A lively discussion on the proposed local income tax increase was the focus of the March 6 WFIU Noon Edition. Panelists included Mary Morgan, the Chamber's Director of Advocacy & Public Policy; Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton; Bloomington City Councilmember Matt Flaherty; and Ellettsville Town Councilmember William Ellis.
Click here to listen.
The panel was moderated by WFIU's Bob Zaltsberg and Sara Wittmeyer, who also took questions from listeners calling in or emailing.
The Chamber has not yet taken a position on the income tax proposal, as few details have been provided about how the money would be spent in the proposed Sustainability Investment Fund. We continue to advocate for transparency and accountability in all aspects of government, as well as for broad public engagement in decision-making.
An overview of the proposed Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan – including several recommendations to lower the use of single-occupancy vehicles – was presented to Bloomington City Council at their March 4, 2020 meeting.
Justin Schor of Wells + Associates, the transportation consulting firm hired by the city, made the presentation. Click here to view his slidedeck, or watch it on CATS here. The full report will be available on the city's TDM website.
Short-term recommendations include providing a carpool matching service, a "guaranteed ride home" service, education and marketing about transportation options, and an increase in the cost of parking by 50% or more.
To implement and manage the city's TDM program, Schor recommended 2.5 employees, including a TDM director, manager and a part-time coordinator. The program's budget is estimated at nearly $500,000 annually. The council would need to vote to approve the program and identify revenues to support it.
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce supports efforts to make government at all levels more transparent, consistent and accountable. As part of our advocacy efforts on this issue, the Chamber has launched a transparency initiative to track the work of local government and to identify ways that openness and access can be improved.
“Open government gives our members and the broader community the ability to be more informed and to influence decisions, which in turn will help build economic equity, equality and accessibility,” said Erin Predmore, the Chamber’s President & CEO.
The City of Bloomington and Monroe County government already take actions related to these goals. Many public meetings, but not all, are recorded by Community Access Television Services (CATS) and are broadcast live or available later on the CATS website. The agendas, packets and meetings for many public meetings, but not all, are posted online. Many meetings, but not all, are noticed in a timely and accessible way.
The Chamber is tracking 82 councils, boards and commissions that govern and advise the City of Bloomington and Monroe County. We are tracking whether meeting minutes, agendas and packets are posted online in a timely way, and whether contact information is posted for these entities. As of January 2020, 45 are in the “red zone,” with up-to-date information unavailable in at least two of the four categories that we’re tracking. We will continue to monitor these groups and post updates on our Transparency in Government site.
We can do better. Here are some ways that local government can improve.
“Elected officials often encourage residents to get involved in local government, but don’t remove the barriers that prevent people from engaging,” Predmore said. “Easier access to information, a true commitment to transparency, and systemic changes are needed as we aspire to more inclusive decision-making for our community.”
Four state legislators reviewed actions of the current Indiana General Assembly Session and answered questions from residents at a Feb. 15 Legislative Update forum. The event was co-hosted by the League of Women Voters of Bloomington-Monroe County and the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce.
Legislators in attendance were Sen. Mark Stoops (District 40), Rep. Peggy Mayfield (District 60), Rep. Matt Pierce (District 61), and Rep. Jeff Ellington (District 62). The panel was moderated by Mary Morgan, the Chamber's Director of Advocacy & Public Policy.
The final forum of this legislative session will be held on Saturday, March 21 from 9:30-11 a.m. at Bloomington City Hall, 401 N. Morton.
Click here to watch the Feb. 15 forum on CATS. Coverage from the B Square Beacon: "Redistricting question served up to state legislators, talk turns again to local issue."
Four state legislators shared their insights about the current Indiana General Assembly Session and answered questions from residents at a Jan. 25 Legislative Update forum. The event was organized by the League of Women Voters of Bloomington-Monroe County and the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce.
Legislators in attendance were Sen. Mark Stoops (District 40), Rep. Peggy Mayfield (District 60), Rep. Matt Pierce (District 61), and Rep. Jeff Ellington (District 62).
Upcoming forums will be held on Saturday, Feb. 15 and Saturday, March 21. Each forum runs from 9:30-11 a.m. at Bloomington City Hall, 401 N. Morton.
Click here to watch the Jan. 25 forum on CATS.
Read the Herald-Times coverage here (paywall): "Area lawmakers discuss healthcare, redistricting and more at forum."
Read the B Square Beacon coverage here: "State legislator to Bloomington redistricting advocates: 'Show us on a local level.'"
As part of our advocacy efforts on behalf of members and the community, the Chamber develops annual guidelines for local public policy and state/federal legislation.
Our 2020 Local Public Policy Agenda provides specific priorities for a positive business climate (regulation, infrastructure and civic engagement) and quality of life (including housing, public safety, parking, parks and the convention center expansion).
Our 2020 State & Federal Legislative Agenda includes priorities for economic development and job creation, quality of place, environmental infrastructure, civic engagement and government accountability, education and workforce development, health care, and business taxation/regulation.
These guiding documents are developed through a member-driven process with our Chamber Advocacy Council and Chamber Legislative Council, and are approved by the Chamber's board of directors. Questions? Contact Mary Morgan, the Chamber's Director of Advocacy & Public Policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director of Advocacy & Public Policy