NEW YORK: Indiana Chamber of Commerce recently announced legislative priorities for the 2016 session at the annual Central Indiana Legislative Preview in Indianapolis. The Chamber hopes to bring about changes to higher education, expansion of the civil rights law, employment laws and transportation.
“Legislative action is needed in the coming session to address glaring needs and begin implementing long-term strategies to allow our state to live up to its ‘Crossroads of America’ designation,” said Kevin Brinegar, the Indiana Chamber president and CEO, in a press release.
The Chamber announced it supports a program that makes it easier to earn a two-year degree by letting more students transfer credits from state-supported colleges and universities to accredited schools in Indiana with two-year degree programs, such as Ivy Tech Community College.
“This would give students more opportunity for post-secondary attainment and then obviously help with employment,” Brinegar said in the release. “Specifically, it would help fill the gap for those individuals who first went to a four-year school but for whatever reason couldn’t continue. This would be a viable path for them to turn their efforts into a two-year degree and become more attractive to employers.”
The Indiana Chamber also announced it supports adding sexual orientation and gender identity protections to the civil rights law.
“The time has come for Indiana to expand protections against potential discrimination,” Brinegar is said in a press release. “This action will increase the state’s future business competitiveness in the recruitment, attraction and retention of talent, as well as enhance respect for all employers and employees. We encourage our state leaders to work together to take this next critical step.”
The Chamber also supports a work sharing initiative that would allow employers to avoid firing workers during economic slumps by reducing the employees’ hours and salaries. The workers would receive some unemployment insurance. The initiative has bipartisan support.
Another program would provide more funding for transportation infrastructure, according to the release. The Chamber’s proposals include funneling more from the sales tax into roads and bridges, increasing gas taxes and levying fees on cars that use alternative sources of fuel.
The proposals come as Major Moves draws near its conclusion. Major Moves is a 10-year Indiana Department of Transportation program launched in 2005 that focused on building and rebuilding roads and bridges, according to the Department of Transportation.
“Indiana benefited greatly from the Major Moves program that accelerated our timeline and funded $4 billion worth of projects over the last decade,” Brinegar said in the release. “But those dollars are spent or allocated. It’s time to move forward with the next generation of resources to drive our economy by moving people and products throughout our state and beyond.”