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Advocating for You - March, 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 March.


Federal Research Investment
With the White House recommending a $5.8 billion cut for National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, the KC Chamber is partnering with over 60 chambers of commerce across the country to urge Congress to stand behind NIH funding levels including the $2 billion increase supported by many in the KC congressional delegation and approved in 2016. A study released this month shows NIH funding in 2016 supported 380 thousand jobs and $65 billion in economic activity in the nation. This includes $509 million in NIH funding in Missouri supporting 7,200 jobs and 1.2 billion in economic activity and $91.3 million in NIH awards in Kansas for 1,600 jobs and $265 million of economic activity. Medical research is a key driver of the KC economy and innovations that come from university-based research are at the root of success for hundreds of companies, products and jobs in Kansas City.

Lunch with Congressional Staffers
The KC Chamber Public Policy Council hosted a lunch for local staff leaders for the region’s US Senators and members of Congress March 30 to learn about the committee work, key bills and major initiatives of each office. Representatives from the offices of US Senators Pat Roberts, Claire McCaskill, Roy Blunt, and Jerry Moran, and the US House offices of Sam Graves (MO 6th District), Emanuel Cleaver (MO 5th District), Kevin Yoder (KS 3rd District), and Roger Marshall (KS 1st District) shared information on everything from healthcare legislation to an anticipated tax plan, infrastructure funding, regulatory reform, trade policy and immigration visas. The Chamber also presented its 2017 federal policy agenda at the meeting.


Progress on funding for UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance
HCR 19 passed the Missouri House several weeks ago by a vote of 117-39 and now it is on to the Senate. This bill would provide the state match for the $48M raised privately by UMKC for a new Downtown Arts Campus to be built across from the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. On Tuesday, April 4, Warren Erdman and several other civic leaders will advocate for this bill before the Senate Rules Committee, chaired by Sen. Mike Kehoe. It provides for up to $48M in revenue bonds through MoHEFA for up to 10 years.

Setting the state's budget this year will be the most challenging in recent memory. Revenue shortfalls and other fiscal considerations are threatening programs important to Kansas City such as Missouri Technology Corporation, which was funded last year at around $22M, but the Chamber and other likeminded partners are advocating to keep at least $9M in the budget this year. The House Budget Committee, chaired by Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, has developed recommendations for Missouri's FY 2018 budget estimated at $27B now will be considered by the full House and then onto the Senate.

Prescription drug monitoring
Missouri is the only state in the country without a prescription drug-monitoring program to help limit doctor shopping and prescription drug abuse. For years, advocates have tried and failed to enact such legislation only to be met by legislative opposition, particularly from Sen. Robb Schaaf. This year a broad state-wide coalition has coalesced to push for legislation to develop the Narcotics Control Act. HB 90 is the bill number if you want to weigh in on this measure which aims to curb the alarming number of drug overdoses throughout rural, urban and suburban Missouri.



Firearms in Healthcare Facilities
The KC Chamber provided testimony this month supporting Senate Bill 235 to allow state and community-owned healthcare institutions to regulate the carrying of firearms on their premises. The Chamber’s 2017 Kansas Policy Agenda advocates for policy that allows educational institutions, healthcare institutions, local units of government and other businesses to regulate the carrying of firearms (open or concealed) in their facilities. While SB235 does not allow local governments and institutions of higher education the opportunity to regulate guns on their premises, the Chamber told the Senate Ways and Means Committee that it believes the bill is a step in the right direction to preserve and improve safety within the volatile environments of our state’s healthcare facilities.

KanCare Expansion
The KC Chamber continued to advocate for KanCare Expansion throughout the month of March providing testimony to the Senate Health and Public Welfare Committee supporting House Bill 2044 and issuing Biz Team Alerts encouraging members to contact Governor Brownback and legislators to support the bill. Regrettably, when all was said and done, the bill was vetoed by the Governor and the House was unable to override the veto. While the future of the Affordable Care Act continues to be uncertain in the nation’s capital, the Chamber believes KanCare expansion would provide much-needed health coverage to those who make too much for current the Medicaid structure, but too little to afford the cost of health insurance and help keep taxpayer dollars in Kansas and protect the interests of Kansans.

George Washington University and the US Census Bureau show KanCare expansion would provide health coverage to 11,759 currently uninsured residents of Wyandotte County and 10,521 uninsured in Johnson County. KanCare expansion would provide $49,728,811 in new annual health care spending in Wyandotte County and $44,493,309 in Johnson County.

Lunch with Johnson and Wyandotte County Legislators
It was a standing-room-only crowd when the Chamber hosted an informational lunch for the Johnson and Wyandotte County delegations March 6 in the Capitol. Chamber President Joe Reardon discussed the Chamber’s 2017 priorities of responsible tax policy, KanCare Expansion, a school funding formula based on outcomes and local control that targets exemplary education for all students, and preservation and support for the Children’s Initiative Fund. The Chamber also shared an update on some of its regional initiatives including the Big 5, Healthy KC and its work with diversity and inclusion.



KCMO Business Survey
The City of KCMO, in conjunction with the Economic Development Corporation, has released its business survey results for 2016 and once again this year, more than 70 percent of the respondents consider the city an excellent or good place to do business. A total of 464 businesses were surveyed and results are an important indication of businesses’ satisfaction with city government and city services. Read survey results here.

Kansas City, Missouri Budget
City of Kansas City has approved its fiscal year budget for 2017-2018, beginning May 1, 2017 and ending April 30, 2018. At $1.59B it reflects an increase of 4 percent from the 2016-2017 budget. Read a summary here.

1,2,3, GO Bonds
Tuesday, April 4, KCMO voters go to the polls to vote for an $800M infrastructure bond package that would go a long way in addressing KC’s worsening deferred maintenance on roads, bridges, streets, sidewalks, flood control and public buildings, accessibility for persons with disabilities and a brand new animal shelter to replace the city’s current 50 year old facility that was built to be a warehouse for materials when the Truman Sports Complex was built. Chamber supports because it is good for KC and KC’s businesses. Remember to vote.

Measuring Diversity & Inclusion Best Practices 
From staff and leadership diversity to business policies on serving special populations, the KC Chamber is launching its first-ever survey to identify and measure diversity and inclusion (D&I) practices within the region’s businesses, large and small. The survey, due out April 4, asks all Chamber members and other businesses to share some of their recruiting, hiring, operational and community engagement practices to support growing diversity and inclusivity. Data from the survey will be used by the Chamber’s Diverse Business Committee to recognize D&I performance, build a resource pool or tool kit that can be used to assist area businesses in improving diversity in their ranks, and guide the Committee on its work to help grow D&I in the region. Businesses that are new to, or evolving their D&I practices will not be identified, but their survey responses are critical to establishing a community baseline. 

Studies by Forbes and McKinsey show ethnically-diverse companies are 35 percent more likely to outperform their peers and see a higher cash flow per employee. The Diverse Business Committee is working to help Kansas City regional employers to improve D&I as a vehicle to improve the economic vibrancy of the region.

Goodbye to a great guy

Jim Russell died a couple weeks ago in Jeff City surrounded by his devoted wife Mary and family. Many of you knew Jim and when you met him once, you became his friend forever. He was the Chamber’s lobbyist for 20 years…..a master at representing Kansas City’s issues in the state capitol. His memorial service on March 25 was overflowing with longtime and lifelong friends. Lots of great stories, such as, Instead of the standard hello upon answering a phone call, Jim would enthusiastically greet the caller with a “it’s good to hear your voice.” Sometimes I knew he wasn’t glad to hear my voice but he said it with gusto.

He was one of a kind. We’ll miss hearing his voice.
Kristi Wyatt