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Advocating for You - January, 2017








The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce advocates for its membership in Missouri, Kansas, Washington, D.C., and local government. Below are the highlights of activity in January.


FEDERAL


Federal Policy Agenda 2017: The KC Chamber has been meeting with many industry sectors, Chamber policy subcommittees, and community partners to prepare a recommended federal public policy agenda for 2017. The KC Chamber's Banking Committee, Federal Tax Policy Subcommittee, Energy & Environment Committee, Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and World Trade Center have provided important counsel to the Chamber for relevant policy positions in the new federal administration. The Chamber has also connected with regional leaders and transportation and infrastructure businesses on positions regarding infrastructure investment; and with healthcare providers, insurers and health foundation members to craft a federal healthcare policy platform in the wake of congressional focus on "repeal and replace" of the Affordable Care Act.

The KC Chamber's Federal Affairs Committee heard testimony on several policy issues at its January 23 meeting and the Chamber Public Policy Council will consider the recommended policy platform at its February 3 meeting before sending it on to the Chamber Executive Committee and Board of Directors later in the month.


MISSOURI


Real ID: The KC Chamber supports a bill proposed by Representative Kevin Corlew (R-Kansas City), HB 151, which allows the Missouri Department of Revenue to amend procedures for applying for a driver's license or identification card in order to comply with the standards of the federal REAL ID Act of 2005. This bill will allow airline travelers to use their Real ID card when boarding a plane when the federal law becomes effective in January, 2018.

Workforce Training: The Chamber testified in support of HB 93, sponsored by Representative Jeanie Lauer (R-Blue Springs) which amends the Missouri Works Training Program by providing financial assistance to an association of companies or consortium organized to provide training to the association members' employees.

Governor Greitens agenda: The Governor has communicated his agenda to the legislature and issues include:
  • Right to work and prevailing wage (Right to Work passed and on its way to Governor for signature)
  • Tort reform including expert witness, merchandising practice act and collateral source
  • Reduce burdensome regulations on business
  • Audit the tax credit system
  • Reduce the number of state employees/increase pay for those who remain
The House and Senate are debating issues now.


KANSAS


Income Taxes: The KC Chamber provided testimony last week supporting Kansas House Bill 2023 to eliminate the income tax exemption for limited-liability corporations (LLCs) and S corporations. The Chamber believes this is an important opportunity to help return the state's income tax structure to its original intention of job creation while providing a more balanced and fair tax structure for all wage earners that will improve the adequacy and consistency of state revenues. HB2023 would tax wage income of business owners and exempt nonwage (investment) income from income taxes.

Tobacco Tax: According to studies by the Centers for Disease Control, American Cancer Society, and Wall Street tobacco analysts, there is an undeniable link between the financial health of the nation's businesses and the overall health of our workforce with tobacco cessation serving as one of the most important measures to improving workforce wellness. With that in mind, the KC Chamber provided testimony January 31 to the Kansas House Taxation Committee in support of increasing the tax rates on tobacco products. Data show increasing the cost of tobacco is one of the most effective ways to prevent use and encourage cessation. The cost of tobacco use to Kansans each year is more than $1 billion in health-related expenditures and lost productivity for business.

Kansas State Affairs Committee : Kansas Senator Barbara Bollier and Representatives Stan Frownfelter and Erin Davis spoke with the Chamber's Kansas State Affairs Committee January 20 where they agreed this year's legislature has shown an improved willingness to collaborate to solve state budget and revenue issues. While the legislators showed some agreement on supporting the elimination of the income tax exemption on limited liability corporations (LLCs), they said there had been so many different revenue projections on what the measure would bring, that it was hard to know what to expect. Legislators also discussed KanCare expansion opportunities and bills to prohibit conceal and carry on campus and in public buildings.


LOCAL


KCMO city officials have put together a major bond package for the city that if passed by voters on April 4 could address the city's growing infrastructure needs in a big way. $800 million proposal over 20 years that includes Question 1: $600 million for Streets, bridges and sidewalks; Question 2: $150 million for flood control which would allow a much larger federal contribution; Question 3: $50 million for public buildings and improvements under the Americans With Disabilities Act required by federal law. Also, Question 3 would allow for a new city animal shelter that would replace the 45 year-old facility on Raytown Road that was originally built as a warehouse for the Truman Sports Complex. The issue will require a 57.1 percent approval from voters.

Another issue on the April ballot is one that would decriminalize the possession of marijuana. The City Council placed this issue on the ballot because petitioners had received enough signatures in compliance with the city charter. The effort was led by the KC office of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws. It reduces the pot possession fine from $500 to $25 for possession of 35 grams of less and eliminates jail time.

There is also a 1/8th cent sales tax proposal for economic development on the east side of Kansas City. This issue was also brought forward by advocates who collected the necessary number of signatures to get it on the ballot.

Not on the ballot is the increase in minimum wage also brought by petitioners who gathered enough signatures as allowed by the city charter. The proposal would increase the minimum way to $15 per hour by 2021. Most likely, the issue will be placed on the August ballot.