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.

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

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.

Chamber’s 2016 Legislative Agenda shared this week

The Chamber's 2016 Legislative Agenda is available as a palm card and on the Chamber's website.

The Chamber’s 2016 Legislative Agenda is available as a palm card and on the Chamber’s website.

Legislators have returned to Topeka for the 2016 session this week. All 165 legislators will receive a palm card familiarizing them with the Wichita Metro Chamber’s 2016 Legislative Agenda. The agenda was developed by the Chamber’s Government Relations Committee last fall after input from Chamber members and then approved by the Chamber’s Board of Directors last month. For more information about the steps involved in the agenda development and approval process, refer to the Government Relations brochure link on our website.

The Chamber’s primary government relations goal is to create a better business environment for your company or organization by promoting investment, innovation and job creation. Our 2015 legislative agenda and the wins/losses for last year’s session are available for your review on our website as well as a bill tracking scorecard for the 2015 session.

Chamber adopts 2015 Legislative Agenda

The Chamber board of directors recently adopted the 2015 Chamber Legislative Agenda based on issues identified by Chamber members and staff that could impact business in the upcoming year. The agenda is designed to support the Chamber’s strategic priority of creating a better business environment that promotes investment, innovation, and job creation. The Chamber will be advocating for these business principles in Topeka during the 2015 session.

State Budget – The Wichita Metro Chamber believes the State should practice fiscal discipline.

  • Reduce or maintain state spending at FY15 (July 2014-June 2015) level
  • Seek out efficiencies and implement priority- or performance-based budgeting throughout all levels of state government
  • Establish a “BRAC-like” process for closure or realignment of government functions and agencies
  • Move the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System from a defined benefit system to a defined contribution system
  • Funding decisions should be at the sole discretion of the legislature and not the court system
  • Establish Rainy Day Fund by placing State General Fund ending balance into fund
  • Support outsourcing state government functions to the private sector while main- taining needed services

Taxation – The Wichita Metro Chamber believes in a fair and equitable system of taxation that promotes private sector growth and makes Kansas more competitive.

  • Support continued business tax reform including reduction of the Kansas corporate income and Kansas privilege tax
  • Continued support of long-term state tax structure reform including further reduc- tion/elimination of personal income tax including future tax cuts in existing statute
  • Oppose increases in business taxes/fees that would negatively impact Kansas’ competitive environment
  • Oppose repeal of any existing sales tax exemptions on business inputs and services

Economic Development – The Wichita Metro Chamber believes the State should invest in economic development and develop programs that result in jobs and investment.

  • Support continued funding for the National Institute for Aviation Research
  • Create competitive economic development incentives and making Kansas a leader in innovative research, manufacturing, and technology
  • Retain and enhance tax incentives to include more flexible investment and job development tax credits with options for cash incentives

Investment-friendly Business Environment – The Wichita Metro Chamber believes a low-cost business environment is critical in order to be a competitive and attractive business destination.

  • Support legislation to allow admission of evidence that shows plaintiff’s losses have been compensated from other sources such as insurance or workers compensation, known as “collateral source”
  • Support legislation allowing parties to collect attorney fees as a prevailing party
  • Support policies which maintain the integrity of the Employment Security Trust Fund, and accurately reflect the employer experience rating when determining contribution rates
  • Encourage federal resolution to immigration reform and oppose state legislation increasing penalties or threatening the business licenses of employers
  • Maintain fair labor practices by opposing unfair advantages for union organizations

Regulatory Environment – The Wichita Metro Chamber believes there must be certainty in the regulatory environment in order for business to grow and relocate in Kansas.

  • Support legislation that creates a state OSHA plan
  • Support legislation that eliminates/reduces the requirements of Kansas Renewable Energy Portfolio
  • Support reforms in the unemployment insurance program that create a more pre- dictable employer assessment
  • Prohibit State and Federal Agencies from misusing rule and regulation authority in place/lieu of policy decisions made by the legislature

Transportation – The Wichita Metro Chamber believes a strong transportation infrastructure is critical in developing and expanding commerce.

  • Urge continued state financial participation in efforts to continue low-cost air service from Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport
  • Ensure dedicated transportation funding streams only be used for the transportation program
  • Support the current comprehensive state transportation program

Environmental Resources – The Wichita Metro Chamber believes environmental management must take a balanced and reasonable approach that protects the environment without putting unnecessary burdens on business.

  • Support on-going funding for existing Equus Beds Aquifer Storage and Recovery Project

Education and Workforce Development – The Wichita Metro Chamber believes a strong education system is vital in workforce and talent development.

  • Support continued funding for the National Center for Aviation Training as part of on-going workforce development critical to the aviation manufacturing cluster
  • Support a funding formula for K-12 schools that protects the high urban poverty weighting and the current at-risk formula
  • Encourage the Legislature to allow local school districts to have more flexibility in how state dollars are spent within their school district
  • Support growing the Kansas economy through applied research and private-public partnerships, like university/business innovation programs, at all higher education institutions
  • Support career and technical education programs, including the Governor’s Career and Technical Education Initiative, to ensure an abundant and skilled workforce
  • Oppose any language or budget proviso that interferes with the Postsecondary Tiered Technical State Aid Cost Model
  • Support an increased focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning initiatives

Please contact the government relations team if you have any questions or comments.