HOLCOMB VETOES E15 LABELING BILL: Gov. Eric Holcomb has vetoed a controversial E15 ethanol fuel labeling bill that sharply divided the Hoosier agriculture sector (Howey Politics Indiana). In a letter to Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray, Holcomb said, "I am vetoing SEA303 due to its requirement of a duplicative label at every pump that disperses E15 blends of fuel in the state. The EPA already mandates that all E15 pumps have a label clearly advising consumers of the possible implications of using the fuel in certain engines. I find this additional layer of government unnecessary and confusing." Holcomb said he does support a provision in SEA303 that "redefines gasohol and makes clear that E15 can be sold year-round in our state. I encourage the Indiana General Assembly codify this definition next year." According to Hoosier Ag Today's Gary Truitt, "For Holcomb, what makes this a no-win is that the ethanol industry wants him to veto the bill while the powerful ag lobby, including Indiana Farm Bureau, are urging passage. Indiana’s ethanol laws need to be updated. We still have laws on the books that referred to the fuel as 'gasohol'. Several fuel retailers in the state said it was embarrassing that they could not sell E15 fuel while several states around us could. The increase to a 15% blend requires no change in their fueling habits and has been proven to pose no problem for nearly all cars on the road today. Thus, the ethanol industry argues that a warning label is unnecessary. Yet, the Indiana General Assembly, which often places politics above sense, refused to pass the bill without the label requirement."


NEARLY A THIRD OF HOOSIERS HAVE BEEN VACCINATED: Nearly one-third of Indiana residents ages 16 and older have now been fully vaccinated for COVID-19, state health officials said Monday (AP). The Indiana Department of Health said that about 1.74 million Hoosiers — or 32% of Indiana’s roughly 5.3 million residents ages 16 and older — have been fully vaccinated, while 2.29 million first doses of vaccine have been administered statewide. People fully vaccinated have received a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The pace of the state’s vaccination efforts can be tracked on Indiana’s COVID-19 vaccine dashboard. Indiana officials made all state residents age 16 and older eligible for COVID-19 vaccines on March 31.


IU EXPERT URGES INDY500 TO RAPID TEST: Dr. Ana Bento is a population ecologist by training. Her research centers on creating mathematical models to understand the eco-evolutionary, demographic and environmental drivers of seasonal epidemics and re-emerging diseases (Benbow, IndyStar). Her publications are numerous and well-regarded in the doctoral world of epidemiology, written on topics such as vaccines, infectious diseases and, most recently, COVID-19. When Bento learned of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's plans to allow 40% capacity, about 135,000 fans, at May's Indy 500, one thought quickly popped into her mind. "I assume they are doing rapid testing," said Bento, a professor with the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at IU's School of Public Health in Bloomington. "It would be ideal for the Indy 500 because 40% is still a lot of people." "To be more safe, add a step where there is rapid testing on site … to make sure people are more certain they're not infected or not infectious," Bento said. "That would be a requirement that is kind of almost like a fail-safe."


BLACKWELL FAMILY RELEASES STATEMENT ON SAMARIA: The family of one of the youngest victim's in the FedEx mass shooting is laying the young woman to rest on Monday. Samaria Blackwell, 19, loved playing basketball and soccer to being a lifeguard for Indy Parks (WTHR-TV). On Monday, Samaria's father Jeff Blackwell released the following statement. "On behalf of our family I want to say thank you to all who have demonstrated such incredible love to our family the past 10 days or so. We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support. Your love has reached through the fog of our sorrow and has been felt. We covet your prayers going forward as well. Samaria was the baby of our family. We loved her with all our hearts and long for the day when we can see her again. We have hope because we believe in the promises of God, and while we cannot bring her back, we can go to her. Samaria recognized her need for a Savior, put her faith in Jesus Christ, and was baptized at a young age. The Bible says that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. The Scriptures also say that weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. We look forward to that joy, but until then we will honor Samaria's memory."


HOUSE GOP DIVIDED OVER JAN. 6 COMMISSION: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said it's imperative for Republicans to stay united if they want to take back the majority. But cracks are widening in his own relationship with one of his top deputies over former President Donald Trump. At a retreat meant to craft a cohesive message for the party, McCarthy (R-Calif.) and GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) illustrated the exact rift the GOP has fought to avoid (Politico). While the former president wasn’t even invited to the House GOP’s annual policy retreat here in the Sunshine State, his presence has loomed large over the three-day gathering. The California Republican also he’s privately approached Cheney about toning down some of her remarks. When asked whether Cheney has heeded the advice, McCarthy responded: “You be the judge.” Cheney — who was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump — publicly broke with McCarthy over the scope of a commission investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. McCarthy wants a broader scope that explores all kinds of political violence, including the protests that erupted last summer in response to police brutality. But Cheney has called for a different approach, arguing the commission needs to be tightly focused on Jan. 6. “If we minimize what happened on Jan. 6th and if we appease it, then we will be in a situation where every election cycle, you could potentially have another constitutional crisis,” Cheney said later in an interview with POLITICO. “If you get into a situation where we don't guarantee a peaceful transfer of power, we won't have learned the lessons of Jan. 6. And you can't bury our head in the sand. It matters hugely to the survival of the country.”


REPUBLICAN ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT FLUNKS MOST OF DELEGATION: A conservative, anti-Donald Trump political group aiming to hold Republicans accountable for its ideological shifts under the last president has given most sitting GOP members in the House and Senate an "F" score for their defense of democracy (Garbacz, KPC News). Northeast Indiana Rep. Jim Banks was one of the many who received a failing grade on the organization's metric, while Indiana Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun received more middling scores. The Republican Accountability Project, a project of the never-Trump Defending Democracy Together organization formed in 2019, scored Republican members of Congress on their actions during and following the 2020 election, in which Trump purported the election was stolen via massive voter fraud. Trump's claims were widely disproven and numerous legal cases filed by his lawyers were thrown out or defeated in courts for lack of merit. Banks received a "F" grade, with strikes in all four categories. Indiana's senators Young and Braun both received C-minus grades, getting positives for not signing the Texas brief and voting to certify results, but strikes for the public statement and impeachment categories. A total of 165 Republican members of Congress were given an F grade by the organization. Elsewhere in Indiana, Rep. Larry Bucshon also received a C-minus grade, while freshman Rep. Victoria Spartz received a D, Rep. Trey Hollingsworth scored a D-minus and Reps. Jim Baird, Greg Pence and Jackie Walorski joined Banks with F scores.


CHICAGO SUES INDIANA GUN SHOP OVER ILLEGAL FIREARMS: Attorneys for the city filed a lawsuit Monday against a Northwest Indiana gun shop alleging it has flouted federal gun laws for more than a decade, flooding the city with guns that are resold to those who cannot legally own them (Reese, NWI Times). The lawsuit against Westforth Sports Inc. in Calumet Township seeks a court order placing the gun shop under supervision for five years and requiring it to preserve records, train employees, assist in the recovery of illegally sold guns and post bonds that must be forfeited in the event of future violations. Chicago also is seeking damages to address the "nuisance" it alleges Westforth has created and for compensation for the city's expenses in addressing gun violence. More than 850 guns recovered after crimes in Chicago from 2009 to 2016 were traced back to Westforth, which consistently ranks as the "highest out-of-state supplier of crime guns in the city," Chicago's lawsuit says. Additionally, a review of illegal gun purchase prosecutions by the U.S. attorney's office for the Northern District of Indiana from December 2014 to April 2021 showed about 44% of cases involved sales at Westforth, the suit states. "These court documents show that Westforth is known to have sold at least 180 guns to at least 40 people later charged with federal crimes in connection with these purchases," the suit states.


RECORD QUARTER FOR RV SHIPMENTS: The RV Industry Association announced Monday that the first quarter of 2021 was the best-ever first quarter for wholesale RV shipments, as March — with more than 50,000 units shipped — was the best month of the year so far (Jorgensen, Elkhart Truth). That also meant this past March was the best-ever March for shipments, beating the record set in 2018 by more than 5 percent, according to the RVIA. 2018 also held the record for the best first quarter until now, but with 148,507 shipped units from January through March, that record was beaten by nearly 10 percent.


2 HOOSIERS WIN OSCARS: On Sunday night, stars showed up at Union Station in Los Angeles for the 93rd Academy Awards and by the end of the night two Hoosiers, who both went to the same high school, became Oscar winners (WTHR-TV). Mike Conley is a Hoosier, NBA player, Lawrence North High School graduate -- and now an Oscar winner. Conley and fellow NBA player, Kevin Durant, were the executive producers of "Two Distant Strangers." On Sunday night, the film won the Academy Award for best live-action short. Tiara Thomas, another Lawrence North graduate and a Ball State alumna, also won an Oscar on Sunday night. “Fight for You” from “Judas and the Black Messiah” won the Academy Award for best original song. The award went to songwriters Tiara Thomas, H.E.R., and Dernst Emile II.


HPI DAILY ANALYSIS:  We’ll be surveying the Indiana U.S. House delegation today on where our Members stand on the establishment of a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection. We’ll let you know where Members stack up in Thursday’s weekly HPI. - Brian A. Howey




INDIANA WILL KEEP ALL 9 CDs: Indiana’s population grew about 5% during the past decade to nearly 6.8 million residents and the state held onto its nine U.S. House seats, the U.S. Census Bureau announced Monday in the first release of data from the 2020 national headcount (AP). The census figures released Monday show that Indiana’s population grew 4.7% between 2010 and 2020, from about 6.5 million residents in 2010 to about 6.8 million in 2020, for a net gain of nearly 302,000 residents. Indiana lost one seat after the 2000 count, but held onto its nine congressional seats in 2010 and now in 2020. In 1910, Indiana had 13 House seats, but it lost one seat each in 1930, 1940, 1980 and 2000 as the nation’s population shifted.


SULLIVAN ANNOUNCES SHE WILL SEEK FULL TERM: Indiana Secretary of State Holli Sullivan announced her candidacy to seek election to a full term in office as Indiana Secretary of State at the upcoming Indiana Republican Party State Convention, scheduled for June 2022 in Indianapolis (Howey Politics Indiana). “I am running for Secretary of State to bring my proven record of conservative leadership to defend the integrity of Indiana’s elections,” Secretary Sullivan said. “Hoosiers deserve a Secretary of State who will fight for our future by standing up against an overreaching Federal government, and threats at home and abroad, to keep our elections safe. Indiana’s elections are free, fair, and secure. Now more than ever, we need leadership in the Secretary of State’s office to protect public trust in our democracy and Indiana’s record as a national leader in election security.”


CHENEY WON'T RULE OUT WHITE HOUSE RUN: House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney is not ruling out a potential presidential bid, The Post has learned (New York Post). “I’m not ruling anything in or out — I’ve been here a long time,” she told The Post when asked if she would ever consider running in the future. “I think we have a huge number of interesting candidates, but I think that we’re going to be in a good position to be able to take the White House. I do think that some of our candidates who led the charge, particularly the senators who led the unconstitutional charge, not to certify the election, you know, in my view  that’s disqualifying,” she said.


LGBTQ ACTIVISTS CRITICAL OF JENNER CANDIDACY: Though Caitlyn Jenner is one of the most famous transgender people in America, the announcement of her candidacy for California governor was greeted hostilely by one of the state’s largest LGBTQ-rights groups and by many trans activists around the country (NBC News). “Make no mistake: we can’t wait to elect a #trans governor of California,” tweeted the group, Equality California. “But @Caitlyn_Jenner spent years telling the #LGBTQ+ community to trust Donald Trump. We saw how that turned out. Now she wants us to trust her? Hard pass.” “Caitlyn Jenner is a deeply unqualified hack who doesn’t care about anyone but herself,” tweeted trans activist Charlotte Clymer. “Her views are terrible. She is a horrible candidate.”




FEWER THAN 25% WOULD TAKE J&J VAX: Fewer than 1 in 4 Americans not yet immunized against the coronavirus say they would be willing to get the vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll that finds broad mistrust of the shot’s safety after federal health officials paused its use. The nationwide survey shows that slightly fewer than half of U.S. adults overall say they consider the Johnson & Johnson vaccine very or somewhat safe after its use was halted this month following reports of rare, severe blood clots. The other two coronavirus vaccines authorized for emergency use in the United States, developed by Moderna and Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, elicit significantly greater public confidence. More than 7 in 10 people say they regard each of those to be very or somewhat safe, the poll finds.


MAJORITY SAY HARRIS UNQUALIFIED FOR PRESIDENCY: Most voters have an unfavorable impression of Vice President Kamala Harris, and GOP voters in particular doubt she is qualified to become president. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 51% of Likely U.S. Voters have an unfavorable impression of Harris, including 43% who have a Very Unfavorable impression of Joe Biden’s vice president. Forty-six percent (46%) of Likely Voters have a favorable impression of Harris, including 28% who have a Very Favorable view of her.




McCARTHY'S DARK PLACE: Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican leader, was in an uncharacteristically dark place. It was after the Capitol siege of Jan. 6, and he was getting pounded from all sides. He was being accused, accurately, of promoting President Donald J. Trump’s stolen-election lies (Leibovich, New York Times). But Mr. Trump was still enraged at him for not doing more, and his supporters had just ransacked Mr. McCarthy’s office. “This is the first time I think I’ve ever been depressed in this job,” Mr. McCarthy confided to his friend, Representative Patrick T. McHenry, Republican of North Carolina. “Patrick, man, I’m down, I’m just really down.” Mr. McHenry told him to gather himself. “You’re dazed,” Mr. McHenry said, recounting the exchange. “You have to try to think clearly.” As the end of the Trump presidency devolved into turmoil and violence, Mr. McCarthy faced a dilemma, one that has bedeviled his party for nearly five years: Should he cut Mr. Trump loose, as many Republicans were urging. Or should he keep trying to make it work with an ousted president who remains the most popular and motivating force inside the G.O.P.? Mr. McCarthy chose the latter, and not for the first time. His extravagant efforts to ingratiate himself with Mr. Trump have earned him a reputation for being an alpha lap-dog inside Mr. Trump’s kennel of acolytes. Nine days after Mr. Trump departed Washington, there was Mr. McCarthy paying a visit to Mar-a-Lago, the former president’s Florida estate, in an effort to “keep up a dialogue” with the volatile former president. “Kevin has unified the Republican conference more than John Boehner or Paul Ryan ever did," said U.S. Rep. Jim Banks. "He’s been to my district four times. My donors know him. They have his cell number. Kevin’s capacity to build and maintain relationships is not normal.”


CENSUS DATA SHOWS BIG GAINS FOR TEX, FLA: The U.S. Census Bureau will release the first results of its decennial survey on Monday after a decade of explosive growth in Sun Belt states that will shift power in the House of Representatives (The Hill). Acting Census Bureau Director Ron Jarmin will announce state population counts used to apportion House seats on Monday afternoon, the Census Bureau said early Monday. Texas is certain to be the big winner this year. The state added at least 4 million new residents in the last decade, more than any other, as residents flocked to Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and their respective suburbs, many of which were among the fastest growing areas in the country. Texas’s delegation in Congress is likely to grow by three seats, according to an analysis by the demographer Kimball Brace, who runs the nonpartisan firm Election Data Services. Florida is also likely to gain two seats after a decade in which its population topped 20 million for the first time. North Carolina, Arizona and Colorado are the other Sun Belt states set to add one seat each to their delegations. New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois are all expected to lose at least one seat each, continuing a losing streak those states started in the middle of the 20th century. West Virginia, Rhode Island, Michigan and Minnesota are expected to lose a seat each, as is Alabama, the only Southern state to see its delegation contract.


THE SENATE will meet at 10 a.m. It will take up the nominations of Jason Scott Miller for deputy OMB director for management and Janet McCabe for deputy EPA administrator, which could come to votes at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., respectively. Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon will testify before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee at 10 a.m. Zalmay Khalizad, special U.S. representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, will testify before the Foreign Relations Committee at 2:30 p.m. THE HOUSE is out.


General Assembly


PORTER COUNTY OFFICIAL IN DISPUTE WITH SOLIDAY: Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder said as a Republican who supports lower property taxes, he likes the concept behind newly approved state legislation aimed at protecting taxpayers from immediate hikes in land assessments following a successful appeal (Kasarda, NWI Times). But he is so concerned about the way it was carried out by state Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, that he is considering taking legal action. "Ed Soliday has continued to spread lies about me (to your paper and others), and I have met with local attorneys to ponder all of my legal options," Snyder said. "What he has accused me of, altering his sales disclosure form and stirring up trouble, is absolutely false." Part of what Snyder referred to was the discovery that Soliday had been claiming a homestead credit on two residences at the same time. The error was blamed on the county auditor's office, and Soliday later repaid the difference. "I’m not going to cheat for $9,000 as a public figure, my God," Soliday has said. Snyder said, "I had nothing to do with this whatsoever as he claimed to (another paper) and The Times. I do not believe the auditor made a mistake either."




GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SIGNS 15 BILLS, VETOS E15 BILL - Governor Holcomb signed 15 bills and vetoed one bill today. Click here to read the veto letter. You can view more details at the 2021 Bill Watch webpage by clicking here.


GOVERNOR: GROUPS LOBBY HOLCOMB TO VETO WETLANDS BILL - More than 100 groups are asking the governor to veto a bill that would remove protections for many of the state’s wetlands. They delivered a letter to Holcomb on Monday (Thiele, Indiana Public Media). The signatures include city leaders as well as groups representing environmentalists, wildlife advocates, hunters, and more. Senate Bill 389 removes protections for a whole class of smaller wetlands (known as Class I wetlands) and nixes some for another class of wetlands that the state considers somewhat “rare or ecologically important” (known as Class II wetlands). The Indiana Department of Environmental Management estimates more than half of the state's acres of wetlands are Class I wetlands and more than 30 percent are Class II. Supporters of the bill said Indiana’s current wetlands law is too strict — causing home prices to go up and creating conflicts between farmers and state environmental regulators. Jill Hoffmann is the executive director at The White River Alliance — which hosts the Indiana Water Summit. She said the state needs massive improvements to its water and stormwater infrastructure — and some parts of Indiana are in danger of running out of water in the future. “To lessen protections and to allow un-permitted impacts to one of the most critical parts of our water cycle — wetlands — at this point, is irresponsible and short sighted," she said.


GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB, IEDC LAUDS ECONOMIC LEGISLATION - The Indiana Economic Development Corp. is touting pro-growth legislation approved by the Indiana General Assembly during the recently completed session. The IEDC says the measures strengthen the state’s business-friendly environment. In addition to legislation to support post-COVID, small business growth, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law measures that spur venture capital investment and fuel advanced manufacturing (Mills, Inside Indiana Business). Lawmakers made changes to the Venture Capital Investment tax credit program aim to further spur venture capital activity by encouraging investments in minority- and women-owned Indiana businesses, expanding eligibility to Indiana investment funds, and increasing the annual program maximum from $12.5 million to $20 million. The IEDC says the creation of the Electric Vehicle Production Commission will help ensure that Indiana is prepared to play a leading role in advancing the growing industry. “We are building on Indiana’s momentum and positive economic indicators by investing in our people and places,” said Holcomb. “These historic, strategic investments in our local communities will provide an incredible opportunity to create a collaborative future. I want to thank Indiana lawmakers for joining me in making these priorities a reality.”


ISDH: MONDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health announced Monday that 702 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 715,468 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. To date, 12,870 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of five 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 3,363,801 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 3,361,013 on Sunday. A total of 9,657,616 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26, 2020.


EDUCATION: JENNER CITES 2 SCHOOLS - The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) congratulated Discovery Charter School in Porter and Paramount Brookside School in Indianapolis for being honored as U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools (Howey Politics Indiana). “By bringing together community partners and leveraging the environment around them, Discovery Charter School and Paramount Brookside School are providing an innovative approach to learning that promotes student creativity and inquiry,” said Dr. Katie Jenner, Indiana Secretary of Education. “These schools are fostering a unique hands-on environment that takes learning well beyond the classroom and is helping to develop Indiana’s critical-thinkers and problem-solvers of tomorrow.” Discovery Charter School and Paramount Brookside School are two of just 27 K-12 schools nationally receiving this honor, which recognizes innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. Across the country, the honorees also include three early learning centers, five districts and five postsecondary institutions.


DNR: FREE FISHING MAY 2 - The DNR is offering free admission to state parks, recreation areas, forests, and reservoirs on Sunday, May 2, which is also a Free Fishing Day (Howey Politics Indiana). On Free Fishing Days, all Indiana residents can fish the state’s public waters without a fishing license or trout/salmon stamp. All size and bag limits remain in effect.


DNR: FORT HARRISON 'SOLDIER THROUGH TIME' EXHIBIT MAY 1-2 - The Museum of 20th Century Warfare at Fort Harrison State Park will host a “Soldiers Through Time” re-enactment event on May 1 and 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Howey Politics Indiana). The event will feature exhibits, uniforms, and weapons used in different eras of warfare, from ancient Greek weaponry to items used in Vietnam. Self-guided tours will be offered, including a walkthrough of a WWI-style trench. Visitors will be able to speak with living historians about the era they represent. Parking for the event is in the Camp Glenn area near the museum and saddle barn. In the case of inclement weather, the re-enactors will display their items inside the recreation buildings located in Camp Glenn.


IU: WHITTEN BEGINS CAMPUS TOUR AT IUSB - Indiana University’s new president-elect, Pamela Whitten, began a tour of IU’s regional campuses in South Bend this week (Dicarlo, Indiana Public Media). Whitten comes to IU from Kennesaw State University in Georgia, where she’s been president since 2018. She kicked off her tour at IU’s South Bend campus, where she said she got her first chance to spend quality time with students. “They are going to be the center of the universe at IU,” Whitten said. “I’m looking forward to the chance to go ahead and dive in and figure out what we’re doing wonderfully for them and what we can improve.”


IU: KELLEY ONLINE MBA RATED NO. 2 - Two Hoosier universities are included in Fortune Education's inaugural list of The Best Online MBA Programs of 2021. The rankings are based on the results of questionnaires completed by schools, as well as data collected from companies and executives (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). The list is part of the launch of Fortune Education, which the publication says was created "to help readers develop skills and advance in their careers." Fortune Education says the list will be the first of six rankings to be published this year. The Kelley School of Business at Indiana University is the highest-ranked Indiana institution at No. 2. The University of Southern Indiana is the only other Hoosier school on the list at No. 22. The remaining top five on the list includes the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Southern California, and the University of Florida.


PURDUE: IN PERSON SPRING COMMENCEMENT - Some 5,500 commencement packets were put together Monday morning as Purdue prepares to hold its Spring Commencement in person. This will be the first time since the start of the pandemic the university will hold an in person graduation (WLFI-TV). Last year all commencements were virtual due to COVID. Senior Assistant for Registrar Christine Pass said commencement will be at Ross-Ade Stadium. "We first started our meetings in December with President Daniels and it was his directive. He really wanted us to have an in person ceremony," said Pass. "So he gave us a challenge to put together some ideas and present to him and he felt the Ross-Ade event would be really a good thing."


AUTOS: CHIP SHORTAGE HALTS SUBARU PRODUCTION - An ongoing shortage of semiconductor chips is causing automobile makers in Indiana to temporarily halt production. The problem is highlighting continued issues with the global supply chain (Indiana Public Media). Subaru of Indiana Automotive announced it is temporarily idling its Lafayette facility the last two weeks in April in response to the limited supply of semiconductor chips needed for vehicles. It’s expected to affect about 15,000 vehicles produced at the facility. The company won’t say how many workers are affected. Carol Handwerker, Purdue University materials engineering professor, said there are hundreds of chips needed for each car. “There are chips associated with the ignition, there are chips associated with all of the internal combustion engine; how it gets powered,” said Handwerker. “There are now chips that control the braking. So, they really are everywhere in the car.”


AGRICULTURE: COMMODITY PRICES UP, BUT SO IS NITROGEN - Prices for corn, soybeans and wheat took a major leap in the last week. May corn futures went up 60 cents and May soybean futures bounced 90 cents in just four days before a minor selloff Friday (Hoosier Ag Today). But on the cost side it is more expensive to farm this year. Input costs are up in a number of areas. Michael Langemeier, Associate Director of the Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture, says the primary short-term rise is in fertilizer. “Nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium have all increased in price relative to last year and if you combine those 3 fertilizer types and you look at corn breakeven, it’s increased the corn break even about 25 to 30 cents right now compared to what it would have been before the price increases. So, it’s a rather substantial increase in breakeven price short term. There’s also pressure on fuel costs and so we’re seeing some increases in fuel costs and that’s also adding a little bit but upward pressure on the breakeven price.”




WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN WILL SEEK PATH BACK TO NORMAL - President Joe Biden spent his first 100 days in office encouraging Americans to mask up and stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus. His task for the next 100 days will be to lay out the path back to normal (AP). When he entered office, Biden moved swiftly to overcome vaccine supply issues and more than tripled the country’s ability to administer them. But ending the coronavirus pandemic, the central challenge of his presidency, will require more than putting shots into arms — a task now growing more difficult as demand sags — but also a robust plan to help the nation emerge from a year of isolation, disruption and confusion. If Biden launched the nation onto a war footing against a virus that infected nearly 200,000 Americans in January and killed about 3,000 of them per day, the next months will be tantamount to winning the peace. Already, deaths are down to fewer than 700 per day and average daily cases are below 60,000. U.S. officials insist there is a long way to go before the country can be fully at ease, but the progress is marked. Going forward, success will mean finishing the nation’s herculean vaccination campaign — to date 43% of Americans have received at least one shot — overcoming lagging demand and communicating in clear terms what activities can be safely resumed by those who are vaccinated.


WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN ANNOUNCES 60M DOSES OF VACCINE TO OTHER COUNTRIES - The Biden administration on Monday announced that it will move to donate millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other countries, after pressure from lawmakers and experts (The Hill). The United States has millions of doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet authorized in the U.S., but is in other countries, and could play a key role amid worsening spikes in cases abroad, particularly in India. “U.S. to release 60 million Astra Zeneca doses to other countries as they become available,” tweeted White House senior adviser for the coronavirus response Andy Slavitt. "To everyone who understandably says: 'about time' or 'what were they waiting for', at this time there are still very few available. No real time has been lost," Slavitt continued.


WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN, HARRIS SCHEDULES - President Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 9:30 a.m. Biden will deliver remarks on the Covid-19 response at 1:15 p.m. on the North Lawn. VP Harris will participate in a virtual roundtable with representatives from Guatemalan community-based organizations at 4 p.m. The White House also announced that Harris will travel to Cincinnati this Friday. The White House Covid-19 response team and public health officials will brief at 12:30 p.m. Press secretary Jen Psaki will brief at 1:45 p.m.


JUSTICE: GARLAND ANNOUNCES PROBE OF LOUISVILLE PD - Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday announced an investigation into the policing practices of the Louisville Police Department (ABC News). It marks the department's second 'pattern or practice' investigation of a police force in the past five days alone. Garland made the announcement at the Justice Department Monday afternoon. The Louisville Police Department has faced heavy scrutiny over the past year following the police shooting of Breonna Taylor, a black emergency technician who was killed during a botched raid on her Kentucky apartment after three plainclothes officers entered her home while serving a no-knock warrant. Only one of the three officers involved in the raid has faced criminal charges.


JUSTICE: CAPITOL SIEGE 'UNPRECEDENTED' - America watched as hordes of rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol on January 6 — crushing through windows, pressing up stairways, and sending lawmakers and law enforcement running for their lives. The flood of protesters who streamed into the Capitol that day left federal authorities with an equally immense task: finding and charging those responsible (CBS News). The Department of Justice said last week that more than 410 defendants have been arrested since the attack, and the government wrote in a Thursday court filing that in addition to the 400 people who have already been charged, it expects to charge at least 100 more. Prosecutors have called the case "unprecedented" in scale, and the government said in a March court filing that the Capitol attack "is likely the most complex investigation ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice."


PENTAGON: IRANIAN DRONE BOATS TARGET SAUDI PORT - A remotely piloted boat packed with explosives targeted the Saudi port of Yanbu in the Red Sea on Tuesday, the kingdom said, with the blast sending black smoke into the sky off the coast (AP). Saudi Arabia claimed to have intercepted and destroyed the attack boat. However, private security firms suggested commercial traffic near the port may have been hit in the assault. Details remained scarce, but the incident comes after a series of attacks on shipping in the wider Mideast region amid a shadow war between Iran and Israel and against the backdrop of ongoing negotiations between Tehran and world powers over Iran’s tattered nuclear deal.


SCOTUS: KEY 2ND AMENDMENT CASE TO BE HEARD NEXT FALL - The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a challenge to restrictions on carrying firearms outside the home, teeing up a potentially landmark dispute over the scope of the Second Amendment (The Hill). In an unsigned order, the justices took up a bid by two gun owners and a New York affiliate of the National Rifle Association to challenge the state’s denial of their applications for concealed-carry licenses for self-defense. The case represents the first time the 6-3 conservative court will hear arguments over the nation’s long-running and fraught debate about gun rights in America. It will be heard next term, which begins in October.


MEDIA: OSCAR VIEWERSHIP PLUNGES - Fewer people watched the Academy Awards on Sunday night than at any time in the modern era, according to early numbers from Nielsen, with the audience plummeting 58 percent from a record-low total in 2020 to land at just 9.9 million (Washington Post). The drop is in keeping with other award shows during a pandemic time that has altered the nature of celebrity gatherings and stunted the rollout of nominated entertainment. The Golden Globes suffered a 63 percent viewership decline, while the Grammy Awards plunged 51 percent.


WEST VIRGINIA: GOV OFFERS SAVINGS BOND TO VACCINATE - People as young as 16 in West Virginia will receive a savings bond if they get vaccinated, Gov. Jim Justice announced during his Monday coronavirus briefing (WTRF-TV). The savings bond plan, which applies to people ages 16-35, is a bid to get more COVID-19 vaccine shots in arms in the state. “We can use CARES [Act] dollars to do exactly just this. We’re going to give every single one of these people, the people that have already stepped up, we’re going to give a $100 savings bond to every single one that takes their vaccines,” said Justice.


MLB: ATLANTA TOPS CUBS 8-7 - The Braves were eager to make up for their embarrassing performance the previous day. They brought in a little extra help. Call it the Power of Sage (ESPN). Atlanta scored four runs in the very first inning, Freddie Freeman added a three-run homer and Atlanta overcame a grand slam by Kris Bryant to beat the Chicago Cubs 8-7 Monday night.


MLB: CINCY DEFEATS DODGERS 5-3 - Jesse Winker's two-run homer in the 10th inning sent the Cincinnati Reds past the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 Monday night to snap a seven-game losing streak (ESPN). Winker led off the 10th by taking Kenley Jansen's slider over the wall in left field with Alex Blandino on second base after making the last out of the ninth. The Reds lead the majors with 34 home runs, including five by Winker, who tops the National League with a .382 batting average.




HAMMOND: BATTLE BREWING OVER 'F*** BIDEN' FLAG — A battle is brewing outside a tiny home adjacent to Riverside Park pitting the city's concern for public decency against an individual's right to free expression (Carden, NWI Times). On Monday, Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. vowed to send Hammond code enforcement officers to cite the homeowner for flying a flag in his front yard featuring "F--- Biden" in large type, and in smaller type: "And f--- you for voting for him!" The Democratic chief executive said city ordinances prohibit the display of obscene materials that are easily visible to the public, and McDermott said there's no question the flag can be viewed by anyone, including children and youth baseball teams, using the park.


FORT WAYNE: CROWD FLOODS NACS SCHOOL BOARD MEETING OVER MASKS, GAYS — Last week Northwest Allen County School board member Steve Bartkus made comments to suggest mask choice and sexual preference were comparable. Monday night he apologized (WANE-TV). “I greatly apologize from the bottom of my heart,” NACS board member Steve Bartkus said. “I hope we can keep moving forward and do what’s best for our children.” He had said, “People have a choice to be gay or straight, right? Some of the craziest things against God’s rules on this earth, we have a choice now. When do the parents get a choice here, and the children get a choice whether this is good for their family or their personal well-being because there’s a lot of families that are psychologically affected with this, physically affected with this.  I’m not saying masks don’t work, they do for some cases.” Bartkus made the comment at a question-and-answer meeting the school board held last week, inviting medical professionals to talk about the importance of wearing a mask. The comment left some parents and students upset and Monday night they showed up with signs and rainbow masks.


FORT WAYNE: SOUDER BOOK ON LOCAL TV OUT - Former congressman Mark Souder, and two retired news anchors partnered together to map out the timeline of television in 21Country. Together, they wrote “Television in Fort Wayne 1953 to 2018: A Look Back at 65 Year son Northeast Indiana History Through the Eye of the Television Camera & Stories of the People Who Covered It” (WPTA-TV). Souder says he’s always been savvy when it comes to using media to market. From his family’s country store, to campaigning as a congressman, he has a history of being behind, and in front of the camera. Souder's known for some time, he wanted to research and present the timeline of TV - from its inventor who lived in Fort Wayne, to present day - but for a while, it was only a seed of an ambitious and challenging idea. But to make it a reality, he would recruit friends, and former legacy news anchors Melissa Long, of WPTA, and Heather Herron, of WANE.


EVANSVILLE: COUNCIL APPROVES AFFORDABLE HOUSING - More affordable housing is coming to Evansville. The Evansville City Council approved a single-family project in the 1000 block of West Delaware. The council committed up to $150,000 from the City’s Affordable Housing fund (WFIE-TV). Executive Director of the Department of Metropolitan Development Kelley Coures explains these projects are vital to the city’s future. “It’s exactly how this is supposed to work. This is part of the larger strategy of removing non-productive, abandoned homes and putting in new homes and rental units for low to moderate-income people,” explained Coures.


GARY: CITY IS BACKGROUND FOR MORTAL KOMBAT SCENES: Region residents have speared, uppercut, ripped the spines out of and performed countless fatalities in Mortal Kombat games at local arcades and home consoles for decades (Pete, NWI Times). Now a Northwest Indiana city is an unlikely setting in the latest big-budget Hollywood movie adaption of the hyper-violent video game franchise. Gary – aka the Steel City, GI, the City of the Century – is one of the backdrops in the flick "Mortal Kombat" about the nefarious Outworld Emperor Shao Kahn seeking to invade the Earthrealm – a film in which mystical fighters shoot lasers from their eyes, teleport, breathe hellfire, create swords out of ice and stab an opponent with a dagger forged from their own frozen blood.


VALPARAISO: RV PARK NEAR DUNES SHOT DOWN — Plans for a controversial RV park in Pine Township near the Indiana Dunes National Park have been shot down. Property owner Trevin Fowler urged the Porter County Board of Zoning Appeals to decide recently, one way or the other, for the benefit on him and the neighbors who complained about his proposal (Ross, NWI Times). Fowler pitched the RV park as a needed service for visitors to Indiana Dunes National Park. Visitation has increased since the national park designation was given in February 2019. He said last month his company’s proposal has the support of Indiana Dunes National Park and Indiana Dunes Tourism. The National Park Service is considering bus transportation to nearby Kemil Beach, Fowler said. Fowler had originally planned for 44 berths for RVs but reduced it to 40 to allow for a playground and other amenities.


TIPTON: FD TRAINING PREP STUDENTS — Austin Owens on Saturday stood suited up in full firefighter gear, blasting water from a hose to put out an imaginary fire in a large, open yard near the Cicero Township Volunteer Fire Department (Kokomo Tribune). But soon, the fires won’t just be imaginary for the 18-year-old Tipton High School senior. In three weeks, right after graduating high school, he’ll be eligible to join up with with the volunteer department as a certified firefighter. And that’s thanks to the department’s junior firefighter program. For the last 15 years, Cicero Township, which encompasses the city of Tipton, has opened up the station to any high school student who wants hands-on training to prepare for a career in firefighting — or just a taste of what the profession is all about.


HENDRICKS COUNTY: APPLE TO BRING 500 JOBS - The executive director of the Hendricks County Economic Development Partnership says the addition of a new distribution center from Apple Inc.  will put more focus on an area that is building a reputation for logistics and e-commerce (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). Apple this morning announced plans to invest $100 million for the facility in Clayton, which will create nearly 500 jobs by the end of 2024. Brian Bilger says the fact that Atlanta-based Core5 Industrial Partners had a 1 million-square-foot spec building available is what attracted Apple to Clayton. "That whole corridor in [State Road] 39 and [Interstate] 70 is just exploding with e-commerce and it's been going on for some time with e-commerce and fulfillment, especially with the pandemic," said Bilger. "Having a name brand now, Apple, just shines a lot more light on it."


LaPORTE COUNTY: COMMISSIONERS EXPAND WHISTLEBLOWER PROTECTIONS — The LaPorte County Board of Commissioners has granted approval for an expanded whistleblower protection policy for county employees (LaPorte Herald-Dispatch). The Board last week approved a resolution that adds a new section to the county employee handbook regarding whistleblower protection for anyone filing valid complaints alleging waste, fraud or abuse of public resources, as well as gross abuse of authority.