to “Kansas Common Sense.” Thank you 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.
Washington, D.C., office has moved to a new location in Russell
Senate Office Building, Room 361.
This historic office was occupied by Richard Nixon during his time serving as Vice President of the United
States from 1953-1961.
If you are planning a trip to our nation’s capital please take note of the new location. Click here for
a full list of contact information for my Washington and Kansas offices.
for Common Sense
On Friday, the U.S.
Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it will
cancel the June 15 planned closure of 149 airport control towers, keeping them open through the end of
the budget year.
to bipartisan legislation passed by Congress last month, Secretary Ray LaHood was forced to find savings
elsewhere rather than target control towers for closure. The bill provides $253 million in additional
funding flexibility, enough to protect all contract towers while also preventing midnight shift eliminations
and furloughs for air traffic controllers. Given the absence of a full safety risk assessment, the FAA
has avoided setting a dangerous precedent with this process.
been a long fight since my original amendment to prevent the towers from closing and preserve aviation
safety was blocked from a vote, but in the end common sense prevailed over politics. This victory is
thanks to a bipartisan coalition of Senators and Congressmen and women who came together to demonstrate
that there are more responsible ways to cut spending than by compromising safety. I appreciate
Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut’s leadership and willingness to work across the aisle with me
on this issue.
Air Traffic Control facilities protected from closure include: Philip
Billard Municipal in Topeka; Hutchinson Municipal in Hutchinson; New Century Air Center in Olathe; Johnson
County Executive in Olathe; and Manhattan Regional in Manhattan. The Contract Tower Program was targeted
for a 75 percent cut as part of the FAA’s attempts to implement sequestration budget cuts, while
other accounts within the agency were subjected to only five percent reductions. Click
here to read more.
Secretary Lew about the IRS Leaking Confidential Tax Information
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testified in front of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial
Services and General Government during which, I was able to question the Secretary about a troubling
issue. There is evidence that the IRS released Schedule B donor lists belonging to 501 (c)(4) nonprofit
groups to other outside groups. The release of these donor lists for nonprofits is forbidden by U.S.
tax law, as well as internal IRS regulations. To make matters worse, the evidence also suggests that
the groups that improperly received this information intended to use it for partisan political purposes.
Even though publishing unauthorized tax returns or return information is either a felony punishable by
up to five years in prison or a fine of up to $5,000, or both, the group that received the information
appears to have done just that. I brought this issue to Secretary Lew’s attention and you can click
here to view my comments.
On Friday, less than two days after I questioned the Secretary about the handling of this issue, the
IRS apologized for the unfair targeting of nonprofit applicants.
an apology is a good start, it does little to rectify the mishandling of this situation and more must
be done to find out what happened as well as seeking ways to make certain this does not happen again.
Additionally, I submitted a written inquiry for which he and Acting Commissioner of the IRS Steven Miller
must answer and anxiously await their response. When Americans file their taxes or donate to a cause
they believe in, they have a right to assume that their information will not be used for political purposes.We
discussed international food and agriculture development programs that are authorized in the Farm Bill,
DuPont Pioneer’s work to develop seed technology that improves yields and accommodates growing
conditions in African countries, and agriculture’s role in today’s global economy. The Senate
Hunger Caucus exists to promote anti-hunger causes and provide a forum for briefings about hunger issues.
In addition to raising awareness, the caucus facilitates communication between those working to combat
hunger and lawmakers who support programs and policies assisting those in need. Click
see a photo from the event.
U.S. Department of Education should not impose regulations and directives that
restrict the rights of Kansas parents, educators, and communities to educate
their children as they see fit. I
opposed to the manner in which the Department has pressured states to
opt-in to Common Core standards. Nationalizing
education standards is extremely dangerous because it
bolsters federal power over education matters and undermines the local and
state oversight of education that is so important to the success of Kansas
schools. I have long believed
education functions best as a local and state function. In
2001, I opposed passage of the No Child
Left Behind (NCLB), the primary source of federal aid for K-12 education,
because I believe a one-size-fits-all federally-mandated approach to education
is not in the best interest of Kansas students. Decisions
about what content our students are taught in the classroom
should be made by the individuals in the best position to know the unique needs
of our students – parents, teachers, administrators, and local school boards –
rather than federal bureaucrats in Washington. While
Kansas was one of the states that opted-in to Common Core
standards, I will continue working to increase the flexibility for Kansas and
other states to address the specific needs of their respective students.
Senate Hunger Caucus Briefing
As co-chair of the Senate Hunger Caucus,
I joined Farmers Feeding the World in hosting a briefing with nearly 100 attendees on Tuesday to discuss
international agriculture and food security among public, private and NGO experts. Speakers at the event
included special guest Bill Gates, along with former Senate Agriculture Committee Chief Economist Stephanie
Mercier and DuPont Pioneer Vice President of Strategy Jeff Austin.
Secretary Vilsack at an Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing
This week, at an Agriculture
Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing, I questioned Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about the U.S.
Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) FY 2014 budget and the availability of crop insurance and other
risk management tools in the coming year for crop and livestock producers. Secretary Vilsack committed
to making certain that the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) would do everything in its power to prioritize
crop insurance and also work to develop new insurance products. As producers face another year of drought
and uncertain weather, risk management is especially important, I also encouraged the Secretary’s
full support for agricultural research. If we are going to feed and clothe a hungry and cold world, we
must invest in crops that are more productive and can survive in less than perfect weather conditions.
I am pleased with Secretary Vilsack’s commitment to agricultural research.
the hearing, we also discussed the Rural Utility Administration’s (RUS) broadband loan portfolio.
In October 2011, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved an order to reform the Universal
Service Fund (USF), which is used to provide telecommunications services to rural Americans. Many telephone
companies borrow from the RUS and depend upon predictable USF funds to repay part of their loan. Due
to FCC rule changes, demand for broadband has virtually been halted. Secretary Vilsack recently met with
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to express concern, and suggested changes to the order that will help
create greater certainty for companies impacted by the order. Broadband access is one of my top priorities,
and I will continue to work with both RUS and the FCC to make certain we have common sense rules that
will encourage investment and expansion of broadband in Kansas. I look forward to working with the Secretary
on issues facing Kansas and rural America.
the Tradition of Charitable Giving
Because of the generous
annual donations of millions of Americans, nonprofits have impacted the lives of countless individuals.
In 2011, Americans gave nearly $300 billion to support important programs and services, from food pantries
and medical research to youth programs and seed grants to start new businesses. Unfortunately, President
Obama has proposed changes in his FY 2014 Budget request to cap the total value of tax deductions at
28 percent for higher income Americans – including the charitable deduction.
reduction of this magnitude would have a devastating impact on the future of charitable organizations
in our country. According to the Charitable Giving Coalition, this proposal could reduce donations to
the nonprofit sector by more than $5.6 billion every year. This cut amounts to more than the annual operating
budgets of the American Red Cross, Goodwill, the YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, the Boys and Girls Clubs,
Catholic Charities, and the American Cancer Society combined.
are best equipped to provide assistance on the local level and can often do so in a far more effective
manner than the government. Studies have shown that for every dollar subject to the charitable deduction,
communities receive $3 in benefits. With our economy still recovering and many still struggling to provide
benefits for their families, Congress should be encouraging Americans to give more, not less. Click
see me speak on the floor regarding this topic.
Sylvan-Lucas Unified Junior Senior High School
their last day of high school, I had the opportunity to visit with Sylvan-Lucas High School's 17 graduating
seniors. Listening to their post-graduation plans makes me very proud of them, their families and our
see a photo from my visit. Thank you to Sylvan-Lucas High School Principal Devon
Walter for allowing me to stop by.
we had several visitors in the Washington, D.C., office, including the Kansans listed below:
Langhofer of Topeka
McCoy of Fort Scott
Hugh O’Reilly Jr. of Olathe
Wheat Growers Association
Paul Penner of Hillsboro
Science Committee on Publication
Ann Wefald of Manhattan
Bunny McBride of Manhattan
Pam Peck of Mission
Association of Trailer Manufacturers
Trusdale of Topeka
Tom Grieshaber of Manhattan
Meghan Ryan of Topeka
Caswell of Baxter Springs
Peter Stern of Topeka
Michael Larkin of Topeka
Sam Boyajian of Gardner
Van Coble of Winfield
College of Radiology
Gibbs of Parsons
James Owen of Topeka
John Lohnes of Wichita
Brett Meggison of Topeka
Shaun Gonda of Wichita
Technology for Kansans
Sack of Parsons
Banks of Topeka
Jo Budler of Topeka
Cindy Roupe of Topeka
Association of Enrolled Agents
Crist of Overbrook
W. Bloch School of Management at UMKC
Silver of Leawood
Travel Plazas and Truck Stops
Walker of Salina
Land Title Association
Daniel of Overland Park
Polly Epting of Burlington
Chris St. John of Topeka
Trudy St. John of Topeka
Joyce Huddleston of Tribune
of American Pathologists
James of Leawood
Chris Felix of
Brain Tumor Society
& Richard Haddock of Wichita
Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
Neis of Shawnee
City District Army Corps of Engineers
Anthony Hormann of Overland Park
Steven Iverson of Lenexa
Jenifer Switzer of Overland Park
Mercy Hospitals & Clinics
Modrcin of Kansas City
World Language Association
Breast Cancer Coalition
Barr of Solomon
Association Keith Worthington Chapter
Williams of Mission
Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Genovese of Mission Hills
Cheryl Dobson of Wichita
Tim Dobson of Wichita
Rebecca Daily of Wichita
Sue Dieker of
and Amy Fleischman of Leawood
Fleischman of Leawood
Fleischman of Leawood
Fleischman of Leawood
to Serve You in Washington
is an honor to serve you in Washington, D.C. In recent weeks, I’ve been listening to Kansans calling
and writing in to share their thoughts and opinions on the debt crisis and big issues our country faces.
Whether your thoughts are in the form of letter, a Facebook comment or a phone call, please know that
I am listening and I appreciate messages from Kansans who wish to make their voice heard.
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.