U.S. District Judge Blocks Arizona Immigration Law
Arizona has been overrun with illegal immigration, and violent crime and kidnappings have harmed many residents. Earlier this year, Arizona passed a law to address these circumstances and protect Arizonans, but this week a U.S. District Judge blocked several provisions of the law from taking effect. I am extremely disappointed in Judge Bolton's ruling. Arizona is only trying to enforce our nation's laws--something the federal government has failed to do when it comes to immigration.
As a strong supporter of the Arizona immigration law, I have introduced legislation, H.R. 5774, to discourage federal lawsuits like the suit against Arizona. The Respect for Local Laws Act will require the U.S. Department of Justice to pay for any legal costs incurred by a state or local government when a court upholds a state or local immigration law. I have also signed two legal briefs in defense of Arizona's efforts to enforce federal immigration law. Lawsuits against states like Arizona do nothing to stop illegal immigration. Rather than spending money on a lawsuit, the Obama Administration should have used those resources to secure the border.
Protecting Our Veterans' Second Amendment Rights
Many Kansans would be shocked to learn that a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs process is arbitrarily stripping the Second Amendment rights of veterans and their families who simply receive assistance for managing their financial affairs. Over the past 10 years, the VA has sent the names of more than 100,000 veterans, their spouses, and their children to the FBI to prevent them from owning firearms - not because they pose a danger, but simply because they could not handle their VA benefits. It is wrong to take away veterans' constitutional right to keep and bear arms simply because they cannot manage their finances.
This week, I offered an amendment to a VA spending bill that would have reformed this practice that wrongly denies gun ownership rights to veterans. Despite the support for this change by a number of veterans' organizations like the American Legion, as well as the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America, I am disappointed that Congressional leaders did not allow my amendment to be considered. The amendment would have required that - before the VA can forward the veteran's name to the FBI - an appropriate judicial authority must rule that the veteran poses a danger and should not own a firearm.
In 2009, I introduced similar legislation, H.R. 2547, to correct this wrong and restore gun rights for our country's veterans.
Preventing Taxpayer Dollars from Funding Abortions
Using taxpayer dollars to fund abortions is a clear violation of many Kansans' deeply held beliefs in the sanctity of human life. It is an abuse I strongly oppose and have fought hard to prevent. Earlier this year, President Obama signed health care reform legislation into law that lacked critical safeguards to prevent federal taxpayer funding of abortions. This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued regulations to ban federal funding of abortions for one new government program created by the new health care law. Unfortunately, these safeguards do not extend to all government programs.
To fully ensure federal dollars are never used to pay for abortions, I am a sponsor of the Protect Life Act, H.R. 5111. This bill amends the new health care law to prevent federal funding for abortion or abortion coverage through government exchanges, community health centers, or any other program funded or created by the new health care law. This bill would extend longstanding federal policy and would protect the lives of the unborn.
Time to Implement Iran Sanctions is Running Out
On July 1, President Obama signed into law the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act. I supported this legislation because it contained strong energy and financial sanctions to pressure Iran to abandon its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Yet, the sanctions are only useful if they are implemented. The Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act gives the President 90 days to begin implementing the sanctions. This week, I joined several of my colleagues in requesting an update from the President on his progress in implementing these sanctions. I want to be sure the President understands the urgency of this issue and enforces these sanctions so that Iran cannot acquire nuclear weapons capability.
Honoring Veterans at Seneca's Vietnam War Memorial Traveling Wall Exhibit
On Friday evening, I participated in the opening ceremony of the Vietnam War Memorial Traveling Wall in Seneca. I thanked many local veterans for their service and for securing the freedoms we now enjoy. I commended the community, especially Elmer Holthaus and the members of the American Legion Post 21, for bringing the traveling wall to Nemaha County so that local veterans, who may not be able to travel to Washington, could see and experience the Memorial. This exhibit gave us all an opportunity to pay tribute to the heroes who fought in the Vietnam War, and to honor the friends and loved ones who gave all in the war.
Visiting with Kansans at County Fairs in Garden City and Colby
On Saturday, I stopped by the Finney County Fair in Garden City and the Thomas County Fair in Colby to visit with local residents and longtime friends. Both fairs had activities for the entire family to enjoy -- cowboy Olympics, a kids pedal pull competition, rodeos, car races, livestock sales, a demolition derby, barbecues and 4-H exhibits. County fairs bring families together and are a great way to highlight our Kansas communities. Thanks to all the volunteers and staff for their hard work to ensure both fairs were great successes.
Supporting Good Work of Catholic Charities at Kansas Prairie Celebration
On Sunday, I attended the Kansas Prairie Celebration in Salina, an event held to raise funds for Catholic Charities. Last year, Catholic Charities served more than 9 million people nationwide through a variety of services, such as adoption and crisis pregnancy counseling, senior services and family and youth programs. I believe that individuals who volunteer their time in churches, neighborhoods and communities can often have the greatest impact and change lives for the better. Thanks to organizations like Catholic Charities and many others, who daily answer the call to serve their neighbors in need.
IRS Rules Affect Kansas Non-Profits
In 2006, the Pension Protection Act was signed into law. This legislation enacted changes to tax law provisions which affect tax-exempt organizations. Beginning in 2008, tax-exempt organizations with receipts of $25,000 or less were required to submit an annual notice to the IRS listing donations. Recognizing that a number of non-profits have been slow to comply with the new requirements, the IRS is offering organizations until October to complete the paperwork. This new requirement affects up to 3,700 Kansas non-profits.