Kansas Common Sense


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

All around the country, the past week has been a time to grieve and pray for the Orlando community after 49 people lost their lives in a terrorist attack on Sunday, June 12. The reverberations of the attack have been felt in every corner of America, including the nation’s capital.

We can all agree that terrorists should not have access to firearms. I have supported establishing a system under which, if someone with connections to terrorism attempts to purchase a firearm – and the government can show probable cause – the sale is blocked and the individual could be detained. I am working with colleagues to utilize the no-fly list to keep guns out of terrorists’ hands, but the fact remains that taking away the ability of a person on the no-fly list to purchase guns unfortunately would not have prevented this weekend’s tragedy.

Our country is under attack by terrorists who want to destroy our way of life. This battle requires more than a debate about guns, it requires us to work together to find ways to combat terrorism and the spread of ISIS across the globe.

I would encourage you to watch my interview with Fox News on Sunday morning about the growing threat of ISIS and CIA Director John Brennan’s testimony before Congress this week.

Passing Legislation to Support our Military
The Senate voted this week to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes defense funding and supports our armed forces. This legislation makes certain our military members and their families receive their pay and benefits, while enabling the Department of Defense to keep millions of Americans safer at home and abroad. I have always believed that providing for our nation’s defense is our greatest constitutional responsibility, and passing this bill is critical to fulfilling that duty. I offered two amendments to the bill that prevent President Obama from closing GITMO and transferring detainees to the United States and am hopeful they will be included when differences between the Senate and House bills are negotiated. To read more, click here.

Pressing the VA on Improving Quality of Care
More than a year has passed since the Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified the VHA as “high-risk” – vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement. Those are four words that should never be used in connection with veterans’ access to health care. That’s why I joined my Senate colleagues this week to press Veterans Health Administration Secretary Dr. David Shulkin to act with a sense of urgency in order to provide veterans with care deserving of their service. As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I will continue to work to hold the VA accountable and to make certain veterans can access high quality care in a timely manner. To read more click here or here.

Visiting Kansas Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy
One of my most satisfying responsibilities as a U.S. Senator is nominating men and women to our nation’s military institutions. I had the opportunity to visit the United States Naval Academy on Monday to meet with Kansas Midshipmen who are spending part of their summer at the Academy. I was impressed by the amazing qualities of these young students and appreciated their joining me for lunch. They told me about their experiences at the academy and provided suggestions as to how I can improve my nomination process.

During the visit, I took part in the tradition of signing a plate to hang in King Hall and paid tribute to a fallen Kansan at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery. I also toured the laboratory facilities at the Academy. Thanks to MIDN 3rd Class Kynedi Allison, MIDN 3rd Class Thomas Williams, MIDN 1st Class Molly McAuliffe, CDR Angela Schedel and Commandant of Midshipmen COL Stephen Liszewski for the warm welcome.

Fighting for Kansas Farmers’ and Ranchers’ Futures
Kansas farmers and ranchers have dealt with the impacts of the Obama Administration’s repeated attempts to regulate their land for too long. The Interior Appropriations bill I supported in committee this week restricts the ability of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to re-list the lesser prairie chicken (LPC) and blocks the EPA’s proposed “Waters of the United States” rule (WOTUS). A federal court vacated the listing of the LPC due to the failure of the federal government to adequately take into account the local conservation efforts. Dropping its appeal of the case, however, does not rule out future efforts to re-list the bird. My provision will stop USFWS from such efforts and provide certainty to stakeholders.

The legislation would also prohibit the EPA from implementing the harmful WOTUS regulation if the nationwide stay put in place by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals is lifted or overturned. The WOTUS rule would greatly expand the agency’s regulatory jurisdiction over significant amounts of land and water across the country. We all share the goal of providing a clean and safe water supply, but pushing harmful regulations isn’t the right way to achieve that goal. We should not burden our ag community with overreaching federal policies — they should have the opportunity to produce food and fiber for the nation, keep their businesses afloat and pass their family operations down to future generations. To read more, click here.

Meeting with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas
I met with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas President Andy Corbin this week. He shared the company’s concerns about the impact the Affordable Care Act is having on health insurance costs in our state and noted that they will have to significantly raise their premium rates just to help offset the massive losses they and other insurance providers have experienced since the implementation of the ACA. Health insurance companies are being forced out of the market, leaving people with fewer choices about how to provide coverage for their families. I appreciated hearing their valuable perspectives on how we can improve the health care for Kansans.

Protecting Rural Postal Service and Post Offices
For the hundreds of rural communities in Kansas that depend upon the U.S. Postal Service for communication and commerce, post offices and reliable delivery service are critical components of the economy. With this in mind, I supported the fiscal year 2017 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations bill this week as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. This legislation includes provisions to continue six-day per week mail delivery service and rural delivery, and also to prevent the closure or consolidation of rural post offices. The legislation now awaits consideration by the full U.S. Senate.

Getting a Dose of Common Sense from Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh
K-State Agriculture Economics Professor Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh took time to stop by my D.C. office this past week. Dr. Flinchbaugh has been a long time national leader in shaping agricultural and rural policy and has testified in front of Congress countless times. During his 45 years of teaching agriculture policy at K-State, I have stopped by a number of times to visit with his students. I appreciate his passion for educating future leaders in agriculture and rural Kansas.

Visiting Hillsboro Hospital
I visited Hillsboro Community Hospital on Friday and met their employees who are working hard to provide quality care to Marion County and the surrounding area. The tour gave me the opportunity to talk with Hospital CEO Marion Regier and Drs. Erb and Reusser. We discussed the impact of the nursing shortage in rural Kansas, the importance of pharmacies in towns like Hillsboro and their struggles with the implementation of the Choice program and the consequences of the Affordable Care Act. Thank you to Mayor Delores Dalke and Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce President David Vogel for joining the visit.

Disaster Response for Dickinson County
My time in Abilene before and after my visit to Hillsboro reminded me why Abilene is such a great Kansas town. I spoke to employees at a number of local mainstays like Abilene Animal Hospital, the USDA Farm Service Agency & Natural Resource Conservation Service, Farm Bureau Financial Services, Patterson HealthCare Pharmacy, Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, the Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau and Rivendell Bookstore. Among other things, I learned more about emergency assistance efforts following Dickinson County tornadoes and the important job of helping farmers get connected with helpful resources. During my visit with the USDA Farm Service Agency, we discussed their ongoing disaster programs and I met with Dickinson County Clerk Barbara Jones, County Administrator Brad Homman and Director of Emergency Management Chancy Smith. Thank you to all for the hospitality and conversation. I especially want to brag about the chicken salad I had at Amanda's Bakery & Bistro – I can see why it’s a customer favorite.

Joining the Edgerton Community for Frontier Days Parade
I joined Edgerton area residents for the Annual Frontier Days Festival and Parade this morning. The community festival tradition began in 1971 as a way to celebrate the city's frontier heritage. Since then, it has grown into a yearly favorite for everyone in Edgerton. Enjoyed meeting Gardner Edgerton High School student Vivian McCullough, who was recently selected to the Congress of Future Science and Technology Leaders by the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists, and visiting with so many families out enjoying the beautiful day. A special thanks to my friend George Rifford and his 1931 Model A Roadster.

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
Art Barnaby of Manhattan

Alicia Whitson of Lawrence
Rachel Bezek of Manhattan
Thuong Tran of Emporia
Amber Berg of Manhattan
Cheyenne Yoakum-Moore of Pittsburg
Haley Miller of Kingsman
Gabrielle Villav of Wichita
Skyler Lucas of Lawrence
Andrew Burdick of Wichita
Victoria Barragan of Emporia
Marilyn Morton of Wichita
Haley Kottler of Wichita
Abigail Agnew of Manhattan
Abigaile Weiser of Emporia
Kayla Clark of Manhattan
Brittany Bodenheimer of Lawrence

Easter Seals Advocacy Summit
Bruce Meyers of Topeka
Sandy Warren of Topeka

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Melissa Kurtenbach of Emporia
Joe Mares of Shawnee
Barb Mares Nelson of Lenexa

National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association
Jim Bell of Shawnee
Mark Shepard of Overland Park

International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists
Tyler Chamberlin of Mission
Eric Everett of Mission

American Endurance Ride
Monica Chapman of Pleasanton

National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
Mandy Roe of Topeka
Leslie Kaufman of Topeka
Dave Speers of Moundridge

Kansas Association of School Boards
Rodney Stewart of Washington
Gary Yost of Bison
Betty Arnold of Wichita
Tom Krebs of Topeka
Joe Beveridge of Olathe

American Veterinary Medical Association
Michael Whitehair of Abilene

American Horse Council
Tom Lenz of Louisburg

United Nations Foundation
Nadia Azam of Overland Park
Jay Sierven of Leawood

National Grain and Feed Association
Lance Adams of Moundridge

Financial Services Institute
Derek Burke of Leawood
Don Baxter of Wichita
Scott Colangelo of Leawood

Kansas Bankers Association
Kent Needham of Overbrook
Mike Stevens of Sublette
Alex Williams of Halstead
Barney Horton of Atwood
David Shepherd of Mission
Robert Leftwich of Wellington
Kyle Campbell of Abilene
Keith Hughes of Hutchinson
Theodore Starr of Hiawatha
Gary Yager of Topeka
Mark Lair of Chanute
Leonard Wolfe of Marysville
Mark Schifferdecker of Girard
Ronald Johnson of Seneca
Jim Hoskins of Baxter Springs
Kelly Mason of Pratt
Charles Stones of Topeka
Doug Wareham of Topeka
Kathy Taylor of Topeka
Terri Thomas of Topeka
Sharon Iverson of Topeka
Brandon Nordhus of Seneca
Janel Burch of Osborne
Layne Hoops of Scandia
Ben Drouhard of Wichita
David White of Wichita
Maria Pfizenmaier of Clay Center
Janet Lowell of Concordia
Deanne Engstrom of Olathe
Tim Kreuger of Topeka
Ryan McLaughlin of Prairie Village
Traci Overpeck of Elkhart
Colby May of Andover
Bobby Young of Topeka
Andrew Chaney of Wichita

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas
Sunee Mickle of Lawrence
Andy Corbin of Auburn

Allianz Life
Scott Dougan of Prairie Village
Derek Thompson of Topeka
Zac Anshutz of Topeka
Megan Jones of Topeka

CNH Industrial North American Plant Managers
Jeff Bolander

Frontier Farm Credit
Shane Tiffany of Manhattan
Alan Hess of Alma
Bill Miller of Council Grove
Janet Borrows of Manhattan
Morgan Tiffany of Manhattan

Social Security Administration
LaMont Eaness of Lenexa

Heartland Credit Union Association
Jim Holt of Wichita
Mike Welli of Wichita
Jane Hammil of Wichita
Haley DaVee of Topeka
Brad Douglas of Overland Park
Sarah Meehan of Wichita
John Beverlin of Lenexa
Chris Wolgamott of Manhattan

Capitol Tour
Scott Brown of Fairway
Jeanne Brown of Fairway
Catherine Brown of Fairway
Aidan Brown of Fairway
Larry Lyder of Hugoton
Larry Lyder of Waverly
Deborah Lyder of Waverly
Jordan Close of Lenexa
Doug Morris of Ottawa
Megan Morris of Ottawa
Quinncy Morris of Ottawa
Maleah Morris of Ottawa
David Besch of Olathe
Cheryl Besch of Olathe
Perrin Besch of Olathe
Matrim Besch of Olathe
Bernadette Bowen of Hays
Daniel Johnson of Americus
Kary Johnson of Americus
Abigail Johnson of Americus
Dillon Boyer of Louisburg
Kassidy Boyer of Louisburg
Beth Hines of Centerville
Tara Ingle of Gardner
Annette Husted of Greeley
Angie Bretches of Louisburg
Bonnie Dumpert of Paola
Maraci Aubel of Lawrence
Vivian Aubel of Lawrence
Gabriella Aubel of Lawrence
James Davis of Auburn
Debbie Davis of Auburn
Tyler Davis of Auburn
Faith North of Olathe
Audrey North of Olathe
Diana Hicks of Olathe
Annie Hicks of Olathe
Kathy Scobee of Mount Hope
Suzanne Faulkner of Kensington
Dixie Rietzke of Kensington
Carolyn Johnson of Gaylord
Brandon Powers of Shawnee
Ronald Powers of Shawnee
Pamela Powers of Shawnee
Brian Peterson of Overland Park
Amy Peterson of Overland Park
Alyssa Peterson of Overland Park
Emily Peterson of Overland Park
Rilee Spresser of Gem
Amber Gardner of Garden City
Jolynn Spresser of Garden City
Scott Wilson of Girard
Beth Wilson of Girard
Seth Wilson of Girard
Eric Wilson of Girard
Maris Wilson of Girard
Virginia Lafrinere of Olathe
Michelle Lafrinere of Olathe

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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