The Indiana Chamber of Commerce unveiled its top five legislative priorities of 2021. The chamber says it is asking the General Assembly to take steps to reinforce Indiana’s status as an economic leader.
The chamber says its list of priorities are intended to help businesses and employees emerge from the ongoing pandemic.
“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,” said Indiana Chamber President and Chief Executive Director Kevin Brinegar. “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.”
The chamber’s specific policy actions are outlined below:
- Enhanced legal liability protections for Hoosier businesses if an employee, customer or other person contracts COVID-19 after returning to work or visiting the business
- Raising the state’s cigarette tax to discourage smoking and vaping, and shore up the state’s finances
- Establishing a work share program that will allow employers to maintain a skilled stable workforce during economic downturns, like what has happened during the current pandemic
- Increasing incentives for attracting remote workers to Indiana to help mitigate the projected losses to its workforce over the next decade
- Additional state efforts to further prepare Indiana for the digital economy, including continuing to bring high-speed broadband to all corners of the state
According to Brinegar, protecting businesses and institutions from legal liability regarding COVID-19 is also a priority of legislative leadership.
“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,” stated Brinegar.
While work share legislation has not yet been voted on by the House or Senate, the chamber says it sees support building for the state to join the 28 others in enacting “this common sense” employment policy.
“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,” added Brinegar.
You can find more information on 2021 and long-term legislative initiatives by clicking here.