4,000 migrant workers are projected to die before the first ball is kicked at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. That is inexcusable.

In May, the U.S. Justice Department unsealed a 47-count indictment charging nine FIFA officials and five sponsors with racketeering, bribery wire fraud and money laundering. Swiss authorities are now investing suspicious financial transactions related to the bidding process that ultimately selected Russia for the 2018 World Cup and Qatar for the 2022 World Cup. By shining a light on the corruption, bribery and other criminal activity that has been a part of international soccer for far too long, my hope is that the American people, current and future sponsors, and media companies that support the game today will better understand the consequences of allowing the organization governing soccer to continue without reform, including the tragic loss of life. To watch a video of the hearing, click here.

Army University at Fort Leavenworth
It is fitting to learn that Fort Leavenworth – the Intellectual Center of the Army – will oversee education and training of our future military and civilian leaders across the country. I am hopeful the restructured Army University will build upon our nation’s already first-rate education and training, and make certain we are preparing our soldiers to handle the evolving threats facing our country.

The Army University will increase student and faculty collaboration, improve soldier development programs, and implement common core curriculum across the spectrum of Army education. This program is an example of the unique role Fort Leavenworth contributes to the Army, educating future military leaders and growing their intellectual capacity to face difficult challenges in the future. The Army University will revitalize the Army’s professional military education system, and I am proud that Fort Leavenworth will serve a critical purpose transforming the way the Army prepare our nation’s leaders. I appreciate the efforts of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth as they embark on this new endeavor and will continue my support in strengthening military professional education through the new Army University.

Connect with Veterans Act
On Thursday, I sponsored the Connect with Veterans Act, bipartisan legislation that would help connect our nation’s veterans with resources in their local communities as they transition back into civilian life. This important legislation offers veterans increased access to basic information about services and benefits from local, state and federal entities or programs.

Nearly 250,000 service members are expected to separate from military service over the next five years and according to the Association of Defense Communities, the most critical phase in the transition is the short time period after a service member leaves the military. The Connect with Veteran’s Act would create a voluntary, secure and tailored directory of contact information; giving veterans control over the type of resource information they want to receive and improving outreach from the entities in their community that can provide the services they might need. Currently, no mechanism exists for local governments and communities to interact directly with service members and improving access would be especially critical for those living in rural communities. Click here to learn more.

Lenexa Rotary Club
Communities across our state are strengthened by organizations united by a shared passion for service. On Friday, I visited the Lenexa Rotary Club, a group made up of local business and professional leaders with a passion for service. I chatted with my fellow Rotarians about many of the problems facing our community and how we can work to find long-term solutions. Topics ranges from education to the Iran nuclear deal. It was good to see Rotary President Amy Ruo, Overland Park Councilman Fred Spears and David Huff, former-Kansas House Member. Special thanks to Lenexa Chamber of Commerce Vice President and Legislative Director Ashley Sherard for arranging my visit.

Old Soldiers and Sailors Reunion
I participated in the annual Old Soldiers and Sailors Reunion Parade in Erie on Saturday. This reunion event started in 1868 as reenactments of battles and military parades with servings of beans and other rations to troops and families. It has been passed on through the generations, and is now organized by the American Legion. Thanks to all the Erie residents for the warm welcome and to Rick Hines for driving me in the parade.

Kansans in the Office
Sarah Nelson of Caney
Brodelyn Brown of Arkansas City
Matthew McNary of Meriden
Brenda McNary of Meriden
Jennifer McNary of Meriden
Michael McNary of Meriden
Daniel Martin of Hugoton
Cameron Wesson of Leavenworth 

Capitol Tour
Nicholaas George of Manhattan
Travis Bailey of Lenexa
Lucas Wallace of Lawrence
Joseph Langr of Scranton
Susan Marshall of Manhattan
Jerry Bauer of Wichita
Tamara Bauer of Wichita
Kyle Bauer of Wichita
Kaitlyn Bauer of Wichita
Fran Smith of Overland Park
Jim Smith of Overland Park
Kyle Henderscheid of Overland Park
Herbert Baird of Lindsborg
Karen Baird of Lindsborg
Alexa Sweifel of Augusta
Jillian Fishback of Lindsborg
Vernon Williams of Overland Park
Brenda Williams of Overland Park
Noah Williams of Overland Park
Tonya Howard of Wichita
Jackson Howard of Wichita
Madison Howard of Wichita
Ashley Crowl of Wichita
Crystal Burkhardt of Prairie Village
Lynda Davis of Alta Vista
Logan Potvin of Manhattan
Marion Gray of Olathe
Diana Gray of Olathe
Marion Gray Jr. of Olathe
Aleen Ratzlaff of Hillsboro
Jordyn Lee of Olathe
Phillip Adams of Junction City
Andrea Adams of Junction City
Dominique Adams of Junction City
Daphney Adams of Junction City 

National High School Equivalency Program
Kim Severance of Fort Scott
Victoria Obregon of Garden City
Lynne Wheeler of Fort Scott
Jena Russell of Fort Scott
Beth Towner of Fort Scott 

GE Aviation
Jorge Perez of Andover
Jared Armstrong of Derby 

Barbara Myer of Wichita 

National Council for Social Studies
Adam Topliff of Wamego
Jeff Benes of Westwood 

Kansas Soybean Association
Bob Henry of Robinson
Janice Henry of Robinson
Lucas Heinen of Everest
Raylen Phelon of Melvern
Karen Phelon of Melvern
Dennis Hupe of Topeka 

Christians United for Israel
Richard Collins of Topeka
Carole Collins of Topeka
Joyce Hoffine of Wichita
Susan McDonald of Topeka
Donna McGinty of Topeka
Carmen Metzger of Topeka
Dave Robinson of Galena
Mary Robinson of Galena
Linda Umbarger of Overland Park
Cindy Underhill of Topeka
Greg Varney of Topeka
Esther Weidemeyer of Shawnee Mission
Margaret Walters of Merriam 

National Hospice and Palliative Care
Laura Gilbow of Topeka
Ray Berry of Topeka
Sandy Kuhlman of Athol
Joe Barnes of Smith Center
Jody Harbaugh of Hays 

Central Kansas Extension District
Lisa Newman of Salina
Dr. Nozella Brown of Kansas City 

National Telephone Cooperative Association
Brian Boisvert of Wilson
Archie Macias of Udall 

Kansas Farm Bureau
Richard Felts of Manhattan
Ryan Flickner of Manhattan 

United Nations Foundation Girls Up Campaign
Ellie Schwartz of Leawood
Meg Schwartz of Leawood 

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
Sierra Adams of Leawood 

Frontier Farm Credit
Bill Miller of Manhattan 

Bill Goodlatte of Wichita
Don Haynes of Wichita
Chris Haynes of Wichita 

Kansas Grain and Feed Association
Tom Tunnell of Topeka
Ron Seeber of Topeka
Shari Bennett of Topeka
Megan Kilgore of Topeka
Ted Schultz of Moundridge
Mike Shirley of Oakley
Bill Garner of Weir
Nichole Gouldie of Moundridge
Aaron Hemberger of Bluff City
Lori Johnson of Medicine Lodge
Jami Loecker of Manhattan
Brent Martin of Emporia
Scott Morris of Hutchinson
Jon Newcomer of Topeka
Christopher Pachta of Concordia
Cori Woelk of Tribune
Travis Zwenger of Hays 

Kansas Corn
Bob Timmons of Fredonia
Charles Foltz of Garnett
Brian Baalman of Menlo
Dennis McNinch of Utica
Randy Small of Neodesha
Krystale Neitzell of Lawrence
Lowell Neitzell of Lawrence
Sue Schulte of Garnett
Erin Rios of Garnett
Kimberly McNinch of Arnold
Jeff Oestmann of Garnett 

Garden City Community College
Dr. Herb Swender of Garden City
Cecil O’Brate of Garden City
Dee Wigner of Garden City
Debra Atkinson of Garden City 

Future Business Leaders of America
Ashtyn Rottinghaus of Wellsville
Davin Rottinghaus of Wellsville 

Kansas Health Foundation
Dan Murray of Topeka
Allie Devine 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 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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