Google+ Indiana Chamber of Commerce issues priority list to lawmakers By Charles Edward (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is asking the state General Assembly to take steps in 2021 to reinforce Indiana’s status as an economic leader in order to help businesses and their workers emerge from the prolonged pandemic.At its virtual legislative preview this past week, the organization unveiled the specific policy actions it believes will have the most impact on Indiana’s economic recovery:Enhanced legal liability protections for Hoosier businesses if an employee, customer or other person contracts the COVID-19 virus after returning to work or visiting the businessRaising the state’s cigarette tax to discourage smoking and vaping, plus shore up the state’s financesEstablishing a work share program that will allow employers to maintain a skilled stable workforce during economic downturns, like what has happened during the current pandemicIncreasing incentives for attracting remote workers to Indiana to help mitigate the projected losses to its workforce over the next decade (due in large part to Baby Boomers retiring)Additional state efforts to further prepare Indiana for the digital economy, including continuing to bring high speed broadband to all corners of the state“The pandemic was unforeseen and state funds have dwindled, but Indiana is in better position that most and can take charge of how it makes its way back,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar.He cautioned, however, that businesses should not be penalized for the pandemic in the form of paying more taxes or fees.“Too many companies have closed and more are barely hanging on. Instead, businesses and the workforce need as much certainty and targeted assistance in the form of incentives and opportunities. That’s how we can protect employers and employment, and start to get more back to normal.”Brinegar said he’s pleased that protecting businesses and institutions from legal liability regarding COVID-19 is also a priority of legislative leadership.He also noted that incentives around remote workers and further preparing all areas of the state for new technology are no longer an option but required. “Broadband connectivity – and ultimate consumer adoption – is becoming as important an infrastructure need as water and electricity.”Two long-standing priorities the Indiana Chamber has pushed for several years reappear on the list and seem to have their best chance of occurring in 2021: Raising the cigarette tax and the state implementing a work share program.Brinegar explained that beyond the obvious health care advantages for a state lacking in positive health outcomes, “Indiana’s smoking rate is fourth highest in the U.S., and our cigarette tax is the lowest in the Midwest and 37th lowest in the nation. With a critical need for the state to replenish its general fund, the so-called sin taxes, like on tobacco, are a likely place for lawmakers to start.”Work share legislation has yet to be voted on by the House or Senate; the Indiana Chamber sees support building for the state to join the 28 others in enacting “this common sense” employment policy.“Under a work share program, employers can reduce hours without full layoffs, enabling workers to keep their jobs (and benefits) – which, over time, could be returned to full-time status once economic circumstances improve.“We don’t know how long this recovery is going to take or if there will be more downturns along the way. What we do know is that if Indiana had a work share program currently in place, federal CARES Act money would have covered ALL the unemployment benefits for employees on work share through the end of the year.“As it is, the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) trust fund had to pay tens of millions of dollars in the benefits for those employees. This, in turn, caused the fund to be depleted faster and the state to borrow more money from the federal government than it would have if Indiana had enacted a workshare program. We can’t afford to get caught without a work share program again,” Brinegar concludes.A panel discussion featuring all four General Assembly caucus leaders was also part of the annual Indiana Chamber event. The detailed rundown of the group’s legislative initiatives – for 2021 and long term – is available at www.indianachamber.com/priorities. Google+ WhatsApp Twitter Pinterest By Jon Zimney – November 21, 2020 1 271 Previous articleCOVID concerns force the delay of the South Bend police tapes trialNext articleEducation task force wants civics lessons to take bigger priority in schools Jon ZimneyJon Zimney is the News and Programming Director for News/Talk 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel and host of the Fries With That podcast. Follow him on Twitter @jzimney. Facebook Twitter Facebook Pinterest WhatsApp IndianaLocalNews
The following incidents were reported in the USC Dept. of Public Safety incident summary between Tuesday, Feb. 14, and Wednesday, Feb. 15.View Roundup 02-17 in a larger mapCrimes against a personAt 2:11 p.m. on Feb. 15, an unidentified bicyclist collided with a staff member’s vehicle while he was driving near Exposition Boulevard and Watt Way, breaking off the passenger-side-view mirror. The bicyclist rode away without stopping to exchange information.at 10:35 p.m. on Feb. 14, DPS officers on routine patrol observed a non-USC male grab hold of a non-USC female’s arm and forcibly prevent her from walking away during an argument near Hoffman Contracts Research Building. The officers detained the subjects for questioning and determined that they were husband and wife. The female assured the officers that she was in no danger from her husband, and they were subsequently released.Miscellaneous incidentsAt 3:13 p.m. on Feb. 14, DPS officers responded to a report of a non-USC male causing a disturbance at the Healthcare Consultation Center. A doctor, who was treating the subject’s wife, requested that he leave the premises and he complied without further incident before the officers arrived.At 2:56 p.m. on Feb. 14, DPS officers responded to a student complaining of difficulty breathing and chest pains at the Pertusati University Bookstore. An LAFD R.A. unit was requested and Unit #10 responded. The R.A. unit examined the student and offered transportation for medical treatment, but she declined and was released at the scene.at 2:34 p.m. on Feb. 14, DPS officers responded to a report of three people trapped in an elevator at the Estelle Doheny Eye Foundation and requested LAFD for assistance. LAFD unit #2 responded and freed the subjects without incident.