Indiana Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Kevin Brinegar says the organization will continue to be active in key legislative issues all the way up to next year’s legislative session. He says this year’s biggest "missed opportunity" was the failure of legislation to expand Indiana’s civil rights law to include the LGBT community. In an interview on Inside INdiana Business Television, Brinegar said the chamber will also continue to push lawmakers to pass long-term funding for road and infrastructure projects.
Brinegar says the $1.2 billion road and bridge funding compromise is what was "mostly realistic" for the legislature to pass during a short session in an election year. Governor Mike Pence signed the bill into law last week. The measure also includes $42 million to fund an expanded Regional Cities Initiative. The compromise funds the projects through a combination of state reserves, Major Moves dollars, tax re-allocations and money from last year’s tax amnesty program. Previous proposals included gas and cigarette tax increases.
A bill that would have expanded civil rights protections to include sexual orientation died without a vote in February. At the time, State Senate President Pro Tempore David Long (R-16) said the votes were not there to pass the measure. Brinegar believes 2016 being an election year, especially with some state lawmakers running for U.S. Congress, proved to be a hurdle for the measure. He says the chamber will continue to advocate for expanded civil rights next year.