Chamber plot: State organization puts focus on counterproductive efforts

6/27/2014

It's no wonder chambers of commerce throughout Kansas have distanced themselves from the state chamber.

Count the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce among those choosing not to be affiliated with the Kansas Chamber. The local chamber and others understandably don't see their own mission — one of helping local businesses grow and flourish — aligning with a Kansas Chamber that claims to be a business advocate, but instead sides with operations interested in hindering certain economic development initiatives as a way to feather their own nest.

For example, as part of their pursuit of "free market" philosophies, the Kansas Chamber and Koch brothers — giants in the oil-and-gas industry — are working together to pull the plug on renewable energy standards they say interfere with the free market in giving wind energy an unfair advantage (even though Koch Industries has benefited from energy-related subsidies and other government-related programs, Obamacare included.)

Much to their chagrin, an impressive stand in the Kansas House this past session derailed their attempt at dismantling a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in place to encourage wind and other renewable energy.

A mix of renewable energy pursuits has been welcome in southwest Kansas. Examples of wind energy-related progress in particular range from the local Transportation Partners and Logistics, LLC — an off-loading and distribution site for wind-generating components — to ongoing wind farm development.

But instead of celebrating the new jobs and economic growth, the Kansas Chamber wants to sideline anyone who would support as much — including Rep. Russ Jennings, R-Lakin, who was instrumental in the House blocking attempts to undo the RPS.

As a result, look for attack ads twisting the facts on renewable energy and other issues in an attempt to malign Jennings, who's seeking re-election, and anyone else perceived as a roadblock to the Koch-driven agenda.

The Kansas Chamber-Koch faction, which in 2012 successfully targeted numerous productive state senators who dared to challenge their extremism, will again prove it's not on a "pro-business" mission, but rather one of misleading voters and bullying legislators in hopes of forwarding its own self-serving interests.

Voters should remember as much when they cast ballots in the Aug. 5 GOP primary.

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