Kansas Common Sense


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Fort Leavenworth, Fort Riley Remain Strong Despite Army’s Sweeping Cuts
This week, the United States Army announced its force reductions at nearly 30 bases across the country, including Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley. Constrained defense spending has forced the Army to make tough decisions and that includes reducing 40,000 troops by the end of fiscal year 2017. Taking these reductions will be difficult on soldiers, their families and the overall readiness of our Army force. Over the past several months, Kansans have demonstrated unwavering support for our service members and their families through constant engagements with Army leadership on Capitol Hill, in the Pentagon, and back home in Junction City. This support has proved successful because despite the Army’s sweeping cuts, Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley were spared devastating cuts and remain strong. I am pleased Fort Leavenworth and Fort Riley survived this significant challenge, and I will continue to work to make certain the Army does not pursue additional reductions. Defending our nation is our number one constitutional responsibility, and I am committed to ensuring the Department of Defense has the resources necessary to train and equip our troops, and a ready force to safeguard Americans. Click here to read more about this week’s news on Army force reductions.

22 Million Americans Impacted by Data Breach, OPM Director Resigns
On Thursday, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) revealed that more than 21 million Americans inside and outside the federal government had their personal information stolen as part of a second massive OPM data breach – five times more than the administration and OPM have led us to believe. This figure is in addition to the 4.2 million individuals who were impacted by the OPM data breach made public in June. Hours after the announcement was made, OPM Director Archuleta stepped down.

While leadership certainly matters, the resignation of the OPM Director does not reduce the damage caused by this data breach. The millions of Americans who have had their personal privacy violated and sensitive information stolen by hackers continue to wait for answers from OPM and the administration.

The fact is all the warning signs were there. OPM was aware of the persistent issues – including three data breaches in 2014 that should have served as stark warnings that the personal data of millions of federal employees was being targeted by hackers. Yet, there is little evidence that any action was taken by OPM.

As Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee for Consumer Protection and Data Security, I believe we need to know the true scope of the OPM data breach, how this happened, what is being done to protect the victims from criminal activity, and what steps are being taken not only at OPM – but across all federal government agencies – to make certain we are safeguarded from future cyber-attacks. It is past time for the accountability and answers needed to restore Americans’ confidence that their families and our national security are not at risk. Click here to read more.

Senate Begins Debate on No Child Left Behind Rewrite
The Senate this week began consideration of the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Initially enacted in 1965, ESEA is the primary source of federal aid for K-12 education and was most recently amended and reauthorized by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). I opposed passage of NCLB because I believe a one-size-fits-all federally-mandated approach to education is not in the best interest of Kansas students and schools. Most ESEA programs have not been reauthorized since expiring in 2008, so consideration of this law is long overdue. In the absence of Congress acting, the Obama Administration has acted unilaterally through the U.S. Department of Education granting waivers to states in exchange for imposing certain conditions on student academic standards, accountability systems, teacher evaluations and other items. This unilateral executive action has caused significant uncertainty for students, families, educators, local school districts, and states. Congress needs to definitively establish the goals, and limits, of federal education policy.

Rotary Club of Wichita
I appreciated the opportunity to speak with 250 members and guests of the Rotary Club of Wichita on Monday before returning to Washington and thank them for their community service. Rotary Clubs work to make Kansas communities strong; I have been a member of the local Hays club for many years. The Wichita club is one of the oldest and largest Rotary Clubs in the world; and out of more than 34,000 Rotaries internationally, the Rotary Club of Wichita was the 30th club chartered and is proud to count nearly 400 business and professional leaders among its members. I was pleased to learn the club continues to place “Service above Self” by sponsoring a young person to Rotary Youth Leadership Camp. Thanks again to club president Clay Bastian for graciously hosting me and Rotarian Dave Murfin for his generous introduction. Click here for a photo from my visit.

Touring BG Products
On Monday afternoon, I enjoyed learning first-hand about BG Products, Inc. in El Dorado. They maintain vehicles through high-quality automotive maintenance services for fuel systems, engines, transmissions, brakes, power steering, cooling, battery, drive line and climate control systems. Below, I’m pictured with Julie Clements of the Butler County Times-Gazette, Linda Jolly or El Dorado, Inc., and BG Products President/CEO Darin Greseth. Thanks to Operations Manager Jeremy Lee for the informative tour. Thanks also to El Dorado Mayor Vince Haines, City Commissioner Kendra Wilkinson, City Manager Herb Llewellyn, Director of El Dorado, Inc. Linda Jolly and Chamber Director Susie Carson for joining me on the visit.

Visiting Operation Purple Camp
I ended the day Monday with a visit to Operation Purple Camp at Camp Wood in Elmdale. Sponsored by the National Military Family Association, the camp is a wonderful program open to all children whose parents serve or have served in the military. Operation Purple Camp derives its name from the color mix of Army green, Coast Guard blue, Air Force blue, Marine Corps red, and Navy blue. Children who attend camp have a week to connect with other children from all ranks and services while experiencing a variety of activities such as archery, trail rides and the mudslide. Many of the campers come from families who are currently experiencing a deployment or dealing with family injury. Camp Wood YMCA in Elmdale serves youth and families by providing fun-filled summer camps and year-round outdoor experiences. Click here to read more about my visit.

Touring the FDA’s Kansas City District Laboratory
This week, I also had the opportunity to tour the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Kansas City District Laboratory in Lenexa. As Chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee with funding jurisdiction over the FDA, it is useful to see first-hand what the agency is doing to protect safeguard our health. The Lenexa laboratory is a full service chemistry laboratory equipped to perform routine chemical analyses of food and drugs for surveillance and enforcement purposes. It is also the national servicing center for FDA's Total Diet Study – an ongoing surveillance program that tracks levels of various contaminants and nutrients in foods represented in the average American diet. Having commenced in 1961, the Total Diet Study is the longest continuously running study of its kind, and is an important piece of the FDA’s food safety and nutrition monitoring programs.

Thanks to FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Ostroff for traveling from Washington, D.C., to Kansas to host my tour of the lab. And, thanks to Laboratory Director Dr. Aref El-Demerdash, Acting Deputy Regional Food and Drug Director in the Southwest Regional Office Karen Kreuzer, laboratory staff Ann Rice, Katherine Dunn, Chris Sack, Robin Reel, Shannan Beisser, and their colleagues for the informative visit. Finally, thank you to Lenexa Mayor Mike Boehm for accompanying me on the informative tour.

Kansas Listening Tour Continues
I continued my Kansas Listening Tour this week with stops in Rooks and Geary Counties. On Friday, I headed to Stockton, where nearly 50 town hall attendees came to the Rooks County Courthouse to share concerns on a number of topics including ongoing trouble with the VA health care system, getting our fiscal house in order, and immigration. Thanks to all the folks who came out and shared a dose of Kansas common sense, and to Ruthie from the county clerk's office for coordinating my visit.

I also visited with nearly 50 Kansans Saturday morning in Geary County at the Dorothy Bramlage Library in Junction City. We discussed numerous issues including Fort Riley, health care for veterans and prioritizing national security. Thank you again to the Library Director Susan Moyer and staff for hosting the Kansas Listening Tour stop.

Kansans in the Office
Alison Herren of Alma
Alison Johnson of Maple Hill
Britany Buchanan of Alma
Alissa Barner of Alma
Madeline Muller of Maple Hill
Stephanie Evans of Alma
Ashley Weber of Wamego
Ryan Robinson of Lawrence
Joanna Robinson of Lawrence                                   

Capitol Tour
Chad Liebl of Hutchinson
Sarah Liebl of Hutchinson
Claire Liebl of Hutchinson
Michael Drees of Hays
Alliana Drees of Hays
Adrian Drees of Hays
Larry Drees of Ellinwood
Joan Drees of Ellinwood
Joel Schaefer of Andover
Amy Schaefer of Andover
Grace Schaefer of Andover
Ellen Schaefer of Andover
William Schaefer of Andover
Janice Tamson of Haysville
Hope Wilson of Haysville
Jessica Robbins of Haysville
Danielle Fox of Haysville
Mary Fussell of Haysville
Megan Brown of Wichita
Kaitlinn Stolp of Wichita
Timberly Sen of Wichita
Taylor Holland of Wichita
Phillip Spangler of Valley Center
Dennis Grossnickle of Ogden
Judith Grossnickle of Ogden
Kimberly Hentges of Kansas City
Audrey Hentges of Kansas City
Scott Choquette of Overland Park
Jennifer Choquette of Overland Park
Elizabeth Choquette of Overland Park
Pooja Poladia of Overland Park
Yesica Orozco-Aldaz of Overland Park
Brandon Roth of Chapman
Nicole Roth of Chapman
Kylie Ketterman of Chapman
Michaela Hummel of Chapman
Truman Collins of Ellis
Doris Collins of Ellis
Hayden Aschenbrenner of Ellis
Holly Aschenbrenner of Ellis
Brayden Collins of Galva
Terri Renfro of Macksville
Jeff Kuckelman of Lewis
Jarrod Kuckelman of Lewis
Michele Neylon of Leawood
Brittani Jenson of Desoto
Brianna Jenson of Desoto
Aaron Tobias of Clearwater
Kimberly Tobias of Clearwater
Morgan Tobias of Clearwater
Caleb Tobias of Clearwater
Mark Griffey of Norton
Amy Griffey of Norton
Morgan Griffey of Norton
Lance Griffey of Norton
Michael Chrisco of Overland Park
Caroline Chrisco of Overland Park
Devin Chrisco of Overland Park
Trenton Chrisco of Overland Park
Kevin Beck of Overland Park
Austin Beck of Overland Park
Mackenzi Beck of Overland Park
Elmer Beck of Olathe
Troy Schippers of Victoria
Geralyn Schippers of Victoria
Sara Schippers of Victoria
Gracyn Schippers of Victoria
Emily Schippers of Victoria
Claire Schippers of Victoria
James Scharf of Overland Park
Naomie Scharf of Overland Park
Kayla Scharf of Overland Park
Robert Leis of Eureka
Tammy Leis of Eureka
Christian Leis of Eureka
Corey Krehbiel of Kingman
Leslie Krehbiel of Kingman
Drew Krehbiel of Kingman
Riley Krehbiel of Kingman
Seth Krehbiel of Kingman
Kimberly Burkhalter of Wichita

Kennedy Lugar Youth Exchange Study Abroad Program
Helene Bee of Kansas City

School Superintendents Association
Glen Suppes of Lindsborg
Justin Henry of Goddard

Jen Swenson of Beloit

Kansas FCCLA Officers Team
Layne Goodwin of Goodland
Emma DeMaranville of Tonganoxie
Valentina Ortega of Salina
Meghan Snyder of Smith Center
Katie Jo Payne of Dighton
Emily Depew of Neodesha
Hali Crellin of Yates Center
Hope Wilson of Wichita
Pam Lamb of Topeka
Pam Busch of Neodesha

HDB Construction and LJ Building Maintenance
Alonzo Harrison of Topeka
Lonnie Williams of Topeka

Nemaha Central FCCLA Chapter
Mika Schmelzle of Seneca
Keith Schmelzle of Seneca

Ultra Electronics
Gregory Thom of Manhattan

National Youth Leadership Council
Tanner O’Bannon of Lincoln

Jake Seaton of Manhattan

KU School of Pharmacy
Adam Henn of Lawrence

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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