Halftime Legislative Update
It has been eight weeks since the start of the 2023 Indiana General Assembly Session, and much has transpired since that cold first day on January 9. The House and Senate have held numerous committee meetings, passed hundreds of bills, killed hundreds of bills and now break until Monday when the second half of session officially begins. With eight weeks to go until the anticipated last day on April 29, our team wanted to provide a halftime update to recap the first half of session and share our predictions for the second half.
Each legislative session seems to be characterized, whether intentionally or not, by a few hot-topic issues considered throughout the legislative process. This year is no exception, as many have noted the prominence of two key issues dominating conversations at the Statehouse: healthcare and taxes. One does not need to look much further than the first 10 bills filed in each chamber for proof of this finding. With several bills aimed at addressing healthcare costs, access to mental health resources, public health funding, property taxes and the state income tax, both the House and Senate Majority Caucuses have publicly identified these issues as their priorities.
Of course, however, whether these proposals are the best solutions to these issues is still up for consideration, as several of these bills have proven highly controversial. In the fight to lower healthcare costs, legislators and stakeholders continue to grapple with identifying the root cause of higher-than-national-average costs in Indiana—some blame insurance companies, some blame hospitals and some blame poor public health. Similarly, in the legislature’s quest to lower taxes for Hoosiers, most notably property taxes and the state income tax, stakeholders are at odds as to how proposed cuts may impact local communities, schools and other entities that depend on some of this tax revenue for operation.
While we expect these issues to remain front and center in the second half of session, we also predict that conversations surrounding the budget will ramp up. Senate Appropriations Chairman Ryan Mishler made news over the past few weeks after sharing concerns related to private schools. In an open letter to his district, Senator Mishler pledged that he “would not support one additional dollar spent on the voucher program until there are policies put in place that protect these kids from abusive behavior and mistreatment.” This is likely to create tension within the legislature, as several proposals aimed at expanding the voucher program are still floating around.
Besides K-12 education, funding for higher education institutions, capital projects, Medicaid rates, public health and more will be up for further debate as the budget makes its way through the Senate. Also bound to make headlines, the April state revenue forecast, prepared by the Indiana Economic Forum and the Revenue Forecast Technical Committee, will set the stage for final budget considerations in the last few weeks of session.
Come mid-April, we expect to see conference committees being scheduled for bills that were amended in the second half of session. Should the originating chamber not approve of the amendments adopted by the opposite chamber, conference committees will allow for discussions by House and Senate members to come to a final agreement. Additionally, these committees provide an opportunity to revive language from bills that died earlier in the session due to not receiving a committee hearing.
Like you, we are looking forward to the warmer days of spring that seem to lie just around the corner. For the time being, however, we will enjoy the remaining busy days of the 2023 Legislative Session before they come to an end in a few months.
By Chris Egge
Most Americans have been exposed to the plethora of acronyms and famous sayings from the many motion pictures that capture the history of our great armed forces. Maybe you know someone or have a family member that has served in one of our six, yes 6, United States Armed Services. For those of you trying to figure out all six, we will start with the mightiest of them all (I may be bias), and I’ll list the rest in no particular order: Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Airforce, Coast Guard and the recently established Space Force (yes, this is a legit service branch established in 2019).
Today, I am going to share with you one of the most widely applicable sayings that I learned while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. Not many people can answer when asked what the Marine Corps motto is, and that’s understandable because it is in Latin. It is Semper Fidelis, which translated into English means Always Faithful. This is often used as a greeting or farewell amongst current and former Marines in its shortened form, Semper Fi.
You may be wondering where does the strange word (name) Gumby come into play? If you’re too young to have grown up with cartoons and toys, please allow me to describe. Gumby is the name of a green-in-color, super bendy (flexible) Claymation character. He could bend in all sorts of configurations. If you’d like to be introduced, or take a stroll down memory lane, here you go!
Now, the U.S. Military (all branches of service) and the civilian world of professional and personal life all have something in common: unforeseen unpredictability. What does that mean? That means that life sometimes throws us a curve ball. Or maybe the mission plan didn’t mitigate all risk factors. Possibly a deadline got accelerated. Maybe the kids have an event or practice that they didn’t tell you about. We can go on and on with the many variabilities that our lives, jobs and missions can throw our way. Having a high degree of success in this environment will be dependent on our level of ability to stay flexible in these situations, which brings us to the Marine Corps saying, Semper Gumby … Always Flexible!
Recently, our society experienced a global pandemic that spurred economic turmoil affecting the supply chain, wage gaps, workforce shortages, travel hurdles, mental health challenges and many, many other new “curve balls.” We learned how to implement the word “pivot” in our lives, and those individuals and organizations that were able to practice Semper Gumby, or pivot, when needed, were the happiest, healthiest and potentially the most successful. This is a mindset that, when embraced, will lower your stress and anxiety; allow you to better assess the change in front of you, and you’ll be better suited for the choice of the next path forward.
In closing, remember the silly, little green guy named Gumby when you are faced with an unexpected change in the road of life. If you have customers or clients, like we do, being flexible in an ever-changing environment while staying true to pursuing their end goals is critical.
Take a deep breath, stay faithful, and be flexible.
RJL Solutions is continuing to expand with the hiring of Jordan Marvel as Grants Manager. Marvel, based in the Terre Haute office, will be leading grant research, various community development initiatives and grant writing projects. As Grants Manager, Marvel will be reporting to the Director of Grants & Strategic Planning, McKenzi Kumpf, supporting the development process of grant applications and strategic planning documents.
“We have been looking for someone who is enthusiastic about community development to fill this role and Jordan instantly became the perfect fit,” says Kumpf. “Jordan has a unique, passion for research and provides meticulous attention to detail, and I look forward to his contributions to the team’s success.”
Prior to joining RJL, Marvel was a Claims Adjuster at Liberty Mutual Insurance where he facilitated the conduct of thorough coverage and liability investigations. He graduated from Indiana State University with a B.S. in political science in 2017, then proceeded to Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law where he received a J.D. in 2020.
As Grants Manager, Marvel will build strong, working relationships with agencies, local government officials and partners to promote an integrated approach to grants development. He will also manage communications with necessary stakeholders to ensure grant applications are received and compiled appropriately for submission. Marvel will also collaborate with the advocacy department on projects regarding grant funding for RJL Solutions’ clients.
“Joining RJL allows me to help our clients find funding opportunities that they might not have known existed,” Marvel noted. “As someone who was born and raised in the Wabash Valley, seeing this community improve and expand in multiple aspects is an important goal for me. I am thankful for the opportunity to be a member of Team RJL because I know I will have the opportunity to help achieve that goal.”
Marvel brings a plethora of knowledge and skills to RJL that will provide him and the team with continued success in the future. Everyone at RJL Solutions is thrilled to welcome Marvel to the team.
RJL Solutions is expanding with the hiring of Chris Egge as Community and Industry Outreach Manager. Egge’s new role in the Terre Haute office will entail positioning RJL and its clients in a positive light throughout the community, region and state by attending meetings, events, conferences and other networking opportunities.
"After more than five years of witnessing the proven capabilities and results of the RJL team, I count this opportunity to join the team as a privilege to be able to contribute to the group's exciting and promising future," says Egge.
With over 10 years of experience developing annual and capital budgets, prior to RJL, Egge managed the Brampton Brick operations with an annual operating budget of roughly $12.5 million in Farmersburg, Ind. Brampton Brick is highly automated and the second newest plant in North America, where they manufactured 227 different products on one manufacturing line and primarily sell through a network of 411 distributors.
In his new position, Egge will aid the Director of Business Development, T.J. Collett, in managing high-level customer service for prospective and current clients, identifying profitable business opportunities and developing long-term business growth opportunities. Beyond this, Egge will be building strong working relationships with community and industry leaders as well as elevating RJL Solutions' professional development offerings for current and future employees. His vast experience in manufacturing will support niche markets for current and future RJL clients.
“I believe Chris’s experience and skillsets, both professionally and personally, are an asset to RJL Solutions, which is why this decision to bring him on was so organic,” says CEO, Rachel Leslie. “He is joining the RJL family with an innovative perspective to help us continue to grow, and we are excited to have him.”
Egge feels compelled to serve the community in any way possible. This unique opportunity at RJL allows Egge to interact with communities across the state of Indiana continue to grow in his own personal mission to help the grow Indiana, the state he calls home.
RJL Solutions, an Indiana-based government affairs and communications firm, welcomes the new Director of Creative Design, Jason Myers, to the team. Myers will be responsible for leading the development of various design projects and elevating the profile of RJL Solutions and its clients by working on both digital and print design.
“I am excited to start this new role and help elevate all of our clients' branding and marketing,” said Myers. “Stepping into work at RJL will allow me to continue to grow by taking on new challenges alongside my new team.”
Prior to his time at RJL Solutions, Myers was the Senior Creative Manager at Kenra Professional in Indianapolis as well as Culver City, CA. While there, he led the development and launch of the hair color brand, #mydentity, which is now sold in over 20 countries. Furthermore, Myers was involved in brand development in a variety of industries such as beauty care and industrial products.
Myers will aid the Vice President of Communications in managing and developing all design projects that come through the communications and marketing departments including brand development, print design, document design, social media graphics, advertisement creatives and website design.
"Jason joins our team with an array of experience leading various high-level, national brands,” says VP of Communications, Vittoria Meyer. “His expertise in creative design, brand awareness and strategic marketing will support our growing marketing and communications department. We are happy to bring him on board."
Myers will be based out of RJL’s downtown Indianapolis office. RJL Solutions is thrilled to have Myers on board and looks forward to seeing what he brings to the table.
On the Edge of Terror
The RJL Team took a trip to Hanna Haunted Acres on a cold, stormy night,
Team bonding has never given us quite the fright.
For terror lurks in the night unseen,
So from us to you, Happy Halloween!
Letcher is currently a senior at Butler University, studying strategic communication, journalism and public relations. Prior to her internship, Letcher was a Press Intern at the U.S. House of Representatives for Congresswoman Marilyn Strickland (WA-10) on Capitol Hill, implementing creative communication concepts to build bridges with constituents.
As Public Relations Coordinator, Letcher will aid Director of Creative Strategies, McKenzi Kumpf, and VP of Communications, Vittoria Meyer, in drafting as well as editing press releases, social media content and strategic plans. RJL Solutions looks forward to the instrumental impact Letcher will have within the firm.
“Angelica has been an integral team member for the Creative Strategies department at RJL Solutions,” states McKenzi Kumpf, Director of Creative Strategies. “She is diligent and intentional with all of her work, which makes her the perfect addition for the growing department.”
RJL Solutions is proud to have Letcher on board and ready to watch her continued growth in all professional endeavors.
“We are excited to see Nick’s talents in real time at RJL Solutions,” said McKenzi Kumpf, Director of Creative Strategies. “Not only is he a digital enthusiast, but Nick’s experience and drive to understand the vast and ever-changing environment of marketing and technology allows RJL to best serve our clients with every new market change.”
Rush received a Bachelor of Science in Sport Management and Marketing from Manchester University, then advanced to receive a Master of Science in Sport Management from Indiana State University. Prior to starting at RJL, Rush was a Sports Information Graduate Assistant at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. While there he designed, wrote, photographed, and published gameday media program covers and social media graphics for collegiate sports, implemented and managed the athletic department’s website and assisted with internal and external communications.
“It’s energizing to join the RJL team and be a part of a culture that embraces growth,” said Rush. “I know my skills and strengths will go a long way, and I look forward to making a difference for our client base.”
Rush’s position will be based out of the RJL’s office downtown Indianapolis. He will work closely with the Director of Creative Strategies to ensure that digital marketing strategies are properly executed visually across a variety of design products including websites, social media graphics and advertisements.
As Generation X and baby boomers exit the workforce, individuals from younger generations have become a hot commodity for employers who are striving to fill open positions in an already competitive labor market. To maintain a competitive position in the nation and ensure long-term workforce stability, Hoosier leaders must seek to understand these generational differences and foster an atmosphere that attracts younger generations to live and work in Indiana.
State and local leaders need not reinvent the wheel to build such an environment across the state. In 2021, the Indiana Economic Development Corp. launched a program reminiscent of the 2015 Regional Cities initiative called the Regional Economic Acceleration Development Initiative—or READI, which allocated $500 million in grants to fund regional quality-of-place initiatives. Another round of READI funding in 2023 has the potential to further cultivate regional efforts to attract and retain workers of all generations through programs that promote concepts such as affordable housing development, arts and entertainment venues, and unique retail and dining establishments.
Additionally, the Legislature’s passage of proposals such as Senate Bill 338, which would exempt college graduates who choose to work in Indiana from the adjusted gross income tax for up to five years, has the potential to make Indiana more competitive in the fight to attract and retain workers. While these opportunities stem primarily from past proposals relevant to this conversation, the creation of a legislative study committee to further research and proactively identify ways in which we can remain competitive in attracting new Hoosiers to our state would also benefit Indiana’s efforts.
As a proud Hoosier and millennial, my hope is for Indiana to remain the vibrant, innovative and welcoming state that we are for many years to come. To do so, however, we must continue to be strategic and intentional in our workforce and economic development efforts.
Knowing many of our leaders on the federal, state and local levels, I am confident in our ability to come together to build a uniquely promising vision for the future of our great state. After all, we are known for our Hoosier hospitality.
RJL Solutions is proud to announce new government relations roles for Ryan Ritchie and Eric Perry. Ritchie is promoted from Director of Government Relations to Vice President of Government Relations where he will work directly with the RJL executive team. Perry will be elevated from his current role to assume the position of Director of Government Relations.
“It is truly an honor to be elevated to Vice President of Government Relations at RJL Solutions. Throughout my tenure here, I have been blessed to learn from the talented leaders who make up the RJL Solutions executive team. I appreciate the trust they have placed in me in taking on this new role, and I look forward to continuing my work with local, state and federal government leaders to effect positive change for each of our clients,” says Ritchie.
The brand-new role, Vice President of Government Relations, serves at the highest level of advocacy, government relations and lobbying for RJL Solutions’ clients. Ritchie will be working directly with the RJL executive team, forging impactful and strategic high-level decisions that best position both RJL clients and employees. Furthermore, Ritchie will continue to oversee the Government Relations department by strengthening initiatives that connect clients with advantageous state and federal policies.
Alternatively, the Director of Government Relations role serves as an advocacy team member and is responsible for maintaining a high-level portfolio of advocacy clients. As well as serving as the RJL Solutions Statehouse liaison, efforts include managing legislative event coordination, creating and implementing lobbying strategies by working with government agencies to ensure clients’ legislative goals are met and maintaining strong relationships with state and federal officials and associated policy staff.
“I am extremely thankful to receive support from my teammates at RJL Solutions and am certainly looking forward to stepping into my new position as the Director of Government Relations. This shift in roles will allow me to further advance strategic high-level initiatives for clients by developing policy, building relationships and collaborating with officials at the local, state and federal levels,” says Eric Perry, Director of Government Relations.
Ritchie and Perry both look forward to working with all relevant stakeholders in in the coming months to prepare for the upcoming 2023 Legislative Session and the 118th U.S. Congress.
In light of the historic Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, legislative leaders are anticipating a multi-week special session versus one or two days. Due to this extended session and to minimize logistical issues, leaders worked with the governor to push the start date to July 25.
Bray and Huston also expect to address the state’s budget surplus and provide financial relief for Hoosiers during the special session. Bray and Huston also expect state legislators to take action to further protect life, and support new and expectant mothers. Statehouse leaders said the General Assembly will vet bills through the full legislative process, including committee hearings and public testimony.
Currently, the special session will begin on July 6, but state law allows legislators to use up to 40 calendar days to complete their work. Further details about the special session and potential legislation have not yet been announced, but updates will be posted to iga.in.gov.
Director of Federal Relations
RJL Solutions, an Indiana-based government affairs and communications firm, is heating up this summer with fresh talent and unique perspectives. Interns Angelica Letcher, Matt Hankins and Luke Ardizone will be based out of the RJL Indianapolis office, and Lainey Anshutz will be in the Terre Haute office.
“Internships are extremely important in shaping young people’s potential for future career paths, and I am honored to be a part of these four interns’ foundational successes,” states McKenzi Kumpf, RJLU (RJL University) Program Director and RJL’s Director of Creative Strategies. “Angelica, Matt, Luke and Lainey are remarkably impressive, and our entire team is excited to dive into this semester and guide them.”
Angelica is a rising senior at Butler University studying strategic communication and journalism. Prior to joining the team at RJL Solutions, Angelica was a press intern for a Congresswoman at the U.S. House of Representatives on Capitol Hill, implementing creative communication concepts to build bridges with constituents. She will be the team’s social media and public relations intern working on connecting communities to local leaders and resources through social media and public relations tactics.
Matt is currently studying marketing as a rising senior at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Previously, he had the unique opportunity to take on the role as a special projects intern for the Lieutenant Governor of Indiana at the Indiana Statehouse, assisting with unique tasks like messaging and event planning. Matt will be the social media intern, working closely with the creative strategies team to create content and further his passion for marketing an organization to reach its maximum potential.
Luke is a rising senior at Indiana University studying media advertising and marketing. Prior to joining the team, he gained experience as a social media and development intern for Indiana Children’s Wish Fund, working closely on messaging and fundraising projects across the state. With a foundational marketing skillset and a passion for creative storytelling, Luke will be the strategy and design intern. He will also be working closely with the creative strategies team on the implementation of creative design.
Lainey is currently on the pre-law track, studying business and entertainment, film production and international business as a rising sophomore at American University in Washington, DC. Previously, Lainey participated in the Pro Bono Consultant Project as a student consultant, as well as interning at the Sacopulos Law Firm with strong research and marketing skills. Lainey will be the government relations intern conducting policy and grant research and monitoring legislative activities by attending House and Senate committees.
The RJLU program provides unique hands-on opportunities for interns due to a close proximity to the Indiana Statehouse and prestigious connections throughout Indianapolis and the entire state of Indiana. Each of the four RJL Solutions’ interns provide the team with diverse skillsets, yet similar passions, leading to many successes to come this summer.
For future internship opportunities with RJLU, visit www.rjlsolutions.com/internships.html.
RJL Solutions, an Indiana-based government affairs and communications firm, welcomes a new face to the team, Jacy Norton. Norton joins the RJL team as Executive Assistant where she will serve as high-level administrative support to the RJL Executive team, including the CEO, COO, and VP of Communications. With a can-do attitude and an outgoing personality, Jacy Norton serves as the “front desk” of RJL Solutions. Her confidence and forward-thinking abilities are an asset to the entire team.
Norton received a bachelor's degree in psychology with a double minor in business and sociology from the University of Arizona where she also played Division I Volleyball. Her previous work experience includes an accounts receivable specialist where she created and managed an all-inclusive collections process, developed reporting processes and implementation, and managed vendor and client relations. Her most recent venture brought her from Brandenburg, Kentucky.
“This position is unique in the fact that it’s a front seat to the entire company. Jacy’s innate ability to problem-solve and think on her feet, paired with her approachable personality will serve our team and clients well,” said Rachel Leslie, CEO. “She joins the team with fresh perspective, energy and natural talent. We are happy to welcome her to Indiana.”
Norton’s position will be based out of the RJL headquarters located in Terre Haute. She will work closely with the COO to implement and refine operations and processes, support daily business operations and assist in event coordination for RJL Solutions and its clients including strategy, logistics and specifics.
“Jacy is operationally-sound,” said Betsy Peperak, COO. “Her drive and skillsets will certainly be an asset operationally to our growing company.”
Indiana Primary Election Updates
a message from Eric Perry, Associate Director of Government Relations
Yesterday, candidates sought approval from voters in what was an incredibly rainy Election Day across the state. Early indicators show that turnout was down all across Indiana, which certainly made for some interesting races. Check out the results of the hottest primaries below:
There were many other candidates who ran unopposed in their primary elections. You can check out the full list of results at this link. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to let us know. Our Government Relations team is happy to get you some answers!
Don’t Rock the Boat in Terre Haute
Two men bring rowing sport to the Wabash River
Jim Owen has a passion for rowing. He smiled and took a deep breath as he thought about how to explain the sport to someone who has never experienced what it’s like to be in the boat with a team you trust.
“It’s the heart of the rower,” he explained. “That team did so much despite not being in the water as often and not having new equipment.”
In 2018, the Wabash Valley Crew Rowing Team (WVC) competed in the Culver Academy Regatta against several teams, and against many odds. You see, WVC isn’t your average rowing team. While most teams have 100 rowers, WVC had 15. While almost every team has a boathouse, WVC does not, yet.
Owen spent the last six years creating the WVC team with Co-Founder Jack Hill. In addition to this team, Owen has been an integral part of the adoption of rowing at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, and the Erg Ed program – an indoor rowing machine technology, curriculum and training program – that will be coming to Sarah Scott Middle School. So, what’s next on their list? Getting that boathouse for the WVC.
On average, the team spends an extra hour or two of practice transporting the boat to the Wabash and assembling the boat before they can even get in the water. This cuts into valuable practice time for WVC.
“If we want to sustain this for a long time, a boathouse is absolutely necessary,” said Hill.
Boathouse or no boathouse, that didn’t keep the 2018 team from winning first place in one of the many heats at the Culver Academy Regatta.
Success for the WVC team didn’t stop at the Culver Regatta. The rowing industry has taken notice of WVC and of Terre Haute. In 2019, the University of Texas Women’s Rowing team chose the Wabash River and the facilities offered at Fairbanks Park to train for the NCAA Championships.
It’s the heart of the rower, in the heart of West Central Indiana. Did you know that Indiana has a growing industry right at its fingertips? In the latest edition of Edge Report, we bring the story of West Central Indiana to light and the investment one community is making to attract and grow the sport of rowing.
“The University of Texas’ head coach gave us a call and said, ‘We found you on social media. We’ve researched the river. We’d like to train here,’ and that was that,” explained Hill.
According to Hill, the rowing industry is popular on the East coast, running across the nation to Indianapolis, comes to a halt outside of Terre Haute and picks up again in St. Louis.
“We don’t want rowers, athletes, and visitors to travel past us,” explained Hill. “We want them to stop; we want to show off our amenities.”
The biggest amenity? The Wabash River in Terre Haute. The river runs along Fairbanks Park, where a 2,000 meter straight offers unobstructed views of rowers gliding on the water.
“We have such a great opportunity here, crafted by the Wabash River, to promote the sport, to promote the community,” said Hill.
Speaking of promotions, the WVC hosted a Corporate Rowing Challenge on February 26th, 2022, with the intent of raising money for a boathouse. There were 10 businesses with teams of five, and at $500 a pop, WVC is well on their way to a boathouse.
In addition to the challenge, the Wabash Valley Community Foundation has established a challenge grant through December 31, 2023. Each dollar donated will be matched by the foundation, up to $150,000.
Hill nodded to Owen and said, “Jim has worked hard to expand this sport in this region. This Corporate Rowing Challenge we’ve been working on for the last eight months is all about raising public awareness, interest, and raising funds for our boathouse.”
Ten corporate teams, including, the Terre Haute Police Department, Union Health, Garmong Construction, Hannig Construction, Sycamore Engineering, Epic Insurance, B&S Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, Milestone, and RJL Solutions, took to erg machines in the Terre Haute YMCA gym. The atmosphere was electric. People were cheering, teams were rowing, and everyone was sweating with either effort or anticipation. At the end of the 30-minute challenge, the Terre Haute Police Department blew everyone out of the metaphorical water, rowing just under 10,000 meters.
The first Corporate Rowing Challenge was a success, bringing awareness to the sport, and to the value it could create for the community.
Teamwork makes the dream work! RJL team members McKenzi Kumpf, Betsy Peperak, Vittoria Meyer, T.J. Collett and Eric Perry competed in the Wabash Valley Crew Rowing Club Corporate Rowing Challenge. The RJL team was there to cheer them on as they competed to raise funds for the organization. Great work, team!
Rowing is an incredible sport to watch if you have not already. Brent Meyer, a Partner at 10dot1 Productions, has over 10 years of experience filming and observing rowing teams from all over the state and country.
10dot1 Productions is the world leader of live rowing broadcasts. Their content has reached millions of viewers over 15 years.
“We use these broadcasts to show the sport from a unique perspective,” explained Meyer. “We capture the sounds, the colors, the strength of the rowers. It truly is spectacular.”
By showcasing the sport, by capturing the nuances of rowing, public awareness and intrigue naturally tend to follow.
“People think rowing is easy. The boats are rather unstable, so just keeping it above water is an accomplishment,” stated Meyer. “To put multiple people in a boat is one thing, to have them work together, to make them go fast, it’s really amazing.”
Rowing is hard. Rowing is rewarding. Rowing is a sport for any and every stage of your life. Rowing is the next big thing in Terre Haute.
“This is a huge opportunity for the city of Terre Haute, for the Wabash Valley, and for the sport,” explained Meyer. “The Wabash Valley Crew could become a feature of Downtown Terre Haute. This is something unique to the community. This is a facet of tourism. This is the city showing the state and the nation, we have amenities, we have passion, we are here to compete and grow the sport of rowing.”
2022 Legislative Session Update
A message from Ryan Ritchie, Director of Government Relations
For those of us who have been through a breakup in our personal lives, we know that there are two types of individuals in such situations. You may have been the one who was dumped—the one who leaves the relationship feeling heartbroken and wondering how you will ever move on from such a love. Or you may have been the one who initiated the breakup, feeling that you gave the relationship your all, that you created some fond memories with your ex (and maybe some not-so-fond ones), and now you’re on to bigger and better things. In the end, it all comes down to how you feel about your ex.
Now, you’re probably wondering why RJL Solutions is offering relationship advice, and trust me, that is not a market we will be wading into anytime soon … However, the end of a Legislative Session feels like a breakup every year, and usually we find ourselves feeling like the individual who has been dumped—sad to see the liveliness of the Statehouse wane and our adrenaline levels return to normal. But this year is different. Anyone who navigated this session would probably agree that the relationship with the 2022 Legislative Session was comparable to what we can only imagine a relationship with Ted Bundy was like. So much so that some even say this session “ate them alive.”
With their Sine Die adjournment early Wednesday morning (around 1 a.m.), the Indiana General Assembly wrapped up another short session, largely characterized by debates on education, taxes, local government issues, and the Second Amendment. In the final hours of session, proposals that had failed to make it through the legislative process were shoved into other bills, resulting in a few key bills being killed on the House and Senate floor.
The House and Senate began session with various education bills aimed at curbing Critical Race Theory, a topic that has gained national attention throughout the past few years. While the Senate’s version of the bill died early on, the House’s version (HB 1134) successfully made it through the first half before being killed in the final weeks in the Senate due to lack of support. In addition, bills surrounding materials in schools considered “harmful” to minors were killed throughout the legislative process.
While language from HB 1134 was not placed into any other bills, the language surrounding harmful materials for children was placed in HB 1369, which died by a vote of 21-29 in the Senate.
HB 1002 was coined “the tax cut bill” early on this session, with various provisions to reduce tax cuts for Hoosiers, including cuts to the individual income tax, utility taxes, and the business personal property tax. After making it through the House without hesitation, HB 1002 was immediately met with concerns in the Senate Tax and Fiscal Committee, who stripped the bill and replaced the language with other provisions.
HB 1002 was one of the final bills considered in the House and Senate, with final provisions that cut utility taxes, individual income taxes, and pays down state teacher pension debt. The bill passed both chambers and now heads to the Governor’s desk for signing.
Back in January, a number of bills were introduced in the House and Senate, which caught the attention of local governments across the state. Proposals surrounding local annexations, eminent domain, local taxes, and infrastructure were presented. In all, local governments made it out relatively well, with SB 73, HB 1106, SB 390 and business personal property tax cuts (without replacement revenue) all failing to pass.
HB 1077, the original “constitutional carry” bill, allowed for individuals 18 years of age and older to carry firearms without permits, with certain exceptions for individuals who have past criminal convictions. The bill was met with strong opposition from several firearm safety groups. Additionally, Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter expressed his opposition to the proposal, accusing lawmakers of playing political games. In the end, HB 1077 died; however, the language was later placed into HB 1296, which passed both chambers. The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk for final signature, which is uncertain at this time.
As I mentioned earlier, this session was unusually tough to navigate, but the RJL Solutions team is proud to have achieved legislative successes for many of our clients. To leave you with one final breakup quote,
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
Our team will continue smiling because we are grateful to work alongside each of our clients for another year. We look forward to a productive spring, summer and fall, preparing for the 2023 budget session next year. In the meantime, please let us know if we can be of assistance to you for any state or federal needs.
A Halftime Update from the RJL Solutions Government Relations Team
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the General Assembly has taken up several measures which seek to end Indiana’s state of emergency and address pandemic-related issues in the workforce. While there were originally several proposals that were introduced, both the House and Senate narrowed their focus to two specific bills: HB 1001 and SB 3.
Starting with the smaller of the two proposals, SB 3 allows Indiana to no longer declare a state of emergency while still providing state agencies the ability to claim COVID-related federal Medicaid and SNAP dollars. Alternatively, HB 1001 is a larger and far more contentious measure, containing proposals relating to COVID-19 vaccination requirements along with measures similar to those in SB 3. Through a broad expansion of qualified exemptions, HB 1001 would effectively diminish the power an employer has to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for its employees. The House proposal has been met with pushback from a variety of opponents, including the business and healthcare communities.
Aside from COVID-19, both chambers of the General Assembly have passed other measures to tackle healthcare issues. Driven by Indiana’s nursing shortage, HB 1003 is a House-passed proposal which aims to expand Indiana’s nursing workforce pipeline. The Senate also passed SB 5, SB 36, SB 251 and SB 365 in an effort to address workforce shortages in Indiana’s healthcare industry. Lastly, the Senate passed both SB 88 and SB 249 in an effort to reduce Hoosier healthcare prices.
In various forms, taxes are a recurring policy discussion every year in the General Assembly. This year is no different and the major topic of discussion revolves around taxation of business personal property – a legislative priority for both Governor Holcomb and House Republicans. Each chamber has offered their own proposals, which have all been met with pushback from local governments across Indiana, as business personal property tax revenue goes directly towards funding local communities.
Without a viable revenue replacement mechanism in place, the Senate Tax and Fiscal Committee killed SB 150 and SB 378 and expressed concern over the larger impacts these cuts could have on Indiana’s local communities. The House passed HB 1002, which is a larger tax package containing business personal property tax reduction provisions.
The House and Senate Education Committees have arguably garnered the most publicity this year (some good, some bad) regarding the various sweeping education reform bills considered. Early on, the Senate considered SB 167which was drafted in large part due to concerns over critical race theory being taught in schools.
Among other things, the bill required K-12 schools to post curricular materials on their website, gain parental consent for certain educational activities and create advisory boards comprised of school staff and parents to advise on curriculum and educational activities. After hearing hours of mostly oppositional testimony from the public, Senate leadership decided to kill the bill.
While the death of SB 167 was met with optimism from those who opposed it, HB 1134 quickly dampened their dreams. The House moved forward in considering this companion bill to SB 167, ultimately passing the measure by a final vote of 60-37. While the future of the proposal is unknown, the Senate is expected to, at the very least, make some changes to the language to make the bill more palatable to educators who oppose it.
Workforce shortages are on the top of everyone’s minds this year, as industries across the board struggle to recruit and retain workers. In response, the Senate passed SB 4, which allows local entities to establish workforce retention and recruitment programs for the purposes of issuing grants and loans to qualified workers. Additionally, SB 262, which seeks to address Indiana’s affordable housing shortage by creating a statewide housing tax credit system, passed the Senate unanimously.
While a few notable proposals designed to address workforce shortages through tax incentives for recent college graduates and tuition reimbursement for healthcare workers failed to pass out of committee this year, these proposals could have a chance of future success in next year’s budget session.
As Session resumes early next week, the RJL Government Relations team will continue to track, monitor and provide updates on issues that matter most to each of our clients.
Our team is grateful for your continued partnership, and we look forward to further advocating on your behalf throughout the remainder of the 2022 Legislative Session.
RJL Solutions, Indiana-based Government Affairs and Communications Firm, is growing their internship program and adding another spring intern to the team. Kate Henderson, of Terre Haute, Indiana, has joined the marketing team, eager to bring in creativity and spunk.
Kate will graduate from Indiana University Southeast in May 2022 with a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Strategic Communication. Kate’s skills include graphic design, strategic writing and marketing – all of which she plans to contribute to the RJL team.
“Kate is a very bright young professional who has come to us with a wealth of knowledge,” states Rose Adams, RJLU Program Director and RJL’s Digital Marketing Manager. “We are very excited to add to her education and professional development.”
After graduation, Kate hopes to pursue a career in graphic design within the realm of strategic communications.
“I truly enjoy creating designs that evoke an emotion in the viewer,” states Kate. “I am eager to create content for RJL and share it with clients. This internship will be a pivotal part of my career.”
When she isn’t at RJL Solutions, Kate manages the leasing and advertising needs of Highland Quarters Apartments and develops marketing strategies for her own business, Amavi Co.
Off the clock, Kate enjoys cooking, hiking, traveling, roller-skating, astrology and is the proud dog mom of a sweet pup named Ollie.
“So much of my inspiration for my work comes from my everyday life. I can’t wait to share these pieces of myself with the team and incorporate them into content,” explained Kate.
For future internship opportunities with RJLU, visit www.rjlsoutions.com/internships.html
A coalition formed by various ambulance providers gathered at the Indiana State House earlier this week for a legislative luncheon. Senators and representatives were given a unique chanceto speak with providers on the front lines of Senate Bill (SB) 135, authored by Senator Jon Ford.
After an individual rides in an ambulance for medical treatment, a bill is provided to their insurance plan to recoup the costs incurred by ambulance providers for providing service. Many times, insurance companies are not obligated to pay the full amount of the bill. When insurance fails to cover the medical charges, the burden of paying the remaining balance of the bill falls on the patient, which is known as “balance billing.”
SB 135 places the responsibility of negotiating fair compensation for the provision of ambulance services on the ambulance provider and insurance company, disallowing balance-bills for Hoosiers. The call to action for this bill is to put Hoosiers first and advocate for patients.
“As ambulance providers, we support bills like SB 135 that advocate for and positively impact our patients,” explained Tony Anteau, vice president of Seals Ambulance. “The reimbursement for the health care provided to our patients is dictated by each patient’s individual health plan. This bill will allow ambulance providers to work directly with the health plans on emergency ambulance reimbursement without inconvenience or risk of financial impact to the patient. We will be able to have a dispute resolution process, go directly to the insurance company and secure a fair reimbursement for each emergency ambulance transport.”
Trans-Care Ambulance President and CEO, Russell Ferrell discussed a trend in healthcare which places more financial burden on the patient, rather than the insurance company.
“The consumer used to get a bill that would have been 10 or 20 percent of the overall bill. Over the years while our prices may have changed a little bit to stay with inflation, insurance companies have changed dramatically to where they are paying 20 percent versus 80 percent,” Ferrell said. “Now, the consumer is getting 80 percent or more of the bill.”
Specific language in SB 135 will place emphasis on balance-billing, so as not to leave the patient with the brunt of the bill.
“I’m pleased to see Senator Ford taking this legislation on for his constituents. Through personal experience, my husband and I learned firsthand the financial battle between the ambulance provider and the insurance companies,” stated Ashley Delaunois. “Receiving a surprise bill after my son received transportation care was hard to accept, especially when we didn’t see it coming. It is time, for Indiana families to be protected, while not crippling the ambulance industry and creating fairness for the insurance providers. It’s time and I’m hopeful.”
Senator Jon Ford believes this bill will ultimately save Indiana residents a great amount of money.
“As a state senator, it is my job to champion public policy that lowers healthcare costs for Hoosier patients,” explained Ford. “SB 135 will completely eliminate balance-billing for emergency ground ambulance services, which will save Hoosiers millions of dollars in emergency healthcare expenses.”
The Senate has until January 27 to secure a hearing for SB 135. The coalition encourages Hoosiers to reach out to their local elected officials and request a hearing for this bill.
RJL Solutions, Indiana-based government affairs and communications firm, is starting off the New Year with new talent. Interns Andrew Ardizone and Victory Sampson will be joining the Indianapolis team.
“Andrew and Victory are both extremely impressive interns,” states Rose Adams, RJLU Program Director and RJL’s Digital Marketing Manager. “We are so excited to dive into this semester.”
Andrew, of Indianapolis, Indiana, is an alum of Indiana University with a bachelor's degree in Political Science. Andrew is currently pursuing his dream of becoming a lawyer as a Juris Doctor Candidate of Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law Indianapolis. Before his time at RJL Solutions, Andrew was an intern of Government Affairs for Canopy Growth Corporation. His interest in politics and law piqued early as he canvassed for Todd Young for Congress in 2016. His skillset in campaign management and multimedia presentations will aid the RJL Solutions team well during this session.
Victory, of Indianapolis, has joined the team as a high school intern. He is currently enrolled at Cathedral High School and will be graduating this spring. Victory has a servant’s heart and has worked as an Administrative Officer for Mother Mercy Global Missions, Inc., and as an Administrative Assistant for Mercy Hospitality Group, Inc. Victory will be working closely with the Community Development team to further his education in grant work.
“Our program provides a unique hands-on opportunity for Indianapolis interns due to our proximity to the Indiana Statehouse and our pulse on all things happening in the city,” states Adams. “Internships have the potential to shape the career paths of young people. We are honored to be on the ground floor of their success.”
For future internship opportunities with RJLU, visit www.rjlsolutions.com/internships.html.
It's 2022 which means the Indiana Legislative Session is here! As we gear up for a swift and turbulent session, we had the opportunity to sit down with Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston and Indiana Senate Pro Tempore Rodric Bray for an exclusive preview of this session. Tune in to hear what they believe the Indiana General Assembly's biggest accomplishments of 2021 were, as well as what hot topics they anticipate this session.
Indiana is sure to remain on the cutting edge of progress and greatness with the help of these two leaders.
a message from Rachel Leslie, Chief Executive Officer
Do you feel like Clark Griswold and sick of the bullshit? Yeah, me too. So, if you’re looking for a traditional RJL leadership blog, quit reading. This one is not your jam, or lime inspired Jello mold!
The COVID era. The Great Resignation. Inflation. And, the most overused word of 2020/2021, unprecedented. Oh, so much was unprecedented, including true exhaustion, increased mental health concerns, increased fear, and the unknown. It’s nearly 2022, and the fear of the unknown remains. No matter how many lights we put on it, yard ornaments we attempt to stand up, or gifts we purchase … the damn lights won’t turn on. By some miracle of the unknown, the lights glimmer from time-to-time. Why? I believe, perseverance and support.
However, if I’ve learned one thing from Mr. Griswold himself, in the moment his family stood by him to see the lights not turn on in a pivotal moment of the movie, you immediately feel bad for Clark. For me, it wasn’t about the lights not turning on, it was about the reaction from some of the people he considered close family – his mother-in-law, for one. In despair, he’s committed to fixing the lights, but he’s tired and somewhat irrational. Although he eventually enjoys lighted success, it wasn’t because he was smarter, it was because his wife, Ellen, figures out the electrical connection … it took someone other than him to help him figure out the finale. It made everyone happy. In that moment, you wanted to live there, too.
Yes, that’s how I see 2022. Of course you’re tired, who isn’t? Imagine the case studies from these last two years! We’re making history. One thing I know about history, it’s often told to describe what people overcame. Yes, my grandparents walked uphill both ways in the snow to get to school, didn’t yours? Well, maybe it was your parents, sorry. Take inventory of your goals and commit to persevering against the unknown. Write them down! Hang them on your refrigerator. Maybe it’s putting a swimming pool in the backyard, or buying a new RV, but I would guess they’re much more aspirational. Don’t be afraid of big and bold because you’re tired. Don’t be afraid to find your edge.
Surround yourself with support. Did you read our culture blog written by Lily Pesavento? She describes a positive work culture as supportive. Sounds simple, but take inventory here, too. Who do you have around you that shows YOU support? Who is going to help YOU make sure your lights come on? Surround yourself with Cousin Eddies (yes, I meant that plural). When Cousin Eddie showed up with the mean, bad boss, we laughed, and yet, secretly applauded. He was there for Clark when he needed him.
As you end 2021 and enter 2022, embrace your written goals and big and bold aspirations, making sure you have support around you, and push forward. Clark reminds us that it’s okay to make a spectacle and dream big. His wife, Ellen, reminds us to be there, be supportive, and to not give up on those we care about. Eddie, well, he reminds us to be yourself and be supportive however you can … always, against all odds. Who are the characters in your real live Christmas Vacation? I know mine.
Rachel founded RJL Solutions in 2017 when she recognized the importance and value of advocacy and representation. The business began as an advocacy firm and has since expanded to include community development and marketing and strategic communications.
Driving Success With Culture
The average American spends 2,080 hours a year surrounded by coworkers. Think about it, we work 9-5, five days out of the week. Sometimes we work well into the night and weekends. We do this with the same people, day in and day out. Coworkers are a huge part of our lives. When asked the question, “Who is most important in your life?” we are subject to say our family and friends. Consider this, we spend just as much time, if not more, with coworkers. So, shouldn’t they be included in our answers? Some would argue yes; some would argue no. Although, I guarantee the people with a well-balanced and successful work culture would be at the forefront of the yes argument.
What is a successful work culture? What does it mean for the present and future of your business? A successful culture brings with it a bountiful business. When your employees are happy, when your employees are winning, your business wins. The American office is an ecosystem all on its own. Every employee has a specific talent which contributes to the overall health of the office. How can management create a healthy environment for employees? It’s simple: support.
Support comes in many different forms, each one as unique as the employees in your office. Support could be lending a helping hand to an employee who may have a lot on their plate. Support could be encouraging an employee who may feel that their work has been subpar lately. Support could be having a one-on-one lunch with honest conversation and lots of laughs.
Support is taking the time to recognize the individual needs of your employees and working with them to form a productive and safe relationship. Your employee should feel comfortable coming to you with anything. And you should feel comfortable doing the same. Life is hard, and it doesn’t always go as planned. A concrete relationship between employees and management and the establishment of a healthy work-place culture can make a huge impact on the mental well-being of the entire office.
At RJL Solutions, our Executive Team has taken the time to learn everything there is to know about our employees. During bi-weekly team meetings each person relays their fears, their successes and maybe a few personal stories. By engaging in this open dialogue, this emphasis on fear and success pinpoints exactly where our strengths and weaknesses lie. If one person needs help, if one person has a question, there is always an answer. We thrive on our strengths, and we reflect on our weaknesses. We support each other, no matter what that support looks like. We strive to create a healthy and happy workplace culture for everyone. Because when our team is happy, when our team is winning, our clients are happy, our clients are winning. That is the RJL Solutions way.
Wabash River RDA presents to IEDC on West Central Indiana’s READI proposal for nearly $300 million in projects
West Central Indiana – The Wabash River Regional Development Authority (RDA) presented to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) on the region’s READI proposal. Earlier this fall, the Wabash River RDA submitted a comprehensive proposal for projects totaling nearly $300 million for West Central Indiana.
Through the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI), the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) tasked regions across the state to submit proposals with idea-ready and shovel-ready projects that address the overall quality of life for their region. The Wabash River RDA submitted projects spanning Clay, Knox, Parke, Sullivan, Vermillion, and Vigo Counties with over $73 million in matching READI asks. Over 40 unique projects spanning the six counties were included in the proposal.
West Central Indiana’s proposal is one of 17 regional proposals submitted. The IEDC plans to award $500 million in funding across the state. With the IEDC’s advice to utilize regional planning efforts and creative visions for the future, the Wabash River RDA submitted its $73 million proposal knowing it was bold and transformational.
The second phase of the funding process included a 30-minute presentation and 20-minute question-and-answer session to members of the IEDC selection committee.
“Today was an opportunity for us to further our region’s story. The region’s READI proposal is all centered around funding projects that enhance our quality of life, workforce, and entrepreneurship opportunities with the end goal of attracting and retaining talent throughout West Central Indiana,” states Greg Goode, President of the Wabash River RDA. “Our presentation showcased one student from each of the five higher education institutions in our region."
Following a video presented by the RDA, students Anne Bowen of Indiana State University, Katie Ginder of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Dustan Jones of Vincennes University, Faith Petrowski of Ivy Tech Community College of Terre Haute, and Hannah Snider of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology joined the presentation pitching that the region’s investment in the proposed projects will aid in retaining the 30,000 students throughout West Central Indiana.
“West Central Indiana is one of the only regions in the state with rich and diverse higher education opportunities like this. What better way to show this than with our students,” continues Goode.
A panel of regional leaders joined the stage following the presentation to answer questions from the selection committee. The panel included Greg Goode, Mayor Duke Bennett of the City of Terre Haute, Mayor Clint Lamb of the City of Sullivan, Ryan Keller of Thrive West Central, Kristin Craig of West Central 2025, Tony Hahn of Vincennes University, John Thompson of Thompson Thrift Construction, and Rachel Leslie of RJL Solutions.
The IEDC is expected to make decisions on funding by the end of the year.
2022 Legislative Session Preview
As we head into the final days of 2021 and prepare for the upcoming legislative session, we find ourselves immensely proud of what we accomplished alongside our clients throughout the past year. With the holidays just around the corner, it’s time to sit back, enjoy good food amidst the company of your loved ones and fill your days with much-deserved rest and relaxation. And while you’re sitting back enjoying a nice cup of hot chocolate (or whatever drink makes your days “merry and bright”), the RJL Government Relations team will be reading EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. of the hundreds of legislative proposals drafted up by our legislators. That’s right, while you deck your halls with boughs of holly, we’re decking ours with bill drafts and Indiana State Code books.
Throughout the legislative session, our Government Relations team monitors all legislative activities and advocates on behalf of our clients at the Statehouse. Leading the charge will be:
Collectively, our team boasts a deep knowledge of state and federal policy, a vast network of established relationships and a fierce drive to tackle even the most daunting legislative endeavors on behalf of our clients.
As the 2022 legislative session nears, we reflect on the wins and losses, the highs and lows and the many challenges and blessings that the 2021 session brought us. Beginning in January, the General Assembly kicked off a legislative session marred by debates surrounding public health and budgetary proposals. Over the following months, the legislature debated and passed proposals limiting the executive branch’s authority in public health emergencies, tackled the redistricting process, and passed the biannual budget. The budget, especially, received ample attention due to the number of notable initiatives included in it, such as the $500 million Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) grant program, the $1.9 billion increase in K-12 funding, $40 million to increase wages for direct support professionals (DSPs) and $250 million for expanding broadband in underserved areas. Shored up by money available through the Federal Government, Indiana was successful in retaining a balanced budget with a strong rainy-day fund.
Looking to the future, the 2022 legislative session is expected to be swift, busy and turbulent. The word on the street (or in the hallway) is that legislators are planning to address medical billing issues, the federal vaccine mandate, education issues (making schoolboards partisan), repealing/reducing certain tax liabilities (business personal property tax) and workforce issues. Since 2022 will be a short session (i.e. not a budget session), we expect these topics to be hotly debated and acted upon in a rather short period of time. If things pan out as expected, session could end early/mid March.
If we haven’t completely knocked your stockings off by now, you’re in luck! As with every legislative session, there will undoubtedly be other major items that the General Assembly will address in 2022. Both the House and Senate met on November 16th for Organization Day, the ceremonial first day of session, and began creating their agendas for the upcoming year. Over the next two months, legislators will file their bills (a maximum of five in the House and ten in the Senate per legislator) which will be posted to the General Assembly’s website. While our team will be reading through each of these bills and informing you of proposals relevant to your industry, please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any questions or special requests.
On behalf of our entire team at RJL Solutions, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and look forward to continuing our partnership with you over the next year.