Chamber’s Inclusion Strategy Featured in Wichita Eagle Insert

2017 Chamber Chairman Scott Schwindaman provides an update on this year’s strategic priorities in our six-page quarterly insert that published today in The Wichita Eagle.

Our six-page newsletter is published quarterly in The Wichita Eagle to update the entire community about how we are fulfilling our mission and vision. The two front-page stories in today’s edition of the newspaper insert share information about our Diversity and Inclusion priority and how the Chamber is leveraging our regional strength to advocate for business in Topeka.

Be sure to pick up a copy of today’s insert so you’ll know–

  • Which 15 Chamber members to congratulate on their important milestones
  • Who will begin leading our Government Relations team on May 1
  • Which 31 new organizations we’ve welcomed to the Chamber since December
  • How your generous Centennial Campaign contributions are being used
  • Which Chamber Board members are leading each of our four strategic priorities
  • Who to congratulate on graduating from this year’s YPW Leadership Academy
  • How to register for April and May networking events

You may also read and share the insert by following this link to our website.

Contact us if you need additional printed copies of the insert for you team or for your recruitment materials. Our next insert publishes on Thursday, June 29.

Government Relations Staff Changes Announced

Toni Porter will begin leading the Chamber’s Government Relations team on May 1 .

Gary Plummer, President & CEO of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce, announced today that Toni Porter has been promoted to Director of Government Relations for the organization. In her new position, Porter will lead the Chamber’s Government Relations efforts. She  originally joined the Chamber in 2015, in a part-time position as the Government Relations Project Manager. Prior to her role at the Chamber, Porter served as the District Director for U.S. Congressman Mike Pompeo.

The Chamber’s Government Relations team oversees two of the organization’s four focus areas, advocating and influencing. Plummer said that Porter’s experience made her a natural choice for the position. “Our members will continue to benefit from Toni’s extensive experience. She is well connected in the business community and is respected by government officials and leaders at the local, state and federal level.” Porter will assume her new full-time role on May 1.

Barby Jobe is relocating to Oklahoma. Her last day as the Chamber’s V. P. of Government Relations is April 28.

Plummer also announced the departure of Barby Jobe Myers from the Chamber. Myers joined the organization in 2008, and has most recently served as the Vice President of Government Relations. Her last day at the Chamber is April 28. Myers is relocating to Oklahoma to join her family.

Plummer said, “We’ll miss Barby’s dedication to impacting the local election process and advocating for the best possible business environment. We’ll continue to follow her career with great interest and look forward to hearing how she’ll be utilizing her unique talents and skills when she returns to her home state of Oklahoma.”

Wichita Regional Chamber Supports WSU/WATC Affiliation

Today I testified in Topeka before legislators in support of S.B. 174 concerning higher education. The bill authorizes the affiliation of Wichita Area Technical College (WATC) with Wichita State University (WSU).

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce

Both of these institutions are vital assets for the economic growth of the south central economy. The Chamber supports the proposed affiliation since it will provide growth opportunities for students at both institutions and benefit the business community.

Others testifying today in Topeka include:
–Blake Flanders, President and CEO, Kansas Board of Regents
–Jeff Fluhr, President, Greater Wichita Partnership
–Sheree Utash, President, WATC
–John Bardo, President, WSU
–Lyndon Wells, Community Volunteer

Written testimony was provided by:
–Sam Sackett, Senior Manager of Government Relations and Corporate Communications, Spirit AeroSystems
–Shelley Hansel, Mayor of Wellington, KS

Chamber testimony
SB 174 WRCC

Wichita Regional Chamber Supports KanCare Expansion

The Chamber provided testimony yesterday in Topeka in support of expanding KanCare (Medicaid). Leadership from fourteen organizations joined the Chamber in support of H.B. 2064, an act establishing the KanCare bridge to a healthy Kansas program.

Leadership from fourteen organizations testified in Topeka yesterday in support of expanding KanCare.

Among those testifying were David Jordan, Executive Director of the Alliance for a Healthy Kansas; Joe Reardon, President & CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce; Michael Mullins, President & CEO of Via Christi Health, Inc.; Jon Rosell, Executive Director of the Kansas Medical Society; and Tom Bell, President & CEO of the Kansas Hospital Association.

The Chamber supports the expansion of KanCare in part because it’s a unique, budget-neutral solution that makes healthcare coverage more accessible at no additional cost to Kansas taxpayers and without using State General Funds.

Please check the links below for more information:
Written testimony from the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce
-KAKE TV story – Kansas health committee to vote on Medicaid expansion
KFDI story – Legislative committee holds hearing on KanCare
-Wichita Eagle story – House health panel to vote on KanCare expansion

Your Community and Your Country Need Your Vote

Damon Young

Damon Young

By Damon Young
Vice President of Mahaney Roofing Company

Are you voting early? Or waiting to cast your vote on election day? Either way, your community and your country need you and your employees to vote. Whether you’re a solopreneur or the manager of a large company, you and your business can’t afford to be disengaged from the political process.

And your engagement in our governance shouldn’t stop on November 8. Regardless of the outcome of this election, it’s vital for you to meet your local newly elected officials and stay connected with policy makers.

The Chamber is hosting several upcoming events where you can connect with local elected officials. Please register and attend, then watch for more opportunities in 2017 to interact with your peers and government leaders.

Local Elected Officials Reception – November 10
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Current and newly elected officials and legislators from the Wichita City Council, Sedgwick County Commission, USD 259 Board of Education, Elected Officials from Regional Municipalities and our South Central Legislators will attend.
Register now

2016 Chamber Issue forum with Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell – December 14
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell will deliver his second annual mayoral address to Chamber membership.
Register now

Providing input on how laws and regulations are affecting your business outcomes is vital to building the best possible business environment, so I hope you’ll join me on both of these dates. And please, VOTE in this and future elections.

Damon Young is a member of the Government Relations Committee for the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of the Chamber’s Political Action Committee.

Update on the new Department of Labor Overtime Rule

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has joined a broad coalition of more than 50 other national and Texas business groups that have filed a lawsuit challenging the new Department of Labor overtime rule. A second suit was filed by a coalition of 21 states in their role as employers.

The state of Kansas has joined the lawsuit. Your Chamber is also supportive of this lawsuit.

This week the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6094, a regulatory relief bill that would delay the effective date of the new overtime rule for six months until June 1, 2017. All members of the Kansas delegation voted in favor of the bill.

We understand that many of you may have questions about the lawsuit, its implications, and how it may impact your to plan for the coming change in employee compensation. To help address your questions on the legal challenge, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has prepared answers to some frequently asked questions below.

Legal Challenge to the new Overtime Rule – U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Q:        Who are the plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit?
A:         The plaintiffs in the business groups’ diverse coalition include the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, the Texas Association of Business, more than 40 local chambers of commerce throughout the state of Texas and other business groups in Texas, and more than a dozen other sector-specific business groups. 

Q:        Why did the business groups file the lawsuit?
A:        The Department’s unprecedented doubling of the minimum salary threshold for executive, administrative, or professional employees to be considered exempt from the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act will have significant adverse effects on businesses, nonprofit groups and associations, and employees. The Department of Labor’s new overtime rule will impose significant new economic costs and limit workplace flexibility, impede career and promotion opportunities, and make it harder for businesses and nonprofits to expand to meet the needs of their customers and constituents. The new overtime rule will be particularly damaging to nonprofit organizations, including trade associations and chambers of commerce, that will be subject to the rule.

Q:        What are the main legal arguments against the overtime rule?
A:        The business groups’ lawsuit advances three legal arguments against the Department of Labor’s overtime rule: (1) the excessively high salary threshold contradicts the intent of Congress to have executive, administrative, and professional employees exempt from overtime; (2) the new automatic update provision, which would impose new salary thresholds every three years without going through rulemakings, is not authorized by the FLSA, and in fact the FLSA directs the secretary to make changes to these exemptions through the notice and comment regulatory process; and (3) the Department acted arbitrarily and capriciously in promulgating its new overtime rule, in violation of the federal Administrative Procedure Act.

Q:        What other steps has your organization taken regarding the DOL’s new overtime regulation?
A:        The U.S. Chamber and its federation of state and local partners have been highly active in this rulemaking from the outset. We met with the Secretary of Labor before the regulation was proposed, submitted extensive and comprehensive comments describing in detail the problems this regulation will cause, and have explained at every step how the Department has gone too far. The Chamber and its federation partners also sent a letter to Congress urging action to provide relief from this regulation. The letter had almost 370 groups signed on.

Q:         Will this lawsuit impact the December 1st date that the DOL rule is scheduled to go into effect?
A:         While the Chamber’s suit seeks to invalidate the regulation, when or how the court will rule on this suit is impossible to predict at this point, therefore we recommend that businesses continue to prepare to be in compliance by December 1st. We will continue to provide updates as the suit moves forward.

Please contact me or the Chamber’s Government Relations Department if you have additional questions or concerns.

Pompeo Updates Chamber Membership

DSC_0046The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce hosted U.S. Congressman Mike Pompeo at a Federal Issues Forum luncheon today. Pompeo shared his thoughts on the upcoming U.S. Presidential election, the current regulatory environment for businesses, the state of the economy, military issues and the current risks and threats to national security.

A question and answer period followed his presentation. Pompeo took questions from Chamber members about these topics:

  • Congressional conflict and the need for bipartisan efforts to move the country forward
  • The findings of the U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi
  • Agricultural security and the safety of the U.S. food supply chain
  • Viable options for combatting and defeating radical Islamic terrorism threats to this country
  • Challenges facing the nation’s healthcare system

Pompeo ended the Federal Issues Forum with remarks about his confidence in the ability of Americans to find innovative solutions to the issues facing our communities and our country.

Special thanks to presenting sponsor, Envision, for today’s event. Gold sponsors included AT&T, Cox Communications, Koch Industries, Inc., Legacy Bank, Spirit AeroSystems, Inc., and the McGinty Machine Co., Inc. AGH Wealth Management provided an E-Media Sponsorship.

Please plan to join other Chamber members at the Congressional Summit, featuring the entire Kansas Federal Delegation, on October 14, the Local Elected Officials Reception on November 10, and the Chamber Issue Forum featuring Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell on December 14.

Photos from today’s event are posted on the Chamber’s Facebook page.

Wichita’s new program may serve as a model for other communities

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

Gary Plummer is the President & CEO of the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce

Congratulations to the Wichita City Council for approving a new Voluntary Off-site Storm Water Quality Best Management Practice (BMP) Program at their June 10th meeting. The idea came from a collaborative effort involving the public and private sectors with much of the credit going to Gary Oborny (Occidental Management) and Chris Bohm (Ruggles & Bohm), who chairs the city’s Storm Water Advisory Board. A lot of credit also goes to City Manager Bob Layton and Public Works Director Alan King for working toward an innovative solution.

The Chamber’s environmental policy supports an effective and efficient regulatory structure so that existing business and industry are not unduly constrained or burdened so that the City can competitively attract new business and industry. The storm water management plan provides developers a new option regarding storm water quality regulations and will provide extensive savings from the current program. The off-site BMP program was supported by the Chamber’s Environmental Resources Committee, chaired by David Traster (Foulston Siefkin LLP).

This program will be the first of its kind in the United States and an opportunity to make Wichita unique in the market place. The program will provide significant costs savings for area developers, businesses and the city and county. It will make dramatic improvements to the quality of storm water flowing off sites in the agricultural community and could be a huge economic development consideration. We commend all of the partners – KDHE, K-State WRAPS, the EPA, the Storm Water Advisory Board and the City of Wichita – for working together and finding a solution that will ultimately provide great benefit to business owners and developers.

‘Check In’ to the political process

Zac Necci with the Wichita Thunder  (pictured left) visits with Damong Young from Mahaney Roofing (pictured right) following Young's presentation at today's Sunrise Scrambler.

Zac Necci with the Wichita Thunder (pictured left) visits with Damon Young from Mahaney Roofing (pictured right) following Young’s presentation at today’s Sunrise Scrambler.

It’s easy to become disillusioned and ‘check out’ of the political process. But Damon Young with Mahaney Roofing reminded today’s Sunrise Scrambler audience that we can’t afford to be disengaged if we expect to continue governing ourselves as a free people.

Young suggested working harder and digging deeper to understand the complex issues that our elected officials are dealing with at the local, state and federal level. He also provided eleven ideas for becoming an active part of the solution.

1) Mark the primary and general election dates on your calendar:
Tuesday, Aug. 2 and Tuesday, Nov. 8. Check the Sedgwick County Election Office calendar for more important election dates and remember that July 12 is the last day to register to vote in the August primary.

2) Register to vote. Make sure everyone in your household over 18 does the same. It’s easy to register on-line.

3) Read background material presented by both sides and seek objective opinions. Dig deep for answers to your questions.

4) Sign up for the Chamber’s digital newsletter called The Advocate for information about how your elected officials are dealing with issues that directly affect you and your business. Contact Nicole Robinson at 268-1116 with Membership Development to subscribe.

5) Check the Chamber’s website for a scorecard that is posted annually documenting how legislators voted on business-related issues.

6) Participate in discussion forums and ask questions. KMUW hosts a community public forum every month called EngageICT to present information from subject matter experts and lead discussions about how “what happens at the polls affects you.”

7) Attend Chamber events where members can meet elected officials, hear directly from them and ask them questions.

8) Attend candidate forums and interact directly with those who plan to represent you.

9) Join one of six Chamber Government Relations Public Policy Sub-Committees.

10) Find the time to volunteer for a candidate or a cause that you believe in. Many voters are influenced by their peers. Your passion and expertise may help swing more votes and inspire others to vote.

11) Vote! And then encourage others to do the same. Many voters are influenced by their peers. VOTE EARLY with an Advance Ballot or at an Advance Polling Place if you’ll be out of town on election day.

Check the photos from today’s event on our Facebook album. Our thanks to today’s Sunrise Scrambler sponsors, Emprise Bank and Burnell’s Fine Jewelry and Design.

Join us for our July 20 Sunrise Scrambler when Sarah Jane Crespo with KMUW – Wichita Public Radio will present her program titled, It’s All About the Story.

Active political engagement encouraged at Board of Advisors meeting

Damon Young is the 2016 Chairman of the Wichita Metro Chamber PAC

Damon Young, the 2016 Chairman of the Wichita Metro Chamber PAC, reminded attendees that their input and involvement are critical to the political process.

Involvement is imperative for creating and maintaining a business friendly environment. Today’s meeting of the Chamber’s Board of Advisors focused on activities undertaken in the last eight months to represent business interests to elected and government officials at the local, state and federal level. A recap video was shared with participants and Jason Watkins, the Chamber’s legislative consultant, reported on the 2016 Win/Loss report from the Chamber’s 2016 Legislative Agenda.

Walter Berry, the 2016 Vice Chairman of Government Affairs, encouraged the Board to participate in one of six Government Relations Public Policy Sub-Committees. The committees meet no more than once a quarter and are chaired by volunteers who are subject matter experts.

A Chamber Political Action Committee (PAC) update was provided by Damon Young (PAC Chairman), who reminded the group that the PAC is limited to state and local races/issues. Voters will be choosing elected officials for all 165 seats in the Kansas legislature and two on the Sedgwick County Commission this year. Young said the PAC will continue to be dedicated to honest dialogue among business owners, managers and community leaders about business issues and political candidates. He said, “We’re focused on free enterprise, finding the facts, and vetting good candidates.”

Participants offered their perspectives on a range of topics, including the Chamber’s position on nine Education and Workforce Development 2016 legislative agenda items. The Chamber was successful in advocating for exemption of K–12 from budget cuts during this year’s session. This was the only budget line item that received such protection and was considered an important Chamber WIN.

The need for Medicaid expansion, the importance of the state’s transportation budget, and the impact of air service on economic development efforts were also discussed during the meeting. Chamber President & CEO Gary Plummer closed the meeting by reminding attendees that the Chamber’s PAC provides important access and influence over issues that directly affect Chamber members and their companies/organizations.

Our thanks to today’s meeting sponsor, Wichita State University’s Office of Workforce, Professional and Community Education. Contact Jaime Dupy for more information about how to join the Board of Advisors.

IMPORTANT LINKS
Government Relations Public Policy Sub-Committees
(Sub-committees are open to all Chamber members. Those interested in serving should contact Barby Jobe at 268-1152 or Toni Porter at 268-1135.)
2016 Legislative Agenda Win/Loss Report
Video recap of recent Government Relations activities

NOTE
Damon Young will be the featured speaker at tomorrow’s Sunrise Scrambler, where his topic is Political Engagement – Why Being Left or Right are Both Wrong if You Don’t Engage.