This post is a **LIVE blog ** that is being updated in close to real time with the Listening Session featuring Indiana Fifth District Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks and staff from Indiana Seventh District Congressman Andre Carson's office at Launch Fishers. Attributions are not direct quotes but paraphrased chronicling of the discussion as it happens.

Twitter handles for Speakers and location:
@SusanWBrooks     @RepAndreCarson     @LaunchFishers
TechPoint President and CEO Mike Langellier introduces Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (right) and Megan Sims from the office of Congressman Andre Carson.

During her opening remarks, Congresswoman Brooks told stories about how people from Silicon Valley come to Washington D.C. all the time to lobby Congress, and that she always tells them she is from Indiana and "we have great tech companies!"

“I do think we still have a ways to go,"Brooks said. "At least in getting the country to realize, and even in getting Indiana to realize, all the talent we have here.”

After going around the room for introductions, it has become clear that most people in the room are interested in talking about Net Neutrality and Immigration Reform. With a smile, Congresswoman Brooks said "great, two easy subjects."


Interestingly, Congresswman Brooks says she has not yet been lobbied by either side of the Net Neutrality debate. [Editor's note: If you share your thoughts on Net Neutrality in the comments at the bottom of this post or here, TechPoint will make sure they get to Congresswoman Brooks.]

One of the problems with our current immigration system is that it is focused on families and country quotas and it really doesn't consider careers or the needs of employers like the tech companies and startups here in the room.

Additionally, there is a HUGE trust problem in Washington — specifically, between Congress and the executive branch. Congresswoman Brooks says that even if they pass PERFECT immigration reform that everybody loves, there is no faith in the executive branch to enforce it.


Purdue University has the second-highest foreign-born population in the country. Susan Brooks has attended Purdue graduations and has thought, “We’ve educated all these young people and now they’re taking all this brain power back to their home countries.” 

Employers in the room are sharing horror stories about the red tape that prevents them from hiring foreign workers. Matt Hunckler and Alec Synnestvedt from VERGE Startups recommend checking out the site for more information about legislation that could make a difference.

“We actually aren’t producing enough kids in our system to fill your jobs," Congresswoman Brooks said. “There are 4,000 students at IU in the Informatics program, but the problem goes deeper to our K-12 system.” 
Brooks is trying to get computer science listed as a core academic subject, not so educators HAVE to use budget dollars that way, but so they CAN use their money that way.
Jim Hutchins of T2 Systems said “Do you have a computer ROOM at your office? We shouldn’t be thinking of computers as separate from the rest of K-12 education.” “That is where our computer science program still is."

Several people around the room agreed that Kahn Academy is a great educational model for kids AND adults.

Concerning Net Neutrality, Congresswoman Brooks is listening to the opinions of the room on what it is and why it matters. The room is unanimous that Net Neutrality is essential. ZERO dissent.

Netflix consumes one-third of Internet bandwidth utilization during prime-time hours. Not necessarily users, but bandwidth. 
The legislation that was in place (that set a precedent for net neutrality) was overturned by a decision a few months ago. 
Fight for the Future and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are two organizations with heavy presence in Washington D.C. advocating for the seemingly shared position of the Indy tech sector in favor of Net Neutrality.
“If [Net Neutrality] goes the nightmare way, the Internet could become a lot like cable TV, where you have channels and you don’t use one channel because it’s slower than the others," said Jeb Banner, CEO of SmallBox.
The original reason behind net neutrality was a technical challenge. There was a fear back in 2000 that we would overrun the Internet. 
TechPoint would like to thank Congresswoman Brooks and Megan Sims from Congressman Carson's office for attending this listening session and hearing the thoughts and concerns of tech employers.