Road Funding Set for Conference Committee Showdown

The Chamber was pleased to see the Senate pass a long-term road funding bill (34-13). During the floor vote, the Chamber lobbying team worked to get additional votes for what might have been a much closer margin. Five Republican senators voted against the Chamber on HB 1002: John Crane (Avon), Mike Delph (Carmel), Aaron Freeman (Indianapolis), Jean Leising (Oldenburg) and Andy Zay (Huntington). One Democrat, David Niezgodski (South Bend), voted with the Chamber.

There are differences between the House and Senate proposals, however:

  • House version raises just over $1.1 billion per year; the Senate about $672 million a year.
  • House version converts all sales tax collected (well over $300 million) on fuel sales to road funding; the Senate does not.
  • House version has $15 annual registration fee for regular automobiles and $150 for electric cars; the Senate adds $75 fee for hybrids (the Chamber supports this addition).
  • House version has a 10-cent fuel tax increase for both gasoline and diesel fuel, with annual increase based on index from 2019-2024. The Senate phases in the fuel taxes: five cents per year for two years; diesel tax is three cents a year for two years. Both are indexed at no more than one cent a year per gallon from 2019-2014.
  • House version requires the Indiana Department of Transportation to seek a federal tolling waiver; the Senate says it may seek the same waiver but with the approval of the Governor.
  • Senate version contains a $5 per new tire sale use fee in addition to the current 25-cent fee; the House does not.
  • Senate version increases registration fees for trucks in lieu of additional diesel taxes.
  • Senate version adds a 10-cent per gallon aviation fuel excise tax, with revenue from that going to the airport development grant fund.

The “swim lanes” of the bill are now clearly defined. Work will continue during the next two weeks by the Chamber and our coalition partners to reconcile the differences between the two versions. We believe Indiana will finally end up with a long-term sustainable transportation infrastructure funding bill, one of our Indiana Vision 2025 goals.

Call to Action: Please contact your legislators to encourage them to support HB 1002. Let them know today that long-term funding is important to you and your company!

Beyond the Bicentennial: Chamber Outlines Policy Recommendations for 2016 Candidates

Indiana has many advantages as a leading location to operate a business, raise a family or enjoy a high quality of life. But still more needs to be done to improve that climate and to keep pace with other cities and states, says the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

The organization unveiled today its six-week Beyond the Bicentennial campaign (going beyond the state’s first 200 years). It focuses on the “most potentially impactful public policies” and is directed foremost at the major party gubernatorial candidates, John Gregg and Eric Holcomb.

The Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan, first introduced in 2012, serves as the campaign blueprint. “The Indiana Vision 2025 economic drivers present a great opportunity to highlight initiatives that will benefit Indiana now and in the years ahead,” offers Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

The first of the four letters, also released today, emphasizes the Outstanding Talent driver. Recommendations focus on critical improvements at the K-12, postsecondary and workforce levels. In an annual survey earlier this year, 45% of responding employers indicated they had left jobs unfilled in the past year due to under-qualified applicants.

“Outstanding Talent is both the greatest challenge for our state and the area of most importance,” Brinegar states. “While businesses are rightfully concerned about their current and future workforces, for individuals we’re talking about the difference between happy, productive lives and what can amount to an economic death sentence if proper education and training are not received.”

The education/workforce needs range from greatly expanding the state’s pre-K pilot program to more students from low-income families, to assisting the more than 700,000 Hoosiers with some college but no credential or degree to gain the skills needed for a rapidly-evolving economy.

Concludes Brinegar, “We hope the recommendations and guidance in these letters will help the gubernatorial candidates and all lawmakers focus on what public policies could be the most impactful for Hoosiers.”

Additional Beyond the Bicentennial letters and accompanying videos will be made available on September 13 (Attractive Business Climate), September 27 (Superior Infrastructure) and October 11 (Dynamic & Creative Culture).

The Outstanding Talent releases are available now at www.indianachamber.com/letters.

barber

WGU Indiana Chancellor Allison Barber spoke at our press event this morning: “We want to encourage employers to set the standard that talent matters.”

About Indiana Vision 2025
In 2012, the Indiana Chamber published Indiana Vision 2025, a comprehensive, multi-year initiative to provide leadership and a long-range economic development action plan for Indiana. The mission statement: “Indiana will be a global leader in innovation and economic opportunity where enterprises and citizens prosper.”

A 24-person statewide task force of business and organization leaders developed the original plan. Many from that group, with some additions, worked for four months earlier this year to review progress, update goals and metrics, and identify potential new research to enhance future Report Cards (progress on each of the now 36 goals under the four drivers is assessed every other year).

The Indiana Chamber thanks Duke Energy, NIPSCO, Old National Bank, Vectren and all the investors in Indiana Vision 2025.

Learn more about Indiana Vision 2025 at www.indianachamber.com/2025.

 

VIDEO: See What’s in the New Edition of BizVoice

Our Senior VP and editor of BizVoice Tom Schuman explains what’s in the March/April edition. If you’re interested in higher education, corporate social responsibility or Vanderburgh County, we have information you can’t miss.

This issue also focuses on the “Outstanding Talent” driver of the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan.

Read BizVoice online today.

Your Chance to Weigh in on Indiana’s Future

RMaking Indiana as successful as it can be is the goal of the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan. The Indiana University Public Policy Institute has an initiative working toward the same outcome in Thriving Communities, Thriving State.

I’m pleased to have the opportunity to serve as a “commissioner” on one of the three working groups. Former Lt. Gov. Kathy Davis and former Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randy Shepard are the co-chairs.

Upcoming public input sessions will take place across the state. The goal: encourage discussions among government, nonprofit and private sector leaders about issues that are or will be critical to Indiana’s future — to provide policy options for action.

The sessions (the first one took place in Gary on February 5) are all from 2:00-4:00 p.m.:

  • February 10: Evansville, University of Southern Indiana
  • February 17: Indianapolis, Urban League
  • February 26: Columbus, Irwin Conference Center
  • March 3: Fort Wayne, Indiana University-Purdue University

Additional information is available from Debbie Wyeth at dwyeth@iupui.edu.

It’s All About Innovation

Innovation (and workforce and a few other things) is the name of the game when it comes to Indiana business development. It’s featured throughout the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan. And innovation will be the focus of a late August event.

Centric is an Indianapolis-based innovation think tank and networking group, with the goal of making the city (and beyond) a globally recognized center for innovation. The Indiana Innovation Awards strive to recognize innovation and excellence throughout the state. The two come together at Centric’s Day of Innovation on August 28.

To be nominated for the awards, an organization must have launched a product or service in the past three years that has shown success and is considered innovative in its market. Past Indiana Innovation Awards winners include Cultural Trail, TinderBox, Delta Faucet, Yikes, Brackets for Good, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and many others.

 

 

Study: Time for Docs to Advise Patients to Kick the Habit

Indiana maintains its unfortunate top 10 ranking as a state with one of the highest levels of people who smoke. A goal of Indiana Vision 2025 is to reduce that 24% adult rate.

A recent study says doctors can help, but many are skipping the opportunity to guide their patients.

Nationally, less than half of adult smokers report that their physicians advise them to stop smoking, while about two-thirds of physicians say lack of patient motivation to quit smoking is a barrier to medical interventions.

The JAMA Internal Medicine study, titled “Patient Engagement During Medical Visits and Smoking Cessation Counseling,” examined the relationship between patient engagement — or how involved people are in their health care — and the likelihood that physicians would counsel patients to stop smoking.

The study by Peter Cunningham, Ph.D., of Virginia Commonwealth University, was conducted for for the National Institute for Health Care Reform while he was a senior fellow at the former Center for Studying Health System Change. Based on a 2012 survey of 8,656 current and retired autoworkers and their spouses younger than 65, the study included 1,904 current smokers and assessed their engagement levels depending on whether they had ever talked with their physician about health information they found on the Internet, had someone accompany them to a medical visit for support, had taken notes during a medical visit to help remember what was said, and had brought a list of questions to ask during a medical visit.

Highly engaged patients were more likely to report that their physicians had advised them to stop smoking, the study found. And, highly engaged patients whose physicians counseled them to stop smoking were the most likely to attempt to quit (75%), while patients with low engagement levels who did not receive counseling were the least likely to attempt quitting (46%). However, if counseled by their physician, 60 percent of smokers with low engagement levels attempted to quit smoking, the study found.

“Clinicians should not misinterpret lack of patient engagement during medical encounters as unwillingness to quit because the results of this study suggest that counseling of even less engaged patients is effective in getting them to attempt quitting,” the article states.

The findings strongly suggest “that clinicians respond differently to patients who are highly engaged during medical encounters than they do to less engaged patients in terms of advising patients to stop smoking. Nevertheless, even patients with low levels of engagement can benefit from this counseling,” the article concludes.

Working to Build Business Success Stories

Have you done business with or heard of either Gear Brake or Groom HQ? Probably not — at least yet. These are two of the promising start-ups that went through the Velocity Indiana accelerator program earlier this year and are now co-working in the Jeffersonville space to build their business dreams.

We’ll do a quick Q&A with Chris Bailey (Gear Brake) and Andrew Klawier (Groom HQ) as part of a July-August BizVoice magazine story on Velocity (in just its second year) and its potential. It will be part of an Indiana Vision 2025 focus on Dynamic and Creative Culture that includes:

  • Drones and their Indiana impact
  • Launch Indiana, another effort to develop entrepreneurs
  • A one-on-one with Kent Parker, an Indiana native who experienced business success in several locations around the country
  • A roundtable discussion on entrepreneurial financing

BizVoice goes in the mail June 30 and all stories will be available online on that date.

It’s a Big Fat Global Problem

It’s been well documented that Indiana has an obesity problem. It doesn’t diminish that challenge to know that we’re not alone.

According to a recent ABC News story, “almost a third of the world is now fat, and no country has been able to curb obesity rates in the last three decades.”

Researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington reviewed more than 1,700 studies (that took place between 1980 and 2013) from 188 countries. A few findings:

  • Two billion people worldwide are overweight or obese
  • In the Middle East and North Africa, nearly 60% of men and 65% of women are heavy
  • About two in three adults in the United Kingdom are overweight, making it the fattest country in Western Europe

The research showed a link between income and obesity — as people obtain more money, their waistlines also expand.

As we’ve been telling you the last two-and-a-half years, the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 plan has a goal — reduce obesity levels to less than 20% of the population — as part of its Attractive Business Climate driver. We’re focusing on workplace wellness this summer during our free Connect & Collaborate luncheons.

It’s a big, global challenge — one that each of us needs to try to tackle in our state by working together.

We Want Your (Our) Water

It’s water war time once again — maybe. We’ve reported in the past 18 months on a number of state battles over water resources, while all the time emphasizing the need for a comprehensive Indiana plan to ensure long-term supplies for our citizens and businesses. It’s part of our Indiana Vision 2025 blueprint.

The West and South are the locale of many such skirmishes, but the latest comes from the middle of the country. Namely, it’s the Missouri River and Kansas wanting to “divert” some of the water to irrigate crops in the western part of its state.

Some details, courtesy of the Lawrence Journal-World newspaper:

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has asked Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to back off of a feasibility study of Kansas taking water from the Missouri River to divert to western Kansas.

“The Missouri River is a resource that is vital to Missouri’s way of life and our economy,” Nixon said in a letter to Brownback.

Describing the Missouri River as the “lifeblood” of numerous communities, Nixon said the river provides drinking water and is used to ship goods to markets.

“We have worked for many years, and fought many legal battles, to ensure the River is managed properly,” Nixon wrote. “Thoughtful and reasoned discussion and cooperation, rather than unilateral plans for massive diversions, must be the guiding forces in planning for the River’s use,” he urged.

Nixon’s letter to Brownback was in response to the Kansas Water Office’s plan to commission a study on a proposal to divert water from the Missouri River and transport that water through canals some 360 miles to irrigate crops in western Kansas.

The so-called Kansas Aqueduct Project has been on the shelf for decades, but has recently been re-emphasized by water officials in Kansas.

Tracy Streeter, director of the Kansas Water Office, said the idea is to divert water at high flow or flood times on the Missouri River. That would help Kansas farmers and alleviate downstream flooding on the Missouri, he said. The water office is the state’s water agency, which conducts water planning and helps make state water policy.

But Nixon said while Missourians have suffered through flooding on the Missouri River, they have also depended on the river during droughts.