Smoking Reform Elements (Mostly) Move On

HB 1578, as recently amended, repeals employment protections for individuals who smoke cigarettes or use other tobacco products, and passed the House Ways and Means Committee 19-4.

Committee Chairman Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville) lowered the $1.50 cigarette tax increase in the bill to $1.00 and put it in the budget (HB 1001) along with funding for cessation. Additionally, the committee voted to remove the increase in smoking age from 18 to 21 from the bill and left in place only the repeal of the special treatment for smokers in the workplace. The Indiana Chamber and the Indiana Hospital Association testified in support of that provision.

The Chamber, along with other members of the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana, has been lobbying House members for votes. The Chamber also has been working to secure a Senate sponsor for the bill.

Indiana Climbs in Small Business Policy Index

Indiana ranks seventh in the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council’s 2017 Small Business Policy Index (up from 10th in last year’s ranking).

This is the SBE Council’s 21st annual look at how public policies in the 50 states affect entrepreneurship, small businesses and the economy. The report ranks the 50 states according to 55 different policy measures, including a tax, regulatory and government spending measurements.

According to the report, the most entrepreneur-friendly states under the “Small Business Policy Index 2017” are Nevada, Texas, South Dakota, Wyoming, Florida, Washington, Indiana, Arizona, Alabama, and Ohio. In contrast, the policy environments that rank at the bottom include Rhode Island, Oregon, Iowa, Connecticut, Maine, Hawaii, Vermont, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, and California.

Many Tech, Entrepreneurship and Innovation Priorities Remain in Budget Bill

The House Republicans’ budget priorities were recently announced, as HB 1001 goes from the Governor’s initial budget priorities to more in-depth House consideration. The Chamber was glad to see several technology and innovation priorities in the bill including:

  • Makes the Venture Capital Tax Credit transferrable to people who don’t have Indiana tax liability. It also removes the 2021 expiration date of the tax credit, which helps enhance certainty
  • Several parts of the $1 billion over 10 years for innovation and entrepreneurship plan:
    • It caps the amount of the Next Level Trust Fund that can be invested in Indiana businesses to 50% of that $500 million fund. It still appoints a board of trustees to oversee the investment policy of the fund
    • Has $20 million over the two years for the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute
    • Due to budget pressure, it reduced the 21st Century Research and Development Fund by $10 million per year to $20 million per year
    • It allocates $1 million for the biennium for the Launch Indiana program

We expect many changes in HB 1001 as it advances through the legislature. The Chamber will continue to educate legislators on these important economic development priorities currently in the bill and why they need to remain.

Top 100 Best Places to Work in Indiana Named for 2017

They come from throughout the state and across 25 industries. They are the 100 honorees on the 2017 Best Places to Work in Indiana list.

In today’s announcement, the Indiana Chamber said that nearly half (49) of the winners are from the small employer category and almost a third (32) are first-time honorees or returning after at least a year’s absence.

Offers Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar: “Best Places to Work in Indiana not only recognizes our state’s outstanding employers, but also sets a high standard for other Hoosier companies by encouraging them to realize the importance of evaluating their own workplaces.

“It is clear that a positive work environment makes employees more engaged in their job and in their company, which is a win for everyone.”

The 2017 honorees represent more than 20 cities throughout the state, with multiple winners hailing from Bloomington, Carmel, Evansville, Fishers, Fort Wayne, Michigan City, New Albany, Noblesville and West Lafayette, in addition to Indianapolis. A total of 200 companies applied to the program this year.

The actual rankings for the companies will be unveiled at a May 2 awards dinner, presented in partnership with Hylant, at the Indiana Convention Center (Sagamore Ballroom) in downtown Indianapolis.

These top companies in the state were determined through employer reports and comprehensive employee surveys. The Best Companies Group, which handled the selection process, oversees similar programs in 29 other states.

Winners were selected from four categories: small companies of between 15 and 74 U.S. employees; medium companies of between 75 and 249 U.S. employees; large companies of between 250 and 999 U.S. employees; and major companies with 1,000 or more U.S. employees. Out-of-state parent companies were eligible to participate if at least 15 full-time employees are in Indiana.

The 2017 Best Place to Work in Indiana companies range in Hoosier employee count from 15 (SMARI, a consulting firm in Indianapolis) to more than 1,700 (Horseshoe Casino in Hammond).

Organizations on this year’s list that have displayed sustained excellence during the program’s 12-year history receive additional recognition.

Hall of Fame companies are those that have been named a Best Place to Work in Indiana at least two-thirds of the time in the program’s history; a total of 15 organizations on the 2017 list meet that criteria. Two companies – Edward Jones and Katz, Sapper & Miller – have made the Best Places to Work list all 12 years of the program.

In addition to the May 2 awards dinner, winners will be recognized via a special section of the Indiana Chamber’s bimonthly BizVoice® magazine and through Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick – both of which reach statewide audiences. Additional program partners are the Best Companies Group, Indiana State Council of SHRM and the Wellness Council of Indiana. The 2017 Best Places to Work in Indiana awards dinner is open to the public. Individual tickets and tables of 10 are available at www.indianachamber.com/specialevents.

All companies that participated in the 2017 Best Places to Work program receive an in-depth evaluation identifying strengths and weaknesses according to their employees. In turn, this report can be used in developing or enhancing employee retention and recruitment programs.

For more information on the Best Places to Work program, go to www.bestplacestoworkIN.com.

Additional Best Places to Work in Indiana sponsors are: Moser Consulting; Eaton Corporation; Hancock Regional Hospital; Human Capital Concepts; OurHealth; and Smithville.

Sponsorships are still available; email jwagner@indianachamber.com for more details.

The 2017 Best Places to Work in Indiana companies listed in alphabetical order, no ranking:

*Hall of Fame companies

Small Companies (15-74 U.S. employees) (49)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

Ambassador Enterprises / Fort Wayne
American Income Life Indiana / Indianapolis
Apex Benefits / Indianapolis
BLASTmedia / Fishers
Bloomerang / Indianapolis
CENTURY 21 Scheetz / Multiple Cities
CleanSlate Technology Group / Carmel
Community First Bank of Indiana / Kokomo
Conner Insurance / Indianapolis
Cripe / Indianapolis
Delivra, Inc. / Indianapolis
Design Collaborative / Fort Wayne
DK Pierce / Zionsville
E-gineering / Indianapolis
Eimagine / Indianapolis
Emarsys North America / Indianapolis
FirstPerson / Indianapolis
General Insurance Services / Michigan City
Goelzer Investment Management, Inc. / Indianapolis
Grote Automotive Inc. / Fort Wayne
Hanapin Marketing / Bloomington
* Indesign, LLC / Indianapolis
Indiana CPA Society / Indianapolis
Inovateus Solar LLC / South Bend
JA Benefits, LLC / Bedford
Jackson Systems / Indianapolis
Lakeside Wealth Management / Chesterton
Leaf Software Solutions / Carmel
Lessonly / Indianapolis
LHD Benefit Advisors / Indianapolis
Luther Consulting, LLC / Carmel
mAccounting, LLC / Indianapolis
Magnum Logistics, Inc. / Plainfield
netlogx LLC / Indianapolis
Network Solutions, Inc. / Granger
Oak Street Funding LLC / Indianapolis
OfficeWorks / Fishers
Peepers by PeeperSpecs / Michigan City
Pondurance / Indianapolis
* Schmidt Associates / Indianapolis
Sharpen / Indianapolis
SMARI / Indianapolis
T&W Corporation / Indianapolis
The Skillman Corporation / Indianapolis
University High School of Indiana / Carmel
Visit Indy / Indianapolis
VOSS Automotive / Fort Wayne
Weddle Bros. Construction Co., Inc. / Bloomington
Williams Creek / Indianapolis

Medium Companies (75-249 U.S. employees) (21)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

Allegient, LLC / Indianapolis
American College of Education / Indianapolis
Blue Horseshoe / Carmel
Elements Financial Federal Credit Union / Indianapolis
First Internet Bank / Fishers
Gregory & Appel Insurance / Indianapolis
HWC Engineering, Inc. / Indianapolis
IDSolutions / Noblesville
Indiana Oxygen Company / Indianapolis
J.C. Hart Company, Inc. / Carmel
Merchants Bank of Indiana and PR Mortgage & Investments / Carmel
Moser Consulting, Incorporated / Indianapolis
National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) / Indianapolis
PAN Performance Assessment Network / Carmel
Peoples Bank SB / Munster
Purdue Federal Credit Union / West Lafayette
Sheridan Community Schools / Sheridan
SkillStorm / Indianapolis
* Software Engineering Professionals (SEP) / Carmel
Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice of the Wabash Valley / Terre Haute
* WestPoint Financial Group / Indianapolis

Large Companies (250-999 U.S. employees) (19)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

American Structurepoint, Inc. / Indianapolis
AssuredPartners NL / New Albany
* Blue & Co., LLC / Carmel
Blue 449 / Indianapolis
* Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company / Fort Wayne
* Centier Bank / Merrillville
* Duke Realty Corporation / Indianapolis
FORUM Credit Union / Fishers
Hosparus, Inc. / New Albany
Hylant / Multiple locations
Impact Networking / Indianapolis
IPMG / West Lafayette
* Katz, Sapper & Miller, LLP / Indianapolis
Kemper CPA Group LLP / Evansville
Monarch Beverage / Indianapolis
Ontario Systems / Muncie
Sikich LLP / Indianapolis
SmartIT / Indianapolis
Traylor Bros., Inc. / Evansville

Major Companies (1,000+ U.S. employees) (11)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

Aerotek / Multiple locations
Blackboard, Inc. / Indianapolis
* Capital Group / Carmel
Colliers International / Indianapolis
* Cushman & Wakefield / Indianapolis
* Edward Jones / Statewide
Horseshoe Casino / Hammond
* Microsoft Corporation / Indianapolis
* RCI / Carmel
* Salesforce / Indianapolis
Turner Construction Company / Indianapolis

Road Funding Bill Now Travels to Senate

Chamber-supported HB 1002 was amended last week on the House Floor and then passed 61-36 largely along party lines and is now up for consideration by the Senate.

The floor amendment prohibits any new toll road within 75 miles of any other toll road, terminates the gas tax indexing after July 2024 and allows additional time for public comment before a significant road project begins. Earlier, changes were made to the bill to have all sales taxes collected on fuel costs to be designated for roads (currently it’s only a penny of the seven-cent tax) starting in 2018 versus a phase-in of the sales tax to roads over three years through 2021. This creates a potential general fund budget deficit of over $300 million a year that must be addressed, either through budget cuts or other identified revenue sources. Moreover, the Chamber will continue to advocate for a strong, user-fee based model to address Indiana’s $1.2 billion per year road funding gap.

Call to Action: Connect with your state senator via our grassroots page. Let them know today that long-term funding is important to you and your company!

The Week in Federal Affairs

  • Obama regulation on coal industry is rolled back! On Thursday, President Trump repealed the Department of the Interior’s Stream Protection Rule. The Indiana Chamber previously had signed on to a letter in support of this action. The letter stated that the Stream Protection Rule “is a one-size-fits-all federal mandate that interferes with the longstanding federal-state balance in overseeing mining operations. It will place massive amounts of coal reserves – and the affordable energy they provide – off limits.” Congressman Larry Bucshon (IN-08) also issued a statement at this welcome news.
  • On Thursday, Senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young introduced fellow Hoosier Seema Verma to the Senate Finance Committee immediately before the hearing on her experience to become administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
  • Young met with the chief of naval operations, Admiral John Richardson, to discuss the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Crane and its critical support for our warfighters and national defense. During the meeting, Young urged Admiral Richardson to ensure that NSWC Crane is exempt from the hiring freeze so that it can continue its important work. Young’s meeting this week with Admiral Richardson follows his letter to Secretary of Defense Mattis on January 27.
  • Previously, Sen. Joe Donnelly met with Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer on the same subject.
  • Young was also among a group of legislators that met last Friday in Washington D.C. with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Young says the gathering involved a lot of discussion on global security and trade agreements, but his time with the prime minister was focused on economic issues. Read the Inside Indiana Business story, which also includes audio from Young.
  • Congressman Todd Rokita (IN-04) on Thursday re-introduced an important piece of legislation to protect the rights of workers. The Rewarding Achievement and Incentivizing Successful Employees (RAISE) Act amends the National Labor Relations Act to allow employers to give merit-based bonuses, raises or other increases to an individual employee above the level set by the employee’s union contract. Per Rokita, a union contract should not be the ceiling on how much a good employee can earn and the RAISE Act would provide every worker with a chance to earn a bonus.
  • On Wednesday, the CEO of Aetna, one of the nation’s largest insurers echoed growing concerns that the Affordable Care Act is in a death spiral. According to a Politico report, Aetna’s CEO argued that, “More insurers will pull out of the government-run marketplaces in the coming weeks and many areas will have no insurers to provide Affordable Care Act coverage in 2018.” He went on to say, “It’s not going to get any better; it’s getting worse.”
  • On a related note, Rep. Bucshon recently introduced legislation to help stabilize the insurance markets by giving states the flexibility to meet the needs of their unique patient populations.
  • Congresswoman Susan Brooks (IN-05) introduced a measure this week to help veterans get the most from the GI Bill.
  • A honor for Rep. Pete Visclosky (IN-01): He recently received the U.S. Army’s Distinguished Civilian Service Award from Acting Secretary of the Army Robert Speer.

Purdue’s Income Share Agreement Program Takes On Philanthropic Component

We covered Purdue’s new income share agreement program, a measure to help students lessen the debt they incur, in BizVoice last year.

Purdue recently announced its “Back a Boiler” program has added a philanthropic aspect by allowing donors to contribute as well. A release from the school has more:

Beginning this fall, Purdue students who apply to take part in Back a Boiler – designed to offer students and their families an alternative financing option – may also apply for available funding support from the new Pave the Way program.

Addressing Purdue alumni and friends at a dinner in Naples, Florida, President Mitch Daniels recognized the support of Bob and Patti Truitt, Purdue alumni who approached the university about expanding Back a Boiler so that donors could participate, in addition to investors.

“Our hope is that we can not only help students finance their education, but also help teach the importance of charitable giving, including the joy and importance of giving back to Purdue,” said Bob Truitt, a 1962 graduate of Purdue’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “Patti and I are honored to make the initial commitment to Pave the Way.”

Back a Boiler participants receive education funding in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of their post-graduation income over a set number of months. In addition to signing a Back a Boiler contract, Pave the Way participants are asked to make a voluntary pledge. After graduation, students fulfill their Back a Boiler commitment and are encouraged to donate to Purdue through charitable giving, creating an evergreen Pave the Way fund to benefit future students.

“It’s what we like to call a virtuous cycle,” said Amy Noah, vice president for development, Purdue Research Foundation. “We’re grateful to Bob and Patti for establishing an ongoing legacy of philanthropy, and we’re hopeful that our generous alumni and friends will be interested in supporting future generations of Boilermakers through this new way of giving to Purdue.”

To learn more, visit purdue.edu/evertrue/pavetheway.

Better Data for Indiana Bill Advances

The Indiana Chamber supports HB 1470 (on management of government data), authored by Rep. David Ober.

During the second hearing last week, language was added to reframe how the MPH will be built out. Included is how data can be accessed that could make state government and agencies more transparent, how legislative services could use information from MPH for data-driven policy and various operational aspects of the MPH for information input and output. The Chamber will continue to work with Rep. Ober and the administration to ensure the MPH is as useful as possible for the executive and legislative branches of government, as well as offers strong external uses for stakeholders outside of government.

Heard by the Government and Regulatory Reform Committee; amended and passed 8-0, and now headed to the full House.

Bill to Change Net Metering for Those Investing in Wind and Solar Energy

The Senate Utilities Committee heard a full day of testimony on SB 309 on February 9 from both sides. No vote was taken and the bill will be heard again on February 16.

Most of the committee testimony was focused on net metering. Senator Hershman offered an amendment on the floor and Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) indicated he will be offering additional amendments to be considered at the next hearing. The Indiana Chamber gave testimony in support of the bill, including stating: the expectations for energy needs are diverse; our concerns about net metering if we do not make a step forward; the potential for rising costs through continued litigation; and the concern of numerous parties intervening in cases which will further slow down the process and increase costs to both utilities and ratepayers.

Overall, we testified the current bill is a step in the right direction and can be used as a building block going forward.

This bill is truly a compromise of long-standing issues that industrial users and businesses, as well as residential ratepayers, have had with Indiana’s investor-owned utilities. It will not fix all of the concerns our members expressed, but is a first step in helping businesses control costs. It has elements of competitive procurement, net metering, distributive generation and transparency of utility rates. It will serve as a building block of the Chamber’s efforts to maintain Indiana’s historical competitive edge, given the increase in energy costs over the past decade. With that said, we will need to consider all of the amendments before ultimately taking a final position on the bill.

Indiana Hoops Star Keynotes Indiana INTERNnet IMPACT Awards

Indiana INTERNnet held its annual IMPACT Awards last Wednesday, which featured a record number of award nominees. The nearly 400 attendees were also privy to a rousing speech from recently retired Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings.

Inside INdiana Business has the list of winners and nominees.

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