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.
President & CEO, IU Health
Chair – Indy Chamber 2020 Board of Directors
President & CEO
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:
Support a comprehensive approach to increase the health, wellbeing, and productivity of Indiana’s current and future workforce by advocating for:
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
Local Incentives: Secure and maintain flexibility of local incentives for economic and community development efforts to encourage new growth and redevelopment of existing resources
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
Entrepreneurship and Innovation Investments: Support policies that can improve the State’s capital environment and nurture innovative activity through:
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:
Regional Cities Initiative: Promote regional cooperation and strategic quality of life investments through the Indiana Economic Development Corporation’s (IEDC) Regional Cities Initiative (RCI)
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 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:
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:
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
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
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
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
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
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:
Ex-Offender Re-entry: Support policies that promote reintegrating ex-offenders into the workforce and economy by:
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:
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:
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