We ask that the Senate restore the original funding proposed in the Governor's Budget so that we can grow our state's economic drivers. The Governor's Budget asks for an $84 million appropriation for this innovative plan to attract jobs and talent to Indiana. Email your Senatorand tell him/her to invest in our regional economies.
The Senate Appropriations Committee heard agency budgets including the Secretary of State’s Office and the Department of Education on Thursday. Supt. Glenda Ritz’s testimony headlined the hearing.
Speaking of education, the Senate Education Committee heard testimony on the Freedom to Teach Act HB 1009 to allow for special zones of innovation and career pathways for teachers. In particular interest to the Indy Chamber is HB 1636 which would limit the practice of “authorizer shopping.” The Indy Chamber’s Angela Smith Jones testified how failing charters should not be able to simply change authorizers in order to avoid being closed for poor performance.
Religious Freedom and Restoration Act
The most high-profile hearingthis week was for the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act or RFRA. With over the 3.5 hours of testimony, the House Judiciary Committee heard all sides of the issue. Angela Smith Jones testified in opposition to RFRA as a bad bill for business. She spelled out the business community’s concerns over the increased risk of litigation, the risk to the locally enacted Indianapolis Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) that protects citizens from discrimination in employment and housing. As Salesforce spelled out Thursday, RFRA will threaten the viability of businesses to attract talent.
Stadium for Indiana
Next week we expect to have hearings for two big economic development bills for Marion County. First, HB 1273 authorizes support for the Stadium for Indiana will be heard in the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee on Thursday at 9am. Supporters of Indy Eleven Soccer Club were present at the statehouse this week to support the measure as they will be a primary tenant of the new stadium, but Sen. Hershman is expected to amend the bill next week.
In Other News...
On the Senate side, several bills passed with large majorities this week like HB 1042 on education loan information and HB 1053 that will allow breweries, wineries and distilleries to sell their products on site. The House was busy working to unanimously pass SB 298, a bill that gives employment preference benefits to veterans.
The Indy Chamber’s top priority this session will be heard at the Tax and Fiscal Committee on Thursday when funding for Regional Cities will be heard as part of the Indiana Economic Development Commission (IEDC) budget. The Indy Chamber gladly supports the Indiana Economic Development Commission's (IEDC) proposed Regional Cities Initiative in HB 1403 to strategically invest in regional quality of life efforts. We were extremely disappointed this week to learn that the proposed funding was slashed to 1/8th of needed resources in the House budget.