2017 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

See legislative priorities from our partners:
City of Lawrence
Douglas County
University of Kansas
Lawrence Public Schools

The Chamber’s 2017 Legislative Priorities are:

Economic Development Incentives

Kansas must have available a competitive business incentive package that is relevant, flexible and simple to utilize. It is important that the economic development toolbox remain vibrant to assist in the expansion and recruitment of capital investment and quality jobs. The Chamber strongly encourages state and local lawmakers to support, protect and enhance the following economic development and workforce development programs that are critical tools used to stimulate employment and leverage private investment:

  • High Performance Incentive Program (HPIP)
  • Providing Employment Across Kansas program (PEAK)
  • Job Creation Fund
  • Utility Sales Tax Exemptions
  • Commercial and Industrial Property Tax Exemptions
  • Training Funds – Kansas Industrial Training (KIT) & Kansas Industrial Retraining (KIR)
  • Research Tax Credits
  • Work Opportunity Tax Credits
  • Day Care Facilities Tax Credits
  • International Trade Incentives
  • Authorization for local property tax abatements

Compensation

The Chamber believes that wages and benefits should be determined by the employee’s skills and abilities, competitive practices, and the employers’ ability to compete in a global marketplace. Compensation based on regulation rather than the free market reduces the ability of employers to stimulate improved performance through wage increases.

Housing

Housing is a key component in attracting and retaining industry and enhancing school enrollments. Utilizing existing state and federal housing programs is only part of the solution. The Chamber supports City and County efforts to work locally with developers and property owners interested in providing affordable homes for the low to middle income sector.

Education

The Chamber supports:

  • The development of a new K-12 funding formula which supports student achievement, is economically sustainable, politically sustainable, and meets the standards set forth by the Kansas Supreme Court. The formula must contain mechanisms that account for the increasing costs schools face, increasing enrollments, as well as the increasing demands and expectations placed upon public education by our society.
  • Measures to improve workforce development, including enhanced career and technical education opportunities for both high school students and adult learners to produce the skilled workers needed in the areas of manufacturing, construction, HVAC, and other business/industry sectors such as the regional healthcare industry.
  • The Board of Regents’ $170 million funding request to the Bureau of Indian Education to replace and renovate facilities and buildings at Haskell Indian Nations University. There are 41 buildings on the 320-acre Haskell campus which is designated as a National Historic Landmark. Four buildings are more than 100 years old, and 21 buildings are 50 to 99 years old.
  • Streamlining federal procurement rules to enable Haskell Indian Nations University to purchase goods and services in a timely manner, which allows for consideration of local vendors.
  • Restoration of the full $30.6 million cut from higher education funding in 2016 so that funding amounts appropriated for the next two years will reflect pre-allotment levels.
  • The indefinite continuation of the exemption for concealed carry on university campuses. At a minimum, university regents and CEO’s should be given the ability to craft policies related to concealed carry on a campus by campus basis.

Research & Development and the Biosciences

The Chamber supports:

  • Increased federal research investments across funding agencies including the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, and Homeland Security.
  • Legislation and appropriate funding to advance and promote the Animal Health Corridor.
  • Legislation to fund One Health research, which recognizes the link between human and animal health.
  • Continued investment in the expansion of the Bioscience & Technology Business Center, located on the KU campus.

 Taxation

The Chamber supports pro-business tax policies that maximize the creation and retention of jobs and maximize the return on investment to the state and local community while allowing businesses to grow, create jobs, attract investment capital and compete at the state, national and global level.

The Chamber supports:

  • A fair and balanced revenue stream consisting of a three-legged tax base: income tax, sales tax, and property tax.
  • Congressional action to collect mandatory sales taxes on all goods – purchased locally or through the Internet. The Kansas Legislature should urge Congressional action on this key portion of tax fairness.
  • The intent of the 2006 Kansas Legislature which overwhelmingly approved legislation exempting business machinery and equipment from personal property tax.
  • Legislation to authorize the use, sale, or refund of unused earned business tax credits.

The Chamber opposes:

  • Any constitutional or statutory amendment restricting the principles of Home Rule, or the undermining of long-standing local control.
  • Any change in tax law that would apply a sales tax on professional services, thereby negatively impacting our competitiveness with neighboring states.
  • Increasing property taxes or shifting the tax burden to local jurisdictions to compensate for the gradual elimination of the state income tax.

 Governance

The cornerstone of municipal government and public education is the belief that governance should be as close to the people as possible.

The Chamber supports:

  • The preservation of local control whereby locally elected officials are accountable for the taxing, funding, regulation and provision of services to meet the needs of the communities they serve.
  • Efforts to repeal K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 79-2925b, commonly referred to as the “tax lid”.

The Chamber opposes:

  • State and/or local spending caps. Constitutional or statutory spending caps are rigid controls which remove accountability from elected officials, create an inflexible structure to deal with the future, stymie infrastructure improvements, and can have unforeseen consequences. Also, it may increase spending by creating an incentive to spend up to the level of the cap if the spending authority continues to grow each year.
  • Legislation creating restrictions on a governing body’s ability to respond to the needs of its electorate. Local and state officials can make responsible spending decisions within the parameters of current law.

Alcohol and Gasoline Taxes

The Chamber opposes:

  • Any efforts to divert or diminish the distribution of local alcohol fund dollars. The City of Lawrence and a number of not-for-profit Lawrence organizations rely on funding from the City’s Special Alcohol Fund for their programs.
  • Any efforts to divert or diminish the distribution of the State Gasoline Tax. This important revenue-sharing program is distributed to municipalities based on population. The City of Lawrence relies heavily on these funds to pay for street and highway projects. It is imperative the City maintains this funding in order to continue street maintenance activities and assist with the salaries of the employees who assist with these projects.

Health Care

The Chamber supports:

  • A common sense compromise on the expansion of Medicaid to ensure the ongoing viability of health care providers who serve the uninsured and underinsured. If Kansas does not expand Medicaid, more than $2.2 billion in federal matching funds will be lost between 2016 and 2020, stifling economic and employment growth. Expansion of Medicaid not only will help more people get access to affordable health care, but will also serve as an engine of economic development and job creation.
  • The creation of regional Crisis Stabilization Units to help provide treatment for those individuals who need less acute care for shorter lengths of stay than the use of State psychiatric hospitals. Reductions in State psychiatric inpatient budgets, coupled with funding reductions in Mental Health Reform dollars, have resulted in our State hospital system reaching a breaking point.
  • Funding for the safety net for individuals with severe mental illness must be fully restored as must adequate funding for state inpatient mental hospitals to return capacity to levels prior to the moratorium on admissions imposed on June 21, 2015.
  • The indefinite continuation of the exemption for concealed carry in hospitals and health-care facilities.

Transportation and Infrastructure

The Chamber strongly encourages the Legislature to plan for future infrastructure needs, including transportation, water, sewer, technology and others.

The Chamber supports:

  • The preservation of long-term transportation programs and funding at the federal, state, and local levels. It is essential that future state transportation programs retain, at a minimum, the level of funding in the 2010 legislation, and that funds appropriated for transportation are not used for unrelated needs.
  • The full implementation of T-WORKS, Kansas’ 10-year Comprehensive Transportation Plan.
  • The protection of existing transportation funding sources (sales tax, fuel tax, bonding, vehicle registration fees, etc.).
  • Maintenance of state transportation aid to local governments for local transportation infrastructure needs.

The Chamber opposes:

  • The diversion of funds from the Kansas Highway Fund.

Immigration

The Chamber understands that immigration reform is needed to assure that residents of Kansas and the United States legally work and reside in our communities.

The Chamber supports:

  • A balanced immigration policy that is created, funded, and enforced at the federal level.
  • The development of immigration policies that allow immigrants to obtain legal status more quickly and with less complexity.

The Chamber opposes:

  • Any legislation that increases penalties for employers who follow the law, yet unknowingly hire illegal workers.

Renewable Energy

The Chamber supports:

  • Public and private incentives to encourage investment in renewable energy resources.
  • The Renewable Energy Standard goal of having a 20% renewable portfolio for regulated utilities by 2020.
  • Additional efforts to pursue manufacturing facilities for wind, biomass, solar, and other energy-related industries in Kansas.

 

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