Join the KC ChamberLogin

News Room

Advocating for You - March, 2018

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.


As negotiators prepared for the eighth round of negotiations for revising the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the KC Chamber led a combined advocacy effort with eight Kansas and three Missouri chambers of commerce calling on our bi-state congressional delegation to support a modernized and renewed NAFTA. The chambers in both Missouri and Kansas sent a joint letter to U.S. Senators and Representatives warning of the damages to both states if the U.S. withdraws from NAFTA. Letters may be accessed here.

In 2016, Missouri exports totaled $14 billion, of which 56 percent ($7.8 billion) went to our NAFTA trading partners. More than 250,000 Missouri jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico. In 2016, Kansas exports totaled $10.2 billion, of which 36 percent ($3.7 billion) went to our NAFTA trading partners. More than 120,000 Kansas jobs currently depend on trade with Canada and Mexico. If the U.S. withdraws from NAFTA, the Missouri and Kansas motor vehicle industries would be especially hard hit, as 93 percent of Missouri auto-related exports and 91 percent of Kansas auto exports go to Canada and Mexico.

Chamber Hosts Rollout for President's Management Agenda
The KC Chamber hosted nearly 50 regional employers and about 20 federal staff members March 20 for a look at the President's 2018 Management Agenda and dialogue about what Kansas City area businesses need from the federal government. The Chamber's round table session, which marked the first time the President's Management Agenda had ever been introduced outside of Washington D.C., focused on federal efforts to improve customer service, streamline and modernize operations. Representatives from the Office of Management and Budget, Office of Personnel Management, General Services Administration, and the Department of Agriculture were on hand to discuss regional concerns about the need for improved technology and reduction of red tape and outdated regulations, particularly those related to local and federal government partnerships and regional facilities.

Immigration Reform
The KC Chamber was asked to share its advocacy work on immigration reform with 15 other metropolitan chambers from across the country at a special March 28 chamber convening in Salt Lake City focused on immigration advocacy strategies and regional collaboration. The audience of chamber public policy and diversity leaders was particularly interested in the KC Chamber's work to build advocacy coalitions with other business groups and nonprofits across state lines. The KC Chamber has been a leading regional voice calling for a legislative solution to keep DACA recipients in Kansas and Missouri as valued contributors to our regional economy. With both states at full employment, the foreign-born workforce is critical to the ability of regional employers to meet their labor demands. In 2017 6,439 Missourians and 9084 Kansans were eligible for DACA earning a total annual income of nearly $187 million and $138.4 million in spending power. In 2015 immigrants in Missouri and Kansas earned $3.7 billion and paid $309.3 million in state and local taxes, and $630 million in federal taxes. Immigrants in Missouri and Kansas contributed $8.6 billion to our GDP that same year.

Dodd-Frank Reform Passes the Senate
Senate Bill (SB) 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, passed the full U.S. Senate 67-32 on March 14. The bill reforms provisions of Dodd-Frank by easing regulations on certain qualifying financial institutions. The bill now sits in the U.S. House Financial Services Committee which held hearings on the bill March 22. The original House Dodd-Frank reform bill went further in easing financial regulations and promoting small business investments and growth. The KC Chamber has advocated on behalf of member financial services institutions for Dodd-Frank reform to our area Congressional delegation including Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, member on the House Financial Services Committee, and Senators Pat Roberts and Claire McCaskill, members of the Senate Finance Committee. The Chamber Financial Services Committee has conferred with Senator McCaskill and will be meeting with Representative Cleaver in May regarding the issue.


The March meeting of the KC Chamber's Missouri State Affairs Committee featured Senators Mike Cierpiot and Denny Hoskins and Representative Barbara Washington. Updates were given concerning legislation in both state chambers surrounding tax reduction plans, hemp, the prevailing wage bill and the development of the state's budget. Discussion surrounding gun legislation in the wake of the Parkland School shooting was a topic.

As of Friday, the House of Representatives has passed a state budget of $28 billion which is on its way to the Senate. K-12 and higher education fared particularly well in the House. Gone are proposed cuts of $70 million. K-12 funding was restored by $48 million to achieve the fully funded level for the state school foundation formula.

Please find the 2018 Chamber policy agendas here for your reference. The next Missouri State Affairs events will be the Friday, April 13 committee meeting at noon as well as the Wrap-Up Luncheon on Friday, May 25 at 11:30 a.m. Please contact Tiffany Friend with any questions.

The KC Chamber has strongly supported the REAL ID legislation through the past several years, and the House Veterans Committee met Tuesday morning to consider HB 2681, sponsored by Representative Kevin Corlew (R-Kansas City). The bill modifies provisions relating to driver's licenses compliant with the federal REAL ID Act. Congress passed the REAL ID law in 2005, and the requirements of the federal law that Missouri is not currently meeting are documents used to obtain a driver's license, such as a birth certificate or Social Security card, that must be scanned and stored in the database. MO's current law did not fit these requirements, bringing about the need for an amendment. Currently, MO is operating under a US Department of Homeland Security extension through October allowing Missourians to fly using their drivers' licenses. The MO Department of Revenue is designing and building a computer system to retain personal information for Missourians who choose to get a compliant ID. The department is scheduled to begin offering compliant licenses in March 2019, which requires one additional federal extension. During the preparation process, the department has encountered small issues that require technical changes contained within the bill to make certain which personal documents are accessible and clarify digital retention of such documents. The changes will allow the department to move forward with compliant license issuance and allow Missourians to voluntarily apply for REAL ID compliant licenses. The MO Department of Revenue, MO Chamber, and the KC Chamber supported the bill. No opposition was recorded. What is a REAL ID? Any state-issued driver's license or identification card that meets the standards outlined in the Federal REAL ID Act.

MO Works Training Program
The House Economic Development Committee convened Tuesday morning to discuss SB 549 sponsored by Senator Jay Wasson (R-Nixa). The bill reauthorizes the MO Works Training Program and MO Business Development Program and extends the current 2019 sunset to 2030. The MO Department of Economic Development, MO Economic Development Council, St. Louis Community College, MO Chamber of Commerce, Cerner Corporation, KC Chamber, and Springfield Chamber of Commerce provided supporting testimony. No opposing testimony was presented.

Motor Fuel
Improving Missouri's transportation system has long been a KC Chamber priority. Fixing and maintaining highways, roads and bridges requires additional funding. This month, the state's House Transportation Committee convened to discuss three motor fuel bills which would increase the state's motor fuel tax by ten cents per gallon using a gradual two-cent per gallon increase over a five-year period. The KC Chamber along with a host of advocates for transportation funding supported these bills.

Drug Take Back
Missouri's illegal drug problem is well documented, and Missouri is the only state that does not have a prescription drug monitoring program. The KC Chamber is supporting the effort to allow consumers to easily and safely dispose of controlled substances and instructs the Department of Health and Senior Services to provide online public education regarding the program. The proposal specifies that initial prescriptions of opioid controlled substances are limited to no more than a seven-day supply for the treatment of acute pain. Prior to prescribing the opioid, a practitioner shall consult with the patient regarding the quantity of the opioid and the patient's option to fill the prescription in a lesser quantity and inform the patient of the risks associated with the prescribed opioid. The Chamber and a number of like-minded organizations are supporting this bill and to date, no formal opposition has surfaced.

Sales Tax
The House Ways and Means Committee convened Monday afternoon to consider HB 2168, sponsored by Representative Phil Christofanelli (R-St. Charles). The bill changes law regarding local sales taxes so that no political subdivision may raise rates above 12%. According to bill presentation, the cap includes the 4.225% state tax and was set to account for current tax structures of the highest sales tax municipalities. No support testimony was provided. The City of Kansas City led opposition testimony and shared that the bill will impair the city's ability to provide essential services and possibly impact the city's credit rating negatively. The MO Municipal League, Port KC, MO Association of Counties, MO Chamber of Commerce, City of Independence, KC Chamber, and the MO Park and Recreation Association opposed the bill.

Emergency Communications
The KC Chamber and many other organizations and municipalities have long supported Representative Jeanie Lauer's (R-Blue Springs) effort to increase funding for 911 emergency service communications. Currently, landline fees alone fund 911 services. The bill would change the law regarding funding by authorizing counties to impose a monthly surcharge on cellular subscribers solely for the purpose of funding 911 services. Representative Lauer's bill had a hearing this past week and appears positioned for passage this session.


Tobacco Tax Increase
The KC Chamber provided testimony to the Kansas House Taxation Committee in support of HB 2231 and the Senate Taxation Committee in support of SB 376. Both bills provide a tobacco tax increase of $1.50 per pack of cigarettes. Treasurer of the Chamber Board of Directors, Carolyn Watley, CBIZ, also testified in front of the House Taxation Committee stressing the importance of reducing tobacco use to increase workplace wellness which lowers health care related costs for employers and increases economic productivity. Data shows that non-users save employers over $1,100 per employee annually and that tobacco use costs the Kansas economy $2,233 per user annually. Research also shows the effectiveness in raising tobacco prices. For every 10% increase in a tobacco tax, there is a corresponding 3-4% decrease in use. In both written and oral testimonies, the Chamber emphasized its belief that a healthy workforce is good for all Kansans and increases the economic vitality for the state.

Kansas Urban Health Dialogue
Prior to testifying in favor of the Kansas tobacco tax increase, Chamber Treasurer Carolyn Watley participated on an expert panel presenting the needs and impact of urban health institutions at the Kansas Health Institute. The luncheon panel was part of an advocacy day hosted by the Kansas Metropolitan Business Health Coalition and was attended by several key legislators. The several legislators and lobbyists in attendance expressed interest in Carolyn's description of the work and accomplishments of the Chamber's Healthy KC Commission. Carolyn shared Healthy KC's goals and advocacy work including Tobacco 21, behavioral health, healthy eating and active living. Carolyn discussed that this is an effort being led by the Chamber and a variety of businesses and partners in the KC area to improve workplace wellness to not only boost economic productivity, but also to improve the health of everyone in the Kansas City area. Data shows a direct correlation between the health of a community and its business growth and profitability.

Taskforce for Future of Transportation
The KC Chamber provided testimony on March 15 to the House Transportation Committee in support of House Bill 2775 to establish a taskforce to evaluate the Kansas transportation system, review funding needs and opportunities, and make recommendations to serve the state transportation system for the future. The Chamber advocated for a comprehensive study of the conditions, needs and opportunities that should shape Kansas's transportation future and encouraged the State to look not only at current transportation needs, but to examine the future of mobility in Kansas including the opportunities created by emerging innovative technologies and smart infrastructure to improve transportation safety, speed and comfort and the economic vibrancy of the state.


Capital Improvement Sales Tax
The Chamber strongly supports the renewal for 20 years of the one-cent sales tax for capital improvements used for economic development and revitalization in the city's neighborhoods through the Public Improvements Advisory Council, as well as city-wide street improvements and includes $60M for replacement of the Buck O'Neill Bridge which has deteriorated beyond repair. The election for this tax is on April 3.

Aviation Committee
The Greater KC Chamber's Aviation Committee convened on March 8 with vice chair Carl Wolf of Garmin facilitating the meeting. The committee received updates from Edgemoor, the developer for the new terminal; Councilwoman Jolie Justus who chairs the City Council's Airport Committee; and John Green, deputy director of KCMO Aviation department provided an in-depth briefing on the KCMO aviation funds. Dan Moylan with Edgemoor expects 30 percent of the design work to be completed by mid-August. He reported that based on the many workshops Edgemoor has conducted in the city, the most important factors to the business community are; convenience at 27 percent; amenities at 26 percent; efficiency at 24 percent; and design at 23 percent. Edgemoor is now conducting meetings with the public to discuss environment issues. The Chamber's Aviation Committee emphasized the importance of providing a top flight USO facility to serve the many military travelers.

Business Leadership Council
The KC Chamber's Business Leadership Council, chaired by Dave Frantze of Stinson Leonard Street met this month and heard from KCMO Councilwoman Heather Hall who provided an update on developments in her City Council District 1, located in the Northland, including significant infrastructure needs and projects. Councilman Hall is leading, along with other civic leaders, development of the Regional Law Enforcement Memorial Garden , which will be a memorial dedicated to those who have been killed in the line of duty from Clay, Platte, Jackson and Cass counties. To date, 178 officers have been killed in the four counties. The memorial is planned to be unveiled during Law Enforcement Week in May of 2019 and will be financed through a combination of local and private funding. The Veterans Community Project is also a priority for Hall; the project located at 89th and Troost provides housing to homeless veterans and other needs that are necessary.

Jackson County, MO Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker also joined the Business Leadership Council meeting this month to discuss KC NoVA (Kansas City No Violence Alliance) and asked for the business community to join in the effort to combat the crime problem in Kansas City. For the past decade Kansas City has the dubious distinction of making the top 10 most violent cities, currently ranking in at number 10. Baker is seeking partnership from the business community for KC NoVA; currently partnering with government agencies such as JACO Prosecutors, the City of Kansas City, KCPD, ATF, FBI and UMKC. The goals are to bridge the gap between police and neighborhoods and lower Kansas City's crime rate.