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6/17 Torchbearer Weekly Policy Update

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  • BREAKING: Hoosier GOP Insiders Spurn Party Establishment, Nominate Beckwith for LG
  • Women’s Employment Hits New Record High
  • Lebanon Needs to Find New Water Source to Support More Construction, Mayor Says
  • Fed Forecasts Just One Rate Cut This Year as Inflation Fight Grinds On
  • Mental Health Challenges Facing Hoosier Youth Emphasized During 2024 IMHR Mental Health Summit
  • INDOT Receives $255M For Welcome Center Projects
  • IU Health to Eliminate Noncompete Clauses for Primary-Care Docs
  • Hundreds of School Board Seats Up For Election in Indiana
  • Researchers Say Money Alone Isn’t Enough to Overcome Public Health Workforce Woes
  • Share the Torchbearer Newsletter with Your Network!
  • Important Dates

Let’s dive in.

BREAKING: Hoosier GOP Insiders Spurn Party Establishment, Nominate Beckwith for LG


Breaking: Indiana's GOP delegates shocked everyone by narrowly selecting Micah Beckwith as the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, rejecting Mike Braun's choice, State Representative Julie McGuire (R-Indianapolis). Despite Rep. McGuire’s last-minute endorsement from Donald Trump, Beckwith won in a competitive race at the Republican State Convention on Saturday.

The big picture: Micah Beckwith's victory reflects the conservative and anti-establishment leanings of the party's grassroots delegates. It also demonstrates the power of campaigning directly to this audience.

What they’re saying: “There’s no doubt about this. I’m in charge,” Braun told reporters after the vote. “And Micah is going to be someone that works with me. And if he doesn’t, … it will probably not be as fruitful in terms of what we can get done.”

The bottom line: Micah Beckwith's selection as the lieutenant governor nominee is a surprising turn of events. His victory showcases the unpredictability of political conventions and the importance of grassroots support. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Women’s Employment Hits New Record High


A record share of working-age women are employed, according to data out Friday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why it matters: It's a remarkable comeback story. Women have not only regained their pandemic losses in the job market, they've been exceeding those numbers month after month.

Zoom in: In May, 75.7% of all women age 25-54 were working — a record high.

  • There was also another increase in employment in the childcare sector, which has enabled more women to work, says Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter.
  • "People are actually able to drop their kids off," she says, adding that for a while some centers would turn away parents on days when they were understaffed.

The big picture: Working-age men's employment rate is hovering around pre-pandemic levels — it was 86.4% in February 2020 and 86% in May 2024.

Reality check: It seems like women have come a long way. But the employment number in May 2024 is only a smidge higher than nearly a quarter-century ago when 74.9% of working-age women were employed. (Axios)

Lebanon Needs to Find New Water Source to Support More Construction, Mayor Says


The city of Lebanon is facing challenges in finding an additional water source to accommodate new construction and residential development. While existing projects are not at risk, the city cannot provide water to companies and developers without prior water reservations. Negotiations are underway with utility companies to secure additional water supply, which could take 12 to 48 months to implement at a cost of $10-30 million. The search for water sources is being conducted by engineering firm Intera. Lebanon's water situation has been closely monitored since 2006.

Why it matters: The lack of an additional water source impacts the city's ability to support new business and residential growth, stalling construction projects and potentially hindering economic development. It is essential for the city to secure a water solution to ensure continued growth and meet the demands of its expanding population and industrial activities. (IBJ)

Fed Forecasts Just One Rate Cut This Year as Inflation Fight Grinds On


The Federal Reserve is showing caution in cutting high interest rates due to slow-moving inflation and a strong job market. Fed Chair Jerome H. Powell stated that more confidence is needed before policy loosening can occur. The central bank is worried that lowering rates prematurely could reignite inflation. Economic projections showed that Fed officials expect just one cut by the end of 2024, but eight officials anticipate two cuts, and four expect no cuts at all. Major stock indexes were positive, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq hitting all-time highs.

Why it matters: The Fed's decision to hold rates steady reflects the need for further progress in inflation before adjusting policy. The cautious approach by the Fed shows a commitment to maintaining a balance between economic growth and preventing inflation.

The big picture: Inflation is improving, but the Fed is concerned about the slow pace and the role of monetary policy in controlling the overall economy. Housing costs and medical care expenses continue to be key drivers of inflation. The Fed's assessment of whether inflation is steadily falling or if there are longer-lasting factors at play is crucial in determining future policy decisions.

The bottom line: The Federal Reserve is maintaining high interest rates due to concerns about inflation. The Fed's decision reflects the ongoing challenge of balancing economic growth with price stability. Investors and businesses should monitor upcoming policy meetings in September and December for potential rate adjustments. (Washington Post)

Mental Health Challenges Facing Hoosier Youth Emphasized During 2024 IMHR Mental Health Summit


The 2024 Indiana Mental Health Roundtable Summit, in collaboration with Riley Children’s Health, successfully took place on June 12, 2024. Over 400 community leaders, mental health professionals, youth leaders, and state officials participated in the summit.

Why it matters: The summit focused on the mental health challenges faced by young Hoosiers. By bringing together various stakeholders, the summit aimed to create a path towards collective well-being for young Hoosiers. This event addressed pressing challenges and encouraged partnerships for effective solutions. (WTCA)

INDOT Receives $255M For Welcome Center Projects


The State Budget Committee approved $255 million in funding for the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to support six welcome center renovation projects. The funding comes from a $600 million allocation awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. INDOT's Rest Area & Welcome Center Improvement Plan aims to improve 21 rest area and welcome centers across the state over the next 10 years.

Why it matters: The renovations are important for all travelers in Indiana as they aim to enhance the facilities and provide additional amenities such as children's play areas and adult recreation areas. The funding will also address safety concerns by adding 1,200 semitrailer parking spaces, reducing issues related to semis parked on ramps. The improvements will ultimately create better rest areas and welcome centers for the state. (Inside Indiana Business)

IU Health to Eliminate Noncompete Clauses for Primary-Care Docs


Last legislative session, the Indiana General Assembly passed a law banning noncompete clauses in new contracts for primary-care physicians, and IU Health has announced they are extending the benefit to currently employed physicians.

Why it matters: The removal of noncompete clauses reduces barriers for physicians to provide exceptional care, improves access to medical services, and promotes the free flow of labor. This policy change aligns with the ongoing discussions on noncompete clauses for medical specialists.

What’s next: IU Health says conversations regarding noncompete clauses for medical specialists are ongoing. The move comes as the Federal Trade Commission’s ruling to almost totally ban non-compete agreements across many industries is set to take effect in September. (IBJ)

Hundreds of School Board Seats Up For Election in Indiana


Indiana will hold school board elections in November 2024, with 800 seats up for grabs. A change in the law extended the filing deadline by 60 days to allow for better voter education.

The big picture: Indiana has 1,686 school board members across 290 school corporations. Half of these seats will be open for election, with most boards consisting of five or seven members.

The bottom line: School board members hold significant responsibilities, such as shaping and adopting educational policies, hiring superintendents, providing fiscal oversight, approving budgets, and setting goals. The elections provide an opportunity for the community to choose representatives who align with their values. (Inside Indiana Business)

Researchers Say Money Alone Isn’t Enough to Overcome Public Health Workforce Woes


Public health agencies now have funding to address workforce shortages, but experts warn it's not enough.

Why it matters: The workforce in public health plays a crucial role in protecting communities and preventing disease outbreaks. However, underfunding and understaffing have been persistent challenges, leading to recruitment difficulties and barriers to hiring.

The big picture: The funding dedicated to public health departments is a step in the right direction, but it does not completely address the long-standing systemic barriers that exist. These barriers include lengthy bureaucratic processes, limited funding for time-limited positions, and restrictions imposed by local boards and councils.

The bottom line: While the increased funding allows for the hiring of new positions, the retention of employees and the transition from contractors to permanent employees remain challenges. workforce and provide opportunities for career growth. (IBJ)

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Important Dates:

  • State and Local Tax Review Task Force - Tuesday, June 18 at 10am
  • State Board of Education - Monday, July 17 at 9am