Kansas Common Sense
Nov 13 2012
Welcome to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you for your continued interest in receiving my weekly newsletter. I spent time this week in Kansas, traveling throughout our state, listening to Kansans, and getting feedback on issues we face in Washington. Congress has returned to session and much work remains to be done. Without Congressional action, Americans will be saddled with $500 billion in tax increases, nearly $4,000 per household, on January 1. At the same time, as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act, mandatory spending cuts known as “sequestration” will take place, creating what is being referred to as a “fiscal cliff.” While Congress must rein in government spending, it needs to be done in a responsible manner. In a recent report, the Congressional Budget Office forecasts that the combination of these two events will trigger another economic recession in 2013. It is past time for Congress and the President to work together, set aside the game of politics, and make certain the country remains strong for generations to come.
This week, I visited with folks in Sedgwick, Riley, Douglas, Rooks and Ellis Counties. You can read more about visits below. Please feel free to forward this newsletter on to your family and friends if it would interest them.
Honoring Those Who Served
The celebration of Veterans Day in the week following the election serves as a fitting reminder of where our priorities should be. The service and sacrifice of our nation’s veterans has protected the freedoms of our democracy and allowed us to live in the strongest, freest, greatest country in the world. Our service men and women don’t sacrifice in the name of Republicans or Democrats; they put their lives at risk for the greater good and to ensure freedom and liberty for their children and grandchildren.
When our nation’s veterans return home from battle, it must be our priority to help these heroes return to civilian life. Unemployment, mental health care, rural health care, and timely processing of claims are critical issues facing veterans. As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I am committed to addressing these problems. You can read more about my efforts by clicking here. As we in Washington return to work on pressing legislation, we would be well served to remember the example of veterans: It is time to work together, place the common good ahead of narrow interests, and keep our promises.
Happy 237th Birthday to the Marine Corps
On Friday morning, I spoke at the Marine Corps 237th birthday celebration in Lawrence, Kansas. This is a great tradition where Marines all over the world enjoy the same moment with the cutting of the birthday cake and celebrate the birthday of their Corps - one of the finest fighting forces in the world. It is honor, courage and commitment that guide Marines to remain “Semper Fidelis” – “Always faithful” to the mission at hand, to each other, to the Corps, and to country. Washington must follow the example of our Marines Corps and show honor, courage and commitment when it comes to tackling the challenges before us. Our country owes the Marine Corps an incredible debt for what they've accomplished throughout history. Happy Birthday and Semper Fi. Click here to see photos from the event.
Meeting with the Governor’s Military Council
On Wednesday, I met with the Governor's Military Council in Manhattan, Kansas. This council focuses on state leaders, Kansas military installations, service men and women and their families, and works to make certain Kansas remains a place committed to their success.
During the meeting, members of the military, community leaders and members of military-focused organizations discussed the importance of a strong military presence in Kansas including McConnell Air Force Base, Smoky Hill ANG, Forbes Air Force Base, Ft. Riley, Ft. Leavenworth and the 35th Infantry Division. The group offered advice and suggestions to develop a strategy to support our military installations and a high quality of life for Kansas military families.
Our local communities are the biggest contribution to the quality of life for our military families. Junction City, Leavenworth, Wichita, Topeka and Salina provide the support, infrastructure and care that our military families deserve. These communities and others around the state also support our veterans and various ideas were exchanged as to how we can provide the best care, whether it is a routine check-up or mental health wellness. The Council also discussed the future of unmanned aerial system technology and other programs that could benefit Kansas military installations in the long run. Concerns were voiced about upcoming Department of Defense budget cuts, restructuring and sequestration. The Council is working hard alongside military and community leaders to address potential outcomes from this budget-cutting process and possible impacts on our state.
Thanks to the entire council, including Brigadier Gen. MacWillie, Senior Commander of Ft. Riley, Kansas Adjutant General Tafanelli for the Kansas National Guard, and Mr. Kirby Brown, Deputy to the Commanding General of Ft. Leavenworth, for the constructive conversation.
Celebrating Entrepreneurship Week
On Friday, I joined students, faculty and Kansas innovators and entrepreneurs on the University of Kansas campus at an event focused on entrepreneurship. This event, hosted by the Schools of Business, Engineering and Journalism, aimed to expose students to entrepreneurship as a career path and introduce students to startup companies in the region. It also gave them the opportunity to learn from policy makers about the role of government in enabling entrepreneurship, innovation and company creation.
The event kicked off with a panel of entrepreneurs, including Bill Donovan, president of Pulse Aerospace and KU aerospace engineering alumnus; Naithan Jones, CEO and founder of AgLocal, a mobile-based agriculture application that has gained national attention; Joseph Melookaran, president of JMA Information Technology; and Danny O'Neill, founder of The Roasterie, a Kansas City-based specialty coffee roaster.
Following the panel, I joined Dean Neeli Bendapudi of the KU School of Business for a discussion regarding national efforts to make certain the U.S. remains a global leader in entrepreneurship, and to discuss ways to reduce the barriers for entrepreneurs so more Americans will take a chance and start a business.
Kansas has a rich history as a place where innovators have been free to pursue their ideas, start businesses, and pursue their dreams – and we must keep it that way. While new business - those 5 years and younger - are responsible for all net new job creation in the past 25 years, new business formation at its lowest level in nearly 40 years. I have introduced legislation called Startup Act 2.0 with Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), to make it easier for entrepreneurs in Kansas and across the country to succeed. Congress needs to focus its attention on creating an environment where entrepreneurs have an opportunity to pursue success and in the process put people back to work. I am committed to working with my colleagues in the Lame Duck session to help create such an environment. Thanks to Dean Bendapudi, Dean Ann Brill of the School of Journalism, Interim Dean Stan Rolfe, Ph.D., of the School of Engineering, and Charlotte Tritch for helping to organize this worthwhile event. Click here to see a photo album from this event.
Speaking to the Hays Lions Club
On Election Day, I spoke to the Hays Lions Club at the Bakery Shop. It was great to be among so many fellow club members and longtime friends. We discussed many important issues facing our state and nation including the presidential election, the economy, our growing national debt, and the terrorist attacks against the U.S. Consulate in Libya that resulted in the killing of four American diplomats, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Communities across our state are strengthened by the Kansans who participate in civic clubs. Lions Clubs work to make Kansas communities strong and I have been a proud member of the Hays club for more than 35 years and am former President of the club. Thanks to Club President Jim Huenergarde and to Les and Brenda Herrman for their warm welcome, hospitality and for allowing me to be the program this week. Click here to see a photo album from the event.
Speaking at the West Sedgwick County Sunrise Rotary Club
During breakfast on Thursday, I spoke to the West Sedgwick County Sunrise Rotary Club. We had a good conversation about several topics including government spending, the need for jobs, a growing economy, a more certain regulatory environment. We also discussed the looming “fiscal cliff” that awaits lawmakers as they return to Washington D.C. The conversations I have with Kansans are always helpful and I appreciate everyone who came to the meeting. Thanks to President Dalia Hale for her leadership of the club and to Jesse McCurry for the kind introduction. Thanks also to former Wichita Mayor Carlos Mayans, Wichita City Councilman Jeff Longwell, and Pat Gallagher from the Wichita Chamber of Commerce for attending. Thanks also to Club President Dalia Hale for being so welcoming. Click here to see a photo.
Visiting with Members of Derby Chamber of Commerce
On Thursday afternoon, the Derby Chamber of Commerce hosted me at a membership luncheon. I appreciated the opportunity to discuss several issues including McConnell Air Force Base and its current and future role in the defense of our nation, job creation, the importance of education and my concerns with our nation’s $16.3 trillion debt. Thanks to retiring Chamber President Rhonda Cott for her hard work and leadership. And Congratulations and best wishes to incoming president Alicia Early. Thanks also to State Representative Jim Howell for participating and to Daniel Johnson, owner of Johnson and Company Certified Public Accountants, for sponsoring the luncheon. Click here to see a photo from my visit.
Visiting the U.S. Air Force Academy
Robba and I drove to Colorado last weekend to attend the wedding of Emily Jeter, daughter of Joe and Cheryl Jeter of Hays. I stayed on Monday to visit the United States Air Force Academy. At the Academy, I was briefed by the Superintendent Lt. General Mike Gould, and had lunch with eight cadets from Kansas and Brigadier General Greg Lengyel, the Commandant of Cadets. I was also asked to speak to a senior seminar studying the U.S. Congress taught by Lt. Col. Shaio Zerba and Lt. Col. Denver Collins. Congratulations to the Jeter family and thanks to all those at the U.S. Air Force Academy for facilitating my visit. Click here to see a photo.
In the Office
This week we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below.
Close Up Foundation
Seaman High School, Topeka:
City of Topeka
City of Wichita
Garden City Community College
Herbert Swender of Garden City
Debbie Atkinson of Garden City
Dee Wigner of Garden City
Herbert Swender, Jr. of Garden City
Austin Swender of Garden City
Stop Hunger Now
Rick McNary of El Dorado
Many Kansans stopped by to take a tour of the US Capitol this week including:
Carole Lovin and son, Jared
Hugo Aravena-Diaz and Laura Tornini and children Ana, Alex, and Lucas
Ana Diaz Poblete
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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