Racial Equity. Recovery. Resilience.

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.

Dennis Murphy
President & CEO, IU Health
2020-2021 Chair – Board of Directors, Indy Chamber

Michael Huber
President & CEO
Indy Chamber

2021 Priority Issues


Build a more resilient, diversified Indiana economy that can withstand disruptions and prioritizes opportunity industries, workforce reskilling, and inclusive economic development   

  • Back to Work: Support safe return to work and economic recovery
    • Employer Liability Protections: Enact timely, temporary, and targeted employer liability protections for organizations in compliance with federal, state, and local COVID-19 guidelines and regulations
    • Work Share: Establish an Indiana Work Share program to save jobs, retain workforce skills, and maintain benefit coverage
    • Transit: Ensure workforce access to reliable public transit by holding harmless from funding cuts transit providers with low ridership due to COVID-19
    • Pregnancy Accommodations: Clarify employer guidance on reasonable accommodations for employees with medical conditions relating to pregnancy to improve maternal health and female workforce participation
  • Downtown Indy: Empower Indianapolis with tools to recover and rebuild
    • Panhandling: Existing statute should be amended to allow for proper enforcement of aggressive panhandling regulations in compliance with federal requirements
    • 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
    • Reduction of Emergency Services Utilization: Develop and scale partnerships between law enforcement and human service providers to promote preventative care, reduce costly over-use of emergency services, and increase connection to treatment and wrap-around services
    • Economic Improvement District: Catalyze economic recovery and sustained investments in safety, cleanliness, and human services by reversing 2018 changes to the EID statute and increasing flexibility for downtown Indianapolis
  • Economic & Workforce Development Alignment: Prioritize Opportunity Industry growth
    • Reskilling: Leverage federal funding to expand digital literacy and online instruction programs for adult learners. Prioritize programs preparing essential and displaced workers for career advancement in Opportunity Industries
    • Reshoring: Identify Opportunity Industries for potential reshoring and target with public incentives to attract relocating firms
    • Credentialing: Indiana workforce development system must adopt public funding criteria to assure the quality of online non-degree credentials; expand high-quality, short-term training to respond to market changes; prioritize sector partnerships for new programs to reskill displaced workers; target reshoring industries for new credentialing programs
  • Housing: Build financial stability, improved health outcomes, and housing market strength
  • Development Incentives: Establish a state-level tax credit to match or enhance federal LIHTC credits to incentivize development of new or rehabbed affordable units
  • Education: Protect early learning access, improve connectivity, and support school safety
    • Pre-K: Prioritize available federal relief funds to high quality childcare options; consider Adverse Childhood Experience scores in funding allocation; establish a Childcare tax credit; expand access to On My Way Pre-K by raising income eligibility
    • Digital Divide: Maximize equitable access to devices and connectivity (including innovative approaches from outside traditional telecom), prioritizing rural areas and communities of color to prevent widening of the achievement gap

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

  • Tobacco Tax: Raise Indiana’s cigarette tax by two dollars per pack and impose tax parity at point-of-sale for e-cigarette and vaping products
    • System Supports: Direct revenue from tobacco tax increases to raise Indiana’s low public health spend and address chronic public health challenges
  • Healthcare Workforce: Enhance workforce pipelines and supports for essential healthcare workers, public health system workforce, and mental health providers
  • Telehealth: Support the expansion of affordable telehealth options to improve access to care and enable more preventative care
  • Racial Health Disparities: Disaggregate government data to enhance equitable decision-making related to racial health disparities and social determinants of health
  • Food Access: Support agency flexibility to enable SNAP benefit utilization for online ordering and home delivery on a permanent basis
  • Mental Healthcare Funding: Explore strategies to enhance funding for wraparound services, reimbursement of mental health providers, and public safety partnerships


Support strategic criminal justice reform to enhance public safety, maximize rehabilitation, and minimize jail overcrowding, recidivism, and local fiscal impact

  • Mental Health System: Support rehabilitative outcomes for mental health cases
    • Assessment & Diversions: Increase resources to court system to conduct mental health assessments and refer defendants to treatment and services
    • Pre-release Screenings: Administer mental health and skills assessments to inmates pre-release, connect to treatment, services, and employment opportunities
  • Administrative Reforms:
    • 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
    • Fines & Fees: Require that fines and fees not exceed cost to administer justice processes. Where fees exceed cost, surplus should fund restitution and treatment
  • Public Input and Oversight: Advance community trust and successful justice outcomes
    • Policymaking: Support Marion County efforts to establish structures for civilian input and oversight of law enforcement policymaking
    • External Oversight: Trigger automatic external investigation for fatal use of force or misconduct cases
  • Anti-Bias & Cultural Competency: Support community trust-building and deter bias
    • Training: Support law enforcement job performance by funding and requiring Cultural Competency, Implicit Bias, and Bias Crime training for all officers statewide
    • Bias Crimes: Amend bias crimes statute to make more inclusive and enforceable
  • Law Enforcement Officer Supports: Ensure officer well-being and accountability
    • Mental Health: Provide resources for mental health reviews and connection to services for law enforcement officers undergoing routine high stress
    • Pre-Employment Screening: Support candidate quality and officer job performance by requiring comprehensive background checks for Indiana law enforcement candidates, including group affiliation and and social media screens for racial bias
    • Body Cameras: Support statewide use of police body cameras and policies guiding the use, preservation, and public access to ensure transparency and accountability

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
  • Housing: Expand eligibility requirements to allow more communities to utilize residential and housing TIF structures to incentivize development of affordable housing

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, nurture innovation, and advance racial equity by:

  • Prioritizing increased access to capital and technical assistance for businesses and entrepreneurs of color
  • Reviewing state entrepreneurship and innovation support operations to eliminate process barriers to equitable access
  • 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


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

  • HomeownershipState and local government strategies to incentivize homeownership growth, especially in Black and brown communities, should include low-barrier, low-interest loan products and home repair resources. Support nonprofit sector first-time homeowner education programs, require for publicly subsidized loan programs
  • Rental Assistance: State and local governments should increase the amount of federal relief dollars dedicated to rental assistance if additional funds are made available or flexibility increased
  • Eviction Prevention: Reduce eviction rates through tenant and landlord education on rights, responsibilities, and resolution strategies; mediation services for settlement and housing retention; legal representation in eviction proceedings; wrap-around services to address barriers to stable housing

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
  • Alternative Metrics: The current MVH/LRS funding formula places a disproportionate cost burden for shared critical infrastructure in urbanized metropolitan areas. Alternative allocation metrics should be explored to correct inequities and funding base-level diversions
  • Project Priority: Given government budget constraints, priority for infrastructure projects must be given to safety-related maintenance and restoration of existing infrastructure over new construction

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

  • 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


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

  • 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, maintains communities of interest and adheres to local political boundaries, and maximizes Central Indiana representation in the Indiana General Assembly
  • Voting Reform: Ensure that in-person voting centers remain safe and sanitary for early and Election Day voting. Authorize a no-fault absentee or vote-by-mail system for all registered voters

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

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

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:

  • 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:

  • Count Day: 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
  • Complexity Index: Protect the Complexity Index as an essential tool for improving school outcomes by allocating adequate resources to schools educating challenged students
    • Capture an accurate reflection of complexity by considering population of students with histories of trauma (measured by ACE scores), English as Second Language students, and those with developmental difficulties
    • Eliminate racial gaps in per pupil funding allocation, and address the findings of the 2020 report on Indiana school funding commissioned by Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation 

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