Government Relations Update 12/23/09


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

Meet the Government Relations Staff
As you can see by my past blogs, The Chamber’s government relations team handles a wide variety of issues. We follow very closely happenings at the local and city level, state level and federal level. Here is a chance to get to know them and their areas better. 

Cathy Bennett has been with The Chamber 7 years. As Director, Cathy handles such projects as The Chamber’s Leadership Exchange, the Federal Affairs program, and Kansas State Affairs just to name a few!

Rochelle Butler has been with The Chamber more than 4 years.  Rochelle’s position is Administrative Assistant.  Her main duties include assisting with the Animal Health Corridor program as well as Kansas State Affairs, and energy and environment topics.

Jenny Dorsten has been with The Chamber over 7 years.  She serves as a Director for The Chamber’s grassroots advocacy program including the BIZ Team program and KC BIZPAC.  Jenny is with us on Thursdays and Fridays.

Jamie Green has been with The Chamber for over 3 years.  Jamie serves as a Director and is The Chamber’s eyes and ears at City Hall (read our weekly publication The City Haller).  Jamie also coordinates the Greater Kansas City Climate Protection

Nora Lockton has been with The Chamber for 3 years. Nora divides her time between The Chamber’s Business Growth and Government Relations department, where she serves as a Director.  Her main responsibilities include the genKC program and the Energy Environment Sustainability Initiative.  Nora will transitioning into more responsibilities with the Kansas State Affairs program.

Catherine McComb is the newest addition to our staff, being here now just about 2 months.  Catherine serves as an Administrative Assistant and works a great deal on the Centurions program as well as a variety of other issues.

Christine Murray has been with The Chamber more than 9 years.  Christine serves as a Director for The Chamber’s young leaders program, Centurions, she also is the lead staffer for the Animal Health Corridor initiative.

Chelsey Smith has been with The Chamber almost 3 years.  She serves as the Department Manager and main duties include assisting the department’s Senior Vice President as well as coordinating the Public Policy Council for The Chamber and assisting with the annual Leadership Exchange



New Missouri DED Director Visits Chamber

David Kerr, the newly named Director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development was a big hit on Tuesday!  He met with The Chamber’s Public Policy Council (a group who support the government relations department and have special access to meetings such as this), The Chamber’s Board of Directors and finally dinner with leaders of economic development organizations in the region. 

Kerr, who formerly served as the State of Kansas Commerce Secretary, stated he would not unveil any specific plans but did note five key areas Missouri should and could look toward: 

  • Business retention, growth and recruitment-this includes taking care of businesses already here in Missouri as well as small and rural businesses.  Kerr also expressed an interest in expanding Missouri’s internal trade portfolio.
  • Workforce development including retraining existing workers as well as new hires.
  • New and high technology jobs – Kerr stated that the animal health initiative is an example of progress in this area. 
  • Travel and tourism.
  • Community development – Kerr stated individual communities must work together to figure out how their community will support itself, the answers do not lie solely at the state level. 

Chamber Position: Carbon Reduction

On Monday, The Chamber Board of Directors approved the Energy, Environment, and Sustainability Initiative’s recommendation for a federal carbon reduction policy position. 

This position supports transitioning to a more sustainable economy, stating that a critical component of any legislation reducing carbon lies with energy efficiency.  The position also has a strong emphasis on protecting the region’s competitiveness and limiting cost increases for business and consumers. 

The United States House of Representatives passed its carbon reduction legislation June 26, which includes cap and trade as its mechanism for reducing carbon emissions.  The vehicle for climate change legislation in the Senate is the Kerry-Boxer bill.  Most likely, it will not move until next spring.

KCMO Accomplishments in 2009

With 2009 rapidly drawing to a close, now would be a good time to assess some of the accomplishments the City Council and City Staff had in 2009.  They include: 

  • Balancing the budget in tough economic times – the Council faced a $78 million shortfall and had to make very tough decisions, including layoffs and program reductions.  Although such actions were painful, it has helped to put Kansas City in a better fiscal position for 2010 and  beyond.
  • The new regional jail – by working with Jackson County, the City could see real cost savings in its jail operations.
  • Tougher domestic violence law – the Council worked hard to pass an ordinance that would strengthen penalties on domestic violence cases
  • Pay day lending restrictions – the City Council should praised for helping to protect consumers from predatory lenders
  • Continued emphasis on being “green” –whether it was the emphasis in the Marlborough neighborhood for “green solutions” for its sewers, or its continued emphasis on having a renewable fuels fleet, or on retrofits on City Hall and other municipal buildings, Kansas City should be highly commended on its continued diligence to protect the environment.

Jefferson City

Things in Jefferson City will soon begin to heat up with the legislative session kicking off on January 6.  The Chamber will host its annual Legislative Kick off Reception and Dinner on Tuesday, January 11.  Make sure to reserve your spot now! 

The Chamber’s Legislative Agendas

The Chamber has just completed the process of forming its Missouri and Kansas State Affairs agendas.  These are listing of priorities in each state The Chamber will advocate for during the legislative sessions.  Both documents can be found on  More than 20 meetings were held with the state committees and advisory groups as well as The Chamber’s Board and Executive Committee before the agendas could be approved. 

Questions regarding the agendas, call 816-374-5447.


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