Kansas Common Sense


Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thanks 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. 

Honoring the 931st as an Air Refueling Wing
The 931st Air Refueling Group at McConnell Air Force Base was officially designated as the 931st Air Refueling Wing on Saturday. I have long advocated for this transition, which will provide for more than 400 new personnel and additional resources to McConnell AFB for the critical air mobility missions of the KC-46A tanker. McConnell is well underway with preparations for the arrival of the KC-46A, and the Air Refueling Wing designation is another important step in making certain the base is ready for this new, critical mission. I am proud the Air Force recognizes the hard work and value of the men and women at McConnell, and I look forward to continuing to work with Colonel Mark Larson and the men and women in the 931st in the future.

Reaching Agreement on the Veterans First Act
I joined my colleagues on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on Thursday to announce the introduction of the Veterans First Act. The legislation includes numerous efforts I have led in the Senate to improve care for veterans. Further research into health conditions caused by exposure to toxic substances, increased accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs, access to chiropractic care services, strengthening the Veterans Choice Program, fighting the opioid over-prescription crisis, and expediting the claims and appeals process for veterans are all causes I have championed during my time in the Senate and are included in this legislation. I am also pleased that the committee was able to work together to find an alternative to funding this bill that does not cut earned benefits for veterans, such as the basic housing allowance for dependents using the GI Bill to pursue higher education. Many of these common sense provisions should be provided by the VA already, and funding these fixes by cutting benefits was unacceptable, I’m proud we were able to come to an agreement on a new funding source. Our veterans deserve the highest quality care, and the full value of their benefits, and I am certain the Veterans First Act will allow for both.

Questioning the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
At a Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee this week, I called upon Secretary of Defense Ash Carter  and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford regarding the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Following my recent visit to the facility, I want to make certain our most senior military leaders are involved in the decision-making process and not an afterthought. Something as critical to our national security as the transfer and release of dangerous detainees should be thoroughly vetted by all stake-holders, not just a few close to the president’s agenda. I remain committed to making certain detainees are kept where they belong – at GITMO.

Addressing Community Bankers from Around the Country
I joined several hundred members of the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) on Tuesday for their annual policy summit in Washington, D.C.  During my remarks, I addressed the growing burden facing community lenders, which impacts the availability of credit in rural America. Following the event, I was able to sit down and listen to a number of Kansans to learn more about the challenges they have encountered in a difficult economy. I’ve introduced a number of commonsense pieces of legislation that would allow these smaller lenders to better serve their communities. While I am pleased that a number of the provisions I’ve authored have recently been signed into law, much more needs to be done to make certain that the residents of Kansas have access to a hometown lender when buying or selling a home or seeking a line of credit to start or grow a business. I will continue to advocate for policies that strengthen our communities while pushing back on government intrusion that does little more than increase the cost of doing business.

Photo Credit: Karen Thomas of ICBA

Honor Flight with Southern Lyon County Veterans
I am always humbled to spend time with veterans from Kansas at the memorials built to honor them in Washington, D.C. I was pleased to visit with numerous Vietnam War veterans from southern Lyon County this week. These veterans represent the best of America – a willingness to sacrifice for the greater good. It is because these veterans answered the call of duty that we enjoy the freedoms we have today.

Eagle Scout Ceremony Remarks
It was a privilege to give remarks at Eagle Scout Court of Honor Ceremony in Overland Park on Sunday for 15 young men who achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. Boy Scouts of America teaches boys and young men the fundamental truths of duty, honor and responsibility. Since the inception of the Eagle Scout award in 1912, only two percent of Boy Scouts have achieved Scouting’s highest honor. But, Troop 10 now has 451 Scouts who have attained the rank of Eagle Scout. Congratulations to Saketh Bhavanasi, Jacob Boresow, Thomas Brentano, Brandon Grothen, Tyler Kodanaz, Shaunak Lokre, Joshua Mitchell, Ethan Newman, Connor O’Neill, Tanner Rupp, Alex Stark, Hayden Westerfield, Harrison Westerfield, Hunter Woosley and Steven Yee on this notable achievement!

Thank You Spring Interns
I’m incredibly proud of our spring interns – Fort Hays State University Students James Kelly of Elkhart, Kan., and Arin Powers of Mooreland, Okla., and University of Kansas Students Hunter Goh of Bakersfield, Calif., and Jacob Vance of Lenexa, Kan. – for serving as U.S. Senate Interns in my Washington, D.C., office. James, Arin, Hunter and Jacob have been doing important work for Kansans and gaining valuable experience that will help them in the future. Our interns continue to prove to me that there are a lot of great individuals across our state who have an interest in making a difference in the lives of others. 

New Member of Our Agriculture Policy Team
I am glad to announce that Garrett Kays of Weir, Kansas, will be joining my agriculture policy team serving Kansas farmers and ranchers in Washington, D.C. Raised on a small cow/calf operation and graduating from Kansas State University with a degree in agricultural economics, Garrett has been engaged in agriculture his entire life. Ensuring a bright future for agriculture in our state is one of my top priorities in the Senate, and I am confident Garrett will help us continue to serve Kansans.

Now Accepting 2016 Service Academy Applications
Even as students are beginning their summer breaks, I want to remind them of the opportunity to apply to a United States Service Academy. Appointing Kansans to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, NY; the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD; the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.; and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, NY, is one of my favorite duties as a U.S. Senator.

To find out the requirements and apply, please download an application from my website or contact my Olathe office. All application materials are due to my Olathe office by September 2, 2016. After applications have been reviewed, applicants will be notified of interviews with my Service Academy Selection Board, which will take place on Saturday, September 24, 2016, at the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene.

Kansans in the Office
Debra Payne of Stilwell
Carol Robinson of Prairie Village
Imad Khamis of Manhattan

Kansas Mother of the Year
Kricket Anderson of Smolan 

Dialysis Patient Citizens
Mike Guffey of Overland Park 

National Association of Area Agencies
Julie Walter of Manhattan
Annette Graham of Wichita 

Farm Bureau Mutual Group
Rosio Duarte of Manhattan
Tony Kimmi of Manhattan
Jesse Rhoads of Manhattan
Ray Will of Manhattan 

McPherson Church of the Brethren
Ty Goss of McPherson
Carola Galleti of Overland Park
Weronika Smulska of Moundridge
Linnea Henriksen of Moundridge
Cedric Blomer of Moundridge
Alexandria Weber of McPherson
Dylan Kramer of McPherson
Daniel Reynold of McPherson
Celeste Carlson of McPherson
Jerramy Bowen of McPherson
Amanda Whitacre of McPherson 

National Limousine Company
Diane Forgy of Leawood 

Land O’Lakes
Stan Stark of Pratt 

Joe Ratterman of Overland Park 

United Steelworkers
David Agnew of Topeka
Mark Elder of Topeka
Alex Jones of Topeka 

Online Lenders Association
Glenn McKay of Overland Park
Steve Hotz of Overland Park 

Keith Mispagel of Ft. Leavenworth 

Pat George of Norton
Tricia Olson of Norton
Adam Nordstrom of Topeka 

Army Corps of Engineers of Greater Kansas City
Brad Trost of Overland Park
Kyle Haake of Olathe
Reece Nelson of Topeka
Jim Mehnert of Lenexa 

Graduate School Council
Carol Shanklin of Manhattan 

Kansas Funeral Directors Association
Pam Scott of Topeka
Darin Bradstreet of Garden City
Bill Nicholson of Hoisington
Patti Nicholson of Hoisington 

Livestock Marketing Association
Dan Harris of Holton 

Kansas NEA
Ruth Goff of Spring Hill
Sandra Walker of Lawrence 

Alliance for International Exchange
Kristin Wood of Chapman 

American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Gerald Carlson of Lawrence 

Capitol Tour
Duane Hawkins of Wichita
Elizabeth Hawkins of Wichita
Joshua Hawkins of Wichita
Zachary Hawkins of Wichita
Mike Niemeyer of Olathe
Betty Niemeyer of Olathe
Harvey Tucker of Scott City
Brenda Tucker of Scott City
Brooke Ubelaker of Topeka
Kenneth Ubelaker of Osborne
Sharlene Ubelaker of Osborn
Robert Kincaid of Rose Hill
Nancy Kincaid of Rose Hill
Andy Kincaid of Rose Hill
Zachary Salts of Wichita
LaVerna Salts of Wichita
Aiden Salts of Wichita 

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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