On Jan. 6, the Indiana General Assembly began its 2020 legislative session, a short cycle that's expected to wrap up by mid-March.
To help inform members about legislation moving through the state House and Senate, the Chamber is hosting our annual Legislative Preview luncheon on Friday, Jan. 17. State legislators who represent parts of the Bloomington/Monroe County area will be on hand to give insights into the session. The event runs from 11 a.m. til 1 p.m. at the Bloomington Country Club, 3000 S. Rogers. Click here for details.
The Chamber is also hosting a Legislative Drive-In on Tuesday, Feb. 11. We'll be organizing a tour of the Statehouse and lunch there for members and legislators to meet informally while the House and Senate are in session. Click here for details.
Throughout the session, the Chamber's Advocacy Team and Legislative Council will be tracking legislation that's relevant to our members and the Bloomington/Monroe County community. You can find the full set of bills on the General Assembly's website.
Two board members for the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce – Lisa Abbott and Cindy Kinnarney – have been appointed to the Monroe County Redevelopment Commission and the Bloomington Redevelopment Commission, respectively.
Lisa Abbott is executive vice president of the Bloomington Board of Realtors. Cindy Kinnarney is market president for First Financial Bank and serves as first vice chair on the Chamber board.
The Monroe County Redevelopment Commission, on which Lisa Abbott serves, is a five-member board that oversees projects in the county's tax-increment finance (TIF) districts. Three members of this commission are appointed by the County Commissioners and two members are appointed by the County Council. Jim Shelton, the Chamber's government relations manager, is also a member of the county RDC.
Cindy Kinnarney is the newest member of the Bloomington Redevelopment Commission, which oversees the city's Department of Housing & Neighborhood Development (HAND), including the city's TIF districts. Three members of this 5-member board are appointed by the mayor. The other two are appointed by the Bloomington Council.
The Chamber encourages our members to serve on advisory boards and commissions for local government. Click here for more information on how to find vacancies and apply.
At a swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 1, members of Bloomington City Council, the mayor and city clerk took the oath of office for new four-year terms. Watch the ceremony on CATS here.
Four new councilmembers were seated for their first terms: Kate Rosenbarger (District 1), Sue Sgambelluri (District 2), Ron Smith (District 3) and Matt Flaherty (At-Large). They replaced Chris Sturbaum, Dorothy Granger, Allison Chopra and Andy Ruff on council.
Returning to the 9-member council are Dave Rollo (District 4), Isabel Piedmont-Smith (District 5), Steve Volan (District 6), Susan Sandberg (At-Large) and Jim Sims (At-Large). In addition, Mayor John Hamilton and City Clerk Nicole Bolden were also sworn in during the Jan. 1 ceremony, following their re-election on Nov. 5, 2019.
Click here for the Chamber's directory of elected officials.
As part of its Better Together – Creative Places Initiative, the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County is seeking applications for $20,000 in grants to activate or create public spaces that advance a more vibrant, welcoming, and inclusive community.
Proposals will be accepted from organizations that are designated as 501(c)(3) entities or that fall within the category of an exempt organization, such as schools, governmental units, and religious organizations.
Projects proposed should:
Click here for more information on how to apply. The application deadline is Feb. 29, with grants awarded in April 2020.
The May 5, 2020 primary election is months away, but Monroe County Elections is already recruiting poll workers. These are paid positions for Election Day.
To be a poll worker in Monroe County, you must meet these requirements:
For more information about the various jobs available – including the student poll worker program – check out Monroe County Election Central or contact their office at 812-349-2612.
The Monroe County Community School Corporation is seeking to fill a board vacancy for a district covering parts of Bloomington's central and eastern sectors.
MCCSC will be taking applications until Jan. 6, 2020 for the District 6 seat, currently held by Lois Sabo-Skelton. She announced her resignation in November, to take effect at the end of 2019.
Applicants must have lived in District 6 for at least two years, be a qualified voter and be at least 21 years old. They can't be an MCCSC employee. Click here for additional information about qualifications in the MCCSC bylaws.
The MCCSC board will make the appointment. The board will interview applicants on Jan. 14th and Jan. 21st and must make an appointment by the end of January. They are expected to announce the appointment at their Jan. 28 meeting, when that new trustee would be sworn in.
Trustees of the seven-member MCCSC board serve four-year terms and are paid $2,000 annually plus $112 for each regular meeting, among other compensation. The appointee would serve out the remainder of Sabo-Skelton's term, which ends on Dec. 31, 2020. If they wanted to continue serving on the board, they would need to run for that seat in 2020.
Click here to see a list of MCCSC board meeting dates in 2020.
Not sure if you live in District 6? Click here to find out using the Monroe County interactive GIS system.
The fate of the Monroe County Convention Center expansion will likely be decided within the next 48 hours. We need your help in ensuring our elected officials work together to agree on a governance structure so that this important project can move forward.
The Monroe County Council is poised to consider possibly repealing the Food & Beverage Tax, which funds the expansion, if no concrete progress is made by Friday afternoon.
The Chamber supports the creation of a Capital Improvement Board (CIB) as the governance structure for an expanded convention center. We support equal representation between the City of Bloomington and Monroe County, which has been agreed upon by both sides. The county commissioners have begun the process of creating a CIB and could make that final decision at their Dec. 11 meeting.
We are concerned that the palpable bitterness and distrust between the county commissioners and city administration could ultimately derail this project.
Please contact our Bloomington/Monroe County elected representatives to urge all parties to move forward with this project. Click here for contact information. See below for additional background, as well as information about upcoming public meetings where you can speak in person. Questions? Contact Mary Morgan, the Chamber's Director of Advocacy & Public Policy, at email@example.com or 812-336-6381.
Timeline of Upcoming Meetings
Here's a timeline of upcoming meetings and possible actions. For additional background on recent actions, read this article from the B Square Beacon.
"Being a good citizen is tough work." That was part of the message from former Congressman Lee Hamilton in discussing the 2019 Indiana Civic Health Index, a look at civic indicators including voter turnout and cultural attitudes. He was part of a panel discussion on Nov. 20 with attorney Bill Moreau and former Indiana Chief Justice Randy Shepard at the Indiana Memorial Union.
In 2018, Indiana ranked 37th in the nation for voter registration and 43rd for voter turnout.
In addition to measuring current civic health, the report makes two recommendations:
To help address those goals, Bill Moreau has co-founded the Indiana Citizen Education Foundation Inc., a nonpartisan nonprofit focused on increasing the number of informed, engaged Hoosier Voters.
Go to IndianaCitizen.org to learn about the work of the Indiana Citizen Education Foundation. The group is also organizing the Indiana Civic Health Alliance, a coalition to support the recommendations of the 2019 Indiana Civic Health Index.
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is a partner for the U.S. Census 2020, working with a broad coalition to ensure that our community has a high participation rate.
As part of that effort, we're publicizing the availability of jobs to help with the Census count in 2020. The U.S. Census Bureau is hiring a variety of temporary jobs, including census takers, recruiting staff, and office staff.
Click here for details about Census 2020 jobs and how to apply.
Thanks to Chamber Ambassadors and staff for helping out Monroe County Election Central on Election Day!
At the request of Election Director Karen Wheeler, we placed signs to alert voters in districts where elections weren't held this year, to help avoid confusion.
Results of the Nov. 5 local election for Bloomington City Council: In District 2, Democrat Sue Sgambelluri defeated Republican Andrew Guenther. In District 3, Democrat Ron Smith prevailed over Independents Nick Kappas and Marty Spechler. No other local races were contested.
Thanks to Ambassadors Kelsey Haislip (right, at Summit Elementary) and Michele Tierney, as well as Chamber staffers Jim Shelton, Stacy Bruce, Tammy Walker and Rachel Levy for helping out. Look for more nonpartisan election support in 2020!
Director of Advocacy & Public Policy