Healthy State. Healthy Economy.

Virgil once said, “The greatest wealth is health.” To paraphrase this philosophy, we believe a prosperous region starts with healthy citizens, and healthy regions make a thriving state.  The Indy Chamber’s 2020 Legislative Agenda – “Healthy State. Healthy Economy.” – focuses on improved health, a productive workforce and the power of regionalism as prescriptions for economic growth.

Public health is shaped by personal habits; Indiana’s high smoking rate is a competitive hurdle, given the human toll of chronic illness and the economic consequences of lost productivity and elevated healthcare costs.  Because 90% of smokers start as teenagers, we continue to support raising the legal age to buy tobacco from 18 to 21, while taxing vaping products that act as a gateway to smoking.

If we’re successful, tomorrow’s economy will be built by a healthier generation of young Hoosiers.  Raising state taxes on cigarettes is also critical to discourage smoking today, and start funding needed investments in health programs.

Health challenges keep too many Hoosiers from fully participating in our economy – but it’s hardly the only barrier.  Without job-ready skills, employment options and earning potential are limited…and if our workforce isn’t prepared, our businesses can’t grow, either.

That’s why the Indy Chamber has taken the lead for Indiana with the national Business Leaders United (BLU) Network, focused on bringing employers and policymakers together to shape state and regional workforce programs to meet the needs of local businesses and demands of the changing job market.  This partnership has already produced some practical ideas for this year’s agenda.

We continue to take aim at other barriers to inclusive growth as well – common-sense criminal justice reform and ex-offender re-entry policies, urban redevelopment, and tackling issues like personal mobility and access to healthy food.  An inclusive economy is a stronger economy, with more productive workers and local enterprises supporting a broader tax base and contributing to shared success.

And inclusion doesn’t just apply to individuals and neighborhoods that have been isolated from opportunity.  We need to more collaborative, equitable strategy for regional growth, too: A ‘healthier’ region means rethinking revenue policies and empowering cooperation, so local governments can fairly fund essential services while working together to make transformative investments in our future.

Read on for more details on the Indy Chamber’s ‘Healthy State. Healthy Economy.’ Agenda – policies to support the physical well-being of our people, maximize the potential of our workforce, and create a more resilient region that brings Indiana’s economy to life.

Dennis Murphy
President & CEO, IU Health
Chair – Indy Chamber 2020 Board of Directors


Michael Huber
President & CEO
Indy Chamber

2020 Priority Issues


Maximize economic and population growth in a sustainable and equitable manner by promoting regional cohesion and collaboration on issues impacting the Indianapolis region, such as the state road funding formula, workforce development, and health policy by:

  • Creating fiscal capacity for transformational investments with regional impact, recognizing that basic services and infrastructure are quality of life and business climate priorities that must be adequately addressed
    • g. White River redevelopment and activation
  • Addressing regional tax disparities by being open to creating additional revenue streams to mitigate funding inequities across counties
    • g. Local option sales tax, revenue distribution, or other alternatives
  • Empowering flexible regional governance models to support technical planning, redevelopment and transformational growth priorities, and the implementation of shared revenue strategies such as Investment Hubs


Support a comprehensive approach to increase the health, wellbeing, and productivity of Indiana’s current and future workforce by advocating for:

  • Increasing Indiana’s current cigarette tax by two dollars per pack and impose tax parity at point-of-sale for e-cigarette and vaping products
    • Revenue resulting from these tax increases should be used to address Indiana’s public health challenges including physical, mental health and addiction
  • Raising the statewide legal age to purchase tobacco and vaping 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
  • Enacting a statewide ban on flavored vaping and e-cigarette products which have been shown to encourage youth vaping, exposing young people to detrimental, long-term health effects.
  • Repealing preferential treatment for smokers in the workplace (“Smokers’ Bill of Rights”)


  • 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
  • 21st Century Apprenticeships: Support development of curricula and credentialing standards to encourage businesses to provide workbased learning opportunities and apprenticeships with the final goal of leading to careers in high growth, high demand careers
  • Next Level Jobs: Increase funding and provide greater flexibility by expanding the provider network, focusing on credentialing that leads to higher wages within an industry and skills utilized across sectors
  • 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

Economic Growth


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:

  • Maintaining permanence of the state’s Research and Development, Hoosier Business Investment, and Venture Capital Investment tax credit programs
  • Increasing funding for the 21st Century Research and Technology Fund to support industry driven initiatives
  • 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, 5G supportive, all-cloud infrastructure


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

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

  • Increase funding for technical assistance and planning grants for regional development authorities
  • Encourage the creation of federally recognized Economic Development Districts

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

  • Restore the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program for large, catalytic projects that leverage available federal funding and lead to job growth and higher wages
  • Maximize immediate value of Historical Rehabilitation Tax Credit by allowing recipients to transfer credits for cash value
  • Increase funding for the Historic Rehabilitation grant program for smaller-scale projects of up to $100,000 or 50% of project cost that drive reinvestment in local cultural, community, and tourism development efforts

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 Access & Insecurity: Support innovative efforts to increase access to healthy food options and strategies to improve food security to support the health of Indiana residents and workforce. Empower and enable innovative and proven food distribution models, alternative payment processes, and data collection on food access and insecurity


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

  • Strengthening “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

Encouraging federal leadership on comprehensive immigration reform. Restore 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



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: Reinstate state support to continue operations and enhance service of the Hoosier State Line to better facilitate connectivity and economic opportunity between Indianapolis, Northwest Indiana, 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 that facilitates public use, physical activity, and support public health

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 and 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


Service Enhancement: Support increased levels of service to homeless populations including a comprehensive approach to establish low-barrier shelters and wraparound service treatment models. Allow funds from Medicaid 1115 waiver to be used for homelessness intervention and prevention services

Panhandling Enforcement: Increase proximity radius from 20 to 50 feet from all financial transactions. Expand the definition of financial transactions to include parking meters


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


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

Healthcare Data: Support strategies to improve availability, quality, and verifiability of data on the price, quality, and utilization of healthcare services that can be easily accessed and understood by patients, healthcare providers and employers

Workforce and Education


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

Mental Health Workforce Pipeline: Support incentives that increase the pipeline for social workers and mental health professionals to provide wraparound services in the criminal justice system and to provide more capacity for services in the overall healthcare system.

Smart Justice: Support strategic reform to criminal justice system to minimize jail overcrowding, recidivism, and local fical impact while maximizing rehabilitation through:

  • Multiple Felony Sentencing: To reduce impact on criminal justice systems, offenders with multiple felonies should be sentenced to the Department of Correction
  • Bail Consideration: Cash bond consideration must require a screening assessment and the ability to increase the bond considering severity of criminal history

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

  • Minimizing business liability and increasing incentives to hire ex-offenders
  • Increasing 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

Workplace Accommodations: Update employer guidance on reasonable accommodations for employees with medical conditions relating to pregnancy to provide needed clarity to employers, allow for expedient resolution of grievances, and improve maternal health and female workforce participation

Social Determinants of Health: Increase strategic investments in public health, prevention, and social determinants to support talent-based economic development. Continue data collection efforts by the state on social determinants of health and unmet needs of government benefit recipients


Reverse Credit: Support permitting specific course credit to be transferable and reciprocal between Indiana’s accredited two-year schools and other state-supported colleges and universities to encourage post-secondary certification and degree attainment statewide

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


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

School Safety & Mental Health: Allow public school funding for school resource officers and school safety referenda funding to be used to hire mental health program staff

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 K-12 level to prepare graduates for college and career opportunities in high-demand STEM fields

Explore the creation of incentives to retain recent STEM-degreed individuals committed to remaining in-state for five years, with an emphasis on those graduates who enter the teaching profession.

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

Required FAFSA Completion: Support matriculation to post-secondary educational institutions by making FAFSA completion or affirmative opt-out a requirement of high school graduation

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

Operational Efficiency & Facilities: Support school corporation’s operational efficiency efforts by creating a 5-year, renewable exemption to the “Dollar Law” for school corporations that meet the following criteria:

  • Proven willingness and ability to partner with charter schools as demonstrated by:
    • 20% of school corporation’s student population attending innovation network school or innovation network charter schools
    • Equitable distribution of district operating referendum dollars to all innovation network schools, both in-LEA innovation network schools and out-of-LEA innovation network charter schools
  • Proven overcapacity of facilities within the district as demonstrated by independent analysis and verification
  • Commitment to address operational efficiencies as demonstrated by:
    • Undergoing strategic facilities optimization study on current and future population/enrollment projections
    • Implementation of strategic operational efficiency plans through strategic disposition of the properties previously subject to the dollar law

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

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