Advocating for You - August, 2019

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 August.


The long sought truce to the economic border war between Kansas and Missouri has finally been signed by Governors Laura Kelly of Kansas and Mike Parson of Missouri. After years of wasteful use of taxpayer dollars, upwards of $330 million, the agreement aims to end the practice of businesses taking advantage of tax breaks by swapping borders without adding jobs. The KC Chamber applauds both governors’ bipartisan leadership on a business and taxpayer-friendly policy, and we call on local government leaders to show this same spirit of collaboration in working together to abide by the agreement.


Missouri Major Metro Chambers Coalition: The KC Chamber continues to work with its colleagues from the chambers of commerce in Springfield, St. Louis, and the Missouri Chamber, to draft a Major Metro Chambers Public Policy Agenda for 2020. Leaders from the four chambers met August 27 for the third time this year to identify and work on mutually agreeable legislative priorities for next year’s General Assembly session. The coalition of chambers dialogued on several issues including Initiative Petition Reform, the Wayfair Internet Sales Tax issue, fiscal responsibility, tort reform, among others, and shared early perspectives on the 2020 elections as well as the anticipated Medicaid Expansion ballot initiative. The group will meet again this autumn to finalize an agreed-upon public policy agenda and work to set a 2020 coalition lobbying day.


First Criminal Justice Reform Commission Meeting: The first meeting of the Kansas Criminal Justice Reform Commission took place on August 28 in Topeka. The Commission is the result of 2019 legislation that established a Commission to look at Kansas’ criminal justice system reforms. The Commission was also bestowed the authority to create sub/working groups to explore specific areas of criminal justice and, accordingly, identified the areas of data management and data sharing sentencing diversion and specialty prisons and courts, reentry, and mental health and drug treatment, to look at over the next few months. The KC Chamber looks forward to staying engaged with this commission, especially through looking at ways to promote successful reentry to society for returning citizens as well as the employment of returning citizens.


Kansas City Missouri Committee met on August 27 and heard remarks from Councilmember Lee Barnes, Jr., 5th District at-Large, and Chair of the Neighborhood, Planning & Development Committee. He addressed his recommendations on equitable housing, infrastructure, and crime.

The Committee also heard from Herb Hardwick and Dr. Melissa Patterson Hazley from the Central City Economic Development Sales Tax Board. The Central City Economic Development Sales Tax is a 1/8 cent sales tax that is used to assist with the economic development along the Prospect corridor. The Board recommended 9 redevelopment projects that will be discussed at the City Council’s Business Session on August 29, 2019.


There have been many exciting developments in the Big 5 Transportation Initiative and some projects the KC Chamber has been focused on for the last two years. Some of these are described below:

The KC Chamber’s Big 5 Transportation Subcommittees have begun meeting to outline their objectives and goals through the end of the year. So far, the meetings have focused on the draft work plans proposed earlier this summer by the Transportation Steering Committee. The subcommittees are eager to get their work moving.

At the August meeting of regional advocates for the Buck O’Neil Bridge, the KC Chamber reviewed the proposed designs for the bridge and its corresponding intersections and connections with Downtown KC and I-35. If you would like to see the proposed designs and provide input via the online public meeting, please click here.

The KC Chamber’s Board of Directors reaffirmed their support for funding and completion of a new Buck O’Neil Bridge at the Board’s August meeting. The KC Chamber emphasizes the importance of a new connector from the Northland to downtown and I-35 that accounts for safety, efficiency and innovative mobility.

The KC Chamber participated in the Kansas Department of Transportation’s (KDOT) Overland Park meeting that sought public input for the new ten-year transportation program as proposed by KDOT which will go in front of the Kansas Legislature in 2020. The new program, Forward Kansas, looks to improve, modernize and prepare Kansas’ transportation systems to account for people, freight and technology. KDOT also held facilitated discussions on Forward Kansas and simulated 25-year scenarios in Kansas based on different possibilities of changes the state will experience. The KC Chamber expressed to KDOT the need for long-term and regional strategic planning that accounts for transportation modes of all kinds, including public transportation.


The KC Chamber’s Financial Services Committee held its third meeting of the year and heard from Susan Zubradt, Senior Vice President at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, about payments modernization and the Kansas City Federal Reserve’s research and recommendations for a more accessible faster payments system for all banks across the country. Faster payments systems are an infrastructure focused on clearing and/or settling payments quickly, if not instantaneously, for its participants. The Federal Reserve hopes to implement this system for all banks to access in the coming years as those in existence in the United States currently are limited in functionality and are not accessible for participants using different services (i.e. banks).


The KC Chamber and the Metro KC Climate Action Coalition hosted a joint meeting and reception to discuss news in the energy and environment space and to promote the upcoming Summit being organized by the Metro KC Climate Action Coalition on September 14 at Johnson County Community College. This joint meeting and reception featured many mayors and other elected officials from the Greater KC area, and a Metro KC Climate Action Coalition presentation from Mayor Mike Kelly of Roeland Park and Shawnee City Councilmember Lindsey Constance. The KC Chamber looks forward to engaging more with this emerging coalition of bipartisan leaders in the Kansas City area.