Colorado Court Decision May Impact Indiana’s ‘Lawsuit Lending’ Battle

10044552As the 2016 legislative session nears, an interesting development occurred in Colorado over an issue that the Indiana Chamber has been working on for the last several years. This week, the Colorado Supreme Court determined that the practice of litigation finance, or more commonly referred to as “lawsuit lending”, was determined to be a loan and subject to Colorado’s Uniform Consumer Credit Code (UCCC).

Lawsuit lending is the practice of advancing money to a plaintiff/someone involved in an accident in anticipation of winning a lawsuit in court. If the plaintiff is awarded a settlement, the advance must be repaid at considerably high interest rates. If the plaintiff loses the suit, there is no obligation to repay the loan.

Proponents of the industry have claimed that the advance is not a loan because there is no recourse if the suit is lost. Opponents (including the Indiana Chamber) believe that this process interjects a third party into the civil justice system and prolongs the settlement process.

The Colorado Supreme Court’s decision puts lower interest rate limits on the advance of these loans. Two companies doing business in Colorado stopped operating in 2010 after the state office that regulates Colorado’s UCCC determined that the state law applies to their businesses. After the two companies filed suit to overturn the regulatory opinion, the state attorney general’s office countersued. The companies were accused of unlicensed lending and charging “exorbitant” interest rates to plaintiffs.

In conclusion, the Colorado Supreme Court wrote: “We hold that litigation finance companies that agree to advance money to tort plaintiffs in exchange for future litigation proceeds are making ‘loans’ subject to Colorado’s UCCC even if the plaintiffs do not have an obligation to repay any deficiency if the litigation proceeds are ultimately less than the amount due. These transactions create a debt or an obligation to repay that grows with the passage of time. We agree with the court of appeals that these transactions are ‘loans’
under the code…”

Attempts to regulate the practice have been unsuccessful in Indiana. Hoosier proponents of the practice have indicated that subjecting finance companies to the UCCC in Indiana or subjecting them to an interest rate of less than 45% will put them out of business, so there has not been language that could bring about a compromise. The Indiana House of Representatives has passed a bill for several years that the Chamber has supported. However, the Senate has sided with the lenders and stifled the Chamber’s attempts to forward our position.

Still, the Colorado Supreme Court decision might be a game-changer in Indiana. It would not be surprising to see legislation introduced that will mirror what happened in Colorado. Last session, a similar measure was inserted as an amendment into a bill that came over from the House. The language was removed on the Senate floor before a vote was taken. Legislation this session that would be tied to Indiana’s UCCC should be assigned to the House Financial Institutions Committee, where it will find support.

Likewise, any bill tied to the UCCC should be sent to the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions, chaired by Sen. Travis Holdman (R-Markle), where it would most likely find support. However, the issue historically has not been tied to the UCCC and has been assigned to the Civil Law Committee, where Sen. Joe Zakas (R-Granger) is chair. Senator Zakas has not been supportive of the Chamber’s lawsuit lending position.

The Chamber anticipates further debate on this issue as the new legislative session unfolds.

Indiana Chamber Unveils Our Top Six Legislative Priorities for 2016

statehouse picTransportation infrastructure funding, reverse credit transfer to the state’s accredited two-year colleges and expansion of the state’s civil rights law are among the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s top priorities for the 2016 session.

These objectives were announced at the organization’s annual Central Indiana Legislative Preview in Indianapolis today.

The Indiana Chamber proposes an array of strategies to establish a sustainable funding stream for the state’s roads, highways and bridges. These include dedicating more of the state’s sales tax on fuel purchases to infrastructure, increasing and indexing fuel excise taxes and implementing fees on alternative fuel vehicles.

“Indiana benefited greatly from the Major Moves program that accelerated our timeline and funded $4 billion worth of projects over the last decade. But those dollars are spent or allocated. It’s time to move forward with the next generation of resources to drive our economy by moving people and products throughout our state and beyond,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

“Legislative action is needed in the coming session to address glaring needs and begin implementing long-term strategies to allow our state to live up to its ‘Crossroads of America’ designation.”

Brinegar concludes that the good news is that legislative leaders, the Governor and others are on the same page about the need; the challenge will be how to get there.

Higher education is also a focal point for the Indiana Chamber. One specific proposal the organization will be pushing for is a method to allow for more students to turn their existing college credits into a two-year degree. This would be accomplished by allowing specific credits earned at state-supported colleges and universities to be transferrable to Indiana’s accredited two-year schools, such as Ivy Tech and Vincennes. Credit is already generally transferrable from the two-year schools to their four-year counterparts.

“This would give students more opportunity for post-secondary attainment and then obviously help with employment,” Brinegar offers. “Specifically, it would help fill the gap for those individuals who first went to a four-year school but for whatever reason couldn’t continue. This would be a viable path for them to turn their efforts into a two-year degree and become more attractive to employers.”

Earlier this month, the Indiana Chamber announced its support for expanding the state’s civil rights law to include protection for sexual orientation and gender identity, with Brinegar noting:

“The time has come for Indiana to expand protections against potential discrimination. This action will increase the state’s future business competitiveness in the recruitment, attraction and retention of talent, as well as enhance respect for all employers and employees. We encourage our state leaders to work together to take this next critical step.”

Another initiative the organization will again pursue is a work sharing program, which will allow employers to maintain a skilled stable workforce during temporary downturns and enable employees to keep their jobs but with reduced hours and salary (which is partially offset by unemployment insurance). This program has enjoyed support on both sides of the aisle the last few years, but has yet to cross the finish line.

“There is no negative impact on the state’s unemployment insurance fund. Instead of paying full benefits to a smaller group of recipients, a larger group of employees will receive limited benefits – but most importantly remain on the job,” Brinegar explains. “There is no reason not to enact a work share program to help meet future employee and employer needs. They deserve that option.”

The other two legislative priorities for the Indiana Chamber are maintaining a fair and equitable system for the state’s commercial property assessment and appeal procedures (in the face of recent “big box” retail stores’ appeals and reaction to that); and expanding publicly-funded preschool from the pilot program to statewide so more children are prepared to enter kindergarten.

A complete rundown of the Indiana Chamber’s 2016 key legislative initiatives (top priorities and additional areas of focus) is available at

Also at the legislative preview event, four state legislators were honored as Indiana Chamber Small Business Champions “for their hard work and dedication to improving Indiana’s small business climate.” This award is based on voting and advocacy during the 2015 legislative session.

The 2015 Small Business Champions are: Sen. Rodric Bray from Martinsville, District #37; Sen. Carlin Yoder from Middlebury, District #12; Rep. David Ober from Albion, District #82; and Rep. John Price from Greenwood, District #47.

Recap of the Indiana Chamber’s Top 6 legislative priorities:

  • Support an array of strategies to establish a sustainable funding stream for the state’s roads, highways and bridges
  • Support specific credit transfer from Indiana’s four-year, state-supported institutions to the state’s accredited two-year colleges
  • Support expanding the state’s civil rights law to include protection for sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Support a work sharing program that will allow employers to maintain a skilled stable workforce during temporary downturns
  • Support maintaining a fair and equitable system for the state’s commercial property assessment and appeal procedures
  • Support the development of publicly-funded preschool initiatives statewide

Chamber Board Votes to Support Expansion of State’s Civil Rights Law

?????????????????????????????????????????The Indiana Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors voted overwhelmingly at its annual fall meeting Wednesday to support expanding the state’s civil rights law to include protection for sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Indiana Chamber Board of Directors is comprised of more than 100 top business executives and civic leaders from throughout the state.

“We believe this expansion is a necessary action for the General Assembly to take,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “After the negative perception of our state generated by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in the spring, we need to get this right in order to secure the reputation of Indiana as a hospitable and welcoming place.

“The time has come for Indiana to expand protections against potential discrimination. This action will increase the state’s future business competitiveness in the recruitment, attraction and retention of talent, as well as enhance respect for all employers and employees. We encourage our state leaders to work together to take this next critical step.”

The Indiana Chamber’s annual fall board meeting is where the organization’s public policy positions (formed by members serving on various policy committees) for the upcoming sessions of the General Assembly and Congress are discussed and acted upon.

Remarks on Indiana’s Scores on ‘National Report Card’ for Student Achievement

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar reacts to the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scoring or “national report card” on student achievement:

“Hoosier students are outpacing the national average and, in fact, Indiana is widening its advantage over other states. This is welcome news and is an important metric. We commend our teachers and school administrators for their important role in helping our students reach these higher levels of achievement.

“Our new ISTEP scores are lower due to the implementation of more rigorous, but important, college and career readiness standards, which will better prepare students for post-secondary education and ultimately create a much stronger workforce.

“But in the big picture, these NAEP scores reinforce that our students are achieving at a higher overall level than many of their counterparts. We expect that to accelerate going forward with the enhanced college and career ready standards in place.”

In mathematics, Indiana fourth graders averaged a score of 248 with a national average of 240 points. Hoosier eight graders in mathematics averaged a score of 287 with a national average of 281 points. Similarly in reading, Indiana fourth graders averaged a score of 227, higher than a national average of 221 points and eighth grade students averaged a score of 268 with a national average of 264 points.

Indiana Chamber, Pete the Planner Partner to Promote Money School

PTP Newsletter BannerThe Indiana Chamber of Commerce is proud to partner with Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete The Planner® in offering his new service, Pete’s Money School, to Indiana businesses.

Pete’s Money School is a financial wellness curriculum delivered via a mobile-friendly e-learning platform. Each course includes videos, quizzes and a downloadable workbook. These tools will help your employees build a realistic path to a healthy financial future. Indiana Chamber member companies will receive 20% off their registration fees for the program.

“The Indiana Chamber has been helping businesses and their employees for nearly 100 years,” Dunn says. “I’m thrilled to be able to help them educate Hoosiers, in regards to their personal finances. Together, we’ll help hard working folks take control of their finances so they can focus on their futures.”

“Financial concerns are one of the leading causes of workplace stress,” adds Jennifer Elkin, Chamber senior vice president of marketing. “Partnering with Pete the Planner is a perfect opportunity to promote financial wellness – benefiting individual employees and enhancing overall productivity.”

A variety of courses, each which can be completed at the users’ own pace, is available.

Simply mention the code INCHAMBER when registering to receive the discount. For pricing and course information or to register, call (317) 762-3240 or visit

Pace Dairy of Indiana: Maximizing Its Chamber Membership Through Employee Training

Sarver_ShirleyShirley Sarver keeps a special reminder of her experience at the 2015 Indiana Safety and Health Conference & Expo with her every day.

“There was a saying that I absolutely loved,” comments Sarver, a production lead at Pace Dairy of Indiana in Crawfordsville (an Indiana Chamber member since 1998). “I don’t have Internet access at work, so I had my (IT) person send it to me (via) email so I could keep it with me.

“It says, ‘When people understand you, you get their attention. When people trust you, you earn their loyalty. When people know you really care, you catch their hearts.’ ”

One of the presenters shared the quote during a session on leadership.

“The class was very, very informative,” she asserts. “Since I’m a lead, I loved how he talked about being in the leadership role.”

Twenty years ago, a desire to help people attracted Sarver to Pace Dairy, a cheese plant operated by Kroger. It has two locations: Crawfordsville and Rochester, Minnesota. Each site has approximately 280 employees.

“I go out on calls. If they’re (workers) having problems on a line, I help troubleshoot,” she explains. “If I can fix it, I fix it. If I can’t, I get ahold of maintenance and help out where needed.”

Sarver, who has attended several of the Chamber’s annual safety conferences, values gaining knowledge that she can apply directly to her job.

“I think it’s very beneficial for the team because it gives us new ideas on what we can bring back here to the plant,” she reflects. “I would highly recommend the expo. You get to be one-on-one (learning about different products and services) instead of looking in a book.”

Carter: Biopharmaceutical Industry Supports Tens of Thousands of High Pay, High Skill Jobs for Hoosiers

Our VP Cam Carter recently spoke with We Work for Health (WWFH) about the importance of Indiana’s biopharmaceutical sector. WWFH is a grassroots initiative that shows how biopharmaceutical research and medical innovation work together to create a strong, vibrant economy and a healthier America.

Political Talk Here, There and Everywhere

American politics

This column by Indiana Chamber Director of Publications and Social Media Matt Ottinger originally appeared in the Inside INdiana Business newsletter, Inside Edge

At a recent event I attended, the conversation among my tablemates turned to politics – namely the late September Republican presidential debate on CNN. Most of my fellow attendees casually mentioned their disdain for the spectacle. When it was my turn to comment, I simply stated, “I love it. I’m not proud of that, but I do.”

Whether it’s Donald Trump’s bombast and “Mean Girls”-style insults, Chris Christie’s bluster and scolding or Rand Paul’s visible contempt for having to be part of the charade, I can’t get enough. For me, it’s like I’m swimming in a barrel of Tropical Skittles next to a keg of Mr. Pibb during a binge watching session of “House of Cards” – an overdose of disgusting, shameful goodness, and I’m simply helpless to its siren song.

It’s been intriguing watching our Midwestern neighbor and former Congressional budget hawk John Kasich strike the moderate chord, while projected frontrunner Jeb Bush struggles to meet lofty expectations. And then there’s Scott Walker. Poor, poor Scott Walker, who disappeared from the race faster than a cheese curd at a mouse convention in Milwaukee.

Granted, politics can devolve into a game at times, but it mustn’t be forgotten that the political world greatly impacts the business community. That’s why our political action committee, Indiana Business for Responsive Government, always has boots on the ground impacting statewide races. It’s also why the Indiana Chamber takes an increasing number of business leaders to Washington, D.C. annually during our D.C. Fly-in. We’re grateful to Indiana’s Congressional delegation for meeting with our members and guests to discuss the issues critical to their businesses and economic growth in our state.

Furthermore, due to my personal affinity for the craft, it was quite a pleasure speaking with famed politicos James Carville and Karl Rove for our most recent edition of BizVoice magazine. The Q&A serves as a preview to the duo’s upcoming appearance as keynote speakers at the Indiana Chamber’s 26th Annual Awards Dinner on Nov. 4.

During the conversations (which took place in mid-July), I asked their perspectives about the opposition’s outlook on the 2016 presidential race:

Rove on if Sen. Bernie Sanders actually has a chance to win the Democratic Party’s nomination: “There’s substance, but the problem is that while you have a very liberal turnout in the Iowa caucuses, and New Hampshire is a more liberal state, there aren’t a lot of Burlingtons and Benningtons and Berkeleys and San Franciscos. There are a lot more Indianapolises and Evansvilles. While he runs well with the hard left, if you’re not very liberal, he’s not your cup of tea. (Clinton) will be the nominee, but it won’t be as easy as people think.”

Carville on if the attention to Trump’s bellicosity is a danger to the Republican brand (at the time of the interview, Trump had recently made statements about Mexicans crossing the border and raping women): “Yes I do. The reason is there are a considerable number of Republicans who agree with him. It’s exposing there are people out there who believe that. That’s a part of that party that is not going to go away with time. When he goes away, somebody will pick it up again.”

Trump, however, still leads national polling, so he continues to resonate with a portion of the country, although prognosticators are predicting his impending demise.

If pressed to make a prediction this early (and it’s so early I’ll likely regret it), I’d forecast a Marco Rubio vs. Hillary Clinton showdown next fall.

In early November, Carville and Rove will offer their expert opinions on the presidential race and politics. A few tickets still remain for the event and can be purchased online.

It will be a great evening of banter, insights and celebration of the business community; we hope to see you there!

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.

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