During the COVID-19 pandemic the Chamber has led the charge in advocating with local elected officials for reigniting the economy of the Wichita region. We supported a phased approach to reopening the economy, requested that COVID-19 data used to make policy decisions was transparent and contextual, pointed to the rate of cases in Sedgwick County and hospital utilization rates as key metrics in flattening the curve and asked elected officials to empower businesses to be responsible for best practices needed to make workplaces safe.
While our economic recovery is still underway, we are pleased that Sedgwick County leaders have allowed businesses to reopen and look forward to working with you to usher in a new era of prosperity for our region. Our hats are off to businesses for implementing innovative policies, procedures and practices that have largely kept employees and customers healthy during this time.
Our government relations staff, Government Relations Committee and Board of Directors met numerous times with Kansas leaders on COVID-19 response and recovery issues, including 4th District Congressman Ron Estes, Governor Laura Kelly, Kansas Department of Labor Secretary Delia Garcia, Sedgwick County Commissioners and key staff, Kansas House of Representatives Majority Leader Dan Hawkins and U.S. Senator Pat Roberts.
Additionally, Chamber staff reached out to the South Central Kansas Legislative Delegation and legislative leadership during the closing days of the 2020 Legislative Session to support liability protections for businesses (as it relates to COVID-19), waiver of interest penalties for delinquent property tax payments and legislation to reduce utility rates. While utility rate reduction legislation passed quickly through the process, it took a Special Session of the Legislature to get a bill passed and signed that took care of COVID-19 liability protections for (some) businesses. Unfortunately, the waiver of interest penalties for delinquent property tax payments bill was vetoed by the Governor.
Given the hurried way in which the session closed, we will have plenty to work on next year. See a summary of 2020 Wichita Chamber wins and losses here and a legislative voting scorecard in the near future as we head into election season.
Contact Andrew Wiens, Vice President of Government Relations, at 316-268-1135 to learn more about how to get involved in the Chamber’s advocacy efforts.