Editor's note: The original version of this article erroneously attributed the Indy Chamber's position on the state's 2022 abortion bill to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. The statewide organization did not take a position. The incorrect passage has been deleted.
INDIANAPOLIS—On Monday, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, a business advocacy group, hosted its 2023 Legislative Preview, during which it went over its main priorities for the upcoming Indiana General Assembly session.
The Chamber advocated for ways to improve Indiana’s business attraction and retention, increase access to health care, implement tax relief and carefully move to more renewable energy.
Bringing in and keeping businesses
To increase the number of businesses in the state, the Chamber said, look no further than within Indiana’s borders. The group suggested making it easier to get an education and increasing career readiness.
“We’re calling on lawmakers to make significant, strategic investments aimed at addressing Indiana’s talent shortage and increasing education attainment,” said Jason Bearce, Indiana Chamber vice president of education and workforce. “At the top of that list is increased funding and regulatory reforms that dramatically increase the accessibility, affordability and quality of early learning and childcare options for working Hoosier families.”
To improve career readiness, Bearce said the Assembly should “provide work-based learning opportunities for students and support training that culminates in employees earning industry-recognized credentials that give Hoosier workers greater currency in the labor market.”
Automatic enrollment in the 21st Century Scholars program—which provides college scholarships to high schoolers in lower-income households—and further investment in opportunities for students to leave high school with a postsecondary credential would also help, Bearce said.
When working to attract and retain, Adam H. Berry pointed to economic development in Indiana.
"Indiana’s long-term economic growth depends on regions independently tackling their barriers to prosperity and investing in projects and programs that will attract and retain workers and citizens to their area,” said the VP of economic development and technology. “And they have to have the resources to do that.”
Increasing health care access
The Chamber said Indiana health care professionals should have more options for services they can provide, suggesting reforming the scope of practice laws.
“In some cases, the current scope of practice laws may restrict access to care by contributing to shortages of clinicians, which in turn may exacerbate market conditions and ultimately contribute to higher health care costs,” said Mike Ripley, VP of health care policy and employment law.
The Chamber, in its press release of the event, said Indiana “ranks poorly nationally in measures of health care access and quality.”
According to the Commonwealth Fund, currently headed by David Blumenthal, the health information technology coordinator under President Obama, Indiana was the 14th-worst state in “overall health system performance” prior to the pandemic but was one of the top states when it came to improvements from 2014 to 2018.
Taxes, taxes, taxes
The Indiana Chamber, deep in the weeds of taxes and deductions, implored that the state pass a form of tax relief called a pass-through entity tax, which many other states already have.
It would allow businesses and individuals to avoid a $10,000 limit on state and local tax deductions, put in place by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
“The IRS has issued guidance that allows for such a workaround,” said David Oberm, VP of taxation and public finance. “But Indiana has yet to take that step. It’s critical that our tax policies compare favorably with surrounding states, and we’re currently missing an opportunity by not having the pass-through entity tax.”
Implementing a state energy plan
The Chamber supported the efforts of the 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force, chaired by Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, and Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford.
The task force was originally created in 2019 and last met in 2021 but did not form any findings or recommendations from its five meetings that year.
“Indiana is moving toward more green energy, but we really need a plan to make sure that we’re doing this thoughtfully and with balance as we pursue conversion to renewable energy,” said Greg Ellis, VP of energy and environmental policy. “And perhaps above all, paying very close attention to prices and to reliability."