Kansas Common Sense

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Supporting Startups in the State of the Union

President Obama gave his third State of the Union Address Tuesday. I attended the speech and sat with my friend Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). During the President’s speech, he called on Congress to pass an agenda that helps startups and small businesses succeed. I could not agree more on the need to focus on entrepreneurs as a source of job creation.

Between 1980 and 2005, companies less than five years old accounted for nearly all net job creation in the United States. In fact, new businesses create an average of about 3 million jobs each year. Recognizing the job-creating potential of entrepreneurs, Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) and I introduced the Startup Act of 2011 in December. The Startup Act addresses the need to reduce regulatory burdens, provides tax relief to help startups grow, accelerates the commercialization of research conducted at American universities, and creates new opportunities for American-educated foreign students to stay in the United States where their high-tech skills will fuel growth in our country.

Senator Warner and I wrote President Obama Wednesday to tell him we have introduced legislation that accomplishes the very goals he laid out in his speech. Fostering innovation and promoting entrepreneurship are not Republican or Democrat ideas – they are American ideas. I stand ready to work with the President and my colleagues on commonsense measures, like those in the Startup Act, that will create jobs and get our economy growing. Click here to read the letter to the President. Click here to learn more about the Startup Act.

Solution to Our Debt Crisis is Not More Debt

This week, the Senate voted on H. J. Res 98, the resolution disapproving of President Obama’s request to raise the country’s borrowing limit by an additional $1.2 trillion. I voted against raising the debt ceiling, and against Washington’s out-of-control spending habits and failure to live by a budget. Our nation’s debt now stands at $15.2 trillion and has grown by nearly $4.5 trillion in the past three years. Kansans understand the solution to our debt crisis is not more debt – we must stop spending money we don’t have.

Last year, I informed President Obama that I would not vote to raise the debt ceiling unless I saw substantial reductions in spending and structural changes in the way business is conducted in Washington, D.C.

Nearly one year later, here we are again with the same request – yet the President and Congress have failed to put forward a long-term plan to address our growing fiscal crisis. The recommendations put forward by the Bowles-Simpson Commission represent a good starting point and should be seriously considered by Congress. Given the bipartisan support for many of their proposals, I am disappointed their recommendations continue to be ignored.

Simply raising the debt limit without a serious plan to reduce our debt will only continue this pattern of fiscal irresponsibility. I strongly disapprove of this request.” Click here to read more.

Inviting Labor Secretary to Kansas

Last September the U.S. Department of Labor proposed rules that will fundamentally alter the family farm. I have explained to the Department that its rules are not based on common sense and they need to be withdrawn. This week I invited U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to Kansas so she can see first-hand the far-reaching impact of the Department’s proposed rules. If implemented, the rules will impose overly-burdensome restrictions on many common farm activities of youth on farms or ranches not directly owned by their parents. These changes will fundamentally alter the rural way of life and disrupt agriculture practices across the country.

I believe it is  important for Secretary Solis to see first-hand the far-reaching impact these rules will have on American agriculture.  In the words of Kansas’ favorite son, Dwight D. Eisenhower, ‘Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field.’ You can read my invitation to the Secretary here

By working alongside their parents, grandparents, and neighbors, young people learn important life skills and values. We cannot afford to lose the next generation of farmers and ranchers. Please share your story here about the value of working on a farm so we tell the Department of Labor that the proposed rules should be withdrawn. You can also join the discussion on Twitter with #keepfamiliesfarming. 

Kansans Visit Washington to March for Life

On Monday, Kansans joined thousands who traveled to Washington to participate in the 39th annual March for Life.  Most of these Kansans traveled 20 hours or more each way to and from Washington by bus to join the march and defend the sanctity of human life. I am proud of them for making the long bus ride for this noble cause. Thank you to all Kansans who made their voices heard on behalf of human life.

Defense Budget Calls for Base Realignment and Closure

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta outlined the DOD’s budget proposal for next year.  The Defense budget reflects a reduction in spending over the coming decade of $487 billion as a result of the Budget Control Act passed last year. With the goal of reducing domestic military infrastructure, Secretary Panetta requested that Congress authorize a Base Realignment and Closure – or BRAC – process, which we last experienced in 2005.

Kansas military installations are crucial to our country’s ability to defend itself, and play an important role in our state’s economy. Should Congress approve another BRAC round, I am confident the Kansas community will rise to the task with the same cooperative spirit and once again successfully promote the value of our state and our military installations.  I will continue to work with Governor Brownback and his Military Council, local, state, and federal leaders to ensure that Kansas’ installations are well-positioned to remain open and grow.

Coca-Cola Tour

Before heading back to Washington, D.C., on Monday morning, I visited the Coca-Cola production facility in Lenexa were I had the opportunity to tour the site and visit with the 100 employees. Coca-Cola employs more than 1,700 people across the state of Kansas at 14 facilities and 2 independent bottlers. Last year, the iconic American company celebrated 125 years in business. Thank you to Dave Jones, plant manager for the informative tour and thanks to Gary McElyea for the invitation.

Native Sons and Daughters Banquet

Robba and I enjoyed our time in Topeka Friday evening with good friends. We attended the Native Sons and Daughters Banquet where Mr. Harold Stones was honored as Kansan of the Year. I have known Harold for many years and this honor is well-deserved. I also had the opportunity to present awards to the high school students who won the “Kansans… As Talented As You Think!” competition. This art competition is open to all artists who are currently in 9th through 12th grades and who presently reside within the state of Kansas. Congratulations to the talented young Kansans who exhibited their art for this competition. Click here to see a photo.

Native Sons and Daughters Banquet in Topeka

Kansas Day Gala

On Saturday evening, we attended the Kansas Day Gala to celebrate 151 years of Kansas statehood. Thank you to the Kansas Day Club for your hard work putting this event together each year since 1892. I enjoyed the remarks from Dr. Jerry Jaax, the Associate Vice President for research compliance and University Veterinarian at Kansas State University. He discussed biowarfare, bioterrorism and agro-terrorism. With the future of NBAF at Kansas State University in Manhattan, these topics are becoming increasingly important for the future of Kansas.

I also had the opportunity to give a salute on this 151st anniversary of our great state. The pioneering spirit of those who settled our state more than 150 years ago and tamed the West lives on in us today. We work hard and try to make a difference in our communities, our state and our nation. Throughout the years, Kansas has raised many national leaders who have helped our state and nation overcome many obstacles – from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Bob Dole. But the story of Kansas is also one about the farmers, factory workers, teachers, parents and all the unsung heroes whose hard work has built our state’s economy and made us a leader in many fields, such as agriculture, aviation and research. It was a true pleasure to celebrate the great state of Kansas and our rich heritage.

In the Office

This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below. 

Farm Credit Institutions
Jim Nelson of Liberal
Don Wissnan of Manhattan
Mark Wulfkuhle of Berryton
Jeana Hultquist of Bonner Springs
Travis W. Ball of Wichita
Greg A. Howell of Wichita
Kelsy Rhodenbaugh of Salina
Arminda Feldkamp of Centralia
Ron Bach of Jetmore
John Lightner of Garden City
Jon Hermann of Kinsley
Danny Koehn of Montezuma
Monte Thom of Isable
Brent Phillips of Selden
Bryan Pearce of Wallace
Larry Maxwell of Colby
Alan Hess of Alma
Larry Hoobler of Manhattan
Jim Feldkamp of Centralia
Burl Peckman of Paola
Doug Hofbauer of Manhattan
Bob Wietharn of Clay Center
Ron Rahjes of Kensington
Larry Kepley of Ulysses
Mick Gechter of Garden City 

Cutler Repaving Inc.
John Rathbun of Lawrence

Bergkamp, Inc.
Scott Bergkamp of Salina

Jana’s Campaign to Stop Domestic Violence
Curt Brungardt of Hays

Kansas Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Teresa San Martin of Goddard
Jaclyn Glasgow of Wellington

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Samuel Brinton of Manhattan

Kansas Catholic Conference
Michael Schuttloffel of Topeka

Kansas Medical Society
Jerry Slaughter of Topeka
Dick Warner of Shawnee Mission

Greater Kansas City Association of Health Underwriters
Linda Corcoran of Hutchinson
Mike Keller of Wichita
Gary Hardman of Wichita
Beverly Gossage of Eudora
Kay Schweiger of Shawnee
Victoria Coletti of Overland Park
Alex Poulter of Overland Park
Jason Powers of Overland Park
Alicia Dressman of Overland Park

Kansas Head Start Association
Celicia Lorensen of Enterprise
Thor Brown of Hiawatha
Summer Koehn of McPherson
Penny Stoss of McPherson
Lori Alvarado of Lawrence

American Association of Orthodontists
Scott Hamilton of Topeka

University of Kansas Department of Special Education
Chriss Walther-Thomas of Lawrence
Suzanne Robinson of Lawrence

Many Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the U.S. Capitol this week including: Beverly Gossage of Eudora; Victoria Coletti of Overland Park; Beverly Schweiger of Olathe; Alicia Dressman of Kansas City; JoAnn Shum of Marysville; and  Mary Henthrone of Valley Falls

Contact Me

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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