Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Overland Park Chamber of Commerce and NFIB at Odds Over Business Friendly Kansas Legislators
The Overland Park Chamber of Commerce bills itself as an advocate for enhancing the business environment and quality of life in Johnson County. So when they released their 2012 legislative review, which ranks Kansas legislators on the votes they have taken that reflect the OP Chambers' businesses' interests, you can expect it to be a reliable source of information voters can use to make informed decisions before casting their ballots, right?
If this is true, then why does the Kansas division of the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) seem to take such an opposing view?
According to the OP Chamber "moderate" GOP legislators like Tim Owens (94%), John Vratil (94%), Terrie Hunntington (89%), and Pat Colloton (85%) are some of the most business friendly representatives in Topeka.
If you listen to the NFIB, those same people are some of the least business friendly: Tim Owens (40%), John Vratil (50%), Terrie Hunntington (50%), and Pat Colloton (64%).
So, who is right?
You could consult the 2012 Kansas Economic Freedom Index put out by three, independent non-partisan organizations and see how these same individuals ranked. If you did you'd find they ranked as some of, and in the case of Owens, the least supportive of economic freedoms with scores like: Tim Owens (-30), John Vratil (-24), Terrie Hunntington (-9), and Pat Colloton (-10).
Instead of taking on faith the OP Chamber is really about protecting business interests, we should look at what issues the OP Chamber used to rank these "moderate" legislators so high, while four other organizations have ranked them so low.
The very first issue the OP Chamber graded on was the position legislators took on Star Bonds, the system of using tax payer dollars to fund commercial development. Owens, Vratil, Hunntington, and Colloton all voted in favor of extending the program, a position the chamber endorses.
These "moderates" legislators also sided with the chamber on a variety of other non-business friendly positions. These included voting against reducing sales taxes, against capping government spending, against the governor's tax reforms, against requiring e-verify, and against eliminating the individual income tax by 2020.
The chamber took positions on some non-business related issues as well. Again the "moderates" took the chamber's positions by voting against redistricting maps that would have avoided landing the issue in the courts, against bringing the judicial selection process inline with procedures used by the majority of other states, and for increasing the KDOT budget by $25 million.
To sum things up, the OP Chamber is endorsing Owens and Colloton because they favor higher taxes, increased spending, crony capitalism, and indentured servitude. One could hardly claim those positions are in the interest of Johnson County businesses and not be laughed out of the room.