Sen. Coats Visits Chamber Office, Introduces Bill to Help Businesses

Senator Dan Coats was in the Indiana Chamber of Commerce office today promoting the bill he introduced — the Sound Regulation Act of 2014, to help Hoosier job creators. The bill would require every federal agency to engage in an extensive cost-benefit analysis to determine the actual cost, in dollars, of regulations under each agency’s jurisdiction.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, the cost of complying with federal regulations exceeds $1.75 trillion every year, which amounts to more than $10,500 per American worker. Meanwhile, the number of pages in the Code of Federal Regulations has expanded from 71,224 in 1975 to 174,545 in 2012.

The aim of the bill is to reduce over regulation on American businesses — an effort the Chamber supports.

Here’s more on the bill from Sen. Coats’ web site.

U.S. Chamber Honors Pro-Business Members of Congress

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently honored members of Congress (252 in the House; 48 Senators) for their pro-jobs, pro-growth stances with the annual Spirit of Enterprise Award.

“In the face of high-stakes politics and difficult choices, legislators from both parties provided America’s job creators with a strong voice in Congress,” said Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber. “This award recognizes these men and women for consistently demonstrating their support for pro-growth policies.”

The Chamber’s prestigious Spirit of Enterprise Award, in its 25th year, is given annually to members of Congress based on key business issues outlined in the Chamber publication How They Voted. Members who support the Chamber’s position on at least 70% of those votes qualify to receive the award.

The Chamber scored Congress on 8 Senate and 12 House votes in 2012, including reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the establishment of Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia, and the reauthorization of surface transportation legislation. Also scored were votes to repeal onerous provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, improve the process by which regulations are promulgated, and better secure the United States from cyber threats.

To view a complete list of the 2012 Spirit of Enterprise recipients, please visit www.uschamber.com/soe.

Those from Indiana are:

INDIANA
Sen. Dan Coats
Sen. Richard G. Lugar
Rep. Joseph Donnelly (IN-2)
Rep. Marlin A. Stutzman (IN-3)
Rep. Todd Rokita (IN-4)
Rep. Dan Burton (IN-5)
Rep. Mike Pence (IN-6)
Rep. Larry Bucshon (IN -8)
Rep. Todd Young (IN-9)

Saying So Long to Senate Seniority

We know about Indiana's changes in Senate seniority — from Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh a few years ago to first-termers Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly. Although Coats served previously, his 12-year gap between terms puts him back in the pack, for the most part, when it comes to seniority.

BIPAC, the Business Industry Political Action Committee in Washington, has some interesting insights on the rapid changes in seniority across the country and some of the impacts.

Seniority in the U.S. Senate has always been viewed as beneficial.  More senior members usually have increased clout in the chamber and higher positions in committees.  However, in a year where almost half of the senators have been serving less than six years, lack of seniority and experience can also be a good thing.  This is a great time to reach out to the newer members and introduce yourself and your issues.
 
There are currently 45 senators (this includes Senator Kerry's successor) that have served less than six years.  In 11 states – Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Virginia and Wisconsin – both senators have served less than six years.
 
Since the 2012 elections, changes in the Hawaii and Massachusetts delegations have drastically altered seniority in both states and the Senate.  When Senator Inouye passed away, the Senate lost its most senior member and Hawaii lost its seniority as a state in the chamber.  Both Sens. Schatz and Hirono have served less than two months, a major change from the long careers of Sens. Inouye and Akaka.  Schatz is considered Hawaii's senior member, since he was sworn in on December 27, 2012 and Hirono was sworn in on January 3, 2013.
 
Now that Kerry has submitted his resignation to become Secretary of State, Massachusetts lost the seniority it held for decades.  Kerry was the seventh most senior senator and Ted Kennedy, before he passed away, was the second most senior member.  Once Kerry's seat is filled, both senators from Massachusetts will have been in office for less than a year (This will still hold true if Scott Brown is elected to take Kerry's seat.  He lost his seniority when he left office in January 2013 after losing to Elizabeth Warren).
 
Two states that still hold considerable seniority in the Senate are Iowa and California.  For Iowa, Senator Grassley is the sixth most senior senator, followed by Senator Harkin who is seventh.  Iowa's position will change following the 2014 election now that Harkin has announced his retirement.  California holds the 14th and 15th most senior spots, with Sens. Feinstein and Boxer.   Senator Leahy from Vermont is the Senate's most senior member.
 

Sen. Coats Hosting Job Fair in Lafayette

Sen. Dan Coats is hosting the 2012 Hoosier Job Fair on May 30 in Lafayette. There are currently 70 businesses already signed up to participate from all across Indiana, offering over 2,500 jobs. This job fair will be advertised throughout the state and organizers expect job-seekers from across Indiana (as well as graduating students from Purdue University) to be in attendance. It is a FREE event for participating businesses and job-seekers alike.  If your business would like to participate, please call (317) 554-0750 or visit the web site at www.coats.senate.gov/jobfair.  Below is more information about this event.
 

  • WHEN: Wednesday, May 30, 2012
  • TIME: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
  • WHERE: Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds, West Pavilion (1401 Teal Road, Lafayette)
  • COST: FREE
  • Businesses can sign up by calling (317) 554-0750, emailing jobfair@coats.senate.gov or logging onto our website at www.coats.senate.gov/jobfair.
  • PARTNERS: Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski, West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis, State Senator Brandt Hershman, State Senator Ron Alting , the Greater Lafayette Commerce, Lafayette WorkOne and the Tippecanoe County Commissioners

Effort to Slow NLRB ‘Ambush’ Fails

OK, there wasn’t much chance the amendment was going to pass the U.S. Senate and, if somehow it did, it would have been vetoed by the White House. But it was worth the old college try, as they say, and it did shine the spotlight once again on the runaway actions of the National Labor Relations Board.

The amendment was an attempt to overturn new regulations that dramatically reduce the time between union organization efforts and the actual election in that workplace. In other words, unions will still be able to make their case for why their presence would make sense during their organizing effort, but employers will have precious little time to respond prior to a vote taking place.

Currently, worker votes typically take place 45 to 60 days after a union gathers enough signatures to warrant an election. Under the new regulations, those votes could take place within a matter of a few weeks, or even days.

Indiana senators Richard Lugar and Dan Coats supported the resolution to overturn the NLRB action. The 54-45 vote to disapprove, however, was along party lines with the exception of one vote.

Lawmaker reactions were swift, calling the rule an "ambush" on employers:

Senator Roy Blunt (R-Missouri): "By speeding up union elections and removing important safeguards that ensure a fair election process, this unnecessary rule will restrict job creators’ free speech rights and limit workers’ opportunities to hear both sides of the argument to unionize — an issue critically important to their livelihood.

"It’s unfortunate that we have to spend time undoing this administration’s reckless job-killing policies when leaders on both sides of the aisle should be working together to pass common-sense, pro-growth solutions that will boost job creation and get our economy back on track," Blunt continued.

Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee ranking member: “This vote was an important opportunity to send a message to the NLRB that their job is not to tip the scale in favor of one party or another, but to fairly resolve disputes and conduct secret ballot elections."

Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina): The National Labor Relations Board seems hell bent on changing processes across the board, more for political reasons than for substantive reasons." 

Video: Super Committee, Get to Work

Indiana Chamber Communications VP Tom Schuman explains why streamlining the tax code and reforming entitlement spending will create a simpler and fairer system for American workers and businesses. The U.S. Congress’ Super Committee should work to make this happen.

Senators Challenge “Donor State” Issue

The term “donor” usually refers to a person who bestows something voluntarily – a vital organ to a person in need or blood to a blood bank; even someone offering money to an organization without expecting anything in return is considered a donor. 

But, Indiana’s title as a financial “donor state” in the federal transportation system has never been voluntary. (States that put more money into the federal transportation program than they receive out of it are considered donor states.) A total of 28 states have the moniker, and Indiana receives only 92 cents for every dollar given to the federal system.

To combat this inequity, Indiana Republican Dan Coats has joined with several other senators from around the nation in introducing the State Transportation Flexibility Act, legislation that would allow states to opt out of federal highway programs. The act gives states the flexibility to manage and spend the gas tax revenue collected inside each state on transportation projects without federal mandates or restrictions.

The federal gas tax is the biggest revenue generator for the federal highway trust fund. With more fuel efficient vehicles and people driving less on average, the gas tax has been pushed into a steady decline and the trust fund has been bailed out several times.

“For too long, Indiana has been a donor state and sent more gas tax dollars to Washington than it has received back,” Coats says in a press release. “This isn’t fair to Hoosier taxpayers, which is why I support the State Highway Flexibility Act. Hoosiers know our state’s transportation needs better than bureaucrats in Washington, and Indiana should be able to control its own resources.”

States that choose to opt out would have to continue to maintain the Interstate system in accordance with its current program, but all gas tax revenue gained inside its borders would be used at the state’s discretion on transportation projects without federal interference.

“Anytime you can eliminate a layer of federal bureaucracy from the state’s ability to govern, it is a good thing,” adds Sen. David Vitter (R-Louisiana) in the release. “The states know their transportation needs better than Congress, so let’s put them in the driver’s seat to manage their own gas tax.”

In 2009, Alaska received $3.28 for every dollar it put into the federal fund, the District of Columbia received $5.04 for every dollar and Montana, North Dakota, Rhode Island and Vermont had returns of greater than 200% that same year.

For more information on the federal highway transportation fund and the challenges Indiana faces with the current transportation funding system, check out the story "Stuck in Neutral" in the May/June 2011 edition of BizVoice®. 

Coats Earns Business Endorsement

It’s endorsement season — and the Indiana Chamber Congressional Action Committee (ICCAC, the Indiana Chamber’s non-partisan federal political action program) today endorsed Dan Coats for the U.S. Senate seat in this year’s election.

Coats says he has talked to hundreds of struggling Hoosier business owners who are fed up with higher taxes, more regulations and the ambiguity of what is yet to come.

"They are asking for checks and balances against the one-party control in Washington and this cloud of uncertainty," says Coats, who previously served in the Senate from 1990-1998. "It’s all about creating jobs and stimulating the economy. Those are the keys to our campaign."

The former senator added that every effort should be made to repeal the health care reform measure that, he notes, imposes 19 new taxes. If that proves not possible, "sensible corrections" need to be pursued.

Coats, running against current 8th District Congressman Brad Ellsworth, had sharp words for Congress and its decision to head back to the campaign trail without addressing the tax cuts that are scheduled to expire at year’s end.

"That was totally irresponsible." The uncertainty that is stopping company investments and job expansions is "now extended two more months. It has frozen businesses in place because they don’t know what their tax situation will be."

Chamber President Kevin Brinegar said that the volunteer business community leaders of the ICCAC want representatives in Washington who "focus on economic growth and job creation, not growing government, and Dan Coats clearly understands this."

Following the Bouncing Election Ball

Random observations and insights from Election Day thus far:

  • Seems that the Secretary of State’s election division received as many inquiries about liquor stores being open (the law was, in a common sense move, changed earlier this year to allow alcohol sales while the polls were open) than problems at the polls. Good news there.
  • A caller to The Times in Northwest Indiana bragged that he voted straight Republican today. The newspaper’s response, on its blog, was: Well, duh!
  • There were early reports (around 7 p.m.) that U.S. Senate frontrunner Dan Coats had practiced his victory speech from the podium at the Indianapolis Marriott. Guess he didn’t mind tempting fate a bit.
  • Interesting to see those U.S. Senate and other TV ads airing in the final minutes before the polls closed. Candidates seeking a last-minute push? Nah! Just the intricacies of televison scheduling.
  • Indy Star’s Matt Tully notes on Chamber webcast that all Republicans leading the congressional primaries were doing so with less than 50% of the vote (current Indiana Rep. Jackie Walorski did move up to 57% a short time later in dominating her race to challenge Joe Donnelly)

Harper: Northeast Indiana Races Favor Banks, Souder

Mitch Harper is author of the popular blog, Fort Wayne Observed. He is also a Fort Wayne City Councilman.

The news may be that multiple counties are reporting that absentee and early voting levels are only at or below the typical levels for a mid-term election. This tends to suggest that a surge of motivated voters dissatisfied with government in general and the federal government, in particular, is not occurring in the primary cycle.

That surge may yet appear this fall. But these lower primary numbers mean that the typical Republican primary voter this year looks a lot like, well, the traditional Republican primary voter.  And that probably is a favorable sign for former Senator Dan Coats and incumbent 3rd District Congressman Mark Souder.

Senate: This is home ground for former Senator Dan Coats and State Senator Marlin Stutzman. Dan Coats is less strong here on his old home turf than many would have expected. Marlin Stutzman is well regarded here and has his own base.  Marlin also benefits by being the alternative choice of voters who might otherwise be in play for Mr. Coats or Mr. Hostettler. The impression that he is gaining momentum will have him taking votes from both Coats and Hostettler here during the next week. Will it be enough to offset the older, traditional Republican voter who favorably appreciates Dan Coats’ prior service? Maybe in northeastern Indiana but Marlin needs an extraordinary vote here to give him a chance statewide. 

However, by the conduct of his campaign, Marlin Stutzman comes out a winner regardless of Tuesday’s outcome.  

Senate District 17: The race to fill the seat of retiring State Senator "Doc" Dillon is likely to be an easy win for Whitley County Councilman Jim Banks. Mr. Banks is a meticulous campaign organizer. He is regarded as being favored easily in all of the District 17 counties with the exception of Huntington, home of County Commissioner Tom Wall. It is not that Mr. Banks won’t win that county, too, it’s just that Huntington politics is always interesting. 

US Representative, Third District: US Representative Mark Souder should win renomination. The question probably is whether he wins with over 50% of the vote over three challengers. Auto dealer Bob Thomas has spent heavily and the effect has been to marginalize Phil Troyer as the alternative choice.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Out of respect for our guest bloggers, we will not be allowing anonymous comments on their blogs this week. Additionally, the Indiana Chamber does not necessarily share the opinions of our guest bloggers.