Indiana caucus leaders layout legislative priorities

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce laid out their top five priorities for the upcoming legislative session. All four caucus leaders weighed in on the issues. While not all of the topics are top priorities for lawmakers some of the topics were.

Posted: Nov 17, 2020 12:16 AM

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WLFI)-The Indiana Chamber of Commerce laid out its top five priorities for the upcoming legislative session. The first and most important to the chamber is creating liability protections for Hoosier Businesses due to COVID-19. This way if an employee, customer, or other person contracts the COVID-19 virus after returning to work or visiting the business they will be protected.

The second is raising the state's taxes on cigarettes. The third would be to establish a work share program that will allow employers to maintain a stable workforce during trying economic times. The fourth is to increase incentives to attract remote workers. The chamber feels this would help mitigate the projected losses to its workforce over the next decade due to baby boomers retiring. The final priority is to invest in Indiana's digital economy by making broadband available to everyone.

Leaders in all four caucuses weighed in on the matters. While not all of the topics are top priorities for lawmakers. Legal liability protection for Hoosier businesses for COVID-19 is legislation both sides are willing to take action on.

"We need to be thoughtful, we need to get this done, we need to provide the protections necessary to get people back to work and back to work safely," said House Speaker representative Todd Huston.

"It should be written tightly and just to COVID issues only with regard to the immunity," said House Minority Leader Representative Phil GiaQuinta.

House and Senate leaders also agreed on increasing the cigarette tax. However, state lawmakers feel they need to decide how the extra tax dollars will be used before passing legislation.

"We want it to be directed very specifically to try and improve some of the health standards that we are most lacking here in the state of Indiana," said Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray.

"If you are fiscally responsible you better not think about using that as a source of revenue for the general fund because its fluctuating," said Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor

Lawmakers also discussed the possibility of creating a WorkShare program. WorkShare programs are an alternative to layoffs. Employees work reduced hours while collecting unemployment benefits to supplement their lower wages. Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray said it's something republicans would consider.

"Having an opportunity to really get that issue to a full hearing so the pros and cons can come out and we can decide as a body what that looks like and whether it's the right way for the state to go I think it's time to do that," said state Senator Bray.

Democratic leaders say this concept needs to be embraced, especially during trying economic times.

"Maybe not make up the whole 100 percent of what they are losing but supplement what they lost by going home,” said state Senator Taylor. “The business community could be a huge benefactor of that."

Another priority that lawmakers touched on was the budget, as well as the redistricting of the state. The senate will also be capping the number of bills a member can introduce to 10. That's because they anticipate work at the statehouse will take longer than normal due to the pandemic. To watch the full discussion click here.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1118335

Reported Deaths: 17712
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1455892240
Lake724831254
Allen67063882
Hamilton51060487
St. Joseph49820649
Elkhart40268546
Vanderburgh34714497
Tippecanoe30808276
Johnson27696467
Hendricks26313385
Porter25657386
Madison21131455
Clark20238279
Vigo19059309
LaPorte17192261
Howard16770314
Delaware16761303
Monroe16628220
Kosciusko14293167
Hancock13113186
Bartholomew12983190
Warrick12210190
Wayne12090269
Floyd12011226
Grant11998245
Morgan10409192
Boone9869124
Noble9316122
Henry9177169
Marshall9152147
Dearborn8970100
Dubois8835140
Shelby8281130
Cass8167128
Lawrence8057185
DeKalb7817109
Jackson770793
Huntington7661115
Gibson7102118
Montgomery7101123
Harrison6954100
Knox6915116
Steuben669089
Whitley659660
Miami6595113
Putnam645085
Clinton627179
Wabash6221111
Jasper613192
Jefferson5856105
Ripley557294
Adams542281
Daviess5076117
Scott491580
Wells4836105
White478469
Greene4701101
Clay464662
Decatur4611110
Fayette452496
Jennings452067
LaGrange427491
Posey410044
Randolph3944107
Washington390956
Fountain375964
Fulton364874
Spencer362247
Starke355574
Owen353577
Sullivan348555
Orange331372
Jay331050
Rush309533
Carroll296239
Franklin292744
Perry290553
Vermillion283658
Tipton251167
Parke250130
Pike248644
Blackford222144
Pulaski210359
Newton182452
Brown177550
Crawford169129
Benton168417
Martin152120
Switzerland147612
Warren135816
Union122616
Ohio92413
Unassigned0595

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