Ellis, Lawrance Bring Chamber Advocacy Team to Full Strength

lawrence ellisThe many programs and benefits of Indiana Chamber membership include the state’s deepest and most effective group of issue experts. That team welcomes two talented additions.

Mark Lawrance returns to the Chamber in the new position of vice president of engagement and innovation policy. That includes advocacy work in the areas of technology, economic development and infrastructure.

Greg Ellis begins his work May 31 as vice president of energy and environmental policy. His variety of public and private sector experiences, including serving as an administrative law judge for the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission since 2010, will prove valuable in his work on behalf of Chamber members.

Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar leads an experienced lobbying team that also includes: Caryl Auslander, education, workforce development and federal relations; Mike Ripley, health care policy and employment law; and Bill Waltz, taxation, public finance and local government reform.

“The hard work that takes place in the summer and fall – Chamber policy meetings, interim legislative panels, individual meetings with lawmakers and more – leads to effective General Assembly sessions,” Brinegar says. “Chamber members will be well represented by these issue experts and the support team we have around them.”

Secretary of State Launches INBiz Portal to Help Hoosier Businesses

inbizGov. Mike Pence and Secretary of State Connie Lawson recently announced the launch of INBiz, a web portal for Indiana businesses. The following is a release from Sec. Lawson:

INBiz is aimed at streamlining the steps a business takes when registering with the state, including registration, filing, reporting, and making payments. This first phase of the project includes business services within the Secretary of State’s office, and will include services from the Department of Revenue and Department of Workforce Development later this year. As the portal continues to grow, INBiz will become the single point of contact for businesses as they do business with the state.

“From day one of this administration, we have been focused on cultivating a more business-friendly environment that encourages investment and opportunity for all Hoosiers,” says Gov. Pence. “We’ve cut taxes and red tape, invested in our classrooms, our workforce and the infrastructure that makes Indiana the Crossroads of America. In just the last three years our state has added 130,000 new jobs, and we set a record for private sector employment. With the launch of INBiz, we’ll be able to build on this momentum, increase efficiencies and make it easier for businesses to start up, operate and grow within the state of Indiana, saving owners time and money that can be reinvested into growing and operating their companies.”

INBiz furthers Indiana’s position as one of the nation’s most pro-business environments. The site modernizes the current business registration system and enables businesses to open their doors faster. INBiz also utilizes state-of-the-art security features so businesses can feel safe about inputting business information into the system. Ten years ago, Indiana became a leader in business services when it began offering an online filing system.

“INBiz will be the most comprehensive one-stop resource in the nation,” said Secretary Lawson. “It will streamline and expedite the registration and compliance process, reducing the cost of doing business with the state. Today’s launch is just the beginning, and we will continue to add as many services as business owners demand. I am very thankful for the Governor’s collaborative approach on this project. Partnerships like this benefit all Hoosier businesses. INBiz is another significant step in making Indiana a state that works.”

INBiz is available at INBiz.in.gov.

The $9.1 million in funding for the initiative was included in the most recent biennial budget. In March 2014, Governor Pence signed into law House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1198, which mandated executive agency participation in the Business One Stop (now INBiz) online portal.

M.J. Schuetz Insurance Services: Maximizing Chamber Investment Through Compliance Resources

Wolcott_Vickie“I trust them.”

That’s why Vickie Wolcott relies on a variety of Chamber resources to help keep M. J. Schuetz Insurance Services, an Indiana Chamber member since 1994, in compliance with state and federal laws.

She began working at the Indianapolis firm, which specializes primarily in commercial insurance, 37 years ago as a receptionist. Today, she’s one of the owners and serves as president.

Purchasing mandatory state and laminated poster sets has become a tradition.

“Whenever they come out, I make sure I order them immediately because I really trust them,” Wolcott declares.

The Chamber’s Indiana Employment Forms publication is another favorite.

“We have our agency policies and things like that in place, but it’s always nice to have them (forms) on hand as a backup and an extra resource,” Wolcott asserts. “I look at those to make sure we’re in compliance with everything. They make it very easy for me.”

She cites one more valuable tool: free, confidential helplines.

Wolcott reveals, “It’s always (provided) good feedback for me and been a trusted resource.”

National Conference on Career Pathways Coming to Indy

pathway confPostsecondary Pathways has been a multi-year series of regional events connecting educators and businesses throughout the state. BizVoice magazine featured a 2015 stop in Batesville and a March-April 2016 update on recent programs.

The topic is also prominent at the national level, with the National Career Pathways Network (NCPN) bringing its annual conference to Indianapolis and the JW Marriott in October. NCPN assists educators and employers involved in the advancement of career pathways, career and technical education, and related education reform initiatives.

The conference takes place October 5-7. Pre-conference workshops, nationally-known keynote speakers and more than 130 breakout sessions are featured. More than 1,200 participants are expected.

 

 

Indiana Chamber Assesses Impact of State’s Early UI Loan Payoff

Kevin 51916 UI Loan Payoff Quote

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar assesses the impact of the early payoff of the state’s federal unemployment insurance (UI) trust fund loan which occurred in November 2015:

“Employers now have $327 million in additional funds available for other workplace priorities. They can further invest in their organizations and employees, as well as add more jobs, instead of sending that money to Washington as an ongoing penalty for the loan being in place.

“This early payoff, strongly supported by the Indiana Chamber, was a common sense step taken by lawmakers and Gov. Pence to help employers and their employees. It has had among the greatest impacts of any public policy over the last year on the business community.”

Background
The early payoff was accomplished by temporarily borrowing from Indiana’s reserve funds. The Governor announced today that the funds have now been paid back by employers through their regular state UI payments.

Long-Awaited Overtime Rule is Issued; Opponents Weigh In

If you’re in or around the world of HR, you’ve been awaiting the details of the new overtime rule within the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) — effective Dec. 1. This was done at the behest of President Obama, and executed by the Secretary of Labor. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the new rule will:

  • Raise the salary threshold indicating eligibility from $455/week to $913 ($47,476 per year), ensuring protections to 4.2 million workers
  • Automatically update the salary threshold every three years, based on wage growth over time, increasing predictability
  • Strengthen overtime protections for salaried workers already entitled to overtime
  • Provide greater clarity for workers and employers

Here’s a video of Secretary Tom Perez explaining and advocating for the new rule:

Let it be known that not all are so enthusiastic, however. Opponents – a list that includes us at the Indiana Chamber, the U.S. Chamber, Society for Human Resource Management, many legislators and policy institutes  assert the new rule is unreasonable for several reasons, including the fact that some employees will lose their coveted professional exempt status.

UPDATE: Here’s more information from the U.S. Chamber on why this measure is so onerous. 

Clinton vs. Trump? A Taxing Decision in November

Now that the election process is to the point where the presidential nominees of the two major parties appear clear, it’s a good time to start considering their various tax plans. Although things can change, details will have to be determined and Congress will have its say, below are some of the current proposals from the two presumptive candidates.

Individual Income Tax
Donald Trump proposes just four brackets; Hillary Clinton proposes eight brackets.

trump clinton tax

Deductions
Clinton caps itemized deductions at 28% of the deduction. Trump phases out all deductions except for the charitable deduction and the mortgage interest deduction.

The Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
Clinton creates a new minimum 30% rate on individuals earning over $1 million, while Trump eliminates the AMT.

Corporate Income Tax
Trump lowers the top corporate rate to 15%; Clinton has no specific proposal at this time.

Estate Tax
Clinton increases the top estate tax rate to 45% and lowers the estate tax exclusion to $3.5 million. Trump eliminates the estate tax.

Effect of Plans on the Deficit
And as a final note, you may also want to consider how these proposals will likely impact our federal deficit. Trump’s plan is projected to increase the deficit by $9.5 trillion over the next 10 years; Clinton’s is estimated to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over that same period of time.

Exploring a ‘Best’-Kept Secret

mobi

This is going to be good!

Like a kid in a candy store, my eyes widened as I gazed around the spacious surroundings at MOBI, an Indianapolis-based provider of software and services that helps businesses manage mobility.

Maybe it was the infectious energy enveloping employees as they chuckled, collaborated and consumed – in moderation – an adult beverage, courtesy of Frank the Tank (MOBI’s kegerator). Perhaps it was the colorful décor that so aptly captured the vibrant personality of its people. Something was special about MOBI.

Make yourself at home at MOBI with this BizVoice® magazine story about its honor as one of the 2016 Best Places to Work in Indiana.

Online Sales Tax Collection Inching Closer?

19145168It’s been nearly 25 years since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Quill case regarding online sales – that states could not require a company that has no physical presence in their state to collect the state’s sales tax when they sell their goods to a resident of that state through the mail or via the Internet.

The Court held that requiring the collection of sales tax, without congressional authorization, constitutes interference with interstate commerce in violation of the U.S. Constitution. So Congress needs to pass legislation allowing the states to require online sellers to collect the tax. But that has still not happened.

The Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA) legislation would provide the needed authority, but hasn’t gotten enough support.

The opposition primarily comes from two groups: (1) some of the Internet-based companies which would have to collect the tax; and (2) people who view the legislation as a new tax.

Internet companies object to the administrative burden of collecting and remitting the tax, and they obviously want to maintain their current price advantage over the local brick-and-mortar retailers and other Internet companies that have a physical presence in many states, who must already collect and remit sales tax.

Those who consider it a new tax are, at least technically-speaking, simply wrong. When an in-state resident buys something online and doesn’t pay because the company isn’t obligated to collect the tax, those residents are legally responsible to pay the equivalent of the sales tax.

In these cases it is called a “use” tax (because they use the purchased product in their state) and everybody is supposed to report it on their state tax return. Unfortunately, the vast majority of taxpayers ignore this obligation. The simplest answer is to have the Internet seller collect the tax just as the local retail store does.

Online purchases now make up close to 10% of all retail sales and that percentage is steadily climbing.

This is a growing problem across the country, but especially for states like Indiana that are heavily dependent on sales tax – which accounts for 46% of Indiana’s total tax revenues. States are losing an estimated $11 billion in uncollected sales tax each year. Indiana’s losses are put at $200 million annually, and these numbers are growing by nearly 10% each year.

No question these numbers are driving up pressure for Congress to take action. The MFA passed the Senate in 2013, but it got bogged down in the House Judiciary Committee.

Many who are dedicated to the cause have worked to iron out a number of administrative wrinkles and to keep momentum going on this effort. The best speculation is that it will have to be made part of some larger legislative package in order to garner some compromises and the necessary level of support.

Of course, it is impossible to predict, but tax reforms and such tax packages could be on the table after this election year.