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.

Helping Veterans Achieve the American Dream
Americans come together each year on November 11 to celebrate and honor our nation’s veterans. These brave men and women sacrificed to provide their children and grandchildren with the opportunity to achieve the American Dream, so it’s imperative we make certain they themselves have the opportunity to live the American Dream.

In Kansas and across the country, veterans face a myriad of challenges when they return home from service — from braving mental health conditions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, to the basics needed to enter the workforce like creating or updating a resume. With 34,000 servicemen and women expected to return home by February 2014, practical programs and services must be in place to help them transition from one chapter of their lives to the next.

This year, it was a pleasure to honor veterans in Marysville and Manhattan. On Saturday, it was a privilege to present the Kansas Vietnam War Medallion to more than 30 veterans who served between February 1961 and May 1975. Yesterday, I celebrated Veterans’ Day in Manhattan with a parade and ceremony organized by the Flint Hills Veterans Coalition.

On Veterans’ Day, we express our gratitude for the service of those who have protected our way of life and allowed us to remain the strongest and freest nation in the world. Let’s make certain whether veterans wish to start their own business, commence a job search, or go back to school, they are able to achieve the same American Dream they sacrificed so much to protect.

God bless our veterans: we respect you, we thank you and we love you.

Honoring Fallen Kansas Army National Guard Soldiers
On Thursday, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) honored two fallen Kansas Army National Guard soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice while supporting DIA officials during Operation Iraqi Freedom on November 8, 2004. The DIA ceremoniously paid tribute to Army Sergeant Don A. Clary of Troy and Sergeant First Class Clinton “Clint” L. Wisdom of Atchison as they were inducted into the Patriots Memorial resident at the Headquarters of DIA on Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. Sergeant Clary and Sergeant First Class Wisdom’s family, friends and fellow Kansas National Guard soldiers were in attendance to memorialize how they nobly served our country.

As we pay tribute to Sergeant Clary and Sergeant First Class Wisdom, we’re reminded that freedom is not free. Americans will be forever indebted to these Kansas Army National Guard soldiers, Don and Clint, who laid down their lives for a grateful nation. I ask all Kansans to join me in expressing our heartfelt gratitude, and remembering their families and friends in our thoughts and prayers.

If You Like Your Health Plan, You Should Be Able To Keep It
I recently joined Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin to introduce legislation — the “If You Like Your Health Plan, You Can Keep It Act” (S. 1617) — that would make Obamacare less restrictive and provide flexibility for individuals wanting to keep the plans they already have. At least 29 times, President Obama promised Americans that if you like the insurance you have, you could keep it under Obamacare. Despite the repeated promises, thousands of individuals and families across Kansas are among the millions of Americans who have had their health plans cancelled because they do not meet the law’s requirements. Americans should be in control of their own health care and should be free to choose the plans they want. I believe the entire law should be repealed and replaced, but until that happens American individuals and families must be protected from the disasters created by Obamacare. Click here to read more about the “If You Like Your Health Plan, You Can Keep It Act” and my efforts to dismantle the health care law and replace it with practical reforms that are workable and will actually reduce health care costs.

Pittsburg Q&A Forum on Closure of Social Security Administration Office
On September 5, I was notified that the Social Security Administration (SSA) would close its Pittsburg field office and consolidate operations with its Joplin, Missouri, field office beginning November 18. I am very concerned by SSA’s announcement and its process for arriving at this decision. Especially troubling is the fact that the Pittsburg community was not given an opportunity to provide input, propose feasible alternatives, and serve as a partner in this process.

Because the community was not given an opportunity to voice their concerns prior to the agency announcing its decision, and in addition to a letter expressing concerns signed by Senator Roberts and Congresswoman Jenkins, I asked SSA to hold a forum for community members to ask the agency questions about its decision. This question and answer forum with SSA Kansas City Region officials took place on Tuesday at the Pittsburg Law Enforcement Center had about 40 attendees. I will continue working to ensure that the voices of Kansans impacted by this decision are heard by the agency. Thank you to the City of Pittsburg for hosting the forum.

Encouraging the FCC to Support Rural Telecommunication Services
Last week, I joined 25 senators in encouraging new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to improve the predictability of universal service support, which would allow telecom carriers to more confidently invest in telecommunications infrastructure and expand broadband across rural Kansas. My colleagues and I called on the FCC to make changes to its 2011 Universal Service Fund (USF) reform to increase accessibility for consumers in rural areas. USF supports new investments by telecom carriers in hard-to-reach areas, but the recent reforms left the amount of support that telecom companies receive too unpredictable, discouraging some carriers from making needed investments in rural parts of the country. I remain concerned the reform order is limiting the ability of small carriers to provide rural consumers with the broadband service they need to compete in today’s global economy. Click here to read our letter to Chairman Wheeler.

Supporting the Johnson County Community College Foundation
Saturday evening Robba and I attended the 27th annual Johnson County Community College (JCCC) Foundation Some Enchanted Evening. The event raises money for scholarships allowing thousands of students the opportunity to fulfill their dream of attending college. Congratulations to Lynn Mitchelson who was awarded Johnson Countian of the Year for his leadership in the community and at JCCC where he served as a Trustee. JCCC's newest addition is their Hospitality and Culinary Academy, which was dedicated in October and will serve the 700+ students in JCCC hospitality management programs. Thank you to the new JCCC President Dr. Joe Sopcich and his wife Stacy for hosting Robba and me.

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

International Walking Horse Association
Ruther Peters of Ellinwood
Gale Christy of Ellinwood 

American Geosciences Institute
Sophia Ford 

Kansas Bankers Association
John Lehman of Girard
Kelly Mason of Pratt
Alex Williams of Halstead
Mike Stevens of Sublette 

Great Plains Development Authority
Daniel Mann of Parsons
Ann Charles of Parsons 

American Psychiatric Association
Donald Brada of Lawrence
Kay Brada of Lawrence 

Capitol Tour
Traci Silva of Leawood
Steve Silva of Leawood
Colin Silva of Leawood
Cam Silva of Leawood
Kenneth Mantel of Prairie Village
Kathaleen Henry  of Overland Park
James Mantel of Shawnee
Patricia Mantel of Shawnee
Mel Holopirek of Great Bend
Shirley Holopirek of Great Bend
Steele Ebers  of Wichita
Shaye Ebers of Wichita
Terry Post of Leawood
Karen Post of Leawood
Mike Rasmussen of Leawood
Laurie Rasmussen of Leawood
Ron Keller  of Hays
Sam DeVore of Lyons
Jessica Stephan-LeBar of Shawnee
Fernanda daSilva of Shawnee

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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