Government Relations Update 2/17/10


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

U.S. Senator Kit Bond brings tears to Chamber members eyes

U.S. Senator Kit Bond (MO-R) visited The Chamber yesterday to talk with members about current happenings on the Hill.  In the crowd were Chamber Board members; including Tom Bowser (Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City), Bob Berkebile (BNIM Architects), Matt Bowen (Superior Bowen Asphalt Company), Michael Burke (King Hershey), Pat McCown (McCownGordon Construction), Leo Morton (University of Missouri-Kansas City), Carolyn Watley (CBIZ); The Chamber’s Federal Affairs Committee and Public Policy Council.  Warren Erdman of Kansas City Southern and former Chief of Staff for Senator Bond introduced the Senator and pointed out what many in the room already knew–the Senator had a long list of accomplishments and had changed the landscape of Kansas City. 

Senator Bond started by saying even though he was serving his last term in the US Senate that he would still continue to be involved in helping Missouri be a better place. He pointed out there were many friends in the room including his staff members Brian Klippenstein, who serves as Chief of Staff; and Michael Collins and Sammy Panettiere who are local staff members.  

Senator Bond addressed the economic uncertainty the country is facing and attempts by Congress to remedy the situation.  He discussed energy policy, specifically mentioning t current cap and trade legislation would cripple the state of Missouri.  Bond also shared his thoughts on the ongoing healthcare

debate, his much publicized disappointment with the GSA federal building process, and one of his great passions–the education system both higher and early childhood development.  

Many in the audience, including myself, have very fond memories of working with the Senator.  Former staffer Gina Bowman, now of CVR Energy, reminisced of times working in the office with both Bond and Warren Erdman.  We were all a little choked up to think about Senator Bond leaving his post.  Watch the video summary of the event with Senator Bond >>

Chamber visits with Kansas Legislative Leaders & Johnson County Delegation

Education funding, revenue enhancement, and tax cuts were the topics of discussion when Chamber officials met with Kansas legislative leadership this week. Chamber Chairman Peter deSilva of UMB Bank n.a. and Kansas State Affairs Chairman Tim Van Zandt of Saint Lukes Health System joined me, as well as Nora and Cathy from our staff, in private meetings Tuesday with Senate President Steve Morris, Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, Speaker of the House Mike O’Neal, and House Appropriations Chairman Kevin Yoder.  

It’s clear our legislators in both Topeka and Jefferson City are facing some of the toughest decisions of their political lives. While The Chamber will not always agree with our leaders on the best way to address the fiscal concerns, we are very pleased with the relationship we have developed with legislative leadership and the open door policy we have with so many legislative officials. 

We finished our morning in Topeka with a special lunch for our Johnson County delegation.  I understand several of our legislators are pleased to have the support of The Chamber for a statewide smoking ban. We will continue to keep a close eye on SB 2221, a statewide smoking ban that passed the Kansas Senate last year and hopefully will see action in the House this year. 

State Affairs Committee talks taxes and budget

Kansas State Senators Karin Brownlee and Chris Steineger along with Kansas State Representatives Scott Schawb and Kay Wolf were part of a lively conversation focused on taxes and budget at the last Chamber Kansas State Affairs Committee meeting held on Friday, February 12.  Chamber members questioned the panel on the repeal of specific tax exemptions proposed by Revenue Secretary Joan Wagnon and the inevitable budget shortfall. 
One Billion Dollars….

What does it take to get a new drug to market? Apparently, you’ll need $1 billion, lots of time and trials, and a little bit of luck. Centurions found that out at their Life Sciences Task Force this month as they spent the day exploring what Kansas City has to offer in the way of life sciences and animal health.

Not only did the group hear from key community leaders such as Dan Getman, President of the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute, and Roy Jenson, Director of the University of Kansas Cancer Center, but they also got to take a look behind the scenes with tours of Bayer Animal Health and laboratory space at the Stowers Institute. 

Here are some of the area’s most pressing issues:  

  • KU Cancer Center is 585 days away from submitting to the government its application for designation as a National Cancer Institute. This would mean more than $1.3 billion in economic activity for the area.
  • Between Manhattan, KS, and Columbia, MO, lie more than 220 bioscience firms, which account for 32 percent of total sales in the $19 billion animal health global market. The Animal Health Corridor is one of Kansas City’s most useful resources, making the region a hub for life sciences industry and research.
  • Attracting venture capital to the Kansas City area can be a challenge, but it’s not insurmountable. “There is a trend toward great opportunity in the Midwest,” said Dr. Steven St. Peter, managing director of MPM Capital.

Despite the high cost of research and marketing, “Drug discovery is really about innovation and knowledge,” said Mr. Getman. We’re all glad this knowledge is so prevalent in our region, and it will definitely propel us to the great hub of life sciences.


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