Kansas Common Sense


Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. Our nation suffered a great tragedy over the weekend in Orlando, Florida. I ask all Kansans to join Robba and me in keeping the victims, their families and the numerous others injured in our thoughts and prayers. Our deepest sympathies go out to all those affected by this act of terror.

It has been 72 years since Kansas’ own General Dwight D. Eisenhower commanded more than 156,000 Allied troops on D-Day in an invasion that would change the outcome of the war and forever alter the course of history. On Monday, we gave a salute to the brave soldiers who risked their lives to root out evil and protect our way of life. The sacrifice of our servicemen and women is why we can continue to call our home the greatest country in the world.

The National Defense Authorization Act on the Senate Floor
This week the Senate began consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2017, which supports the Department of Defense’s mission to keep millions of Americans safe at home and abroad. One of the amendments I offered would prohibit spending any money on planning or constructing facilities in the United States to hold ‎GITMO detainees. The U.S. Congress, Americans and Kansans have been clear year after year that GITMO detainees have no place on American soil. I will continue to work to make certain the law is upheld and that detainees remain at GITMO – they must not be brought to Fort Leavenworth or anywhere in the United States.

Supporting Medical Research & Helping Students
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted on Thursday to approve legislation that directs funding and operations within the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies for fiscal year 2017. Approved by a 29-1 vote, the bill supports healthcare research and our nation’s students. Two areas I find particularly encouraging are the $2 billion increase provided to the researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the prioritization of college completion and affordability through Pell grants.

Supporting medical research improves patient care and helps those living with devastating diseases. I’m proud of provisions in this bill that bolster our ability to understand and find cures for diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. These diseases impact millions of Americans and their families each year. Every effort we can make to stop or slow the onset of these terrible diseases today not only gives hope to those afflicted and their loved ones, but also helps save millions of lives and billions of dollars for future generations.

This bill also assists students by expanding access to Pell grants year-round and increasing the maximum amount available through the grants. Kansas is home to some of the best community colleges in the nation. Providing our students with additional opportunity and flexibility in accessing the educational resources of our community colleges will help more students achieve their dreams. To read more, click here.

Meeting with Leaders from McConnell Air Force Base
I always enjoy catching up with members of the military who call Kansas home, and this week I was pleased to visit with leaders from McConnell Air Force Base including Wing Commander of the 22nd Air Refueling Wing Colonel Albert Miller. Col. Miller reassured me the current construction projects that make possible the base’s future mission as home to the KC-46A tanker are expected to be completed in time for the tanker’s arrival. Accompanying Col. Miller was Chief Master Sergeant Angela Gagliano and Technical Sergeant (TSgt.) Matthew Treadwell. TSgt. Treadwell received a Bronze Star with Valor for his actions while serving our nation, and I was honored he shared his heroic story with me.

Learning More at Hearing on FAST Act Implementation
As a member of the Senate committee that oversees transportation, I participated in a hearing Wednesday regarding the implementation of the FAST Act, which was signed into law on December 3, 2015. Included in the FAST Act was an amendment I offered to help truckers deliver goods at a lower cost to consumers and also reduce highway congestion by allowing manufacturers to deliver tandem trailers. I asked Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to identify and address the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) responsibility to educate states’ enforcement agencies on compliance for this and other important measures included in the FAST Act.

The FAST Act, which earned bipartisan support and was deficit-neutral, was the first long-term surface transportation bill passed by Congress in more than a decade. It represents meaningful progress for the abilities of our state and local governments to plan vital infrastructure projects. Wednesday’s hearing was a valuable opportunity for our committee to fulfill its oversight duties and ensure the DOT is implementing this legislation in an efficient and productive manner.

Protecting Employers, Worker and Nonprofits from Harmful DOL Rule
I supported the introduction of a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution this week to formally object to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed “overtime rule” changes. In May, the DOL finalized an update to its overtime rules that increases the minimum salary by which companies must provide overtime compensation to its employees. While efforts to help American workers are appropriate, the consequences of these changes would inflict economic harm on the very people the rule intends to help.

The practical effect of this action is that thousands of Americans will have their work arrangement flexibility restricted and their weekly hours slashed by companies moving to comply with the new rule. Furthermore, the rule will cost many colleges and universities millions of dollars per year in additional operating costs, threating to raise tuition costs for college students at a time when many can scarcely afford such a hike. In addition to this resolution, I also sponsored the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act (S. 2707), which would direct DOL to study the impacts of its new rule before it could be fully implemented. The Department of Labor should recognize public interest in halting implementing its final rule. To read more, click here.

Touring a Diaper Bank in Lenexa
Before flying to Washington, D.C. Monday morning, I stopped in Lenexa to tour HappyBottoms.org, a nonprofit diaper bank that provides more than 145,000 diapers to 2,400 babies and toddlers per month throughout the Kansas City metro area – distributing more than 1.6 million diapers last year. Many families struggle to afford diapers for their babies and toddlers, which brings potential has potential health, educational and occupational consequences. Without a reliable supply of diapers, babies are often unable to receive child care and early childhood education, which then makes it difficult for parents to attend school and work. I appreciated the opportunity to tour the facility to learn more about their efforts to help families in need and make a difference in their community each day. Thanks also to Executive Director John Teasdale for hosting me and to Lenexa Mayor Mike Boehm and Lenexa Chamber of Commerce President Blake Schreck for joining me.

Apply to be a Fall 2016 Intern
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 Manhattan, Kansas, offices for the fall 2016 term. The deadline for the fall is July 1. Congressional internships are open to qualified undergraduate and graduate students who have an interest in public service and have achieved academic excellence. 

Kansans in the Office
Families First
Stacy Crow of Goodland
Derek Crow of Goodland

Risk and Insurance Management Society
Terence Milford of Overland Park

Pursuing Justice
Patricia Speler of Overland Park
Barbara Rugoff of Stillwall

McConnell Air Force Base
Col. Albert Miller of Wichita
CMSgt. Angela Gagliano of Wichita
TSgt. Matthew Treadwell of Wichita

Kansas CASA Association
Samantha King of Wichita
Kelly Meyer of Leavenworth
Heather Boatright of Atchison
Briana Burgess of Leavenworth

Children’s Advocacy Centers of Kansas
Aurora Myers of Wichita
Jessica Zellner of Wichita
Grace Garner of Iola
Donita Garner of Iola

Bread for the World
Kelly Nuckalls of El Dorado

National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies
Justin Lear of Ellinwood
Dwight Tully of Salina
Gary Holle of Bremen 

Midwest Minerals
Steve Sloan of Pittsburg

Kansas City Region of ASC
Marvin Szneler of Overland Park
Lauren Roni Breshears of Leawood

National Association of Manufacturers
Scott Schwindaman of Wichita

Dairy Farmers of America
Dan Senestraro of Johnson City

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri
Elise Higgins of Lawrence
Jackie Johnson of Mission Hills
Amanda Addison of Olathe

National Cooking Up Change Competition
Nina Khonsaythidet of Wichita
Jessica Tafolla of Wichita
Barbara Cowels of Wichita

Recreation Vehicle Industry Association
Arthur Klee of Wichita

Marin Turner of Topeka
Glenda Duboise of Topeka 

Kansas 4-H
Rachel Irvin of Manhattan
Gillian Nichols of Manhattan
Grace Wilcox of Olsburg
Riley Taylor of Manhattan
Georgia Hatesohl of Manhattan
Paige Fowler of Manhattan
Devin McClayland of Alma
Tyler Beckman of Manhattan
Rachelle Wylie of Wamego
Dylan Anderson of Manhattan
Jacob Clanton of Manhattan
Chessa Parker of Manhattan
Seth Carlson of Randholph
Clara Mayfield of Manhattan
Trent Archer of Alma
Megan Ritter of Randolph
Meganne Monnard of Manhattan
Izzie Williams of Manhattan
Sharon Doebesh-Beckman of Manhattan
Christopher Anderson of Leonardville
Matthew Ashwill of Princeton
Cody Atchison of Burlingame
Brock Butel of Overbrook
Royce Cowan of Osage City
Megan Davis of Princeton
Joel Face of Ottawa
Justine French of Ottawa
Coyd Gardner of Richmond
Dalton Hook of Lyndon
Raymond Hovestadt of Burlingame
Cameron Koger of Overbrook
Wayne Laurie of Ottawa
Alexa McCurdy of Williamsburg
J.D. Schoepflin of Osage City
Noah Short of Williamsburg
Leon Sluder of Quenemo
Evan Tomlinson of Overbrook
Morgan Woodbury of Quenemo
Amanda Wray of Ottawa
Candie Campbell of Ottawa
Charlie Atchinson of Burlingame
Royce Face of Ottawa

Tammy Beckham of Manhattan

National Association of Surety Bond Producers
Erle Benton of Kansas City
Monica Donatelli of Kansas City

Kansas Livestock Association
Keith Bryant of Garden City
Philip Perry of Oskaloosa
Becca Brown of Satanta
Ryan Iverson of Olathe

SNAC International
Tony Sebben of Kansas City

Wilson Communication
Brian Boisvert of Wilson

National Association of Fixed Annuities
Christopher Conry of Overland Park
Kevin Mechtley of Shawnee
Lance Sparks of Topeka
Lee Stiegemeier of Overland Park
David Wales of Overland Park
Randy Matzke of Topeka
Jared Anderson of Topeka

Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce
Keith Westervelt of Manhattan
Lucy Williams of Manhattan
Jim Gordon of Manhattan
Wayne Sloan of Manhattan
Kristin Brighton of Manhattan
Matt Crocker of Manhattan
Jackie Hartman of Manhattan
Sue Peterson of Manhattan
Dick Carter of Manhattan
Lyle Butler of Manhattan

Kansas Corn Growers Association
Greg Krissek of Manhattan

Capitol Tour
Ted Uhlenhop of Andover
Jennifer Uhlenhop of Andover
Grace Uhlenhop of Andover
Allison Uhlenhop of Andover
Margaret Uhlenhop of Andover
William Uhlenhop of Andover
Cherrita Lawson of Leavenworth
David Akehurst of Olathe
Leslie Akehurst of Olathe
Brendan Akehurst of Olathe
David Toland of Iola
Caroline Toland of Iola
William Toland of Iola
Delwen Miller of Hartford
Jacqueline Miller of Hartford
Caleb Thomsen of Lamont
Mike Campbell of Mulvane
Marsha Campbell of Mulvane
Andrew Campbell of Mulvane
Neal Allsup of Hutchinson
Joni Allsup of Hutchinson
Andrew Allsup of Hutchinson
Ross Wright of Marysville
Candace Wright of Marysville
Joseph Coleman of Olathe
Katrina Coleman of Olathe
Katia Coleman of Olathe
Ethan Coleman of Olathe
Willem Anemaat of Lawrence
Mary Jo Anemaat of Lawrence
Chase Elliot of Tonganoxie
Susan Swab of Olathe
Grace Swab of Olathe
Teri Stice of Prairie Village
Jeremy Stover of Wichita
Becky Stover of Wichita
Troy Stover of Wichita
Garret Stover of Wichita
Todd Stover of Wichita
Wyatt Stover of Wichita
Avery Stover of Wichita
Steve Griffith of Prairie Village
Michelle Griffith of Prairie Village
Claire Griffith of Prairie Village
Allyson Griffith of Prairie Village
Elvin Ehrhardt of Topeka
Sandra Ehrhardt 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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