Chamber Submits List of Federal Rules That Need Repeal to VP-Elect Pence

The Indiana Chamber is championing the repeal of “the most egregious rules, regulations and executive orders that occurred in recent years.” These targets for the Trump administration were submitted to Vice President-elect Mike Pence this week, just ahead of the inauguration.

The list, per Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar, contains “issues we have repeatedly heard about from our member companies because they hinder their ability to prosper and provide more jobs for Hoosiers.”

These issues include increased EPA air quality standards leading to much higher energy bills with minimal environmental impact, the overtime rule that would jeopardize jobs and business growth, costly rules related to Obamacare, misguided workplace safety regulations and a fear that the FCC’s net neutrality position could stifle innovation.

“It was all too common for President Obama to circumvent Congress by issuing executive orders and to encourage federal agencies to overreach their authority and diminish economic growth,” Brinegar says.

“The Indiana Chamber is very hopeful this troubling pattern will change under President-elect Donald Trump, and we have encouraged his administration to take action to undo many of the detrimental measures enacted in this manner and to get our economy moving again.”

The 17 suggestions for repeal and their impacts are available at www.indianachamber.com/federal.

The Indiana Chamber also made the state’s congressional delegation aware of these priorities.

Indiana Chamber Opposes Teacher Evaluations Bill

The Indiana Chamber opposes SB 35, which provides that a school corporation may use objective measures of student achievement as part of a teacher evaluation plan. (Current law provides that the use of an objective measure of student achievement is required as part of a teacher evaluation plan.)

While there are potentially some issues with teacher evaluations and those issues should be addressed at a more comprehensive level, it is a longstanding Chamber policy that teacher evaluations are extremely important and that student objective measures should be included in the evaluation process.

Note that last year, HEA 1395 (which did decouple the test results from the evaluations for one year) passed with the Chamber’s qualified support. This is because we felt that the administration of the ISTEP test – not the exam itself – was flawed. There is already local control when determining how much student objective measures will be attributed toward teacher evaluations and what objectives should be included in addition to the statewide assessment.

In addition, while many complain about including student objective measures in evaluations, it does not seem to have a negative impact in effectiveness ratings for teachers (98% were rated effective or highly effective in the most recent evaluations).

The bill was heard in the Senate Education Committee last Wednesday and held until this week for amendment and vote.

Concerns Over Education Matters Bill

The Indiana Chamber opposes, in part, SB 108, which eliminates the requirement that the Department of Education must publish a model compensation plan. It also:

  • Eliminates a requirement that each school corporation shall submit its local compensation plan to the department
  • Eliminates a requirement that the department must publish the local compensation plans on the department’s web site
  • Removes requirements that the: (1) department shall report any noncompliance of a school that fails to submit its compensation plan; and (2) State Board of Education shall take appropriate action to ensure compliance
  • Makes changes to the time frame, from four to six years, in which the State Board may take over a failing school
  • Provides that a principal or superintendent, or the principal’s or superintendent’s designee, may recommend an individual to participate in the Indiana high school equivalency diploma program

The Indiana Chamber testified against the provision concerning failing school interventions. We feel strongly that the trigger threshold of State Board of Education intervention should be kept at the current rate of four years instead of the drafted language of six years. It is important to keep our schools strong and accountable for our students, and six years is simply waiting too long to act regarding an underperforming school; our students deserve better.

The bill was heard in the Senate Education Committee last Wednesday and held until this week for amendment and vote.

Indiana Chamber Comments on Governor-Elect Holcomb’s 2017 Legislative Agenda

Indiana Chamber executives comment on Gov.-elect Eric Holcomb’s legislative agenda announced today.

Mark Lawrance, Indiana Chamber vice president of engagement and innovation policy:

“His policy priorities match the most pressing needs for employers and residents. Whether that’s backing a long-term commitment to fund the state’s transportation infrastructure or taking steps to address our population’s drug crisis.

“We were pleased to hear that the Holcomb administration will continue the push to make the innovation sector a major part of the state’s identity. Investing in technology companies is so vital because these businesses complement our existing industry strengths in agriculture, logistics and manufacturing. In many ways, innovation has and is transforming those areas. There’s no doubt Indiana can become a highly recognized technology hub, and the state supporting the tech sector’s growth is key to making that a reality.”

Caryl Auslander, Indiana Chamber vice president of education and workforce development:

“His broad-based approach to education and workforce development is essential to ensuring students are on the right path from an early age, adults are able to find gainful employment and businesses can fill positions with local talent. We know financial considerations are always part of the equation, but the General Assembly needs to do all it can to fund many of these critical education initiatives. And that should start with an expansion of the pre-K program for disadvantaged youngsters.

“The Indiana Chamber has long supported making the superintendent of public instruction an appointed position (by the governor). The governor is viewed as the ultimate leader regarding the state’s education policy. In years past, leaders in both parties have agreed on this issue – but the timing wasn’t right politically. We hope it is now.”

Get Your Tickets Now for 2017 Legislative Dinner Featuring Ann Compton

Join top policymakers and business leaders from throughout the state at the premier legislative event of the year – our 2017 Legislative Dinner on March 14.

More than 500 of Indiana’s most influential business leaders, legislators and government officials will come together at the Legislative Dinner to discuss topics vital to Indiana businesses. Register today for the leading networking event of the 2017 Indiana General Assembly session!

Keynote Speaker
From her front seat at the White House for ABC News, Ann Compton covered seven presidents as well as innumerable life-changing and globe-altering events – from the end of the Cold War to the political dramas that made the daily headlines.

Compton will give a historical perspective of today’s global events while offering a look forward to the impact of current events and her first-hand knowledge of the people and issues that are shaping the future of this country.

Program Description
Lifeline Data Centers Reception: 6 – 7 p.m.
Dinner: 7-9 pm

Investment
Gold Table: $2,250
Standard Table: $1,500
Individual Ticket: $149

Buy your tickets online.

Chamber Comments on Recommendations from Transportation Funding Task Force

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar comments on the release of recommendations from the FIRSST (Funding Indiana’s Roads for a Stronger Safer Tomorrow) task force:

“The task force has provided additional emphasis on three key priorities: today’s revenue sources are not adequate; long-term funding is required to meet both current maintenance and future new construction needs; and new funding should be based on a user-fee approach.

“We support the work of the task force and are prepared to assist legislators and the Holcomb administration in passing data-driven legislation that will help drive Indiana’s economic future. Reliable transportation infrastructure is critical for companies and the jobs they provide across the state.”

2017 Legislative Directory: Get the App and Be Ready on Day One!

The Legislative Directory app is more than an electronic version of our long-standing Legislative Directory handbook. Here are some of the app’s benefits:

  • Updated and ready to use on the first day of the legislative session
  • Real time updates to information throughout the session
  • Less expensive than the book, but contains the same information
  • Legislators’ contact info can be downloaded to your phone

You can order the app online now (order through the Indiana Chamber, not the app stores). The app is now available, and you will receive download links from us for your mobile device. (We’re updating the app as information comes in from legislators throughout the month so it’s ready when session begins.) Bulk app purchases are now available too; your company contact will receive all of the download links for distribution as needed.


2017 Legislative Directory (book)

Like to keep it old school? Understandable. You can still buy the book version of our valuable guide to the General Assembly. This helpful booklet contains all the contact information you need for all 150 state legislators: their committee and seat assignments, photos, biographies and much more.

Place your pre-order online now. The book is scheduled to ship in mid-January.

Thanks as always to our Legislative Directory app and book sponsors: The Corydon Group; Duke Energy; Indiana State University and Comcast.

Call (800) 824-6885 for more information.

Indiana Chamber, Ball State Announce Healthy, Wealthy and Wise Index for Hoosier Communities

An old proverb, first printed in 1639, says: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” In today’s state and national economies, the assertion is that the healthier the residents are, the wealthier and wiser they and the broader community will also be.

The Ball State University Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) created the Healthy, Wealthy, Wise Index for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, its Foundation and the Wellness Council of Indiana to emphasize the critical importance of the health factor. The Index will serve as a valuable measuring tool for the Wellness Council’s Indiana Healthy Community initiative.

The Wellness Council of Indiana is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Indiana Chamber.

“Health is a key success factor to learning and wealth,” says Wellness Council of Indiana Executive Director Chuck Gillespie. “Community leaders and business decision makers need to understand why ‘healthy’ must be a big priority in order to ensure the vitality of their communities and workplaces.”

Thirty indicators – 15 health, six wealth and nine wise – were selected to establish the three indices. Results among all 92 counties and, separately, the 50 states are divided into quartiles, with those in the fourth quartile having the strongest performance.

“Our research also found there are major policy implications,” states Michael Hicks, the George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of Economics in the Miller College of Business and director of CBER. “There is a huge disparity in health and health care costs associated with preventable diseases in Indiana, especially across rural and urban settings. With this information, local governments can partner with businesses and non-profits to figure out how wellness can be more effectively spread throughout our communities.”

The Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 (www.indianachamber.com/2025) economic development action plan for the state includes four drivers, with three health-related goals under the Attractive Business Climate section (along with the direct correlation of the Wise index to the plan’s goals under Outstanding Talent). While the state has fared well in tax, regulatory and other areas in enhancing its business climate, the unhealthy state of the population is a costly and dangerous outlier.

The Indiana Chamber and allies have formed the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana to tackle health care challenges, with an initial legislative focus on reducing smoking. Nearly one-quarter of the adult population in Indiana smokes at an annual cost of $6 billion in additional health care expenditures and lost productivity.

“The Wellness Council has focused on creating and maintaining well workplaces throughout its history,” Gillespie shares. “The Indiana Healthy Community initiative is an important step to embracing and working toward community-wide health improvements. Healthy citizens are essential to Hoosiers being prepared to learn and work at their highest capabilities. Leaders are encouraged to use these findings in assessing the current status of their communities.”

Srikant Devaraj, CBER research assistant professor, adds, “This research found that there is a strong correlation between the built environment – the man-made surroundings that provide the setting for human activity – and the places where people are moving, implying that households put more value on the recreational amenities. Infrastructure related to traditional wellness activities, such as trails, playgrounds, parks and open green space matters more than ever in where people and subsequently businesses relocate.”

Counties that score highly in all three indices include Bartholomew, Dearborn, Dubois, Kosciusko and those surrounding Indianapolis. As suggested by earlier research, rural areas do not fare as well as urban settings. There are examples of high and low performers in close proximity to each other. Nationally, success is varied with Indiana having a below median health index and above median wealthy and wise results.

The Healthy, Wealthy, Wise Index is available at www.wellnessindiana.org, www.readyindiana.org and www.bsu.edu/cber/publications. The Ball State site includes full index scores for each county and state.

To be considered an Indiana Healthy Community, communities must apply to the Wellness Council of Indiana and meet eight key components, including working with various community leaders, getting citizens involved, analyzing political atmospheres and ensuring environments are best for making healthy choices. Part of the requirements include having a certain number of businesses certified as AchieveWELL companies, a Wellness Council designation for individual organizations

Locations interested in becoming Indiana Healthy Communities can visit the Wellness Council web site for more information and to apply.

Tax Man: Ice Miller’s Mark Richards a 2016 Volunteer of the Year

It’s immediately evident that Mark Richards is passionate about taxes.

As a lawyer for Ice Miller, LLP, specializing in tax law for the past 30 years, he is quick to explain how taxes are essential to the Indiana economy.

Richards points to changes – from a cash to credit economy, and from brick and mortar retail to online over the last few decades – as evidence of how interesting taxes can be.

“I’m using that as an example to show how our entire economic system evolves and the tax laws have to evolve to keep pace.

Some would argue (the laws) haven’t done that very well, but the result is there’s always a new frontier, a new area that’s undeveloped, unexplored, new issues that come up. This is fundamentally important,” he stresses.

Richards has been a member of the Indiana Chamber’s tax policy committee about as long as he’s been a lawyer. He views his role as a source of support and advice to the Chamber. He has been integral to several major tax policy initiatives over the years, including the repeal of the inventory and gross receipts taxes in 2002, and, more recently, the elimination of the throwback rule…

Read the full story in BizVoice.

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