Advocating for You - October, 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 October.


Support for Federal Research Funding
The KC Chamber is continuing its partnership with over 75 chambers of commerce throughout the country in calling for an increase in federal funding for research. As Congress crafts a final FY18 appropriations package, the Business Coalition on Federal Research Funding is urging congressional members to provide robust funding to key research accounts such as the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, and Homeland Security. The group and the KC Chamber are distributing a letter and making calls to congressional leadership and our regional delegation with the reminder that nearly 60 percent of funding for basic scientific research in the United States is provided by the federal government and that innovations that flow from university-based basic research are at the root of countless companies, products, technologies, innovations and jobs in our nation and the KC region. The Coalition is making the case to Congress that the federal accounts which are responsible for dispersing research funds should receive funding increases indexed at a steady rate above inflation each year.

McCaskill on Common-Sense Banking Regulatory Relief
The Chamber applauds Senator Claire McCaskill for her lead sponsorship of a new bipartisan bill to provide much-needed regulatory relief to mid-sized and regional banks in the KC area and across the country. Senators McCaskill and David Perdue (R-GA) released the bill late last month, titled the "Systemic Risk Designation Improvement Act of 2017," which would change regulation of regional banks from an asset-based system to a risk-based system. The bill provides common-sense regulation that allows medium-sized regional banks to be evaluated under different standards than the much larger, "too-big-too-fail" multi-trillion dollar banks. The Senate bill is the counterpart to H.R. 3312, introduced by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) in July. The current model of asset-based assessment was instituted under Dodd-Frank, and has been criticized by regulators and lawmakers alike. The KC Chamber has called for Dodd-Frank reform measures to support the region's traditional mid-sized banks which have little exposure to derivatives and trading, allowing them greater opportunity to serve the area's small business sector. Senator Roy Blunt has also signed on as a cosponsor of the bill.

The KC Chamber, along with its World Trade Center-Kansas City and the International Relations Council hosted Gerónimo Gutiérrez, Ambassador of Mexico to the United States for an October 26 luncheon and business roundtable discussion regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement and other key policy concerns shared by the two countries. The Head Consul of the Mexican Consulate in Kansas City, Alfonso Navarro, was also a co-host for the gathering. The Chamber continues its advocacy for updating and maintaining the NAFTA partnership which accounts for 145,000 jobs in Missouri and Kansas tied to trade with Mexico alone. In 2016 Missouri exported $5.2 billion worth of goods and services to Mexico, while Kansas exported $2.7 billion worth of goods and services to Mexico. Kansas Senator Jerry Moran reports NAFTA-based exports from Kansas to both Mexico and Canada total $4 billion annually. The KC Chamber in October joined the US Chamber of Commerce and many others as a co-signer of a letter to congressional leadership supporting the continuation of NAFTA.

Congressman Roger Marshall Visits Chamber
Tax reform, trade issues, immigration and regulatory relief were the top concerns when KC Chamber members met with Rep. Roger Marshall (KS 1st district) for a roundtable dialogue October 20. The Congressman said he was looking forward to the House vote on tax reform and spoke of the importance of foreign-born workers to western Kansas businesses and communities. He listened to Chamber members talk about the importance of including pre-existing conditions in health coverage legislation and took notes as KC business leaders shared a diverse list of federal priorities for their companies. Dr. Marshall shared the group's concerns about NAFTA re-authorization and said this was a primary concern of his and of the House Agriculture Committee on which he serves.

Senator Blunt on Trauma Informed Care
As the Chamber's Healthy KC initiative completes its 3-year project focusing on trauma-informed-care, the Chamber is grateful for Senator Roy Blunt's support as he and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) placed trauma-informed language in the Report accompanying their Subcommittee's FY 18 Appropriations Bill. This language represents the first statement by any Senate committee promoting trauma-informed action by federal agencies and may set the stage for additional provisions in the FY19 bill.


The KC Chamber's Annual Economic Forecast Breakfast
The KC Chamber held its annual Economic Forecast Breakfast last week to an audience of nearly 400 business and community leaders, thanks to sponsors Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City; Bryan Cave and BMO Wealth Management. Jack Ablin, Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer at BMO Wealth Management, provided an update on the national and global economy and how the economy will be impacted by new policies. Jack Oliver, Senior Policy Adviser and Republican strategist, and Broderick Johnson, Partner and Specialist in Public Policy and Government Affairs and Higher Education Practices and former key staff member in the Obama administration, described the changes in public policy since the November, 2016 election and the impact of the election in economic policy, now and leading up to next year's mid-term elections.
The breakfast also marked Dr. Frank Lenk, Director of Research Services at Mid-America Regional Council's, 27th year developing the forecast for the Kansas City metro region. Dr. Lenk warns that Kansas City appears to be falling behind peer metro areas. Although he sees no signs of an economic slowdown or recession, if Kansas City does not improve at a quicker clip, the region will continue to lag behind its peer metros as identified by the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC). You can find the Kansas City Star article about the breakfast here.

Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway Luncheon
Missouri State Auditor Nicole Galloway visited with Chamber leaders earlier this month on a variety of state issues. She described some concerns about Transportation Development Districts (TDDs) and Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) and how they are being utilized throughout the state. Chamber members stressed the positive qualities of these two economic development tools and the importance of keeping them viable here in Kansas City. The Auditor also expressed concern about the likely half-million-dollar shortfall facing Missouri and the need for legislators to consider new sources of revenue. She also discussed cuts to higher education, particularly as it pertains to the University of Missouri system.


Kansas Officials Meet with Chamber Committee
The KC Chamber hosted several State officials in October as its Public Policy Council and Kansas State Affairs Committee considered issues and priorities for the Chamber's 2018 Public Policy Agenda.

  • Kansas House Tax Committee Chair Steven Johnson on October 31 shared with Chamber members his perspectives on how the legislature's 2017 income tax repeal bill was created and discussed concerns about finding the revenue necessary in 2018 to respond to the Kansas Supreme Court decision mandating additional education funding. Johnson engaged in a creative discussion with Chamber members and actually provided input as the group drafted a position on a tobacco tax increase as recommended by the Chamber's Healthy KC Commission.
  • Commerce Secretary Nick Jordan also joined the Chamber October 31 meeting sharing his hopes for continuing STAR Bonds legislation with some responsible measures to tighten the definitions of what can qualify as "tourism" and "tourists." Jordan also highlighted Commerce Department programs to address workforce needs for expanding and relocating companies and dialogued with Chamber members about opportunities for retraining adults to be productive members of the 21st century workforce.
  • Education Commissioner Randy Watson on October 13 told Chamber members about the Kansans CAN program being piloted in seven school districts including Olathe and how the program's achievement measurements are more aligned with post secondary opportunities and workforce needs. The Kansans CAN initiative appears to be the first of its kind in the US, measuring achievement outcomes in several areas including soft skills and career readiness as defined by the state's employers. 


KCI Update
The vote in Kansas City, Missouri on a new, single-terminal at KCI is a week away on November 7. Joe Reardon, KC Chamber President and CEO, has provided over 100 airport presentations to various businesses and community organizations across the metro area. The KC Chamber recognizes the importance of a new airport terminal at KCI to create jobs, offer modern amenities lacking at the current terminals, to help continue the momentum Kansas City has been experiencing, and to improve the convenience the airport offers, all with no tax increase. Again, if you are a Kansas City, Missouri resident, do not forget to vote Tuesday, November 7.

KCMO Meeting
At our fall Kansas City, Missouri Committee meeting, we were joined by Councilmen Quinton Lucas and Jermaine Reed as well as Jackson County, Missouri prosecutor Jean Peters Baker. Councilmen Lucas and Reed provided an update on the many developments in the 3rd District. This includes Prospect MAX, the rapid transit bus; the Linwood Shopping Center, MLB Urban Youth Academy, the 18th & Vine revitalization, and of course, KCI. Prospect MAX is a $54 million-dollar project, which will include 48 stations along Prospect Avenue and downtown. Improvements will include Traffic Signal Priority (TSP) signals, smart kiosks, cameras, sidewalks, and ADA upgrades. The Linwood Shopping Center is the catalyst for development along the Prospect and Linwood corridors, and will be completed in the Spring of 2018. It will include a Sun Fresh Market. The MLB Urban Youth Academy will include an indoor training facility and will be the 7th Urban Youth Academy in the United States. Along 18th & Vine, many upgrades are being made. This includes building stabilization, property management, and property acquisition.
Jean Peters Baker discussed NoVA, the Kansas City No Violence Alliance. Kansas City averages 114 homicides a month, and the tangible costs of a single homicide are well over $1 million. KC NoVA is a violence reduction initiative utilizing an evidence-based approach called focused deterrence. It is a multi-agency, multi-faceted collaboration in Kansas City. Other cities who use this are Boston, Cincinnati, and Highpoint, North Carolina. For more questions regarding this initiative, please contact Jean Peters Baker.


MO and KS 2018 Public Policy Agendas
It is the time of year that the Chamber listens to its members and develops a draft of the Missouri and Kansas public policy agendas. Recommendations will be discussed by Chamber leaders and approved at November's board meeting.