Common Construction Wage Repeal Now in the Mix at the Statehouse

statehouse picIt was a welcome surprise last week when the Indiana Chamber learned that the Common Construction Wage Bill (HB 1019) was going to receive a committee hearing. The Chamber testified it was in strong favor of repealing the CCW statute, noting this has been the organization’s position for many decades.

The Chamber told the committee that CCW prevents open and fair bidding competition for public construction projects. It establishes a government-sanctioned advantage for one set of contractors and workers over all others. It requires taxpayers to pay significantly above market wages, and therefore excessive taxes, on public construction projects. And it requires the setting of a government-mandated price to be paid for construction labor that is excessive and completely unnecessary; we don’t set minimum prices to be paid on other forms of labor, construction materials or equipment.

At the core of the issue for the Chamber: CCW costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in excess and unnecessary tax burdens. Chamber members – over 80% of which are small businesses – and the rest of the business community pay over half of the excess taxes caused by CCW. The remainder is paid by farmers and residential property owners, including elderly homeowners on fixed incomes.

In testimony, Chamber President Kevin Brinegar relayed the unfortunate situation that occurred nearly a decade ago when three massive public construction projects were going on in Indianapolis at the same time: Lucas Oil Stadium, the new Indianapolis Airport and the expansion of the Indiana Convention Center.

The wage committees on those projects chose union scale. And they further chose union-only project labor agreements which effectively excluded the non-union contractors from participating. At the height of the construction of those projects, there was not enough union labor to work on all three simultaneously. And rather than go to skilled, trained Hoosiers who didn’t happen to hold a union card to fill those needs, they went to union halls in Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois. That meant literally thousands of out-of-state workers – approximately 4,000 – came to work on our projects funded by our tax dollars instead of using qualified Indiana workers. The wages paid to those individuals went back to Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky to be used in their economies, not in ours. The Chamber views this as unfair and inappropriate.

Brinegar also told the group he served on approximately 40 wage-setting committees during his 12 years on the Noblesville School Board. In a property tax-capped environment, cash-strapped local units of government, like schools, cannot afford to pay inflated costs for their construction projects.

The Chamber closed its argument by calling CCW an unnecessary and wasteful interference by government into the free enterprise system and a relic of the 1930s – a costly one that is far past time to be repealed.

Many others testified in favor of the repeal. The Anderson Economic Group said it had conducted a study in Illinois and Michigan on how much CCW added to overall costs. The Fort Wayne City Council president testified to the many projects that will be coming to Fort Wayne that could save millions of dollars if CCW is repealed. He further testified that the CCW committee process is predetermined. The former mayor of Terre Haute added that cities have been beaten up over the property tax caps; repeal of CCW would alleviate some of that problem. The Associated Builders and Contractors stated that government should not be in the business of mandating wages.

House Bill 1019 is expected to receive a final floor debate on Monday. Organized labor is mounting stiff opposition to the measure in an effort, much like in the fight over right-to-work, to protect a special, government-created privilege at the expense of taxpayers and the free market. The Chamber will be diligently working with like-minded organizations to secure passage of HB 1019.

Call to Action: Please send a brief message to your state representative in support of HB 1019 and repealing the common construction wage law. It’s quick and easy via our grassroots program!

Top 100 Best Places to Work in Indiana Companies Named; Indiana Chamber Announces Rankings May 7

best places logoThe 100 companies selected as a 2015 Best Place to Work in Indiana include some new faces, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce announced today. A third (33) of the honorees are making their debut or returning to the list after at least a year’s absence.

“A record-breaking number of applicants – approaching 200 – has made the program more competitive,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “That shows in which organizations were selected as a Best Place to Work and in the rankings themselves.

“We have stellar mainstays who continue to impress with their work environment, perennial participants who made strides on the list and some newcomers who deserved attention. This group truly showcases a cream of the crop of Hoosier employers,” he states.

“These are organizations that demonstrate to their employees through their culture, communication, career opportunities, benefits and more how much they value their contributions to the overall success and bottom line.”

The actual rankings for the companies will be unveiled at a May 7 awards dinner, presented in partnership with Hylant, at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis. Elements Financial is the reception sponsor.

These top companies in the state were determined through employer reports and comprehensive employee surveys. The Best Companies Group, which handled the selection process, oversees similar programs in 26 other states.

Winners were selected from four categories: small companies of between 15 and 74 U.S. employees; medium companies of between 75 and 249 U.S. employees; large companies of between 250 and 999 U.S. employees; and major companies with 1,000 or more U.S. employees. Out-of-state parent companies were eligible to participate if at least 15 full-time employees are in Indiana.

Organizations on this year’s list that have displayed sustained excellence during the program’s 10-year history received additional recognition.

Hall of Fame companies are those that have been named a Best Place to Work in Indiana at least two-thirds of the time in the program’s history; a total of 13 organizations on the 2015 list meet that criteria. Two companies – Edward Jones and Katz, Sapper & Miller – have made the Best Places to Work list all 10 years of the program.

The Pinnacle designation is reserved for those that have finished first in their category three or more times in a five-year period. The three Pinnacle companies are Edward Jones (tops in the large employer category from 2006-2008); Hollingsworth & Zivitz, P.C. (first in the small employer category from 2011-2014); and Microsoft (tops in the major employer category in 2013-2014 and in the large category in 2011-2012).

In addition to the May 7 awards dinner, winners will be recognized via a special section of the Indiana Chamber’s bimonthly BizVoice® magazine and through Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick – both of which reach statewide audiences. Additional program partners are the Best Companies Group, Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Indiana State Council of SHRM and the Wellness Council of Indiana. The 2015 Best Places to Work in Indiana awards dinner is open to the public. Individual tickets and tables are available online.

All companies that participated in the 2015 Best Places to Work program receive an in-depth evaluation identifying strengths and weaknesses according to their employees. In turn, this report can be used in developing or enhancing employee retention and recruitment programs.

For more information on the Best Places to Work program, go to www.bestplacestoworkIN.com.

Additional Best Places to Work in Indiana sponsors are: Moser Consulting, Inc.; Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari; ADVISA; Centier Bank; Conner Insurance; DTZ; Smithville Communications, Inc.; and Trilogy Health Services, LLC.

Sponsorships are still available; email jwagner@indianachamber.com for more details.
The 2015 Best Places to Work in Indiana companies listed in alphabetical order, no ranking:

(*Hall of Fame companies)

Small Companies (15-74 U.S. employees) (41)
Company / Primary Indiana Location

American Income Life Indiana / Indianapolis
Apex Benefits / Indianapolis
BlueSky Technology Partners / Noblesville
Community First Bank of Indiana / Kokomo
Conner Insurance / Indianapolis
Cripe / Indianapolis
Cushman & Wakefield/Summit / Indianapolis
Delivra / Indianapolis
Design Collaborative, Inc. / Fort Wayne
Diverse Tech Services / Indianapolis
E-gineering, LLC / Indianapolis
eImagine Technology Group / Indianapolis
FirstPerson / Indianapolis
Formstack, LLC / Indianapolis
Goelzer Investment Management, Inc. / Indianapolis
Hanapin Marketing / Bloomington
Heritage Petroleum, LLC / Evansville
Hollingsworth & Zivitz, P.C. / Carmel
IDSolutions / Noblesville
Indiana CPA Society / Indianapolis
Indianapolis Indians / Indianapolis
JA Benefits, LLC / Bedford
KA+A / Indianapolis
Lakeside Wealth Management / Chesterton
Leaf Software Solutions / Carmel
Luther Consulting, LLC / Carmel
Magnum Logistics, Inc. / Plainfield
Mainstreet / Carmel
MMY Consulting, Inc. / Indianapolis
Morales Group, Inc. / Indianapolis
Oak Street Funding / Carmel
One Click Ventures / Greenwood
Pathfinders Advertising / Mishawaka
PolicyStat / Carmel
Scale Computing / Indianapolis
SmartIT / Indianapolis
Swagelok Indiana | Cincinnati / Indianapolis
The Skillman Corporation / Indianapolis
VOSS Automotive / Fort Wayne
Weddle Bros. Construction Company, Inc. / Bloomington
Wessler Engineering / Indianapolis

Medium Companies (75-249 U.S. employees) (24)

Allegient, LLC / Indianapolis
Apparatus / Indianapolis
Bierman ABA Autism Center / Indianapolis
Butler, Fairman & Seufert, Inc. / Indianapolis
Community Bank Shares of Indiana, Inc. / New Albany
Elements Financial / Indianapolis
enVista / Carmel
Gibson / South Bend
Indesign, LLC / Indianapolis
Indiana Oxygen / Indianapolis
J.C. Hart Company, Inc. / Carmel
Katz, Sapper & Miller* / Indianapolis
MJ Insurance, Inc.* / Indianapolis
Moser Consulting / Indianapolis
National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) / Indianapolis
Orchard Software Corporation / Carmel
Peoples Bank SB / Munster
Project Lead The Way, Inc. / Indianapolis
Purdue Federal Credit Union / West Lafayette
Sheridan Community Schools / Sheridan
Software Engineering Professionals, Inc. / Carmel
Unique Management Services/Unique Integrated Communications / Jeffersonville
United Consulting* / Indianapolis
United Leasing, Inc. / Evansville

Large Companies (250-999 U.S. employees) (20)

American Structurepoint / Indianapolis
Appirio / Indianapolis
Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company* / Fort Wayne
Centier Bank* / Merrillville
Duke Realty Corporation / Indianapolis
FORUM Credit Union / Fishers
Fusion Alliance* / Indianapolis
Hall Render Killian Heath & Lyman, PC* / Indianapolis
Hylant / Indianapolis
IPMG / West Lafayette
Kemper CPA Group LLP / Multiple locations
Magna Powertrain Muncie / Muncie
Monarch Beverage / Indianapolis
Mountjoy Chilton Medley LLP / Jeffersonville
Ontario Systems / Muncie
Shiel Sexton Company, Inc.* / Indianapolis
Sikich LLP / Indianapolis
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, LLC / Indianapolis
The Kendall Group / Fort Wayne
Traylor Bros., Inc. / Evansville

Major Companies (1,000+ U.S. employees) (15)

Aerotek / Indianapolis
Capital Group* / Carmel
DTZ* (formerly Cassidy Turley) / Indianapolis
Eaton / South Bend
Edward Jones* / Statewide
Emmis Communications* / Indianapolis
Hilliard Lyons / Multiple locations
Horseshoe Casino Hammond / Hammond
Interactive Intelligence* / Indianapolis
Microsoft Corporation / Indianapolis
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart P.C. / Indianapolis
RCI* / Carmel
Total Quality Logistics / Indianapolis
Trilogy Health Services, LLC / Multiple locations
WestPoint Financial Group* / Indianapolis

Why the Chamber Supports Common Construction Wage Repeal

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar on the decision of House Republicans to pursue House Bill 1019, which would repeal the state’s common construction wage statute. The bill passed the House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee early this afternoon:

“The Indiana Chamber of Commerce, although surprised to learn of the addition of this issue to the 2015 legislative agenda, has been a strong supporter of this common sense reform for decades. In a year in which a new two-year state budget will be adopted, actions that help provide additional taxpayer protections are particularly important.

“Repealing the common construction wage removes government-mandated pay scales and restores fair and open competition to public construction projects. With local governments and schools facing increasing financial pressures, projected taxpayer savings of between 10% and 20% per project are welcome news.

“The arbitrary common construction wage process prevents accountability on taxpayer-funded projects and often precludes local contractors from bidding for local work. Other states that do not have a common construction wage law have realized demonstrated cost savings, while maintaining the high-quality work delivered throughout the construction industry.”

Chamber Supports Regional Cities Initiative, I-69 Route in Southern Marion County

HB 1403 establishes the Indiana Regional City Fund to provide grants and loans to regional development authorities. Provides that the Indiana Economic Development Corporation administers the fund. Provides that a city or town that is eligible to become a second-class city may become a member of a regional development authority.

The Indiana Chamber testified in support of HB 1403, joining many others. The Indiana Chamber endorses regionalism and place-making economic development strategies that this legislation seeks to enable. Both have proven effective and both are in line with the Chamber’s Indiana Vision 2025 economic development plan. How to fund the state portion of the regional cities initiative remains an open question and one which the Indiana Chamber is prepared to work with legislative leaders to find an answer.

The bill was heard in the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday. No vote taken; eligible for further committee action.

Furthermore, see the article on the Regional Cities Initiative in the January/February edition of BizVoice magazine.


HB 1036 removes the requirement that the General Assembly enact a statute authorizing the construction of I-69 in Perry Township (Marion County) before I-69 may be constructed in Perry Township.

The Indiana Chamber, along with many others, testified in support of HB 1036; no party testified in opposition to the bill. There is no valid reason that the current prohibition for I-69 in Perry Township, Marion County should exist in law. The Chamber’s position: The current prohibition should be repealed; all potential routes for the final section of I-69 should be objectively studied by the appropriate agencies of both the federal and state governments; and the route with the least environmental and best economic impact for the state should be chosen upon the merits, not upon any political clout or other considerations.

This bill was heard in the House Roads and Transportation Committee on Wednesday. No vote taken; eligible for further committee action.

State Superintendent Needs to be Appointed, On Same Page with Governor

It’s about good public policy. It’s about what’s best for students and teachers.

For nearly 30 years, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce has supported having the state superintendent of public instruction be an appointed position. We did this when Republicans and Democrats controlled the governor’s office. And we have been far from alone.

In years past, the state Democratic and Republican parties have included it in their platforms. And in 2004, both Gov. Joe Kernan and challenger Mitch Daniels had it among their campaign proposals.

It may be surprising to some, but the Indiana State Teachers Association used to support having an appointed superintendent. However, the group changed its tune once its 2012 endorsed candidate, Glenda Ritz, was elected.

The Indiana Chamber has remained consistent with its position and believes politics should be put aside.

Having an appointed superintendent came oh so close to happening in the late 1980s during Gov. Robert Orr’s administration – passing the House and falling only one vote short in the Senate. Since then it’s mainly been a parade of governors and superintendents not on the same page on major education policy (regardless of which party held either office). That situation doesn’t serve the state, students, parents or teachers well.

Our governor campaigns on education issues and sets an education agenda. In order to be held accountable for that, he needs to be able to appoint the superintendent of his choosing. That way, we can be assured there is alignment with respect to education policy. Hoosiers can then hold the governor truly responsible for education and factor that into his performance assessment come election time.

Appointing a superintendent also means the person chosen comes from a broader pool of qualified candidates. And the selection should then be based on the person’s education and leadership merits, not political backing.

Many have known for a long time that the current system isn’t conducive to getting things done. That’s only been exacerbated the last two years with the divergent philosophical opinions of Gov. Mike Pence and Superintendent Glenda Ritz. Too often this has resulted in the State Board of Education at a crossroads, if not a standstill. That’s entirely unacceptable.

What’s more, the superintendent, as head of the state Department of Education, should be treated like every other agency leader. We don’t elect the superintendent of the Indiana State Police, commissioner of the Department of Revenue and so forth. All of those officials are appointed at the discretion of the governor. The Department of Education should be the same.

Indiana is already behind the times – and more than 35 other states – in acknowledging that an appointed superintendent serves citizens best. Our preference would be that realization happen sooner rather than later. We recognize the political sensitivities and pressures currently in play – though we don’t agree with bowing to them – and want to see serious discussion and action taken on the issue this legislative session.

Chamber-Supported Water Bills Pass Out of Committee

The Chamber supports two bills that recently unanimously passed out of the Senate Environmental Affairs Committee.

SB 473 requires the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to establish a program under which volunteers may monitor the water resources, which includes both ground water and surface water. This data will be provided to IDNR. Provides that the department shall: (1) train the volunteers participating in the program in the proper collection and transmission of data; (2) determine the location and ensure the adequacy of the monitoring wells used in the program; and (3) conduct water resource monitoring independent of the program to verify the quality of the data derived from the program.

In testimony, the Chamber supported the development of a comprehensive water resources plan. An essential element of that plan will be adequate and reliable data. Senate Bill 473 creates a mechanism that will allow the voluntary collection of data from diverse sources which is then managed by state and federal agencies. This data will fill a current void in the depleted monitoring network with minimal cost and effort by the state.


SB 474 requires the Indiana Finance Authority to prepare an analysis of the planning and long-range needs of: (1) the water utilities serving the 15 most populous cities in Indiana; and (2) five other water utilities selected by the authority, each of which serves fewer than 10,000 customers.

The Chamber testified that an integral part of a water resources plan is the ability of the state’s water utilities to create and execute long-range plans. Senate Bill 474 uses the ongoing efforts of the Indiana Finance Authority to analyze a sampling of the state’s water utilities to assess their ability to construct and implement long-range plans.

Non-Union Teacher Contract Bargaining Requires Flexibility

Finding, retaining and empowering great teachers must be a top priority for Indiana schools. However, the state’s teacher bargaining law ties the hands of administrators and forces the union-bargained contract and all its controls on every teacher in a district, whether or not they choose to even join the union.

Senate Bill 302, authored by Sen. Pete Miller (R-Avon), would allow school districts to negotiate employment contracts directly with individual teachers or groups of teachers that choose not to join their union, instead of being forced to negotiate exclusively within the bargaining agreement and impose those same contract provisions on all teachers.

Today, schools and districts cannot recruit superb educators and those with specific skills needed (e.g. STEM, foreign languages, etc.) and cannot be offered higher pay or other incentives. And in districts with teacher shortages, there is no room to negotiate a contract to hire a teacher that might be needed to fill an important gap. There is no flexibility – it’s the union’s contract or nothing, even in a right-to-work state like Indiana.

Teachers are professionals and should be treated like it. They have the right to be a union member and bargain collectively should they so choose, but they also should have the right to negotiate their own contracts. If we want better teachers in this state, we need to encourage and support excellence.

The bill would free teachers from a longstanding stranglehold on contracts, allow for excellence to be rewarded and recruited, and stop treating all teachers like interchangeable parts under the same contract terms regardless of skills, performance or a school’s needs.

Please take a moment to send a message to your state senator and the Senate Pensions and Labor Committee to ask for support of Senate Bill 302 to provide for more flexibility for school districts and teachers.

Chamber on Federal Approval of HIP 2.0 to Satisfy ACA Requirement

Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar comments on the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services giving the green light to the Healthy Indiana Plan expansion (HIP 2.0), which is in lieu of traditional Medicaid expansion required under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“We are very pleased that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) appreciated Indiana’s unique brand of addressing the needs of our uninsured population and recognized HIP 2.0 as the best option for Indiana to expand health care coverage. The Indiana Chamber had reviewed HIP 2.0 and urged CMS to approve it.

“HIP provides reimbursement to health care providers at Medicare rates. Otherwise, health care providers recover such losses by increasing prices for private sector employers and their employees through cost shifting. Any attempt to lessen that cost shift is welcome.

“What’s more, the approval of HIP 2.0 will provide health care coverage for tens of thousands of additional Hoosiers and bring billions of dollars into Indiana’s economy.

“We applaud Gov. Pence and his administration for recognizing that HIP 2.0 was the best course for the state and for staying firm in that belief.”

Regional Power: New Initiative to Help Leverage Core Cities for Regional Growth

IGov. Mike Pence recently allocated a total of $84 million in the 2016-17 budgets to help fund the Regional Cities Initiative. Led by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, the plan will take what the organization learned by consulting 11 economically successful cities of varying sizes in the U.S. to help Indiana’s regions develop their own approaches to increasing economic growth.

While the state is helping, each region will be allowed to autonomously craft its own approach — and define what areas each region encompasses, for that matter.

I had the privilege of writing about this innovative concept in our latest BizVoice magazine. State officials hope this will help Indiana’s cities and nearby rural areas thrive by enhancing many factors, most notably “quality of place.”

Legislative Testimony: Employment for Non-Union Teachers

The Indiana Chamber’s Caryl Auslander testified today in support of Senate Bill 302 – Employment Contracts for Non-Union Teachers, authored by Sen. Pete Miller (R-Avon) and Sen. Jim Smith (R-Charlestown).

The Indiana Chamber has long supported similar legislation allowing employees to choose whether or not they want to join their union. And as such, those that choose NOT to join their respective union for whatever reason should have the opportunity to negotiate their contract outside of the collective bargaining agreement that was set forth by that union – just as any other employee in the state might be able to do.

We feel that this legislation empowers both the employer and the employee to negotiate a contract that works best for BOTH parties.