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Thursday, October 15, 2015 9:20 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    
INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence kicked off the infrastructure debate with a $1 billion proposal to repair state highways, interstates and bridges. Local government officials want the governor and General Assembly to take it several steps further, and provide what the Indiana Association of Cities & Towns calls a “sustainable” funding source. IACT President Matthew Greller told Howey Politics Indiana on Wednesday that the Pence plan is a good start. “The big thing is it’s good the administration is addressing infrastructure in a very serious way with a very serious proposal and a lot of money. But it includes no money for city and town streets and county roads. I’m disappointed because the vast majority of road miles in Indiana are maintained by local governments.”
  • Former Gov. Edgar Whitcomb, World War II hero, dies at age 98

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Former Indiana Gov. Edgar Whitcomb, a World War II hero, died on Thursday afternoon at age 98, surrounded by his family. Whitcomb was Indiana’s 43rd governor, serving from 1969 to 1973. He had also served as Indiana secretary of state.
    Gov. Mike Pence, in officially announcing Whitcomb’s death, said, “Gov. Ed Whitcomb was a great man whose life of courage, service and adventure inspired generations of Hoosiers and he will be deeply missed. Gov. Whitcomb was a treasure to our state and I mark his passing with a sense of personal loss as will thousands of Hoosiers whose lives were touched by this remarkable leader. Ed Whitcomb’s zest for life was evident in each of his 98 years.”

  • HPI Analysis: Civil rights demise consequences unclear

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence has delivered for Monica Boyer. Heading into a tough reelection bid, his social conservative base is more secure now that SB344, the LGBT civil rights expansion, is dead. But this episode underscored the narrative, even within his base, that he is a weak, indecisive “Chance the Gardner” governor. His fate with moderates and independent voters is undecided. There appears to be little fear of political retribution and this won’t happen unless there is the kind of political assault that took Sen. Steve Johnson out in 2002, Senate Finance Chairman Larry Borst in 2004 and Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton in 2006. Those were all challenges waged against moderates from the right. There appears to be little fear of political retribution and this won’t happen unless there is the kind of political assault that took Sen. Steve Johnson out in 2002, Senate Finance Chairman Larry Borst in 2004 and Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton in 2006. Those were all challenges waged against moderates from the right.

        

  • Smaltz meth bill one of four to advance at crossover
    INDIANAPOLIS — Members of the House of Representatives voted today in support of State Rep. Ben Smaltz’s (R-Auburn) bill to combat the growing number of meth labs in Indiana. Pseudoephedrine is a key ingredient used in the production of meth and often found in a small number of cold, flu and allergy medications. If enacted, HB1390 would allow Hoosiers who have a relationship on record with a pharmacy to continue to obtain pseudoephedrine of their choosing without a prescription. If a purchaser does not have a relationship on record, the bill would give pharmacists the option to sell them tamper-resistant products or a small package of 24-count 30mg regular pseudoephedrine. If the purchaser still refuses and demands regular pseudoephedrine, the bill would require them to obtain a prescription. “My proposal is designed to protect law-abiding Hoosiers. It would not enact a full prescription requirement on pseudoephedrine in Indiana or add pseudoephedrine to the list of controlled substances,” Smaltz said.
  • Civil rights expansion fails as Sen. Holdman pulls SB344
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - The civil rights expansion effort has died after State Sen. Travis Holdman pulled legislative, saying that “it has become apparent SB344 lacks support.” Holdman added, “I am greatly, greatly disappointed. He compared the lack of consensus to hiking a canyon at Zion National Park in Utah. “The canyon becomes so small, you can reach out with both hands and touch the walls. I feel like I’m in the narrows. No matter what I do, what I proposed, I cannot move these walls. Nobody wants to give, nobody wants to move. After several months, it has become apparent with SB344 lacks support.” “I believe we have let down a number of friends, both our LGBT friends and our far right friends, friends in the faith community,” Holdman said. Senate President Pro Tem David Long, said that Holdman “took a beating on all sides” and warned that the courts will eventually step in if the General Assembly fails to act in 2017.
  • Horse Race: Iowa insurgent victories portend to Indiana action
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Monday’s Iowa caucuses, where anti-establishment Sens. Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders either won or ended up in a virtual tie, portend for the presidential three-ring circus to potentially come back home again to Indiana. The results reveal that in both Republican and Democratic parties, the insurgents received around 50% of the vote total. Cruz ended up with 28%, topping Donald Trump with 24%. The establishment contender now appears to be Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who came in at 23%. Democrats Hillary Clinton and Sanders both ended up at 50%, with Clinton taking a one delegate lead. So both major parties are roiled in an seething, anti-Washington establishment revolt.

  • Horse Race: 4thQ FEC reports seeds tossups in 3rd, 9th CDs
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana’s two open Congressional seats appear to be headed for three-way showdowns, as evidenced by the year end Federal Election Commission reports that are lifting eyebrows in political circles at both ends of the state. In the 3rd CD open as U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman is seeking the U.S. Senate seat, Republican Kosciusko County farmer Kip Tom raised $264,000 in the fourth quarter. Even more impressive is while Tom is said to have the ability to self-fund, he has yet to tap personal resources.  In the 9th CD where Senate candidate Todd Young is leaving an open seat, Tennessee transplant Trey Hollingsworth posted $694,000 for the quarter that included $686,000 loaned from the candidate. Hollingsworth has $510,000 cash on hand and is running TV ads in the Indianapolis and Louisville markets. State Sen. Erin Houchin posted $111,000 for the quarter, $240,000 for the cycle and has $177,000 cash on hand.
  • HPI Analysis: Gregg's rematch campaign begins to emerge
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – For the past year, John Gregg has been in the shadows, dialing for dollars while Gov. Mike Pence has, for better or worse, dominated the headlines. Some have suggested that the former Democratic House speaker should simply stay in the corner, and let his rematch this November be a referendum on the incumbent and driven by the first-term Republican. Last Thursday before the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns “Bootcamp” for newly elected officials, John Gregg 2.0 began to emerge. He preceded Gov. Pence, both giving about 20 minute addresses. Pence walked through a familiar litany of economic development benchmarks and the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0. But with Gregg, the speech laid out the first cursory markers of the coming showdown.
       
  • Horse Race: 9 legislators primaried, but little challenger funding
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – With the filing deadline just a week away, and volatile issues such as the civil rights extension and the A to F ISTEP grades for schools, the threat of a widespread primary challenge scenario has yet to surface and none of the current races appear to be fueled by the contentious social issues. Only three incumbent senators and six House incumbents are currently facing primaries. There are other contested primaries in two open Senate seats and two in the House. None of the nine incumbents had opponents who were credibly financed at this point in the cycle. Both social conservative activist groups and the Free Enterprise business PAC headed by former Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle have suggested that if the civil rights issue isn’t resolved in their favor, they might seed primary challengers. But there is little evidence that a coordinated campaign is under way. None of the incumbents challenged have played a conspicuous role in any of the civil rights or education controversies.
  • Civil rights expansion clears 1st Senate hurdle, but few satisfied
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - The first chapter of Indiana’s civil rights expansion barely passed its first hurdle Wednesday night by a 7-5 vote in the Senate Rules Committee, with business interests and LGBT advocates critical of the effort for omitting transgender Hoosier citizens. Republicans said the transgender issue was too complicated to be included at this point. Family groups characterized the legislation as a “dramatic erosion of religious liberties.” Senate Republicans said that SB 344 would add sexual orientation, active duty military status and veteran status as protected classes in Indiana’s civil rights laws for employment, housing and public accommodations, while also including provisions aimed at protecting Hoosiers’ religious liberty and rights of conscience. The bill would charge a legislative study committee with examining issues related to discrimination based on gender identity.

  • House Public Health approves compromise meth bill 11-1
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - An amended HB1390, designed to keep manufacturing levels of pseudoephedrine out of the hands of notorious methamphetamine cooks passed the House Public Health Committee 11-1.The amended bill would give the Indiana Pharmacy Board and the Indiana State Police some oversight in determining provisions of “patients of record” which would give law abiding Hoosiers full access to purchase PSE products such as Sudafed. The bill would prevent meth cooks and smurfs - consumers who are not known to pharmacies - from purchasing the 120 mg packets that have fueled what prosecutors say are tens of thousands of meth labs across the state, making Indiana the domestic meth production leader in the United States for three consecutive years.

  • Sen. Steele pulls plug on 'Super-RFRA' in 1st civil rights volley

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - The first volley in the civil rights battles expected to play out in the General Assembly today ended in an abrupt fashion. After State Sen. Mike Young introduced SB66, telling a packed Statehouse hearing room that the bill was designed to “protect the rights of everyone in this room,”  Senate Judiciary Chairman Brent Steele pulled the plug, saying that the legislation had been “mischaracterized” and that the timing wasn’t right. Steele, R-Bedford, said the bill, sometimes referred to as “Super RFRA,” designed override the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and the subsequent “fix” should return during the 2017 session.

  • Dealing legislatively with Indiana's meth binge (before lunch)
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - There were 1,533 methamphetamine labs discovered by authorities in 2015, though one prosecutor put the actual number in the “20,000 to 30,000” range. There were the 323 children involved in the toxic and explosive meth environments. There were the seven law enforcement officials injured. There was testimony that every member of a southwestern Indiana methamphetamine task force had ended up in an emergency room as the result of remediating toxic meth lab environments. And there were three bills up for a hearing in the Indiana House Public Health Committee Monday morning. But after about an hour of testimony, Chairwoman Cindy Kirchhofer had pressing matters to deal with as she limited testimony on the three bills to less than a minute as the committee hearing neared an end in the House Chambers.
  • Young begins 'sustained' Indiana Senate TV ad campaign
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana’s Republican U.S. Senate race takes an emphatic turn today when U.S. Rep. Todd Young commences what his campaign calls a “sustained” TV ad campaign. It comes before a potential onslaught of presidential TV ads if either the Republican or Democratic nomination fights comes to Indiana after Super Tuesday on March 8. In a wide open race with none of the candidates having high statewide name ID, the early TV ad battle will be crucial. Young was the first of the three candidates to go up on the air, running a TV ad during the first Republican presidential debate last summer. Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman began airing a TV on cable outlets in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne. But Young’s TV ad buy is different, in that he is sitting on a $2.6 million war chest, more than twice as big as his closest rival, Stutzman, a farmer from Howe.
  • HPI Analysis: Gregg's rematch campaign begins to emerge
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – For the past year, John Gregg has been in the shadows, dialing for dollars while Gov. Mike Pence has, for better or worse, dominated the headlines. Some have suggested that the former Democratic House speaker should simply stay in the corner, and let his rematch this November be a referendum on the incumbent and driven by the first-term Republican. Last Thursday before the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns “Bootcamp” for newly elected officials, John Gregg 2.0 began to emerge. He preceded Gov. Pence, both giving about 20 minute addresses. Pence walked through a familiar litany of economic development benchmarks and the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0. But with Gregg, the speech laid out the first cursory markers of the coming showdown.
        
  • HPI Interview: Kevin Brinegar & how Chamber evolved on LGBT
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – This was the blunt question HPI posed to Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar: Can a gay Hoosier citizen be fired for … being gay? Brinegar’s answer was this: “That is my understanding.” With the civil rights expansion taking the omnipresent role in this session of the Indiana General Assembly, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce has played one of the bookend positions within the Republican universe, a counter weight to the evangelical and social conservatives who are fighting the proposals now poised in the Indiana Senate. It comes as Gov. Mike Pence laid down “markers” on the issue that, in the view of the upper strata of his Statehouse team were perceived as “clear,” but were misinterpreted or reinterpreted on a wide scale in the wake of his televised speech last week.
        
  • 1st Pence, Gregg joint appearance centers on local government
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Gov. Mike Pence and his Democratic challenger John Gregg outlined their philosophies in working with local government before the Indiana Association of Cities & Towns “Boot Camp” for newly elected officials Thursday afternoon in their first joint appearance of the 2016 election cycle. Speaking one after the other, Gregg promised to end Statehouse intrusions over local control. “It’s wrong and its got to stop. Local government leaders, you folks in this room, you know what’s best and local government control means something and in a Gregg administration it will,” said Gregg. For Gov. Mike Pence, working with local government means economic development projects in an effort to create jobs.
  • Meth maps: Fiddling in Indiana legislature while Rome City burns
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – It is disheartening that when solutions are available to combat Indiana’s methamphetamine crisis, as have been amply demonstrated in Oregon and Mississippi, Indiana lawmakers and the governor look the other way. A U.S. map published by the Drug Enforcement Administration titled “2014 Meth Clandestine Laboratory Incidents” tells a stunning and revealing story.  Oregon went to a prescription rescheduling of pseudoephedrine in 2006 and meth lab busts plummeted from 192 in 2005 to seven in 2014. There was a similar 83% drop off in Mississippi, which the DEA shows reported two incidents in 2014. And Indiana? A disgusting 1,471 out of the 9,338 reported for the entired United States (see DEA map at left). Law enforcement officials in Indiana will tell you that only a fraction of the actual meth labs are discovered, shut down and prosecuted, the children rescued. What made the impact in Oregon and Mississippi? The rescheduling of pseudoepedrine. Which made the announced decision last week of House Public Health Committee Chairwoman Cindy Kirchhofer not to hear HB1390 by State Rep. Ben Smaltz one of neglectful proportions.
        

  • Horse Race: GOP Senate candidates stress 3 strengths
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    KOKOMO – Hoosier Republicans have a menu of choices for the U.S. Senate nomination. At the first debate here Saturday morning, U.S. Reps. Marlin Stutzman and Todd Young, along with former state chairman Eric Holcomb, gave GOP primary voters great options. Each had a different message. For Young, it is “effective conservatism,” or a potential senator who goes beyond show votes and actually gets legislation to the president’s desk. For Stutzman, the message was challenging the status quo in Washington, saying, “Washington is a broken city. Washington is a boomtown, Washington is growing because American is shrinking. The system is broke in Washington.”  And for Holcomb, it was his role with former Gov. Mitch Daniels in developing and executing innovative strategies such as Major Moves.
  • Soliday seeks to steer highway funding to new reality
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – The new, wider Panama Canal is set to open in the near future. We are less than half a decade away from 55 mpg cars hitting the market. And Hoosier automakers are finding less rail capacity than in the past. All of these elements, which emphasize the true global economy that encompasses Indiana, are prompting lawmakers to take a completely different view of how to fund the state’s deteriorating road and bridge infrastructure. On Jan. 11, House Roads and Transportation Chairman Ed Soliday, Ways & Means Chairman Tim Brown and Speaker Brian Bosma gave a mold-breaking, data-driven preview of what might be in store for Hoosier drivers and taxpayers. The Indiana House Roads and Transportation Committee passed HB 1001 by a vote of 8 to 5 on Wednesday. The four committee Democrats and State Rep. Curt Nisly, R-Goshen voted “no.” It goes to the House Ways & Means Committee. It increases the gasoline tax by 5 cents, hikes the cigarette tax $1 a pack which would free up money now spent on Medicaid for roads. It places 7% of the state sales tax on gas to roads.
  • Horse Race: Bush, Clinton first to qualify for IN primary ballot
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – Republican Jeb Bush became the first presidential candidate to qualify for the Indiana ballot. The Indiana Secretary of State’s office reported that Bush had filed enough signatures in Indiana’s nine congressional districts to qualify for the May 3 presidential primary. The Hillary for America campaign delivered her petitions to the Secretary of State’s office on Wednesday afternoon. “Hundreds of volunteers across our state can take credit for making sure Secretary Clinton has ballot access in our state so that Hoosiers can cast their vote for her on May 3,” said Dan Parker, Hillary for America authorized campaign representative and former Indiana Democratic Party state chair. The three Democratic and more than a dozen Republican candidates face a Feb. 6 deadline to get the 4,500 signatures – 500 in each of Indiana’s nine congressional districts – to qualify for the ballot.
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  • Our tribute to Gov. Edgar D. Whitcomb; funeral services set
    "Attorney General Greg Zoeller told me the story of taking his young son to meet former Gov. Edgar Whitcomb at his cabin on the Ohio River. Young Zoeller then learned about the fascinating life of the former governor. As they left, Zoeller’s son turned to his father and said, “The Most Interesting Man in the World has nothing on that guy.” It was a reference to the Dos Equis TV commercials featuring the grizzled adventurer living a sprawling life. And it was an apt comparison, because Whitcomb’s storied life is the stuff they write books about, and make movies. Ed Whitcomb possessed a great spirit, a friendly demeanor, and to be in his affable presence was to be in the company of valor, patriotism and a unique Hoosier spirit. Well done, Governor. Rest in peace." - Brian A. Howey, Publisher, Howey Politics Indiana, on the life of Gov. Edgar D. Whitcomb, who died Thursday at age 98. This photo is of Whitcomb following his 31-day journey across the Atlantic Ocean in a small sailboat in 1990. A life celebration is scheduled for 6 p.m. CST Saturday at the Huber Funderal Home, Tell City. Funeral services are at 2 p.m. EST Sunday @ Hayden UMC, in Hayden, Ind. Noon visitation.
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HPI Video Feed
Kip Tom's first 3rd CD TV ad
Kip Tom, a 3rd CD Republican candidate, is now airing his first TV ad.

Rep. Wolkins on LGBT, Indiana Chamber
State Rep. David Wolkins discusses the LGBT civil rights issue with constituents and calls out the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

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2 videos
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State of the State

What grade would you give Gov. Mike Pence's State of the State address on Jan. 12, 2016?


 

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