ALL EYES ON HOLCOMB AND THE WETLANDS BILL: Calls are mounting for Gov. Eric Holcomb to veto a bill that would remove some protections from Indiana’s already diminished wetlands amid mounting criticism that it could damage waterways, wildlife and vegetation (Smith, AP). The wetlands measure passed out of the Legislature April 14 and has sparked bipartisan opposition within the Republican-dominated Legislature. If enacted, it would eliminate a 2003 law that requires the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to issue permits for construction and development in state-regulated wetlands and end enforcement proceedings against landowners accused of violating current law. All Democratic members of the General Assembly, as well as a member of the Senate Republican Caucus, urged the Republican governor to veto the bill in a letter sent Wednesday. Enacting the bill “will have long term consequences,” they said, urging a “more in-depth study than what was accomplished in limited committee times during a legislative session in a pandemic.”

 

IT WAS AN UNPRECEDENTED SESSION: “Unprecedented.” “Very, very unique.” “Nothing was normal.” “Nothing was easy.” That’s how lawmakers described this year’s legislative session, one in which COVID-19 changed the work - and the results - of the 2021 General Assembly (Smith, Indiana Public Media). The changes started last year. A small committee of lawmakers met to try to figure out how to conduct the 2021 legislative session amid the ongoing pandemic. And even that first meeting revealed potential roadblocks: one of the members had to participate virtually because he was in quarantine. And when he got disconnected, Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne) had to halt the meeting. “Let’s take a five-minute recess until we get – or if he comes up in the next minute, we’ll start back up again,” Lehman said. Ultimately, the House moved out of the Statehouse entirely into a government center across the street for its floor sessions, allowing for greater social distancing. In committees, lawmakers and the public were separated, often in different rooms, connected virtually. House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) lamented the impact that had on public participation. “Probably the worst part this session was, I think most of the public really didn’t want to come down here and testify," GiaQuinta said. "And then they would have to log on via Zoom. I think that really cut down … public input.” Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) was one of the few lawmakers who contracted the virus during session, keeping him out of commission for two weeks. "It certainly makes you aware of how serious it was," Frye said. "It makes you aware of the great precautions that were taken to protect these legislators and a fabulous job that everyone involved did – because we didn't have a mass outbreak of COVID amongst us." Despite just about everyone predicting otherwise, the General Assembly never had to halt its work this year because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

 

LEGISLATORS AVOIDED COVID OUTBREAK: One notable story from this year’s legislative session was what didn’t happen: a COVID outbreak (Berman, WIBC). Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) acknowledges feeling “scared” at the start of the session that the virus would rip through the House and Senate, with 150 legislators from across the state working closely for four months. And House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers), who had his own bout with COVID-19 before the start of the sssion says for the first couple of months, the legislature had a member or staffer sidelined just about every day, either by infection or to quarantine after exposure. Leaders haven’t disclosed how many members were infected during the session, citing privacy concerns. State Reps. Randy Frye and Vanessa Summers publicly acknowledged contracting COVID (Howey Politics Indiana). Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) says he was “pleasantly surprised” there was never an outbreak wide enough to bring the session to a halt, as he and Huston had feared.

 

J&J VACCINE RESUMES IN INDIANA: With a green light from federal health officials, many states resumed use of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine on Saturday. Among the venues where it was being deployed: the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (AP). Among the other states ordering or recommending a resumption, along with Indiana, were Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Those moves came swiftly after U.S. health officials said Friday evening that they were lifting an 11-day pause on vaccinations using the J&J vaccine. During the pause, scientific advisers decided the vaccine’s benefits outweigh a rare risk of blood clot.

 

MICHIGAN COVID OUTBREAK HITTING YOUNGER ADULTS: At Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, in one of America’s worst coronavirus hot spots, entire units are still filled with Covid-19 patients. People weak with the virus still struggle to sit up in bed. And the phone still rings with pleas to transfer patients on the verge of death to units with higher-tech equipment. But unlike previous surges, it now is younger and middle-aged adults — not their parents and grandparents — who are taking up many of Michigan’s hospital beds (New York Times). A 37-year-old woman on a ventilator after giving birth. A 41-year-old father. A 55-year-old autoworker who has been sick for weeks. “We’re getting to the point where we’re just so beat down,” said Alexandra Budnik, an intensive care nurse who works in a unit with lifesaving machines, or circuits, that are in short supply. “Every time we get a call or every time we hear that there’s another 40-year-old that we don’t have a circuit for — it’s just like, you know, we can’t save them all.” Across Michigan, which is experiencing by far the country’s most dangerous outbreak, more younger people are being admitted to hospitals with the coronavirus than at any other time in the pandemic. Michigan hospitals are now admitting about twice as many coronavirus patients in their 30s and 40s as they were during the fall peak, according to the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.

 

7 NORTHERN INDIANA COUNTIES SEE COVID INCREASE: The number of Indiana counties seeing medium to high community spread of COVID-19 has risen from one to seven in a single week, and several of those are adjacent to Michigan, which has been experiencing the nation’s highest COVID-19 case rate (AP). Elkhart, LaPorte and Steuben counties, which share a border with Michigan, and Porter County, which sits across Lake Michigan from southwestern Michigan, are now in Indiana’s orange category, the state’s COVID-19 dashboard showed as of Wednesday. Benton, Jasper and Whitley counties are also in the orange category, which is Indiana’s second-riskiest rating for community spread, after the red category, in its color-coded count map. All seven of the orange category counties are in northern Indiana. Those seven are up from a single Indiana county, LaPorte County, rated in the category indicating medium to high community spread of COVID-19 during the week of April 12.

 

SEN. JOHNSON QUESTIONS NEED FOR VACCINE: U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson on Thursday downplayed the urgency of vaccinating all Americans against Covid-19, putting the controversial Wisconsin Republican at odds with public health guidance aimed at easing the ongoing pandemic (CNN). "The science tells us that vaccines are 95% effective. So if you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not? I mean, what is it to you?" Johnson said in an interview with conservative radio host Vicki McKenna. "You got a vaccine, and science is telling you it's very, very effective. So why is this big push to make sure everybody gets a vaccine?" Johnson asked.

 

SPIKE COMING IN GROCERY PRICES: Corn, wheat, soybeans, vegetable oils: A small handful of commodities form the backbone of much of the world’s diet and they’re dramatically more expensive, flashing alarm signals for global shopping budgets (Bloomberg). This week, the Bloomberg Agriculture Spot Index — which tracks key farm products — surged the most in almost nine years, driven by a rally in crop futures. With global food prices already at the highest since mid-2014, this latest jump is being closely watched because staple crops are a ubiquitous influence on grocery shelves — from bread and pizza dough to meat and even soda.

 

AN ELECTRIC, SILENT HARLEY HOG ON THE MARKET: Picture an open-minded, climate-concerned Harley-Davidson fan. She can now travel about 100 miles on an almost-silent hog, the company’s new all-electric LiveWire motorcycle (Bloomberg). The LiveWire, however, costs $29,799. Its gas-powered proxy, the Iron 883, can be had for about one-third the price and still gets more than 50 miles to a gallon. It would take our progressive road warrior some 360,000 miles of fuel to cover the spread in sticker price—and to many, she won’t sound nearly as cool while doing it.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson: "The science tells us that vaccines are 95% effective. So if you have a vaccine, quite honestly, what do you care if your neighbor has one or not? I mean, what is it to you?"  How about protecting your family, friends and community, Sen. Johnson. - Brian A. Howey

 

Polls

 

FOX NEWS POLL FINDS BIDEN BORDER STRATEGY UNPOPULAR: By a stark 46-15 percent margin, voters say U.S. border security is worse today than it was two years ago, according to the latest Fox News survey. So it’s not surprising voters give President Biden his worst job ratings on border security and immigration. By an 18-point margin, more disapprove (52 percent) than approve (34 percent) of his performance on immigration. Views are nearly identical on border security, as just over half disapprove (51 percent vs. 35 percent approve). Biden’s best ratings come on coronavirus: 58 percent approve and 34 percent disapprove. His marks are lower on health care (48 percent approve, 37 percent disapprove), the economy (48-42), foreign policy (42-41), and guns (36-49).

 

BIDEN APPROVAL AT 52% IN ABC/POST POLL: President Biden nears the end of his first 100 days in office with a slight majority of Americans approving of his performance and supporting his major policy initiatives, but his approval rating is lower than any recent past presidents except Donald Trump, with potential warning signs ahead about his governing strategy, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. Overall, 52 percent of adults say they approve of the job Biden is doing, compared with 42 percent who disapprove. At this point in his presidency four years ago, Trump’s rating was nearly the reverse, with approval at 42 percent and disapproval at 53 percent. Overall, 34 percent of Americans say they strongly approve of Biden’s performance, compared with 35 percent who strongly disapprove. Biden receives the highest marks for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with 64 percent of adults — including 33 percent of Republicans — giving him positive ratings. His approval rating for his handling of the economy stands at 52 percent. But 53 percent say they disapprove of the way he has dealt with the immigration situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, a problem that has vexed his administration for much of its first months.

 

NBC POLL HAS BIDEN APPROVAL AT 53%: As President Joe Biden nears his 100th day in office, slightly more than half of Americans say they approve of his job performance. Biden gets his highest marks on handling the Covid-19 pandemic and his lowest on the situation at the southern border. Those are the results of a new national NBC News poll, which also found a public that’s largely supportive of Biden’s top legislative priorities; more optimistic about defeating the pandemic; and more bullish about the country’s direction than it was back in January. According to the poll, 53 percent of adults say they approve of Biden’s job as president — including 90 percent of Democrats, 61 percent of independents but just 9 percent of Republicans — while 39 percent of all respondents say they disapprove. “In a first-100-days poll, we change presidents, but we don’t change the country,” said McInturff, arguing that the poll doesn’t suggest profound changes in attitude about the nation’s direction and its politics.

 

70% AGREE WITH CHAUVIN VERDICT: In the wake of a former Minneapolis police officer’s murder conviction in the death of George Floyd, Americans overwhelming agree with the guilty verdict, but a majority believe politics influenced the outcome. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 70% of American Adults agree with the jury’s guilty verdict for Derek Chauvin, including 46% who Strongly Agree. Only 20% disagree with Chauvin’s conviction, including 7% who Strongly Disagree.

 

General Assembly

 

NURSING HOMES COULD BE PROTECTED FROM LIABILITY IF HOLCOMB SIGNS BILL: The video is difficult to watch. Sophie, an 88-year-old cancer survivor and great grandmother, screams out in pain as doctors remove portions of her scalp (Cook, IndyStar). The procedure, known as debridement, was necessary because of an infection during her stay as a resident at Addison Pointe, a nursing home in Chesterton. Her family, who asked their last name be withheld to protect Sophie's privacy, recorded the video and provided a copy to IndyStar. Recently passed legislation, now awaiting Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb's signature, could effectively block many claims of neglect and substandard care. House Bill 1002 would provide nursing homes and other health care providers with wide-ranging liability protections that go beyond the COVID-19 immunity lawmakers and Holcomb already granted Indiana businesses earlier this year.

 

LAWMAKERS NIX ALL HANDGUN CARRY PERMIT FEES: Lawmakers voted to nix all handgun carry permit fees as part of their massive two-year budget plan Thursday, just a week after the deadliest mass shooting in Indianapolis in 15 years (IndyStar). Meanwhile, attempts to strengthen gun control measures in the wake of the FedEx shooting failed in the waning days of the legislature. Lawmakers previously had made the five-year carry permits free. If Gov. Eric Holcomb signs the budget bill as expected, the $125 lifetime permits would also be free. Usually, some of that money goes toward local police training, so lawmakers back filled the financial loss for local communities in the budget. Those who already have purchased permits will not get their money back.

 

POVERTY PROGRAM BILL DIES: As the legislative session came to a close, lawmakers chose not to expand a program aimed at helping the state’s most impoverished families. Policy groups say a change is direly needed since Indiana’s benefits reach the fewest families of all Midwestern states (Hicks, Indiana Public Media). The bill, HB 1009, started in the House as a proposal to prevent income earned in worker training programs from counting against government benefits. But when it went to the Senate, lawmakers added to the bill, making it easier for families with children to qualify for a program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF. They also sought to increase the amount of cash assistance those families could receive. Indiana’s rules regulating the federal benefits were last updated in the 1980s and advocates say both eligibility and benefits have fallen far short of inflation.

 

Congress

 

WALORSKI WRITES BECCERRA ON BORDER CRISIS: As President Biden’s border crisis poses increasing challenges to America’s foster care system, Ways and Means Republicans this week called on Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Beccerra to provide a briefing for members to address their concerns (Howey Politics Indiana). The letter comes after Republican leaders asked the Biden Administration for an investigation into their concerns last week, and was signed by Top Ways and Means Republican Leader Kevin Brady (R-TX), Ways and Means Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Republican Leader Jackie Walorski (R-IN), and Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Republican Leader Mike Kelly (R-PA).

 

SPARTZ MEETS WITH LAWRENCE OFFICIALS: U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) participated in a roundtable hosted by local business and community leaders from the Greater Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, then traveled to the Lawrence Police Department to meet with Mayor Steve Collier, Chief of Police David Hofmann and other law enforcement officers (Howey Politics Indiana). During the business roundtable, the group provided valuable feedback on immigration, workforce and cybersecurity issues, and the conversations with the mayor and Lawrence Police Department centered on public safety initiatives and fiscal policy issues impacting the city of Lawrence. “I appreciate the leadership and service of Mayor Steve Collier, Chief of Police David Hofmann and the other members of the Lawrence Police Department, in addition to the strong engagement from the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce to continue driving progress in the city,” said Rep. Spartz. “I look forward to being a partner in advancing issues important to Lawrence.”

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SIGNS PREGNANCY ACCOMMODATION BILL - Gov. Eric Holcomb has signed an executive order directing state agencies to make reasonable adjustments to working conditions or hours to accommodate state employees' medical needs relating to pregnancy (Carden, NWI Times). A new state law signed by Holcomb also permits all workers in Indiana to ask their employer for pregnancy accommodations, but the employer is not required to provide any.

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SIGNS 13 BILLS - The governor signed 13 bills today. You can view more details at the 2021 Bill Watch webpage by clicking here.  

 

DNR: ABE MARTIN LODGE WING REOPENS - A portion of an inn at southern Indiana’s popular Brown County State Park has reopened following a complete renovation of its rooms that included outfitting them with large smart-screen televisions (AP). The 54-room east wing of Abe Martin Lodge recently reopened to visitors following the $4.5 million project by the Indiana Department of Administration and Indiana State Parks.

 

UTILITIES: 10-DIGIT DIALING REQUIRED IN 219, 574 AREA CODES - The switch from dialing seven digits for local calls to including the area code when dialing started Saturday in northern Indiana. People with land lines won’t need to dial a “1” before local calls, just the area code (Logansport Pharos-Tribune). And the extra numbers won’t add a long distance charge to local calls. The change is to make way for a new 988 emergency line, which will connect people directly to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. There’ll be a six-month grace period for people to adjust to it. Then on Oct. 24, it will be mandatory.

 

UTILITIES: ROCKPORT COAL PLANT TO BE RETIRED IN 2028 - One of Indiana’s largest coal plants is expected to close in the next seven years. Indiana Michigan Power had already planned to close half of the Rockport coal plant in Spencer County. But until now, the fate of the plant’s other half was up in the air (Thiele, Indiana Public Media). That’s because the other half of the plant wasn’t owned by the utility, but by a corporate financial services company called the Wilmington Trust Co. But this week, Indiana Michigan Power’s parent company — American Electric Power — said it would purchase that half of the plant so that both coal units can retire by 2028. Wendy Bredhold is the senior campaign representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Indiana and Kentucky — which welcomed I&M’s decision. “It's certainly — certainly required if we're going to mitigate the impacts of climate change and clean up the air quality in southwest Indiana," she said.

 

HISTORY: NEW KENNEDY-KING EXHIBIT OPENS -  The Kennedy King Memorial Initiative unveiled a new exhibit in the memorial's Cultural Visitors Center at the Martin Luther King Jr. Park, located at 601 E. 17th St., on Friday (WRTV). The Kennedy King Memorial commemorates the spot where Sen. Robert Kennedy first told a crowd at his presidential campaign rally in Indianapolis that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated on Apr. 4, 1968. The permanent exhibit, "Still We Reach," details the historic events surrounding Kennedy's famous speech, and also highlights the progress made by Black and African Americans for inclusion in Indy.

 

NBA: PACERS DEFEAT PISTONS - Malcolm Brogdon scored 26 points, Caris LeVert had 25 and the Indiana Pacers had a late 12-0 run to beat the Detroit Pistons 115-109 on Saturday night (AP). With the Pacers down 101-97 with 4:41 remaining, LeVert made a layup to start the run. Brogdon hit a 3-pointer and added a layup, with the latter making it 109-101 with 2:42 remaining. Edmond Sumner added 22 points for the Pacers. They swept the season series from the Pistons for the first time since 2016-17 and have won 10 of 12 at home against Detroit.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN ADDRESS WILL BE HISTORIC - For eight years, Joe Biden was a fixture at President Barack Obama’s addresses inside the House chamber, a near-constant part of the tableau. He winked. He pointed. He gripped the House speaker’s arm. He smiled, and he clapped with gusto (Washington Post). For 36 years before that, he often sat in the audience with his Senate colleagues. He twice gave a portion of the Democratic response to President Ronald Reagan. As one of the nation’s longest-serving politicians he has witnessed more speeches to a joint session of Congress than just about anyone. Next week, he will give one. He will have a historic backdrop: Two women, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Harris, for the first time will be in the immediate frame of the president — something Biden is planning to note at the beginning of his speech.

 

SCOTUS: BARRETT SELLS SOUTH BEND HOME - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett and her husband have sold their northern Indiana home to a University of Notre Dame professor as their large family prepares for a move to the Washington, D.C., area (AP). Jesse Barrett said he and the couple’s seven children plan to join Coney Barrett in the Washington area in time for the start of the coming school year, leaving their longtime South Bend home behind. The couple’s broker with Irish Realty, Pat McCullough, said the Barretts accepted a Notre Dame professor’s purchase offer within about two weeks of listing the brick, six-bedroom, 4,232-square-foot (393-square-meter) home for $899,900.

 

COVID: MILLIONS SKIPPING 2ND DOSE - Millions of Americans are not getting the second doses of their Covid-19 vaccines, and their ranks are growing (New York Times). More than five million people, or nearly 8 percent of those who got a first shot of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, have missed their second doses, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is more than double the rate among people who got inoculated in the first several weeks of the nationwide vaccine campaign. Even as the country wrestles with the problem of millions of people who are wary about getting vaccinated at all, local health authorities are confronting an emerging challenge of ensuring that those who do get inoculated are doing so fully.

 

MLB: MADRIGAL'S WALKOFF KEYS SOX OVER RANGERS 2-1 - Nick Madrigal doubled home the winning run in the ninth inning after Liam Hendriks allowed a tying homer in the top half, and the Chicago White Sox recovered to beat the Texas Rangers 2-1 on Saturday night (ESPN). Luis Robert led off the White Sox ninth with an infield single and advanced on Yasmani Grandal's sacrifice. Rookie phenom Yermín Mercedes was intentionally walked before Madrigal delivered the winning hit to right field off John King with two outs. "This game more than anything else is putting the ball in play," Chicago manager Tony La Russa said. "Just like Robert did to start there. What a great at-bat by him. He's got no fear. He loves those situations."

 

MLB: BREWERS DOWN CUBS 4-3 - Pinch-hitter Manny Piña connected for a tiebreaking two-run homer in the seventh inning, and the Milwaukee Brewers held off the Chicago Cubs for a 4-3 victory on Saturday (ESPN). Brent Suter (2-1) pitched two scoreless innings in relief of Freddy Peralta, helping Milwaukee to its fourth win in five games. Josh Hader got three outs for his fourth save in four opportunities, working around a leadoff walk.

 

MLB: CARDINALS DEFEAT REDS 2-0 - John Gant earned his first victory as a starter since 2018 by throwing six strong innings and the St. Louis Cardinals sent the Cincinnati Reds to their sixth straight loss, 2-0 on a rainy Saturday (ESPN). Andrew Knizner, subbing for injured catcher Yadier Molina, and Nolan Arenado each drove in a run. Dylan Carlson added three singles as St. Louis won a series for just the second time this season.

 

Campaigns

 

PROGRESSIVES DISAPPOINTED IN LOUISIANA SPECIAL ELECTION - Progressives suffered a disappointing setback on Saturday, after their favored candidate lost to a more establishment-aligned opponent in a special congressional election in Louisiana (Politico). State Sen. Troy Carter, who was backed by top leaders of the Congressional Black Caucus, beat state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson in a runoff to fill a vacant House seat that quickly turned into a turf war for sparring factions of the Democratic Party. He overcame more than a million dollars in outside spending backing Peterson to win, 56 percent to 44 percent, when The Associated Press called the race.

 

Sunday Talk

 

HARRIS SAYS MOST IMMIGRANTS DON'T WANT TO LEAVE HOME: Vice President Harris in an interview broadcast Sunday discussed her role in charge of the immigration crisis, saying her approach is based on the perspective that “most people don’t want to leave home.” “I come at this issue from the perspective that most people don't want to leave home,” Harris said on CNN's "State of the Union" when asked how she would define success in her role leading the Biden administration's efforts to stem the growing number of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. “They don't want to leave their grandparents; they don't want to leave the place where they grew up; where they, you know, they speak the language or they know the culture. The place where they're from the place that is home,” Harris continued. “Most people don't want to leave home and when they do, it's usually for one of two reasons: they're fleeing some harm or they cannot stay and satisfy the basic necessities of life.”

 

SEN. SCOTT ON POLICE REFORMS: Members of Congress need to work to bring people together on policing, not incite division, Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., said on "This Week." Scott told "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos "justice is never perfect," in response to the three guilty counts towards former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd. "We've got the best justice system in the world, and justice prevailed," Scott told Stephanopoulos. "I am disappointed that people like Maxine Waters and Joe Biden spoke about it before verdict, I think we ought to bring people together not sort of incite people to do the wrong thing, but it's horrible that it happened. I hope it never happens again."

 

SEN. GRAHAM SAYS AMERICA NOT A 'RACIST COUNTRY': Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday that the U.S. was not a racist country but faced racism in the form of "bad actors" following the guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer convicted of murdering George Floyd. During an interview with Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday," Graham explained that in his view, the U.S. was not a racist country and did not have racist "systems," but did face continuing challenges from some Americans who hold racist beliefs. "No, in my opinion...our systems are not racist," America is not a racist country," Graham told Wallace. "This attack on police and policing...reform the police yes, call them all racists no," he continued.

 

BASS SAYS QUALIFIED IMMUNITY SHIELDS BAD COPS: Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) said Sunday that she disagreed with a call from Republicans to preserve qualified immunity for individual police officers, which she said was shielding bad actors like Derek Chauvin from legal action. Bass, the lead sponsor of the House Democrats' police reform bill, said during an interview with "Fox News Sunday" that she would compromise on the issue "if Republicans can find another way" to hold individual officers accountable for their actions, while pointing to Chauvin's own past history of misconduct complaints. The California Democrat also responded to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) who minutes earlier on the show had declared that the U.S. is not a "racist country."

 

REP. MEIJER ON IMPEACH VOTE: Three months after voting to impeach President Donald Trump, freshman Rep. Peter Meijer sees plenty to be critical of on both sides of the aisle in Washington. Speaking Sunday on CNN's "Inside Politics With Abby Phillip," Meijer (R-Mich.) expressed disappointment both with Republican persistence in challenging the integrity of the 2020 election and the inability of Democrats to act in a bipartisan manner. Meijer was one of 10 Republicans to vote for impeachment in January, something that made him stand out in the GOP very soon after being sworn in — and a target of scorn within the party. He's already drawn a primary challenge for 2022 from Tom Norton, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and strong supporter of Trump. "I would say my goal is to not be a hypocrite," Meijer told Phillip. "To be able to call balls and strikes fairly and have a voice that is credible even if somebody might not have the same beliefs or agree on the political side."

 

Local

 

MICHIGAN CITY: UNIONS CALL FOR MAYOR PARRY TO RESIGN — On the heels of the fallout from the mayor’s racist statement last month, representatives from regional trade unions are questioning his ability to lead Michigan City for another reason (Smith, LaPorte Herald-Dispatch). But Mayor Duane Parry said Friday he’s been a “card-carrying member of the carpenter’s union” for more than 30 years, and they have no reason to be concerned.

 

MICHIGAN CITY: COUNCIL EYES SHORT-TERM RENTAL REGISTRY — The City Council is considering a plan to register homes used for short-term vacation rentals, but there are lots of questions to answer. The council plans a separate workshop to hash out details of how it would work in practice (Ross, NWI Times). Councilwoman Dalia Zygas, D-At-Large, said a proposed ordinance is a response to residents asking last fall, “How can we ensure we enjoy the summer as well?” Councilman Bryant Dabney said he and Police Chief Dion Campbell met with residents in the Canada neighborhood, near Washington Park, and listened to concerns about loud parties and other disruptive behavior. “We just want to make sure the residents, the permanent residents, have some quality of life” and aren’t disturbed by short-term renters, Dabney said.

 

ELKHART: COUNCILMAN OFFERS $500 REWARD IN SIGN THEFTS — A city councilman is offering a $500 reward to anyone who can provide information that leads to the conviction of people stealing yard signs encouraging people to vote no in the Elkhart Community Schools referendum on May 4 (Jorgensen, Elkhart Truth). “We’re missing quite a number of signs,” said Councilman David Henke, R-3, who is part of the Taxing Unit Responsibility and Demand PAC that opposes the proposed tax hike. “We’ve put several thousand dollars of our personal money to get an informed voter and get the message out, and obviously there’s an effort to take the signs down.”

 

COLUMBUS: COUNCIL CREATES TIF DISTRICT - Columbus has approved a resolution changing specifics in its Central Economic Development area, and is moving forward with plans to create a separate TIF district to fund a multifamily urban grocer development (Columbus Republic). The Columbus Redevelopment Commission has committed to contribute “land, cash and a bond to be valued at some $11.8 million” to the multifamily urban grocer project, which is estimated to cost about $40 million. City officials have said in the past that the development’s property tax dollars will go to repay the bond. The developer, Flaherty & Collins, will pay about 70% of the project cost.

 

BLOOMINGTON: OLIVER WINERY SOLD - Oliver Winery has been a staple in Bloomington and Monroe County since it opened in 1972. But, the employee-owned company since 2006 no longer belongs to its workers (AP). Oliver’s new owner is a Manhattan-based private equity firm, NexPhase. Details of the acquisition were not publicly available. The winery’s former owner Bill Oliver believes the deal benefits all employees, while helping the business compete in a market that has become increasingly aligned and corporate.

 

BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY: SCHOOLS TO GET $14M IN FED RELIEF FUNDS - Local public schools are set to receive more than $14.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds (Wiersema, Columbus Republic). The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) announced planning allocations for public schools under the third round of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding. For the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp., the planning allocation is $13,845,308.94. Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp.’s planning allocation is $737,448.46. These allocations are subject to change.