The Three W's Of Indiana Chamber's Legislative Priorities

Workforce, water, and weed.

Indiana Statehouse

(Indianapolis, Ind.) - The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is announcing the top priorities in Hoosier businesses’ interests for the upcoming legislative session. 

At the top of the list is ensuring Indiana has a sizable, healthy, and trained workforce.

“We’ve had years of employers telling us that leaving jobs unfilled and finding qualified workers are among their biggest challenges – and it’s only becoming a more pressing issue,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.

“Many good efforts have been tried by the state, education institutions and businesses, but it’s not having enough of an impact. It’s prudent that the state evaluates its existing programs. We have to pinpoint what will most help retrain workers for the current job market and how best to get the word out. There’s no magic answer, but we must achieve better results.”

An issue the Chamber is seriously concerned with that doesn’t gain a lot of headlines or is top-of-mind among most Hoosiers is water. Specifically protecting and investing in the state’s water infrastructure. Referencing a recent report by the Indiana Finance Authority, Brinegar says it underscores the urgency and massive investment that has to happen sooner rather than later.

“Water has obvious health and safety implications, plus it’s such an economic necessity for business operations. A focus on regional resources, proper planning and funding are essential. The state has done its homework and has good data, so now it’s time to act,” he says.

The chamber’s wish list also includes two measures to discourage smoking: raising the smoking age to 21 and raising the state cigarette tax to $2 per pack.

The organization is also opposing the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana legalization in Indiana. Brinegar notes the negative effects it would have on job performance and that the FDA has not approved marijuana for valid medical purpose.

The Indiana Chamber also wants to see a hate crimes law be adopted by the legislature in 2019. While Statehouse Democrats have lobbied for a law more severely punishing criminals for bias-motivated offenses for years, it appears Republicans are ready to jump on board.

“having a meaningful bias crimes statute in Indiana is not only the right thing to do, it is also important to helping our employers recruit and retain talented employees. Indiana is a welcoming place and we need to enact every policy possible to convey that message to those outside our state,” says Brinegar, adding that the law should be as broadly defined as possible.

Here is a list of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s top legislative priorities for 2019, as given by the organization:

  • Additional workforce development funding to expand on the initial efforts of the Next Level initiatives
  • Further evaluation of the state’s various education and workforce programs, with prioritization on training for the current job market
  • Significant investment in Indiana’s water infrastructure and prudent planning for future needs
  • Decreasing the state’s smoking rate through raising the cigarette tax and the legal age limit for smoking and purchasing cigarettes
  • Adopting a meaningful bias crimes statute, with the overriding goal being to remove Indiana from the short list of states without one
  • Requiring the completion of at least one career-technical education credit as a high school diploma requirement beginning with the class of 2023
  • Maintaining and enhancing our attractive tax climate, with particular attention on reducing government reliance on business personal property tax and thus lessening the burden to businesses
  • Oppose the legalization of medical marijuana (as well as recreational)
  • Increased investment/efforts to deploy broadband in rural parts of the state
  • Transparency in asbestos trust claims so it’s known if a claimant has already been awarded money from a trust before a monetary judgement for the same health issue is made against the business
  • Moving up the effective date for making the state superintendent of public instruction an appointed position to 2021

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