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 On Thursday, President Trump repealed the Department of the Interior’s Stream Protection Rule.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.

Photos:

A Welcome Move: State’s Telecom Agreement With Agile Networks Denied

The state’s controversial proposed lease of its cell phone towers, fiber and public rights of way to Ohio-based Agile Networks officially won’t happen.

Governor Eric Holcomb put an end to it in an announcement Thursday. The Indiana Chamber applauds his decision and had been advocating for such a resolution.

Funds from the proposed $50 million lease were earmarked for bicentennial construction projects, with the Agile agreement promoted as a way to bring greater connectivity to rural areas.

Beginning last September, after learning in more detail about the agreement, the Chamber voiced significant concerns and objections on behalf of the state’s telecommunications industry.

Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar had numerous discussions with the Indiana Finance Authority and State Budget Committee members – the groups needing to approve the deal. The Chamber made a clear request that the agreement not proceed.

Therefore, we are very pleased that Gov. Eric Holcomb shared our belief that this deal was bad for Indiana.

In his statement, the Governor said: “I have asked the Office of Management and Budget to assess how best to move forward and to develop alternatives we might pursue. Enhancing broadband availability in rural parts of our state will be an important part of my consideration.”

The Chamber believes that’s the correct approach.

Our board-approved position supports free market competition in the delivery of advanced telecommunications services. Yet this deal went too far and essentially suppressed this important principle. Not to mention, good Hoosier companies inexplicably were not even given equal opportunity to bid for the project.

Additionally, all industry players and competing technologies should be on a level playing field. However, this proposed deal would have only served to pit the state against private providers.

Getting better broadband access to rural areas of the state should be a priority. That was unlikely to happen with the now-defunct deal, which would have done nothing to drive Agile Networks to serve our rural areas. The company’s publicized plans were to build in the state’s largest cities – Evansville, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis – where cable and broadband services and competitive choices already exist.

Looking ahead, the Chamber pledges to work with state government in any way it can to advance the effort to truly bring connectivity to rural parts of the state. These areas must be brought up to date technologically to help reverse their downward population and economic trends.

Hobart High School, St. Mary Medical Center Earn School Counseling-Business Partnership of Year Honors

Janice Ryba, CEO of St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart; Tamika Catchings, former WNBA all-star and luncheon keynote speaker; Rachael Gayton, Hobart High School senior and scholarship recipient; Dr. Peggy Buffington, Hobart School Superintendent; Shelley Huffman, director of college and career readiness, Indiana Chamber of Commerce; and Christy Huston, executive director of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

The inaugural School Counseling-Business Partnership of the Year award was presented to Hobart High School and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart at a luncheon ceremony yesterday in downtown Indianapolis. The recognition, developed by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation to highlight innovative approaches to college and career readiness, comes during National School Counseling Week.

Many factors led to the Hobart-St. Mary alliance being selected. Among them: the hospital’s sponsorship of Hobart’s Promise Indiana 529 college savings program; the establishment of a health care clinic in the schools to meet the needs of both students and their families, plus St. Mary’s providing a wide range of work-based learning experiences and credential opportunities for high school students.

Indiana Chamber Foundation Executive Director Christy Huston pinpoints specific instances. “The medical center provides over 50 students each year with the screening tests required to take part in the Emergency Medical Services program. It also hosts approximately 30 students a year in a variety of internship and other learning opportunities.

“We also found that through the dedication and leadership of CEO Janice Ryba they go the extra mile. To accommodate one student’s interest in health care administration, a St. Mary’s Medical Center team member changed his hours of work to ensure that student was able to participate in meetings and experiences.”

Additionally, the award provides a $1,000 scholarship to a Hobart senior. Rachael Gayton, who will be attending Ball State University in the fall of 2017, was selected by the school to receive the scholarship. Gayton is in her fourth year of the school’s biomedical sciences program and interning at St. Mary’s in the pediatric unit. She says that her interaction with nurses and their willingness to share their experiences have solidified her plans to become a nurse practitioner.

“This alliance is a shining example of a career mentorship program. We congratulate St. Mary’s, Hobart and Rachel for their excellent work,” Huston states.

Nominations from throughout Indiana were submitted for the award. Danielle Adams, Hobart High School director of guidance, nominated the winning partnership.

The Indiana Chamber Foundation has conducted extensive research into effective school counseling practices, and has been designated by Lilly Endowment as one of the technical assistance providers to all eligible Indiana schools. Currently, the Indiana Chamber Foundation is a resource for 15 districts (78 schools) that all received planning grants as part of an up to $30 million Lilly Endowment Comprehensive School Counseling initiative.

The School Counseling-Business Partnership of the Year honor was presented at the Indiana INTERNnet’s IMPACT Awards luncheon, which celebrates excellence in internships. Appropriately supporting the luncheon’s theme of “Shooting for Success,” former Indiana Fever WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings delivered the keynote address, “Scoring Big with Your Career.” Catchings is also the founder of the Catch the Stars Foundation, which assists Indianapolis youth with goal-setting to promote fitness, literacy and youth development.

Poster Fines Increased in 2017

Fines for outdated workplace posters have increased recently in accordance with the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015. (The law requires federal agencies to adjust penalties for inflation each January.)

Here are the current maximum civil penalties for not posting:

  • Employee Polygraph Protection Act poster – $20,111 (up from $19,787)
  • Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law (OSHA) poster – $12,675 (up from $12,471)
  • EEOC poster – $534 (up from $525)
  • Family and Medical Leave Act poster – $166 (up from $163)

UPDATES
Required updates were made to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA) workplace posters in 2016:

FLSA: Effective August 1, 2016, a new FLSA poster is required. The update includes new information about the overtime rule, independent contractors and nursing mothers. Outdated fine information was also removed.

EPPA: Also effective August 1, the EPPA poster was updated. Outdated fine information was also removed from this poster and contact information was updated.

FMLA: The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) posting was updated in April 2016 to be more reader-friendly. This update is included in our latest sets.

You can purchase posters online now!

Or, are you tired of trying to keep up with poster changes? We’re happy to take the pressure off at no added cost. Just subscribe to our convenient, free subscription service online or by calling (800) 824-6885. You’ll get new posters whenever there’s a required update without even having to order! You’ll join hundreds of other Indiana businesses already benefiting from this service.

What You Should Know About Data Center Uptime

The following is a guest blog by Alex Carroll, co-owner and managing member of Lifeline Data Centers in Indianapolis. 

Anyone in the data center industry—or in business, for that matter—understands the importance of uptime. Recent statistics show that it costs, on average, $8,851 each minute businesses experience a data center outage — an essential reason to minimize the incidents that cause downtime.

While there’s already pressure for IT professionals and data center managers to maintain a high rate of uptime, the demand will be even more intense in the 2020s. The expectation will be for 100% uptime, as internet connectivity—especially with the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT)—will become essential for everyday living, experts projected.

“For data centers, the idea that you need to be perfect will not be far from the truth,” futurist Michael Rogers said during a Dell World presentation. “Every decision you make needs to head to that point on the horizon.”

In the future, losing an internet connection will be as disruptive as losing electrical power, he added. “We will be asking data centers to provide the type of reliability power plants provide, only moreso,” he said.

Unfortunately, data center operations of all sizes are not there yet. According to an AFCOM survey, 81% of respondents reported a data center failure in the previous five years. About 20 percent had experienced five or more failures.

Did your data center report a failure in the last five years?

Assessing data center uptime
Among the initiatives data centers are exploring to increase uptime include infrastructures that receive higher ratings from the Uptime Institute for reliability; predictive support which anticipates failures; and the minimizing of human errors, which have been attributed to as much as 75% of data center outages.

The Uptime Institute, for example, certifies data centers based on four tiers — Tier I through Tier IV. Under the classification system, the uptime rating is determined by infrastructure, uninterruptible power supply (UPS), power and cooling equipment, engine generators, and other components that impact uptime. Even a slight difference in the uptime rating — from 99% to 99.9% could translate into nine hours a year, which could result in significant losses.

Also, training employees to avoid the type of errors that can contribute downtime should be a top priority for your data center. Understanding why and how downtime happens will be critical in combatting it.

What you should know
Downtime in any business is no joke and can create serious problems. From loss of productivity to loss of revenue, if you’re experiencing downtime on even a semi-consistent basis, it’s time for you to outsource your data center needs or find a new data center.

At Lifeline Data Centers, we developed custom processes (and trademarked them) because they worked so well:

  • Redundant Array of Generators™
  • Redundant Array of UPS’s™
  • Redundant Array of Chiller Plants™
  • Most Direct Power Path™

These custom processes have contributed to our 99.999% uptime, and our largest data center where we have been able to employ our full sets of technology has not experienced an outage since inception—going on eight years.

As you explore ways to boost uptime while expanding capacity, give us a call. We can give you insights on how to reach your goals. Schedule a tour with us today.


Alex Carroll, Managing Member at Lifeline Data Centers
Alex, co-owner, is responsible for all real estate, construction and mission critical facilities: hardened buildings, power systems, cooling systems, fire suppression and environmentals. Alex also manages relationships with the telecommunications providers and has an extensive background in IT infrastructure support, database administration and software design and development. Alex headed the team that developed Lifeline’s proprietary, award-winning equipment maintenance methodology. He is also hands-on every day in the data center.