Kansas Common Sense


Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter.

With so many wanting to do America and our allies harm – including this week’s attack in Nice, France, on Bastille Day – we must provide our intelligence, military and law enforcement agencies the tools they need to stop terrorists. I believe at every opportunity, ISIS will continue its efforts to kill more Americans. We need to do significantly more in this battle against terrorism.

Sunday morning’s news of an ambush on Baton Rouge law enforcement is disturbing. We must find a way to come together to reject the ugliness of hatred and heal the wounds of the grief-stricken, and I am praying for the families of the three officers killed and the three officers shot. 

Supporting Critical Funding to Fight Zika
I voted this week to join the previously-passed Senate and House military funding bills in conference and move this legislation closer to becoming law. I am frustrated the Senate once again failed to come together to support this bill, which would have provided our nation’s experts with the resources they need to combat the Zika virus. Because this bill also includes provisions to support veterans and prioritize critical military construction projects in Kansas, its failure to pass will unfortunately result in reduced readiness for our military and greater challenges when meeting the needs of veterans.

Fighting for the Aviation Reform Kansas Needs
The Senate voted to extend the authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through September 2017 on Wednesday. While the extension passed with an 89-4 vote, I opposed this measure because it failed to include important improvements that the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation included in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 (FAARA), which passed the Senate in April with 95 votes. Unfortunately, this widely-supported reauthorization bill was never considered in the House of Representatives before the FAA’s current authorization expired on Friday.

Kansas is an aviation state, and Wednesday’s FAA extension failed to deliver much-needed reforms to strengthen the aviation industry and boost our state’s economy. If domestically manufactured aircraft are to remain our country’s top net export, aviation manufacturers in Kansas need the ability to compete in a global marketplace, requiring significant improvements to FAA’s certification processes and regulatory environment. Both FAARA and similar FAA reauthorization legislation moving in the House of Representatives contained these important provisions to streamline aircraft certification, which would have improved the FAA’s efficiency and allowed the agency to focus valuable resources elsewhere, but were not included in the extension I voted against.

In addition, reforms to provide long-term certainty for the Contract Tower Program were also excluded from the final extension package. The program, which includes eight air traffic control towers in Kansas, is a significant public-private success story and one of the FAA’s most cost-effective programs –handling nearly one-third of the nation’s air traffic control tower operations for only a fraction of the FAA’s tower operations budget. Congress has repeatedly demonstrated its bipartisan, bicameral support for the program in recent years but failed to achieve reforms to strengthen the program in this extension. Putting on hold these non-controversial and long-overdue reforms is a sorely missed opportunity for Congress, where meaningful bipartisan accomplishments so often remain elusive. I will continue to call upon my colleagues to support these important reforms in future FAA reauthorization efforts. To view my remarks on the FAA extension, please click here.

Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act to Become Law
This week the Senate passed the conference report accompanying the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) soon to be signed into law by the president. This comprehensive legislation will help address the national epidemics of prescription opioid and heroin abuse through expanded drug prevention efforts and access to treatment, support for law enforcement and techniques to combat overdoses.

Included in this legislation are provisions I introduced to make naloxone rescue kits more affordable and accessible for veterans. When a veteran is dependent on opioids as a result of injuries incurred during his or her service to our nation, we have a responsibility to provide the best possible care, including pain management. Unfortunately, the threshold between pain management and opioid addiction is far too easy to cross, as we see from the high number of veterans currently diagnosed with an opioid-use disorder. That is why it is critical that we lower barriers to access, and increase education on the use of naloxone kits for our veterans – the only resource that can protect against the worst case scenario of an overdose.

The new law represents a step forward in combatting addiction and its devastating effects. Far too many Americans suffer from this epidemic or know someone who does. This bipartisan legislative accomplishment will help our communities fight back against this serious health crisis – improving lives and preventing the destruction of many more. Click here to learn more.

Urging the FCC to Close the Rural Broadband Gap
It’s a sad fact of life that in rural America, we don’t always enjoy cell phone service that is as reliable as in big cities. I spend a lot of my time on the road in Kansas, and too often my cell phone is looking for a signal. The reality is that it’s not always profitable to build communications networks in places where there are fewer people. Increasingly, farmers are looking at technology to improve their efficiency – but that’s tough to do without reliable communications networks in croplands. This week, along with a number of my Senate colleagues, I called on the FCC to enhance its efforts to create the proper incentives for building out networks in rural areas, and in particular to focus on crop and ranch lands, rather than just roads. You can read the letter here.

Introducing a Proposal to Modernize IT, Reduce Government Waste
Americans want a more efficient, effective and accountable government. Bringing our government’s aging information technology (IT) systems into the 21st century is an important step in that direction. Each year, the federal government spends more than $80 billion on IT, most of which is spent on maintaining old systems rather than investing in new technologies. By moving to cloud computing, the government could cut this figure significantly. That’s why this week I proposed a solution and joined with colleagues from both sides of the aisle and in both the Senate and House to do just that and accelerate adoption of cloud computing by federal agencies. Where appropriate, cloud-based solutions are a more secure and fiscally responsible alternative that will save our nation billions of dollars for years to come. To read more, click here.

Touring Foot Locker Corporate in Junction City
I had an informative tour of Foot Locker Corporate Services Center in Junction City on Friday. This facility has about 600 employees and continues to be one of the largest employers in Geary County, despite tough economic times. During my visit, we discussed the initiatives the company is working on to meet the many challenges of a growing workforce and changing consumer demand. Thanks to Foot Locker VP of Logistics John Matta and Operations Director Dan Holt for coordinating my visit. I also appreciate Junction City Mayor Mick McCallister and Chamber of Commerce CEO Dennis Beson for joining me at the facility.

Taking Part in the Cuba Harvest Festival
I attended the Cuba Harvest Festival Saturday afternoon and saw some familiar faces among the families who attended. Whenever I’m in Cuba, I’m reminded of Jim Richardson’s story about his own connection to the town. This annual tradition commemorates the unique spirit of the community, and I encourage you to read this story if you haven’t had a chance to already by clicking here.

"Horsing Around," by Jim Richardson - 1979 - originally published in National Geographic

Kansas Listening Tour Stops in Riley and Smith Counties
I was home in Manhattan to visit with Kansans as part of my Kansas Listening Tour on Friday. I heard from more than 100 area residents about Fort Riley’s Irwin Army Community Hospital, veterans, NBAF, gun control, the deficit and debt, small business, overregulation and border security. Thanks to the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce for hosting. 

I visited Smith County on Saturday and heard from local residents about the need to care for our veterans, rural healthcare, supporting farmers, the importance of the Second Amendment and strengthening rural communities. I want to thank Linda Befort for helping arrange the meeting at the Lebanon Community Center. I appreciated meeting with everyone in attendance including Pamela Wirth with the Smith County Farm Bureau.

Kansans in the Office
Bobby Goheen of Linwood
Ragen Alexander of Lansing
Abigail Franks of Mulvane
Wendee Harris of Wichita
Alyssa Wistuba of Valley Falls
Jawanda Mast of Olathe
Sara Wier of Olathe
Heather Sachs of Olathe
Kathy Kittel of Olathe
Kasey Kittel of Olathe
Katie Kittel of Olathe

Edward Cross of Topeka

Renewable Fuels Association
Robert White of Olathe
Derek Peine of Oakley
Charlie Wilson of Wichita

AFGE Local 1336
Don Halliburton of Kansas City

Loway Energy
Brad Campbell of Olathe
Ruby Smith of Olathe

Council for Exceptional Children
Patty Carter of Topeka
Rebekah Helget of Junction City
Deborah Howser of Manhattan
Doug Anderson of Wichita
Kristen Bennett-O’Brien of Topeka
Vicki Vossler of Holton
Elena Lincoln of Emporia
Peggy Kemp of Wamego

Samoy Mainda of Kansas City
Fred Mainda of Kansas City

East Kansas Agri-Energy
Jeff Oestmann of Ottawa

SURF Program
Kathleen Mullin of Shawee
Austin Schuberth of Shawee

KC Southern
Patrick Ottensmeyer of Kansas City

KC Board of Public Utilities
David Alvey of Kansas City
David Mehlhaff of Kansas City

Online Lenders Association
Bart Miller of Kansas City

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
Emma Bigham of Herington

Kansas Grain and Feed Association
Tom Tunnell of Topeka
Ron Seeber of Topeka
Shari Bennett of Topeka
Devon Stewart of Topeka
Matt Case of Columbus
Blake Connnelly of Lewis
Tatum Couture of Beloit
Valarie LaPean of Overland Park
Barbara Padgett of Dodge City
Jonathan Persons of Olathe
Christopher Stevens of Conway Springs
Samantha Tenpenny of Topeka
Derrick Tice of St. Francis
Kristin Williams of Randall

National Council for the Social Studies Leadership Institute
Kori Green of El Dorado

Close Up Foundation
Lauren Bernard of Leawood
Rachel Li of Olathe

Girl Up Campaign
Meg Schwartz of Leawood

Middle East Africa Bank
Andy Schlapp of Wichita

National Automatic Manufacturing Association
John Barnes of Merriam
Randy Downing of Overland Park

Moms Clean Air Force
Sharon Crowe of Kansas City

340B Health
Sarah Dodson of Pittsburg
Bruce Witt of Wichita

National Association of Trailer Manufacturers
Meghan Ryan of Topeka
Colin Holthaus of Topeka

Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers
Greg Tyler of Hutchinson

American Soybean Association
Lucas Heinen of Everest
Teresa Brandenburg of Osborne
Andy Winsor of Perry
Kurt Maurath of Oakley
Julie Maurath of Oakley
Dennis Hupe of Topeka

Sunflower Foundation
Jason Ball of Hutchinson
Denise Cyzman of Topeka
Vernetta Dixon of Wichita
Benet Magnuson of Lawrence
Maureen Mahoney of Kansas City
Annie McKay of Topeka
Kaye Monk-Morgan of Wichita
Tracey Osborne of Overland Park
Eva Schulte of Kansas City
Liz Sosa of Garden City
David Toland of Iola
Sheldon Weisgrau of Topeka
Jason Wesco of Pittsburg

John Barnes of Overland

National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology
Scott Wells of Overland Park
Adam Lane of Overland Park
Pete Coinitti of Overland Prak

Bill of Rights Institute
Grant Daily of Wichita
McKenna Willis of Wichita
Fengxue Zhang of Hays
Nick Hinman of Olathe
Katherine Schartz of Olathe
Connor Horn of Olathe

Falun Gong Practitioners
Linda Kuang of Overland Park
Kairon Tian of Overland Park
John Gao of Overland Park

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Bradley McVey of Fredonia

Capitol Tour
Barry Schaal of Lenexa
Michelle Schaal of Lenexa
Jack Schaal of Lenexa
Lillie Schaal of Lenexa
Jabob Henning of Wichita
Katie Henning of Bel Aire
Katie Henning of Bel Aire
Robert Heimer of Olathe
Aaron Lueger of Holton
Sarah Lueger of Holton
Tyler Dodson of Pittsburg
Kurt Stork of Galena
Rhonda Stork of Galena
Jacob Stork of Galena
Logan Stork of Galena
Abigail Stork of Galena
Preston Hosier of Mulvane
Mindy Hosier of Mulvane
Austin Hosier of Mulvane
Meagen Hosier of Mulvane
Vicky Couch of Pittsburg
Chayce Couch of Pittsburg
Casey Bradshaw of Olathe
Shane Morris of Pittsburg
Catherin Stonerock of Farlington
Dwight Gigstad of Nortonville
Shawn Gigstad of Nortonville
George Gigstad of Nortonville
Neal Allen 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 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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