Kansas State Legislative Director Ty Dragoo (Local 1503, Marysville, Kan.) accepted an invitation from the federal Department of Transportation to introduce DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg and U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids at a Jan. 28 event discussing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) in Kansas City.
“It’s no accident when federal agencies call on our state directors to be at the table when these events happen,” said Dragoo, who has been Kansas SLD since January 2010. “Our legislative team is second to none in D.C. National Legislative Director Greg Hynes and Alt. National Legislative Director Jared Cassity are making great connections and advancing our cause.
“It’s proof when we get these calls. SMART-TD is a key stakeholder in D.C. and throughout the country.”
Accompanied by Kansas Assistant State Legislative Director Chad Henton (Local 506, Herington, Kan.) and Kansas SLB Secretary & Treasurer Dan Bonawitz (Local 1409, Kansas City, Kan.), Secretary Buttigieg, Rep. Davids and SLD Dragoo took part in a roundtable discussion at the University of Kansas Medical Center campus with local elected officials, labor leaders and community members.
“The bipartisan infrastructure law is innovative legislation that will bring thousands of jobs to the state of Kansas,” Dragoo said in his introduction of DOT Secretary Buttigieg and Rep. Davids. “My organization is uniquely qualified to reap its benefits because we are the men and women that physically transport the products created by our great unions and building trades. We are moving from the Great Resignation to the Great Innovation. From SMART members building new HVAC systems for our nation’s schools and hospitals to SMART members transporting the much-needed resources to build and innovate this country. We get it done!
“Representative Davids was there when this much-needed legislation was drafted, and she voted to pass it into law. I am proud of both her and Secretary Buttigieg’s work to highlight the new law’s benefits.”
The event also spotlighted how, when implemented, the IIJA will create local jobs and spur economic growth across the third district of Kansas that Davids represents, including in communities that are traditionally overlooked, Dragoo said.
Buttigieg described the funds coming to invest in the nation’s infrastructure as being of historic levels and said that good-paying union jobs would be created in the state of Kansas and nationwide because of the bipartisan legislation signed into law by President Joe Biden last year.
“We are preparing to deploy historic levels of funding to help modernize transportation across the country thanks to this law,” he said. “This law is going to do so much in every part of the United States, and certainly here. It’s going to help us build more electric buses, to help kids get to school without being exposed to toxic fumes. It’s going to help us expand public transit to make commutes faster and traffic lighter.”
A portion of the day’s events took place during an outdoor press conference at the Rock Island and Cesar Chavez bridges, and Secretary Buttigieg, Rep. Davids and the SMART-TD contingent were joined by Kansas DOT Secretary Julie Lorenz and Kansas City, Kan., Mayor Tyrone Garner. The event highlighted the bridges for their complementary purposes as infrastructure and economic projects in Davids’ district:
Among the attendees were local labor and business community leaders, elected officials and transportation authorities. Dragoo’s family — Jessica, Kennedy, Quinn, Savannah and Jax — also attended some of the day’s activities.
“This was an amazing opportunity and one that our members in Kansas can be proud of,” Dragoo said.