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The Journal Gazette

  • Bainwol

Tuesday, February 27, 2018 1:00 am

Bills would stall state's auto innovations

Mitch Bainwol

Mitch Bainwol is president and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

Indiana has always been a leader in innovation and technology, but proposed state legislation is risking our reputation and our future.

Indiana has been proud to host some of the world's largest automotive companies; they have invested billions in good-paying auto jobs as well as cutting-edge assembly plants, and research and development facilities. Today, Indiana is the third-largest producer of automobiles in the United States, and an innovative spirit is thriving in many sectors.

The state continues to attract leading technology and software companies and the top talent and new job opportunities that come with them. To stay innovative and competitive, Indiana must continually look to the future and be prepared to capitalize on what is coming down the road – autonomous vehicles and new mobility solutions such as car subscription services.

Why are they so important?

They offer opportunities for enhanced driver safety, greater mobility for those with disabilities and older citizens, and reduced congestion and parking needs. For these reasons, Gov. Eric Holcomb has rightly shown leadership by calling for “the next generation – or really the next evolution – of transportation” as a top legislative priority.

However, legislators in Indianapolis may put up roadblocks to reaching these goals.

The Indiana General Assembly is considering House Bills 1341 and 1195, which threaten the state's innovation economy and risk preventing Hoosiers from taking advantage of the full economic, infrastructure and safety benefits of new mobility solutions.

While perhaps intended as an attempt to keep Indiana leading the technology economy by attracting new development, the bills unfortunately contain unique and burdensome regulations that would have the opposite effect of that intended and put Indiana at a stark disadvantage to neighboring states.

HB 1341 contains a series of redundant regulations unique to Indiana and often in excess of federal guidelines or rules in effect in neighboring states. It creates a reporting system that makes  research and development more difficult and may cause many stakeholders to overlook Indiana altogether.

HB 1195 contains dangerous language that picks winners and losers by deciding which businesses can and cannot deploy new mobility solutions such as car subscription services. These rules are written to benefit franchised automobile dealers who are looking to monopolize these services instead of giving the consumer options.

That's why a growing bipartisan coalition of tech companies, automakers, and suppliers who support the governor's vision of “making Indiana one of the best places to be for tech in America” opposes these bills.

Instead of passing legislation that could potentially set Indiana back decades, policymakers should bring all stakeholders to the table – including automakers and technology companies – to craft a pathway forward that allows the innovation economy to grow.

This collaborative approach has proven effective in many other states and should be used here to make sure Indiana does not miss out on a vibrant future.

Our state has built an enviable business climate that spurred growth. Let's avoid going in reverse. The General Assembly should reject the current versions of these bills and start over.

Indiana is attracting companies that are investing billions of dollars in research and development and employing millions of people to build the innovation economy of tomorrow.

Let's keep doing what works.