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Strong foundations. High aspirations.


The Indy Region is on an upward track. We are creating more jobs at higher average wages, attracting more talent with the strength of our economy and vibrancy of our quality of life, and raising educational attainment to compete in high-tech industries.  We’re bringing in more investment and shipping out more global exports.

We’re keeping our sights high.  But lofty goals are built on strong foundations.

Our legislative agenda invests in foundational issues.  By giving more kids affordable access to quality pre-K, we’re creating a better base for our future workforce.  By raising the smoking age and cigarette taxes, we can invest in public health and productivity – energy to work harder and build stronger.

A flawed foundation can erode bigger plans.  Indiana is among a few holdouts without a legal stand against hate crimes.  Building a diverse and competitive workforce demands fixing this outdated omission as well as extending equal protection to all Hoosiers.

Sometimes new opportunities rise out of old foundations.  We need to incentivize and accelerate investment in brownfield sites, so real estate limitations don’t hinder redevelopment possibilities.  And speaking of second chances, we continue to focus on helping ex-offenders rejoin our economy.

But above all, our people will power us towards our highest potential.  We’ve highlighted early childhood education, but learning is a lifetime priority for a competitive workforce.  Our agenda calls for smart investments and employer-driven policies, from K-12 to post-secondary and adult vocational programs.

Read on for more details on our legislative agenda – our blueprint for a stronger economy.

 

Lisa Schlehuber
CEO, Elements Financial
Chair – Indy Chamber 2019 Board of Directors

 

Michael Huber
President & CEO
Indy Chamber

2019 Priority Issues


EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION

Ensure children entering primary (K-12) education are academically, socially and emotionally prepared for success through high-quality, publicly-funded Pre-K programs; increased public investments should focus on those in financial need and support statewide access, while protecting funding and service levels in high-demand, high-capacity ‘pilot’ counties. Further, enact mandatory, fully-funded, full-day kindergarten by age 5 to create a consistent, quality early education pathway

DIVERSITY

Reinforce and enhance Indiana’s brand as a welcoming and diverse state by:

  • Enacting “bias crime” penalties for criminal offenses where it can be proven that the victim or target is intentionally selected because of personal characteristics enumerated by law
  • Updating the state’s current anti-discrimination law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, employment and public accommodations
  • Restoring the eligibility for in-state tuition and financial aid to state colleges and universities for foreign born students who have matriculated through the Indiana K-12 system

INTERLOCAL/REGIONAL INVESTMENTS

Support a statewide approach that encourages interlocal collaboration, allows catalytic investments in regional priorities, and creates a fiscal framework to fund essential services such as public safety and infrastructure

HEALTHY WORKFORCE

Support a comprehensive approach to increase the health, wellbeing and productivity of Indiana’s current and future workforce through supporting policies such as:

  • Increasing Indiana’s current cigarette tax by two dollars per pack:
    • Revenue resulting from the cigarette tax increase should be used to address Indiana’s public health challenges including physical, mental health and addiction
  • Raising the statewide legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21:
    • At a minimum, the state should remove restrictions on local governments from enacting ordinances to raise the age to 21
  • Repealing preferential treatment for smokers in the workplace (“Smokers’ Bill of Rights”)

BROWNFIELDS

Accelerate community reinvestment and accessible employment opportunities in and around brownfield sites, driving economic development and maximizing property values by:

  • Restoring funding to Indiana Finance Authority’s Brownfield Grant Program, adding IFA staff capacity to administer the program, reduce wait times and extend technical assistance efforts;
  • Expanding grant and loan resources for “Phase I” and “Phase II” environmental site assessments for former brownfields;
  • Creating tax incentives based on employment on former brownfield sites
  • Expanding flexibility of a redevelopment commission to sell or transfer a title to real property which is undeveloped, underdeveloped, or considered blighted due to the real or perceived threat of environmental contamination for private development

Economic Growth


STATE AND LOCAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Convention, Sports and Tourism: Continue the momentum of Indianapolis’ convention and sporting industries by expanding current funding mechanisms. Leverage these resources to support expansion of the convention hotel footprint and prioritize existing facility investments. Provide for the sustainable operations of the Indianapolis Capital Improvement Board and support existing franchises, including the development of professional soccer

Tax Increment Financing: Maximize the ability of local government units to respond to redevelopment and economic development opportunities through utilization of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts

  • Transparency: Establish a schedule of performance reports to local governing bodies and encourage the establishment of public online resources for tracking TIF performance metrics, funded by TIF revenue

Local Incentives: Secure and maintain flexibility of local incentives for economic and community development efforts to encourage new growth and redevelopment of existing resources

  • Certified Tech Parks: Increase the Certified Technology Park (CTP) tax capture allowance from the current $5 million cap to allow high performing CTPs to increase public-private investment in the CTP and surrounding areas

State Incentives: Maintain Indiana’s economic competitiveness through the preservation and responsible use of existing state tax incentives, placing emphasis on skills enhancement and workforce training to attract investment from diverse industry sectors

  • Increase funding the state Skills Enhancement Fund to assist companies in addressing 21st Century skills gap.

Entrepreneurship and Innovation Investments:  Support policies that can improve the State’s capital environment and nurture innovative activity through:

  • Maintain permanence of the state’s Research and Development, Hoosier Business Investment, and Venture Capital Investment tax credit programs.
  • Increase funding for the 21st Century Research and Technology Fund to support industry driven initiatives.
  • Maximize immediate value of state EDGE and VCI tax credit by allowing recipients to transfer credits for cash value
  • Enhancing flexibility for public investment in venture capital funds that invest in Indiana companies
  • Enhancing funding to support more university-sponsored grant programs and seed funding for applied research and commercialization

Advanced Telecommunications: Support efforts by telecommunications providers to transition their networks from old legacy technology to an advanced all-IP, all-mobile and all-cloud infrastructure

COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AND INVESTMENT

Regional Cities Initiative: Promote regional cooperation and strategic quality of life investments through the IEDC’s Regional Cities Initiative (RCI):

  • Support the development of clear metrics to measure success or return on investment of the Regional Cities Initiative from application to project implementation and beyond
  • Increase funding for technical assistance and planning grants for regional development authorities
  • Encourage the creation of federally recognized Economic Development Districts
  • Support the creation of a Regional Development Tax Credit to expand investment in quality of life projects and the productive reuse of brownfield sites

Stellar Communities: Support continued investment and rural communities and small towns across Indiana by strengthening and expanding the Indiana Stellar Communities program, emphasizing increased technical assistance and capacity-building towards brownfield remediation and redevelopment

Historic Rehabilitation: Increase state funding and incentives to encourage redevelopment and investment in aging commercial, industrial and residential properties

Shovel Ready Redevelopment: Support shovel ready community redevelopment efforts through the creation of a statewide grant program to fund the demolition of blighted commercial properties

Revitalization Grants and Revolving Loan Fund: Allow local governments the ability to make grants and loans to private enterprise for the creation of jobs or otherwise stimulate economic activity

Food Deserts: Support innovative efforts to increase access to healthy food options to improve the health of Indiana resident and workforce

TRANSPORTATION, INFRASTRUCTURE AND ENVIRONMENT

Local Roads and Streets: Ensure adequate funding for local roads and streets, while maintaining equitable funding for urban and suburban areas by accurately accounting for lane miles in the infrastructure funding formula; and further:

  • Financing and Delivery: Provide maximum flexibility to local governments in the financing, design and construction of local transportation infrastructure, including the use of Public-Private Partnerships and Design-Build

Hoosier State Line: Maintain state support to continue operations and enhance service of the Hoosier State Line to better facilitate connectivity and economic opportunity between Indianapolis and Chicago

Complete Streets: Pursue state transportation policies that encourage transportation planners and engineers to plan, design, operate and maintain the state’s road and street infrastructure with all users in mind

Greenways: Support the creation of a statewide loan or grant fund to build out of greenways and bike lanes for local communities

Mass Transit: Restore a dedicated funding stream for the Public Mass Transportation Fund (PMTF) to account for increased participation and demand of transit agencies throughout the state

  • Incentives: Create state employer incentives for employee benefits for alternative modes of transportation, transit packages, workplace bike infrastructure or other modes of transportation that encourage healthier workforce

Shared & Personal Mobility:  Capitalize on rapid advances in personal mobility and transportation by making new mobility options safe and accessible for Hoosiers, and positioning Indiana as a center of innovation for mobility solutions:

  • Autonomous Vehicles: Advocate for regulatory changes to promote the development, testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles in Indiana;
  • Transparent Regulatory Framework: Beyond autonomous vehicles, develop a clear that predictable regulatory framework that applies to other mobility options, to avoid confusion and delays in integrating new products and services into our transportation system;
  • Emphasize equitable access to new mobility options: Work to eliminate barriers to individuals and communities taking advantage of mobility options, so personal mobility can also be a catalyst for upward mobility;
  • Create a truly comprehensive transportation strategy: Acknowledging that no single agency or organization can oversee the complex transportation system, bring together partners (state and local, public and private) to develop long-term, data-driven strategies that incorporate new and innovative mobility options and focus on critical transportation challenges;
  • Safety first: Evaluate traffic rules, street construction/configuration, and other modal regulations to ensure mobility options work together safely for pedestrians, riders, drivers, and other users

Water: Support the creation of a statewide coordinating body to ensure sustained economic opportunity through responsible management of water resources

Energy Efficiency: Secure state incentives for business and local government investments in energy-efficient commercial and industrial rehabilitation and fleet management

Local Government and Fiscal Policy


LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCE

Short-term Rental: Require short-term rental platforms to collect and remit local innkeepers’ tax; dedicate these dollars to accelerating, expanding and sustaining community strategies to combat homelessness and panhandling

Home Rule: Allow local government greater flexibility over their own structural and fiscal matters to address the needs of their individual communities

Township Finances: Require township funds that exceed 150% of operating expenses to be spent on infrastructure projects within the township or credited to the taxpayer

GOVERNMENT MODERNIZATION

Redistricting Reform:  Support non-partisan redistricting reform that increases and encourages competition of ideas, decreases polarization in legislative and congressional districts, accurately reflects historic trends in statewide elections and maintains communities of interest and adheres to local political boundaries

UniGov: Seek greater efficiencies in municipal service delivery and finance in Marion County by building on the principles of unified government, including county-wide consolidation of fire departments

Statewide: Continue efforts to streamline overlapping government functions through statewide implementation of recommendations made by the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform to increase accountability, transparency and effectiveness of local governments

Government Innovation: Continue support of the state’s Management & Performance Hub to foster a more transparent, innovative state government, and encourage local governments to create Offices of Innovation to drive policies that similarly inspire open data, transparency, and efficiencies that can result in greater economic activity and workforce development

Workforce and Education


WORKFORCE

Employer-Driven, Sector-Specific Workforce Development: Build off of the recent work to better align state secondary education, workforce and economic development strategies that promote transferability, stackability, and permeability of credit awarding curricula

  • Employer-Sponsored Co-Ops: Supports state-based incentives to encourage businesses to employ students in an apprentice or intern capacity and provide on the job training with the final goal of permanently hiring those who have excelled

Work Opportunity Tax Credit:  Support Hoosiers entering the workforce through the creation of state tax incentive which mirrors the Federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit (FWOTC) program focused on ex-offenders and the long-term unemployed

  • Support incentives for government contractors who hire and retain individuals eligible for WOTC credits

Veteran Re-entry: Increase employment opportunities for returning veterans by eliminating duplicative requirements and expedite processes for military-trained personnel to obtain the equivalent civilian license

  • Support ongoing efforts to recruit military personnel to the state to meet the workforce needs of regional employers

Ex-Offender Re-entry: Support policies that promote reintegrating ex-offenders into the workforce and economy by:

  • Minimize business liability and increase incentives to hire ex-offenders
  • Increase job training and skills enhancement opportunities
    • Expanding pre-release entrepreneurship education and training
    • Support funding for proven models for transitional employment and wrap-around services including access to housing and transportation

Nurse Licensure Compact: Support licensing reciprocity between states to fill critical nursing shortages

HIGHER EDUCATION

Next Level Jobs:  Support the Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s Return and Complete efforts to reengage the 737,000 Hoosiers with some college credit but no degree

STEM: Explore the creation of incentives to retain recent STEM-degreed individuals committed to remaining in-state for five years

21st Century Scholars: Enhance outreach and wraparound services and evaluate sustainable funding mechanisms for programs, such as the 21st Century Scholars program, in order to increase access to and completion rates at two- and four-year colleges and universities for those with financial need

Immigration Reform: Encourage federal leadership on comprehensive immigration reform. Restore eligibility for in-state tuition and financial aid to state colleges and universities for foreign born students who have matriculated through the Indiana K-12 system

EDUCATION

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Accelerate the appointment powers of the Governor to 2021

STEM: Support dedicated funding and policies to deploy high-quality classroom science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curricula and STEM-focused professional development for the educators.  Specifically, emphasize access to computer science and engineering courses at the high school level to prepare graduates for college and career opportunities in high-demand STEM fields.

Also, explore the creation of incentives to retain recent STEM-degreed individuals committed to remaining in-state for five years

High school Career Counselors:

  • Decrease the student-to-counselor ratio, require regular professional development for school counselors and ensure academic coursework align with students’ desired career pathways
  • Explore modification of counselor licensure to differentiate career counseling from social/emotional counseling
  • Require school counselors to advise students in middle school (6th, 7th and 8th grades) of their eligibility to enroll in various state financial aid programs

Autonomy: Provide school districts flexibility to pay teachers based on high need and specialized subject matter areas. Empower local education officials to make administrative and structural decisions affecting individual school performance, including the option to extend school hours, merit pay options, providing voluntary alternative retirement benefits options such as defined contribution plans for new teachers

Charter Authority: Expand the authority of the Mayor of Indianapolis to charter Pre-K educational institutions and require local public hearings for the re-chartering of schools attempting to switch charter authorizers after a charter has been revoked

Financial Literacy: Promote financial literacy education through existing k-12 curriculum requirements and encourage the DOE to develop sample curriculum for local schools to implement

School Funding: Support the inclusion of the second count date for the k-12 funding formula to ensure schools are able to adequately accommodate changing student populations throughout the school year

Teacher Pay: Support efforts to increase teacher pay from the state to local school districts