Advocating for You - March, 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 March.


Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Returns to Kansas: The KC Chamber was pleased to help host U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he returned to Kansas Monday, March 18 for the 2019 Road to Global Entrepreneurship Summit Heartland event. After being introduced by Kansas City Southern President and CEO Pat Ottensmeyer during a special welcome reception, the former Kansas Congressman and CIA Director greeted hundreds of entrepreneurs and business leaders from the region at Children’s Mercy Park where he spoke to the importance of supporting entrepreneurs and building capacities in the United States and abroad for entrepreneurs to be successful.

DC Advocacy Visit: Transportation, infrastructure, and workforce development policy were the focus of the discussion as a handful of KC Chamber members and staff met with the Kansas City congressional delegation on Capitol Hill in early March. The mini DC Fly-In included meetings with Senators Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley of Missouri and Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran of Kansas as well as Missouri US House members Emanuel Cleaver, Sam Graves, Jason Smith and Congresswoman Vicki Hartzler and Kansas House members Roger Marshall, Sharice Davids and Steve Watkins. The Chamber group specifically dialogued with elected officials about KC Streetcar funding, the pending federal infrastructure bill, the JOBS bill, and the possibility of a return to congressionally-directed spending. Members enjoyed the opportunity to sit down with the three newest members of the regional congressional delegation and their staffs to discuss ways the KC business community can be a resource to these policymakers.

Small Business Retirement Benefits: The KC Chamber was pleased to assist Kansas Congresswoman Sharice Davids this month with information about the Chamber’s support for federal policy measures to ease regulations that prevent small business from providing 401(k) and other retirement plans to their employees. According to the National Institute on Retirement Security, while about 89 percent of workers at companies with 500 employees or more have access to retirement saving plans, more than half of workers at small businesses don’t have the option. The KC Chamber shared with Congresswoman Davids that KC business encourages Congress to adopt policies to assist and incent businesses to offer employee retirement benefit programs including making it easier for small businesses to join together to offer Association Retirement Plans, also known as Multiple Employer Plans (MEPs).
JOBS Act: The KC Chamber and its workforce development initiative have been encouraging its congressional delegation to support the JOBS Act, which will extend Pell grant eligibility to students enrolled in industry-approved, short-term training and credentialing programs that can help support workforce needs in high-demand fields such as skilled trades. The legislation would take the Pell grant requirement from 600 hours of training to a minimum of 150 hours and pave the way for more individuals to fill in-demand jobs in our current economy.


Medicaid Expansion Passes the House: In a surprise move, the Kansas House of Representatives voted this month to expand KanCare, the state’s Medicaid program, using an unexpected floor amendment to an unrelated healthcare bill. The expansion amendment, led by Representative Kathy Wolfe Moore of Kansas City, will give health care coverage to an additional 150,000 Kansans. The House bill passed 69-54 in final action. As a long-time leader in advocating for Medicaid Expansion in Kansas, the KC Chamber applauds the bipartisan efforts to expand Medicaid coverage in Kansas and calls on the Senate to hold a hearing on HB2066 and follow the House’s bipartisan support for a critical issue to the business community. Click here to find your Senator to tell him or her to support Medicaid Expansion. 
Transforming Workforce Development Opportunity: The Kansas Legislature has worked in bipartisan fashion to send to the Governor a bill establishing the AO-K (Accelerating Opportunity in Kansas) workforce development program. The Chamber believes AO-K is a valuable measure to transform the delivery system for adult education in Kansas by delivering career and technical education at the same time as adult basic skills instruction and putting adult students on a track to earn a postsecondary credential recognized by industry partners in high-demand fields. AO-K students will complete short-term certificate programs aligned with labor market needs, leading to industry-recognized credentials and immediate jobs. The KC Chamber provided testimony supporting the bill which can be found here.  
Transportation Task Force Recommendations: Both chambers of the Kansas Legislature have heard a variety of transportation bills as a result of the recommendations from the 2018 Transportation Task Force. Among these include a pair of Transportation Planning Program bills in the House (bill passed favorably out of Committee March 22) and its companion in the Senate. The KC Chamber provided testimony for both bills (House Bill 2373 | Senate Bill 186) and applauds the Legislature for their proactive response to the 2018 Transportation Task Force’s recommendations and looks forward to Kansas being a transportation innovation leader.
Secretary of Transportation Julie Lorenz Confirmed: The Kansas Senate confirmed Julie Lorenz to lead the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT). This will be Lorenz’s second tour of duty for KDOT, serving as the Director of Public Affairs and Special Assistant from 2003 to 2011. During that time, Lorenz led the development of and eventual legislative passage of the $8.2 billion, 10-year T-WORKS funding program in spring 2010. Lorenz served a Co-Chair of the KC Chamber’s Big 5 Transportation Innovation Initiative and comes most recently from her role as Transportation Principal with Burns & McDonnell. The KC Chamber provided testimony in support of Lorenz’s confirmation and applauds the Senate for her quick confirmation.


One Start Workforce Development Program: In early March the Missouri House of Representatives approved House Bill 469, Missouri One Start, by a 151-5 vote before sending the legislation across the hall to the Senate for further consideration. The Missouri One Start Program would reconfigure the “Missouri Works” program, the state's three workforce-related business incentive programs, into a more adaptable and effective framework to offer pre-employment screening, employment marketing and recruiting, as well as job-specific training. The bill would also create a workforce development infrastructure fund to support job training facilities, equipment, programs and staff.

Fast-Track and Workforce Omnibus Measure: The Missouri Senate returned from the legislative spring break with their version of One Start, offered by Senator Gary Romine, on the calendar, awaiting further debate. Prior to the break, Senate Bill 16 became the omnibus workforce development legislation rolling One Start, the Fast-Track workforce incentives grant, and the reorganization of the Missouri Department of Economic Development together into a single piece of legislation. The Fast-Track Workforce Incentive Grant program would help adults working toward degree programs that fill a high-need skills gap by providing tuition assistance in high-demand fields to Missourians who meet eligibility criteria. The KC Chamber has been a strong supporter of both Fast Track and One Start and will be participating in a Workforce Development advocacy day April 3 with other metro chambers of commerce from across the state to advocate for these two measures.

Hyperloop: The KC Chamber was invited to join Missouri Speaker of the House Elijah Haahr’s Blue Ribbon Panel on the Hyperloop which has been tasked with presenting recommendations on how to establish Missouri as the global epicenter for the research, development, and commercialization of hyperloop technology. In late 2017, the Missouri Department of Transportation submitted a proposal for a Hyperloop One route from St. Louis to Kansas City via Columbia in the Hyperloop One’s Global Challenge. Kansas City Chamber member Black and Veatch was contracted to become the first in the country to complete a hyperloop feasibility study, which they presented at the Verge Conference in October 2018. State leaders remain committed to the project as Missouri’s proposal advanced past thousands of entries to be named one of 11 global finalists. This new mode of transportation will move cargo and passengers using electric propulsion reaching airline speeds through a low-pressure tube. If selected, the state could utilize this new transportation technology to move people and resources across Missouri in just 30 minutes. The KC Chamber is honored to represent the region’s business community as the panel works to bring this innovative technology to the state’s diverse transportation system.

Economic Incentives Border War: The KC Chamber held its first joint Missouri and Kansas State Affairs meeting ever this month to discuss the economic border war. Bill Hall, President of the Hall Family Foundation, kicked off the meeting by illustrating how current job attraction incentive programs in Kansas and Missouri have led to an overpriced stalemate. Since 2011, Missouri and Kansas have spent a combined $335 million in tax dollars to incentivize businesses to move across the state line without creating new jobs within the Kansas City region. Legislators from both states discussed past efforts to bring about an economic ceasefire and how the current border war is affecting their states. With his legislation receiving unanimous approval in his chamber Senator Mike Cierpiot announced that freshmen Missouri State Representative Jeff Coleman of Grain Valley would handle Senate Bill 182 in the House where it awaits a committee referral. Bringing an end to the economic border war remains a priority of the KC Chamber as it hopes to see both states use their incentive dollars to create net new jobs opposed to creating new job commutes.


KC Chamber Polsinelli Mayoral Review: The KC Chamber hosted a fresh and innovative mayoral review entitled “Candidates and Cold Ones” and fashioned it after a television game show as part of its Public Policy Up Close Speaker Series sponsored by Polsinelli. A crowd of nearly 150 attendees listened to 10 mayoral primary candidates talk about issues of importance to business in Kansas City including economic development incentives, transportation and infrastructure, crime and violence, pensions, affordable housing, and early childhood education. While addressing key issues, the review remained light and entertaining allowing for questions from the audience and moderator/gameshow host Dianna Ashton, Assistant General Counsel at Polsinelli. The event was a great opportunity for Chamber members to interact and mingle with the potential next Mayor of Kansas City.

The Beginning of Build KCI: March 25 marked a historic day for the Kansas City community and region with the groundbreaking for a new single terminal at KCI. The new terminal is being built on the site of the current vacant Terminal A and is scheduled to be completed in 2023. The KC business community has been an ardent advocate for local policy measures to advance the new terminal including City Council passage on February 28 of the ordinance to confirm the KCI development agreement with Edgemoor to build the $1.5 billion project and approval in March for a short-term bond borrowing measure to launch the funding for the most immediate needs like design work. The KC Chamber mounted a major community campaign in 2017 to pass a ballot initiative approving the new terminal development and applauds the City Council for launching the development of the 39-gate, 1 million square-foot terminal.


KC BizPAC, the Political Action Committee of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, has endorsed the following candidates in the 2019 Kansas City, Missouri City Council primary races:

Councilman Dan Fowler (2nd District)
Councilman Katheryn Shields (4th District-at-Large)
Councilman Lee Barnes (5th District-at-Large)
Endorsements are listed on the website. For questions regarding KC BizPAC, please contact Tiffany Friend at