Kansas Common Sense

Dear Friend,

Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you 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.

Senate Continues Debate on Immigration Legislation
This week, the Senate continued debate on S. 744, popularly referred to as the “Gang of Eight” immigration bill. A handful of amendments were considered to address weaknesses in the bill’s border security provisions, including: requiring DHS to maintain effective control of the border for six months before granting status changes for those who entered illegally; requiring Congressional approval of the DHS border security strategy within 30 days of its submission to Congress; completion of double-layered fencing that was first approved by Congress more than six years ago; and requiring that a biometric border entry-exit system is operational before granting status changes or citizenship to those who entered the country illegally. Unfortunately, each of these amendments was rejected. Debate will continue on additional amendments next week including the controversial Corker/Hoeven border security amendment.

Military Construction Funding for McConnell Air Force Base
As a Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I voted in support of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, which the Committee approved and includes $219 million for upgrades to McConnell Air Force Base (AFB) to accommodate the new KC-46A tankers. Recently, McConnell AFB’s selection as the Main Operating Base (MOB) #1 was announced. This investment will prepare McConnell AFB facilities to ready the base for the arrival of the tankers in 2016. The passage of this appropriations bill out of the committee is a step in the right direction as McConnell AFB moves toward becoming the home of the new KC-46A tankers and continuing the legacy as the SuperTanker Base for the nation. It’s great news for our state and the city of Wichita, which is and will remain the air capital of the world. Click here to learn more.

Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Update
As a member of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission, I attended a meeting on Wednesday to discuss and approve changes made to the memorial by renowned architect Frank Gehry. Seeking to incorporate suggestions from the Eisenhower Family and others, the memorial prominently features two of Eisenhower’s greatest accomplishments: General Eisenhower ordering the invasion of Normandy as Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during World War II, and President Eisenhower signing the Civil Rights Act of 1957. These momentous acts advanced freedom at home and abroad. I am hopeful that this memorial moves forward so that Eisenhower’s legacy as a general and president, and his Kansas heritage that shaped him, is honored and remembered by visitors to Washington’s Mall for generations to come.

Kansas WWII Honor Flight
After advancing the memorial of the man who oversaw Allied fighting, on Thursday, I was able to meet with the men who won the war on the frontlines under Eisenhower’s command. A large group of World War II veterans were accompanied by their guardians to visit the National World War II Memorial. I was privileged to meet these veterans, visit with them, and listen to their powerful stories of service to our country. I am always struck by their humility and was moved by so many spouses, children or grandchildren, and other family members accompanying their heroes. Click here to see a photo.

Estate Tax Act
On Wednesday, the Death Tax Repeal Act of 2013 was introduced in the U.S. Senate. I am an original sponsor of this legislation, which will permanently repeal the federal estate tax, commonly known as the “death tax,” putting an end to the tax on family farms, ranches and businesses upon the death of an owner. The estate tax adds an unfair burden on our economy and punishes Kansans who want to continue their family business. The Death Tax Repeal Act of 2013 is common sense legislation that will boost our economy by creating greater certainty for farmers and business owners as they plan for their future.

Assisting Family Members of Veterans
To recognize the importance of families and the hardships they endure when a loved one who served in the military passes away from a service-caused condition, I recently sponsored S.734. The legislation supports Survivor Benefit Plan annuities by reversing the requirement for survivors to pay for dependency and indemnity compensation. I sponsored this legislation last Congress, and am hopeful it will pass to assist those who supported our veterans as they served our nation.

Meeting with the City of Shawnee
Last Monday before returning to Washington, I visited with City of Shawnee officials. They provided me an update on economic development in the city, which overall was positive. Shawnee was recently awarded a “Creating Sustainable Places” grant to study the 150-year old Downtown area. The study will determine how Downtown Shawnee can maintain its character, yet invigorate it. To maintain their history, they used Community Development Block Grant funding to invest in Shawnee Town 1929 which allows visitors to experience a typical day in 1929 Shawnee farm community. Thank you to City Manager Carol Gonzales for organizing the meeting.

Giving Remarks at Eagle Scout Ceremony in Salina
Saturday, I gave remarks at Max Lauver's Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony in Salina. Max is a third generation Eagle Scout. He's the son of Dennis and Rhonda Lauver and grandson of Donald Lauver. As a former scout in Plainville’s Troop 109, I was especially pleased to attend and personally congratulate Max on achieving Scouting’s highest honor. Max worked diligently on his service project to build and install three tournament boards at the local baseball parks, which will be used by residents of Salina for years to come. Thank you to Scoutmaster Mark Bell, and congratulations again on your accomplishmentClick here to view a photo from the ceremony.

Kansans In the Office
Last week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below:

Ken Carfield of Overland Park
Frank Friedman of Leawood 

Andrew McNary of Potwin 

Kansas Hospital Association
Chad Austin of Topeka 

National Security Education Program
Mei Butler of Lawrence
Patrick Schmidt of Overland Park 

Propane Marketers Association of Kansas
Jarrod Wanklyn of Manhattan
Dennis Wanklyn of Frankfort
Ray Collins of Topeka
Gregg Noll of Topeka
Peggy Hurd of Topeka
Don Reinert of Newton
Jimmy Ainsworth of Olathe 

Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
Heather Bowman of Wichita
Daniel Miller of Lansing
Charlotte Garrett of Kansas City
Kathryn Hogan of Merriam 

Prudential Spirit Award
Cassie Wang of Lenexa 

Church World Service
Laurie Anderson of Overland Park
Patricia Seanez of Overland Park
Karen Bardales of Overland Park
Martin Rosas of Overland Park
Cindi Nance of Kansas City 

Polycystic Kidney Disease Foundation
Nicole Harr of Overland Park
Kim Walter of Leawood 

Kansas Jefferson Awards
Theresa Uchytil-Etler of Shawnee
Dan Etler of Shawnee 

McConnell Air Force Base
Col. Mark Larson of Derby
Capt. Zachary Anderson of Derby 

United Spinal Association
Finn Bullers of Prairie Village 

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas
Sunee Mickle of Topeka
Andy Corbin of Topeka 

Dario Vasquez Salcedo of Salina 

Lynn Stover of Lawrence
George Wormsley of Lawrence 

Westar Energy
Mark Schreiber of Topeka 

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
Comfort Barwu of Wyandotte
Badal Abdile of Dodge City 

Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
Lyle Butler of Manhattan
Frank Beer of Manhattan
Kent Glasscock of Manhattan
Sue Peterson of Manhattan
Terry Harts of Manhattan
Joe Knopp of Manhattan
Rich Jankovich of Manhattan
Lucy Williams of Manhattan
Dick Carter of Topeka 

Cretcher Heartland
Erle Benton of Leawood 

Kansas Farm Bureau
Terry Holdren of Manhattan 

National Patient Advocate Foundation
Lisa Eastman of Abilene
Sara Hohly of Overland Park 

University of Kansas School of Education
Rick Ginsberg of Lawrence 

National Young Leaders Conference
AJ Pablo of Manhattan
Karissa Schmidt of Shawnee
Parker Capehart of Bonner Springs
Nate Tracy of Lawrence 

ACT for America
Peggy Mast of Emporia
Lisa Ritchie of Wichita 

Capitol Tour
Greg Perkins of Wichita
Karen Perkins of Wichita
JoAnne Mansell of Liberal
Mickey Durbin of Liberal
Shelby Hay of Liberal
MiLeah Knudsen of Liberal
Connie Smallridge of Liberal
Jessica Malin of Liberal
Sheryl Crooks of Alta Vista
Cameron Masperon of Alta Vista
Thomas Hoyt of Overland Park
Jeannette Bonjour of Overland Park
Parker Hoyt of Overland Park
Mason Hoyt of Overland Park
Peter Austin of Wichita
Rebecca Austin of Wichita
Ryan Austin of Wichita
Ronald Miller of Pratt
Teresa Miller of Pratt
David Scott of Pratt
Julie Scott of Pratt
Kevin Semon of Leawood
Michelle Semon of Leawood
Alexander Semon of Leawood
Emma Semon of Leawood
Matthew Fulkerson of Dover
Leigh Ann Fulkerson of Dover
Stanley Hartwich of Onaga
Sharon Hartwich of Onaga
Paul Hartwich of Onaga
Braylon Simonsson of Wamego
Brady Hemphill of Wamego
Amanda Culp of Overland Park
Michael Burbach of Overland Park
Julie Burbach of Overland Park
Kayla Burbach of Overland Park
Lauryn Burbah of Overland Park
Marly Burbach of Overland Park
Timothy McCormick of Overland Park
Barbara McCormick of Overland Park
Ty Pfannenstiel of Gardner
Sarah Pfannenstiel of Gardner
Galen Pfannenstiel of Ness City
Debbie Pfannenstiel of Ness City 

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 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,


Newsletter Sign-up Form

Note: Fields marked with an * are required.