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Home > Government Relations > Chamber Policy Position > State & Federal
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Government Policies

Since most business owners don't have the time or resources to travel to Topeka once a week during the legislative session, the Government Relations team at the Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce works daily to keep members informed of happenings at the local, state and federal levels that affect businesses of all sizes. From January through May each year, a full-time lobbyist monitors activities at the Capitol on behalf of Chamber members.

During the state legislative session, the Chamber Government Relations team produces "The Voice of Business," a weekly legislative update sent via email.  If you are interested in receiving this email, please contact Barby Jobe.

Members can also take advantage of opportunities for one-on-one dialogue with local, state and federal lawmakers at the Chamber's Local Elected Officials Reception, Topeka Legislative Reception, Federal Issue Forum, State Issue Forum and Military Commanders Luncheon.

Below you'll find the Chamber's adopted state legislative policies, agendas that form the backbone of the Chamber's efforts on behalf of local businesses. Each contains the priorities and positions we advance at the various levels of government: in Washington, at the state capitol in Topeka and at City Hall in Wichita.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce supports continuation and adequate funding for existing economic development programs at the state level including:

Maintaining the 85% currently allocated to the Economic Development Initiatives Fund (EDIF) from the State Gaming Fund, and insuring that these dedicated funds are invested in projects and programs which specifically enhance economic development.

Continued application and enhancement of state incentives to promote economic development, with particular emphasis on incentives that make Kansas more competitive with other states and countries.

Adequate funding of the Department of Commerce programs which create investments.

Adequate funding to support manufacturing research and training through the Department of Commerce, the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation, and MAMTEC.

State support for the development and expansion of composite materials research, development, fabrication, and manufacturing.

The Chamber supports increased funding for the Centers of Excellence at State Universities, including an annual appropriation for the National Institute for Aviation Research at Wichita State University in support of the critical needs of the aviation industry in Kansas.

Enhancements to economic development incentives which encourage high wage, high technology companies without diluting existing incentives. Such enhancements should be based on sound criteria and not discriminate between regions of the state.

The Chamber supports allowing Kansas business taxpayers to sell Kansas HPIP (High Performance Incentive Program) and Business and Job Development tax credits.

The Chamber supports sustained funding from the State General Fund (SGF) for the Kansas Small Business Development Center network.

EDUCATION

The legislature should explore business environment improvement strategies that will result in increased state revenues for securing additional public school funding versus moving to education funding sources that call for sales, income or property tax increases. The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce supports excellence in public education.

To that end, we support the following:

Equitable funding for all levels of education.

Consolidating the authority for coordinating elementary, secondary and postsecondary institutions in ways that avoid duplication.

Strong linkage between performance and funding.

Early childhood
Legislation that advances support for high quality, research based early childhood education.

K-12 Education
The Chamber supports funding which recognizes the challenges and needs of urban school districts and the costs associated with reaching increasing performance standards, particularly children at risk. The Legislative Post Audit "Cost Study Analysis" of K 12, found the cost of meeting performance outcome standards (adopted by the State Board of Education) has significantly out-paced funding, especially in urban districts. Urban Districts have large student group populations who face extraordinary challenges including non English speaking, poverty, and special education.

If revenue growth and the use of ending balances are insufficient to meet the state constitutional duty of suitable funding, lawmakers should consider modified, across-the-board reductions in the state budget, carefully considering the impact on each program, particularly the ability to match federal funds.

The Chamber supports improved efficiency in public education without damage to the learning process. More needs to be done to encourage consolidation, cooperation among districts, and improved efficiency and delivery systems. Efficiency and effectiveness examination procedures should be successfully pursued and implemented before any consideration of tax increases by the state legislature.

The Chamber supports high quality, business driven vocational/technical programs in secondary schools to better prepare students for careers.

Enabling school districts to offer competitive market rate salaries and other incentives to fill positions where critical shortages exist.

Effective staff development programs, including an emphasis on 21st century technical skills.

Meaningful evaluation and performance review of teachers, including more efficient systems to remove ineffective teachers.

Post Secondary Education
Major investments in postsecondary technical training and education, both infrastructure and operations, especially the National Center for Aviation Training at the Jabara Campus This public-private initiative will focus on the immediate needs of the aerospace and advanced manufacturing industry sector. The master plan provides for expanding the focus to prepare health care professionals, information technology specialists, construction technicians and others for careers driven by regional demand.

Changes in the post-secondary formula that allow technical colleges to respond quickly to changing workforce needs.

Major investments to expand the educational capacity of registered nursing programs, both infrastructure and operations.

Proposals targeted toward retaining and attracting quality faculty and staff to public higher education institutions.

Efforts to help Wichita State University and the KU School of Medicine/Wichita access state funds that allow the University to match federal research dollars.

The Wichita Center for Graduate Medical Education (WCGME) request for $9.6 million to fund additional faculty and research staff to address accreditation concerns and projected federal funding shortfalls for graduate medical education.

Because Wichita State University is critically important to the economic vitality of the region, the Chamber supports continued state action to address the $44.1 million maintenance backlog at the University and the overall $727 million maintenance backlog at all Kansas Regents Universities.

EMPLOYEE RELATIONS

The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce supports fair treatment of business in the employee relations area, including:

Support for the Constitutional provision guaranteeing "the right to work."

Opposition to laws mandating types or levels of benefits for employees, including prevailing wage and “living wage.”

Continued vigilance on workers compensation reform, including opposition to new provisions which open the process to increased court activity. The Chamber also supports legislation to clarify court decisions which have eroded the reforms of the 1993 workers’ compensation legislation.

The Chamber encourages efforts to prohibit discrimination against, and make accommodations for, the disabled in the work place. However, The Chamber also supports a reasonable process of implementation coordinated with input from the business community.

Support for an impartial unemployment system, with fair adjudication when necessary that does not reflect advocacy for any one party to employment.

Support for a reduction and/or moratorium in unemployment taxes paid by employers.

The Chamber urges the legislature to protect the integrity of the unemployment insurance fund and maintain it for the purpose for which it was originally intended. The Chamber opposes any proposal to divert unemployment funds for other programs.

Support for legislation which prohibits an employer’s account from being charged unemployment benefits if the employee is part-time.

ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES

The Chamber supports maintaining and developing additional environmental resources including water so as to maintain the region’s current quality of life and to permit continued economic growth.

The Chamber supports continued appropriations for the Equus Beds Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) Project. The project insures a dependable quality water supply for the region while restricting the intrusion of salt-water pollution, enhancing base flow of the Little Arkansas River, and improving habitat for fish and wildlife..

The Chamber supports environmental legislation and regulations that are protective of the environment, technically feasible and cost effective.

The Chamber supports employing good management and conservation of environmental resources.

The Chamber supports improving efficiency and coordination of state agencies responsible for environmental resource protection and regulation.

The Chamber supports solid waste management principles, plans, regulations and legislation which are protective of human health and the environment, which consider the economic impact upon all waste generators, and which provide maximum protection against Superfund-type liability.

The Chamber supports an effective and efficient regulatory structure so that environmental resources are properly managed, existing business and industry are not unduly constrained or burdened, and the state can competitively attract new business and industry.

The Chamber supports encouraging voluntary cost-effective measures that will keep air quality, now and in the future, in compliance with Federal regulations to minimize regulatory impact to business.

The Chamber supports the Water Transfers Act as revised by the 1993 Legislature, which provides a reasonable approach to evaluate transfer applications.

The Chamber supports continued implementation of the State Water Plan and dedicated funding which:

Maintains State Water Plan funding with an urban/rural balance.

Recognizes that the federal storage purchase completed prior to June 1996 is intended to fulfill the future distribution needs of all regions in the state.

Strives to improve equitable distribution of State Water Plan funding among state agencies and other entities to assure fulfillment of goals for water resources quality and quantity within reasonable time-frames.

HEALTH CARE

The Chamber supports limits on malpractice awards and attorney contingency fees.

Anti-fraud efforts with sufficient due process provisions and meaningful punishment for consumers and providers who commit or attempt to commit fraud.

Promotion of education programs to encourage health awareness, healthy lifestyle changes, and preventive medicine.

Health care plans that promote consumer involvement in health care decisions, such as Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).

Clinical Research funding for medical and medical education facilities to make the Wichita area more attractive to young people going into medicine.

MANDATED BENEFITS

The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce generally opposes mandated employee benefits. Mandates tend to inflict unintended consequences on employers, including significant additional costs. They often restrict the freedom of choice inherent in the voluntary employee-benefits system, which has worked so well in our country. The Chamber is willing, however, to look with an open mind at any specific mandate that can be shown to be cost effective and serves a necessary public purpose.

The Chamber supports evaluation of current mandates and elimination of those that are not cost-effective.

PRIVATIZATION

The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce supports state legislation which allows governments the flexibility to enter into multi-year agreements and other arrangements with private business which save taxpayers money by using private enterprise to perform some functions of government and which take into account all factors which may have a bearing on cost-savings.

In evaluating whether services could be more economically purchased from the private sector or provided by the public sector, the evaluation analysis should recognize the tax contribution to the private sector vendor.

The evaluation should also include how effectively services are provided to individuals and groups of individuals when social services are evaluated.

PROPERTY TAX ABATEMENTS

The Chamber supports the authority of local governments to responsibly grant property tax abatements, including:

The flexibility to grant property tax deferrals of up to 100 percent for up to ten years.

The flexibility to defer property taxes on any portion of the mill levy.

The ability to defer property taxes for all types of businesses.

The flexibility to defer property taxes for existing property, when necessary, to maintain businesses and jobs, or to attract new employers.

PUBLIC SAFETY

The Chamber strongly supports efforts of law enforcement and government to protect individuals and businesses and maintain their security. We must encourage strong pro-active law enforcement while continuing to protect and preserve individual freedoms that are part of our Constitution, laws, and way of life.

The Chamber supports effective laws which target criminal activity, particularly that which is gang and drug-related. We will work with local governments, community groups, and others to identify and support effective legislation in this area.

REGULATORY FAIRNESS

The Chamber supports enactment of a state Small Business Regulatory Fairness Act to allow businesses that are regulated to participate when regulations affecting them are written.

TAXATION

The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce supports business tax reform designed to enhance Kansas' ability to compete, including elimination of the Kansas corporate income tax rate and changes that make Kansas more attractive to headquarters and back office operations. 

Because most Kansas businesses pay their income taxes at the individual rate, the Chamber supports elimination of the individual income tax rates that will benefit business taxpayers.

Because Kansas has high effective property tax rates for both commercial and industrial property, The Chamber supports mechanisms to reduce those effective tax rates.

The Chamber supports efforts to prevent unfair appraisal increases and opposes a return to the taxation of inventories.

Any review of sales tax exemptions should carefully consider the economic development and employment consequences of eliminating exemptions.

The Chamber supports a reasonable property tax lid on local units of government.

The Chamber supports implementation of government consolidation efforts where efficiency can be enhanced and waste eliminated.

The Chamber opposes efforts to weaken or repeal the business machinery and equipment tax exemption.

The Chamber supports elimination of the business franchise tax.

The Chamber supports mechanisms to thoroughly review the impact of all legislation before passage so that the business community has the opportunity to comment on its impact.

TORT REFORM

Because the litigation environment affects business investment decisions and plays a large role in business costs, the Chamber supports litigation reforms that reduce the cost of doing business, including:

support for legislation to allow admission of evidence that show plaintiff’s losses have been compensated from other sources such as insurance or workers compensation, known as “collateral source.”

Reforms that ensure state courts follow the same guidelines as federal courts in admitting expert opinions about scientific and technical evidence.

TRANSPORTATION

The Chamber urges continued state financial participation in efforts to continue low-cost air service from Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport.

The Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce strongly supports implementation of the comprehensive state transportation program.

The Chamber opposes diversion of revenues earmarked for transportation to other uses.

Because major South Central Kansas highway projects are usually lower in state priority, the Chamber supports a re-examination and modification of formulas that determine which projects are built.

The Chamber supports funding for these projects in our region:

US 54 from Kingman to Liberal

Continuation of a four-lane corridor from Hutchinson to the Northwest.

Better connections to the Southeast and Cowley County

Kellogg/US-54 improvements

Grade separations for the Wichita central rail corridor.

A four-lane East-West US 400 Highway from I-25 in Pueblo, Colorado to US 71 at Jasper, Missouri.

Section Highlights:
  • Stay informed on issues in Topeka during the legislative session via the weekly electronic Legislative Update, The Advocate.
  • Chamber promotes a business friendly environment for our members.
  • See the 2014 State Legislative Scorecard on the Bill Tracking page.
Barby Jobe
VP - Government Relations
Email
316.268.1152
Aeroflex Wichita, Inc. Airbus North America Engineering, Inc. Ambassador Hotel Wichita Armstrong Chamberlin AT&T Berry Companies, Inc. BKD, LLPBuilding Trades Council of Central & Western Kansas Butler Community College Capital Enterprises, Inc. Carlos O'Kelly'sCNH Industries CHOOSE Networks, Inc. Clear Channel Media + EntertainmentConco ConstructionCornejo & Sons Coventry Health Care, An Aetna CompanyCox Machine, Inc. Davis-Moore Automotive, Inc. Delta Dental of Kansas, Inc. Dillon Food Stores Dondlinger & Sons Construction Company Inc.Eby Construction Co. Envision, Inc. Friends University GLMV Architecture, Inc. Go Wichita Convention & Visitors Bureau House of SchwanHigh Touch Technologies Hyatt Regency Wichita IBEW L.U. 271 - Electrical Workers IMA, Inc. Johnson ControlsKAKE-TV Kansas Health Foundation Kennedy and Coe, LLC Key Construction, Inc. KSNW-Channel 3 Law Company Inc. LawKingdon Architecture LDF CompaniesLegacy BankLubrication Engineers, Inc. Martin Pringle Oliver Wallace & Bauer, L.L.P. Metro Courier, Inc. MKEC Engineering Consultants, Inc. Murfin Drilling Company Inc. Newman University Occidental Management, Inc. Pioneer Balloon Company Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 441 Poet Ethanol Products Range Oil Company, Inc. Ritchie Exploration, Inc. Rusty Eck Ford Security 1st Title LLC Slawson Real Estate Company Star Lumber & Supply Co. Inc.TCK - The Trust Company of Kansas TECT Aerospace UCI United Way of the Plains Value PlaceWichita Area Assn. of Realtors Wichita Area Technical College (WATC) Wichita Business Journal Wichita Community Foundation Wichita Downtown Development Corporation Wichita State UniversityWorkforce Alliance of South Central Kansas, Inc.Yingling Aviation