Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar presented Monday the annual legislative preview to local officials and members of the Hamilton Countybusiness community.
The yearly event provides a glimpse into the upcoming session of the Indiana General Assembly from the chamber’s perspective. This year, Brinegar focused on three key areas: local government and finance reform, energy and the environment and Right to Work legislation – the “elephant in the room,” according to Brinegar.
In 2011, Right to Work legislation proposed by Indiana Republicans caused a weeks-long walkout by Democrats, which shuttered all legislative action. The Democrats spent the first day of the session this year in caucus, preventing any action to be taken on the assembly floor.
“The Indiana Chamber of Commerce strongly supports Right to Work because, and only because, we think we’re missing out on opportunities to bring in new jobs because of not having it,” said Brinegar. “Some 30 percent of all site development companies nationally will not consider a state that’s not Right to Work. We’re not even being allowed to step up to bat for those jobs right now … and we know that, when we get to compete, we bring those jobs home most of the time. Right now we’re batting with one hand tied behind our backs.”
Right to Work legislation would prevent workers from being compelled to join unions and pay dues against their will. Proponents say it will attract business and drive up wages. Opponents say it will hurt collective bargaining and remove protections unions offer workers.
“This is, of the things left to do, the most impactful thing Indiana can do to grow jobs, improve the economy and make Indiana a better place to raise our kids,” Brinegar said.
In local government, Brinegar said the chamber is particularly interested in legislation aimed at preventing nepotism and conflicts of interest.
Brinegar also touched on upcoming EPA standards which, he said, are overreaching and damaging to business.
“Our position is: We support diversification of energy sources and incentives, but not mandates,” he said, referring to air quality and carbon emission standards set by the EPA. “It is scary. It is a real threat toIndiana, where we’re 95 percent coal-fired. And, it’s a real threat to our manufacturing base.”
The current session of the General Assembly will close on March 14, with a one-week break for the Super Bowl. For more information about the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, visit www.indianachamber.com.