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.

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. 

Chamber Membership Team is Working for You

The Indiana Chamber partners with 25,000 members and investors – representing over four million Hoosiers – to achieve the mission of “cultivating a world-class environment which provides economic opportunity and prosperity.”

Whether you belong to the Chamber because of advocacy, savings or visibility, we’re always looking for ways to enhance your investment and add to the strength of

Brock Hesler, Membership Director

the organization. With that in mind, the Chamber added three regionally-based member development positions.

Two of the reps – Monica Chamberlain and Keeley Stingel

cover northeast Indiana and the southern half of the state, respectively.

“Being a customer service organization, we’re always laser focused on providing the best value we can to our current members, while at the same time communicating to potential members the ways we can partner with them,” says membership director Brock Hesler.

“Monica and Keeley understand where businesses are coming from because they live within and are part of those communities. And they can better communicate to them the solutions the Chamber can provide through membership.”

Lin Jones recently stepped into a member development role covering central Indiana, specifically Marion County and the Interstate 65 corridor going toward northwest Indiana.

Hesler offers a challenge to members.

“You – our current members – are an extension to our membership team. You utilize our services, and see the value day in and day out. Talk to your sphere of influence. Take a few moments to send me an email (at bhesler@indianachamber.com) with the names of two companies that could benefit from membership.”

We appreciate your investment.

Recent Happenings in Federal Affairs: Gorsuch Sworn in with Donnelly’s Support

Senator Joe Donnelly joined a select few Democrats last week to announce support for President Trump’s pick to the U.S. Supreme Court: federal appellate judge Neil Gorsuch.

Donnelly stated, “I have said consistently that part of my job is to carefully review, debate and vote on judicial nominations, including nominees to the Supreme Court. It is my obligation as senator to consider the qualifications of each nominee that comes to the Senate floor to determine if he or she can faithfully serve on our nation’s highest court. I take this responsibility very seriously.

“After meeting with Judge Gorsuch, conducting a thorough review of his record and closely following his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I believe that he is a qualified jurist who will base his decisions on his understanding of the law and is well-respected among his peers.

“I was deeply disappointed by the way the most recent Supreme Court nominee, judge Merrick Garland, was treated by the Senate, but as senator, I can only vote on the nominee that comes to the Senate floor. However, I believe that we should keep the current 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees.”

Gorsuch was sworn in on Monday.

In other news:

  • Responding to the requests from a bipartisan cohort of Indiana elected officials, newly appointed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has announced he will visit the U.S. Smelter and Lead Superfund site in East Chicago on April 19. Senators Donnelly and Todd Young, congressman Pete Visclosky (IN-01) and Gov. Eric Holcomb each had invited Pruitt to visit after his appointment to the position. The area has been the focus of concern for local, state and federal officials since the magnitude of the environmental (water) lead contamination became clear.
  • Representative Luke Messer (IN-06) last week called on Congress to come back, instead of breaking early for Easter, to repeal and replace Obamacare. In a floor speech addressing his colleagues in the House, Messer said, “Congress is leaving for Easter break with work undone. For seven years, we’ve told the American people we would repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better, and we have legislation that provides that opportunity. … We need to do what we said we would do.” Earlier, Messer joined members of the House Republican leadership – led by Speaker Paul Ryan – to announce an amendment to the American Health Care Act that safeguards patients with pre-existing conditions in a way that will also lower premiums. This amendment creates the $15 billion new federal risk-sharing program that will help states reduce premiums by reimbursing health insurance issuers for high-cost individuals beginning in 2018. The proposal by congressmen Gary Palmer of Alabama and David Schweikert of Arizona is modeled after a program in Maine.
  • Congressman Jim Banks (IN-03) has introduced the Head Start Improvement Act, a bill to reform the Head Start early childhood education program. The legislation would give states increased flexibility in spending the Head Start dollars they receive from the federal government to better meet the specific needs of low-income children. The bill would provide Head Start block grants directly to eligible grantees, which include states, territories and federally-recognized Indian tribes. He got the idea from state Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville), who has suggested this as part of the larger pre-K pilot program at the state level. “As a father of three young girls, I understand the importance of making sure our kids receive the best education possible,” said Banks. “Unfortunately, Head Start is failing to make a significant contribution to student development, and it is clear that Head Start needs a new start. Giving states, local officials and parents greater control over the Head Start program will result in better tailored pre-K programs for Hoosier students.”