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Wednesday, July 30, 2014
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  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – Seated in Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma’s law offices overlooking Monument Circle, the first question posed during this interview was about the pending immigration bill facing Congress.
        
    “This is what’s on my mind,” Bosma interjected. “The contrast between Washington, D.C., and the state of Indiana. Let me wax philosophical.”
        
    Subsequently, the pundit recognized the Speaker from Indianapolis.
        
    Bosma then produced a prodigious stack of paper, which turned out to be the Indiana House agendas dating back to 2002 when he was minority leader. The stack was more than a half foot thick.
        
    “My frustration is with the way Washington handles issues because I had to talk recently, at one event, about the differences in Indiana 10 years ago and today,” Bosma said. “To do that, I keep copious electronic and paper files. I had a giant file in my desk drawer that said ‘prior agendas.’ And I pulled out our ‘New Direction’ agenda that our team put together in 2002. It said what we were going to do, it said why we needed to do it. And it told the story about what was really a dysfunctional state government, a dysfunctional economy, and dysfunctional fiscal house and it pledged to make a difference.” 
  • By SHAW FRIEDMAN
        
    LaPORTE – C’mon Governor Pence, how ‘bout revenue-sharing for cash-strapped cities and counties?
        
    Please tell me that this governor has the ability to see that huge swaths of this state are mired in misery and mediocrity rather than deluding himself into thinking that all’s well in the Hoosier state.
        
    Last week’s press conference, where the governor and Auditor Tim Berry offered up self-congratulatory messages about the state’s surplus once again, seemed to miss the boat about what it took to reach those surpluses under former Gov. Mitch Daniels. 
  • By CRAIG DUNN
        
    KOKOMO – My mother told me time and time again as I was growing up, “There’s nothing you can do after 10 at night except get in trouble.”  I started fighting her on that point in my freshman year of high school all the way through college.  Part of the wisdom that comes with maturity is when you realize that your parents were right.  Mom was right!  There is nothing you can do after 10 at night except get in trouble. 
        
    Which begs the question: Where are the parents of the young people being gunned down in the street in the middle of the night?
            
    Of course, you could ask the same question phrased differently in a hundred different ways.  Where are the parents of the children who are failing in school?  Where are the parents of young girls and young boys who create new children before they are even teens?  Where are the parents of the children who begin abusing alcohol and drugs before puberty?  Where are the parents? 
  • By MAUREEN HAYDEN
    CNHI News Bureau
        
    KOKOMO – If you have a child in an Indiana school, you may think the last thing we need is another standardized test, given the anxiety the state’s multiple assessment tests already create for students and the noisy political debate they generate in the Statehouse. But high school principal Jegga Rent thinks there may be some value to adding a new kind of assessment, one that measures a student’s grit.
        
    Rent heads the Monument Lighthouse College Prep Academy, a charter high school in Indianapolis that serves low-income students at high risk for failure. His big goal is to get those kids into college and out of poverty. Rent is an avid proponent of an arts-infused curriculum  –using music to help teach math, for example – which makes learning more fun and gratifying for students. But he also knows learning can be daunting and discouraging, especially for chronically low-performing students.
        
    This coming school year, in addition to taking their required academic assessment tests, the students at Monument will also be taking the Grit Scale test. It’s a 12-question test developed by Angela Lee Duckworth, a former math teacher and now charter school consultant who argues that educators and parents need to be as concerned about a student’s character development as their academic achievement. 
  • By MAUREEN HAYDEN
    CNHI Statehouse Bureau
        
    INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana State Board of Education has voted to delay full implementation of a new law that requires high schools to provide remediation to students to who aren’t college-ready before they graduate.
        
    The law, House Enrolled Act 1005, would have required schools to start identifying 11th graders this coming school year who are at risk of failing their senior-year graduation exams or need remedial classes before beginning college work for credit. The law would have also required high schools to start providing extra help to those students in their senior year.
            
    But the board voted to narrow the scope of the law to a small group of students this coming school year to give the state Department of Education more time to come up with a plan to implement the law in full. 
  • By MAUREEN HAYDEN
    CNHI Statehouse Bureau 
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – A new law targeting “pill mills” may change the way doctors throughout Indiana treat patients with chronic pain by putting new protocols in place for prescribing opiod-based drugs. 
        
    The state’s Medical Licensing Board is considering an emergency set of rules, triggered by the new law, that calls for drug testing of pain-medication patients and more screening and monitoring of patients by doctors to detect drug addiction and abuse.  
        
    If adopted, Indiana would be among the first in the nation to require doctors to follow certain protocols for prescribing and monitoring the opiod-based pain killers that experts say are both addictive and over-prescribed. 
  • By JACK COLWELL
        
    SOUTH BEND – If Jackie Walorski runs with a free pass in 2014, she could run successfully for a long time, right on through the 2020 election.
        
    That’s why Democrats in the 2nd Congressional District want to find a strong challenger for Walorski, the Republican incumbent elected to a first term in Congress in a close race in 2012. There will of course be a challenger – some Democratic nominee – but formidable or sacrificial?
        
    District Democrats and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on the national level thought they had a strong challenger in Brendan Mullen, who lost to Walorski by just 1.4 percent of the vote last fall. But Mullen decided not to run. 
  • By PETE SEAT
    Politico
        
    INDIANAPOLIS — Can baby boomers beat the clock and claim the presidency for their generation one last time? If history is any guide, probably not. Generational headwinds will soon face any boomer candidate in his — or, ahem, her — quest for the Oval Office.
        
    I’m talking, of course, about Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and presumed 2016 presidential favorite. She hasn’t declared her candidacy — yet. But here’s why Hillary might want to think long and hard before jumping in.
        
    Let me first be transparent here: I’m a Republican, and I’d like nothing more than to see Clinton go down in flames. And, as a recent front-page story in The New York Times noted, many in my party are already seeking to label the former first lady a “has-been” by virtue of her decades on the political stage.
        
    Their case is as follows: Clinton has been in the spotlight in one form or another since the late 1970s when her husband, Bill, first became attorney general in their home state of Arkansas at the age of 30. Ironically, as Times reporter Jonathan Martin pointed out, it was Bill’s youthfulness that propelled him to the Arkansas governorship and later the presidency. Now, it could be the inverse that puts the brakes on the Hillary freight train. 
  • By MORTON J. MARCUS
        
    INDIANAPOLIS — Several years ago, I asked the chancellor of Ivy Tech in Gary, “Why does your institution exist?”   The response was clear and definitive, “We are a second chance school where those who seek additional education experiences can turn after high school.”
     
    He did not say, “We are here to grant degrees and certificates.”
                 
    Ivy Tech is Indiana’s legislative answer for the poor quality work done by our high schools. A significant portion of Ivy Tech’s resources are used for remediation in English and math. What was not learned in the primary or secondary grades is offered to young adults to enlarge their opportunities in life as well as in the job market. 
  • By RICH JAMES
        
    GARY – When it was first built in downtown Gary, it was a beacon of hope. It was to be the anchor for the future of downtown Gary. 
        
    Mayor Richard Gordon Hatcher in 1967 had just been elected one of the two first black mayors of a major U.S. city. Hatcher, who served five terms as mayor, just celebrated his 80th birthday.
            
    Those were difficult times for Gary. Before Hatcher was elected, the white flight had started. And some of the downtown businesses were closing. 
  • Eric Bradner, Evansville Courier & Press: Underneath that humble, Harley-riding cloak that Mitch Daniels donned as Indiana’s two-term governor was a master manipulator who used all the leverage the state’s highest office afforded him to achieve his political goals. Relying on emails from Daniels’ time as governor, The Associated Press reported last week that the current Purdue University president learned in 2010 that liberal author Howard Zinn’s works were being used in college teacher preparation courses in the state and ordered an overhaul of teacher licensing programs at least in part because he’d discovered that. Much has already been made of those emails, but what was also disheartening and, many of Daniels’ long-time political foes said, was how he and Purdue’s board of trustees reacted. 
  • OBAMACARE WILL BOOST WELLPOINT: Obamacare, long perceived as a huge threat to WellPoint Inc., is now being embraced inside the health insurer as a huge growth opportunity (Indianapolis Business Journal). WellPoint CEO Joe Swedish predicted Wednesday that the Indianapolis-based company’s operating revenue will soar nearly 27 percent over the next three years, to a whopping $90 billion, up from about $71 billion this year. “This potential for top-line growth far outpaces anything we have seen in recent years,” Swedish told Wall Street analysts during a conference call Wednesday morning after the company announced better-than-expected quarterly results. 
  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    and MAUREEN HAYDEN
        
    INDIANAPOLIS – There is no question about it, U.S. Sen. Dan Coats is an ardent proponent for the repeal of Obamacare.
        
    Indiana’s senior senator believes it is crimping the economy, costing jobs, and places undue burdens and taxes on employers and medical device makers. He also knows that many of his Democratic Senate colleagues are petrified of the political impact.
        
    On Wednesday, Coats joined 44 other GOP senators in asking President Obama to “permanently delay” the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. “While your action finally acknowledges some of the many burdens this law will place on job creators, we believe the rest of this law should be permanently delayed for everyone in order to avoid significant economic harm to American families,” they wrote. “We implore you to listen to the American people.” 
        
    The repeal is something U.S. Reps. Marlin Stutzman and Luke Messer see as a distinct possibility in the next year or so as Obamacare is implemented and public support in the polls plummets. This was fueled last week when the Obama administration made a Friday evening bad news dump on the U.S. Department of Treasury website that it was delaying implementation of the employer mandate until 2015, after the mid-term elections.
        
    So is Coats expecting a repeal? 
  • By BLAIR MILO
        
    LaPORTE – There seem to be very few things that Republicans, Democrats, Independents and others can agree on, but across the country there is one resounding message from all political backgrounds: The political gridlock has to end. 
        
    Pundits, party leaders and everyone in between have offered differing suggestions on how to curb the gridlock, but most of these recommendations are ultimately based on supporting a particular ideology which only contributes to, rather than alleviates, the current problem. I would like to offer a radical solution to end political gridlock: Support candidates and elected officials who embrace the characteristics that generational scholars have held their noses about and assigned to the Millennial Generation.
        
    Joel Stein’s cover article of a May Time magazine issue detailed the downfalls of the Millennial Generation, characterizing us as “lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with our parents.”  He concludes the article by claiming “…they’ll save us all.”  As Stein indicates, there are numerous academic surveys to support the arguments made for assigning the characteristics to the Millennial Generation, but more convincing than any survey are the interactions that we have with those born from 1980 to 2000. 
  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    ANGOLA, Ind. – These past few weeks, we’ve seen yet another example of sclerosis in Washington, this time with the farm bill. On a topic that begged for compromise, everyone dug in, and there was celebration in some quarters even as they were spitting the ashes out of their mouths.
        
    Next up comes the immigration package, with House Republicans overwhelmingly balking Wednesday at the Senate passed bill despite warnings from Speaker John Boehner about the political consequences.
    Later this year, we’ll get another debt limit faux crisis.
        
    It is a city of gangs who can’t shoot straight, of rhetoric akin to methane gas seeping out of a melting tundra. Gallup has congressional approval at 10 percent, yet another historic low. 
  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY
        
    INDIANAPOLIS - Eric Holcomb stated the obvious instead of relying on metaphors as he exited the GOP stage Tuesday night at the Indiana Republican State Dinner.
        
    “I am literally stepping down,” he said before bounding off the dais, turning the program over to out-going Vice Chair Sandi Huddleston.
        
    Just a few yards away were Govs. Mike Pence and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, U.S. Sen. Dan Coats, the presumed incoming chairman,  Auditor Tim Berry, and off stage right, party kingmaker Bob Grand.
        
    And nowhere to be found was Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who had resumed his Lincoln dinner tour across Indiana, but skipped the big feast. 
  • By DAVE KITCHELL
        
    LOGANSPORT – As a lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, I’m not beyond hearing grumblings from those who contend the Cubs organization is maintaining a nostalgic museum to baseball in the form of Wrigley Field.
        
    It’s a subtle way of saying the only major league baseball, championship-caliber competitors associated with Wrigley Field are those who either have their numbers retired and flying on flagpoles or their old baseball cards are increasing in value with trading on e-Bay. The Cubs are a passive voice team; the Yankees, Rangers, Red Sox and Cardinals are active voices.
        
    I relate this example because there are the same whispers about the Indiana Republican Party that are relevant for the Indiana Democratic Party as well. 

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  • Rep. Walorski signs bipartisan VA conference report
    “I've sat here for 18 months with a lot of my fellow freshmen on this committee and I still have for you today the original questions I asked when these hearings began, because we've never got an answer from the VA. All I wanted to know was what is the status of my state? What's happening with the clinics in my state?” - U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, who as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Conference Committee signed a bipartisan report on Monday.
     
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