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.
On Thursday afternoon, I hosted a conference call on Ebola with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Tom Frieden and Kansas health care providers and state officials to discuss Ebola response efforts. This call was also a good opportunity for me to learn how I may be of assistance to providers across our state to prepare for Ebola and other infectious disease responses. I appreciate the questions and insight from Kansas health care providers who participated in the call, and their commitment to making sure our public health infrastructure is prepared to handle Ebola. Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment Dr. Robert Moser and Adjutant General of Kansas Major General Lee Tafanelli were among the many health care and emergency response officials from across the state who called in to hear from Dr. Frieden and other key CDC officials on this important issue. Thanks to all who participated.
As we fight Ebola in Africa, we need to make certain we are protected at home as well. I urge the Administration to implement travel restrictions on commercial airline passengers traveling from nations afflicted by Ebola. While Americans were assured that our public health infrastructure was ready to handle Ebola, unfortunately reality has shown we still have a lot of work to do. Travel restrictions will also give us time to make certain our hospitals are procedurally ready to handle Ebola patients.
Many veterans and their families are still struggling with side effects from their exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. Agent Orange, as well as other toxins, force veterans to endure a wide range of symptoms and medical ailments – many of which are misdiagnosed due to lack of understanding and substantiating scientific proof. These toxins not only afflict our nation's veterans, they also often create health complications in their children and grandchildren.
October is Agent Orange Awareness Month and it provides an opportunity to highlight a topic that impacts a large number of veterans and their families in Kansas and across the country. A few months ago, I introduced the Toxic Exposure and Research Act with Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. The legislation would provide for research on the health conditions of descendants of veterans who were exposed to toxins during their service to our nation. It would also establish a national center at a VA medical facility for the research, an advisory board to offer recommendations to the VA Secretary and declassify certain incidents of exposure of Armed Forces Members to toxic substances, and create a national outreach campaign to promote further awareness. My hope is this legislation helps to establish medical evidence of toxic exposure symptoms in order to properly diagnose and treat those family members who live with these health complications. to learn more.
I was pleased to learn this week that USDA will implement the Actual Production History (APH) Yield Exclusion for Spring 2015 crops, a provision included in the 2014 Farm Bill designed to provide relief for farmers suffering from severe drought. Originally, USDA did not intend to implement the provision before 2016. Many Kansas farmers have seen significant decreases in their insurable yields due to failed or very low-yielding crops during the drought. This provision will ensure crop insurance remains a viable risk management tool for our farmers by allowing them to exclude certain low yields from their APH due to drought.
The APH Yield Exclusion was one of a number of vital improvements made to crop insurance in the 2014 Farm Bill. For example, farmers are now able to purchase separate Enterprise Units on irrigated and dryland crops. Moreover, farmers will also be allowed to purchase different coverage levels on irrigated and dryland crops. My disappointment is that these provisions will not be ready in time for our winter wheat producers; instead they will be available for crops planted next Spring. I continue to urge USDA to find ways to make these positive crop insurance improvements available for winter wheat producers this year.
On Tuesday, I joined Senator Pat Roberts and a bipartisan group of 13 Senators in writing Treasury Secretary Jack Lew regarding recent proposals to repeal the accounting method of "last-in, first-out," known as LIFO. As Congress considers ways to reform our tax code, some have suggested eliminating the LIFO provision, but our letter to Secretary Lew expresses concerns that such a repeal would create undue burden for many American businesses and run counter to the goal of a simple and efficient tax code. I look forward to Secretary's Lew's response to our letter. To view a signed copy, .
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence is a horrific problem that so many individuals and families endure and demands our attention. In Kansas, an estimated one in 10 adult women will suffer from domestic abuse this year. Men and children are victims, as well. Whether we realize it or not, statistics prove that all of us know someone who is suffering physical and psychological abuse. We should continue to draw attention to these crimes and encourage anyone who needs help to seek it. Before the Senate adjourned, I spoke about this topic on the Senate floor. You can watch a video of my speech by .
Kansas Listening Tour Stops Continue
On Monday, I hosted a Kansas Listening Tour Stop at Ray's Pharmacy in Quinter. Area residents and I discussed a number of issues including the need for effective coordination to stop Ebola, the Lesser Prairie Chicken, the importance of a Farm Bill, the convoluted tax code and the Affordable Care Act. I appreciated Quinter High School Teacher Mrs. Kelli Getz bringing her senior government class to participate, as well as the students' thoughtful questions. Thanks to Ray's Pharmacy owner Jack Tebow for hosting the town hall meeting. For a full listing of my upcoming Kansas Listening Tour stops, visit my .
Visiting Fort Hays State University
On Monday, I had a great visit on the Fort Hays State University (FHSU) Campus with President Dr. Mirta Martin. Robba was on the selection committee, and we both want to assist FHSU for the benefit of students and our state.
I also visited to the community of Kanorado on Monday. There weren't many people around as corn harvest is in full swing. According to the folks I did visit with, farmers have quite a ways to go before it's completed. I also stopped by Don's Service Station, the Post Office and City Hall. As far as I could tell, I was the only person in town wearing a tie.
I am now accepting applications for paid congressional internships in my Washington, D.C., and Kansas offices for spring 2015. An internship in my office – either legislative or communications – provides a unique opportunity to work closely with Senate staff on behalf of the state of Kansas. Legislative interns will gain a better understanding of the legislative process in the U.S. Congress, and develop knowledge and professional skills valuable to future career pursuits. Communications internships offer an intern the chance to learn about how political communications and the legislative process intersect, and gain practical knowledge about the inner workings of a fast-paced press office.
The application deadline for spring 2015 is November 1, 2014. Applications may be obtained and completed under the "Services" section of my website at . Applicants should submit a completed application form, resume, academic transcript, two letters of recommendation, and a cover letter explaining their interest in public service and addressing a policy issue of personal importance and a suggested recommendation to resolve that issue. Please submit required materials to: xxx.
This weekend, I enjoyed cheering on the Kansas State University Wildcats Football Team in a win over the Texas Longhorns at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan. With the victory, the Wildcats are now 6-1 and first in the Big 12. Thanks to K-State President Kirk Schulz, his wife Noelle and the university for their hospitality. It was great visiting with a number of Kansas including the Dreiling Family who I'm pictured with here.
AUSA Junction City Delegation
Cheryl Beatty of Junction City
Jon Weigand of Junction City
Ben Falennett of Junction City
Mike Ryan of Junction City
MicK McCallister of Junction City
Christine Benne of Manhattan
Robert Boyd of Manhattan
Wynn Butler of Manhattan
Ron Fehr of Manhattan
Rich Jankovich of Manhattan
Janet Nichols of Manhattan
Mike Shilling of Manhattan
Fred Willich of Manhattan
Randy O'Boyle of Manhattan
Karin Kaufman Wall of Newton
Irma Gonzalez of Newton
Mike Hagedorn of Leawood
Steve Hower of Olathe
Liana Hower of Olathe
Morgan Moxley of Leavenworth
Tresann Dawson of Lawrence
Justin Dawson of Lawrence
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 . You can also to contact me through one of my Kansas offices or my Washington, D.C., office.
Very truly yours,