Chamber Releases Legislative Agenda Matching Positions to Actual Bills 

Our first edition of the 2018 Legislative Agenda is now available at This document details bills introduced in the Indiana House and Senate that the Indiana Chamber has taken a position on and the reason for that stance.

Bills of high importance to the Chamber are labeled with a “priority icon”, while legislation viewed as detrimental to employers and the workforce are denoted with a “job-killer” symbol.

This publication provides direction on issues that not only affect the Indiana business community, but communities, families and individuals throughout the state. We strive to provide our members, legislators and the public with a clear understanding of our positions on these key bills.

In addition to being posted on our web site, this information is sent directly to legislators. We plan to use votes on the bills – those that make it to the House or Senate floor – contained in this document in our annual Legislative Vote Analysis, which scores legislators on their voting record during session.

Tracking How a Bill Becomes Law

For anyone who wants to learn more about how legislation turns into law in the Hoosier state, the Indiana Chamber has a handy guide free of charge.

Among what’s included: a diagram of the bill process, a glossary of often-used terms and a look at where bills commonly get tripped up. We encourage you to download the 11-pager and follow along with what’s going on at the Indiana General Assembly.

The Indiana Chamber will be providing updates and issuing pertinent documents throughout the session at


Chamber Talks Workforce Needs, Impact of Opioid Addiction as 2018 Legislative Session Begins

As the 2018 General Assembly gets underway, the Indiana Chamber is highlighting three big issues expected to be debated in the coming days and weeks: workforce needs, the opioid crisis and smoking rates.

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar says, “We’ve done so well recently from an employment standpoint that we’ve almost outstripped our ability to hire skilled workers since unemployment is so low in the state.

“It’s clear we need to raise up the skills of those who are here, but the Indiana Chamber is also suggesting that perhaps we need to pursue a parallel strategy of recruiting people from out of state. Talent is more mobile than ever before and once people gethere, they really appreciate our cost of living.”

But make no mistake, Brinegar stresses, the state’s priority should be on the potential talent pool at home. That means some major changes will need to occur – ones that hopefully start in the new legislative session.
“What we’ve been doing wrong is saying, ‘Here is our program, you come use it and we hope that it will solve your needs.’ Instead, there should be a conscious effort to truly listen to employers and then develop training programs that are demand-driven to what the needs of the marketplace are now.”

Many of those jobs today and down the road are in the middle skills area – skills that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year bachelor’s degree. Brinegar states this should be a focus for both Hoosier workers who need to improve their skillset and young students.

“We know from our member companies that they are reaching down to high schools and even middle schools to explore with students what job opportunities there are with their companies, what skills they need to have, what classes they need to take in high school to be eligible to take those jobs. It’s becoming a lot more focused on getting people ready with some specificity for jobs after high school.

“There will always be the need for a number of jobs requiring a four-year degree or more, but the real growth is in show me what you know, show me what you can do, show me what machinery you can operate. That’s the mindset we need to have to transform some of these government silos … along with listening to employers and creating programs that communicate to young people what those job needs are.”

Additionally, the Indiana Chamber is partnering with the Governor’s office and the state’s drug czar, Jim McClelland, to be the source for the business component of the state’s plan to combat the opioid crisis.

“We will be researching on best practices, disseminating information to employers and putting on training programs. I’ve told the Governor’s office that we want to be part of the effort and part of the solution. It’s a big problem and it’s not going to be solved overnight, but this has become an employer problem in addition to a personal and societal problem,” Brinegar offers.

“We’ve rapidly gotten to the point to where employers almost can’t fire somebody for failing a drug test because there isn’t the depth in the workforce to tap into for new workers. Employers are looking for guidance. They want more information on what they can do, how they can train supervisors to recognize signs and know where the effective treatment programs are.”

The Indiana Chamber, a founding member of the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana, would like the same urgency placed on reducing the state’s smoking rates.

“There are 10 times more people dying from smoking-related illnesses every year than opioids. And it’s the most preventable source of disease,” Brinegar notes.

“We need to improve our health metrics, including obesity, which are in the bottom third of the states. I rarely accept average for anything, but if Indiana rose to be just average when it comes to smoking, that would significantly curb health issues and save those individuals and businesses a lot of money on insurance coverage and health care costs.”

Indiana’s current smoking rate is at 21% of the population; the national average is 15%.

Enhanced workforce efforts and reducing the state’s smoking rates are among the Indiana Chamber’s Top 9 legislative priorities for 2018. The full list is available at

New Conferences Heading Your Way in 2018

Tax reform, workplace harassment and a focus on emotional intelligence and accountability are new or returning topics to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s business education lineup for 2018.

On the heels of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act being signed into law in late December, business owners need to know what sort of impact the new tax laws will have on their companies.

A new event, the Tax Summit: Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, will take place April 17-18 at the Indiana Chamber Conference Center in downtown Indianapolis. As the largest tax reform in U.S. history, and with a stated goal of creating a more competitive corporate tax climate, it will be beneficial for employers to understand the new tax law and how to prepare for changes in the coming years. Topics addressed include: reduction of the federal tax rate, elimination of the corporate alternative minimum tax, impacts on small businesses and much more. Early bird discounts are available until February 1!

Also new for 2018 are two seminars that have been added because of feedback from employers who are seeking an emphasis on “soft skills” in their employees. The events are:

  • Accountability Mindset, January 30, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. This seminar centers on understanding the power of your personal mindset and its impact on your leadership, an increased awareness of factors that influence your behavior, as well as transform your team’s results by instilling a culture of accountability.
  • Emotional Intelligence Impact, January 31, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Focus on your emotional intelligence and complete the EQi 2.0 Leadership assessment, which will inform you of your strengths and opportunities for growth. You’ll learn how to manage your emotional responses by identifying new approaches and impact your organization by inspiring and leading others.

A returnee this year is the Workplace Harassment Seminar on February 27 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event covers preventing, investigating and correcting workplace harassment and is ideal for human resources professionals, managers, supervisors, business owners and more.

Visit the Conferences page on our web site to see a full list of the various business education and special events we’re hosting in 2018.

Chamber Unveils New Web Site

Our new Indiana Chamber web site is here! It’s been months in the making and we hope that you agree that it’s an improved platform.

The new site is more streamlined and user-friendly, yet still showcases all that we do – from events and products to public policy efforts to the benefits exclusively for our member companies and much more!

The new site is also responsive and should allow for a full Indiana Chamber experience on all mobile devices.

One aspect that should help desktop visitors easily locate items is our drop-down menu, which shows all the main pages for the site with one click. 

Also, we added a bottom menu (for desktop and mobile) that makes things quicker to find.

We would love to hear your feedback about the new site, so leave a comment below or hit us up on social media on Twitter or Facebook.

Remembering Bill Hudnut; My Interview with Him on Getting the Colts

Indianapolis Mayor Bill Hudnut was the first mayor I have a memory of. When I read of his passing over the weekend, it took me back to all the landmark accomplishments that took place during his 16 years in office.

I also thought about the lively and interesting phone interview I had with him in the summer of 2011. The Chamber’s BizVoice® magazine was doing a section on famed business deals and I got the best one: the Circle City landing the Colts.

I found Mayor Hudnut more than willing to take a stroll down memory lane and share his opinions.

An excerpt from the interview:

“We thought we’d get a franchise because the league was expanding, not the relocation of an existing one. (Owner) Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders moved (the team) to Los Angeles and, secondly, there was a strike, so they weren’t going to expand – which certainly was sort of a blow to us. But we were pregnant with the thing; we had to keep on building it as an expansion to the convention center. That’s the way it was promoted to the public – that it would justify itself whether or not it was used 12 days a year for a football game.”

Read the full Q&A (you have to love his detail and memory of the events). Also read the full BizVoice article.

Master Strategy: Fishers Named 2016 Community of the Year

“Fishers could have stayed nothing more than what it was when I moved there in 1995: a nice place to live with lovely vinyl apartments. But it’s not that (today). And that’s not an accident; it got there with a strong plan,” declares John McDonald, CEO of Fishers-based CloudOne.

No matter who you talk to – business leaders, local officials or longtime residents – they all cite adopting the vision in recent years to become a “smart, vibrant, entrepreneurial city” as the turning point for Fishers. They credit Mayor Scott Fadness for instilling that, with the backing of the city council.

What’s followed is quite the transformation.

Major economic announcements are the new norm, not the exception. Innovation is now synonymous with the fast-growing locale.

That speaks to how dominant a player Fishers has become in the last several years in business attraction and expansion. It boasts an impressive entrepreneurial spirit thanks to Launch Fishers, the largest collaborative co-working space in the state (if not the Midwest)…

Read the full story in BizVoice.


Let’s Caucus: Candy, Cut Flowers and Concrete


What do these three items have in common? No, it’s not a Valentine’s Day gone bad for a mobster (though possible). All three subjects actually have congressional caucuses in their honor, during which legislators explore ways to promote their industries on Capitol Hill.

The newest entrant is the Congressional Candy Caucus – announced June 16 – which highlights “the economic impact, responsibility commitments and community involvement” of the candy manufacturing industry. One of its founders, Rep. Jackie Walorski (Indiana’s 2nd District) says: “Candy manufacturers like the South Bend Chocolate Company in my district have a long and lasting tradition of not only making Americans’ favorite treats but creating good jobs and growing our economy.”

No doubt that’s true, but I’m guessing there will also be some chocolate indulgence when the caucus members meet.

There are literally HUNDREDS of these congressional groups. Some lofty; others more frivolous – at least on the surface.

The July-August issue of BizVoice magazine examines caucuses that may leave you scratching your head or simply wanting to know more about what they really promote.

FaegreBD Consulting Provides Washington-Indiana Connection

FBDLogo_DarkBlue_RGBA recent BizVoice profile on former U.S. congresswoman Mary Bono (Nov/Dec issue) includes an update on the work she is doing today for FaegreBD Consulting. And there is a distinct Indiana tie.

FaegreBD, with approximately 50 professionals, is a Washington, D.C. division of the Faegre Baker Daniels law firm, which started in Indianapolis in 1863. Today, the legal portion offers services internationally across 14 offices.

Among FaegreBD’s areas of focus: health care and life sciences, energy and environment, financial services (primarily insurance related) and the public sector (government and academic institutions, for example).

Two emerging areas for the consulting practice include food and agriculture and what the group calls “tech plus”, which is cyber security, privacy and other technology policy matters.

Bono has been involved in the “tech plus” arena and also is the lead on the prescription drug abuse issue.

The national Collaborative for Effective Prescription Opioid Policies (CEPOP) “is a great example of Mary’s ability to bring different qualities to the client service and to the organization,” says David Zook, managing partner of Faegre Baker Daniels’ D.C. office and chair of FaegreBD Consulting.

“That’s a large national coalition with about three dozen participants from all across the sector – manufacturers, distributors, prescribers and patients – behind policy priorities, and then teamed with expertise both at the firm and at those organizations as well.” Indiana-based AIT Labs is among the CEPOP participants.

All of these consulting sectors are aligned with the firm’s legal practices, yet are distinguished from them and deliver different but complimentary services, Zook notes.

He also stresses the group’s commitment to Indiana plus a “real depth” on the complex issues.

“These tend to be highly regulated industries that have a lot of interaction with D.C. … or a lot of policy at the federal level. So it’s that combination (along with knowing Indiana) that sets us apart.”

Video Matters Now More Than Ever

rebeccaThis commentary, written by Indiana Chamber VP Rebecca Patrick, originally appeared on Inside INdiana Business.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, exactly what is a video worth? That’s a question more and more organizations have been asking in the last few years.

We’ve all seen something “go viral” on YouTube and make its way around social media and even the traditional news. And the frequency of business emails with video content continues to rise – and with good reason: Consumer surveys reveal those emails are noticeably more effective.

The list goes on and on about the emergence and power of video messaging, whether it’s used for external marketing or rallying the troops inside your company. The population in general – thanks to continued technology advances – is increasingly more visual in how it wants to receive information.

In 2014, the Indiana Chamber opted to devote space in its office to a video studio. We built it with three types of communications in mind: 1) messages to our 17,000 members and investors; 2) public policy advocacy to a broad, public audience and 3) media-ready footage.

The studio was possible for us – and for other businesses our size – because the equipment prices have come down to meet the demands of the masses who want to film videos for webcasts and more. So a suitable video camera, lighting equipment, teleprompter and accessories for our studio were quite affordable.

But before we made that leap, we did our homework. We talked to member companies in the communications/marketing field and to videographers to make sure our studio would be capable of doing what we wanted.

Over the last 18 months, the Indiana Chamber has produced more than 50 videos – ranging from legislative calls to action and television commentaries to event promotions and membership testimonials.

Tom Easterday, our current chairman of the board of directors who is executive vice president at Subaru of Indiana Automotive Inc. in Lafayette, believes video messaging is “effective for communicating with a lot of different generations; it can be used as part of social media, as part of your web site and direct communication.”

At Subaru, Easterday films various videos – many for internal use.

“Frequently we will have messages we will need to get out to our associates before it breaks in the press or before the rumor mill starts. We’ve found that having our own in-house closed-circuit television system and utilizing video allows us to get the same message out to all of our associates at the same time. It’s a very valuable communications tool in that regard,” he explains.

“It helps us be more effective in getting associates to understand what is happening, and gets their buy-in and cooperation regarding whatever the next move is we need to make as a company… It’s a very clear message instead of hearing it second or third hand, or via written communication, which may or may not be read.”

Subaru has also used video to maximize the time of its dealers and suppliers. The company produced a five-minute video introduction on the plant when dealers from across the United States were arriving with limited time on their hands. A virtual tour of the facility is also available on the company web site.

Easterday says videos are a welcome option for material that is “very difficult to put into print or would be tedious to read on a web site.”

He also encourages companies to not dismiss video production out of concern over price.

“There are a lot of companies out there that do them so you can shop around, or we have our own internal videographer. That can definitely cut the cost down,” Easterday shares. “But if you shop around and ask the communications companies to provide you samples of their work, they will do that.”