BizVoice Earns SPJ Honors

Congrats to our communications team /BizVoice writers who earned three honors at the Indiana Society of Professional Journalists Awards Friday – a second place and two third place finishes:

Donnelly Talks Policy to Chamber Group

Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly discussed a wide variety of issues with members of the Indiana Chamber’s Executive Committee during an hour-long visit last week. Among his comments on the issues before Congress:

  • Opioid crisis: Senators are working on a federal law that would limit painkiller prescriptions to one week (hopefully reducing addictive outcomes)
  • Transportation infrastructure: There will be a big bill and he believes it will pass as long as it gets paid for
  • Tax reform: Stuck for now because money to pay for it was going to come from the failed health care overhaul
  • Health care bill: Legislation can’t be passed that would result in fewer people having insurance coverage. Democrats, Donnelly noted, have ideas that should be considered

Other topics of conversion: immigration, trade agreements and global threats (Donnelly is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee).

After Session: A Look at What Passed and What Didn’t

Now that the legislative session has concluded, learn the final status of key bills monitored and advocated for/opposed by the Indiana Chamber in 2017 (links are PDFs):

2017 passed bills

2017 defeated bills

Indiana Chamber Applauds Final General Assembly Road Funding Plan

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar comments on the long-term road funding agreement, which was unveiled late this afternoon by Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long:

“We laud the compromise reached by House and Senate fiscal leaders that will fund Indiana’s infrastructure needs for the foreseeable future. We are very pleased to see such a substantial long-term funding plan to address the many maintenance and new construction needs that exist throughout our state. This legislation was the Indiana Chamber’s top priority for this session.

“This thoughtful approach also makes sure to fund both state and local road projects – which we know is very important for Hoosier companies – and that everyone pays their fair share through a user-fee based model.

“This agreement has been the product of several years of research and discussion and we congratulate everyone involved. We strongly encourage the members of the General Assembly to support this legislation with their vote Friday.”

Gear Up for May Safety and Environmental Training

The road to creating and maintaining a safe workplace can be a bumpy one. Put your team in the driver’s seat by attending Indiana Chamber training programs in May.

First up is the most complete and comprehensive permitting and reporting course offered in the state of Indiana. Sponsored by KERAMIDA, the Environmental Permitting and Reporting Conference will take place May 16-17 at the Ritz Charles, Carmel.

Highlights include:

  • Understanding your wastewater permit and water balance
  • Emission inventory: how to develop an inventory
  • Hazardous waste changes
  • Recent and upcoming regulatory changes impacting permitting and reporting

Two additional EHS (environmental, health and safety) training programs, presented by Bobbi K. Samples, can help your employees maintain OSHA standards and keep your workplace safe! Both will be held at the Indiana Chamber Conference Center in Indianapolis.

Forklift Safety: Train the Trainer (May 23) will feature topics such as safe truck operations, performance certification, inspection requirements and how to dispel myths. Receive a hard copy of all materials presented – including a disk with additional fillable forms for creating a customized safety program for your facility.

OSHA’s Walking-Working Surfaces and Fall Protection Standards Seminar (May 24) is a new seminar. Don’t miss insights into new – and soon-to-be-required – training regarding fall protection. Hear an overview of the new standard, participate in a group practical exercise, obtain a checklist for compliance going forward and more.

Register online at www.indianachamber.com/conferences or by calling Nick at (800) 824-6885.

Talking Technology at Connect & Collaborate Sessions

“Today, every company is a technology company. We know technology is evolving quickly and not just in current businesses, but those that are looking to make their mark in Indiana,” says Brock Hesler, Indiana Chamber director of membership.

“If you don’t evolve, you could be left behind and your business growth might be hindered.”

The Indiana Chamber is once again hosting the Connect & Collaborate series as a thank you to its members and investors. The 2017 focus is technology – how it is permeating Hoosier businesses, and how companies can learn and adapt to new and improved ways of getting things done. Presented by AT&T, the series begins in May and concludes in August.

Consider these examples from the world of agriculture. What if technology could provide an answer to how much moisture is in a stalk of corn or a field of beans? What if farmers could drive tractors from a remote location or control an entire farm from a keyboard?

These scenarios sound futuristic, but are starting to become reality around Indiana. It’s not just the agriculture industry that is heavily impacted by new technologies: advanced manufacturing, logistics and others are already changing dramatically – as are the workforce skills required to staff these industries.

Attendees can hear an update on the Indiana Technology & Innovation Council, and a local business/community leader from each of the 12 Connect & Collaborate locations will comment on how that area or region is utilizing technology. A panel discussion will also allow for audience questions.

The free series – with either breakfast or lunch included (depending on the time of day) – enables companies to hear directly from Indiana Chamber representatives and learn more about membership resources available to them. Several new locations are included in 2017.

“This is a way to thank our members for their investment and support,” Hesler adds, “while also providing information that we think can help them succeed at an even higher level.”

Dates and cities for the Connect & Collaborate series:

May 9, Indianapolis
May 11, Lafayette
May 30, Bloomington and Columbus
June 6, Huntingburg and Evansville
June 8, Muncie and Richmond
June 13, Terre Haute
June 20, South Bend
June 22, Fort Wayne
August 16, Scottsburg

For complete details on locations and to register, go online or call Nick at (317) 264-6885.

Federal Front: Congressman Messer Launches American Worker Task Force

Congressman Luke Messer (IN-06), chair of the Republican Policy Committee, announced the launch of the Task Force for the American Worker – an effort to examine challenges facing modern-day working Americans. The task force will hold a series of hearings to examine workforce issues, including stagnant wages and a slow economic recovery, manufacturing, higher education costs, the opioid abuse epidemic, health care, retirement security and trade. The task force will seek to find solutions that help address each of these challenges.

“For generations, the American dream has meant that every American who works hard can find success. But in recent years, frozen paychecks, a tough job market and rising living costs make the American Dream too often seem out of reach,” Messer said. “During the 2016 election, Republicans promised a renewed focus on addressing these challenges and improving the lives of everyday working people. This task force is about making those promises a reality.”

The task force’s first hearing will be held Tuesday, April 25, with the goal of helping set a policy agenda for the modern American worker. Among those asked to testify is LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo.

Also, this week started a two-week recess for the Senate and House of Representatives, which means most of our delegation is back in the state for the Easter and Passover holidays. Be on the lookout for them in your hometowns!

A Pleasant (Revenue) Forecast

The revenue projections for the next two fiscal years were updated on Wednesday, giving the General Assembly revised numbers to use in finalizing a state budget before the session wraps up next week. The update also readjusted the current Fiscal Year 2017 numbers; the FY17 numbers that were reduced by nearly $300 million dollars in December were now adjusted back upward by $124 million (so FY17 won’t turn out as bad as previously thought).

That FY17 readjustment serves as a foundation for the forecasters’ confidence that the slow but steady economic growth will continue at a moderate pace over the coming biennium. The pleasant result: a modestly higher revenue forecast for FY2018 and FY2019. The forecast increase resulted from projected growth in sales tax collections (2.7% in FY18 and 3.4% in FY19), sales tax being the source that Indiana is most dependent on, and the larger percentage increase but smaller cumulative dollar increase anticipated in income tax collections (3.4% in FY18 and 5.9% in FY19) – the source that represents the next largest contributor to the state coffers.

The bottom line is that the forecast adds $200 million, only about six-tenths of one percent of the roughly $32 billion that the lawmakers now can expect to see collected in tax revenue over the next two years. While it is a small addition, it is still $200 million that they hadn’t planned on when they put together the budget numbers in HB 1001.

Understandably, the fiscal leaders caution against any major changes to what they have formulated to this point, but as the budget negotiations continue into the last days, they are certain to hear this additional money referenced as justification for some new or additional funding requests. Read the details from the forecasters’ presentation.

Health Insurance Assistance for Your Lower Income Employees

The following was provided by the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration:

HIP Employer Link is the state of Indiana’s program to help your eligible workers with their health insurance costs. Once your company is enrolled, for free, eligible employees can then sign up to receive assistance towards their employer-sponsored insurance premium and deductible throughout the insurance year.

How It Works: When an employee enrolls in HIP Employer Link and your health plan, you continue to deduct their health insurance premium from their pay. Each month, before the cost is deducted, HIP Employer Link sends the employee a pre-payment check for the amount of the deduction, minus a small monthly contribution of 2% of the employee’s household income.

Employee Eligibility: Eligible employees are Indiana residents, aged 19-64, who earn 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) or less, and who are eligible for an enrolled employer’s insurance plan. For instance, the income limit for a household of four (either two parents and two children, or one parent and three children) is just over $34,000. For a household of two, the income limit is just over $22,000.

The program is free to employers and requires very little time on your part. Signing up your organization is simple with the online application and a quick upload of insurance plan documents. Employers are only responsible for verifying the employment of any enrollees; the state of Indiana is responsible for income verification. You can learn more about the program by visiting http://hipemployerlink.in.gov.


ChamberCare Solutions from the Indiana Chamber
Indiana Chamber members also have access to a full range of high-quality group insurance plans and options through the ChamberCare Solutions program, a partnership between the Chamber and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield that has served thousands of Chamber members for the past fourteen years. Retain your valuable employees, attract new talent and take advantage of significant savings with the right plan for your business’ unique needs and preferences. Ask your insurance agent, or contact us at (317) 264-6858 or membership@indianachamber.com for questions and additional details.