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Policy Points

Policy Points is a bi-weekly publication of the Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce, providing insight and analysis of critical local, state and federal issues.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Table of Contents

Session nearing end

The 2017 session of the Indiana General Assembly is nearing the end. Lawmakers are trying to finish the state’s business by the end of the day Friday, April 21.

This is the scrambling and negotiating part of the session. Bills have to pass the House and the Senate in identical form. So, the bill’s authors and sponsors are working to come up with a version that will be accepted by the House and the Senate. Sometimes other issues are worked in. For the most part, the issues are closely related to the regular bill, but not always.

Then there is the budget bill. Everything and every issue is related to the budget in one way or another.  Many things could sneak in. The one important check on the budget process is that Hoosiers require and demand a balanced budget. A lot depends on the state revenue forecast (see below).

In this remaining week, deals will be finalized on the highway funding bill. We have been communicating with lawmakers and are hoping for the best. See this column.

State revenue forecast

Whoa whoa! Don’t get carried away. It’s only $200 million.

That’s the message following Wednesday’s state revenue forecast. At this point in the session, lawmakers breathlessly await the non-partisan revenue forecast to see if the budget spending proposals match the income expectations.

The good news is that it appears Indiana will pull in $200 million more than earlier expectations. But that doesn’t mean lawmakers will go on a spending spree this last week. All the leaders are sending notes of caution, because, after all, it’s only $200 million. There are proposals to spend far more than that. Here is a story.

It is nice to see conversations about how to spend conservatively. We have seen lawmakers facing a revenue forecast that is below expectations. That is when the cutting starts.

This is more enjoyable.

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Third House report

Our final Third House town hall meeting for the 2017 session was April 7. Thanks to State Rep. Doug Miller, State Rep. Tim Wesco, and State Senator Joe Zakas for participating. We appreciate the lawmakers for answering questions and sharing their insights. Here is a story.

Topics ranged from road funding to the state budget, to mental health, to e-cigarettes, to a redistricting commission. The 2017 Third House series has been very informative. The issues are varied. The discussion is civil. And the lawmakers have been very helpful.

Thanks to Indiana Michigan Power for sponsoring the Third House series. Thanks for the Elkhart Public Library for hosting the last three meetings. And thank you, Chamber members, for bringing great questions and discussion.

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Sen. Young to visit Chamber Board

New Indiana Senator Todd Young will be a special guest of the Elkhart Chamber Board of Directors at its April meeting. We are looking forward to his visit.

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From the RDA: Does your business need Information Technology/Computer talent?

Does your business need more team members with information technology, software development, and other computer science skills? The South Bend-Elkhart Regional Development Authority is working to develop regional economic development strategies. Committee work related to workforce development, industry growth and entrepreneurship has identified a common challenge – access to information technology workforce. Your feedback is critical in helping to create student and adult education pathways to ensure current and future IT workforce needs can be met.

Please take 3-5 minutes to complete this short survey by April 21, 2017. All who participate in the survey will receive results in mid-May and are invited to provide input as we work to align our regional education resources with our IT workforce needs.

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Mayor’s State of City

Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese delivered his State of the City speech recently. Rather than a large festive occasion in the Lerner Theater, Mayor Neese opted for a more intimate speech in the City Council Chambers. He went through his list of issues and improvement, then took questions from the audience.

It was a nice event. Though it was a smaller venue, it was still festive and the cookies were good. Here is a story.

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River District Plan

You have read about the SoMa downtown development plan for years. That plan is still in place and is continuing to make important improvements.

Next up – The River District Plan. This proposal spreads the improvements from the immediate Main Street area to Jackson Blvd, the new Elkhart Aquatic Center and the surrounding area. See the plan here.

The downtown momentum continues to bring great things to our community.

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Vibrant Communities Update

Readers of Policy Points have been involved with the Vibrant Communities process from the beginning. This program, led by the communities in Elkhart County, has been involved with many quality of life improvements. Here is an update.

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Visit our sponsor: Majority Builders

Upcoming Chamber events

For more information about these and other events, visit our website.

Apr 18, Is Your Data Safe from Ransomware and Hackers?, 8 - 10 am, Matterhorn Conference Center, 2041 Cassopolis St, Elkhart

Apr 18, Biz-Ness After Hours hosted by Brentwood at Elkhart, 5 - 7 pm, 3600 E Bristol St, Elkhart

Apr 19, Increasing Safety and Productivity through Big Data, 7:30 - 9 am, Matterhorn Conference Center, 2041 Cassopolis St, Elkhart

Apr 20, Women’s Council Luncheon - Mental Health and Stress, 11:30 am - 1 pm, Concord Mall Conference Center, 3701 S Main St, Elkhart

Apr 20, Member Celebration - Century 21 Affiliated, 4:30 - 7 pm, Century 21 Affiliated,  1001 Parkway Ave, Ste 17, Elkhart

Apr 20, Meet Me In the 574 - Young Professionals Event, 5:30 - 7:30 pm, ETHOS Science Center, 2521 Industrial Pkwy, Elkhart

Apr 27, Accident Prevention & Safety-Conscious Supervision, 8 am - 5 pm, Greater Elkhart Chamber

Apr 27, Premier Member Event hosted by Chemical Bank, 5 - 7 pm, Chemical Bank, 303 S Third St, Elkhart

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