October 17th, 2019
The Vs Have It: Vaping & Voting & ReciVism
‘Tis the season of “chasing the colors” – jumping in the car and heading toward the most scenic two-lane roads and outlooks in Indiana. Instead of driving a couple of hours, might we suggest wandering Hamilton County? There are some peaceful respites from cone zones at both city and county parks or along the White River. Some delightful eateries, wineries and breweries can be found along the way owned by your fellow local entrepreneurs. Before you hop in the car for your close-to-home road trip, catch up with 3 for Thursday.
Vapin’ in the Boy’s Room. This week the Interim Study Committee on Fiscal Policy met to review the taxation of e-cigarettes as a way in which to address the growing health concerns of vaping and to start the conversation on regulating an industry that is currently unregulated in Indiana. In addition to the 75-reported cases in Indiana of illnesses directly traced back to vaping, health advocates say teens who vape are more likely to become cigarette smokers – and that is bad for business, according to Kevin Brinegar, president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. With a smoking rate that’s 50 percent higher than the U.S. average and 327 percent increase in the number of young people using e-cigarettes, both the productivity and health of the Hoosier workforce are (literally) in danger. Brinegar believes the state needs a 24 percent tax on vaping products, the same rate as the tax on traditional cigarettes. OneZone and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce support taxing both vaping products and traditional cigarettes … but to date, no one has been able to get that measure to the desk of the Governor. Stay tuned.
A New Path to Work . With Hamilton County’s 2.5% low unemployment rate, area employers have recognized that inmates in the County Jail may well provide a solution to their hiring challenges. In the process, they are ensuring an improved recidivism rate. In Indiana, more than 33% of inmates return to prison. Activists contend providing job training and support can greatly reduce this statistic. The TOWER program (Transitioning Opportunities for Work, Education & Reality) aims to prepare inmates in the Hamilton County Jail to re-enter the community and the workforce after serving time by providing inmates with a mentor who can help connect them to resources in the community and find work. Since launching in January, the program has had 30 enrollees; companies like Gaylor Electric, Mill Top Banquet and Conference Center, Custom Concrete, Ginger’s Café and ID Castings are participating in the program as employers. Want to learn more about being a mentor or hiring an individual who needs a hand? Contact program director Kelly Gunn

Why Vote? While the national focus is certainly on the 2020 presidential elections, don’t forget we’ve got local elections on November 5. Carmel Clay Schools is among 10 central Indiana communities seeking a referendum; as we’ve detailed, Carmel is looking for a nickel on every $100 of assessed value to cover the cost of improved school security including hiring school resource officers for each school, putting in place programs on mental illness, and implementing school safety professional development for teachers and administrators. OneZone supports this much-needed, proactive measure and urges its members to do so with their vote. And remember, you don’t have to wait until November 5! You can vote at the Hamilton County Judicial Center in Noblesville now through election day. Satellite offices open next week – October 23 – at the Carmel Library, Fishers City Hall, and Westfield City Hall. Hours vary, check here for details .