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Friday, May 25, 2018
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  • INDIANAPOLIS – In April, we learned that three Indiana localities have the dubious distinction of being in the top 20 U.S. cities with the highest eviction rates. The newly established Eviction Lab, spearheaded by “Evicted” author and researcher Matthew Desmond, tells us that Fort Wayne (13th), Indianapolis (14th) and South Bend (18th) see people pushed out of housing at higher rates than most cities. In Indianapolis, that equates to more than 30 households evicted per day. These statistics shine a spotlight on Indiana’s housing crisis and bust the myth of the Midwest’s affordability, at least for low-income families. Forty-two percent of renter households in Indiana are cost-burdened, defined as spending 30% or more of gross income on rent and utilities. Rent-burdened households are more likely to be evicted, have less to spend on other basic needs like food and medical care, and more frequently must rely on food assistance and other safety net programs. On the flip side, stable housing has a host of benefits, especially for children, who are less likely to be placed in foster care and switch schools less often.
  • INDIANAPOLIS  – On Sept. 14 last year, I eagerly awaited the release of the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey data. All summer, I had been researching the gender wage gap and looked forward to putting the finishing touches on the Institute’s report, “Wages, Wealth, & Poverty: Where Hoosier Women Stand and Ways our State Can Close the Gaps.”  My initial calculations that day came as a shock. Even as the nation saw a small narrowing of the gender wage gap, Indiana’s gap widened two percentage points from 24 to 26%, an annual difference of $12,717 between the median full-time male and female workers.  Attention to Indiana’s pay gap and the many high-profile “me too” announcements occurring around the same time led me to think that the 2018 legislative session might bring some positive policy changes for working women. And sadly, it didn’t – but not for lack of good bills.  A substantial portion of the gender wage gap cannot be explained away by occupation, experience, or education. Researchers suggest this reflects pay discrimination, and other states have taken steps to provide women with the tools to challenge these disparities. Retiring Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, once again filed a bill to help remedy pay discrimination by strengthening Indiana’s weak equal pay law. 
  • INDIANAPOLIS  – Despite a new poll showing that nearly nine in 10 Hoosiers want payday loan reform, the General Assembly had been pushing forward with new a predatory loan product. When the Indiana Institute for Working Families set its 2018 legislative agenda, we focused on modest and achievable policy solutions that would right the ship for Hoosier families who are underwater financially: Make sure pregnant women in physically-demanding jobs can continue to work safely, because many lack sick days or family leave. Take small steps to fix problems with our nutrition assistance and TANF programs. Get more kids into prekindergarten classrooms and adults into educational programs that lead to higher-paying jobs. Many of the bills we hoped to see advance never received a hearing have died. And Instead, there’s momentum on a different “solution” for struggling working families: bigger, longer payday loans. Indiana is one of several states that crafted a payday loan law in the early 2000s. Payday lenders were given a limited exemption from our criminal loansharking law to make two-week loans under the premise that these loans would be expensive to make due to their short-term, one-time nature. However, research is now clear: these loans, which top out at 391% APR, are almost never a two-week, emergencies-only deal.

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  • Gov. Holcomb, ISP Supt. Carter discuss school shooting
    “I am satisfied we’re on the right path, we’re headed in the right direction. We want to make sure the resources are there and the schools are secure. Traveling here today, the speaker and the president of the Senate were in perpetual huddle to make sure we’re not leaving any stone unturned. Whatever is needed by any school in the state we’re going to find a way to deliver on that. We’re on the right road, there is funding and resources to make sure our schools are safe.” - Gov. Eric Holcomb after returning to Indianapolis from Paris last Friday afternoon, addressing the school shooting that left a teacher and a student wounded at Noblesville West Middle School. Holcomb is expecting a school safety report on Aug. 1 and said the state will then begin to address “deficiencies.” Teacher Jason Seaman suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen, hip and forearm after he tackled the suspect. He is reportedly out of surgery. Indiana State Police Supt. Doug Carter called the situation “terror” but said Noblesville school had a plan and followed it Friday.
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  • Hoosier GOP dreams of a 'President Pence'
    Vice President Mike Pence returned to Indy Friday. He visited drivers and troops at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He raised big bucks for INSen nominee Mike Braun. He faithfully touted President Trump’s tax reforms under the banner “Promises made, promises kept” and bestowed effusive praise on the billionaire bossman for freeing North Korea prisoners, moving the embassy to Jerusalem and achieving big tax cuts.

    In tow were the predictable aides like Marty Obst, who heads the Great America Leadership PAC that has become the Pence political wing. It prompted a spasm of speculation in Politico  and the "failing" NYT  this past week that the Pence political ops were making President Trump and his loyalists nervous. There’s the persistent notion that Pence is doing what any smart pol would do, which is to prepare contingencies for 2020, either as the most loyal veep or as the GOP standard bearer. Trump’s nagging legal and ethical problems have created “hungry” looks in the Pence braintrust, most conspicuously Chief of Staff Nick Ayres, friends of the POTUS have noticed.

    So it was interesting that the original Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, has signed on to the Pence PAC. He was in Indy Friday with the veep along with Trump reelection campaign manager Brad Parscale. One can say this was simply a united front on display. But this is an administration that sends der kamcaign kommissars into the deep state bureaucracy to make sure the cabinet secretaries and minions are truly loyal. It has vetoed employment for those deemed not original Trumpy or even secretly NeverTrump. This is a president who prizes loyalty above anything else, even competency. 

    So welcome to Indy, Brad and Corey. It’s a trusting city and Republicans here love their veep. Many Hoosier Republicans dream of Pence joining the pantheon of the Harrisons and Lincoln at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Pence even had all their portraits in his Statehouse office. To a Hoosier Republican, “President Pence” is envisioned as an achievable goal.
    - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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