Indiana Chamber Calls 2021 Session ‘Strong’ for Business Recovery, ButFailure to Act on FAFSA Completion Rate ‘Hurting Hoosier Families’

April 22, 2021 (INDIANAPOLIS) —Indiana Chamber of CommercePresident and CEO Kevin Brinegar calls the 2021 Indiana General Assembly session, which wrapped up regular work today, a “strong one for assisting businesses in their recovery from the pandemic and continuing to push the state to be a leader in the Midwest and beyond.” His remarks on the fate of key legislation determined this week:

Broadband expansion to underserved areas/populations(various bills)

“What passed representsgiant steps in the right direction to ensure access to and adoption of high-speed broadband, regardless of the city, town or community in which an individual or business resides.By allocating $250 million to these efforts, the state is continuing to show its commitment to modern connectivity and technology, which goes a long way in making areas attractive for businesses and individuals to remain in or locate.”

Increased business personal property tax exemption threshold (passed in SB 336)
“Too many small businesses were put in a situation where it cost them more to pay someone to calculate the personal property taxes on their machinery and equipment than the small amount they owed in taxes. The Indiana Chamber successfully advocated that the exemption threshold should be doubled to $80,000. That means approximately 35,000 additional small businesses across the state now will not have to pay a preparer to comply with the tax or the tax itself.”

Venture Capital Investment (VCI) tax credit improvements (passed in state budget HB 1001)
“The state’s VCI tax credit needed to be more on par with its neighbors and competitors in order for the state to attract more activity. That boost became a reality this year. The annual available credit amount increases from $12.5 million to $20 million. And the credit percentage itself goes from 20% to 25% overall and 30% for minority or women-owned businesses. Additionally, there is a new 20% credit for venture fund investors. Cities throughout Indiana are poised for growth, and these VCI improvements put Indiana in an even better position to establish needed venture momentum.”

First ever tax on vaping and e-liquid products (passed in state budget HB 1001)
“We applaud the General Assembly for recognizing the importance of implementing a meaningful tax on vaping and e-liquids – one that is on par with traditional tobacco products and high enough to hopefully discourage Hoosier youth from taking up vaping, which too frequently leads to cigarette smoking for this group.”

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (SB 54, which failed to pass)
“Completing the FAFSA qualifies students for a variety of merit- and need-based financial aid. A measure to spur greater FAFSA completion fell apart in the final days, despite a version passing both the House and Senate in the same session for the first time. The Senate wanted the FAFSA completion to be a student expectation (with some opt-outs), while the House wanted to incentivize schools to urge completion – what the Senate and many others feel is the job of the schools anyway. Students often make their postsecondary education decisions based on finances, with some dismissing it altogether for that reason. Why legislators can’t see the importance of this and come to an agreement is frustrating, because their failure to act is hurting young Hoosiers and their families who do not know what financial aid opportunities are available to them and will miss out on those grants and scholarships that can further their education and training.”

Repeal of state wetlands law (passed in SB 359; Chamber seeking a veto)
The reduction in wetland regulations will likely have negative impacts on water quality, flood control and quality of place factors that are connected to attracting the best and brightest workers and businesses to Indiana. Admittedly, the current system of regulation can lead to a lot of confusion – due to the number of local, state and federal government/agencies involved – and can be improved. But given the importance of wetlands, the ideal initial remedy should have been a thorough study with input by the regulated community – not the drastic changes proposed in this bill. We have asked Governor Holcomb to veto this potentially very detrimental legislation.”