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6/10 Torchbearer Weekly Policy Update

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

  • Council Passes Hogsett’s Stadium Plan
  • Public Health Dollars Fund Smoking Cessation, Infant Health Initiatives at Local Level
  • Comptroller Nieshalla Highlights Indiana’s Financial Health
  • Central Indiana Mayors Say Regionalism Critical to Growth, Workforce Retention
  • U.S. Adds 272,000 Jobs in May, Blowing Past Expectations
  • Attorneys Advise Clients to Wait and See on FTC Noncompete Ban
  • State Awards $81M Through Broadband Grant Program
  • New Indiana Diploma Proposals Raise Questions About Feasibility, Student Preparedness
  • How Indiana Relies on ‘Throwback’ Delegate System to Choose Some High-Ranking Candidates
  • Share the Torchbearer Newsletter with Your Network!
  • Important Dates

Let’s dive in.

Council Passes Hogsett’s Stadium Plan


Mayor Joe Hogsett won over the majority of city-county councilors to move forward with his vision for a soccer stadium on the southeast side of downtown last week.

Why it matters: Hogsett issued an ultimatum — either pass his plan to lure Major League Soccer to town by publicly funding a stadium near the downtown heliport or don't build a soccer stadium at all.

Driving the news: The City-County Council approved a new special taxing district to help fund the stadium project 16-8-1 last night.

Catch up quick: The council approved the first professional sports development area last year — on the southwest side of downtown — in coordination with the Indy Eleven stadium project known as Eleven Park.

  • Since then, concerns mounted about the financial viability of the project and what may amount to hundreds of human remains left on the site, which was the city's first public cemetery more than 100 years ago.
  • Still, the project's developer and Indy Eleven supporters have called on the city to maintain what they've called a "commitment" to build Eleven Park.

Last week, Hogsett's chief of staff, Dan Parker, told a council committee that the mayor would not take the Eleven Park site to the state budget committee for final approval of the professional sports development area — regardless of the vote on the alternate location.

  • This left councilors to decide between pursuing MLS without the Indy Eleven or not pursuing an MLS team at all.

What's next: The district goes before the city's Metropolitan Development Commission on June 26 for a final vote before heading to the state budget committee for sign-off. (Axios)

Public Health Dollars Fund Smoking Cessation, Infant Health Initiatives at Local Level

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In the second wave of funding from the Indiana Department of Health’s Health First Indiana program, $150 million will be distributed to local public health departments in all of Indiana’s 92 counties.

Why it matters: The flexible nature of Indiana’s program allows counties to make data-driven decisions and prioritize investments in evidence-based initiatives. This funding has been crucial for improving health outcomes, as highlighted by community leaders across the state.

The big picture: Health First Indiana supports a range of projects, including efforts to improve birth outcomes, smoking cessation, vaccination rates, and addressing high tobacco use. Collaboration with local organizations and partnerships has been a key strategy to expand services and maximize impact.

The bottom line: The Health First Indiana program demonstrates the importance of sustained funding for public health departments in addressing critical health issues and improving overall well-being. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Comptroller Nieshalla Highlights Indiana’s Financial Health


Indiana's State Comptroller released the 2023 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report (ACFR) highlighting the state's solid fiscal position. The report showcases low debt, low pension fund liability, healthy cash reserves, a balanced budget, and an AAA credit rating.

By the numbers:

  • General Fund revenue of $21.9 billion compared to $20.9 billion in fiscal year 2022.
  • Assets (cash, investments, capital assets, etc.) exceeded our liabilities (payables, pension liabilities, etc.) by $25.6 billion.
  • Total reserves are $2.9 billion, which is 13% of the current budget.
  • Indiana ranks seventh lowest in debt among states in the U.S. at $366 per capita. (

Central Indiana Mayors Say Regionalism Critical to Growth, Workforce Retention


Central Indiana's mayors met at a public forum last week to emphasize the importance of quality of place and clear branding in economic development. Collaboration and regional identity are key to competitiveness with growing cities like Nashville, Tennessee and Austin, Texas.

Why it matters: Building a strong regional brand and attracting businesses and talent is crucial for the overall development and workforce retention in the Indianapolis region. Mayors highlighted the significance of downtown revitalization, investments in parks and trails, and improved transportation connectivity for attracting population growth and enhancing quality of life.(IBJ)

U.S. Adds 272,000 Jobs in May, Blowing Past Expectations


The U.S. economy added 272,000 jobs in May, surpassing economists' expectations. The unemployment rate rose to 4%, breaking the streak of sub-4% unemployment.

The big picture: The May jobs report indicates a strong labor market and signals the Federal Reserve's upcoming decision on interest rates. Inflation and its impact on the economy play a significant role in the decision-making process.

The bottom line: Despite higher-than-expected job growth, interest rate cuts are unlikely due to stubborn inflation. The economy is showing resilience, but concerns about inflation persist. (The Hill)

Attorneys Advise Clients to Wait and See on FTC Noncompete Ban


The Federal Trade Commission's near-total ban on noncompete agreements is scheduled to take effect in September, but two federal lawsuits challenging the ban's validity threaten to put the agency's new rules in legal limbo.

Why it matters: Businesses across industries are considering how the ban could impact them if it ever goes into effect. Sales industry may rely on nondisclosure and nonsolicitation agreements. Media personalities bound by noncompetes could find new freedom. Departing workers in financial services may face lawsuits violating noncompetes. The healthcare industry may see reduced enforceability of noncompetes, although some dispute exists.

The big picture: States are also taking measures to restrict noncompetes, with a trend towards narrowing the groups of employees subject to noncompetes. The FTC aims to reduce health-care costs, increase innovation, and raise wages with the ban.

The bottom line: The fate of the FTC's noncompete ban is uncertain due to ongoing legal challenges, but the trend towards limiting noncompetes continues at the state level. (IBJ)

State Awards $81M Through Broadband Grant Program


The Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program has awarded an additional $81.5 million to expand broadband infrastructure in 54 counties, reaching 34,000 homes and businesses. Providers and cooperatives are eligible for up to $5 million with a 20% match. In this final round, $135 million in matching funds were contributed by 17 providers. The program aims to bridge the digital divide, particularly in rural areas, improving the quality of life for rural communities.

Why it matters: The Indiana Broadband Grant Program is an investment that connects more Hoosiers to high-speed internet, addressing the technology gap across the state. This expansion enhances opportunities, unlocks information, and leads to a brighter future for residents and businesses, especially in rural communities. (Inside Indiana Business)

New Indiana Diploma Proposals Raise Questions About Feasibility, Student Preparedness


Teachers and school officials in Indiana are raising concerns about the state's proposed high school diploma changes. The changes include a plan to funnel students into internships and work-based learning opportunities, which many representatives said are not feasible due to a lack of available training opportunities. The new diplomas aim to provide flexibility for students to personalize their learning pathways and experiences. However, educators are worried that college-bound students may have to choose a diploma that doesn't meet university admissions requirements, or one that leaves little time for academics.

Why it matters: College-bound students may face challenges in meeting university admissions requirements, while work-oriented students may find themselves lacking in academic preparation. The diploma changes have the potential to impact students' futures and career opportunities.

The bottom line: The state of Indiana is undergoing a major redesign of its high school graduation requirements. The new diplomas aim to give students more flexibility and personalized options for their education. However, concerns have been raised about the feasibility and impact of these changes on college-bound students and those pursuing work-based learning. It is crucial for education policymakers to address the challenges and ensure that the new diplomas adequately prepare students for their postsecondary education or career goals. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

How Indiana Relies on ‘Throwback’ Delegate System to Choose Some High-Ranking Candidates


This year, Republican delegates in Indiana will choose two candidates to appear on the ballot in November. At their state convention, they will select the lieutenant governor and attorney general to be the running mates for the gubernatorial contender. Compared to other states, Indiana's state convention holds significant power in deciding candidates.

The big picture: Indiana's strong state party system gives its conventions a greater role in determining candidates than in other states. The state conventions are a throwback to an earlier era when party delegates were seen as better-equipped to select candidates. This system still rewards those who are most involved in their parties.

The bottom line: The Republican delegates' choices in Indiana will have a direct impact on the November elections. The decisions made at the state convention will determine the running mates for the gubernatorial contender and also select candidates for the attorney general, state auditor, state treasurer, and secretary of state. This process highlights the power of state parties in Indiana. (IBJ)

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Important Dates:


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