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.

The act of terror in Charlottesville on Saturday is a sobering reminder of the hateful element that still exists in America. White supremacy, bigotry and racism have no place in our society. We must all come together and denounce this hatred to the fullest extent.

Hosting Townhalls Around The State
The next couple of weeks in Kansas will serve as an important opportunity to spend more time with Kansans as I visit all corners of our state. Kansas Listening Tours provide me with the opportunity to get feedback from Kansans that I need in order to do my job representing you in Washington.

I have always had a responsibility to Kansans to make myself available for questions and discussion, regardless of what the day’s “hot button” issue may be.

Last week, I hosted three townhall meetings in Barton, Cheyenne and Rawlins Counties.

Barton County: On Thursday, I hosted a townhall in Barton County at American AgCredit in Great Bend. It was good to hear from Barton County residents about health care and to discuss what’s next for reform. The conversation shifted toward efforts to maintain our way of life in rural Kansas by supporting common sense agriculture and trade policies. Other topics discussed were care for our veterans, the upcoming tax reform debate, NIH medical research and the importance of solving world hunger problems through USAID programs.

Thank you to the more than 70 attendees who spent their Thursday afternoon with me and to Greg Reno, Beth Slack and American AgCredit for hosting. Also, thanks to State Representative Tory Marie Arnberger for attending.

Cheyenne County: I continued my Kansas Listening Tour in St. Francis on Friday, where we discussed Veterans care, advancing medical research to combat diseases, net neutrality, my call to have an open legislative process for healthcare, my latest bill to help Kansans access healthy food, the Farm Bill and trade with Cuba.

Thank you to State Senator Rick Billinger and to all of those from Cheyenne County for attending.

Rawlins County: On Friday, I also hosted a townhall meeting in Rawlins County. We had a great discussion regarding the Veterans Choice Act, using the full legislative process to craft a healthcare bill, my bill to help more Kansans have access to healthy food, the Hearing Protection Act and the need to balance the budget. Thanks to the Rawlins County Health Center for hosting the Listening Tour.

Click here for more information on upcoming Kansas Listening Tour stops. 

Visiting Marysville Veterans Café

I met with veterans in Marysville to discuss VA accountability, the Veterans Choice Program and the importance of both to their community during a Veterans Café meeting. Veterans Café is a regular gathering of local veterans to discuss veterans issues.

Marysville Hospital CEO Curtis Hawkins attended to update the group on implementation of Choice at the hospital and ways to alleviate operational concerns, including slow payments to the hospital. Marysville Hospital does not currently offer Choice, but I look forward to continuing my discussion with hospital executives and Choice officials to work toward this goal.

Thanks to RSVP of Northeast Kansas Executive Director Joni Spellmeier and American Legion Post #163 for hosting the event, and to the 50 people who took time out of their busy Wednesdays to meet with me.

Participating in Startup Day Across America
In recognition of Startup Day Across America, I visited GRID Collaborative Workspaces in Overland Park for a conversation with several area entrepreneurs about the various challenges they face in starting and growing their businesses. Startup Day Across America is a national event encouraging elected officials and entrepreneurs to engage with one another to learn more about and promote entrepreneurship within their communities, creating a good opportunity to sit down with these businesses.

Representatives of several local startups joined the conversation about specific challenges facing Kansas City’s startup community and shared their ideas about how to address them. We touched on several topics, including improving access to capital; growing, attracting and retaining talent; and the need to improve the tax code by making it simpler, more predictable and more encouraging of investment.

Thanks to The Grid for hosting the roundtable, to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation for coordinating the discussion and to the entrepreneurs that attended: Tara Tamburello of People Works, Vincent Rodriguez of Maps Coffee Roasters, Chad Schofield of BioGen, Mark Calhoun of Perfect Cube, Jim Starcev of Perfect Cube, Josh Wendel of Phisionary, Anthony West of Thirsty Paws, Stuart Ludlow of RFP365 and Sam Adams of Bydand Digital.

Visiting Village Shalom in Kansas City
I met with representatives from Village Shalom and the Jewish Federation of Kansas City to discuss Medicaid and the impact healthcare policy has on their operations. These organizations partner to provide funding services for elderly individuals who require skilled nursing, reside in the assisted living facilities or utilize the day-stay program. The staff provided me with an insightful view into their operations and how federal healthcare policy impacts their daily lives.

Thanks to Village Shalom CEO Matt Lewis, Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City President and CEO Dr. Helene Lotman and Jewish Federation of Greater Kansas City Chairman John Isenberg for hosting me.

Joining AMC Theatres Employees for a Townhall Meeting in Leawood
AMC Theatres, which operates more than 300 locations across the country, has been headquartered in the Kansas City area for more than 95 years. I stopped by the Leawood headquarters on Wednesday morning to tour their operations and meet with their staff.

During the visit, AMC hosted a townhall for their 500 employees where we discussed healthcare, pro-growth tax reform, North Korea and international affairs, and working toward returning to civility in Washington. My thanks to AMC CEO Adam Aron and his leadership team for inviting me and to Leawood Mayor Peggy Dunn and Leawood Chamber CEO Kevin Jeffries for attending. 

Sending Letters to Wells Fargo and National General Holdings Corporation
As Chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security, I am responsible for conducting appropriate Congressional oversight of consumer products and services.

On Wednesday, I joined my Senate Commerce Committee colleagues from both sides of the aisle in sending a letter to the chief executives of National General Holdings Corporation (National General) and Wells Fargo & Company to inquire about their insurance sales practices following troubling reports that the companies “failed to ensure that customers were not charged for coverage if they already had their own policies.” 

Additionally, I held a subcommittee hearing earlier this month to evaluate the general issue of insurance fraud in America and its impact on industry and, more importantly, consumers. 

The full letter to National General may be viewed here and the full letter to Wells Fargo & Co may be viewed here.

Meeting with the Kansas Association of Broadcasters
On Monday, I stopped by KCTV5’s offices in Fairway to meet with a group of Kansas Association of Broadcasters executives. We talked about my bipartisan legislation, The Viewer and Listener Protection Act of 2017, which aims to help television and radio stations comply with the FCC’s proposed channel reassignments, more commonly known as “repack.” 

I remain concerned that rural America will be disproportionately harmed if Congress does not take action to provide adequate resources and an appropriate timeline for the relocation of TV and radio stations. We also discussed the potential of tax reform and provisions in the tax code that broadcasters find useful.

Attending the Greater KC Chamber Dinner with Kansas City Business Leaders
On Tuesday, I met with Kansas City business leaders and Greater KC Chamber leadership. They updated me on their KC Rising initiative – a 20-year vision to increase the Kansas City region’s economic growth with the ultimate goal of landing in the Top 10 of KC’s peer metros in Quality jobs, GDP, and Median Household income. We also discussed healthcare, corporate tax reform, trade with Mexico, and national security, including the latest with North Korea. 

Remembering My Friend Bob Schmidt
Robba and I are deeply saddened by the news of our friend Bob Schmidt’s passing. Bob was among a few of our hometown’s most significant citizens – no one has made more of a difference in the well-being of our part of the state than Bob. From his service in the Navy to his time at Fort Hays State University to his work growing KAYS Radio into Eagle Communications, his natural leadership and generous spirit were clear to all who knew him.

I’m grateful for our many years of friendship, and my family’s thoughts and prayers are with Bob’s loved ones during this difficult time. We will miss him greatly.

Surveying Storm Damage in Wakeeney
Friday afternoon, I stopped by Wakeeney to see the damage from a severe thunderstorm with baseball sized hail and high winds that passed through Trego County late Thursday. The response teams and many volunteers have been working around the clock to clean up and help those in need. I’m inspired by everyone in the community who has come together to assist and support their neighbors.

Thank you to all who have lent a hand and to Emergency Manager Kathleen Fabrizius, Sheriff Richard Hanks, Police Chief Ashley Garza, Trego County Rural Fire Chief Chad Mann, Mayor Kenny Roy, County Commissioner Wes Hobbs and Wildlife and Parks Game Warden Matt Schmidt for a briefing of the damage and their leadership following the storm.

The Eclipse Across America

On Monday, Aug. 21, all eyes will be up in NE Kansas to view the Total Solar Eclipse – one of the best viewing locations in the country. Communities around NE Kansas have been planning for the “once-in-a-lifetime” event for years: the last time the Kansas City area saw a total solar eclipse this close was in 1806, and the next time won’t be until 2205. The “path of totality” will clip the NE corner of our state at approximately 1:00 p.m. CDT.

After discussing the event with many people in Marysville last week, I know they’re excited and ready for visitors. I encourage everyone planning to view “The Eclipse Across America” to travel safely, plan ahead and visit https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/ for more information about this educational and historic event.

Kansans in the Office:

Breastfeeding Coalition
Brenda Bandy of Manhattan
Treva Smith of Kansas City

Kansas Farm Bureau
Gimmie Jo Jansonius of Praire View
Steve Porubsky of Topeka
Glenn Brunkow of Westmoreland
Kevin Holle of Herndon
Matt Hines of Holton
Bryan Fishburn of Lawrence
Amy France of Marienthal
Mark Nelson of Topeka

Capitol Tours
Stephen Frets of Olathe
Cindy Frets of Olathe
Courtney Frets of Olathe
Michael Frets of Olathe
Teryl Knight of Newton
Jaime Rhodes of Newton
Leroy Kreutzer Jr. of Wichita
Jennifer Kreutzer of Wichita
Kelsie Kreutzer of Wichita
Karlie Kreutzer of Wichita
Todd Bartelt of Lenexa
Nancy Bartelt of Lenexa
Lincoln Bartelt of Lenexa
Rowan Bartelt of Lenexa
Vera Bartelt of Lenexa
John Cleland of Arma
Kelly Cleland of Arma
Cooper Cleland of Arma
Brett Cleland of Arma
Dave Eichman of Hays
Sheila Eichman of Hays
Derek Eichman of Hays
Sierra Eichman of Hays
Jackson Oxler of Wichita
Anne Oxler of Wichita
Mary Kessinger-Wassom of Frankfort
Titus Wassom of Frankfort
Matt Wassom of Frankfort
Asher Wassom of Frankfort
Simeon Wassom of Frankfort
David Jones of Wichita
Carrie Jones of Wichita
Matthew Jones of Wichita
Daniel Jones of Wichita
Michael Jones of Wichita
Scott Madsen of Shawnee
Lisa Madsen of Shawnee
Abigail Madsen of Shawnee
Cole Madsen of Shawnee
Jace Madsen of Shawnee
Ben Smith of Topeka
Ramona Smith of Topeka
Charles Jehle of Baldwin City
Janet Jehle of Baldwin City
Lu Wei of Overland Park
Hongmin Chen of Overland Park
Evan Chen of Overland Park
Ethan Chen of Overland Park
Dan Fee of Hutchinson
Kim Fee of Hutchinson
Jack Fee of Hutchinson
Caroline Fee of Hutchinson
Claire Fee of Hutchinson
Gimmie Jo Jansonius of Praire View
Steve Porubsky of Topeka
Glenn Brunkow of Westmoreland
Kevin Holle of Herndon
Matt Hines of Holton
Bryan Fishburn of Lawrence
Amy France of Marienthal
James Cain of Wichita
Deborah Cain of Wichita
Peggy Beasterfeld of Harveyville
Lydia Beasterfeld of Harveyville
Karen Smith of Topeka
Gary Samms of Winfield
Crystal Samms of Winfield
Eli Samms of Winfield
Ellie Samms of Winfield
Amy France of Marienthal
Steve Porubsky of Topeka
Timothy Cain of Wichita
Mela Dee Cain of Wichita
Gimmie Joe Jansonius of Prarie Village
Brian Fishburn of Lawrence
Diane Fishburn of Lawrence
Matt Hines of Holton
Katelyn Hines of Holton
Eli Hines of Holton
Sara Fox of Holton
Talon Fox of Holton
Therron Fox of Holton
Tracer Fox of Holton
Logan Britton of Wichita
Tara Britton of Wichita
Sherri Culp of Pittsburg
Tonya Williamson of Oswego 

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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