This week was relatively low-key at the Statehouse – lawmakers took a few actions on key bills, girded themselves for the final push of conference committee negotiations, and welcomed a new Lieutenant Governor. With adjournment planned next Wednesday, legislators are starting to gear up for a summer of study committees, day jobs…and campaigning.
Transportation & Talent
The House amended and passed SB333 on Thursday, including the leadership’s long-term infrastructure plan (gas and cigarette taxes providing predictable revenue for roads and other transportation priorities). The bill also added $42 million in funding for the Regional Cities initiative.
The Indy Chamber supports a sustainable solution for infrastructure funding; the House version of SB333 best addresses this need. And while we were disappointed in the process and outcome of the first round of Regional Cities grants, we continue to see metropolitan quality of life and talent attraction as critical to our competitiveness as a state and region.
Holcomb sworn in as Lieutenant Governor, business community thanks Ellspermann:
Governor Pence’s choice of Eric Holcomb as Lieutenant Governor was ratified this week, and he was sworn in before a crowded South Atrium by Justice Massa. We welcome Lieutenant Governor Holcomb, and look forward to working with him on closely on your agenda – during his work with former Governor Daniels and Senator Coats, we’ve found him to be a willing listener with great insight on policy and politics.
We also thank Sue Ellspermann for her service to the State – she brought a valuable private sector perspective to her tenure as Indiana’s 50th LG; always an advocate for business and taxpayers, she also saw the importance of hearing different viewpoints and building consensus. She often participated in Indy Chamber events and sought input from employers and entrepreneurs outside the Statehouse – she’ll be missed.
The more things change…
Governors and Lieutenant Governors may come and go, but the ISTA’s full-court press against any diminishing of their power is a reliable constant – and this week, the teacher’s union showed it can still rally to kill an unwanted bill. Backlash from labor led to the demise of SB10, which would have allowed school districts flexibility to operate outside of traditional collective bargaining to recruit teachers in hard-to-fill science and technology areas.
As legislators pack their bags next week, they’ll pass a stream of visitors coming into town for the Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament – hopefully, a helpful reminder of the economic power of downtown Indianapolis and its hospitality industry. The college students in town to cheer on their teams will soon be part of the most mobile generation of skilled workers in history…for them to choose Indy and put their talents to work in our economy, we have to offer places they want to live, public services they value (like convenient mass transit), and a tolerant, welcoming environment – point made.
Check out our session wrap-up next week, and a more thorough analysis of the session and how Indy Chamber priorities ultimately fared.
In the meantime, contact Vice President of Government Relations Mark Fisher at email@example.com, 317.464.2291 and @FisherIndy with other questions or thoughts on our legislative and advocacy efforts.
Finally, the City-County Council continues to deliberate on putting a transit funding referendum on the November ballot, giving voters a voice on modern mass transit in Marion County. We’re optimistic, but need to show broad and consistent support from the business community and public-at-large on this issue: Please consider contacting your City-County Councillor if you haven’t already, or contact us to explore other ways to get engaged.