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Wednesday, January 23, 2019
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  • OXFORD, England  – The White River flows between two unappealing banks. The first is neglect. We don’t talk much about this largest waterway in Central Indiana, which indulges in serpentine bends on its southwesterly flow through farmland and suburb and city, in no hurry. The river is not so much Indy’s best-kept secret as it’s one we don’t even know we’re keeping. The second is contempt. The butt of countless jokes, the White River is synonymous with pollution, and for good reason: pesticides, industrial runoff, and sewage have long flowed into it. And then there was the fish kill of 1999, when millions of fish were killed by chemical discharge, their bloated bodies floating belly-up across 50 miles between Anderson and Indy. Not a great reputation. Thankfully, that is changing. An alliance among the City of Indianapolis, Visit Indy, and Hamilton County Tourism is spearheading a new effort called the White River Vision Plan.
  • OXFORD, England – We need a service program for the state of Indiana. It is my firm conviction that there are few better things we could do for our state, our political culture, and the next generation of Hoosiers than to enact a program that gathers a selection of high school graduates from every corner of Indiana and gives them a year of structured service. Such a program would manifest political ideals from both the right and the left. It would help our communities and shore up the kind of civic bonds necessary for sustaining democracy – precisely those most threatened in this precarious political moment. I believe Indiana can lead the way toward a more constructive politics, and we can do it with a statewide service program. My inspiration stems from the urgency of the need: The polarization afflicting American politics.
  • OXFORD, England - I was thrilled to see Indy make the list of finalists being considered for Amazon’s second corporate headquarters (HQ2). Like many across the city, I began salivating at the prospect of 50,000 high-paying jobs and an influx of dynamic and diverse citizens. And I love what our shortlisting represents: Conviction among city and state leaders that we can run with the big dogs and vindication from one of the world’s most powerful companies that, yes, in this sense, we can. But these bright prospects haven’t kept me from having a few worries, too. Pursuing a prize this big carries risks – for Indy, and for the other cities involved in the incentive-based competition that the HQ2 sweepstakes has ignited. In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, urban studies scholar Richard Florida voices perhaps the most common concern. Florida takes issue with the lavish incentive packages cities have been offering Amazon – most in the hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars. 
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  • Sen. Braun backs off call for full border wall
    “I listened to the Border Patrol, and they said that they do not need barriers in many places, but they’ve got to have them in some places to do their job. Wherever you’ve got to have a barrier because of the traffic and existing conditions that are there, it needs to be shored up, otherwise we’re promoting open borders.” - U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, speaking in Elkhart on Tuesday. Braun said it’s urgent a solution be found to the gridlock over President Donald Trump’s insistence on funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Braun backed Trump’s wall demand as he campaigned last year against U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, frequently telling Hoosiers that Mexico would pay for the wall. With the government shutdown now over 30 days long, the South Bend Tribune reported Braun seemed to soften his position, stating that the southern border doesn’t need a wall across all 1,900 miles.
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  • Mike, make us the nation that works

    Mr. Vice President, as our governor, you coined the phrase “Indiana: The State that Works.”  It's etched on state office buildings, we see it in basketball fieldhouses and even in New York City. You’re now vice president in a federal government that doesn’t work. It’s largely dysfunctional and has been closed down for a month. Some 800,000 federal employees (and 20,000 Hoosiers) have been furloughed or aren’t getting a paycheck. There are so many Hoosiers that loved that “State That Works” Mike Pence as opposed to the Shutdown Mike Pence.

    Our unemployment rate is 3.6%, thanks largely to you and Gov. Holcomb. We have a 64.9% labor force participation rate, an all-time record. There are currently 72,388 unfilled job postings, but last July it was 103,000 and as late as March 2017, it was 117,000. Hoosier farmers are telling me they’ve got a labor shortage. Brian Burton from the Indiana Manufacturers Association tells me that 45% of the Indiana workforce will retire in the next decade due to the Baby Boom. Gov. Holcomb calls it the “silver tsunami” and frets about declining birthrates and where Indiana companies will get tech workers, farm laborers, plumbers and electricians for the next generation.

    Immigrants come to America to reap the fruits of your amber waves of grain, and they tend to have big families. They also tend to be pro life, go to church, and value their families. On Saturday, President Trump proposed in an effort to end the federal government shutdown codifying protections for Dreamers - the kids who came here with their illegal immigrant parents, and have known no other country than the USA. But he wants to do it for just three years in exchange for $5.7 billion in border protection. This is a good start, but a half pregnant proposal. I'm all for border protections, whether they be steel slats or concrete, drones, more border patrol agents and other high-tech solutions. But why limit protections for Dreamers to three years? Why not give certainty to these 10,000 or so Hoosier Dreamers, who attend our schools and universities, serve in our National Guard, enlist in the U.S. armed forces, start businesses and raise families? Some of your most hard core supporters call this "amnesty," but this is a perversion of reality.

    And why is the Trump administration on course to limit legal immigration? According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in 2016, there were 1.2 million immigrants who became lawful permanent residents, or “green card holders” while 753,060 became naturalized citizens. In the first quarter of 2018, there was a 20% decline in green card holders. Every time a Hoosier congressman or woman attends a naturalization ceremony, they beam about the beauty of new citizens wanting to contribute and share the American  cornucopia. 

    Mr. Vice President, on Saturday you said, "There is no amnesty in the president's proposal. There is no pathway to citizenship in this proposal." We hope you reconsider. Get a deal done. Give certainty to Hoosier Dreamers, and our businessmen and farmers who are yearning for more workers. Start thinking about "America: The Nation that Works." - Brian A. Howey

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