Government Relations Update – 11/25/09


Kristi Smith Wyatt, Senior Vice President, Government Relations & Policy Development

The Chamber held its 122nd Annual Dinner last night at the Hyatt Regency Crown Center.  Approximately 1200 attendees gathered for the reception and dinner with the night’s theme being “What’s the Next Big Idea”.  Peter Brown of Grassmere Partners, LLC served as the program’s emcee.  Highlights of the program include:

  • Presentation of a US Senate Resolution issued by U.S. Senator Kit Bond (MO) to Chamber President Pete Levi along with a hilarious video tribute by Chamber Board members & touching remarks made by Levi himself to his wife, the community and Chamber staff.  Pete will definitely be missed.
  • the presentation of Kansas Citian of the Year to an amazing woman and philanthropist Jeannette Nichols
  • Musical entertainment by the Elders, the best Irish band in the Midwest!
  • 2010 Chamber Chair Peter deSilva of UMB Bank n.a. highlighted goals he has for the region in the upcoming year which are 1)job growth 2) regional collaboration and 3) making Kansas City the best place to live and work. 
  • 2009 Chamber Chair Anne St. Peter of Global Prairie discussed her year leading The Chamber toward an innovative Kansas City region. 
  • Columnist Dave Berry gave a rip roaring account of his most recent colonoscopy

Many special guests attending the event including U.S. Senator Sam Brownback and U.S. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II, Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders, Johnson County Chairman Annabeth Surbaugh, Kansas City Missouri Mayor Mark Funkhouser, multiple Kansas and Missouri State legislators, Kansas City Missouri Councilpersons and federal staffers. 

Pundits Prognosticate
Lunchtime at The Chamber was especially fun yesterday, as local media pundits shared their insight with the Kansas City Missouri Committee.  DeAnn Smith with NBC Action News, Dave Helling with The Kansas City Star, Micheal Mahoney with Channel 9, and Bill Grady with KMBZ radio were our special guests.  A capacity crowd enjoyed the pundits predictions on Mayor Mark Funkhouser, Clay Chastain, the combined sewer system, and the proposed convention hotel. Special thanks to our media mavens for joining us for a lively debate.

KCP&L receives $24 million
Congratulations to U.S. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (MO) for his work to award KCP&L a $24 million to help fund a fully integrated SmartGrid demonstration project in the Green Impact Zone and Midtown areas of Kansas City, MO. 

At the press conference held yesterday, Mike Chesser and Mike Deggendorf of KCP&L were joined at their headquarters by Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Mayor Mark Funkhouser, Anita Maltbia (Green Impact Zone Director), and Council Members Terry Riley, Melba Curls, and Cindy Circo.

The money for the SmartGrid was part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed earlier this year and is a part of the Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity and Energy efforts to modernize and strengthen the security and reliability of the nation’s energy infrastructure.  The SmartGrid allows customers to better manage their electricity consumption by providing access to actual and predictive usage information, digital tools and innovative programs.

The hope is that this is the beginning of several grants for the Green Impact Zone.

California, Climate Change Legislation and Chamber Involvement
This morning, the Energy, Environment, and Sustainability Initiative (EESI) welcomed special guest Daniel Emmett, the Executive Director of Energy Independence Now.  He joined the group via Skype from Los Angeles to discuss what is happening in California and around the country regarding climate change legislation.  As for cap and trade (or any other carbon reduction measure), Daniel says nothing significant will happen until next year.  Because there will not be an agreement in D.C. before Copenhagen in December, state and local entities must play a more important role in shaping our image around the world by implementing carbon reduction measures. 

Daniel also spoke about the important role of chambers of commerce in this discussion.  The California State Chamber is opposed to current carbon reduction proposals in the state.  There are regional chambers, such as the LA Chamber, who are more interested in looking at ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Daniel’s point of view was interesting because a great deal of energy policy and ideas are originated in California.

Also, Tom Jacobs and Amanda Graor from Mid America Regional Council (MARC) gave very informative and in depth presentations to the EESI group.  Tom talked about Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, Department of Energy competitive block grants, and the Federal Stimulus package.  Amanda walked the group through ramifications of our non-attainment status. 

EESI will not meet in December.  The next meeting is on Tuesday, January 26, 2010.

Kansas City Leaders will Gather in support of KC BizPAC
Kansas City BizPAC will host a special event on Monday, December 1 at Boulevard Brewery.  Come and mingle with important area legislators and leaders.  More information is available at


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