Kansas Common Sense

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McConnell AFB and Forbes Field Selected as National Finalists for Tanker Aircraft Basing

On Wednesday I was pleased to announce that the United States Air Force selected both McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita and Forbes Airfield in Topeka as finalists for the basing of the KC-46A tanker program. Kansas is the only state to have both of their Air Force bases included on these candidate lists. Final selection for KC-46A basing will take place in 2014.

The selection of not just one, but both Kansas Air Force bases as candidates is a testament to the critical role our state plays in supporting all branches of our military and allied partners as they carry out missions overseas and at home. Strategically positioned in the heart of the United States, the location, capacity and mission of McConnell and Forbes make both bases exceptionally equipped to provide air mobility globally at a moment’s notice.

Our efforts to ensure this outcome began months ago when we, along with state leaders, met with Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark Welsh to make certain he understood the value of air mobility assets in Kansas. In addition to meeting with General Welsh to convey Kansas’ long-standing history of service and support to air power, in June 2012, Senator Roberts and I sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley to encourage the selection of McConnell AFB as the first MOB #1 for the KC-46A tanker.

With rising maintenance and support costs, the transition from the 50-year-old KC-135 tankers to KC-46A tankers is the U.S. Air Force’s top acquisition and recapitalization priority. As the process continues, I look forward to working here in Washington, D.C., with the Pentagon and Air Force leadership, as well as with state and local leaders in Wichita and Topeka, including Adjutant General MG Tafanelli, to continue to demonstrate the importance of both McConnell and Forbes to the Air Force.


Washington and the Startup Economy: First Do No Harm

The Consumer Electronics Association invited me to attend this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) where I participated on a panel called 'Washington and the Startup Economy: First Do No Harm.' During my remarks, I outlined my principles for pro-growth policymaking and the importance of encouraging innovation and helping new businesses form, grow, and create jobs for Americans. I explained how I teamed up with Senator Ron Wyden to successfully defeat the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), because of its impact on innovation, free speech, and national security.

This topic also provided an opportunity to speak about smart spectrum policy, and the economic benefits of making more available for both licensed and unlicensed use. I also provided an update on two bills I introduced last year called Startup Act and Startup Act 2.0. These bipartisan bills seek to unleash the job-creating power of entrepreneurs to innovate, create, and grow the economy. I enjoyed hearing from a panel of startups about their thoughts of how America can be friendlier to entrepreneurs.

Attending the 2013 Consumer Electronic Show

This week, I traveled to Nevada for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). This trade show demonstrates the latest innovation in electronics - everything from vehicle technologies and driverless cars to ultra-high-definition televisions and home health care products. On Tuesday evening, I traveled to the inNEVation Center, a local incubator, coworking, mentoring, and networking space. There, I met with Dylan Bathurst of Talmage, Kansas. Dylan attended Fort Hays State University before moving to Nevada to work at Zappos. Last June, Dylan came up with an idea for a company called Rumgr at a Startup Weekend event in Las Vegas. Rumgr is an online marketplace to buy and sell with people nearby. Shortly after creating the company, Dylan and his two co-founders, both former Zappos employees, were successful in raising $500,000 from investors, including Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh.  I enjoyed my conversation with Dylan and look forward to sharing his thoughts and ideas about how to support local startups in Kansas.
JM and DB 

On Wednesday morning, I toured the CES showroom to get a hands-on experience with the new technologies at the show. During my tour, I stopped by a handful of company booths, including Garmin, to learn about their newest products and to visit with National Sales Manager Andy Torburen of Olathe.
JM at Garmin CES 

I also took time to visit Eureka Village, CES’s very own village of startup companies showcasing their products and services. There, I met the founders of Troop I.D., a startup that seeks to verify military members in order to provide them benefits and discounts. They have developed a list of veterans that is more accurate than our own Department of Veterans Affairs. Internet entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Mark Cuban, was also spotted at Eureka Village listening to pitches from entrepreneurs and even investing in some of these new companies. I was encouraged to see entrepreneurship and innovation is alive and well in America.


Meeting with FCC Chairman Genachowski

During my time at CES, I managed to visit with four of the five commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), including Chairman Julius Genachowski. We discussed a range of topics, including his thoughts on the show, the progress of the FCC in reforming the Universal Service Fund and Intercarrier Compensation models that affect many rural Kansas telephone companies, and the future of the wireless industry. I enjoyed our visit and also hearing his thoughts about the future of technology in America and worldwide.


Visiting El Dorado High School

Monday morning I toured El Dorado High School and had an excellent tour given by student body president Collin Just, and representative Sierra Bonn. School Principal, Mr. House reviewed the school’s history and changes that have taken place. He also told me about the 1-1 laptop initiative, which insures that each student has access to a laptop computer. I had a great time visiting several classrooms and chatting with the students and teachers. It was also nice to meet school resource officer, Kurt Spivey. Thanks to my tour guides and  to Mr. Fellers, Mr. Miller, Ms. Brown, Mr. Risch, Mr. Hull, and Ms. Blair, and their students, who allowed me to visit their classrooms and learn about the things that are important to El Dorado High School.


Kansans Honored as 2013 Captains of America’s Road Team Finalists

On Tuesday, two Kansans were honored as finalists to become Captains of America’s Road Team for 2013, at a reception hosted by the American Trucking Association in Washington, D.C. Don Logan or Eskridge and James Starr of Wichita were selected as finalists for their trucking industry expertise, communication skills, community service and lifetime safety records. I want to congratulate these hardworking Kansans, as well as all the fine men and women who deliver America’s most essential goods.


Visiting the Community of Natoma

On Friday, I visited the community of Natoma and made several stops around town including the Post Office, City Hall, Masters Oil, Midland Marketing, USD #399, United National Bank, and Natoma Elementary School. Thanks to all the folks who said hello and took the time to chat. I always appreciate the advice and instructions I receive from conversations with Kansans.

In the Office

This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below.

Joe Kennedy

Catherine Gatewood

Doug Scott, Jay Gibson, Derek Hess, and Russ Bartlett of Hawker Beechcraft

Russell Libby and Tom Kurz of Sysco

Kyle Christian

Ed Hill of Bank of America

Bob Casper and Kelly Casper of POET


Several Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the US Capitol this week including:

Daniel Snell

Andrew Mense

Matthew Tippin

Jonathan Foster and son, Shay

Overland Park
Rohit & Angel Krishna

Mark Brunson


Honored to Serve You in Washington

It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. In recent weeks, I’ve been listening to Kansans calling and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the debt crisis and the big issues our country faces. Whether your thoughts are in the form of letter, a Facebook comment, or a phone call, please know that I am listening and I appreciate messages from Kansans who wish to make their voice heard.

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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