Advocating for You - November, 2017
Dec 01, 2017
Federal Tax Reform
As both chambers of Congress deliberated tax reduction bills this month, the KC Chamber's Federal Tax Policy Subcommittee provided general feedback and counsel on how several facets in the bills might impact their companies. A number of Chamber members reported being pleased that the legislation did not adversely impact employee ownership structures and several expressed concern about the measures in the House bill that may eliminate some municipal infrastructure bonds. Several members of our congressional delegation reached out to the Chamber this month to see how Chamber members were responding to the tax proposals.The Chamber has been a strong advocate for reducing the corporate income tax rate and led a vibrant discussion with congressional staffers on this topic during the Chamber's Spotlight on KC in May of this year. Both the House and Senate tax bills reduce the corporate income tax from 35 percent to 20 percent.
The KC Chamber has been working with Congressman Kevin Yoder's (KS 3rd District) office to help connect his staff with businesses (well over 100) in the KC region that do business with Korea. The "Partner with Korea Act" is designed to facilitate increased business opportunities following the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) through creation of up to 15,000 EB-4 highly-skilled work visas for Korean nationals. The bill that Yoder has decided to cosponsor brings the number of work visas for Korean nationals in line with those provided for other FTA partner countries. According to the bill's sponsor, Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois, the legislation will ensure more high-skilled visas are available in the U.S for qualified applicants with specialized education and guaranteed employment requiring specialized skills. The KC Chamber supports measures to support the workforce needs of KC business and increase opportunities for the foreign-born workforce.
Missouri Department of Economic Development Acting Director Rob Dixon
Rob Dixon, Acting Director for the Missouri Department of Economic Development, joined the KC Chamber this month to discuss the DED's goals moving forward. Dixon stated that the DED is focused on developing talent within the state of Missouri, looking at best practices around the country to foster growth in higher education as well as K-12, supporting our communities on the innovation front and taking care of the DED as an organization. This includes looking at management and finding gaps and best practices for growth. Working with the legislative session starting back up in January, the DED wants to grow and expand Missouri Works and Missouri Works training. The program will expire in 2019 with a natural sunset. He expressed to the group that we have had some good wins for Missouri, but we still have a lot of room to grow, such as with rural broadband and utility infrastructure.
Speaker of the House
A small group of Chamber Board Members and other key business leaders met with Kansas Speaker of the House Ron Ryckman November 30 to talk about Chamber priorities for the 2018 Legislative Session and share perspectives on a number of key issues. The Speaker told the group he does not know where the funds to meet the Supreme Court's demands on school funding will come from and he doesn't see much appetite from either party for raising taxes again in 2018. He promised Chamber leaders he would continue to allow the process to work. "If you trust in the process, you can trust the results," he said. "You may not like the results. But you can know we worked through the process set forth by our government." Several Chamber members present shared their concerns about workforce availability and reduced investment in transportation.
Johnson County Collaboration
The KC Chamber has been working with the nine Johnson County Chambers of Commerce this month to draft a joint public policy platform for the 2018 Kansas Legislative Session. The coalition of chambers that represent members in Johnson County has been focusing on the need to reinvigorate the State's economic development efforts through the Department of Commerce and on state revenue demands in light of recent travails related to education funding, criminal justice and social services. The KC Chamber has served as the chair organization for the Johnson County Public Policy Council in 2017.
A Better KCI Overwhelmingly Passes
On Tuesday, November, 7 Kansas City, Missouri voters overwhelmingly passed Question 1 to construct a $1 billion single terminal at the current site of the Terminal A at Kansas City International Airport. The ballot question passed easily with 75 percent of voters giving their nods of approval. In addition to the construction of a single terminal, the city will have the authority to knock down existing structures and construct new buildings to accommodate parking and rental cars. The KC Chamber, along with the city and business leaders, are confident this will create jobs and provide economic benefits in the coming years for Kansas City and the metropolitan area in addition to replacing the outdated and dilapidated structures at KCI. Edgemoor is currently holding public workshops throughout the city. The design process begins in January through most of 2018. Groundbreaking is set for November of 2018, and the project is expected to be completed sometime in 2021.
KCMO Business Leadership Council
The KCMO Business Leadership Council met Wednesday, November 15 to discuss the financial health of the City of Kansas City, Missouri. Randy Landes, the Director of Finance for Kansas City, presented to the council the revenue picture for the city which he described as, "Sound and growing." Landes said the finances and revenues for the city seem to be heading in the right direction. However, some of the areas for concern include special revenue funds, especially by the years 2021 and 2022. Landes ended his discussion by noting that the budget is due by February to the City Council. Additionally, the committee discussed potential KCMO priority issues for 2018 heading into the 2019 municipal elections.
State Policy Agendas Approved
The Greater Kansas City Chamber Board of Directors approved the policy agendas for both Kansas and Missouri at the last meeting Monday, November 27. These agendas will be presented to representatives and senators in both Topeka and Jefferson City for 2018's legislative sessions. Each state's policy agendas can be found online at kcchamber.com.
2017 Annual Dinner
On Tuesday, November 21, The Chamber hosted its 130th Annual Dinner in Downtown Kansas City at the Kansas City Convention Center. More than 40 of our area's public officials attended the dinner. The Chamber was proud to present Dr. Roy Jensen of the University of Kansas Cancer Center with the Kansas Citian of the Year Award. This prestigious honor is awarded to someone in the Kansas City area who has demonstrated generosity and who has given a great amount of time, energy, and contributions to make the Kansas City area a thriving and vibrant region. It was a cheerful event and we look forward to hosting our 131st Annual Dinner next year.