The past year has tested Central Indiana businesses as never before – struggling with the economic consequences of a global pandemic, shouldering the burden of operating safely for their employees and customers, and serving a community working to heal its divisions.
The Indy Chamber’s 2021 Legislative Agenda includes proposals for helping employers reopen safely, with the resiliency to succeed in the post-COVID recovery. Our agenda acknowledges that this recovery will be fueled by a skilled and diverse workforce, participating in a more equitable economy.
A more competitive business climate demands economic development and workforce programs supporting high-wage, advanced industry job growth, and investments in transit and housing incentives for the employees seeking these opportunities. It requires regional cooperation that recognizes the unique challenges faced by Indiana’s largest business district – downtown Indianapolis.
The COVID pandemic has also elevated public health as a policy priority, as the virus exploits many of the same chronic ailments and health conditions that have undermined Indiana’s workforce participation and productivity for decades. Raising the state cigarette tax to invest in the health of Hoosiers is an overdue response to an urgent concern.
Public health outcomes also reflect racial disparities, as systemic bias shortens lifespans as it limits economic mobility. This Legislative Agenda continues our emphasis on economic inclusion, with a more deliberate focus on racial equity. Inclusion must also be part of any blueprint for reducing crime; rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the neighborhoods it serves is crucial to our shared goal of a safer city.
Smart justice reform focuses on root cause issues like mental health, public oversight and transparency to increase community support for police, recognizing the challenges law enforcement face every day. Common-sense changes to bail and other administrative policies also serve our ultimate goal – enhancing public safety, not increasing number of Hoosiers in the system.
2020 has been a year of hardship for too many people and employers across the Indianapolis region, and the Statehouse won’t be the only source of solutions. But state policy must include long-term investments – starting in preschool and K-12 classrooms – that keeps Indy competitive and vibrant, the engine of Indiana’s economy and its tax base.
That’s why the Indy Chamber’s 2021 Legislative Agenda is an ambitious mix of prescriptions for managing the COVID crisis while looking beyond the pandemic – towards a more resilient, inclusive economy, ready to rebound into shared prosperity.
President & CEO, IU Health
2020-2021 Chair – Board of Directors, Indy Chamber
President & CEO
Build a more resilient, diversified Indiana economy that can withstand disruptions and prioritizes opportunity industries, workforce reskilling, and inclusive economic development
Hold Harmless: Ensure school safety and uninterrupted instruction by holding harmless from funding cuts all schools forced into virtual learning by COVID-19
Support a comprehensive approach to increase the health, resiliency, and productivity of Indiana’s current and future workforce
Support strategic criminal justice reform to enhance public safety, maximize rehabilitation, and minimize jail overcrowding, recidivism, and local fiscal impact
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, nurture innovation, and advance racial equity by:
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
Housing: Advance equity, public health outcomes, and economic growth by supporting public and private strategies to expand and maintain the supply of affordable housing options
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:
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 expansion of the Next Level Trails grant program to ensure long-term funding of trail projects
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
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
Election Reforms: Update the State of Indiana’s election system to improve efficiency, enhance representation, and increase voter turnout and civic engagement
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
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:
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
Teacher Training: Work with school system leaders to require and fund all teachers in the state of Indiana to complete cultural competency and implicit bias training, without creating additional burdens or unfunded mandates
Achievement Gap & Disciplinary Policies: Support comprehensive, ongoing review of racial achievement gap and disciplinary policies resulting in inequitable outcomes
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:
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
Thanks to our 2021 Legislative Agenda Sponsor: Intelligent Fiber Network