Government Relations Update – 10/30/09


kristiwyatt1Changing of the Guard at The Chamber
It’s been a whirlwind week around The Chamber.  The final board meeting of fiscal year 2009 was Monday – also the time that the outgoing chair yields the gavel to the incoming chair.  So Anne St. Peter of Global Prairie finished her year as Chamber Chair and Peter deSilva of UMB took over.  Board members presented Anne a beautiful silver bracelet with a charm engraved with the Chamber logo on one side and board chair 2009 on the other side.  As every chair soon discovers,  The Chamber never lets go of its past chairs… thus, the next day Anne was back at The Chamber for a planning meeting on the 2010 Governor’s Summit and was sporting her Chamber bracelet.  

During the transition at  Monday’s meeting, Anne’s accomplishments during the year were noted, particularly her practice of highlighting innovation in Kansas City and bringing 20 individual innovators to board meetings throughout the year. Also noted was the role Anne has played in maintaining the fiscal soundness of this organization during these difficult economic times.   

A touching personal note from Anne–when she told her two young children Monday was her final board meeting as chair, they were sad.  This filled her with pride that her very own children understood the honor and significance of serving as chair of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.  Thanks and kudos to Anne!      

The Board members that were welcomed included: 

  • Daniel Euston-JE Dunn Construction Midwest
  • Tom Gerke-CenturyLink
  • James Heeter-Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP
  • L. Patrick James-Quest Diagnostics Inc.
  • Tara Johnson-Herman Johnson LLC
  • Brett Lewis-Grant Thornton LLP
  • Oscar Tshibanda-Tshibanda & Associates, LLC
  • Lori Mallory-Kansas City Internal Medicine
  • Leo Morton-University of Missouri-Kansas City
  • Ora Reynolds-Hunt Midwest Real Estate Development, Inc.
  • Jackie Snyder-Metropolitan Community College-Kansas City
  • Brenda Tinnen-Sprint Center
  • Marilyn Townsend-Controlled Environment Products, Inc.
  • Mark Zieman-The Kansas City Star
  • Jack Kelly-American Italian Pasta Company
  • Randall O’Donnell-Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics
  • Gayden Carruth-Cooperating School Districts of Greater Kansas City
  • Scott Hall-Lewis-Rice & Fingersh, L.C.
  • Terry Calaway-Johnson County Community College
  • Julie Wilson-Cerner Corporation
  • Brent Stewart-United Way of Greater Kansas City, Inc.
  • Clyde McQueen-Full Employment Council, Inc.
  • Lynn Craghead-US Bank Corp. 

A special thanks to all of the outgoing board members who have served The Chamber so well over the past years:

  • Andy Atterbury, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development, Inergy, LLP
  • Lee A. Derrough, President & CEO, Hunt Midwest Enterprises, Inc.
  • Jo Anne Gabbert, President, Bicknell Family Holding Company
  • Mark R. Jorgenson, President & CEO, Kansas City Market, US Bank
  • Julie Quirin, Chief Executive Officer, Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City
  • Scott M. Smith, Chief Executive Officer, HNTB Corporation
  • James L. Spigarelli, President & CEO, Midwest Research Institute
  • Thomas H. Trabon, President, Trabon Consulting
  • Tom Trigg, Superintendent of Schools, Blue Valley School District
  • David A. Welte, Executive Vice-President and General Counsel, Stowers Institute for Medical Research 

And now on to developments of note from the Government Relations Department… 

Check out The Downtowner Website!
Check out my thoughts on the reauthorization of Jackson County’s COMBAT tax, supported by The Chamber.

Templeton, MO DNR Director, visits Chamber
The Chamber convened the first meeting of the new Energy Environment & Sustainability Initiative (EESI) yesterday morning.  Special guest, Mark Templeton, the Director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) came to address the group.  Templeton discussed the DNR, its mission and vision, as well as the strategic shift that needs to happen within his department.  

Templeton also discussed the State’s General Revenue negative trend and how this leads to funding gaps within all departments.  Templeton praised various sustainability efforts around the state, including Kansas City’s own Green Impact Zone.  He is so impressed with the Green Impact Zone that it inspired the State to do similar projects with stimulus funds.  

Other topics included business sustainability initiatives including The Greater Kansas City Climate Protection Partnership led by The Chamber.  The Protection Partnership has been very successful with over 180 business members. 

Templeton’s final point was to refute the argument that because Missouri has low power rates, we are not equipped for energy efficiency.  He disproved this theory by referencing the low rates, but high efficiency standards in Minnesota, Iowa, and Colorado.

EESI then adopted a federal carbon reduction policy statement and statements for both The Chamber’s Missouri and Kansas Public Policy agendas which will all be posted on The Chamber’s website.  

Will job creation put the highway bill on the fast track?
The federal surface transportation authorization has been extended by Congress in a stop-gap method to only extend the original 2005 bill (SAFTEA-LU), not create a new $500 billion transit and highway bill.  Now as unemployment numbers continue toward 10%, it appears that Congress may be in the mood to tackle the issue even in an election year, as they search for another way to jump-start job creation.

When Congress decided to extend the current bill, state transportation officials were left scrambling, trying to prioritize projects without adequate funding.  This meant big cuts to all state transportation projects and in turn less work for all sectors in the transportation industry.  A new authorization bill would provide more adequate capital for projects and would allow state Department of Transportation’s to engage in long-term planning of projects.  Transportation projects are often seen as being able to create large amount of jobs that cannot be shipped overseas.  That reason alone may be enough for the U.S. House and Senate to act quickly, even during the 2010 campaign season.

Convention Hotel Study Moving Forward
The Chamber’s Kansas City Missouri Committee was jam packed yesterday as Councilwoman Cindy Circo, Bill George of Metropolitan Transportation Services, and Rick Hughes of the Convention and Visitors Association gave an update on the City’s Convention Hotel Steering Committee.

Circo and George, who serve as committee co-chairs, announced the consultant for the project will be decided upon on Monday.  The consultant will play a key role in evaluating possible sites for a hotel, and more importantly, the fiscal due diligence needed to make an informed decision on whether the City would like to go forward on a estimated $320 million new convention hotel.

The Chamber has formed its own committee, chaired by James Heeter with Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP, to evaluate the proposal and then make a recommendation to The Chamber Board.  Expect a final decision on the feasibility of the hotel sometime after the first of the year.

Until next week—Cheers!

Kristi Smith Wyatt


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