INDIANA TO PILOT WORKPLACE MENTAL HEALTH INITIATIVE: Indiana is among seven states selected to pilot a federal initiative to increase employment for those experiencing mental health conditions. The Department of Labor is calling it the “ASPIRE” initiative, short for Advancing State Policy Integration for Recovery and Employment (Hicks, Indiana Public Media). The goal is to help people with mental health conditions get and stay in jobs where they’re paid competitive wages in a traditional workplace setting. Indiana won’t receive federal funding, but will receive “technical assistance” to carry out a statewide plan. The push will be led by the state’s Family and Social Services Administration and will marshal both public and private agencies across the state. FSSA said it will pursue a "individual placement and support" model for workers with mental health conditions and is updating a website with more information in coming weeks. Jennifer Sheehy, deputy assistant secretary at the Office of Disability Employment Policy, said many states applied, but reviewers were impressed that Indiana’s application viewed employment as a natural step in recovery. “It sounded like a very holistic approach to not only dealing with the person, but also within the state’s structures,” she said.


NEXT 100 DAYS WILL FIND BIDEN TAKING RISKS: President Biden spent his first 100 days trying to engineer the end of the coronavirus and the start of a job boom. The next 100 are more audacious and risky: Try to re-engineer the very fundamentals of America — inequality, voting rights and government's role in directing economic growth (Axios). Biden advisers feel they have a huge opening to raise taxes and pick winners in the energy markets, in part because Republicans and business no longer lock arms — and wallets — in opposition to the reordering of capitalism. People who talk regularly to Biden tell me he's brimming with FDR-like aspirations after early wins. "He wants to take an even bigger bite at the apple," said one confidant. "He has full confidence in himself." But friends say he's still very realistic — not cocky or grandiose.


BIDEN BLOWS PAST 100-DAY VAX GOAL: President Biden promised as president-elect to get 100 million coronavirus vaccine shots in American arms during his first 100 days in office; since taking office, he's more than doubled that goal — and more than a quarter of Americans are now fully vaccinated, (Axios). Not quite 1% were vaccinated when Biden took office, although the Trump administration managed to reach an important milestone of 1 million doses administered in a day. The Biden administration has since surpassed 4 million vaccine doses administered in a day three times, according to CDC data.


FAUCI SAYS J&J VACCINE WON'T IMPACT HESITANCY: Anthony Fauci said on Sunday that the pause in administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine won't have a negative impact on vaccine hesitancy. Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week” that the pause showed federal agencies were being thorough when it comes to safety of the vaccines. "I think, in the long run, what we're going to see, and we'll probably see it soon, is that people will realize that we take safety very seriously," Fauci told host George Stephanopoulos. "We're out there trying to combat the degree of vaccine hesitancy that still is out there. And one of the real reasons why people have hesitancy is concern about the safety of the vaccine."


GOTTLIEB SAYS HOSPITALIZATION DECLINE GOOD NEWS: Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on Sunday that recent declines in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are noteworthy and a possible signal for some restrictions to be relaxed. On CBS’s “Face the Nation,” host John Dickerson asked Gottlieb how he would respond to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky’s recent assessment that COVID-19 rates were looking “hopeful.” “I think we are seeing a hopeful trend across the country. Cases are clearly declining. The positivity rate is about 3.3 percent right now. Hospitalizations are falling as well, which is a good indication,” Gottlieb, who sits on the board of Pfizer, said. “Right now, the declines that we're seeing, we can take to the bank. I think we can feel more assured because they're being driven by vaccinations and greater levels of populationwide immunity, not just from vaccination but also from prior infection.”


COLUMBUS PD EXPLORES MEXICAN METH CARTEL: A Columbus body shop on the east side of the city had become the focus of “Operation Columbus Day” by early 2019. Local law enforcement shifted their attentions to a neighborhood south of State Street, where an informant had told them that individuals at a body shop there were living a double life and using the building for more than working on vehicles. During the day, the body shop, located at 312 S. Mapleton St., was like any other in town, the informant told police, according to federal court filings. But in the evening hours, it turned into a drug distribution center where “large amounts of methamphetamine” were being sold (McClure, Columbus Republic). Local law enforcement, along with the DEA and other agencies, had been investigating the distribution of methamphetamine in the Columbus area since early 2018 after an unusual spike in the local supply of the drug grabbed the attention of federal agents. So far, all signs for the origin of the drugs had pointed to the West Coast and eventually Mexico.


SOUTH BEND COUNCIL EYES BANNING INVASIVE SPECIES:  The state took a major step in 2019 when it banned the sale, transport, swapping, gifting or introduction of 44 invasive plants. A similar move was brewing in South Bend at the same time, but the group behind it, the city’s Ecological Advocacy Committee, noticed that 47 species were left off of the state list (Dits, South Bend Tribune). Among the skipped-over plants was the Bradford pear tree, whose profuse white blossoms now line busy streets by churches, businesses and even newly built city projects. Their young offspring, easily planted by birds who pluck the berries, often cluster themselves in nearby fields, an early bloomer that outcompetes native plants. On Monday, committee chairman Steve Sass and city parks officials hope to plug those gaps. When it meets at 7 p.m., the South Bend Common Council will hold a public hearing and vote on changes to city ordinances that would ban the wider list of land-based plants from being sold or planted in city limits. “We need to stop the inflow of things that are taking over,” Sass said.


HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: This will be a noteworthy week for President Biden, who addresses a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. He's more than doubled his 100 million dose of vaccine goal. The next 100 days will determine the fate of his infrastructure proposals and will go a long way to shaping the 2022 cycle dynamic. - Brian A. Howey




DNC CHAIR HARRISON TO KEYNOTE INDEM DINNER: We are excited to announce that DNC Chair Jaime Harrison will be joining us as our keynote speaker for our 2021 Hoosier Hospitality Dinner at 6 p.m. June 10 (Howey Politics Indiana). In 2013, Harrison was elected the first African American chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, a position he held until 2017, when he was appointed by DNC Chair Tom Perez as an Associate Chair of the DNC. Harrison’s 2020 Senate race built a national grassroots movement and setting a fundraising record for the most raised by a Senate candidate. Jaime was elected as the Chair of the DNC in early 2021 and we could not be more excited to hear from him during this party building year in Indiana. Get tickets by clicking here.




NBC POLL: 59% BACK BIDEN INFRASTURCUTRE PLAN - The NBC Poll shows 59 percent say President Biden's infrastructure plan — which would upgrade roads and bridges, expand broadband access and pay to care for the elderly and disabled — is a good idea, while 21 percent disagree; 19 percent don’t have an opinion. By party, 87 percent of Democrats, 68 percent of independents and 21 percent of Republicans support Biden’s infrastructure plan .A majority of Americans — 61 percent — say the worst is behind the United States when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic, while just 19 percent believe the worst is yet to come. That’s a significant reversal from the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll in October, when 55 percent of voters said the worst was yet to come, and when only 25 percent said the worst was behind the U.S. Democrats hold a 5-point advantage in congressional preference, with 47 percent of registered voters preferring a Democratic-controlled Congress, and with 42 percent preferring Republicans in charge. And former President Donald Trump’s favorable/unfavorable rating in the poll is 32 percent positive, 55 percent negative, while Biden’s score is 50 percent positive, 36 percent negative.


46% OF REPUBLICANS DON'T AGREE WITH CHAUVIN VERDICT: Three in four Americans think the jury reached the right verdict in which former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murder in the death of George Floyd, a majority view that spans across all racial, age and partisan groups in a CBS News/YougGov Poll. But 46% of Republicans say it was the wrong verdict while 54% say it was the right verdict. Some 90% of Democrats and 75% of independents back the verdict. Most White and Black Americans share the view that the jury reached the right verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer found guilty on all three counts in the death of George Floyd. Americans — both young and old —— within these racial groups agree with the verdict.  Reaction to the verdict among White Americans is largely related to partisanship. White Democrats overwhelmingly think the jury reached the right verdict, while White Republicans, like Republicans overall, are more divided. The smaller portion of Americans — 25% —  who believe the jury reached the wrong verdict strongly disagree with the ideas of the Black Lives Matter movement. This group is composed of more men than women, is disproportionately White and they mostly identify as conservative.


General Assembly


PROPERTY TAX OWNERS GAIN NEW PROTECTIONS: A Northwest Indiana lawmaker’s plan to save Hoosier property owners from the burden of successfully appealing their tax assessments year after year is set to become law after nearly being derailed amid a firestorm of controversy earlier this month (Carden, NWI Times). House Enrolled Act 1166, sponsored by state Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, bars a county assessor from immediately hiking a property tax assessment the property owner successfully challenged at the county or state assessment appeals board in the prior tax year. “It’s a simple bill that tries to say that if you’re going to have an appellate system it should mean something,” Soliday said. The legislation only applies to residential or commercial property with an assessed value of $3 million or less. A successfully challenged assessment also still can be revised if there are structural, zoning or use changes to the property, or the property is sold.


WHERE IMPORTANT BILLS STAND: Lawmakers finished up their work and left the Statehouse last week, for the most part concluding an unusual session. They'll be back, though, later this year to handle redistricting due to a delay in census data (Lange, IndyStar).  From boosting education spending in the budget to reining in the governor's emergency powers, he's the bill the lawmakers passed and the ones that failed to cross the finish line. Bills that passed:


State budget: Lawmakers overwhelmingly passed the two-year state budget on April 22, with a total of five lawmakers voting against the measure in both chambers. Nearly every Democrat voted for the $37.4 billion two-year budget drafted largely by Republican leaders. The final budget directed an astronomical $1.9 billion new dollars toward K-12 schools over the biennium, more than twice as much as originally proposed in earlier budget drafts. The money will fund major increases in tuition support for the state’s public schools, as well as massive expansions in private school choice programs. Gov. Eric Holcomb is expected to sign the budget.


Holcomb's emergency powers: Both the House and Senate voted to override Gov. Eric Holcomb's veto of a bill that would transfer some emergency powers from Holcomb to lawmakers. House Bill 1123 allows legislative leaders to make the call on whether to bring lawmakers back for a special session if Holcomb declares an emergency. Plus, the bill requires the General Assembly to decide how federal stimulus money is spent if lawmakers are in session, and if not, for that spending to be reviewed by the State Budget Committee.  Holcomb signed another bill on Thursday, April 22, that limits his rights during an emergency. Senate Bill 263 prohibits local governments and Holcomb from restricting the right to worship in-person during an emergency.


Protection of monuments: A bill that initially began as a move to protect monuments and statues from vandalism successfully made its way through the legislature to now include greater penalties for rioting. In its final form, SB 187 directs state police to prioritize the investigation of those who riot or incite violence, destroy monuments or destroy religious property.


De-escalation training for police: Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law April 1, House Bill 1006, which puts in statute requirements for police to be trained on de-escalation tactics and requires prospective employers to request an officer’s employment record from the officer’s previous agency. It also establishes a procedure allowing the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board to decertify an officer who commits misconduct, prohibits chokeholds under certain circumstances and criminally penalizes an officer who turns off a body-worn camera in an attempt to conceal criminal behavior. The bill also allots $70 million to repair and update the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy's training facility. Authored by Rep. Gregory Steuerwald, R-Danville, HB 1006 passed through both chambers with unanimous support.


Eliminating wetlands: A bill that initially would have repealed the state law protecting wetlands was amended to exempt certain wetlands from regulation in the state. Citing communication issues and high costs, supporters of this bill say it would remove red tape for developers and builders. But opponents of the bill worry it would open the door for destroying wetlands that environmentalists and engineers say are crucial for flood mitigation and groundwater stores. And considering Indiana has lost 85% of the wetlands it had a century ago, they fear it could further diminish a natural state habitat. The bill has been signed by the House Speaker and the Senate President Pro Tempore, but has not yet been signed by the Governor.


Abortion 'reversal': Under House Bill 1577 abortion clinics would have to provide information in writing about Progesterone, a drug some anti-abortion groups say can reverse medically-induced abortions, as long as a mother has only taken one of the two required abortion pills. Not everyone agrees the science behind the reversal pill is sound, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. House Bill 1577 also would require parents to take an additional step when they write to consent to their minor receiving an abortion: That consent would need to get notarized. The bill is on Holcomb's desk awaiting consideration. Even if he signs the bill, it's likely to be challenged in court.


Local COVID-19 restrictions: The final version of a bill that could make it more challenging for health departments such as the one in Marion County to keep planned COVID-19 restrictions in place passed both the House and Senate on Wednesday, April 21. Senate Bill 5 was amended to prohibit local health officials from implementing more stringent restrictions than the state during an emergency order, unless those restrictions are approved by either the local city council or county legislative body. The bill now heads to Holcomb's desk for consideration.


5G cell towers: A bill that would ultimately lessen restrictions on 5G cell poles just waits the governor's signature to successfully pass this session. House Bill 1164, sponsored by Rep. Ethan Manning, R-Denver, would limit a city’s ability to restrict poles. That’s bad news for Indianapolis, which has been using one complicated loophole to deny poles in various neighborhoods.


Overweight trucks: House Bill 1190, which would allow more overweight trucks on Indiana roadways, squeaked forward with a series of close votes on April 21, and will go to the governor's desk. The version of the bill that came out of conference committee dramatically reduced the number of issued permits — from 118,950 to 8,500 — and created a weight limit for trucks using those permits. It grandfathered in shippers and carriers who had permits before this year so they would not be subject to the new permit and weight limits.


Nursing home visitation: Senate Bill 202 is headed to Gov. Holcomb's desk after passing unanimously out of both chambers. The legislation would require health facilities to allow visitation by family caregivers during states of emergency. The proposed legislation would require affected health facilities, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities and now hospitals, to participate in an existing program that allows caregivers to visit and care for their loved ones.


BILLS THAT DIED: Here is a list of bills that died (Indy Star):


IndyGo bus rapid transit: IndyGo's bus rapid transit plans have survived another legislative session. Senate Bill 141, which jeopardized the system, died in a House committee earlier this month. Written by Indianapolis Republican Sen. Aaron Freeman, the bill would have created a penalty if IndyGo didn't meet certain revenue requirements. It also would have adjusted existing requirements and banned additional bus rapid transit lines if those requirements weren't met. Rep. Jim Pressel, R-Rolling Prairie, as chair of the House transportation committee, made a decision that ultimately killed the bill. Undeterred, Freeman later added language to House Bill 1191, a utilities bill written by Pressel, that would have forced IndyGo to reimburse utility companies for relocation work related to their projects. The amendment, which made it onto the bill, was retroactive, meaning IndyGo would have been on the hook for about $8 million for the already operating Red Line.


Police use of force: An amended version of Senate Bill 311, authored by Sen. Scott Baldwin, R-Noblesville, died when it did not receive a House committee hearing by the April 8 deadline. The original version of SB 311 aimed to prohibit municipalities from banning or restricting use of force options, like chokeholds. It also would have allowed officers to disregard the department's use of force continuum "based upon the officer's determination of what is reasonable and necessary under the totality of the circumstances."


Public safety budgets: A bill that aimed to limit when local governments can reduce public safety funding was defeated on the Senate floor Feb. 15. The bill, authored by Sens. Mike Bohacek, R-La Porte, and Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, died by a vote of 37-9.  A similar House Bill, HB 1327, authored by Rep. Jeff Ellington, R-Bloomington, was never scheduled for a committee hearing.


Police department administration: Senate Bill 394, authored by Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis, and Sen. Jack, Sandlin, R-Indianapolis, died in committee Feb. 16. The bill would have given police chiefs "the sole authority to make general or special orders to the police department establishing the department's procedures and policies, including use of force policy." The proposal was in response to Indianapolis' creation of a civilian-majority General Orders Review Board. Critics of that board say civilians aren't equipped to have such say in police department policy.


Law enforcement officer misconduct database: Authored by Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, Senate Bill 110 would have required the state’s law enforcement training board to create a misconduct database that gives the public access to information regarding disciplinary actions against police officers. An amended version of the bill died on the Senate floor.


IMPD oversight board: Senate Bill 168, which would have created a state oversight board for IMPD, was referred to summer study earlier this session. That means the bill, authored by Sen. Jack Sandlin, R-Indianapolis, and two other Republicans, won't get a chance to become law this session. The original proposal called for the governor to appoint four people to a board with controls over IMPD, with the mayor of Indianapolis serving as a fifth member. The board would "adopt, amend and enforce municipal ordinances, resolutions and rules pertaining to the administration of IMPD" as well as serve as the agency's merit board and appoint the police chief. An amendment changed who would appoint the board members, with the governor getting just one appointment, and one appointment each to the Senate president pro tempore, House speaker and the Indianapolis City-County Council president.


Renewables or fossil fuels: House Bill 1381 would have created some consistent standards for locating wind and solar projects across the state. The bill, which has received pushback from local officials in counties with more restrictive wind or solar ordinances, was substantially amended to address concerns from local government officials, but died in the Senate.


Obstructing police: A bill carrying heavier penalties for obstructing emergency vehicles has also died this session after failing to be heard by the House committee on Courts and Criminal Code ahead of the April 8 deadline.  Senate Bill 194 would have given a felony six charge to any person blocking an emergency vehicle. It applied to any vehicle using a visual or audible emergency signal, responding to an emergency call or in pursuit of a suspect. It also applied to people blocking the entry to a building that provides emergency medical services. The bill, proposed by Sen. Scott Baldwin, R-Noblesville, also carried a harsher level 5 felony sentence if the act causes catastrophic injury or death. The bill passed the Senate floor 45-2 on Feb. 2, with Democratic Sen. Jean Breaux and Sen. Lonnie Randolph voting against it.


Local prosecution powers: A bill that would have once again interfered with Marion County's new policy on prosecuting marijuana possession dies this session after failing to be heard by the House committee on Courts and Criminal Code. Senate Bill 200 allowed the state attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor if the local prosecutor refused to prosecute certain offenses. It's the second time the legislation has been proposed since Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced in 2019 that his office would no longer prosecute certain marijuana possession offenses. The bill passed the Senate 29-20 in February, with 10 Republicans joining Democrats in voting against.


'Constitutional carry': Republican Senate leaders declined to give a committee hearing to a so-called 'constitutional carry' bill that would have nixed carry permits for handguns in Indiana. That means the bill is dead.  Under House Bill 1369, the license would have been eliminated in March 2022. Certain offenders would have still been prohibited from carrying handguns. The bill would have required state police and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to develop a process to enable law enforcement to quickly check whether someone is prohibited from carrying a handgun. Money was included in the Senate's version of the budget to make the lifetime carry permit free.


City name changes: A proposal that would have made it more challenging for some cities to change their names is now dead after it never received a committee vote in the House Local Government committee. Senate Bill 130 would have required those interested in changing the name of cities named in Indiana's Constitution or Indiana Code to obtain a certain number of signatures on a petition. If a city's governing body wants to move forward, the question can be taken to voters as a public question on the ballot. The bill previously passed the Senate by a 36-11 vote.


Ballot access: A Republican-backed bill that would have made it more challenging for third party candidates to get on the ballot in Indiana died in February after it was pulled from the House calendar. House Speaker Todd Huston said the bill author thought it needed more work, and to not expect to see it again this session.  House Bill 1134 was written so narrowly it would have only applied to Libertarian candidates, based on past election results. The bill would have required candidates from parties that receive between 2% and 10% of the vote in the secretary of state race to acquire at least 4,500 petition signatures, including 500 from every Congressional district, to be included on the subsequent general election ballot for governor and U.S. Senate.




THE SENATE will meet at 3 p.m. to take up Jason Scott Miller nomination for deputy OMB director for management, with a vote to invoke cloture at 5:30 p.m. THE HOUSE is out this week, but House Republicans are in Orlando, Fla., for their annual retreat. The day’s lineup includes breakout sessions on how to work with the media, led by former White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, as well as an update on the effort to retake the House by NRCC Chair Tom Emmer (Minn.).




ISDH: SUNDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health announced Sunday that 832 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 714,786 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. To date, 12,864 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of four from the previous day. Another 410 probable deaths have been reported to date based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. A total of 3,361,013 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 3,357,565 on Saturday. A total of 9,646,086 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26, 2020.




WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN ACKNOWLEDGES ARMENIAN GENOCIDE - President Joe Biden on Saturday recognized the Armenian genocide, fulfilling a campaign promise and taking a step that his recent predecessors have avoided while in office (Politico). Biden’s designation, which coincided with Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, signals the president’s desire to prioritize human rights despite potential fallout in the U.S. relationship with Turkey. It comes 106 years after the beginning of the mass deportation of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, which led to the deaths of up to 1.5 million people. “The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide,” Biden said in a statement Saturday.


WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN, HARRIS SCHEDULES - President Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:50 a.m. VP Harris will host Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei for a virtual bilateral meeting at 4 p.m. Press secretary Jen Psaki will brief at noon. Biden will make remarks on the Covid-19 response Tuesday. He’ll deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. On Thursday, the president and first lady Jill Biden will mark his 100th day in office in Atlanta, where the president will participate in a drive-in car rally.


MEDIA: 'NOMADLAND' WINS BEST PICTURE OSCAR - Chloé Zhao’s “Nomadland,” a wistful portrait of itinerant lives on open roads across the American West, won best picture Sunday at the 93rd Academy Awards, where the China-born Zhao became the first woman of color to win best director and a historically diverse group of winners took home awards (AP). In the biggest surprise of a socially distanced Oscar ceremony held during the pandemic, best actor went to Anthony Hopkins for his performance in the dementia drama “The Father.” The award had been widely expected to go to Chadwick Boseman for his final performance in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” The night’s last award, it ended the ceremony on a down note, particularly since Hopkins wasn’t in attendance. Hours later, Hopkins made a belated victory speech from his Welsh homeland and paid tribute to Boseman, who he said was “taken from us far too early.”


MLB: BREWERS BLANK CUBS 6-0 - For eight innings Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field, a bases-loaded walk by Jake Arrieta in the first was all that separated the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers (Chicago Tribune). The Cubs’ hopes of a late comeback were derailed in the top of the ninth, however, with reliever Jason Adam on the mound. The first six Brewers reached base against Adam, sparking a five-run inning that put the game away in the Cubs’ 6-0 loss at Wrigley Field.


MLB: KOPECH FANS 10 AS CHISOX SWEEP TEXAS - Michael Kopech struck out a career-high 10 in just five innings, José Abreu homered and drove in three runs and the White Sox beat the Texas Rangers 8-4 Sunday for their season-high fourth straight win (AP). Kopech (2-0), making his second spot start in a week while pitching out of the bullpen, continued to impress after missing the 2019 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and the 2020 season for personal reasons. Kopech overpowered Rangers hitters with his 97 mph fastball.


MLB: CARDINALS BEAT REDS 5-2 - Tyler O'Neill homered twice and Jack Flaherty tossed seven sharp innings as the St. Louis Cardinals beat Cincinnati 5-2 Sunday, the Reds' seventh straight loss (EPSN). O'Neill, who came off the injured list on Friday after missing 13 games with a right groin strain, hit solo home runs in the second and fifth innings.


Sunday Talk


NIH DIRECTOR SEES J&J CLOTS 'EXTREMELY RARE': The director of the National Institutes for Health (NIH) said Sunday that the risk of a serious blood clotting issue posed by the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was truly rare, and disagreed with calls from some for it to not be administered to women. In an interview with "Meet the Press," Francis Collins was asked to respond to comments from Leana Wen, a CNN health contributor and former health commissioner for the city of Baltimore, who called for the J&J vaccine to not be administered to women under age 65. "I think she's in the minority compared to the decision that was put forward by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of [Centers for Disease Control], which met for an entire day on Friday and went over all of the data, documenting a total of some 13 cases of this rare form of blood-clotting out of some eight million doses of the J&J vaccine that had been administered," Collins said of Wen. "The strong conclusion of that group was that the vaccine should go forward. It should be made available to everybody," she continued.


DeWINE SEES CLEAR PATHWAY TO PD REFORM: Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) on Sunday said there is a "clear pathway" to moving forward on police reform in the country. During an appearance on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” DeWine told host John Dickerson he had put forth proposals in his own state to address the issue of policing, including providing more police training and giving police departments funding for body cameras. “John, I think there's a clear pathway in regard to police reform. I think there are things that we all can come together on, Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative,” DeWine told Dickerson. “We have a bill in front of the state legislature that we presented, for example, that calls for a lot more police training, more uniform police training.”


KLOBUCHAR SAYS CHOKEHOLDS MUST BE OUTLAWED: Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) said Sunday that aggressive police detention tactics such as chokeholds must be outlawed nationwide after a jury voted to convict Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, of murder and manslaughter after he knelt on George Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest. Klobuchar said on "Meet the Press" that such tactics cannot be considered acceptable uses of force in America, adding that Chauvin's conviction did not represent "true justice" for Floyd's family and community. "[T]o me, you cannot have true justice when chokeholds and knees on the neck are still being considered legitimate in some places," she said.


ELLISON SAYS FLOYD BEARS NO RESPONSIBILITY IN DEATH - Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said on Sunday that George Floyd bears no responsibility for his death. In an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired on Sunday, CBS’s Scott Pelley asked Ellison if Floyd, in his view, bears any responsibility for what happened the day in May 2020 that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nine minutes. Floyd was pronounced dead soon after. Ellison responded unequivocally, telling Pelley “No, he doesn’t.”


DEMINGS BACKS COLUMBUS PD OFFICER IN SHOOTING: Florida Rep. Val Demings (D) on Sunday said she thought the officer who fatally shot Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio “responded as he was trained to do,” based on the information she has seen so far. Demings told host John Dickerson on CBS's "Face the Nation" that when she was police chief in Orlando, Florida, she prayed that her officers would respond as they are trained to do. She said Bryant’s death was a “sad moment” for her, noting she had previously worked with foster children like Bryant as a social worker. “But I also was a patrol officer who was out there on the street having to make those split-second decisions. You know, now everybody has the benefit of slowing the video down and seizing the perfect moment. The officer on the street does not have that ability. He or she has to make those split-second decisions, and they're tough,” Demings said.


SEN. PAUL ASSAILS BIDEN BIPARTISANSHIP: Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) on Sunday hammered President Biden for his pledges to work for bipartisan unity, claiming that the president went back on his promises to govern with input from both sides. Speaking on "Sunday Morning Futures" on Fox News, Paul said that Biden was governing without seeking support from Republicans. "Well, you know, just a couple months ago, we were hearing from President Biden, the newly inaugurated President Biden, that he was going to unify the country, and then we were going to work together and have bipartisanship," Paul said. "I'm still waiting, Mr. President," the Kentucky senator continued. "I haven't seen any of that. I think what I have seen so far is it's Biden's way or the highway."


CAPITO WANTS TRUMP BACK IN 2024: Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va) said on Sunday that she hopes former President Trump "plays a role" in the 2022 and 2024 elections, though she refrained from saying whether she would support another presidential run by him. Dana Bash, host of CNN's "State of the Union," asked Capito if she would support a Trump 2024 presidential run, noting the senator had condemned his actions during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as "disgraceful." "Well, I think that is a really premature question. And I think Jan. 6 still is very vivid in many of us who were at the Capitol that day, in our minds, as a very sad day for our country," Capito said. "The Republican Party is strong. We have got a lot of folks who are not just looking to lead into 2022 but into 2024. So we will see. I hope that President Trump plays a role. I don't know whether he will run or not, but we can sort that out as time goes on."




FISHERS: DEMS PICK NEUMANN FOR VACANT COUNCIL SEAT - A caucus of Democratic precinct officials on Sunday chose Crystal Neumann to fill what remains of Samantha DeLong’s term on the Fishers City Council (Quinn, IBJ). DeLong, who was elected in 2019, announced earlier this month that she would be moving away from Fishers and would have to give up her seat as the North Central District representative. Her terms runs through 2023. Only two people ran in the caucus: Neumann and Chauna Leigh P. Holder. Neumann, a Latina and first generation American, currently serves as the assistant provost for the American College of Education in Indianapolis. She has a doctoral degree in business administration. She will be sworn into office at 6 p.m. Monday at Fishers City Hall.


TERRE HAUTE: MAN ARRESTED FOR LEAVING IED OUTSIDE PD — Police say a 50-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly leaving an improvised explosive device outside the Terre Haute Police Department (AP). Curtis T. Hogan of Terre Haute was booked into Vigo County Jail on Saturday on charges of possession of a destructive device and attempted arson. He’s being held without bond. Police say Hogan was identified after authorities posted information on social media with surveillance photos.


LAKE COUNTY: SHERIFF REBUKES COUNCIL OVER 3 ESCAPEES - In a rebuke of the Lake County Commissioners over the recent renewal of an electronic monitoring contract, Sheriff Oscar Martinez referenced three escapes that he says happened under the watch of the company that was awarded the contract (Ortiz, NWI Times). In each of the instances, which occurred between April 2019 and September 2019, Martinez said the escaped offenders who were on court-supervised release committed serious crimes. The discord between the sheriff's office and the monitoring company has been longstanding. In May 2019, Martinez barred the monitor ankle bracelet company, ICU Monitoring Inc., and its employees from entering Lake County Jail after two escapes in which the detainees were on court-supervised release and wearing GPS ankle bracelets monitored by the Merrillville-based company.


WARRICK COUNTY: ELECTION BOARD CONSIDERS NEW MACHINES - The next time you vote again in Warrick County, it could look a little different (Costello, WFIE-TV). This comes as the Warrick County Election Board is considering changes that officials say could make it more convenient for voters. Officials want to stress this proposed plan is currently in the very early stages. No decisions have been made. It’s only an idea right now for voting centers in Warrick County. County officials say they are exploring the possibility of vote centers for election years, instead of assigned precincts. “This is very early in the planning process,” Andrew Skinner, president of Warrick County Election Board said. “No plans yet are set in stone, or whether or not it’s even going to happen. But the county election board has formed a committee made up of various elected officials, volunteers in past elections. And in order to explore the concept for Warrick County, does it make sense for Warrick County, and if so, how would it look for Warrick County?”