Health Care to be Focus of Connect & Collaborate Events in 2016 (Coming to a City Near You!)

97867199Six years after the Affordable Care Act became law, employers and employees continue to be impacted, and sometimes confused, by its various rules and regulations. You can learn about new tools to answer your questions and benefit your organization as part of the 2016 Connect & Collaborate series.

The events – presented by the Indiana Chamber in partnership with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and free for Chamber members – will take place in 11 cities across the state. In addition to breakfast or lunch and networking with business leaders from your area, the health care emphasis will include these three important benefits:

  1. Advocacy: The Chamber’s longstanding role in seeking implementation of the best possible public policies at both the state and federal levels
  2. Education: Conferences, publications, the affiliated Wellness Council of Indiana and additional member services to assist companies and their workers
  3. Navigation: New options being made available this year, in conjunction with Anthem and additional partners, to help you produce cost savings while best meeting your employee needs. These products are structured for organizations of all types and sizes

Past Connect & Collaborate series have focused on workforce development, workplace wellness and energy saving guidance. Chamber Communications VP Tom Schuman, Director of Membership Brock Hesler and Anthem representatives will be featured presenters at each event.

The series begins May 4 in Carmel and concludes June 21 in Fort Wayne. Additional stops are Terre Haute, Richmond, Anderson, Lafayette, Bloomington, Evansville, Gary, Winona Lake and Elkhart. Pre-registration is required for the 90-minute programs.

Full lineup and registration. If you have additional questions, contact Nick Luchtefeld (nluchtefeld@indianachamber.com) at (317) 264-6898.

2016 Legislative Returns on Indiana Chamber Investment

in chamberThe 2016 General Assembly saw the Chamber advocate for and achieve numerous public policy victories that will have a lasting positive impact on the state’s economy and the prosperity of its residents. Additionally, the Chamber defeated several measures that would have cost businesses over $200 million.

In total, the Chamber’s work yielded savings of $1.435 billion for Hoosier businesses OR $546 per employee. Specific savings are listed below by bill and subject matter, in total and per employee. Also noted is the indeterminable value of a vital policy area: education and workforce development; the majority of which cannot be quantified.

Business Savings:
$1.435 billion or $546 per employee

Civil Justice
– Reasonable and controlled increased medical malpractice limits (SEA 28):
$50 million; $19.02/employee
– Restrictions on legal practice known as “lawsuit lending”
(HEA 1127): $40 million; $15.21/employee

Economic Development and Infrastructure
– Supplemental distribution of local income tax for local infrastructure (SEA 67): $400 million; $152.13/employee
– Short-term road funding and allowance for additional Regional Cities initiative (HEA 1001): $300 million; $114.10/employee
– Defeated – Unreasonably high data breach fines (HB 1357): $10 million; $3.80/employee

Employment and Labor
– Prohibition against ordinances restricting employee scheduling (SEA 20): $75 million; $28.52/employee
– Defeated – Option for prevailing wage (SB 319 and SB 346): $50 million; $19.02/employee
– Defeated – Mandated paid leave policies (HB 1139 and HB 1328): $30 million; $11.41/employee
– Defeated – Mandated increases in minimum wage (HB 1265): $25 million; $9.51/employee
– Defeated – Loss of business license for employing unauthorized aliens (SB 285): $25 million; $9.51/employee
– Changes to unemployment insurance procedures (HEA 1334): $20 million; $7.61/employee

Energy and Environment
Long-term water infrastructure maintenance funding (SEA 257 and SEA 383)
$100 million; $38.03/employee
More efficient solid waste handling (SEA 256 and SEA 366) $20 million; $7.61/employee
Underground tank remediation fund (SEA 255) $10 million; $3.80/employee
Planning future water usage needs (SEA 347) $10 million; $3.80/employee

Health Care and Insurance
– Prescribing authority for telemedicine (HEA 1263): $80 million; $30.43/employee
– Codification of Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 (SEA 165) $70 million; $26.62/employee
– Defeated – Mandated health insurance coverages (SB 370) $25 million; $9.51/employee
– Defeated – Provisions for prescription drug requirements (HB 1390) $25 million; $9.51/employee

Taxation
– Repeal and replacement of commercial assessment mandates (HEA 1290)
$40 million; $15.21/employee
– Defeated – Egregious income tax reporting provisions (SB 323) $30 million; $11.41/employee

Total Savings for Indiana Business: $1.435 Billion
Total Savings Per Employee: $546

Your Return on Investment
10 employees = savings of $5,460
25 employees = savings of $13,650
50 employees = savings of $27,300
100 employees = savings of $54,600
200 employees = savings of $109,200
500 employees = savings of $273,000

Plus the Value of Education and Workforce Development Initiatives:
The Indiana Chamber also played a leading role in the development and passage of important education and workforce development legislation. While difficult to quantify the specific fiscal impact of these changes, we know from economic research, economic development professionals, site selection consultants and our own membership the importance of these matters to the cost of doing business. Thus, we note the important accomplishments in education and workforce development as a significant – albeit unquantifiable – return on investment.

IMPORTANT NOTES: Business impact calculations are based on fiscal impact estimates of the Legislative Services Agency, independent studies, other available data and research materials, and Indiana Chamber analysis. Business impact per employee is calculated by using the estimated number of employed workers statewide in March 2016 (2,629,300).

Accelerate Team Performance with These Opportunities in May

Don’t coast along when it comes to employee skills and legal developments that impact your business. Engage people – and protect your bottom line – through a variety of upcoming training events.

The annual Indiana Worker’s Compensation Conference will take place May 11 at Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown Union Station. It will feature sessions on psychological injuries in the workplace; the impact of worker’s compensation on your organization; Indiana’s Worker’s Compensation Act (and how it works together with the FMLA and ADA); and more!

Sponsors are Athletico Physical Therapy, Center for Diagnostic Imaging, Ice Miller LLP and Pro Resources Staffing Services. Contact Jim Wagner at (317) 264-6876 regarding additional sponsorship and exhibit opportunities.

Shift gears by attending the annual Indiana Environmental Permitting and Reporting Conference on May 18-19 at the Indiana Chamber Conference Center. Sponsored by KERAMIDA, Inc., it’s the most complete and comprehensive permitting and reporting course offered in the state.

Highlights include:

  • 2016 Annual Reporting Requirements and Update
  • Are You Prepared for Your Next Air Compliance Inspection?
  • Spill Reporting and Spill Prevention Considerations
  • Most Common Notices of Violation – How to Demonstrate Permit Compliance
  • Beneficial Reuse of Foundry Sand/CCR – Permits and Regulations

Two additional events, both at the Indiana Chamber Conference Center, round out May offerings: Forklift Safety: Train the Trainer (May 24) and OSHA Recordkeeping and Reporting Course (May 25).

Register for any of these events online or by calling Nick at (800) 824-6885.

Indiana Chamber Welcomes Mark Lawrance Back to New Role

LawranceR. Mark Lawrance will return to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce in May as vice president of engagement and innovation policy.

Lawrance served as director of the Indiana University Public Policy Institute from 2014 until earlier this year, guiding the comprehensive Thriving Communities, Thriving State initiative that was released in March and other important research and programs.

An Indianapolis native, Lawrance spent more than 13 years at the Indiana Chamber beginning in 2000. He previously guided the efforts of the Indiana Chamber Foundation and, among other roles, represented members on local government and technology issues. In his new position, Lawrance will advocate in the critical economic development, infrastructure and technology areas, lead efforts on the Indiana Vision 2025 long-range economic development action plan and work with organizations on their collaborations with the Indiana Chamber.

“We’re pleased to welcome Mark back to the Indiana Chamber,” states Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “His experience, relationships and knowledge about what it takes for Indiana to move forward are obvious assets that will benefit both our members and partners. Mark was one of the keys to the launch and early victories in Indiana Vision 2025,and it’s wonderful to have him focused once again on its success.”

Lawrance graduated from Indiana University with a degree in public affairs. He was a vice president of the MCL restaurant chain before first coming to the Indiana Chamber.

“This indeed is like coming home for me,” Lawrance says. “I’m passionate about doing what I can to help create the best possible Indiana for today and future generations – and the Indiana Chamber is a perfect place to continue to do just that.”

Lawrance will begin his work with the Indiana Chamber on May 16.

Lawsuit Lending Legislation Made Big Leap in 2016 Session

10044552The most unbelievable surprise of the 2016 Indiana legislative session ended up being the bill to address the practice known as “lawsuit lending.” At the beginning and throughout much of the session, it was believed by all parties that this would be the year to reach an agreement on the issue. But as both sides began to define terms, it was clear that we weren’t really any closer than in years past.

Lawsuit lending or civil proceeding advance payment transactions, as described in HB 1127, is the practice where a third party finance company loans money to a plaintiff in anticipation of a favorable settlement in a lawsuit. The finance companies justify a high interest rate because if the plaintiff does not win the suit, there is no requirement to repay the amount financed/loaned.

The Chamber has always maintained that this practice has an adverse impact upon the settlement/litigation process. As has been the case previously, Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne) was the author in the House and Sen. Randy Head (R-Logansport) was the author in the Senate. The Chamber and coalition members have supported Rep. Lehman’s position and the lawsuit lending industry has supported Sen. Head’s.

Representative Lehman took a different approach this year and attempted to place the transactions under the Uniform Consumer Credit Code (UCCC). Because of the way that interest rates and deferral interest rates are calculated for banks under the UCCC, there was some confusion as to how these transactions would operate for lawsuit lending purposes. To keep a long story short: The industry wanted a $500 document fee on all transactions, 36% interest rate cap and a 36% deferral fee. Due to how their product is financed, it effectually produced an interest rate of 72% – which was totally unacceptable to the Chamber, the Indiana Manufacturers Association, the Insurance Institute of Indiana and other business interests. During conference committee time, Rep. Lehman made several proposals to find common ground.

The night before the last day of session, the Chamber met with Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) to discuss our concerns. He thought a deal might still be struck. Early the final day, a conference committee report was presented and the legal finance industry was opposed to it. By 10:30 a.m., all parties agreed that the bill was dead and we would be back next year to fight even stronger. As a result, most of the coalition members had returned to their respective offices for the day. A little after 11 a.m., the local contract lobbyist for the American Legal Finance Association approached the Chamber to see if there could be a tweaking of the fees if the interest rates were kept lower. Around 12:30 p.m., Rep. Lehman asked the coalition if all of us could live with a 36% interest rate, a 7% service fee, a $250 document fee for loans under $5,000 and a $500 document fee for loans in excess of $5,000. The kicker was that Lehman said that it would be calculated based upon APR (Annual Percentage Rate).

Immediately the Chamber and others said take the deal. Without the APR the deal would have been OK at best, but with APR this was a game-changer. The rest of the afternoon and evening we worked ferociously to get the Senate Democrats to get Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) to sign the conference committee report and get the bill passed. The final HB 1127 passed the Senate 40-10 and was in the last batch of bills to be voted on in the House, passing by a margin of 63-32.

The Chamber wants to thank Jon Zarich, representing State Farm, and Michael Niland and Logan Harrison of the Insurance Institute for their amazing efforts. Their partnership with the Chamber helped make the passage of lawsuit lending possible after six long years.

Chamber Welcomes New College and Career Director; Auslander Adds Federal Duties

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has a new director of college and career readiness initiatives. Shelley Huffman previously worked for the Indiana State Budget Agency, Office of the Governor, under two administrations and was responsible for the funding oversight for the Indiana Department of Education.

Huffman is also a former business development strategist for Heritage Christian School in Indianapolis and served as a governor’s fellow to the Commission for Higher Education before joining the private sector. She brings a background in project management and fiscal and strategic planning in both education and business.

Huffman will be in charge of the Indiana Chamber’s college and career readiness initiatives and related workforce strategies, with the goal being to “assist employers in engaging, educating and elevating their workforce,” says Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “That’s one of the most critical tasks facing our state. We welcome Shelley and look forward to her helping us continue to make strides on that front.”

The Indiana Chamber has been a steady and visible leader in this area with its programs, advocacy efforts and reports – highlighted by the Indiana Vision 2025 long-range economic development plan that puts a premium focus on the workforce.

A Fishers resident, Huffman earned her MBA from Butler University and bachelor’s degrees in business and political science from Ball State University.

Businesses and others interested in more information about the Indiana Chamber’s workforce programs can contact Huffman at (317) 264-7548 or at shuffman@indianachamber.com.


CarylAuslander-smallSeparately, the Indiana Chamber has announced that Caryl Auslander, the vice president of education and workforce development, also will now be handing the organization’s federal affairs and lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C.

A Hoosier native, Auslander spent significant time in the nation’s capital before returning to Indiana, including three years on the staff of then U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar and several years as a federal lobbyist. More recently, Auslander led federal advocacy projects for the Indianapolis-based firm, The Corydon Group.

“Caryl already has strong relationships with many members of Indiana’s delegation and a real passion for this work,” offers Brinegar. “In this role, she will serve as the staff liaison for the Indiana Chamber’s Congressional Affairs Committee and work with Indiana’s congressional delegation on key issues that impact Indiana businesses and their employees.”

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has a new director of college and career readiness initiatives. Shelley Huffman previously worked for the Indiana State Budget Agency, Office of the Governor, under two administrations and was responsible for the funding oversight for the Indiana Department of Education.

Huffman is also a former business development strategist for Heritage Christian School in Indianapolis and served as a governor’s fellow to the Commission for Higher Education before joining the private sector. She brings a background in project management and fiscal and strategic planning in both education and business.

Huffman will be in charge of the Indiana Chamber’s college and career readiness initiatives and related workforce strategies, with the goal being to “assist employers in engaging, educating and elevating their workforce,” says Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “That’s one of the most critical tasks facing our state. We welcome Shelley and look forward to her helping us continue to make strides on that front.”

The Indiana Chamber has been a steady and visible leader in this area with its programs, advocacy efforts and reports – highlighted by the Indiana Vision 2025 long-range economic development plan that puts a premium focus on the workforce.

A Fishers resident, Huffman earned her MBA from Butler University and bachelor’s degrees in business and political science from Ball State University.

Businesses and others interested in more information about the Indiana Chamber’s workforce programs can contact Huffman at (317) 264-7548 or at shuffman@indianachamber.com.

Separately, the Indiana Chamber has announced that Caryl Auslander, the vice president of education and workforce development, also will now be handing the organization’s federal affairs and lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C.

A Hoosier native, Auslander spent significant time in the nation’s capital before returning to Indiana, including three years on the staff of then U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar and several years as a federal lobbyist. More recently, Auslander led federal advocacy projects for the Indianapolis-based firm, The Corydon Group.

“Caryl already has strong relationships with many members of Indiana’s delegation and a real passion for this work,” offers Brinegar. “In this role, she will serve as the staff liaison for the Indiana Chamber’s Congressional Affairs Committee and work with Indiana’s congressional delegation on key issues that impact Indiana businesses and their employees.”

Rolex Rises in Reputation Rankings

Business direction background with two people

Rolex, The Walt Disney Company and Google top Reputation Institute’s 2016 Global RepTrak 100, the world’s largest annual survey of corporate reputations. The RepTrak System measures the general public’s perception of the world’s top companies on the seven key rational dimensions of reputation: products and services, innovation, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership and performance.

An “excellent” reputation is represented by an overall RepTrak Pulse score of 80 or higher. A RepTrak Pulse score of 70-79 is considered “strong,” while 60-69 is “average.” None of the companies in the Top 100 scored below 67.

“The Global RepTrak 100 shows that to be a winner in the global market, companies need to deliver on all seven dimensions of reputation,” said Kasper Ulf Nielsen, executive partner at Reputation Institute, in a news release. “The top three companies all demonstrated strong or excellent scores in each dimension, which means that consumers are more likely to buy and recommend their products and services.”

One notable absence from the RepTrak 100 is German automaker Volkswagen, whose reputation dropped by 13.7 points globally in the wake of an emissions scandal. VW earned a strong RepTrak Pulse score of 75 in 2015, good enough for 14th place on the Global RepTrak 100 that year, but dropped to an average RepTrak Pulse score of 61.3 in 2016, falling to 123rd position.

Across the seven dimensions of reputation, VW saw an average drop of 10.9 points, with the biggest drops in governance, citizenship and leadership. VW also saw a drop across all supportive behaviors, which underscores the impact of a company’s reputation on the business.

The top 10 companies in this year’s rankings are:

  1. Rolex
  2. The Walt Disney Company
  3. Google
  4. BMW Group
  5. Daimler
  6. LEGO Group
  7. Microsoft
  8. Canon
  9. Sony
  10. Apple

Consumers identified Rolex as the global leader in products and services, while Apple remains the global leader in innovation and leadership. Google earned top marks on performance and workplace, with The Walt Disney Company perceived as best in citizenship and governance.

Out of the 100 companies that made the list, only six companies managed to make their way into the top 10 across the majority of the markets. Rolex, which occupied the fourth spot in 2014 and 2015 but jumped to first place overall in 2016, ranks in the top 10 across 11 markets – the most out of all companies.

Microsoft returned to the top 10 in 2016 after a one-year absence, replacing Intel, which slipped to 11th place. Though it remains in the top 10, Apple slid from 7th place since 2014.

Download the complete list of Top 100 Reputable Companies.

The Drop on Indiana Water Issues in the 2016 Legislative Session

34886804Indiana’s water quantity issue received significant attention in the 2016 Indiana legislative session as Sen. Charbonneau continues to champion calculated steps toward a credible water policy for the state. His mantra has been “data before decisions” and the legislation this year reflects that refrain, which the Indiana Chamber strongly supports.

Senate Bill 347 (Water Resources) is Charbonneau’s 2016 flagship for the water issue. The bill does three things: 1) directs the Indiana Finance Authority (IFA) to conduct a “water loss” audit of all water utilities; 2) says the IFA will conduct a quality control assessment of well locations; and 3) instructs the IFA to study, analyze and report to the LSA by November 1, 2016, on the infrastructure needs of Indiana’s water utilities. This bill adds to the growing library of data that will guide the state’s water policy.

Senate Bill 257 (Distressed Water and Wastewater Utilities) promotes the purchase of distressed water utilities before they totally collapse. With over 500 water utilities in the state, this is a critical issue.

A cousin to SB 257 is SB 383 (System Integrity Adjustments).For many years, we have not adequately maintained our aging water and wastewater infrastructure. It is out of sight and out of mind. The cost is estimated at over $14 billion to restore this decaying system.

Senate Bill 383 provides that a water or wastewater utility may petition the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to recover approved charges. The Chamber supports a fair and equitable way to address this issue, for an inadequate water and sewer system will
negatively impact our economy.

House Bill 1300 (Environmental Management Matters) is IDEM’s annual catch-all bill with a variety of issues including: revising the term “land application”; revoking a temporary variance; clarifying when an antidegradation review is required; extending the vehicle mercury switch program; recycling issues and electronic devices reporting, and addressing rates and charges by regional water, sewage and solid waste districts. The Chamber supported HB 1300 as it clarifies and creates efficiencies within the administration.

House Bill 1299 (Voluntary Remediation Plan) was IDEM’s bill to give it more teeth to cull out those that are not adhering to its proposed work plan and timeline. The administration, however, pulled the bill as IDEM believes that it has enough power at this time to enforce the voluntary remediation plan (VRP) program. The Chamber believes that if a project is accepted into the VRP program that it should follow the approved plan within the identified timeline. The VRP program should not be a means to shield a site from litigation or cleanup.

Senate Bill 255 (Underground Storage Tanks) directs IDEM to conduct an actuarial study of the Excess Liability Trust Fund (ELF) that is to provide monies to clean up underground storage tanks.

The ELF realizes one penny for every gallon of pumped gasoline and diesel; the fund is now in excess of $100 million, with many millions in charges pending for cleanups. The actuarial study will identify how much money will be needed for registered tanks and the balance required to clean up “orphan” tanks that have no owners with a responsibility to remediate the site. The Chamber supported SB 255 as it promotes the restoration of sites, which potentially create a viable location for a business that will provide jobs and pay taxes.

The Chamber has long supported the use of waste products as a credible feedstock for another process. Senate Bill 256 (Legitimate Use of Solid Waste) conceptually promotes that model. If administered properly, it is a win/win as the producer of a waste saves the cost of treatment/disposal and the recipient of the material has a free or inexpensive feedstock – and valuable landfill space is not consumed.

Indiana Chamber Endorses Rep. Todd Young for U.S. Senate

young pic camera (2)The Indiana Chamber is endorsing Congressman Todd Young (R-IN, 9th District) in his candidacy for the U.S. Senate. The announcement was made today at a press conference at Indiana Chamber headquarters in downtown Indianapolis.

“We believe Todd Young is the most qualified and most economic-minded individual running for the Senate seat,” said Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “He has repeatedly demonstrated sound fiscal policy and prudent decision-making on issues that are vital to jobs and economic growth.”

Brinegar further emphasized Young’s engagement with the business community and his focus on economic, fiscal and regulatory issues.

“After he was appointed to the Ways and Means Committee, the congressman sought substantial feedback on potential federal tax reforms and what would have the most impact on Hoosier companies and their employees. He listened to our members – through personal conversations and a survey – using their insights to help form his pro-economy agenda.”

The Indiana Chamber’s nonpartisan congressional action committee, comprised of volunteer business leaders from around the state, determined Young’s endorsement.

At both the state and federal levels, Indiana Chamber endorsements are driven by vote scores on pro-jobs, pro-economy issues. For state endorsements, the Indiana Chamber relies on its Legislative Vote Analysis report. Congressional endorsements are based on a combination of the U.S. Chamber’s own vote scores and an analysis of votes on Indiana Chamber federal policy positions.

Representatives of the U.S. Chamber, which also is supporting Young’s campaign, joined the Indiana Chamber for the press event.

The 2016 Legislative Session: Some Noteworthy Shots Made

Silhouette of Teen Boy Shooting a Basketball at Sunset, copy space

With the NCAA basketball tournament in full swing and baseball season just around the corner, slam dunks and grand slams are both center stage. Neither of those terms, however, can be used to describe the 2016 Indiana General Assembly session. We’ll have to settle for a solid jump shot or maybe a line drive double in the gap.

The number one priority for the Indiana Chamber and its business members was enhanced funding for roads and transportation infrastructure. A total of $1.1 billion, when counting money for local governments, is a strong start. What’s even more important is the commitment legislators made to address longer-term needs in the 2017 budget-writing session.

All four legislative caucuses and the governor’s office offered plans and spent considerable time working toward solutions. That is an excellent sign of even better things to come. In the education arena, the disastrous ISTEP test implementation in recent years led to several needed pieces of legislation. Teachers and schools will not be negatively impacted by the 2014-2015 test results, but all-important accountability remains in place and a summer panel – with the Indiana Chamber at the table – will determine a more suitable testing future for our state’s students.

Other positive legislative results included funding the third Regional Cities program, scholarships for prospective top-of-their-class teachers, a long-sought solution to the unregulated lawsuit lending industry and saving hundreds of millions of dollars with more appropriate property tax assessments of large retail facilities (aka “big box” stores).
Unfortunately, there were also two significant missed opportunities. Indiana must be seen as a welcoming place for all in order to retain and recruit top talent, new business investment and tourism. Failing to pass civil rights legislation doesn’t put Indiana in the strong position it could have been, or arguably needs to be. While this proved a bridge too
far for legislators to cross in this election year, all of our state leaders must find a way going forward to work together to craft a solution.

Despite bipartisan support, implementing a work share program barely even got out of the starting gate. Work share would benefit employees, employers and communities when the next economic downturn occurs. At the request of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD), the Indiana Chamber partnered with them to commission an independent study of why a work share program is needed. The Chamber also took the extra step of identifying viable funding options for the program’s administration. However, DWD still was unable to get on board. Until they do, this policy will, unfortunately, face an uphill climb.

If these last two items had been added to the plus column, we might just be talking slam dunks and grand slams. Still, there will be another game in town next year, and the Chamber will be back at it – pushing these policies and others that support making Indiana a more prosperous place for employers and their employees.

Read further analysis from Brinegar on several of these issues in this summary