Your ballot also affects the Indy Chamber’s advocacy plans: Our partnership with the Indianapolis Public Schools to promote efficiency and academics (while protecting taxpayers) depends on the outcome of IPS referenda and school board races.  We’re also finalizing an ambitious agenda for the 2019 session of the Indiana General Assembly – major issues like bias crimes, brownfield redevelopment and other business issues will be influenced by the results of key legislative races.

Our Business Advocacy efforts rely on the engagement of our members, and your involvement starts with your vote.

A Healthy Debate

Last week, we also hosted the final U.S. Senate debate at our annual HobHob event.  The senatorial showdown put us at ground zero of one of the most closely-watched races in the nation, a potential bellwether for control of the upper house of Congress.

The sold-out audience and overflow ‘watch party’ crowd saw a spirited debate among incumbent Senator Joe Donnelly, Republican challenger Mike Braun and Libertarian Lucy Brenton.  Among the issues discussed – and yes, hemp made the list again – healthcare sparked the most heated exchanges between the major party candidates.

Federal policies have tremendous influence on regional economies, but state and local issues are our primary focus: The battle over Affordable Care Act – and any proposals to replace it – bring to mind to another urgent healthcare issue here in Indiana:  The same day as the debate, the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation released 2018 reports on opioids and tobacco detailing their devastating consequences on public health and the Hoosier economy.

One in five Hoosier adults smoke, a staggering number that takes a toll on business, in higher absenteeism, higher benefit costs, and lower productivity.  Our legislative agenda urges the General Assembly to raise the state’s cigarette tax by $2 per-pack to reduce smoking rates and raise revenue, estimated at $360 million in the first year to invest in health priorities, including the opioid crisis.

We’ll release the final Legislative Agenda after its approval by the Board of Directors in December; suffice it to say that while happenings in Washington DC command a higher profile, there will be plenty of action at the Statehouse in 2019.