Indiana Businesses: What Could You Do With an Additional $126 Per Employee?

That is the savings – $327 million statewide – you will realize if the state temporarily advances sufficient funds to pay off the federal unemployment insurance loan that has been in place since November 2008.

Business Savings with Early Loan Payoff:

  • 10 employees – $1,260
  • 25 employees – $3,150
  • 50 employees – $6,300
  • 100 employees – $12,600
  • 500 employees – $63,000

Sign the Petition to Governor Pence today! Ask Governor Pence to execute an early payoff of the federal unemployment insurance loan.

The State Budget Committee will consider authorizing this action on Oct. 16. Governor Mike Pence must make a final decision before Nov. 9. The approximately $250 million temporary advance would be reimbursed by the end of fiscal year 2016 through collections of existing state unemployment taxes. Once repaid, the funds used to eliminate the outstanding penalty will be available to be used for other priorities.

The decision is straightforward: have additional funds to invest in your organizations and employees – or send the money to Washington as an ongoing penalty for the loan being in place.

State leaders need to hear from the business community – employers and employees. Share this with your team members and encourage them to “sign” the petition.

If you wish to contact the governor’s office directly, please do so by calling (317) 232-4567. If you have a question and/or an interest in publicly stating your support, contact the Indiana Chamber’s Mike Ripley (317-264-6883 or

Medical Malpractice in Spotlight in Study Committee

The Courts and Judiciary Interim Study Committee has been charged with looking at Indiana’s medical malpractice (med-mal) system. The statute was written in 1975 to protect the health of the citizens of Indiana by preventing a reduction of health care services. Prior to the enactment, seven of the 10 insurance companies writing med-mal business at the time either ceased or limited writing the insurance because of unprofitability. Premiums for med-mal skyrocketed at that point. In some cases, physicians were hard pressed or unable to purchase coverage. Likewise, services were discontinued in some locales.

To stabilize the market, the Med-Mal Act created a medical review panel consisting of an attorney and three health care providers. The parties agree to a panel chair, each party chooses one health care provider to be on the panel and the two health care providers choose a third provider to fill out the panel. Parties send submissions to the panel and the providers review the information and determine if there was malpractice. The panel makes an opinion based upon whether or not the provider failed to comply with the standard of care; whether the conduct complained of was a factor of the resultant damages; and whether the health care provider should be reported to the applicable licensing agency. The medical review panel must render its decision before any court action may take place, unless the claim is less than $15,000 or both parties agree to bypass this step.

The system has damages capped to a patient for an act of malpractice at $1.25 million. That cap has been raised twice since 1975. The system is voluntary, but to participate in the protections of the act, physicians purchase a commercial insurance policy to cover the first $250,000 and pay a surcharge to the Patient’s Compensation Fund (PCF) to cover the remaining $1 million in potential liability. Surcharges vary based upon the specialty of the provider. In 2014, nearly $138 million in claims were paid from the PCF.

The Courts and Judiciary Interim Study Committee has entertained testimony on two separate occasions. The debate now concerns whether or not the caps on med-mal need to be raised for the first time since 1999. The balancing act is between trying to maintain the med-mal system in this state, with maintaining access to care and low premium costs for physicians, and the fear of having the Indiana courts determine the system unconstitutional because the caps haven’t been raised in over 15 years. The committee is also entertaining discussion on the consideration of increasing the bypass threshold (currently $15,000) of the medical review panel – regarding those claims exempt from the medical review panel process.

Committee chairman Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford) has asked committee members to review the documentation presented and offer proposals to improve the process. The Indiana Chamber expects there will be a proposal for some increase to the cap.

Attorney General Rules on A-F Grades for 2015

In July, we discussed Superintendent Glenda Ritz and the Department of Education’s (DOE) position on suspending A-F grades for 2014-2015, or potentially utilizing a “hold harmless” proposal that would assign the better A-F grade between the 2013-2014 year and the 2014-2015 year due to the potential for lower scores as a result of the newly enacted educational standards. State Board of Education members, however, had significant concerns over Ritz’s proposal and made a recommendation that Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office review the potential options and give a legal opinion as to which option, if any, would be best for Indiana.

In early September, Zoeller’s office released an informal opinion that advised that the “hold harmless” option would not be supported by current statute and rules. In order for that provision to be legally sound, the General Assembly would have to change the law themselves.

As you may recall, this is not Ritz’s first time trying to pause accountability for students and schools. The Indianapolis Star recently quoted her stating, “Tests never teach you anything.” The Indiana Chamber wholeheartedly disagrees with her statement and finds that testing and accountability are critical for students and schools. Testing is imperative to understanding what a student knows and issues with which they may still struggle. Having strong, accurate and transparent accountability measures means that we can accurately predict Hoosier student progress, assist teachers in where students are struggling, as well as compare and contrast how schools are performing to their peers around the state.

Property Tax Assessment Appeal Issues Continue

Last session, county officials sought drastic changes to Indiana’s property tax assessment methodology in reaction to two decisions from the Indiana Board of Tax Review (IBTR) involving “big-box” retail stores (e.g., a Meijer and a Kohl’s store). Officials complained that assessment appeals were being wrongly decided because the IBTR allowed the consideration of the sale price of like buildings that had been closed and were vacant at the time of the transaction as evidence of the value of the operating stores. Assessing officials called these transactions “dark sales” and contended such sales should be precluded from being considered in determining the assessment of like structures that remain open and occupied by large retail entities. The legislative result was something of a standoff between county officials and affected taxpayers. The ultimate legislation (SB 436) left a lot to be desired since the interested parties maintained such disparate viewpoints. They were – and remain – fundamentally divided on how real estate should be valued under Indiana law.

The issue came to the forefront again last month when the IBTR issued another decision that resulted in a significant reduction to a large commercial entity; this time, a CVS Pharmacy store in Bloomington. Interestingly enough, this case did not involve a “big-box” and was not based on the application of “dark sales” (even though you would have thought so from the way it was being publicly described by many.) Nevertheless, it was cited as another case where the IBTR had somehow gotten it wrong and was making a bad decision.

The situation essentially reveals: Assessors and county officials believe that large national chains should be taxed more because they are large national chains (and refuse to acknowledge the state of the law which just doesn’t support their higher assessments.) The IBTR has merely been doing its job, applying case law that has developed from Tax Court decisions issued since 2010 and before.

What’s more, assessors and county officials do not want to assess the property based on its fair market value, they want to assess it based on the value of the business operations that take place on the property — what I call “value to the user.” Property tax is supposed to be a tax on the value of real estate, not a tax on the investment value that real estate has to the owner. This debate arises out of the statutory and administrative rule definitions that govern our assessment system. Indiana defines true tax value as something different than the market value-in-exchange (what the property could sell for); instead it creates a hybrid standard referred to as “market value-in-use”. This hybrid was created to protect some properties from higher taxes. The best example is when a highly valuable piece of prime commercial real estate is actually used for agricultural or residential purposes.

But now there is a movement to interpret market value-in-use as a means for taxing the value the property has to its specific user, i.e., the national retail chain owner. This is not only subjective, unfair and inequitable; it is unworkable. It would result in nearly identical buildings being assessed at widely differing values based on the financial status and circumstances of the particular owner. Such a standard is contrary to our Indiana Constitution and would effectively undermine the integrity of our entire assessment system.

It is an important issue and appears it is going to be taken back up next month by the Interim Committee on Fiscal Policy, which has scheduled meetings for October 7, 13 and 21.

New Workplace State and Federal Posters: Order Yours Now

Poster_Subscript_serviceWe’re printing new state and federal workplace posters due to some material changes that have been made this year — including a new mandatory supplement for federal contractors to the “Equal Opportunity is the Law” posting that was released this week. Here are the recent updates (below), and you can order new sets online — or join our free subscription service to take the burden off of yourself when it comes to tracking changes:

  • Indiana Teen Worker Hours: The differentiation between “your work permit allows you to work” and “with parental permission you may work”; maximum hours; break requirements; graduates/withdrawn from school information.
  • OSHA Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law (updated in early 2015): The federal OSHA poster was given a new look. The changes were mostly visual, although two new bullet points were added, stating employers must: (1) Report to OSHA all work-related fatalities within eight hours, and all inpatient hospitalizations, amputations and losses of an eye within 24 hours; and (2) Provide required training to all workers in a language and vocabulary they can understand.
  • Supplement to “Equal Employment Opportunity is the Law” Poster for Federal Contractors: This supplement was released in September 2015 as part of the OFCCP’s final rule promoting pay transparency. It requires that federal contractors and subcontractors amend equal employment opportunity information to state that it is unlawful to discharge or otherwise discriminate against employees or applicants who inquire about, discuss or disclose their compensation or the compensation of other employees or applicants. It also contains information on federal contractors’ obligations regarding affirmative action and employing individuals with disabilities and veterans.

Allied Tube and Conduit: Maximizing Its Chamber Membership Through Participation

alliedAt Allied Tube and Conduit, safety must come first.

Randy Pratt, a member of security and traffic control staff, checks drivers in and out, makes employees aware of safety rules and keeps an eye on operations such as tubing fabrication and laser machine usage. In a manufacturing environment, Pratt understands the importance of keeping his team safe.

Pratt is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business. Attending the Chamber’s 2015 Safety and Health Conference & Expo provided further training while exposing him to the opportunity to learn more about business.

“The safety conference was very engaging.” Pratt says. “I was grateful for the many leaders who taught and for the many ideas and learning experiences that I had.”

Pratt has been a part of his company for seven and a half years, with two years in his current position. Since attending the conference with the Chamber, Pratt has tried to implement a “safety culture” in his workplace where employees will be held accountable for being safe.

“After having the understanding of ‘watching everybody’s back’ when it comes to safety, I have tried to encourage my newly-learned word of safety ‘culture’ and encourage it to others,” Pratt described shortly after the spring event. “I recently brought it up in the safety committee asking for any ideas about how to make it more concrete among all.”

One tool he has used from the conference is “gamifying” safety, which makes the concept more inviting by presenting safety rules like a game. Pratt also enjoyed the legal briefings he received.

“This (conference) has been very informative and it actually gets you thinking on things that are not only pertinent to safety, but the legal ramifications,” he explains. “I was totally unaware of the necessity of legal issues for OSHA.”

Allied Tube and Conduit in Kokomo is part of Atkore International, which allows its employees to pursue continuing education. After his experience attending the safety conference, Pratt says, “I kind of hope they pick me again.”

Stephanie Arne: A Global Perspective on Wellness


Stephanie Arne is the first-ever female host of the iconic show “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.” She will be the opening presenter at the 2015 Indiana Health and Wellness Summit (October 7-8) discussing the connection between human health and planetary health.

Indiana Chamber: The definition of “wellness” can be pretty broad. What is your fresh perspective on what wellness truly is, and what does that mean for the average person?

Stephanie Arne: “Wellness” means achieving “a state of healthy balance.” When you eat nourishing food, get appropriate levels of exercise, avoid stress triggers and take proper personal time for emotional well-being – each of these actions moves the body into greater states of balance.

The part I think has been missing from the “wellness” concept up to this point has been how much these things are truly connected to each other, and furthermore, how much these things are connected to that which is external to us – specifically, our environment.

We have, so far, missed the bigger picture – to see our global interconnectedness, and how this translates to personal health. For all of us, this means opening up to the tremendous opportunities afforded by taking a global perspective to ones’ health, which I look forward to discussing further at the Health and Wellness Summit in October.

IC: What do you hope attendees take away from your presentation specifically and the summit as a whole?

SA: I hope attendees will walk away feeling uplifted and empowered to effect change, whatever that may mean for them personally. One person may feel empowered to reduce the amount of processed foods they consume, which ultimately benefits their own health, but also has a global impact by reducing the demand for chemically-made, environmentally-polluting products. Another person may feel empowered to start a community garden where they can share fresh, organic produce with their neighbors, creating a space for simultaneous recreation and community connection, as well as a place to obtain healthy food. Either way, both people will be making immediate changes that will result in long-term benefits.

IC: Why should every company/organization take an active role in promoting healthy lifestyles and engaging employees in wellness strategies?

SA: Companies have a lot of power – both within AND outside of the corporation.

Within the corporation, they decide what the corporate culture will be. Outside, they decide what ideals to support through their channel partners and resource suppliers.

At this point, we have seen the statistics proving that a healthy employee is a happy employee, and that healthy/happy employees are more productive. Companies know unequivocally that to invest in the health of their employees by supporting corporate wellness initiatives is the surest way to guarantee the highest levels of productivity, and therefore profitability, of the employee investment.

In my opinion, the other major way to retain a competitive edge is by providing services in an increasingly sustainable manner. Consumers are still consuming, but they are looking for ever-increasing ways to do so with less waste and less pollution. If your company is operating from a perspective of total wellness and health, then it will be doing so with a global perspective. This is where the true change, inspiration, progress and reward come into play.

Get more information or register for the 2015 Indiana Health and Wellness Summit online.

Indiana INTERNnet’s IMPACT Awards Celebrates 10th Anniversary

impactThe tenth time’s a charm!

Indiana INTERNnet, the statewide organization focusing on talent retention through increased work-and-learn experiences, began the tradition of celebrating internship excellence nearly a decade ago by launching the annual IMPACT Awards program. (This year’s event will be on February 3, and you can register online.)

Three winners were honored the first year: Intern of the Year Julie Ann Lesniak, Career Development Professional of the Year Libby Davis of the University of Indianapolis, and Employer of the Year Tucker Publishing Group in Evansville.

Today, the IMPACT Awards is an annual luncheon honoring Interns of the Year in the high school, college and non-traditional categories, Employers of the Year in the for-profit and not-for-profit categories and a Career Development Professional of the Year. Indiana INTERNnet will honor its tenth group of award nominees and winners in 2016. Co-founder and CMO Angie Hicks of Angie’s List will be the keynote speaker.

All honorees come from nominations submitted by the public, and winners are chosen by a panel of impartial judges. Use the online form to submit your nomination(s) in any or all of the categories by October 23.

That first group of honorees set the standard for years of inspiring stories of accomplishment by interns and on behalf of interns. Here is a sampling of some of the great work of Hoosier colleges/universities, interns and employers:

From 2012: In more than 20 years at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Susan Gresham has proven to be a “high-energy, positive-thinking, driven and motivated leader.” As director of the Career Development Center (CDC), she leads a staff that thrives on student success. Among the initiatives led by Gresham:

  • A learning contract completed by both the student and intern employer
  • Site visits to every internship location within the state with site supervisors, through an evaluation, assigning a letter grade that accounts for 40% of the intern’s grade
  • Actively recruiting employers to campus for class presentations, panel discussions and special events
  • Establishment of an orientation program, providing interns with a name badge, business cards and leather portfolio to ease their transition into the business world

From 2013: One measuring stick of internship success is whether or not the opportunity leads to permanent employment. After serving as the 2012 governor’s public service summer intern, Casey Spivey began working as a full-time benefits specialist at the Indiana State Personnel Department (SPD). Today, she is the facility human resources director.

Spivey made an impact by assisting in the development of sourcing and recruitment plans for “hard-to-fill” positions. One organization she aided was the Hoosier Youth Challenge Academy (HYCA). She equipped the academy with a career fair plan – including advertising contacts, a detailed timeline, session speakers, newspaper ads and flyers.

“Casey basically went through a 12-week job interview with our organization with outstanding results,” states Nicole Russell, division director of talent acquisition for the Indiana SPD. “To go from student to governor’s intern to state employee is a feat to be acknowledged.”

From 2015: “2014 has been a year of excellence for our internship program,” says Valerie Wilson, chief of staff, Baldwin & Lyons (B+L). And it’s easy to see why.

  • 96% of interns reported their job responsibilities were challenging but attainable
  • 63% of interns with at least junior standing were converted to either full-time or part-time employment or another internship
  • 100% of interns expressed interest in working for B+L upon graduation

The employer-intern connection doesn’t end with the internship at B+L. This fall, employees assembled care packages with encouraging notes to send their former interns during final exams. Staff also makes an effort to visit when they are on college campuses for career fairs.

View the list of past winners online.

Carmel Named Indiana Chamber’s 2015 Community of the Year

cityofcarmel2A philosophy of trying to “do things just a little bit better than everyone else” has led to extraordinary business, cultural and academic opportunities, and earned Carmel the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Community of the Year award.

Under Mayor Jim Brainard’s leadership, the community has reinvented itself from a small town to one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, with a population of about 85,000.

Among Carmel’s achievements:

  • Serves as the national headquarters for more than 75 leading companies, including many in the software and health care industries as well as MISO (Midcontinent Independent System Operator), which manages the delivery of electric power across much of North America.
  • Investments in infrastructure, such as the community’s 90-plus roundabouts, have increased both safety and efficiency. Carmel has more roundabouts than any other city in the country.
  • New residential and business complexes recently completed and/or underway. Just last year, nine new or expanding companies brought in 1,390 new jobs; and plans were announced for a new Midtown development that will include 285,000 square feet of office/commercial space and 270 residential units in the heart of the city.
  • Nationally recognized school system, both in terms of academics and athletics. With 5,000 students, Carmel High School Principal John Williams declares that “size equals amazing opportunities for our kids.” And a Carmel Clay Parks system that won national accreditation, one of only three in Indiana to do so.
  • Named (in 2015 alone) one of the safest small cities for retirement (, best town to raise a family (NICHE; MarketWatch) and best place to get a job in Indiana (Zippia). Was also named by CNN Money Magazine as the Best Place to Live in America (2012) and the No. 3 best in 2014.

“Carmel’s success comes down to three things: vision, partnerships and perseverance,” observes Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “City leaders have, time and again, avoided taking ‘the easy route.’ They’ve embraced challenges and taken risks that have transformed Carmel from a good community to an outstanding city. It’s highly regarded across the country and beyond as a city that ‘gets things done.’ ”

“For the past 20 years, our city has been on a mission to reinvent what it means to live in a suburb. We have worked hard to avoid the pitfalls of traditional suburban sprawl and instead embraced a shared vision of redeveloping our urban core, encouraging a walkable, sustainable community and challenging developers to pay close attention to architecture and density to maximize both the beauty and the value of their projects,” Brainard says. “This honor from the Indiana Chamber is further evidence that we are succeeding and need to continue working hard to build the best city in America to live, work and play.”

A focus on the arts, fitness and family also helped Carmel earn the Community of the Year award. The Palladium at the Center for the Performing Arts, the Arts and Cultural District and the Monon Community Center are among the popular attractions for residents and visitors.

Jim Burrell, longtime resident and retired Carmel Clay Schools administrator, is an avid community volunteer. He sums up his impressions of Carmel this way: “My wife and I have seen it grow from kind of a sleepy community to something that is really incredible. We’ve seen so much happen here. It’s a community we’ve loved and have been a part of.”

The Community of the Year award will be presented at the Indiana Chamber’s 26th Annual Awards Dinner on November 4 at the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis. More than 1,500 business, political and community leaders are expected to attend.

Highly-acclaimed political strategists James Carville and Karl Rove will headline the event, presented in partnership with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The reception is at 5 p.m. with dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tables of 10 and individual tickets are available at (800) 824-6885 or at Sponsorship opportunities also remain; contact Jim Wagner ( for details.

The celebration of Hoosier success stories will include presentation of three additional awards: Business Leader, Government Leader and, for the first time, the Indiana Chamber Foundation Indiana Vision 2025 Dynamic Leader of the Year. Indiana Vision 2025 is the Chamber’s long-range economic development plan and the new award will emphasize entrepreneurship and others facets of the Dynamic and Creative Culture driver.

Media interested in covering the event should contact Rebecca Patrick at (317) 264-6897 or

Past Community of the Year recipients:

2014: Bloomington
2013: Bedford
2012: Indianapolis
2011: Kokomo
2010: Terre Haute
2009: Valparaiso
2008: Noblesville
2007: Anderson
2006: Evansville
2005: LaPorte
2004: Muncie
2003: Warsaw
2002: Marion
2001: Greater Lafayette
2000: Jeffersonville
1999: Fort Wayne
1998: Rochester
1997: Batesville
1996: Elkhart
1995: Indianapolis
1994: Kendallville
1993: St. Joseph County
1992: Columbus
1991: Muncie
1990: Bluffton

Poll Results: Fair Inquiry Finds Food to be Favorite

23064608The recently-concluded Indiana State Fair once again attracted more than 900,000 visitors. Based on the results of our poll asking people to identify their favorite part of the traditional event, you might call it another deep-fried success.

Nearly half (46%) chose food as the top attraction. Yes, there are many delectable options, including a few healthy choices along the way.

Other answers included: exhibits (17%), animal competitions (13%) and musical entertainment (8%). In the “other” category, comments ranged from people watching and rides to “I don’t like the fair.”

We turn back to traditional business with the current question (top right), asking about your leading business concern as we enter the final four months of 2015.