After Session: A Look at What Passed and What Didn’t

Now that the legislative session has concluded, learn the final status of key bills monitored and advocated for/opposed by the Indiana Chamber in 2017 (links are PDFs):

2017 passed bills

2017 defeated bills

Talking Technology at Connect & Collaborate Sessions

“Today, every company is a technology company. We know technology is evolving quickly and not just in current businesses, but those that are looking to make their mark in Indiana,” says Brock Hesler, Indiana Chamber director of membership.

“If you don’t evolve, you could be left behind and your business growth might be hindered.”

The Indiana Chamber is once again hosting the Connect & Collaborate series as a thank you to its members and investors. The 2017 focus is technology – how it is permeating Hoosier businesses, and how companies can learn and adapt to new and improved ways of getting things done. Presented by AT&T, the series begins in May and concludes in August.

Consider these examples from the world of agriculture. What if technology could provide an answer to how much moisture is in a stalk of corn or a field of beans? What if farmers could drive tractors from a remote location or control an entire farm from a keyboard?

These scenarios sound futuristic, but are starting to become reality around Indiana. It’s not just the agriculture industry that is heavily impacted by new technologies: advanced manufacturing, logistics and others are already changing dramatically – as are the workforce skills required to staff these industries.

Attendees can hear an update on the Indiana Technology & Innovation Council, and a local business/community leader from each of the 12 Connect & Collaborate locations will comment on how that area or region is utilizing technology. A panel discussion will also allow for audience questions.

The free series – with either breakfast or lunch included (depending on the time of day) – enables companies to hear directly from Indiana Chamber representatives and learn more about membership resources available to them. Several new locations are included in 2017.

“This is a way to thank our members for their investment and support,” Hesler adds, “while also providing information that we think can help them succeed at an even higher level.”

Dates and cities for the Connect & Collaborate series:

May 9, Indianapolis
May 11, Lafayette
May 30, Bloomington and Columbus
June 6, Huntingburg and Evansville
June 8, Muncie and Richmond
June 13, Terre Haute
June 20, South Bend
June 22, Fort Wayne
August 16, Scottsburg

For complete details on locations and to register, go online or call Nick at (317) 264-6885.

Chamber Membership Team is Working for You

The Indiana Chamber partners with 25,000 members and investors – representing over four million Hoosiers – to achieve the mission of “cultivating a world-class environment which provides economic opportunity and prosperity.”

Whether you belong to the Chamber because of advocacy, savings or visibility, we’re always looking for ways to enhance your investment and add to the strength of

Brock Hesler, Membership Director

the organization. With that in mind, the Chamber added three regionally-based member development positions.

Two of the reps – Monica Chamberlain and Keeley Stingel

cover northeast Indiana and the southern half of the state, respectively.

“Being a customer service organization, we’re always laser focused on providing the best value we can to our current members, while at the same time communicating to potential members the ways we can partner with them,” says membership director Brock Hesler.

“Monica and Keeley understand where businesses are coming from because they live within and are part of those communities. And they can better communicate to them the solutions the Chamber can provide through membership.”

Lin Jones recently stepped into a member development role covering central Indiana, specifically Marion County and the Interstate 65 corridor going toward northwest Indiana.

Hesler offers a challenge to members.

“You – our current members – are an extension to our membership team. You utilize our services, and see the value day in and day out. Talk to your sphere of influence. Take a few moments to send me an email (at bhesler@indianachamber.com) with the names of two companies that could benefit from membership.”

We appreciate your investment.

Compton Shines at 2017 Legislative Dinner

Ann Compton, a 40-year veteran of ABC News and the White House press corps, relayed her experiences and thoughts on President Trump and the media at the 2017 Indiana Chamber Legislative Dinner last night at the Indiana Roof Ballroom in Indianapolis.

In addition to her many amusing anecdotes about past presidents and thoughts on President Trump, she also relived the tragic day of September 11, 2001. She was traveling with President George W. Bush on Air Force One as all involved struggled to grasp the magnitude of what had happened.

We were also grateful to be joined by Gov. Eric Holcomb, who offered thoughtful and humorous remarks following his first few months on the job. See photos of the evening below:

WOTUS Executive Order Highlights Recent Federal Activity

  • On February 28, the White House announced that President Trump signed an executive order directing the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works (Corps of Engineers) to review the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule and restore the rule of law. Congressman Jim Banks (IN-03) praised this action that would ensure the rule promotes economic growth and minimizes regulatory uncertainty: “I hear repeatedly from my constituents that the main thing holding back small business owners and farmers is over regulation. The WOTUS rule is an example of Washington overreach that is affecting businesses, utilities, manufacturers, farmers and land owners across northeast Indiana. I’m pleased to see President Trump make the review and revision of this rule a priority.” As a reminder, the Indiana Chamber mentioned WOTUS as a burdensome regulation in its list of regulations we sought repeal of in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and sent to the delegation.
  • The White House sent its initial budget guidance to federal agencies this week, outlining a $54 billion increase in defense spending and corresponding reductions to most non-security agencies. An Office of Management and Budget official told reporters that the Trump administration will propose a 10% increase in defense spending and funding bumps for national security-related efforts. But that will mean cuts to domestic programs as well as foreign aid.
  • Former Indiana Sen. Dan Coats – President Trump’s nominee for director of national intelligence – faced questions from the Senate Intelligence Committee as phase one of his confirmation process.
  • Hoosier Seema Verma moved another step forward in her confirmation as the next administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee voted 13-12 in support of her nomination, which now goes before the full Senate.
  • Senator Todd Young recently introduced the Investing in Student Success Act of 2017 as an out-of-the-box method of financing higher education. According to the Washington Examiner, “…the funding would not come from the federal government, but private companies who sign ‘income-sharing agreements’ with students. As the name implies, the investor finances the student’s tuition, in exchange for a percentage of the individual’s income for a set number of years after graduation.” According to Sen. Young, “Big picture here: There’s currently $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt held by the federal government, and 43% of the roughly 22 million Americans with loans weren’t making payments as of Jan. 1. There’s certainly a need for some sort of way to finance your college education that does not place the risk on taxpayers.”
  • Congresswoman Susan Brooks (IN-05) invited former Indiana Chamber board member and current Indiana Economic Development Corporation President Elaine Bedel to be her guest at President Trump’s speech this week to the joint session of Congress.
  • I recently visited D.C. and met with the offices of congressional representatives Banks, Brooks, Bucshon, Hollingsworth and Messer. We discussed repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, regulatory reform and our D.C. Fly-in event in September. Look for more in-depth information on my visits in next week’s report.

Hobart High School, St. Mary Medical Center Earn School Counseling-Business Partnership of Year Honors

Janice Ryba, CEO of St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart; Tamika Catchings, former WNBA all-star and luncheon keynote speaker; Rachael Gayton, Hobart High School senior and scholarship recipient; Dr. Peggy Buffington, Hobart School Superintendent; Shelley Huffman, director of college and career readiness, Indiana Chamber of Commerce; and Christy Huston, executive director of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

The inaugural School Counseling-Business Partnership of the Year award was presented to Hobart High School and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart at a luncheon ceremony yesterday in downtown Indianapolis. The recognition, developed by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Foundation to highlight innovative approaches to college and career readiness, comes during National School Counseling Week.

Many factors led to the Hobart-St. Mary alliance being selected. Among them: the hospital’s sponsorship of Hobart’s Promise Indiana 529 college savings program; the establishment of a health care clinic in the schools to meet the needs of both students and their families, plus St. Mary’s providing a wide range of work-based learning experiences and credential opportunities for high school students.

Indiana Chamber Foundation Executive Director Christy Huston pinpoints specific instances. “The medical center provides over 50 students each year with the screening tests required to take part in the Emergency Medical Services program. It also hosts approximately 30 students a year in a variety of internship and other learning opportunities.

“We also found that through the dedication and leadership of CEO Janice Ryba they go the extra mile. To accommodate one student’s interest in health care administration, a St. Mary’s Medical Center team member changed his hours of work to ensure that student was able to participate in meetings and experiences.”

Additionally, the award provides a $1,000 scholarship to a Hobart senior. Rachael Gayton, who will be attending Ball State University in the fall of 2017, was selected by the school to receive the scholarship. Gayton is in her fourth year of the school’s biomedical sciences program and interning at St. Mary’s in the pediatric unit. She says that her interaction with nurses and their willingness to share their experiences have solidified her plans to become a nurse practitioner.

“This alliance is a shining example of a career mentorship program. We congratulate St. Mary’s, Hobart and Rachel for their excellent work,” Huston states.

Nominations from throughout Indiana were submitted for the award. Danielle Adams, Hobart High School director of guidance, nominated the winning partnership.

The Indiana Chamber Foundation has conducted extensive research into effective school counseling practices, and has been designated by Lilly Endowment as one of the technical assistance providers to all eligible Indiana schools. Currently, the Indiana Chamber Foundation is a resource for 15 districts (78 schools) that all received planning grants as part of an up to $30 million Lilly Endowment Comprehensive School Counseling initiative.

The School Counseling-Business Partnership of the Year honor was presented at the Indiana INTERNnet’s IMPACT Awards luncheon, which celebrates excellence in internships. Appropriately supporting the luncheon’s theme of “Shooting for Success,” former Indiana Fever WNBA All-Star and four-time Olympic gold medalist Tamika Catchings delivered the keynote address, “Scoring Big with Your Career.” Catchings is also the founder of the Catch the Stars Foundation, which assists Indianapolis youth with goal-setting to promote fitness, literacy and youth development.

A Step Closer to Sales Tax Collection for Online Purchases

The Indiana Chamber supports SB 545 (Sales Tax Collection by Remote Sellers).

This bill takes an important step toward the Legislature requiring online retailers who have no physical presence in Indiana to collect Indiana sales tax from their Indiana customers when they make online purchases. Ultimately, one of two things must happen for the requirement to go into full effect. Either the U.S. Supreme Court has to determine that states are allowed to impose this requirement based on their economic activity in the state (and the nominal burden associated with it), or Congress must pass legislation to authorize states to require the online sellers to collect a state’s sales tax.

The issue is pending before both bodies and several states are passing legislation to put pressure on one of the two entities to act and resolve the issue. Senate Bill 545 is modeled after a South Dakota law that is under review by the high court. It is designed to put Indiana in the position of making the requirement effective as soon as an Indiana court declares the collection valid under federal law. So this remains legally complicated, but SB 545 is a thoughtful and sound approach.

Senator Luke Kenley has pursued this issue diligently for many years – doing everything possible to address the problem of the sales and use tax on these transactions going uncollected. He is to be commended for his pursuit in the past and for formulating this legislation. In-state brick and mortar retailers are put in an unfair position when their online competitors are not required to collect and remit Indiana’s sales tax (as they are), effectively giving the “remote sellers” a 7% price advantage. Additionally, Indiana’s sales tax base is diminished each year as the online sales market continues to grow at rapid rates. What’s more, this is not a new tax since purchasers are already legally obligated to report their online purchases and pay the “use” tax when they file their income tax returns. But the reality is very few people comply with this law.

The Chamber supported the bill in committee this week and, in fact, has been working along with Sen. Kenley for years to achieve, by some means, state authorization for collecting these unpaid taxes. The objective is set forth in our Indiana Vision 2025 economic plan and we just might, after years of complications, be getting closer to obtaining this goal.

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.