By Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO
This March won’t be remembered in Indiana for landmark legislative accomplishments. And it was already trending that way before the coronavirus pandemic hit full force and swings in the financial markets and economic fortunes left the nation in flux.
What that means is 2021 will be an even more important year for legislative action. But before we look ahead, let’s focus on what did (and didn’t) just happen at the Statehouse.
It’s not that legislators did not work hard or consider an adequate number of bills in the 2020 General Assembly. In fact, too many pieces of legislation – many of them detrimental to the business community – were on the table in the first half of the session. Fortunately, the Indiana Chamber team was able to defeat or modify the vast majority of those proposals.
The time spent playing defense, however, takes the focus away from pro-jobs, pro-economy legislation – which was in far too short supply – that is needed to continue moving Indiana forward.
The primary accomplishments of 2020 were raising the smoking age to 21 (after the federal law did the heavy lifting) and beginning to bring more transparency to high health care costs. Both efforts, however, are just beginning reforms. A cigarette tax increase and a comparable tax on vaping products must follow. And most legislators admit the health care cost issue is a marathon.
Other top policy topics heading into the summer and beyond include:
- Moving in the direction of establishing an important state energy plan
- Building upon previous graduation pathways efforts to help ensure young people are ready for the next step in their education or career
- And an overall aggressive approach to enhancing quality of place in our communities and regions throughout the state
That was the expected and what’s still needed. But with what is now happening with the coronavirus in Indiana and around the world, next year’s legislative session undoubtedly will prioritize bills addressing the impacts of the current public health crisis and any lingering economic impact.
The Indiana Chamber is fully prepared to play a vital role in the business community’s ultimate recovery and will continue to share what we are hearing from our member companies with Governor Holcomb and legislative leaders.
Statewide Employer Coronavirus Resources
The Indiana Chamber has a statewide employer resource page providing information under three umbrellas: Health, Tools You Can Use, and Government and Community Assistance.
The site – www.indianachamber.com/coronavirus – features guidance on key workplace and legal topics, a coronavirus toolkit and information on unemployment insurance from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, in addition to providing health and other government resources.
Businesses can also ask specific business questions that will be answered by staff and private sector professionals.
All information on the site is for any Indiana business or organization to use – no Indiana Chamber membership is required.
Resource: Kevin Brinegar at (317) 264-6882 or email: [email protected]