Kansas Common Sense
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” This week, the Senate focused its efforts on S. 2038, the STOCK Act – which I supported. This legislation will ban insider trading among members of Congress, who may be exposed to non-public or confidential information through the course of congressional work. Consideration of the STOCK Act drew out over the whole week, as the Senate debated dozens of amendments to the bill. Members of Congress and the Executive Branch should have to live by the same laws as everyone else. The STOCK Act will now head to the House of Representatives for deliberation.
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Department of Labor Withdraws Portion of Farm Labor Rule
This week, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it has withdrawn and will re-evaluate the “parental exemption” portion of its proposed regulations effecting youth in agriculture. While I am pleased with the Department’s decision, the entire rule needs to be withdrawn.
If the remaining portions of the rule are implemented, they will disrupt the education of the next generation of farmers and ranchers by doing away with successful farm safety training and certification programs like cooperative extension, 4-H and FFA. The regulation will also ban youth from performing common farm tasks on a farm or ranch like rounding up cattle on horseback, operating a tractor, or cleaning out stalls with a shovel and wheelbarrow.
We know that rural America’s values are not always Washington’s values, and in recent months I have worked to make certain this destructive rule does not move forward. I will continue to work on behalf of Kansans to stop this vast overreach of executive authority and protect individual rights. Rural America cannot afford to lose the next generation of farmers and ranchers.
We need to continue educating the Department of Labor about our way of life. Visit www.keepfamiliesfarming.com to share your story or to learn more about protecting and preserving rural values for the next generation of American farmers and ranchers. Click here to hear my interview on AgriTalk this week on this topic. Click here to learn more about my efforts to stop this rule.
Support Builds for Startup Act
Support for legislation Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) and I introduced to jump-start the economy through the creation and growth of new businesses continues to grow. This week, I participated in an event hosted by the Brookings Institution on the Startup Act. Senator Warner and Steve Case, the co-founder of America Online and a member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, joined together for a discussion on the importance of entrepreneurship to the health of our economy. You can watch a recording of the event here. Click here to view a photo from the event.
Also this week, the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held a meeting on the topic of high-growth entrepreneurship. Several ideas were discussed, including provisions of the Startup Act. I was pleased to have Mike Farmer of Kansas City, an entrepreneur and founder of Leap2, at the roundtable to share his perspective and ideas for creating an environment in which entrepreneurs can succeed. The Small Business Committee also benefited greatly from the participation of Brink Lindsey andJonathan Ortmans, who work for Kansas City’s Kauffman Foundation. Research conducted by the Kauffman Foundation has shown that new businesses are responsible for nearly all of the net new jobs created in the United States. Click here to view a photo from the meeting.
Finally, entrepreneurs in Kansas gained a new resource this week when Startup Kansas was launched in Topeka. Startup Kansas is a partnership with Startup America and will strengthen entrepreneurial efforts in our state. I welcome Startup Kansas and commend the efforts of all those who worked to launch this initiative.
Questioning CFPB Director Richard Cordray
On Tuesday I had an opportunity to engage with the newly-appointed Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray. Not many folks may have heard of this new agency, but it has the power to affect the credit availability of every consumer and small business. During the Senate Banking Committee hearing, I stressed to Mr. Cordray the importance of making sure that his actions at the Bureau do not unnecessarily burden the community banks and credit unions that Kansans rely on. Click here to watch our conversation.
Banking Committee Approves New Iran Sanctions Bill
The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs approved a new bill Thursday to expand and tighten sanctions on Iran. The Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Human Rights Act builds on previously-enacted sanctions to increase the pressure on Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons. This bill was unfortunately needed because Iran’s nuclear program continues. Already, Iran possesses enough enriched uranium that upon further processing, it could build at least four nuclear weapons. Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the United States, our allies in Europe, Israel, and all those who care about global peace and stability.
Encouraging Smart Spectrum Policy
On Tuesday, I delivered remarks at an event hosted by the Wireless Innovation Alliance about the need for smart spectrum policy – namely, allowing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to designate some spectrum for unlicensed use so Americans can continue to innovate new products. Some have argued Congress should require the FCC to auction all available spectrum. I believe this view is misguided and that our country would miss an incredible opportunity to enable innovation on unlicensed bands.
Unleashing our nation’s innovators should be a priority. Americans rely heavily on unlicensed spectrum today for devices such as wireless internet routers, Bluetooth earpieces, baby monitors, and whole host of consumer electronic products.
I will continue my efforts to ensure Congress seizes the opportunity to advance spectrum legislation that enables innovation, increases competition and expands broadband, while protecting important services, such as broadcasting, that we rely upon today. To watch a video of my remarks, please click here.
Congratulating Pitt State Gorillas
This week I was pleased that my colleagues in the Senate joined me and Senator Roberts in congratulating the Pittsburg State University Gorillas on their fourth NCAA Division II football national championship. On Monday, we introduced S. Res. 363 to congratulate Pitt State and to recognize the university as the winningest program in Division II football history. This resolution passed the Senate on Tuesday.
The team was led by second-year Head Coach Tim Beck, the 2011 Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award winner for Division II, and benefitted from the leadership of senior quarterback and Pittsburg native Zac Dickey. The Gorillas ended the regular season with a record of 13 wins and one loss.
On Wednesday, I hosted Pitt State representatives President Steve Scott, Special Assistant Steve Robb, and Director of Government and Community Relations Shawn Naccarato to my office where Senator Roberts and I presented President Scott with a framed copy of our resolution. The university, fans, alumni, and members of the Pittsburg community, along with the state of Kansas, should be proud of the hard work and success of the Gorillas football program.
Also, this was Steve Robb’s final visit to Washington in his official capacity with Pitt State. I want to thank Steve for his friendship and his many years of good work on behalf of the University and Southeast Kansans. I wish him all the best in his retirement. Click here to see photos from the visit.
We Must Stop Spending Money We Don’t Have
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office released a report this week predicting the government will run a deficit of more than $1 trillion for the fourth straight fiscal year. The report was another sober reminder that the President and Congress cannot continue to ignore our country’s fiscal problems.
Furthermore, Majority Leader Reid announced this week that he will not allow the Senate to vote on a budget this year. This decision lacks common sense. Senate Democrats have not passed a budget in more than 1,000 days, which is 1,000 days too long without a plan to control spending. Our nation has to live within a budget and our government should do the same.
Our Presidents have typically introduced their budget requests on the first Monday of February – but this year, President Obama will submit his budget a week late. My hope is that when the President does submit his budget request this year, Congress will be presented with a commonsense budget that reduces our deficit this year, next year, and well into the future. Our economy can and will recover only when we begin to live within our means.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below. Click here to view photos of some of the visits:
James Welch of Overland Park
Mike Kelley of Overland Park
Tom Ventura of Overland Park
Emergency Nurses Association
Janet Smith of Overland Park
Julie Unruh of Topeka
University of Kansas
Tim Caboni of Lawrence
Jack Kline of Lawrence
Cassie Maas of Mission
David Wurth of Mission
Kansas School Nurse Organization
Chris Tuck of Topeka
Kansas Hospital Association
Chad Austin of Topeka
Jodi Schmidt of Parsons
Shae Veach of Hays
Roger Masse of Ellsworth
Larry Bedell of Leawood
University of Kansas Medical Center Rural Health Education and Services
Michael Kennedy of Kansas City
Michele Reisinger of Onaga
Jenna Kennedy of Kansas City
Braeden Johnson of Kansas City
Mitchell Unruh of Scott City
Jonathan Pike of Great Bend
Ron Corn of Olathe
Noreen Carrocci of Wichita
Kansas Independent College Association
Doug Penner of Topeka
Pittsburg State University
Steve Scott of Pittsburg
Steve Robb of Pittsburg
Shawn Naccarato of Pittsburg
Jules Glanzer of Hillsboro
Building Owners and Manufactures Association of Kansas City
Katie Cone of Kansas City
Shelly Hickey of Overland Park
Thomas Corso of Olathe
Samuel Alpert of Shawnee Mission
Jackie Older-Hefner of Mission
Cynthia Sickman of Leawood
Brandie Battese of Leawood
National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisors
Sandy Braden of Eudora
Rhonda Knudson of Great Bend
Bob Reynolds of Salina
Matt Casey of Topeka
Camp Ashraf Update
Saeid Sajadi of Overland Park
Several Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the U.S. Capitol this week including: Patrick and Kathleen Townsend of Prairie Village, and Gary and Reed Wohlgemuth of Wichita.
It is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. 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,
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