An Open Letter to Kansas Businesses:
Partnering for Success at the Statehouse
I'm honored to be the new President & CEO of the Kansas Chamber. I've spent the last 28 years working closely with the Kansas Chamber as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, the last 4 years as Speaker of the House. During that time I admired the Chamber's leadership on business issues and shared the same goals and vision as the Kansas Chamber with regard to striving to improve the economic climate for Kansas citizens and businesses and promoting free enterprise and limited government intrusion. I'm very bullish on the future of our great State and the prospect of a pro-business and pro-jobs focus in the Kansas Statehouse.
Leveraging Our Attributes
Kansas has a lot going for it and we can leverage these attributes into a more powerful state economic engine. With some of the best schools in America, a well-prepared workforce, an excellent transportation system, an improved legal climate, a positive regulatory environment, and available natural resources, Kansas is well positioned to move to the next level.
Highlights of our recent advocacy to lower business costs:
- Exempted from income tax non-wage income for Subchapter S Corporations, Limited Liability Companies and Sole Proprietorships.
- Reduced individual income taxes from a top rate of 6.45% to 4.9% and the bottom rate, which everyone pays on the first $30,000 of income, from 3.5% to 3%.
- Passage of legislation overturning the KS Supreme Court Gaumer decision, which exposed retail sellers of used products to liability for injuries or damages.
- Passed legislation which states no private right of action shall exist unless specifically created in statute. Requiring the legislature to be explicit about its intent to create a new cause of action will save on litigation costs where ambiguity in the law exists.
- Prevented passage of harmful immigration reform.
- Blocked passage of employment mandate legislation requiring companies awarded state contracts employ at least 70% of Kansas workers on that project.
- Stopped legislation making it a civil penalty up to $10,000 for any employer who used a job applicant’s unemployment status or gap in employment history in their determination for hiring.
Past advocacy wins are:
- No increases in business taxes in 2011 while balancing a difficult budget.
- Kansas became the only state in the nation to allow expensing of capital investments in 2011, something the Chamber has advocated for several years.
- Several tools were created or enhanced to drive economic development within the state.
- Major worker’s compensation reform was passed for the first time in over 18 years in 2011, and legislation was passed to repay the unemployment insurance federal loan and get employers back to their true experience rating.
- Fighting off a lengthy list of tax increases in prior session.
- Passing the Promoting Employment Across Kansas Act (PEAK).
- Phasing down the corporate income tax rate from 7.35 to 7.0% over three years.
- Phasing out the franchise tax over three years.
Articulating a Pro-Business Message at the Statehouse
The Kansas Chamber listens closely to our members who employ thousands of Kansans – companies of all sizes ranging from the largest to, importantly, many of the smallest in the state. The Chamber compares our state with other progressive states, benchmarking the performance of the Kansas economy.
The Kansas Chamber’s lobbying force is skilled and effective in articulating the employer message in the corridors and committee rooms at the Capitol. Further increasing our influence, the Chamber effectively partners with many groups that share our objective of lowering the costs of doing business in Kansas. The Kansas Chamber develops data to drive an aggressive pro-business legislative agenda. We take a progressive business message to the decision-makers in the statehouse. Further, we back up our pro-business positions with electoral activism.
The Force for Business
The Kansas Chamber is clearly the force for business in Topeka. The Board of Directors and I encourage every employer in Kansas to join our statewide business organization. Help us improve the Kansas economy while we protect our system of free enterprise.
United for Business -
Mike O'Neal President & CEO Kansas Chamber of Commerce