Kansas Common Sense
Nov 13 2017
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Commemorating Veterans Day
I hope you had a chance this weekend to remember the many veterans who have laid their lives on the line for our great nation. I’m so grateful to our country’s veterans – and particularly those in Kansas. None of us would have the opportunities we have and our country wouldn’t be what it is today without the sacrifice and courage of those who served in our military. A grateful nation offers our salute to you this Veterans Day.
I’ll never forget the pride and emotion I felt when visiting the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. for the first time, days before its dedication. Standing below the Kansas pillar, I called my dad – a World War II army veteran – to tell him how much I respected him, how grateful I was for him and that I loved him. I hope we can all echo those words to our veterans each and every day: we respect you, we thank you for your service and we love you. Please click here to watch a Veterans Day video message.
Effingham Veterans Day Program
I joined the students of Atchison County Community Junior-Senior High School to celebrate and honor the veterans in their community on Friday morning. The students interviewed military personnel to create a video to share as part of the celebration and to pay tribute to their sacrifices. It was great to see the students’ respect and appreciation for those who have served to protect our way of life. Thanks to Principal Deanna Scherer for the opportunity to join in expressing our gratitude to those who have served and to the National Honor Society students who did a great job planning the celebration.
Kensington Veterans Day Ceremony
I joined the Kensington community to commemorate Veterans Day at the American Legion Fred Marran Post #166. I enjoyed meeting with many veterans and family members of those who have served. My thanks to all who attended.
Senate Tax Reform Plan Introduced
If we want to grow our economy, keep businesses in America and help families save for their future, we must overhaul our outdated tax code. The plan introduced by the Senate Finance Committee this week is a critical step toward achieving this goal and providing tax relief for Kansas families and small businesses.
Our tax code should work for Americans, not against them, which is why I am committed to creating a fairer, pro-growth tax code that helps Kansas families keep more of their paycheck and small businesses grow and create good-paying jobs.
I am pleased tax reform will now go through the open committee and legislative process. The plan introduced this week is not the final version, and I encourage all senators – Democrats and Republicans – to offer input, amendments and collaborate together in this critical moment. We still have work to do, and I look forward to working with my colleagues and listening to Kansans as we work toward a final bill that grows jobs and puts more money back in Kansans’ pockets. Please click here to view more details of the plan.
Addressing the Topeka Chamber of Commerce’s Military Relations Council Meeting
On Friday afternoon, I joined guests of the Military Relations Council of the Topeka Chamber of Commerce during the council’s quarterly luncheon. The council was established to increase interaction, mutual awareness, support and appreciation between the military and business communities in Shawnee County and the surrounding area. The council’s quarterly luncheons are a great opportunity for these communities to come together to network and develop a better understanding of one another. Many guardsmen, reservists and other military members have important roles in the operation of area businesses, local government and community organizations. The council has an important role in helping the broader community understand how we can best support them and their families as they serve our country, often under difficult circumstances. I shared an update on some of the work being done in Washington, D.C. to support our servicemembers, their families and our veterans. Congratulations to Melissa Jarboe, founder of the Military Veteran Project, on her recognition by the council for MVP's important work on behalf of veterans in Topeka and throughout our country. Thanks to Scott Gales, chair of the Military Relations Council, for hosting and to Topeka Chamber Executive Vice President Curtis Sneden for coordinating my visit.
Hosting Townhall Meetings in Onaga, Everest and Atchison
Before heading back to Washington, D.C., I began the week hosting townhall meetings in Pottawatomie, Brown and Atchison Counties. With more than 50 folks in attendance at each meeting, our discussions covered topics ranging from tax reform to healthcare to veterans and beyond. We talked about ongoing VA Choice Program reauthorization efforts and how we can best honor our nation’s heroes; the importance of prioritizing health and mental healthcare; tax reform and what tax relief looks like; and the importance of agriculture in the area and throughout the state.
Thanks to everyone who attended and shared their thoughts with me. I look forward to taking them to Washington and sharing them with my colleagues as we continue our work.
Speaking at Fort Hays State University’s Kansas Startup Weekend
I spoke to a group of ambitious entrepreneurs at Fort Hays State University’s sixth Kansas Startup Weekend. Hosted by FHSU’s W.R. and Yvonne Robbins College of Business and Entrepreneurship, this event is designed to bring entrepreneurs together to share their ideas and work with local business, lawyers and design coaches who will provide assistance, advice and feedback.
Data shows that over the last three years, almost all net job creation has come from new businesses. With this in mind, I recently introduced the Startup Act to reduce many of the barriers that entrepreneurs face in starting businesses, help create jobs and spur economic growth. I was pleased to have the chance to speak with and learn from those in attendance.
Applauding Progress on the Nomination of Kansan Holly Teeter
Lenexa resident, Holly Teeter, who was nominated by the President to serve as a federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, is exceptionally well-prepared for the position. On Thursday, I attended a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to share my support for Ms. Teeter – as well as the support of a number of Kansas judges who have worked with Ms. Teeter – with my colleagues on the Committee. I’m pleased that the committee members voted overwhelmingly to move Ms. Teeter’s nomination forward so that she can be considered by the full Senate. Her extensive qualifications, exemplary temperament and years of experience make her highly qualified to serve Kansans in this role as a federal judge. I look forward to voting to confirm her to this position, which has been vacant for the last three years, and where I am confident she will be a dedicated servant of the law.
Mark Wisner’s Sentencing Brings a Measure of Justice for Veterans
Former Leavenworth VA Physician Assistant Mark Wisner was sentenced to 15 years and seven months in prison this week after being charged with aggravated sexual battery, aggravated criminal sodomy and misdemeanor sexual battery against his veteran patients. His sentencing brings a measure of justice to the veterans who endured pain and suffering at the hands of an individual that never should have been allowed to treat them. Though nothing can erase the harm Mr. Wisner has done, this sentencing is a start. Since learning of Wisner’s crimes, we have been successful in changing the law to make certain that those who violate the sacred trust of our veterans in such an egregious manner can never again be rewarded with unjustly guaranteed benefits at taxpayer expense. No one should ever look the other way, and never should this abuse of veterans be tolerated. For more information, please click here.
Pushing Equifax and Yahoo! For Answers After Major Data Breaches
On Wednesday, I questioned current and former executives from Equifax and Yahoo! about their cybersecurity practices in the wake of major data breaches during a Senate Commerce hearing. Yahoo! suffered data breaches in 2013 and 2014 and announced just last month that these breaches affected all three billion of its user accounts – the largest breaches in history. Equifax suffered a data breach earlier this year that affected approximately 145 million individuals, including private personal and financial information.
Businesses entrusted with consumers’ sensitive personal and financial information have an obligation to do all that they can to protect it, no matter the cost. This hearing provided an opportunity to address how these breaches occurred and the actions these businesses have vowed to take to prevent a breach of this scope from happening again. As cyber criminals becomes more advanced, companies, too, must adapt to protect American consumers.
Click here to watch the full exchange and click here to read an NBC News report on the hearing.
Participating in a Hearing on the Internet of Things in Our Rural Communities
On Tuesday, I joined my colleagues of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet to discuss the use and benefits of the Internet of Things in rural areas and the infrastructure needed to increase broadband access to our most underserved areas. Making certain that more of our rural communities can utilize technologies related to the Internet of Things in their homes, classrooms and businesses is crucial to closing the digital divide. In my role as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance and Data Security, I will be convening a hearing on Tuesday, November 14 to examine technological innovation specifically related to the agriculture economy. This an exciting time for these technologies but there is still much work and education to be done. I look forward to tackling these challenges to bringing access to all Kansans.
Meeting with Steve Censky, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture
I met with the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Steve Censky, this week to discuss the 2018 Farm Bill, livestock disaster programs and the importance of expanding U.S. agriculture exports. I made clear to Mr. Censky that USDA ought to be a strong and vocal proponent of farmers and ranchers within the administration, especially as it concerns to the importance of agriculture trade. During a time of low farm commodity prices, it is critical that we work to grow market access and export opportunities for the food and fiber our farmers and ranchers produce. We also discussed the fires that devastated Kansas ranchers in 2016 and 2017, and the difficulties those producers continue to face with USDA livestock disaster programs. I recently introduced four pieces of legislation to improve the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP) and Emergency Conservation Program (ECP). I discussed ways with Mr. Censky that USDA can better administer the programs to reduce red tape and provide greater assistance to ranchers devastated by natural disasters. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, I look forward to working with Mr. Censky in the future to make certain USDA is meeting the needs of farmers and ranchers and helping rural communities across Kansas.
Watching FHSU Take on the University of Nebraska at Kearney
FHSU Interim President Andy Tompkins and his wife Glenda, who have gotten to know Robba and I through her time on the Kansas Board of Regents, invited us to join them and Fort Hays fans in watching the football team face off against the University of Nebraska at Kearney on Saturday. Dr. Tompkins’ service leading FHSU is coming to an end as Dr. Tisa Mason prepares to become the university’s 10th president. The Fort Hays community has benefitted tremendously from his hard work, vision and dedication to the students and faculty there. We enjoyed lunch on campus and seeing the Tigers beat UNK as they continued this season’s undefeated success with a 41-7 final score. This is the team’s first 11-win season, and yesterday it was announced that FHSU received the No. 1 seed in Super Regional 3 of the Division II playoffs – we are looking forward to seeing the Tigers make their first playoff appearance since 1995 at the end of the month.
Kansans in the Office
Rockhurst High School
William Henry of Leawood
Ryan Cippner of Olathe
Conrad Mojica of Leawood
Kollin Battle of Kansas City
Carol Dougherty of Prairie Village
National Physicians Council for Healthcare Policy
Holly Fritch of Leawood
Mark Fesen of Hutchinson
Zachary Fesen of Hutchinson
Joy Fesen of Kansas City
Scott Roethie of Leawood
Association of University Centers on Disabilities
Jessica Schuttler of Shawnee
Marie Leathers of Overland Park
Alexandra Hicks of Overland Park
Mallorey Marek of Overland Park
Southwest Kansas Coalition
Kent Smoll of Dodge City
Ernesto De La Rosa of Dodge City
Melvin Dale of Garden City
Roy Cessna of Garden City
Tony Martinex of Liberal
Chris Ford of Liberal
National Catholic Association of Diocesan Directors for Hispanic Ministry
William Scholl of Mission
Gian Antonio of Kansas City
Danny T. Krug of Wichita
Angela Erevia of Dodge City
Close Up Foundation
Shelby Willmer of Topeka
Jenny Wilson of Topeka
Madison Dean of Topeka
Haley Holthers of Topeka
Delaney Kramer of Topeka
Jordan Frickey of Topeka
Makayla Akin of Topeka
Randy Crome of Topeka
National Sustainable Ag Coalition
Jim French of Partridge
Chad Bassinger of Pretty Prairie
Joe Jones of Lawrence
Rhonda Knudson of Great Bend
Delta Air Lines
Heather Wingate of Lawrence
American Heart Association
Leann Dickson of Lawrence
Kansas Procurement Technical Assistance Center
Scott Knapp of Wichita
Erin Colacicco of Tonganoxie
Lizzie Erikson of Alma
Haley Reiter of Ellis
Chelsea Phillips of Goodland
Katie Hutson of Westmoreland
Emma Boyd of Harveyville
Pam Lamb of Tonganoxie
Ashley Weber of Alma
Heather DeMaranville of Tonganoxie
Greg Thom of Manhattan
Kansas/Missouri Dream Alliance
Ana Jimenez of Kansas City
Victor Morales of Kansas City
Alex Martinez of Kansas City
Eriberto Mora of Kansas City
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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