Government Relations Update

by

kristiwyatt1The Chamber’s government relations department is recovering from the Leadership Exchange trip and has hit the ground running.  Here is a listing of news from the past week:

Senator Kevin Engler tells it like it is!
Missouri Senate Majority Leader Senator Kevin Engler (R-Farmington) was a guest of The Chamber last Thursday!  He journeyed all of the way from Farmington (south of
Senator Kevin Engler (left) and Warren Erdman, Kansas City Southern (right)
Senator Kevin Engler (left) and Warren Erdman, Kansas City Southern (right)

St. Louis) to KC.  While in town, Engler had the chance to chit chat with the KC Star Editorial board, visit the good hard-working people at Operation Breakthrough, and have lunch with close to 50 Chamber members involved in public policy.

Longtime friend and former colleague in Senator Bond’s office, Warren Erdman (Kansas City Southern) introduced Senator Engler to The Chamber group.  Engler discussed the state’s budget issues and left no room for interpretation when he stated that, “Missouri has to grow its way out of this crisis….(the state) needs to tell the world it is open for business.”  Engler also touched on items he believed would be addressed in the Senate next session including the Missouri court plan, abortion legislation, and tax credits, among a few.  Lorin Walker of Tercon Consulting remarked that he “thoroughly enjoyed (Engler’s) style—the candor, the way he looked at both sides, the way he did not hesitate to give his own opinion.”

Ridgeway, Lager on Tax Credits
Senators Luann Ridgeway (R-Smithville) and Brad Lager (R-Maryville) joined a small group of Kansas City business leaders, headed by Tom McDonnell of DST Systems Inc. on September 17.  The group’s main focus was to discuss tax credits in Missouri and how they could be affected in the next legislative session based on budget projections.  Tax credits were a huge issue in the Missouri Senate last legislative session and many believe that we will see reform discussions surface again.

State of Kansas prepares to deal with Transportation issues
On September 22, Kansas Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller began the long and cold conversation of putting forth the idea of a tax increase or enhanced revenue stream to support a future highway plan.  While tax increase is a dirty term, it may be important for someone to begin the painful discussion of where do we get future revenues to keep our road system safe and effective for development in metro area and across state.  She said that the Department of Transportation is not promoting any one funding mechanism but wants people to know that a 1 cent gas tax increase would cost the avg KS driver 53 cents per month and generate $17 million in revenue.  Also important to know that the cost of just maintaining the good roads in KS has increased 53 percent since 2000.  Many in the meeting argued that a tax increase might hurt KS gas stations as drivers could just run to MO and OK where taxes are lower.  The Secretary said she thought the gas tax in MO and OK were artificially low and harmful to those states.

Just yesterday, Kansas Senator Dwayne Umbarger, chair of the Special Committee on Transportation, appointed a team to brainstorm ideas on how to fund the 10-year comprehensive transportation plan.  Note that the committee is heavy on representation from Eastern Kansas—which could be a plus to the KC region.  The following were picked for the team:

  • Sen. Kelly Kultala (D-Kansas City)
  • Sen. Bob Marshall (R-Fort Scott)
  • Sen. Dwayne Umbarger (R-Thayer)
  • Rep. Gary Hayzlett (R-Lakin)
  • Rep. Margaret Long (D-Kansas City)
  • Rep. Ron Worley (R-Lenexa)

Boulevard Brewery has good beer!

Two Chamber guests join Bob Berkebile (BNIM) and Geoff Jolley (Office of Congressman Cleaver) in the Environment Reception festivities.

Two Chamber guests join Bob Berkebile (BNIM) and Geoff Jolley (Office of Congressman Cleaver) in the Environment Reception festivities.

The Chamber hosted a very successful Environment Reception last Wednesday evening at Boulevard Brewery with close to 200 guests.  Not only did our guests enjoy tasting all kinds of Boulevard beer but Grand Street Café brought in some delicious food. 

We were honored to be joined by numerous EPA officials, MDNR Commissioners and staff members, Environmental Commissioners, and Kansas Department of Health and Environment officials. The event provided a wonderful platform for meaningful conversations on important environmental issues. 


KC SMARTPORT News

Last Friday, KC SMARTPORT released their regional freight outlook which had some interesting insights about Kansas City and its freight operations.  Among its key recommendations were:

  • Kansas City should focus on transportation-related projects to identify and highlight freight-related benefits;
  • The region should expand the use of existing technologies and tools to monitor freight-specific data;
  • We should recognize the corridors of freight significance and conduct regional assessments;
  • Kansas City should focus on attraction and retention of transportation and logistics businesses; and
  • The region should innovate marketing efforts by emphasizing the competitive advantage of the region.

Kudos to Chris Gutierrez and his staff for putting together such a comprehensive report on an extremely valuable asset to our region – our regional freight infrastructure.

Make Sure Your Spot is Reserved for the Heartland Energy Symposium

The Chamber will host the third annual Heartland Energy Policy Symposium on Monday, October 5 at JCCC.  Featured speakers include:

  • Danish Ambassador to the US, Friis Arne Petersen, speaking about Denmark’s green energy economy and energy independence
  •  Jonathan Lash, President of the World Resources Institute, speaking about the business case for climate protection
  • Steve Luss, Black & Veatch Senior Vice President for Nuclear Business, speaking about the future potential for nuclear energy
  • Ray Kowalik, Burns & McDonnell Energy Division President, providing an update on the future of coal-fired energy

During the Symposium Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson will be honored as the Kansas City Energy Booster of the Year for his work to reach a compromise agreement to allow Sunflower Electric to build a coal plant in Holcomb, KS in exchange for support for improving the transmission grid in Kansas and support for renewable energy.

Not only do you get to hear all of these amazing presentations but it will be an opportunity to network with more than 120 of our guests heavily involved in the energy field.  More information about the event and registration is available online.

 Until next time,
Kristi

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