Retiring House Speaker To Lead Kansas Chamber

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The retiring Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives is the new leader of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber announced Wednesday that it's hired Mike O'Neal as its new President and CEO. O'Neal served 28 years in the Kansas House, the past four as Speaker. He's an attorney from Hutchinson.

Kent Beisner, who has served as CEO the past three years, will become Chief Operating Officer.

"The Chamber is excited that someone of O'Neal's business and leadership experience became available and was willing to take on the task of helping the Kansas Chamber build on the strong and successful pro-business agenda the Kansas Chamber has advanced," said Dave Murfin, Chairman of the Chamber's Board of Directors.

"The Kansas Chamber is proud of the success we have accomplished the past several years," Beisner said. "We have a terrific and dedicated staff that works diligently for the business community."

A news release from the Chamber also quoted Gov. Sam Brownback as saying, "O'Neal is a great Kansan who will do a fabulous job as the Kansas Chamber President."

O'Neal will assume his duties with the Chamber in October. He will be part of the Chamber lobbying team's efforts when the Legislature reconvenes in January.

"This opportunity to work with the Kansas Chamber is perfect for me," O'Neal said. "I have always admired the work of the Kansas Chamber and have tremendous respect for its Board and staff. The opportunity to join this strong and effective organization and continue working on pro-business initiatives with the Administration, with my former legislative colleagues and new legislative members is exciting and I look forward to the challenge."

The Chamber has come under fire in recent years from critics who say it is working to advance the agenda of conservative Republicans, rather than doing what's objectively best for business. O'Neal was among conservative leaders in the Legislature.


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