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6/3 Torchbearer Weekly Policy Update

Thank you for letting us be your trusted source for local, state, and federal policy updates. Let’s dig in…

  • Welcome Holli!
  • Limited Funding Leaves Indianapolis Charters Struggling to Offer Transportation
  • Holcomb to Make Semiconductor-Focused European Trade Trip
  • Wendy Dant Chesser Selected to Fill Vacated House Seat
  • IRS Makes Free Online Filing Program Permanent
  • Joe Donnelly, Former U.S. Senator From Indiana, to Step Down as Ambassador to Vatican
  • Share the Torchbearer Newsletter with Your Network!
  • Important Dates

Let’s dive in.

Welcome Holli!


What’s new: Former Indiana Secretary of State Holli Sullivan has joined Indianapolis-based Torchbearer Public Affairs as its vice president, the lobbying firm announced Thursday.

The back story: Most recently, Sullivan was with Louisville-based C2 Strategic Communications, which she to lead business operations in 2022 after her short tenure as secretary of state, which began by appointment from Gov. Eric Holcomb in 2021. She previously served as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives from 2014 to 2021, representing parts of Vanderburgh and Warrick Counties.

Dig deeper: Sullivan served as vice chairwoman of the Indiana Republican Party from 2019 to 2021. Her resume also includes 10 months as principal owner of Fortitude Public Affairs as well as engineering stints at General Motors and Toyota Motor North America.

What they’re saying: The firm said in written remarks that Sullivan’s private and public sector experiences “give her a unique perspective on navigating business and government at all levels.”

“Sullivan’s impressive public sector career is a huge asset to Torchbearer Public Affairs’ growing list of clients,” firm founder Caryl Auslander said in written remarks. (Indianapolis Business Journal)

Limited Funding Leaves Indianapolis Charters Struggling to Offer Transportation


What’s new: In Indianapolis, charter schools are struggling to provide transportation options for their students, leading to equity issues and limiting access to high-quality education. The Better Together campaign is calling for Indianapolis to be designated as a pilot site for school transportation solutions.

Dig Deeper: Unlike traditional school districts, charter schools in Indiana do not receive specific funds for transportation and must rely on their operating budgets. The small size and limited budgets of charter schools make it difficult to afford transportation services or partner with bus companies in the city.

Why it matters: The lack of transportation options for charter school students in Indianapolis limits access to quality education, particularly for underprivileged families.

The big picture: Indianapolis is home to over 70 charter schools, many of which struggle to afford transportation due to their small size and limited budgets. Finding a centralized solution may be difficult due to liability concerns and the bus driver shortage. Collaboration and stronger purchasing power through outsourcing may be necessary for charter schools to address transportation challenges effectively. (Chalkbeat)

Holcomb to Make Semiconductor-Focused European Trade Trip


What’s new: Governor. Eric Holcomb and a delegation of Indiana economic and government leaders are embarking on a 10-day trip to France, Belgium, and the Netherlands to strengthen connections with tech and energy companies. The trip's focus on these growing industries aligns with the state's recent economic development investments, including federal funding for microelectronics production and semiconductor manufacturing. The delegation will meet with government leaders, visit research institutes, and engage with key players in the tech and energy sectors.

Why it matters: This trip is important for Indiana's tech and energy industries as it aims to foster collaboration, attract investments, and strengthen partnerships. It is intended to lead to economic growth, innovation, and job creation in the state, benefiting both businesses and the local community. (Inside Indiana Business)

Wendy Dant Chesser Selected to Fill Vacated House Seat


What’s new: Jeffersonville economic development leader Wendy Dant Chesser has been unanimously selected to fill a vacant state House seat, according to the Indiana Democratic Party. She will replace former Rep. Rita Fleming, who retired soon after winning the primary election.

Yes, and: Dant Chesser also won the party's candidacy for House District 71 in the November general election. District 71 covers Jeffersonville, Clarksville, and part of New Albany. In a news release, Dant Chesser expressed her gratitude for the opportunity and vowed to uphold a bipartisan legacy.

The big picture: This appointment fits into the bigger picture of economic development and the pursuit of economic prosperity for Southern Indiana. Dant Chesser's experience in corporate strategy and economic development will contribute to attracting businesses and creating jobs in the area. (Inside Indiana Business)

IRS Makes Free Online Filing Program Permanent


What’s new: The IRS will expand its online tax filing program, 'Direct File,' and make it permanent, according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. The platform will be integrated with state tax systems and gradually expanded to include most common tax situations. The focus will be on 'working families' and will cover deductions, credits, health care, retirement tax credits, and more. Sen. Ron Wyden hailed the move as 'tremendous news for taxpayers.' House Republicans voted to rescind funding for Direct File, citing legal concerns. The program will gradually expand to more states, depending on readiness and could cost up to $75 million.

The big picture: The IRS's decision to make Direct File permanent and expand its scope is part of a broader trend towards digitization and automation in government services. By integrating with state tax systems and covering a wider range of tax situations, the program aims to provide greater accessibility and accuracy for taxpayers. It aligns with the IRS's goals of increasing efficiency and reducing taxpayer burden. (The Hill)

Joe Donnelly, Former U.S. Senator From Indiana, to Step Down as Ambassador to Vatican


What’s new: Joe Donnelly, a former U.S. senator from Indiana, will be leaving his position as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican and returning to his home state. Donnelly's departure from the position will take place on July 8.

The U.S. embassy to the Vatican confirmed this information on the social platform X, but did not provide a reason for his departure. (IBJ)

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Important Dates:


We will keep you updated as Interim Study Committees and other important meetings are scheduled.