– Governor Eric Holcomb penned a newspaper column last week on the importance of a permanent repeal of the medical device tax. As a reminder, this onerous tax burden, which was once delayed in 2016, will begin again January 1, 2018 unless the federal government intervenes.

Holcomb wrote, “Beyond astounding medical breakthroughs, the medical device industry also supports high-wage Indiana jobs. Our state has among the highest concentration of medical device jobs in the U.S., with the life sciences industry alone employing approximately 56,000 Hoosiers. Indiana’s booming life sciences industry is home to several medical device giants, such as Zimmer Biomet, Roche, Boston Scientific and Cook Medical – along with countless smaller companies and startups. And, these medical device manufacturing jobs pay 41.7% more than the average wage in Indiana.”

He continues, “The negative effects of the medical device tax between 2013 and 2016 were clear: The tax resulted in the industry losing about $82 billion in medical device sales. Moreover, the tax stopped investment in new technology that was essential for health care advancement and for growing our economy.”

Permanent repeal of this tax is a priority of the Indiana Chamber and we will continue to work with Gov. Holcomb and our Indiana delegation on achieving that in the coming weeks.

– On Wednesday, Sens. Joe Donnelly and Todd Young introduced the bipartisan USS Indianapolis Congressional Gold Medal Act, which would recognize and honor the crew of the USS Indianapolis for its perseverance, bravery and service to the United States in World War II. The medal would be displayed at the Indiana War Memorial Museum in Indianapolis.

Donnelly and Young said, “On behalf of a grateful nation, we are pleased to introduce this bipartisan legislation which would honor the crew of the USS Indianapolis with a Congressional Gold Medal for their service and sacrifice during World War II.  This recognition would honor the young men who served, including the fewer than 20 living survivors, as well as those who died on board the Indianapolis.”

The Portland-class heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis was commissioned in 1932. It operated from Pearl Harbor and throughout the Pacific while participating in major battles during World War II, escorting convoys and attacking enemy submarines. After midnight on July 30, 1945, a Japanese submarine attacked the USS Indianapolis, sinking the ship within minutes. Approximately 1,200 U.S. service members were on board. After five days afloat in the Pacific Ocean, just over 300 sailors survived.

– U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Rural Development (RD) state directors, all serving as appointees of President Donald Trump. FSA state directors help implement U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policies in planning, organizing and administering FSA programs in their respective states. They are also responsible for running the day-to-day activities of the state FSA office. Similarly, RD state directors work to help improve the economy and quality of life in rural America.

Indiana’s FSA state director: Steve Brown, a former USDA employee with 32 years of experience in Porter County, Carroll County and the Indiana State FSA office, in addition to 30 years of working on his family farm.

Indiana’s RD state director: Michael Dora, chairman of the Ivy Tech Community College board of directors. Dora is retired and was the previous owner/operator of Dora Enterprises, the family’s grain and swine production operation in Rush County.

– It has been reported this week that President Donald Trump is expected to name former Eli Lilly and Co. executive Alex Azar to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Azar would be the administration’s point person on Obamacare coverage, as well as oversee Medicare and Medicaid, in addition to all the various public health programs.

– House Republicans called for a DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) solution this week. In a group press conference, Congresswoman Susan Brooks (IN-05) was among those who spoke in support of negotiations, saying, “They pledge allegiance to the same flag.”

– U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Indianapolis on Monday. He met with members of the Ten Point Coalition, which aims to reduce gun violence in the more urban neighborhoods around Indianapolis. The Ten Point Coalition has shown incredible success and hopes to be a model for other areas around the state and country.