Kansas Common Sense


Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks 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.

Unanimous Support for Agriculture Appropriations Bill
The Senate Appropriations Committee this week approved by a 30-0 vote legislation I authored in my role as Chairman of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee. My bill directs funding and operations within the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), balances continued investment in rural America with fiscal responsibility by spending less money this fiscal year than last.

The legislation prioritizes interests crucial to farmers and ranchers in Kansas by investing in agriculture research, conservation and animal health initiatives. It emphasizes food safety efforts that will help keep families across the country healthy, supports flood prevention and conservation efforts by addressing watershed project backlogs in Kansas and carries provisions that will incentivize military veterans to explore opportunities in production agriculture. Recognizing the importance of rural water systems, the bill provides robust support for USDA programs designed to provide technical assistance to rural communities and prevent pollution of waters that are the source of drinking water for rural residents. The bill will be debated on the Senate floor in the coming weeks. To read more, click here.

Commemorating Fallen KCK Detective Brad Lancaster
In honor of National Police Week, I spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday to pay respect to the law enforcement officers who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving communities across our nation. One such everyday hero is Detective Brad Lancaster of the Kansas City Kansas Police Department, who was killed in the line of duty on May 9th of this year. Detective Lancaster is remembered as a dedicated member of his community and a family man, and he is survived by his wife and two daughters. I was proud to learn that Detective Lancaster’s family will be among the first to receive a flag flown over the United States Capitol under the newly passed Fallen Heroes Flag Act, a piece of legislation I sponsored alongside Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri to honor fallen first responders and their families. This flag is just a token of what Detective Lancaster and other officers like him mean to their communities and I hope you’ll take some time this week to thank a police officer in your own community for their tireless efforts to make all of our lives safer. Watch here: http://bit.ly/1Vg3vA5.

Funding for Zika Response Should be Offset
The Senate considered a number of options to address emergency funding regarding the Zika virus this week. I supported a proposal that would offset supplemental funding with corresponding spending cuts. As warmer months approach, the threat the Zika virus poses to Americans – particularly pregnant women – is something I believe we should take very seriously. I also believe we must prioritize this initiative and shift funds to combat the spread of this virus without heaping additional dollars to our national debt. This common sense solution would help protect Kansans and Americans from Zika and is also the sort of deficit-neutral solution we should seek out whenever possible, which is why it earned my vote. In February, I participated in a Senate Health Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the Zika virus outbreak, in which Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony Fauci outlined the threat of the Zika virus and their agencies’ plans to keep Americans safe.

Funding Military Construction and the VA
This week the Senate passed H.R. 2577, which prioritizes funding through fiscal year 2017 for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Military Construction. This legislation continues to make certain that Naval Station, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba (GITMO) is not closed and that detainee terrorists are not transferred anywhere in the United States. There is also funding for a number of military construction projects in Kansas, and I am particularly encouraged by the investments made for critical projects at McConnell Air Force Base for the arrival of the first KC-46A tankers and a new Readiness Center for the Kansas National Guard’s 35th Infantry Division at Fort Leavenworth. These investments once again underscore the importance of Kansas’ military installations to the Armed Forces, and I will continue working to prioritize funding that supports service members and Kansas defense communities.

The final bill also included a number of my priorities in support of veterans, including language that requires the VA to enter into a contract with the National Academy of Medicine to conduct a study and assessment on the current research available regarding the health conditions related to exposure to toxic substances. This study would also provide recommendations for further research opportunities relating to toxic exposures and potential health conditions that result from those exposure. We have a duty to provide quality care for our veterans, particularly when their health conditions are a result of their service, and when their service results in adverse health conditions for their children, and I am committed to making certain gaps in research into the health conditions related to toxic exposures are filled. Please click here to read more.

Honoring Chanute’s Virgil Lair
I visited with the family of Virgil Lair in Chanute on Monday on my way back to Washington, D.C. Virgil, known by many as “Arnie,” was a community leader, farmer, veteran and family man. He was born and raised in Kansas, a graduate of Iola High School and K-State, and a Piqua native. He served in the Pacific Theater during WWII in the United States Navy before returning to Piqua, where he began buying land for his farming operation. After several years of farming, he bought a bank in Stark and expanded his business across southeast Kansas over the next several decades. His family was his top priority, and he is survived by 29 children, spouses, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I am thankful for his contributions to our state, and glad I had the opportunity to pay my respects. May he rest in peace. To read more, click here.

Touring Movie Theater-Industry Business in Iola
Monday morning I toured Sonic Equipment Company and Kneisley Manufacturing in Iola. Sonic Equipment specializes in everything related to movie theaters from renovation to new construction. They provide consulting, installation and service to more than 1,200 screens in 37 states and specialize in conversion to the digital age. Kneisley Manufacturing supports Sonic Equipment with a focus on light projection in theaters. They are also involved in high-powered search light applications. Thanks to Executive Director Ron Hageman, Director of Quality Assurance Lonnie Larson, and employees Chuck Miller and Joe Carver for sharing their work with me. I also appreciated Iola Mayor Joel Wicoff, Iola Industries Chairman Mary Kay Heard and Executive Director of Thrive Allen County David Toland joining me for my visit.

Learning More About VRS in Overland Park
Before leaving for Washington, D.C., I stopped in Overland Park for a tour of Sorenson Communications. Sorenson is the world’s largest provider of Video Relay Services (VRS) for deaf and hearing impaired individuals. VRS is a video interpreting service used to help deaf and hearing impaired individuals who use sign language call and communicate with hearing individuals. Sorenson customers are able to easily to place a call to hearing individuals through sign language interpreters who interpret and relay their call. Hearing individuals can also initiate a call to a deaf or hearing impaired individual through Sorenson’s video relay service. As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and the Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee, each of which have jurisdiction over the Federal Communications Commission, this visit was a good opportunity for me to learn more about the impact the federal government has on their day-to-day operations.

Visiting with Ellis County Law Enforcement & Judicial Officers
I made a stop on Saturday in Hays to tour the recently remodeled Ellis County Courthouse and Law Enforcement Center. I was very impressed with the renovations and commend the county on a job well done. No doubt, the new and renovated county buildings will serve Ellis County, Kansas and area residents well for years to come. Thanks to Chief District Judge Glenn Braun and Ellis County Sheriff Ed Harbin for conducting the tour. The tour also gave me the opportunity to visit with the following local officials about any concerns they have regarding federal issues affecting Ellis County and the city of Hays: Ellis County Administrator Phillip Smith-Hanes; Ellis County Attorney Thomas Drees; Court Administrator Phil Fielder; Ellis County Clerk Donna Maskus; Ellis County Commisioners Marcy McClelland, Barbara K. Wasinger and Dean Haselhorst; Hays Chief of Police Don Scheibler, Hays Police Officer Brian Dawson, Hays Mayor Eber Phelps and Ellis County Emergency Management Coordinator Bill Ring. Thanks for showing me this new facility.

Greeting Veteran Motorcyclists in Junction City
I joined hundreds of our nation’s veterans in Junction City Sunday night during a stopover of the annual Run for the Wall event. Veterans ride more than 2,600 miles from California to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. During their trip, they visit VA hospitals and war memorials to honor their fellow veterans. When the motorcycle riders arrived in Junction City, they were met by hundreds of proud Kansans waving American Flags — it was a truly breathtaking welcome. Thank you for the opportunity to honor these courageous men and women who were called to serve.

Now Accepting 2016 Service Academy Applications
Even as students are beginning their summer breaks, I want to remind them of the opportunity to apply to a United States Service Academy. Appointing Kansans to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD; the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.; and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY, is one of my favorite duties as a U.S. Senator.

To find out the requirements and apply, please download an application from my website or contact my Olathe office. All application materials are due to my Olathe office by September 2, 2016. After applications have been reviewed, applicants will be notified of interviews with my Service Academy Selection Board, which will take place on Saturday, September 24, 2016, at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.

Kansans in the Office
Dave Dillon of Hutchinson
Sandra Veh of Hill City
Stephanie Wands of Salina
Richard Kuehl of Hays
Glenda Gail Kuehl of Hays
Alexis Burton of Hays

American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
Steven Higgs of Manhattan

WomenHeart Champion
Elizabeth Bale of Leawood

Liz Wolfe of Lenexa

Kansas Securities Commissioner
Josh Ney of Jefferson County

National Turfgrass Federation
Mark Johnson of Lawrence
Kim Heck of Lawrence 

Kansas Supreme Court
Justice Caleb Stegall of Lawrence
Ryan Kriegshauser of Topeka 

Stormont Vail Health
Bernie Becker of Topeka 

American Association of Bovine Practitioners Committee
Mike Apley of Olsburg
Geni Wren of Overland Park 

Pete Levi of Leawood
Shemari Barton of Kansas City
Carol Katzman of Kansas City 

Lung Cancer Alliance
Tanya Honderick of Shawnee
Donna Schmidt of LaCrosse 

American College of Emergency Physicians
John Gallagher of Wichita
Jeffrey Norvell of Fairway 

Heartland Credit Union Association
Haley Davee of Topeka 

American Society of Anestesiologists
Mark Brady of Overland Park
Christopher Walsh of Kansas City
Elliott Brady of Overland Park
Matt McNelley of Wichita 

National Association of Landscape Professionals
Bill Gordon of Olathe
Curby Hughes of Olathe
Frank Male of Lawrence 

Novo Nordisk
Amanda Allen of Wichita
Paul Dillion of Lawrence 

US Bank
Tim Petty of Kansas City
Josh Elmore of Lawrence
Mark Jorgenson of Kansas City 

American College of Radiology
Rob Gibbs of Parsons
Jim Owen of Topeka
Amy Patel of Wichita
Tom Grillot of Wichita
Luke Vierhaller of Wichita 

American Land Title Association
Randy Barbour of Prarie Village
Annie Malave of Wichita
John Stauffer of Olathe
Chris St. Jonn of Topeka
Jerilyn Stull of LaCrosse 

Ngondi Kamatuka of Lawrence 

Herbalife Nutrition
Heather Beckman of Topeka 

The Farm Journal Foundation’s Farm Team
Tyler Lund of Salina 

Growth Energy
Mike Chisam of Lyons
Edward Condon of Kansas City
Trevor Hinz of Colwich
Derek Peine of Oakley 

Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce
Walter Berry of Wichita
Eric Borland of Wichita
Peggy Deiter of Wichita
Dan Flynn of Wichita
Ben Hutton of Wichita
Michael Monteferrante of Wichita
Jon Rosell of Wichita
Sam Sackett of Wichita
Jamie Taulbee of Wichita
Jason Walkins of Wichita
Mike Zamrzla of Wichita
Gary Plummer of Wichita
Barby Jobe of Wichita
Toni Porter of Wichita
Andy Schlapp of Wichita 

House Small Business Witness
Joe Steffy of Louisburg
Ray Steffy of Louisburg
Janet Steffy of Louisburg 

Federal Bar Association
John Shaw of Leawood 

American Society of Landscape Architects
Katelyn Rose of Wichita
Jade Liska of Kansas City
Misty Riley of Kansas City 

Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association of Kansas
Tom Palace of Topeka
Alison Leiszler Bridges of Clay Center
Scott Zaremba of Lawrence
Marvin Spees of Topeka
Dennis McAnany of Olathe 

American Foundry Society
Ronald Pomeroy of Belle Plaine
Kurt Eck of Wellington 

National Electrical Contractors Association
Shawn Smith of Topeka
Ryan Courtney of Wichita 

Capitol Tour
Adam Martin of Olathe
Kathy Thompson of Olathe
Davis Martin of Olathe
Jeffrey Martin of Olathe
Kent Barnow of Mission Hills
Stephanie Barnow of Mission Hills
Grant Barnow of Mission Hills
Brad Baker of Andover
Al Hanson of Olathe
June Hanson of Olathe
Caleb Hanson of Wellsville
Carmen Hanson of Wellsville
Chris Hanson of Wellsville
Collin Hanson of Wellsville
Ronnie Ruff of Hanston
Debbie Ruff of Hanston
Conner Ruff of Hanston
Garrett Ruff of Hanston
Michael Stull of McCracken
Jerilyn Stull of McCracken
Tayler Stull of McCracken
Colby Stull of McCracken 

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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