2018 Legislative Directory Now Available

2018 Legislative Directory

The new Indiana Chamber Legislative Directory is here!

The 2018 Indiana General Assembly Legislative Directory comes in handbook form, as well as a mobile app. Both versions of the directory contain contact information for all 150 state legislators, including committee assignments, photos, biographies and more.

Other features include full-color photos and district maps for each legislator; legislator biographies, photos, contact information and office locations; committee assignments and leadership lists; updated seating charts; and a cross index by county and district number.

In addition, the mobile app includes automatic updates, the ability to “favorite” legislators and committees for quick reference and interaction. You can also download legislators into your mobile phone contacts list. The app is also available for both Apple and Android devices.

Individual handbooks are $9.99 and mobile app access codes are $8.99 each. To order the app version, visit the directory web page (purchase through our site and you’ll be given an access code to purchase the app through your preferred app store). Bulk pricing is also available.

The 2018 Indiana General Assembly Legislative Directory is brought to you by: The Corydon Group; CountryMark; Duke Energy; and Indiana State University.

What the Senate Leadership Changes Mean for the Business Community

The 2018 legislative session marks the first one without fiscal stalwarts Brandt Hershman and Luke Kenley, both of whom retired from the Senate – Hershman’s announcement coming just before Christmas. While it’s hard to replace such experience and wisdom, those stepping up to fill their shoes have been waiting in the wings for a while and should make for smooth transitions.

Back in mid-July, Sen. Ryan Mishler (R-Bremen) was tapped to succeed Kenley as the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which is tasked with that chamber’s budget-writing duties. Mishler was the ranking member of that group for years and worked on the school funding formula component of the budget.

Senator Travis Holdman (R-Markle), who takes over for Hershman as chair of the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, has been the long-time ranking member there and often assumed the chairman’s role during meetings. Holdman is well versed in the matters that come before the committee and the business community will continue to be well served by his thoughtful viewpoints.

To take that post, Holdman relinquished his leadership on the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee. The “next man up” there is Sen. Chip Perfect (R-Lawrenceburg), who is a no-nonsense and intelligent legislator. He has been extremely helpful on labor issues and owns several businesses himself, so he knows the difficulties that businesses face. That perspective will likely also factor into how he handles the health insurance bills, which are now being assigned to his committee.

Short Session Starts With a Flurry of Activity

The Governor and General Assembly have continually heard from Hoosier employers on the need for a skilled workforce – and better aligning state programs with job demand. The good news is bills are being introduced to address those concerns. While only a handful of measures have been released to date, we are seeing legislation related to training tax credits and grants, as well as efforts to streamline current workforce programs. We anticipate a comprehensive workforce bill (1002) will be introduced in the House later next week.

The Governor’s computer science bill (SB 172) requires all public schools to offer a one-semester elective computer science course at least once each school year to high school students. We expect a hearing on this measure in the next two weeks. Both this and the workforce efforts are 2018 Indiana Chamber legislative priorities.

Senate Bill 257 has been introduced by Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle) to serve as the beginning of discussions on clarifying the exempt status of computer software sold as a service (SaaS) – a Chamber priority. Holdman is also authoring another major piece of tax legislation, SB 242, which contains a variety of tax matters. The House bills are coming in too, with a good number already filed addressing local tax issues.

Speaking of local matters, the Chamber is very pleased to see that the House Republican agenda includes a bill that will make township government more effective and efficient by the merging of townships (approximately 300) where less than 1,200 people reside. Such local government reform has been a longstanding Chamber goal.

In addition to SB 257, other technology-related bills include Rep. Ed Soliday’s (R-Valparaiso) autonomous vehicle (AV) proposal to position Indiana to safely test and implement AV technology with automobiles. The bill also will address truck platooning, which uses GPS and WiFi technology to allow trucks to more closely follow each other for greater efficiency, on Indiana roads.

Rural broadband, high-speed internet and small cell wireless structures technology all will be topics for the Legislature to debate. Certified technology parks also will be discussed with the idea to have an additional capture of sales and income tax revenue for those complexes that perform well.

In health care, enabling employers to ask prospective employees if they are smokers not only heads the Chamber’s wish list but also appears to be gaining traction this go-round. Eliminating the special protections (currently in state statute) for smokers is found in SB 23 and will be guided by Sen. Liz Brown (R-Fort Wayne). The bill has a pretty good chance of getting a hearing in the Senate – which would be a first. Previously, a measure was taken up in a joint hearing in the House.

Increasing the tobacco tax and raising the legal age for smokers to 21 are policies that likely will be included in a bill to be introduced by Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary). The Indiana Chamber is supportive of both.

Nine utility-related bills are on our radar screen at this point. They range from tweaks of last year’s big legislation (like SB 309, which addressed rising energy costs and a long-standing struggle between the investor-owned electric utilities and larger consumers of energy) to compulsory sewer connection, excavation for infrastructure, regulation of solar energy systems in homeowners’ associations and new water legislation. Separately, Sen. David Niezgodski (D-South Bend) has a proposed ban on coal tar pavement sealer, which we oppose.

There are also a number of bills proposing changes to Indiana’s alcohol laws including: Sunday sales, cold beer sales by grocery and convenience stores, and increases in fees and penalties.

The Chamber will be providing more details on all of these bills as the session progresses.

For anyone who wants a refresher about how legislation becomes law, the Chamber has a handy guide free of charge. It includes a diagram of the bill process, a glossary of often-used terms and a look at where bills commonly get tripped up.

Additionally, the Chamber will be providing updates and issuing pertinent documents throughout the session at www.indianachamber.com/legislative.

It’s Time to Decide RTW Issue

Indiana House Democrats are correct: Right-to-work (or any important legislation) deserves comprehensive consideration before it is voted upon and potentially enacted.

But the House D’s own web site acknowledges that the issue has been thoroughly debated already.

• Numerous meetings conducted earlier this year by the Interim Study Committee on Employment provided overwhelming proof that making Indiana a “right-to-work” state …

 “Even though months of testimony provided no proof that ‘right-to-work’ would bring new jobs to Indiana …

"Numerous meetings" and "months of testimony" qualify as comprehensive consideration. It’s time for the issue to be decided before the full General Assembly, starting with the joint committee hearing scheduled for Friday morning.

Hoosiers want their representatives to do the jobs they were elected to do, not play games or use delaying tactics. Whether Indiana becomes the 23rd right-to-work state needs to be decided on its own merits.

Let the debate — not the games — continue.  And if you need more facts to help you decide where you stand on the issue, check out our web site.

Hijacking the $timulus Dollars

Whether one agrees with the philosophy behind federal stimulus money, it is difficult to argue with the practice of accepting the dollars once they are offered. If you (as a state) turn away the cash, it will go somewhere else.

Another story is how to use the funds, particularly in the case of the soon-to-be-arriving education stimulus. One can make a strong argument for a cautious approach; in other words, why go out and spend now when you’re likely going to need it even more later?

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett put it this way when informing school districts how much they should receive come November. (The federal law says the money does not have to be spent until September 2012).

"With your staffs and budgets set for the 2010-2011 school year, I urge you to be careful with how and when you spend these funds. Please consider reserving this one-time funding until the level of resources budgeted by the General Assembly in the upcoming budget cycle become clearer."

That won’t be clear until late April in 2011, if then.

While timing may be a consideration, I suspect that taking the education dollars and using them to fill a Medicaid budget gap was not what those doing the allocating had in mind. But that appears to be the case in Rhode Island. The Providence Journal reports:

Instead, Governor Carcieri intends to use the $32.9 million Rhode Island is eligible to receive to plug an estimated $38-million deficit in this year’s budget.

His plan drew a strong protest from Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist, Congressman James R. Langevin and representatives of teachers unions and the state’s school committees.

School districts across the state were hoping that more than 400 teaching jobs would be restored or protected after Congress passed the bill in August. Nationwide, the law allocates $10 billion for schools and $16.1 billion to prevent Medicaid cuts.

Rhode Island is eligible to receive more than $100 million, $32.9 million intended for education jobs and about $70 million for Medicaid reimbursements.

But that’s about $38 million less for Medicaid than the state was counting on when it passed the 2010-11 budget, said Carcieri’s spokeswoman, Amy Kempe.

“While I’m sure it may be technically allowable and that the governor’s office is doing the appropriate thing, I don’t think we are acknowledging the intention of President Obama, [U.S. Education Secretary Arne] Duncan or Congress had for these funds,” Gist said.

Gist said she is especially concerned because the state is facing an even worse budget gap in fiscal year 2012 and the education jobs money could be spent during that year as well. According to the state Budget Office, the overall deficit could be as large as $320 million next year.

The executive director of the National Education Association of Rhode Island also criticized the governor’s plan, particularly after Carcieri and the General Assembly reduced state education aid to schools by 3.6 percent this year, a $29-million cut.

“I voted for this bill to help keep Rhode Island teachers on the job,” Langevin said in a statement. “Properly supporting our state’s education system is the best way to reverse our current economic situation over the long term.”

Officials at the U.S. Department of Education said Tuesday that using the federal money to supplant state funding is not expressly prohibited, although they cautioned they will carefully review each state’s application to ensure it follows the guidelines.

3 Weeks, 3 Big Issues at Statehouse

A popular phrase about Washington politics is that the the republic — or at least your tax dollars — are safer when Congress is not in session. If that is the case, one can rest easy for a fortnight (always liked that British term). Snow shut down the nation’s capital last week and a President’s Day recess takes lawmakers back home or elsewhere in the coming days.

What about in the Hoosier state? Legislators seem determined to exit Indianapolis quickly. Whether any harm is done before that time remains to be seen. The General Assembly session must end by March 14, but the committee deadline is being pushed ahead by a week and all involved are trying to wrap up business by March 5. Is that good or bad for you?

  • Good if the increase in unemployment insurance taxes is delayed. It seems straighforward. Leave last year’s increase intact and companies will pay near $350 million more in taxes, the trust fund will remain woefully out of balance and employees will lose their jobs because battered businesses have no other place to cut. Legislators, particularly those in the House, need to hear from you. Check out the details and make a difference
  • Bad if they proceed with passing legislation that prohibits employers from having a policy that disallows guns in the workplace. This appears headed to the governor, however, so a veto is likely the best hope for common sense to prevail. Here are the details
  • Good if someone in power stands up for taxpayers and the poor and strives to bring about meaningful township reform. Our money is not being used wisely and the poor are not getting all they deserve with administrative costs that exceed actual relief. Meaningful is not a township-by-township referendum, but — for a start — getting rid of advisory boards and letting county councils have binding budget overview. Read more

Sure, there are a few other issues out there. But get these three right and the good will exceed the harm.

Budget Approved; Shutdown Avoided

The 2009 special session is officially over — finally — with a two-year state budget passed by the General Assembly.

After a lengthy process that seemingly left few happy based on the floor speeches in both chambers, enough of a compromise was reached to send lawmakers home and avert a government shutdown. The Senate voted 34-16 in favor, with the House approving it 62-37.

All but one of the Republican senators (Jean Leising of Oldenburg voted no) were joined by Democrats Lindel Hume of Princeton and Richard Young of Milltown. The House support came from all 48 Republicans and 14 Democrats.

Governor Daniels’ statement: "Like any compromise, this budget has its defects, but it meets the fundamental condition I laid down in January and every day since: to limit total spending enough to preserve our surplus and thereby protect taxpayers against the tax increases happening in virtually every other state."

Update: The governor proceeded to sign the legislation.

Just the Facts, Please, On UI Tax Job Killer (Find Out How Much It Will Cost Your Business!)

There is an old "Dragnet" and Sgt. Joe Friday reference in here somewhere (just the facts, ma’am), but I am sidetracked already. This is about a more than $700 million business tax increase with the unemployment insurance trust fund legislation passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor.

It’s bad for employers and employees — those who will lose their jobs or not see a pay increase due to this additional and unreasonable tax burden. Yes, employers need to pay more to shore up a bankrupt system. But eligibilty, benefits and other issues must also be addressed.

Here is how you can learn more and have your say:

  • Calculate your business tax increase over the next two years (all you need is your current unemployment tax rate — the range is from 1.1% to 5.6% — and total number of employees)
  • From there, send a letter, or otherwise, communicate with legislators. Let them know a more balanced solution is needed
  • Read the facts, countering the myths that have been communicated by Senate Republican leaders on this issue. Why would legislators institute the largest business tax increase in state history and go out of their way to brag about it?

Companies are struggling and people are losing their jobs. Ironically, and sadly, a "solution" for the unemployment funding woes will only lead to more job losses.

Seeking Prosperity for All

The Indiana Chamber is in business to help create a stronger state business climate. Eight issue experts work each day, and many nights, toward that goal during the General Assembly session.

They, and all of us, need your help. Legislators want to hear from you. If local government reform, for example, is not enacted, one reason given will be that more opponents than supporters spoke up. That should not be the case.

It’s easy. The Indiana Prosperity Project web site has quick updates on critical issues and ways for you to contact your legislators. New topics are featured each week. Bookmark the page and take a few minutes to be involved.

We will thank you in advance.