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District Work Week: Topeka


Location: Unknown

During our district work week, I get to spend a lot of time at home in Topeka. On Thursday, I was able to visit the new Mars plant construction site and tour the grounds with Governor Brownback, Mayor Bill Bunten, and a few other government officials from the statehouse and city council. I have been working hard to help make our community a business-friendly environment, and that's why we are all eagerly anticipating this new Mars plant in Topeka. We have a lot of talented Topekans, many educated right here at Washburn and Washburn Tech, and Mars jobs are great news for our local economy. By the end of 2013 there will already be a total of 200 new positions. Thank you Mars for making Topeka your home, and congratulations on the progress at your new energy efficient, state-of-the-art facility.

Touring local organizations and businesses to understand how they operate helps me understand how they contribute to and work with our local community in Topeka. On Friday, I visited with Communities in Schools of Kansas to learn about their student dropout prevention work on a state and national level, and discuss education policy. I visited with Topeka Lowe's Store Manager Roger Holter and Market Director Chad Etzig at their store location to talk about their community support. Finally, I toured Advantage Metals Recycling in North Topeka with Tito Franko and learned how easily, virtually any kind of metal can be recycled for use throughout the world.

On Friday, I also participated in a roundtable to discuss federal tax issues with a group of Kansas CPAs. I understand that Washington gridlock on tax matters makes it hard, if not impossible, for CPAs to advise taxpayers. For their sake and the businesses and families they advise, Washington cannot afford to continue to make retroactive changes. I have voiced these concerns with my colleagues numerous times, but in an election year, politics trump commonsense too often. There are not many scheduled work days for the House and Senate before the election. Congress needs to come back and finish its work fast. It's not going to be any less painful next year, so we just need to get it done.

I also attended a lunch with members of the Topeka Chamber of Commerce on Friday. One of the most important things for me to do while at home is to gather anecdotes and stories to take back and share with those in Washington who do not seem to think that kicking the can down the road and putting off important decisions has real consequences for folks. Meeting with local business leaders was a great way to gather real life concerns about regulations stifling investment and tax laws threatening to curb the growth of small businesses. I am eager to share these examples with leadership in Washington, so we can convince Congress the time to act is now.

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