Advocating for You - June, 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 June.


Chamber Signing onto USMCA Ratification Letter:  Earlier this month, Mexico became the first country to ratify the USMCA, or new NAFTA, agreement. In light of inaction from Congress, the KC Chamber signed on to a letter, along with hundreds of other companies, associations and chambers of commerce throughout the country, to encourage the ratification of the USMCA Agreement. Ratification would authorize important changes to modernize the rules for trade in North America with respect to market access, digital trade, intellectual property, agriculture, and financial services. Last year the KC Chamber coordinated with fellow city and regional chambers in submitting a letter to the Missouri and Kansas congressional delegations urging the need to ratify the new USMCA provisions. In 2016, Kansas saw 36 percent of its exports, totaling $3.7 billion, go to NAFTA trading partners and Missouri had over half of the state’s exports, totaling $7.8 billion, reach our NAFTA partners. Across both states, jobs are created, economic growth is boosted, and local economies are strengthened in large part as a result of trading with Canada and Mexico.

Big Month for Federal Staffers at KC Chamber:  Congressional chiefs of staff, legislative directors and legislative aids were among the 31 staffers from the region’s congressional offices who attended the Chamber’s 9th biennial Spotlight on Greater KC congressional staff tour and issues workshop May 29-31. The group participated in tours of area workforce initiatives and infrastructure projects and sessions on key regional priorities and challenges. Four weeks later, local staff from 11 of the region’s congressional offices participated in a federal issue briefing luncheon with the Chamber’s Public Policy Council; sharing the top issues that their bosses are working on this summer. From USDA relocation to Kansas City, support for EX-IM Bank and innovative federal transportation proposals, including support for the proposed Hyperloop project, the delegation’s staffers demonstrated great synergies in their support for this region. Public Policy Council members shared their concerns with the federal staff about inadequate funding for the 2020 Census and how that could impact representation and federal funding for programs in Kansas and Missouri. Members were also curious as to what impact the USDA relocation to Kansas City will have on the local economy, as well as how the Opportunity Zones program is being implemented.  

A special thank you to the offices of Senators Pat Roberts, Roy Blunt, Jerry Moran and Josh Hawley and Representatives Sam Graves, Emanuel Cleaver, Vicky Hartzler, Roger Marshall, Ron Estes, Sharice Davids and Steve Watkins.

USDA Relocation: The KC Chamber salutes its partner KCADC in securing the relocation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to Kansas City. The Chamber was pleased to accompany KCADC and Team KC on a trip to Capitol Hill to meet with USDA employees and their families to share the wonderful opportunities and quality of life in the bistate region. The Chamber commends U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Pat Roberts (Kan.), and Jerry Moran (Kan.) and U.S. House members Emanuel Cleaver, Sam Graves, Vicki Hartzler, Sharice Davids, Steve Watkins, Ron Estes, and Roger Marshall for the bistate and bipartisan support for this measure.


KSA Legislative Wrap-Up: Kansas Speaker of the House Ron Ryckman, House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer, and Governor Laura Kelly’s Chief-of-Staff Will Lawrence headlined the Chamber’s 2019 legislative wrap up lunch. Attendees, which included business and community leaders and over 20 fellow legislators, heard about the 2019 legislative session and what lies ahead in 2020. All three speakers discussed Medicaid Expansion, K-12 school finance funding, and the restoration of budget cuts to higher education. There was a consensus that revenues Kansas has enjoyed over the past year have helped ease pressures on the budget. Looking, ahead to 2020, the prospects of Medicaid Expansion were discussed along with implementing a long-term transportation plan pursuant to the recommendations of the 2018 Transportation Vision Task Force. 
The KC Chamber Hosted Governor Mike Parson for a special ceremony June 11 to sign Senate Bill 182, sponsored by State Sen. Mike Cierpiot, R-Lee’s Summit. This will prohibit offering state economic incentives to businesses in the Kansas City metro area that want to relocate from Kansas to Missouri. In the past several years more than 10,000 jobs have moved between Missouri and Kansas with a net loss to taxpayers and a combined cost to the two states of $330 million. The Chamber also applauds Kansas Governor Laura Kelly who has indicated her interest in signing an executive order to help bring about the economic incentives truce. It has long been a priority for the KC Chamber to end the harmful practice of using incentives to lure companies from one side of the state line to the other, which has resulted in a zero-sum game over the past decade. 
MSA Legislative Wrap-Up Lunch: Missouri Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden and Assistant Senate Minority Floor Leader Senator Kiki Curls had lots to celebrate as they debriefed the 2019 legislative session for KC Chamber leaders and Missouri State Affairs committee members at this year’s wrap-up lunch May 22. The Chamber audience congratulated the Senate leaders for their work to pass a number of workforce development measures that will have valuable impact in the KC region, including the Fast Track program to help support adult training in high-demand jobs and the One-Start program that will increase the number of businesses and workers served by state workforce training programs. The Senators also touted passage of the $301 million bonding measure to repair 215 bridges in the state including several in the Kansas City MoDOT district and authorizing legislation to expand the Missouri A+ program. The Chamber also congratulated Senator Curls for her leadership on expanding the list of expungable offenses and advancing second chance opportunities for justice-involved individuals.
Hyperloop: The Chamber continues to work on the Speaker’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Hyperloop in Missouri and this month met with Virgin Hyperloop One officials to discuss possible test routes, engineering concerns and opportunities in our region and the ability to work with bi-state legislators and businesses to support a potential Hyperloop track in Kansas City and across Missouri. The Blue Ribbon Panel is expected to submit a final report to Speaker Elijah Haahr in September.

Tobacco 21 (and Local Control) Upheld in Kansas: The Kansas Supreme Court last month ruled that cities may ban the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 21-years-old, preserving “Tobacco 21” ordinances in several Kansas counties and cities including many in the Kansas City area. The court’s unanimous decision allows the city of Topeka to enforce an ordinance prohibiting the sale of tobacco products, e-cigarettes or liquid nicotine to anyone under the age of 21, finding the ordinance does not conflict with a state law that expressly bans the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 18. The court’s decision also found that Topeka exercised its constitutional home-rule powers in passing the ordinance. The KC Chamber, through its Healthy KC Initiative, has led efforts in the region to encourage local governments to raise the legal age for purchasing tobacco products to 21. There are currently 26 cities in the bi-state Kansas City region that have passed a local Tobacco 21 ordinance.


Changing of the Guard at City Hall: The KC Chamber is looking forward to working with the new Kansas City, Missouri Mayor and City Council and was pleased to host Mayor-Elect Quinton Lucas for a brief address at its annual major investors’ forum on June 25. The Chamber partnered with KCUR to cohost a spirited mayoral debate earlier in the month and followed each Council race with great anticipation. A list of the new Council members is below and an easy-to-read report on the new Council members can be found here.

Mayor Elect: Quinton Lucas*

District 1 (At-Large): Kevin O’Neill*

District 1: Heather Hall

District 2 (At-Large): Teresa Loar

District 2: Dan Fowler

District 3 (At-Large): Brandon Ellington*

District 3: Melissa Robinson*

District 4 (At-Large): Katheryn Shields

District 4: Eric Bunch*

District 5 (At-Large): Lee Barnes, Jr.

District 5: Ryana Parks-Shaw*

District 6 (At-Large): Andrea Bough*

District 6: Kevin McManus

*newly elected
Question 1 (Extreme Incentives Barrier) Goes Down to Defeat: The KC Chamber advocated against the passage of Question 1 on the June ballot and was pleased to see the measure, which would have set a 50 percent cap on economic development incentives in Kansas City, failed to pass. The Chamber instead encouraged undertaking a collaborative effort to develop a well-informed framework to guide an effective city tax incentive plan that will allow the city to remain competitive and create incentive opportunities for development in under-resourced neighborhoods. The ballot measure failed with nearly two-thirds of the voters saying no to Question 1.