Kansas Common Sense


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Townhall Meeting in Donpihan County
Before heading back to Washington, D.C., I was in White Cloud on Monday morning for a townhall meeting, where we discussed a number of issues including how any infrastructure plan needs to include fixes for roads and bridges in rural communities and an aggressive rural broadband expansion plan. We also talked about tariffs and the ongoing tit-for-tat between the United States and China – we must not allow our nation’s farmers and ranchers to be unfairly caught in the crossfires of these tariff threats. Other topics of discussion included the upcoming farm bill and NAFTA renegotiations. I also reminded attendees to reach out to my office for assistance if they are having trouble with the VA or veterans’ healthcare. Thanks to everyone who attended and shared their thoughts with me.

Chairing the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science
This week I was selected to serve as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. I take seriously my role of being a responsible steward of taxpayer dollars and this chairmanship provides an opportunity to prioritize funding for key investments in our nation’s infrastructure, public safety, aerospace initiatives, the National Science Foundation, NASA and a number of additional programs important to Kansans. I look forward to conducting oversight over programs that impact economic development efforts nationwide and advocating for policies that strengthen Kansas’ economy by providing a level playing field in the global market for Kansas agriculture producers.

I will continue to serve as a member of the Subcommittee for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies and am proud of the work the committee has achieved for our servicemembers and our veterans in the 115th Congress. Providing for members of our armed forces and making certain our veterans have access to the quality, timely care they have earned have long been top priorities for me. I will continue my work to invest in the quality of life for our military families, advocate for improvements at the VA and investments at the Department of Defense in order to keep Kansans and Americans safe.

I will continue to serve as a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittees for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies; for Defense; for Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies; for Financial Services and General Government; and for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Related Agencies. For more information on my priorities during my chairmanship of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs subcommittee, please click here.

Questioning Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
On Tuesday, I participated in a joint hearing of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees to ask Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg questions on the company’s data sharing policies and its responsibilities to protect consumers’ sensitive information. More specifically, I requested clarification on recent reports that the data of 87 million Facebook users being improperly obtained by Cambridge Analytica through an application impacted compliance with its 2011 consent order with the Federal Trade Commission. Additionally, I sought answers on what exactly Facebook's “bug bounty” program would do to protect its users’ data. As the chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Data Security, I will continue to seek accountability from large companies when their data security practices come into question.

Sharing Perspectives of Kansas Farmers and Ranchers at the White House
During a small meeting of senators from ag states at the White House, I stressed to the president the importance of trade to our agricultural communities in rural America, and shared input I’ve received from Kansas farmers and ranchers about how access to global markets is tied to their livelihood. I reiterated that we ought to strengthen and expand our trade markets rather than retreat from international trade agreements – we need more trade, not less, for Kansas farms and ranches to be successful.

I also shared with the president a photo I took in Kensington, below, of a pile of grain that has grown so tall you can barely see the elevator behind it. With more than 20 million people facing famine worldwide, it is disturbing to me that these piles of grain remain idle on the ground in Kansas, when they could be exported around the world to feed those in need – benefitting the hungry and Kansas’ economy. Our trade relationships are, now more than ever, vital to the future of our nation’s farmers and ranchers and our global humanitarian efforts, and I will continue advocating for sound policies to help them get the food they grow to tables around the world.

Questioning Ag Secretary Perdue
The livelihood of farmers and ranchers across Kansas is tied to their ability to grow and sell crops and livestock. In an Ag Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, I stressed the need for more markets, not fewer, to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Perdue. Without TPP and with the potential of a trade war with China, we need to pick our battles carefully while maintaining reliable trade with our closest allies. With the most productive ag industry in the world, our farmers and ranchers need strong global trade relations now more than ever.

During the hearing, I also questioned Sec. Perdue on the Rural Utilities Services providing loans for broadband services in rural areas, as well as the options USDA is considering for Kansas farmers and ranchers to utilize CRP acres during the ongoing drought conditions. We must make certain we prioritize federal funds to serve rural areas that have the highest need for internet access. I also raised the status of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan with the secretary and look forward to the facility’s completion. Please click here to view our discussion.

Securing Confirmation of Kansan John Broomes
With my support, the Senate voted to confirm Wichitan John Broomes to serve as a District Judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas. John Broomes is a highly-qualified and well-respected attorney who has the mentality, intellect and legal mind required for those who receive a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. Outside of the courtroom, Mr. Broomes has served our nation as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy Submarine Force, where he earned the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals – further exemplifying his dedication to his fellow Kansans and Americans. Judges with lifetime appointments must exhibit sound principles in order to best serve Kansas and the country, and John Broomes certainly meets these requirements. Please click here to watch my remarks on the Senate floor in support of his confirmation.  

Moving Forward with Critical Department of Veterans Affairs Nominees
This week the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing regarding the nominations of Dr. Paul Lawrence to be Under Secretary for Benefits at the VA and Mr. Joseph Falvey to be a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. Both of these positions are critical to making certain our veterans receive the benefits they have earned in a timely manner. Both nominees have impressive experience that will serve to inform them in their positions if they are confirmed, and I look forward to working with them as they seek to bring over the best practices from their previous experience in the legal and private sectors to cut through the red tape that delays veterans from getting their benefits. Please click here to view our discussion.

Touring Ellis High School
I joined Ellis High School Principal Corey Burton, senior Abby Burton, senior Haley Reiter and Superintendent Robert Young for a tour of the school. I enjoyed getting acquainted with students and faculty members and I look forward to speaking at the upcoming senior graduation on May 12th.

Ribbon Cutting of the Biogas Facility in Dodge City
Over the weekend, I participated in the ribbon cutting for the new Biogas facility in Dodge City. The project is the result of a renewable energy initiative to utilize excess and unused by-product produced by the wastewater treatment facility that can be converted to Biogas, and channeled into a natural gas line where it can be sold. The revenue will provide funding for future infrastructure and capital improvement projects. 

This process can help provide a reliable and sustainable source of renewable energy while reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the area. It is encouraging to see community and private organizations collaborating and building relationships that help solve real issues that will create a better future. 

I was joined by Dodge City representatives Melissa McCoy and Ray Slattery, City Manager Cherise Tieben, Dodge City Mayor Kent Smoll, Casey Whelan of Kinect Energy, PEC’s Sarah Unruh, Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s Erich Glave, State Representative Brad Ralph and State Senator Bud Estes.

Touring DFA Plant in Garden City 
After Dodge City, I drove to Garden City to tour Dairy Farmers of America’s (DFA) new dairy ingredients plant on Saturday. The plant, which broke ground in 2015 and was officially opened last November, produces dry milk powder and cream sourced from 12 member farms in the region. The plant now receives approximately four million gallons of milk per day. DFA Garden City will help meet the rising demand for dairy products across the nation and the globe.

During the tour, we discussed opportunities in the upcoming Farm Bill to support dairy producers in a time of low milk prices and high input costs. We also talked about the need to maintain market access in Mexico and to address market imbalances caused by domestic Canadian policies. Our economic ties with Canada and Mexico have provided growth opportunities for Kansas farmers – as the United States evaluates and debates NAFTA, we must focus on the importance of expanding exports for dairy producers. Kansas has one of the fastest-growing dairy industries in the country, which continues to create economic opportunities for rural communities. As the Senate works to address inadequacies in Farm Bill programs and expand market access for our farmers and ranchers, Congress must continue to address the many issues facing our ag producers.

Special thanks to Jackie Klippenstien with DFA for leading our tour. I also appreciate Garden City Mayor Roy Cessna, Finney County Commissioners Duane Drees and Larry Jones, Chamber President Myca Bunch, GCCC President Herb Swender and other area leaders joining us for the event. 

Now Accepting Fall Internship Applications
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 working closely with my staff on behalf of Kansans.

Applications for internships in my Washington, D.C. and Kansas offices for Fall 2018 are due Friday, June 15. Congressional internships are open to qualified undergraduate and graduate students who have an interest in public service and have achieved academic excellence. Click here for more information.

Kansans in the Office

American Academy of Pediatrics
Jacob Hessman of Mission
Jennifer Mellick of Lenexa

American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Natalie Ahn of Wichita
Matthew Gentry of Manhattan

American Traffic Safety Services Association
Kevin Shelton of El Dorado
Denise Shelton of Eudora

American Veterinary Medical Association
Cary Christensen of Overland Park
Garry Cowan of Wichita

Children's Mercy Hospital
Thomas Curran of Kansas City

City of Leavenworth
Paul Kramer of Leavenworth
Mark Preisinger of Leavenworth

Council of Extension Professionals
Keatynn Bull of Wichita
Bruce Chuadny of Bonner Springs
Kyler Cox of Salina
Stacie Elliott of Saint George
Emily Glenn of Scott City
Greg Hadley of Manhattan
Don Hellwy of Salina
Jena Leiker of Hays
Nathan Leiker of Hays
Jim Lindquest of Manhattan
Sarah Maass of Salina
Anna Muir of Stockton
Ethel Schneweis of Dodge City
Jeff Wilson of Johnson
Erin Yelland of Manhattan

Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau
Weston Burcham of Mission

Delta Dental of Kansas
Jennifer Bauer of Wichita
Michael Herbert of Wichita
Sarah Patterson of Wichita

EMS on the Hill
Brandon Beck of Emporia
Terry David of Lyons
Charlie Fraley of Dighton
John Gallagher of Wichita
John Hultgren of Junction City
Dave Johnston of Sedgwick
JerrieLynn Kind of Overland Park
Kerry McCue of Hays
Marvin VanBlaricon of Clay Center

Kansas Automotive Recyclers Association
Paul Davis of Wichita

Kansas Bar Association
Linda Parks of Wichita
Rachael Pirner of Wichita

Kansas Community Bankers
Miki Bowman of Topeka
Ryan Gilliland of Topeka
Steven Handke of Everest
Blake Heid of Paola
Cynthia Hills of Sedan
Timothy Hills of Sedan
Tanner Johnson of Courtland
Jay Kennedy of Frankfort
Shawn Mitchell of Topeka
Matt Needham of Topeka
Galen Pelton of Ulysses
Jeremy Smail of Osawatomie
Frank Suellentrop of Wichita
Steven Suellentrop of Wichita
Roger Vanlonew of Phillipsburg
Jim Wayman of Emporia
Brad Yaeger of Wichita

Kansas Electric Cooperative
Michael Brewer of Ulysses
Lindsay Campbell of Garden City
Ronald Griffith of Smith Center
Leslie Kaufman of Topeka
Stuart Lowry of Hays
Allan Miller of Norton
Bruce Mueller of Garden City
Phil Wages of Topeka

Kansas Dental Association
Kevin Robertson of Topeka
Ashley Thomas of Wichita
Craig Herre of Leawood
Brett Roufs of Newton

Kansas Head Start Association
Treasure Blake of Cherryvale
Elisa Chavez of Russell
Patricia Hall of Wichita
Peggy Kelly of Paola

Kansas Historical Society
Tim Weston of Lawrence

Kansas Livestock Association
Mike Beam of Topeka
Guy Bracken of Viola
Joe Carpenter of Wamego
Anna Carpenter of Wamego
Laura Carpenter of Wamego
David Clawson of Englewood
Barb Downey of Wamego
Aaron Popelka of Topeka
Lee Reeve of Garden City
Tucker Stewart of Topeka
Matt Teagarden of Topeka

Kansas Pharmacists Association
Brian Caswell of Baxter Springs
Van Coble of Winfield
Aaron Dunkel of Topeka
Dared Price of Winfield
Bob Pessel of Shawnee
Michael Burns of Garnett
Brian Caswell of Baxter Springs

National Grocers Association
James Holland of Kansas City
John McCormick of Kansas City

National Shoot Sports Foundation
Chris Bezzin of Overland Park

University of Kansas Interns
Alexi Abi-Mikhael of Wichita 
Jared Anderson of Hays
Camila Ascarrunz of Emporia
Nathan Cera of Manhattan
Ashley Cossart of Hays
Gabe Dorsey of Cottonwood Falls
Katlyn Foster of Lawrence
Ebony Germany of Wyandotte  
Gabriella Garrett of Wichita
Erendira Jimenez-Gonzalez of Garden City
Garrison Holmberg of Wichita
Dillon Jetton of Wichita
Dawson Jones of Tonganoxie
Matthew Kelly of Wichita
Nigel Morton of Wichita
Drake Robinson of Wichita 
Abigail Samuelson of Wichita
Julia Santos of Holcomb
Hannah Tabler of Derby
Jamie Treto of Garden City
Thomas Vivero of Lawrence
Henry Walter of Overland Park
Victoria Watson Lawrence
Eric Williams of De Soto

Shawn Wheat of Topeka

Women in Manufacturing Science, Technology, Engineering and Production Ahead Awardee
Lori Miller of Topeka
Steve Miller of Topeka

Xenon Academy
Len Melvin of Hays
Summer Melvin of Hays
Dylan Hager of Wichita
Erin Sutton of Wichita
Jessica Beck of Wichita

Capitol Tour
Jonathan Brackett of Overland Park
Maureen Brackett of Overland Park
Christi Bright of Overland Park
Christopher Bright of Overland Park
Gabriel Bright of Overland Park
Michael Bright of Overland Park
Michael Bright of Overland Park
Jeff Cook of Lenexa
Kathie Cook of Lenexa
Jenna Dibble of Osborne
Jacqueline Evans of Shawnee
Marilyn Farmer of Altoona
Peter Knipper of Shawnee
Joanie Knipper of Shawnee
Steve Rigby of Andover
Sandy Rigby of Andover
Samuel Rinkel of Hutchinson
Stephen Seiwert of Kingman
Connie Seiwert of Kingman
Jeffrey Tanuis of Salina
Janet Tanuis of Salina
Brian Todd of Overland Park
Bethany Todd of Overland Park
Joyce Whitson of Fredonia
Susan Wolf of Lenexa

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 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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