Our opinion column
Chamber weighs in with strong legislative agenda
November 12, 2008
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce has stepped up its advocacy with a comprehensive legislative agenda, including a set of five priorities it will push during the 2009 session of the Indiana General Assembly.
The more active approach comes at a time when political engagement is at a high level, and the Chamber is right to be proactive in offering its thoughts alongside everyone else.
The issues it has chosen to highlight are important to our community and the state.
At the top of the priorities is Indiana University and strong support for funding for the Indiana Innovation Alliance, a partnership between IU and Purdue. The alliance’s goal is to strengthen the state’s activity in biosciences and life sciences, areas ripe for growth in both educational opportunities and employment.
Ivy Tech Community College also gets priority support from the Chamber, and well it should. Ivy Tech is bursting out of its current Bloomington campus, and expansion is required to allow it to meet its potential in helping Hoosiers take another step in higher education and/or learn new job skills.
A third priority is to support development of a Certified Technology Park near the Ind. 45/46 Bypass and East 10th Street. The park could be a catalyst for turning research into applications, leading to benefits for society and jobs for area residents. Key to progress in this area is improvement to the roads and intersections in that area — projects that have been under consideration for a decade and which the Chamber hopes will make progress this legislative session.
The Chamber also intends to raise its voice in support of reforming local government as recommended in a report from a bipartisan commission headed by former Gov. Joe Kernan and Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall Shepard. The Chamber understands that the local government structure set up in the 1800s is outdated for the 21st century. Less important to us is the fifth priority, which opposes a constitutional amendment that would cap property taxes.
Among the roughly two dozen agenda items that didn’t make it to priorities are these:
Encouraging regional mass transit, including light rail between Bloomington and Indianapolis.
Improving public transportation, including expanding the area in which Bloomington Transit can operate so it can serve Ivy Tech Community College and neighboring businesses.
Strengthening the development of a strong system of medical education to address a national and local shortage of primary care physicians.
The Legislature should heed those points, and many others in this thoughtful agenda.