Government Relations Update, 3/10/2010

by

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

HUGE NEWS!  Last week, The Chamber announced Jim Heeter, a Kansas City attorney and community leader, will take over as The Chamber’s President and CEO.  Jim will make an excellent Chamber leader and activist on behalf of the Kansas City region.  I have known Jim as a friend for a long time, since our days long ago in City Hall together, and am looking forward to working with him in the future as he leads The Chamber.  Jim will take the reigns on Monday, April 19. 

I have immensely enjoyed my work as interim president including coordinating the most recent Governors’ Summit, participating The Chamber’s site search process, and most recently in collaboration efforts with our friends at the Downtown Council, KCADC, Civic Council just to name a few.  

It is a busy time for us in this department (as always!).  Both the Missouri and Kansas legislative sessions have already passed their midway marks and will really pick up steam.  We have rescheduled our Chamber Advocacy Mission to Washington DC.  Staff are preparing to put together an in-depth look into Kansas City issues for business and civic leaders as well. And, things will really begin rolling in the planning of our 2010 Leadership Exchange trip to Indianapolis. 

Now onto the issues:  

Finally!  Smoking Ban Passes in Kansas!

The statewide smoking ban passed the Kansas House of Representatives by a vote of 68-54. The bill will be signed by Governor Mark Parkinson at the University of Kansas Medical Center on March 15.  The Chamber and partners throughout the region, including the University of Kansas Medical Center, other hospitals, insurers, and healthcare providers, have worked hard for years in support of such a ban.  Also, kudos to former Senator David Wysong who has long championed this legislation. 

A full copy of The Chamber’s position on the state-wide smoking ban may be accessed on The Chamber website here.


Justus and Silvey share their thoughts on session

The Chamber’s Missouri State Affairs Committee met at noon on Friday, February 19.  Chamber lobbyist Nancy Giddens was on hand to give a report of the weeks happenings.  Check out the written report at http://capwiz.com/kcchamber/issues/alert/?alertid=14707871

Remember you can always get Nancy and Shannon’s Missouri Report as well as Bob Vancrum’s Kansas report by signing up for The Chamber’s Biz Team at http://www.kcchamber.com/Government/Index.asp?IdS=00376A-7DE11D0&x=040|070&~

Special guests for this meeting included Senator Jolie Justus (D-Kansas City) and Representative Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City).  It was great to have both in the room with us so that we could get a sense of what was happening in both the Missouri House and Senate as well as across the aisle.  Not only that, Senator Justus and Representative Silvey are two of the most active Kansas City area legislators in social media.  Both keep up very active Twitter accounts (Senator Justus can be found at http://twitter.com/joliejustus and Representative Silvey at http://twitter.com/RyanSilvey )  In addition, Senator Justus has a great blog at http://joliejustus.blogspot.com/.  

Senator Jolie Justus spoke to the group about her passion for social service issues in Missouri, touting that her number one priority is the current child care subsidy bill.  Missouri has historically been number 49th or 50th in the nation for the lowest income eligibility for child care subsidies.  Senator Justus also thanked the group for the work of The Chamber for uniting voices from Kansas City while walking the halls in Jefferson City.  Senator Justus also noted this session will perhaps face the same issues as last year with senate personalities getting in the way of progress.  She estimated that this would indeed be a slow-moving, long session.  

Representative Silvey discussed the work of the Appropriations-General Administration committee, which he chairs.  He also spoke on a recent rash of articles on regarding financing for the sports stadium.  

Both Senator Justus and Representative Silvey answered questions on the fair tax proposal, ethics reform and the budget.  

Join The Chamber for a discussion on economic development, ethics and earnings tax at the March 19 meeting of the Missouri State Affairs Committee.  Come at noon and lunch with Chamber members.  Representative Tim Flook (R-Liberty) will be speaking with the group on the activities of the House Committee on Job Creation and Economic Development, which he chairs as well as new developments on ethics reform.  Greg Williams, City of KCMO, and Chamber staffer Jamie Green will discuss the effort to repeal the Kansas City earnings tax.  Chamber lobbyists will also be on hand to give a report on Chamber agenda items.  For more information, email smith@kcchamber.com.

EESI Committee Meets

Kansas Corporation Commission Chairman Tom Wright met with the Energy, Environment and Sustainability Initiative (EESI) on February 23.  He discussed transmission issues with the group and talked at length about wind energy and the potential of wind development in our region.  Paul Snider from KCP&L gave an update on current happenings in the Kansas and Missouri legislatures.  After an active past few years, Paul described the energy side as ‘relaxed’, basically because it’s all about the budget this year.  Tom Jacobs, from MARC, talked about green jobs and introduced a report to the group on the future workforce needs based on new green industry sectors.

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