TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — The start of the 2021 Indiana legislative session is less than a month away, and local leaders are weighing in on what issues they’d like Hoosier lawmakers to focus on at the Statehouse.
The Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce released its advocacy priorities for the upcoming 2021 legislative session Thursday, a list that is decided upon by different groups representing parts of the Wabash Valley.
“We have an advocacy committee, who is comprised of local business leaders, and they are the ones who kind of bring these issues to the table and tell us what they’re most concerned about,” said Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce President Kristin Craig, “It’s also something that is approved by our Board of Directors, which is a 40-something odd entity that includes business leaders from a variety of different facets.”
Craig said COVID-19 related legislation will be a big focus for lawmakers throughout the state. One bill being crafted will focus on employer liability in relation to COVID-19 protocol.
“If you are an employer and you have a COVID outbreak in your office, and someone has medical damages, and things that go along with that, where exactly does that employer’s liability in that fall?”
Craig said there will most likely be a version of this bill in the House and another in the Senate.
Transportation is another topic included in the 2021 legislative priorities list.
“This year, COVID will dominate the conversation, of course,” Craig said, “But we’re continuing to be that advocate for transportation initiatives in our area, especially the expansion of I-70 with a third lane and anything that can make I-70 a safer thoroughfare.”
The Chamber’s list for state level legislation goals also includes topics like broadband expansion, defense development, and furthering regional economic development. The list also includes priorities on the federal and local level.
Indiana has a part-time legislature, meaning lawmakers only meet during a portion of the year, rather than year-round. Craig said this changes the way that lawmakers approach bills and the session must be more focused in states with less time to craft and pass legislation.
“Illinois is a full-time legislature, for example,” Craig said, “So they have been dealing with COVID-related issues since the beginning of all this. In Indiana, they’re going to be able to focus it down to what are the specific COVID-related issues that we really need to get in there and we really need to make a difference on.”
The 2021 legislative session officially begins on January 4 in Indianapolis.