Government Relations Update

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KristiWyattWelcome to my blog. I am Kristi Smith Wyatt, Senior Vice President for Government Relations and Policy Development  for The Greater Kansas City Chamber. Each Wednesday I will provide an update on some of the interesting things going on in the Chamber’s world, primarily in the area of government relations and policy as it impacts The Greater Kansas City Chamber’s 2,400 business members.  I encourage your comments and questions. Here goes!

Business License Tax
The Chamber and the City of Kansas City, Missouri are working together to develop a revised version of the Business License Tax.  This is a tax on Kansas City’s businesses that generates $20 M yearly for Kansas City.  The Chamber is not disputing the validity of the tax, but rather the inequity at which it is applied and collected.  Some companies pay exorbitant amounts while others pay little or nothing.  Collections need improvement – only one-third of the city’s businesses are paying.  The last major update was in the 1950s!  Developing a proposal considered fair and equitable by both the business community and city officials is the goal.  The Chamber will post background information soon – in the meantime let us know if you have an opinion on this topic. 

 Go COMBAT!
The 20th anniversary of COMBAT (Jackson County’s Community Backed Anti-Drug Tax) was held yesterday at the Plaza Library.  The one-quarter cent tax must be renewed by the voters every 7 years and will go to the voters in November).  And what a celebration!  Country Executive Mike Sanders had a ton of good news and positive results to report demonstrating COMBAT has made Jackson County safer and improved the lives of many.  The Chamber is supporting the renewal.  U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill was present to receive the Lifetime Achievement and Innovation in Criminal Justice Award.  She reflected about her time as the Jackson County Prosecutor and her warm feelings toward Kansas City and its citizens.  As an aside, the senator looked radiant and spoke eloquently – no worse for the wear of her health care town hall meetings.  Also basking in good health were Dave Smith, president of the Boys and Girls Club and former president of the KCMO School Board and former and longtime Jackson County Prosecutor Albert Riederer who received the Excellence in Public Service Award.  Both have transformed themselves through healthy living.  Congratulations!

Small Business Talks About Health Care
Also happening yesterday, about 200 small business members of the Greater KC Chamber turned out for a stimulating morning discussion at the Liberty Memorial with national and local health care experts and small business representatives.  Clear from the discussion is the fact that small businesses are experiencing concern about the health care issue.  Someone should listen to them – the 25 million small businesses in this country drive the economy.  A full podcast of the event and all materials discussed is available on www.kcchamber.com.  Thanks to our co-sponsors – The Health Care Foundation Greater Kansas City and Reach Health Care Foundation

Speaking of health care, a loss for the Kansas Health Policy Authority is a gain for University of Kansas Medical Center.  Marci Nielsen who headed up the KHPA in recent years has returned to the Medical Center as Vice-Chancellor for Public Policy and Planning.  Marci is witty and articulate…. an expert on health care with a PhD in health policy management.        

Congressman Todd Tiahrt Visits The Chamber
The race for the U.S. Senate seat from Kansas is in full swing.  In the Republican primary, two members of Congress are vying for the nomination – Congressman Todd Tiahrt from the 4th Congressional District (Wichita, Hutchinson, etc.) and Congressman Jerry Moran from the 1st District (the vast western part of the state).  Congressman Tiahrt visited The Chamber Monday and spoke to a packed board room about the issues of the day, including;

  • Not a fan of Cap and Trade which he said will force us to rely on more foreign oil and gasoline.  Said it will cost $1,000 per person if fully implemented. 
  • Concerns about health care reform – “Need to fix what’s broken – preexisting conditions have to be included in the reform bill.  And we have to allow the open market to be more competitive.”
  • Compared today’s economic conditions to those of 1930s and 1950s and said “today and in 30’s we tried to grow the economy from Government down and it didn’t work.   In 50‘s we devoted capital to new ideas and research and supported business growth and it paid off.” 

Until next week….cheers.

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