Q&A with James Davis, Vice Chair of Government Relations

James Davis is currently serving as the Chamber’s Vice Chair of Government Relations. He is Vice-President Bankcard Manager with CoreFirst Bank & Trust. James has been an active Chamber member for years and served as Chairman of the Board of Directors in 2011. In his role as Vice Chair of Government Relations, James works closely with Curtis Sneden to stay abreast of developments at the Statehouse and at other levels of government as they work to advance the Chamber’s legislative priorities. What has been going on with the legislature this year? The story since the legislature came to town in January has been the budget. Lawmakers were told at the… Read More

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April 11, 2017 Legislative Update

The legislature already took one good hard swing at tax reform back in February. That tax package from the House was vetoed in one of the most dramatic scenes of the year. Another dramatic scene played out last Thursday in the Senate. A New Approach The Senate Assessment and Taxation Committee sent a new approach to the Senate floor last Thursday. It was a “Flat tax” under which every Kansan, regardless of how much money they earned, would pay income tax at the same 4.6% rate. In an effort to soften the blow this approach would have on low-income taxpayers who currently pay at a rate of 2.7%, the Senate… Read More

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TopCity Interns Program Begins Development

Forge, the Topeka and Shawnee County young professional’s organization, along with several other organizations is thrilled to forge ahead with their first ever Summer Internship Program. The program gathers over 200 interns from local Topeka and Shawnee County businesses, providing presenting them with the best internship experience possible while investing in their future as professionals. Their purpose is to provide a platform of connections for new up-and-coming young professionals. The ultimate goal is to impart a lasting impression of Topeka and Shawnee County on summer interns, maximizing attraction and retention of young professionals to the community. Forge is an organization that amplifies Topeka and Shawnee County’s ability to recruit, retain… Read More

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April 4, 2017 Legislative Update

Medicaid Expansion Fails Last year at this time, most legislative observers would have told you that passing a Medicaid Expansion bill in both the House and the Senate was about as likely as Gonzaga playing for a national title. And yet that is exactly what has happened. The bill called Bridge to a Healthy Kansas was vetoed by the Governor but on Monday, following a bruising weekend of phone calls, e-mails and bare-knuckled lobbying, the House debated whether to override his veto. Those not inclined to favor Medicaid Expansion have expressed deep concerns over the fiscal ramifications of expanding an entitlement program in the midst of one the most persistent… Read More

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Status of Women in Kansas

March is Women’s History Month. To call attention the status of women, GO Topeka hosted its Third Annual Woman’s Forum (Part I) at the Capital Plaza. Wendy Doyle, president of the Women’s Foundation and coordinator the Topeka Women’s Project, kicked off the 2017 Women’s Forum by sharing results from a study about women throughout the state of Kansas. Doyle provided insight from a research study commissioned by the Women’s Foundation, conducted by the University of Kansas, under five categories: Education Women have higher educational attainment than men across the U.S., and women in Kansas have higher educational attainment than in Missouri. Female educational attainment in Kansas City is roughly in… Read More

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March 28, 2017 Legislative Update

Spending Bill As they head for the first adjournment on April 7, lawmakers are working to bring a number of important issues to a head, including legislation to pay the state’s bills through June 30. House and Senate negotiators moved closer last week to finalizing the spending bill for the remainder of this fiscal year but they are still ironing out differences. They will find most of the $280 million by borrowing against the state’s so-called idle funds account and by delaying payments to KPERS. That latter point seems to be where the hitch lies. The Senate is also working on a budget bill for the following two fiscal years.… Read More

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March 21, 2017 Legislative Update

The Kansas Senate beat back their leader’s effort to cut the spending, including spending for public schools, on their way to passing legislation to pay the state’s bills through June 30. The spending package which passed the Senate resembles the bill the House passed in mid-February. They both find the roughly $280 million needed to close the budget by delaying payments to KPERS and borrowing against the state’s unused funds. Senate President Susan Wagle attempted to introduce a two percent across the board budget cut into the bill but only six of her colleagues supported that. Now the House and Senate will conference and send a final spending bill to… Read More

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Benefits of Chamber Membership

To be honest, there are tens to hundreds of reasons to join the Chamber and each business has its own personal ones that are important. This blog post focuses on 3 reasons; one is the top reason, based on our member’s feedback, and the other two are less well-known reasons to join. Networking By far, networking is the number one reason that businesses join the Chamber. We all understand the value of communicating with one another, learning about what is going on in our community and working together. Another benefit of networking is partnerships. By participating in Chamber activities, you meet businesses that you may not normally run into, as… Read More

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March 14, 2017 Legislative Update

Nobody said it was going to be pretty. Last week, the Senate debated, dismembered and killed the governor’s tax plan. In the process, they sent their clearest message yet that they intend to pass lasting tax and budget reforms. The governor’s plan, it will be recalled, entailed a $1 per pack cigarette tax hike, doubling the tax on liquor, taxing passive income including rents and royalties, increasing the annual reporting fee for nonprofits and LLCs and freezing the bottom income tax rate at 2.7% (it was scheduled to drop to 2.6% this year). The plan would have raised about $180 million in the fiscal year, which starts on July 1,… Read More

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February 28, 2017 Legislative Update

Tax Package Fails Last week was a roller coaster ride in the legislature. Both the House and Senate had passed a significant tax reform package which would have raised the rate at which individuals pay taxes and eliminated the so-called LLC exemption, among other things. The speed with which the package moved through both sides of the Statehouse, as well as, the paucity of debate took many by surprise. By Tuesday, the bill was on the Governor’s desk and he’d made it clear he disapproved of the legislature’s attempt to dismantle his signature 2012 tax plan. All eyes in the Statehouse and elsewhere waited and wondered whether he would veto… Read More

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