HOLCOMB FILES SUIT OVER HEA1123: Gov. Eric J. Holcomb asked a trial court judge to find key provisions of HEA 1123 unconstitutional and to issue a permanent injunction to prevent them from being used (Howey Politics Indiana). “I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the State of Indiana and I have an obligation do so. This filing is about the future of the executive branch and all the Governors who will serve long after I’m gone,” Gov. Holcomb said of the action filed in Marion County Circuit Court. Click here to read the lawsuit. Holcomb vetoed HEA 1123 on April 9. Click here to read the Governor’s veto letter. The House and Senate overrode the veto on April 15. “We are in consultation with the Indiana Attorney General’s Office on what the next steps will be in this matter,” Speaker Todd Huston said.

 

ROKITA STATEMENT ON HOLCOMB SUIT: Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita suggested on Tuesday that Gov. Holcomb had no authority to file the suit (Howey Politics Indiana. In a statement, Rokita said, "Under Indiana law, only the attorney general may determine and advocate the legal position of all of state government. And that exclusive authority exists for good reason—so that Indiana speaks in court with a single legal voice. In creating the Office of the Attorney General, the General Assembly resolved precisely this sort of situation—where two parts of the state government disagree on a legal question. And as the Indiana Supreme Court recognized more than forty years ago, the Attorney General exists to resolve such disagreements and “to establish a general legal policy for State agencies.” State ex rel. Sendak v. Marion Cty. Superior Ct., 268 Ind. 3, 6–7, 373 N.E.2d 145, 148 (1978). In declining to authorize outside counsel to represent the Governor here, the Office of the Attorney General is not beset by a conflict of interest but is instead fulfilling its core purpose—setting a single, unified legal position for the State as a whole. The Indiana Supreme Court has also held that no state agency or office holder may file a declaratory judgment action. Allowing state agencies to resort to the judicial system for review of every statute passed would foster legislative irresponsibility and unnecessarily overburden the courts into issuing, essentially, advisory opinions." Rachel Hoffmeyer, the governor’s press secretary, acknowledged that Rokita denied the governor’s request to hire outside counsel (Weaver, IBJ). “We believe under the unique circumstance of this situation that his approval is not necessary,” Hoffmeyer said in an email. “The positions taken by the attorney general were known, discussed and fully evaluated. Gov. Holcomb made it known that he and his legal team disagreed with those positions which will be decided by the court.”

 

HOLCOMB SIGNS BILL DECLARING RELIGION 'ESSENTIAL SERVICES': Indiana will begin recognizing religious activities as essential services and prohibiting most restrictions on them during a declared emergency, under a bill signed into law by Governor Eric Holcomb last week (WTHR-TV). The governor's signature on Senate Bill 263, means religious activities will be considered essential beginning July 1. Under the new law, the state can't impose restrictions on any religious organization that are more restrictive than those imposed on other essential businesses and organizations. The new law also doesn't allow the state or an officer or employee of the state to restrict people's right to worship or to worship in person during a disaster emergency. The law is meant to make it so the state government and its agencies can't discriminate against religious organizations during a public health emergency. “I hope it’s another 500 years before we ever have another disaster...like what our state and nation have experienced this last year,” Sen. Eric Koch (R-Bedford) said. “But should that arise, this should protect that very enshrined right in our Constitution.”

 

SULLIVAN CAMPAIGN VIOLATES ELECTION LAW: The appointed official tasked with overseeing elections and campaign finance is under fire from the Indiana Libertarian Party for breaking an election law when she announced her 2022 campaign for secretary of state in a Facebook video on Monday (Lange & Harvey, IndyStar). Holli Sullivan, who was appointed to the role by Gov. Eric Holcomb earlier this year, solicited donations for her campaign, according to a screenshot provided by the Indiana Libertarian Party. Under Indiana law, state elected officials and lawmakers cannot do that during a budget-crafting year until lawmakers adjourn from their session. The problem is, the legislature technically hasn't adjourned. Typically, it would have. But because lawmakers are expecting to come back to handle redistricting this fall, legislators did not officially adjourn after passing the budget. Lawmakers anticipated the quirk in this year's session — and passed a bill at the tail end of the legislative session attempting to address this very problem. Under House Bill 1372, lawmakers and state officials could resume fundraising after April 29 of this year only. Holcomb signed that bill on Monday April 26 — but even so, Sullivan would have still started fundraising too early to be protected under the new legislation. "After review of changes made to Indiana campaign finance law during this legislative session, the Committee to Elect Holli Sullivan has determined that it made an improper solicitation of campaign funds," the statement read. "These public solicitations have been removed and all contributions have been returned."

 

INDIANA HOSPITALIZATIONS HIGHEST SINCE FEBRUARY: Indiana’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have reached their highest level since mid-February following a weekslong general upward trend that began in late March (AP). The Indiana Department of Health’s latest COVID-19 tracking update showed that Indiana’s hospitals were treating 955 people for coronavirus illnesses as of Monday. That’s the highest level since they had 966 COVID-19 patients on Feb. 17. Indiana’s COVID-19 hospitalizations had dropped below 600 for several days in middle to late March, reaching a recent low of 548 patients on March 21. But those hospitalizations have since increased about 74%, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard. Indiana’s daily average of coronavirus-related deaths, meanwhile, has remained below 10 since mid-March after peaking at more than 100 a day in December. As of Monday, Indiana’s daily average of coronavirus-related deaths stood at four.

 

ELKHART COUNTY HOSPITALS AT CAPACITY; COMMISSIONERS TO END MANDATE: The Elkhart County mask mandate and limitations on event capacities will end if Gov. Eric Holcomb signs S.B. 5, a bill that would move power to implement restrictions from the county health officer to the county Board of Commissioners (Jorgensen, Elkhart Truth). The commissioners informed Health Officer Dr. Bethany Wait that they intend to end the restrictions when that bill is signed, or if a veto is overridden. There would be no further coronavirus-related restrictions in the county at that point. "Whatever the state's going to do, we're going to follow," said Commissioner Frank Lucchese, R-1.The risk of death is indeed much lower than it was before vaccinations began. But Dr. Michelle Bache, Elkhart General Hospital's vice president of medical affairs is concerned with the recent increase in infections and hospitalizations. Both Elkhart General and Goshen Hospital are at capacity, and the number of COVID-19 inpatients at Elkhart General increased by 68 percent in a week (Elkhart Truth). "Today, we are approaching inpatient numbers that haven't been seen since the very beginning of the year," Bache said. Elkhart General's normal capacity is 144 inpatients, but Tuesday's inpatient census was 184. Not counting patients in the childbirth or psychiatric units, the number is 154, according to Bache. The normal capacity is 144.

 

CDC REVISES OUTDOOR MASK MANDATES: People who are fully vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus don’t need to wear face masks when walking, hiking, biking, running alone or at small outdoor gatherings, federal health officials said, taking a major step to ease pandemic restrictions while encouraging more people to get shots (Wall Street Journal). The same applies to dining at a restaurant outside, and to small outdoor gatherings that include some unvaccinated people, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. Yet vaccinated people should still wear masks in public settings indoors and outdoors where there is a substantial risk of Covid-19 transmission, such as concerts, sporting events and other crowded gatherings, the CDC said. The fully vaccinated should also wear masks at indoor gatherings with unvaccinated people, visits to a barber, hair salon, shopping mall, museum, movie theater or crowded house of worship. Vaccinated people should also wear masks if singing in an indoor chorus, the CDC said.

 

BIDEN TO OFFER PRESCHOOL FOR 5 MILLION KIDS TONIGHT: President Joe Biden will call for free preschool for all three- and four-year-old children, a $200 billion investment to be rolled out as part of his sweeping American Families Plan being unveiled Wednesday in an address to Congress at 9 (ET) tonight (AP). The administration said the historic investment would benefit 5 million children and save the average family $13,000. It calls for providing federal funds to help the states offer preschool, with teachers and other employees earning $15 an hour. “These investments will give American children a head start and pave the way for the best-educated generation in U.S. history,” the administration said. The new details are part of Biden’s $1 trillion-plus package, an ambitious next phase of his massive infrastructure investment program, this one focused on so-called human infrastructure—child care, health care, education and other core aspects of the household architecture that undergird everyday life for countless Americans.

 

1.5M WOMEN MISSING FROM WORKFORCE: Liz Anthony is one of millions of American moms whose ties to the workforce have been weakened by the pandemic. When her older daughters’ schools closed last spring because of Covid-19, Ms. Anthony, a self-employed public-relations consultant, closed her business indefinitely (Wall Street Journal). In March 2021, almost 1.5 million fewer moms of school-aged children were actively working than in February 2020, according to Misty Heggeness, principal economist and senior adviser at the Census Bureau. During the depths of last year’s economic crisis, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show, women’s participation in the workforce fell to levels not seen since the mid-1980s.

 

INDIANA'S POPULATION GROWTH SLOWING: Indiana’s population growth rate was slower over the past decade compared to the previous 20 years, according to census analysis from the Indiana Business Research Center at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business (Mills, Inside Indiana Business). On Monday, the U.S. Census Bureau released initial results of the 2020 census that shows the state’s population has grown by nearly 302,000 people over the past 10 years, an increase of 4.7% from the 2010 census. The research center says the newest headcount shows Indiana’s pace of population change this decade falls short of the state’s growth rate of 6.6% during the 2000s and 9.7% in the 1990s. “We expect to slow down just by virtue of the fact that our population is aging,” said Matt Kinghorn, senior demographic analyst at the Indiana Business Research Center. The IBRC is part of a national network of state data centers and works on behalf of the U.S. Census Bureau. “We're seeing a pretty stark decline in fertility rates, we're seeing slower migration to the state, and we're even seeing rising mortality rates. When we look at all the forces of population change, Indiana's kind of facing headwinds,” said Kinghorn.

 

REAL ID REQUIREMENT FOR AIR TRAVEL DELAYED 2 YEARS: Americans will have two more years to obtain a Real ID driver’s license or identification card, the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday (IBJ). U.S. air travelers will be required to present the Real ID credential to board a domestic flight beginning May 3, 2023. Implementation was scheduled to take effect in October. Postponing the enforcement of the last phase of the Real ID Act will give motor vehicle departments across the nation more time to process the new credentials after many were closed or reduced services because of the coronavirus pandemic. Less than half of Americans with a license and state identification card have a Real ID-compliant document, generally identifiable by a star in the upper-right corner.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Gov. Holcomb's executive power limits were tested in the Yergy's State Road BBQ, LLC vs. Wells County Health Department case recently. But in the Yergy's case, Attorney General Rokita took a very different position because he must represent the state's position. You can tell Rokita is very concerned about how the Yergy's case affects his standing with strident conservatives. This latest legislative dustup gives him a chance to better appeal to the political Right, but with Yergy's still out there, he will struggle to thread that needle. More on this in Thursday’s weekly Howey Politics Indiana. Look for it around 9 a.m. Thursday. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

INDEMS COMMENT ON HOLCOMB LAWSUIT: The Indiana Democratic Party issued the following statement (Howey Politics Indiana): "The Indiana Democratic Party has spent the last 100 days helping President Joe Biden pass the American Rescue Plan and get Indiana safely out of COVID-19. Looks like the Indiana Republican Party is continuing with their intraparty civil war that's done nothing but harm the state in the process." - Drew Anderson, spokesman for the Indiana Democratic Party.

 

INDEMS SAY VETERANS WILL BENEFIT FROM BIDEN PLAN:  The Indiana Democratic Party implored the Indiana Republican Party to support President Joe Biden’s upcoming American Jobs Plan (AJP) because of the new opportunity it would bring for Indiana’s veterans and all of those who serve (Howey Politics Indiana). The Jobs Plan is a once-in-a-century chance to improve the future of Indiana, and it would follow the popular American Rescue Plan that is already being used by the Indiana Republican Party to create better futures for Hoosiers across the state (despite their opposition to ARP and unwillingness to talk about the law in public). More than 400,000 veterans call Indiana home, including about 7.6-percent who are women. And with about 46-percent of Hoosier veterans over the age of 65, now is the time to invest in our nation’s healthcare infrastructure so that world-class, state-of-the-art care is available through the Veterans Affairs (VA) system. The American Jobs Plan will make these investments by allocating about $18 billion for facility improvements and other infrastructure needs to help those who fought for the freedoms our nation enjoys. 

 

DuBOIS REPUBLICAN SWITCHES TO LIBERTARIAN PARTY: Adrian Engelberth worked with the Republican Party in Dubois County for nearly a decade before he realized it wasn’t what he wanted (Stephenson, DuBois County Herald). As the head of the Freedom Makers of Dubois County for years, Engelberth has always considered himself someone who has always fought for individual freedoms. So when he received a call last August from Micah Haynes, who represents the Eighth District of the Libertarian Party of Indiana, and was asked to be a county affiliate, he took the opportunity. “I have been in the Republican Party as the precinct committee person pretty much straight from 2011 until 2019. And after working in the Republican Party for years, I realized it was not changing for the better,” Engelberth said. “Locally, there are good people who are Republicans. It’s nothing against the people. But at the state and national level, the direction the Republican Party was taking really didn’t follow what I wanted.” In the 2020 general election for Indiana Governor, candidate Donald Rainwater received about 11% of the votes, making him the most successful Libertarian to run for office in Indiana in the past two decades. “You’re seeing it at the state level that well over a third of the people are registered as Independents,” Engelberth said. “We feel that we represent them … This isn’t just something that we’re making up because there was good success in one election. We’re a growing party, and we’re here to stay.”

 

Polls

 

MORNING CONSULT ON BIDEN'S FIRST 100 DAYS: President Biden earned relatively high marks from both independents and members of his own party through 100 days in office, a new poll conducted by POLITICO and Morning Consult shows, but the president has yet to impress Republicans despite his promises of bipartisanship on the campaign trail and in office. Eighty-five percent of Democrats polled gave Biden an “A” or “B” grade for his first 100 days in office, while 44 percent of independents surveyed gave Biden the same marks. That’s more independent and intraparty support for Biden than former President Donald Trump got in his first 100 days, when just 32 percent of independents surveyed and 72 percent of Republicans polled gave Trump either an "A" or a "B".

 

ABC/WP REVEALS PANDEMIC LEFT 25% OF WOMEN WORSE OFF: Women and people of color are the most likely to say they are financially worse off today than before the pandemic began, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, underscoring the struggles many Americans are still facing even as the broader economy shows signs of improvement. A quarter of women say their family’s financial situation is worse today than before the coronavirus-related shutdowns began in March 2020, compared to 18 percent of men, the poll finds. And 27 percent of non-Whites say they are worse off now vs. 18 percent of Whites.

 

Congress

 

SENATE CONFIRMS McCABE FOR EPA: The U.S. Senate confirmed Hoosier Janet McCabe to be deputy administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday (Bowman, IndyStar). President Joe Biden nominated McCabe for the position in January. That means she will serve as the No. 2 under the agency's incoming leader Michael Regan, who was nominated for his experience as top environmental regulator for North Carolina. In a time of partisan politics, McCabe was confirmed in a 52-42 vote. Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) joined most Democrats to vote for her nomination. Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) was the only Democrat to vote against. McCabe, an environmental law and policy expert at Indiana University's McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis, previously worked at the EPA under former President Barack Obama with a focus on air quality.

 

BRAUN URGES VACCINATION: Health officials say a national trend is leaving even local COVID-19 vaccine clinics with open appointments at the end of the day. They say younger people aren’t as eager to sign up for a shot, which is slowing down vaccination efforts. Indiana Senator Mike Braun weighed in during an interview with 14 News (Johnson, WFIE-TV). ”It is a personal decision. It’s a private one, but you should get the vaccination, because until many people get that, along with those who have gotten the disease naturally, we’re not going to get this in the rearview mirror,” said Braun.

 

BRAUN ON RED FLAG LAW: U.S. Sen. Mike Braun also spoke about the state’s red flag law. It’s been nearly two week since the mass shooting at an Indianapolis FedEx facility (WFIE-TV). Braun says every time we have a mass shooting it brings up the question - should the government be able to do more to restrict gun rights? “When it comes to red flag laws or anything, if, and I think all gun owners are going to mostly agree with this, keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and criminals, but don’t do anything that’s going to infringe that right of self-defense of the second amendment. That’s a tricky straddle,” Braun said.

 

YOUNG DISCUSSES ENDLESS FRONTIER ACT WITH WPOST: In an interview today with Washington Post Live, Sen. Todd C. Young discussed why the Endless Frontier Act, a bipartisan effort to preserve America’s global leadership by making bold investments in the research, development and manufacturing of critical technology, is needed, investments in tech startups around the country, whether the U.S. should boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics and more. On why the Endless Frontier Act is needed now: “The Endless Frontier Act is in response to China’s very significant investments…things like AI, quantum computing, genomics. If we’re going to outgrow, out-innovate and ultimately outcompete the Chinese Communist Party and ensure that our values prevail and are defended, as are our allies and partners’ in the 21st century, then it’s essential that we invest in these areas.”

 

BANKS TROUBLED BY KERRY ACCUSATION: United States Climate Envoy John Kerry is being accused of leaking classified information to Iran while he was Secretary of State in the Obama administration. Republicans in Congress have been quick to call for President Biden to remove Kerry from his current position over the claims. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is making the claim that in a leaked audio recording, Kerry told him that Israel made military strikes against 200 Iranian targets in Syria, which Kerry has denied doing (Darling, WIBC). “I can tell you that this story and these allegations are unequivocally false,” Kerry wrote in a tweet. “This never happened — either when I was Secretary of State or since.” Indiana Congressman Jim Banks (R) says he doesn’t believe Kerry’s denial and that Biden should revoke his security clearance. “I don’t believe John Kerry,” Banks said to Tony Katz Today. “I mean, if you listen to the recording, this an off-the-record conversation. He has no incentive to lie about what John Kerry told him. This is deeply troubling on many levels. If John Kerry sold out our biggest ally, in that being Israel and their safety, then John Kerry should be removed from this administration.”

 

WALORSKI CALLS FOR TARIFF RELIEF: U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today led a bipartisan group of more than 100 members of Congress in urging U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai to provide targeted relief to American businesses by establishing a product exclusion process for Section 301 tariffs (Howey Politics Indiana). “While we strongly support tough and effective action to address China’s unfair trade practices, we believe that there must be a meaningful opportunity for American companies to petition for relief from tariffs,” the members wrote. “Many U.S. companies are eager to move supply chains out of China for a variety of reasons and began seeking reliable alternative suppliers over the last several years. However, in many instances those efforts were crippled by travel disruptions and global economic turmoil prompted by COVID-19, particularly for smaller U.S. businesses that do not have a global footprint. U.S. employers need more time to adapt.”

 

SPARTZ TO ATTEND BIDEN ADDRESS: U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) will attend President Joe Biden's joint address to Congress on Wednesday and released the following statement (Howey Politics Indiana): "I am very disappointed with the current environment in Washington D.C. and the first 100 days of the Biden Administration. Our country is in need of real policy solutions to many domestic and foreign challenges. I hope the President outlines how he is planning to lead and govern our divided nation and set the tone of collaboration from the top. I also want to remind our current President of the warning from our first President in his farewell address in 1796 against “ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. I look forward to the joint address tomorrow."

 

McCARTHY DODGES CHENEY LEADERSHIP QUESTION: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy refused to say Tuesday whether Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming should be on the Republican leadership team, a renewed sign of internal strife that began during former President Donald Trump's impeachment (NBC News). Cheney, who is the third highest-ranking Republican in the House, voted to impeach Trump earlier this year, prompting calls from some fellow Republicans that she be removed from her leadership post. She defeated the challenge in February and kept the position. Cheney has become one of Trump's loudest Republican critics and voted to impeach him for his role in the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the capitol. Speaking Tuesday at a retreat for House Republicans in Orlando, Florida, McCarthy punted on the issue of Cheney's future with the leadership team. “That’s a question for the conference,” McCarthy said when asked if Cheney was a "good fit" for the leadership team.

 

THE SENATE will meet at 10 a.m. and vote on a motion to invoke cloture on the nomination of Samantha Power to be USAID administrator at 12:30 p.m. Ustr Katherine Tai will testify before an Appropriations subcommittee at 9:30 a.m. The Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Ketanji Brown Jackson for the D.C. Circuit and other judicial nominations at 10 a.m. The Commerce Committee will vote on Bill Nelson  nomination as NASA administrator at 10 a.m.

 

THE HOUSE will meet at 6 p.m. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh will testify before an Appropriations subcommittee at 10 a.m. Hawaii Gov. David Ige will testify at a Homeland Security subcommittee hearing on DHS preparedness grant programs at noon.

 

General Assembly

 

EXTENDED SESSION CREATING LEGAL SCRUTINY: State officials and a former Indiana Supreme Court justice are raising concerns that a law to extend rather than adjourn the 2021 session blurs the separation of powers and could have “dangerous” implications for the future (Columbus Republic). The Indiana General Assembly passed House Bill 1372 late in the session with little discussion or opposition, extending the legislative session until Nov. 15. The coronavirus pandemic postponed 2020 census results and the change was necessary in order to vote on election redistricting in the fall, proponents say. Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill on Monday. Now some worry the unusual move could set a precedent for a full-time Legislature, and others wonder about lawmakers fundraising while technically still in session, which is typically not allowed. Frank Sullivan, former Indiana Supreme Court justice and professor at Indiana University’s Robert H. McKinney School of Law, said by extending the session now, legislators may find themselves not wanting to give their newfound power back later. “This principle that used to be sacrosanct has been abandoned, at least in the short run,” Sullivan said. “And it will be interesting to see whether the genie can ever be put back in the bottle or the mercury back in the vial.” During a media availability Thursday, House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, said he and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, wanted to hear the term “sine die” to adjourn the session more than anyone. “This will not be a historical precedent because we desperately look forward to hearing those two words in the future,” Huston said.

 

GiaQUINTA STATEMENT ON HOLCOMB LAWSUIT: House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) released the following statement regarding Governor Holcomb's decision to file a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of HEA 1123 (Howey Politics Indiana): "It's a real shame that we have to use taxpayer dollars to resolve these needless power struggles," GiaQuinta said. "Too many times, we have watched as our colleagues across the aisle have forced through legislation with questionable constitutionality. It's yet another symptom of the Republican infighting we've been seeing all session. House Democrats voted 'no' on this bill because we believe in prioritizing Hoosiers' safety over political attacks. When there are too many cooks in the kitchen, decisions take longer to make, and when we're talking about public health emergencies we don't have time to waste. The governor is more than capable of holding this responsibility and I am disappointed we have come to this yet again."

 

IBLC CELEBRATES SESSION ACHIEVEMENTS: The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) celebrated their achievements from the 2021 Legislative Session, including passing law enforcement reform, quality health care and economic development legislation (Howey Politics Indiana). Last summer, the IBLC announced their Justice Reform Agenda, which outlined legislation they planned to file and advocate for in the 2021 Legislative Session. Included in the agenda were House Enrolled Act 1006, which passed through the General Assembly with overwhelming bipartisan support, and State Rep. Robin Shackleford's (D-Indianapolis) Traffic Amnesty Program, which was successfully extended for another year through House Enrolled Act 1199. "Advocacy truly works," Shackleford, who also serves as Chair of the IBLC, said. "The IBLC would like to thank the advocates and allies who fought to make these reforms possible. The passage of HEA 1006 has instilled us with confidence and hope for a more just future. We still have a long road ahead of us, but we are walking shoulder to shoulder with our communities and advocates and we can create change."

 

LINDAUER'S TELEHEALTH BILL BECOMES LAW: Legislation expanding telehealth services for Hoosiers and cutting red tape for health care providers is now law, according to State Rep. Shane Lindauer, R-Jasper (DuBois County Herald). Lindauer, sponsor of the bill, said when the pandemic began, the governor issued an executive order to allow health care providers to utilize telehealth options when providing medical care to Hoosiers. According to Indiana University Health, their doctors have conducted about 80,000 telemedicine visits this year, which is a 10,000% increase since the pandemic began in March 2020. This bill ensures that the expansion of virtual services remains permanent, so Hoosiers can continue to access health care providers remotely. "Through the use of telehealth, the health care field saw an increase in patients keeping and attending their appointments," Lindauer said. "Expanding telehealth has removed barriers for Hoosiers, and many have been able to see their providers without having to worry about receiving transportation to the office or taking off work for in-person visits." According to Lindauer, the legislation incorporates a list of 28 providers that are allowed to use telehealth services, including dentists, physicians, veterinarians, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, nurses and more.

 

CORRECTION: HEA1009 DIDN'T DIE - Due to a media source error, the April 25 edition of the HPI Daily Wire  reported that HEA1009 died. According to Andi Sommers, press aide to State Rep. Chuck Goodrich, "The House and Senate adopted the conference committee report on April 20 and is now awaiting signatures from ... Gov. Holcomb." Sommers also said the Indiana Public Media  report described the bill wrong. "HEA 1009 would allow a Hoosier who is 24 years old or younger and resides in a home receiving TANF, could earn up to $15,000 and not impact their family's TANF eligibility. Goodrich said this would incentivize students from low-income families to pursue a college degree or workforce certificate, or participate in a pre-apprenticeship or apprenticeship program. This legislation also increases the state's Earned Income Tax Credit to 10%, which could put more than $11 million back into the hands of low-income working families each year."

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SIGNS 1 BILL -  Governor Holcomb signed one bill Tuesday. You can view more details at the 2021 Bill Watch webpage by clicking here.

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SCHEDULE -  Below find Gov. Eric J. Holcomb’s public schedule for April 28, 2021. Economic Development Announcement in Princeton, Gov. Holcomb and Toyota Motor Manufacturing Indiana Executives, 10:30 a.m. CST, Wednesday, April 28, Toyota Indiana Experience Center, 4000 S. Tulip Tree Drive, Princeton. The governor will give remarks.

 

COVID: STATE OFFERS J&J, MODERNA VAX AT SPEEDWAY - Hoosiers seeking free COVID-19 vaccines can receive either the Pfizer or Johnson and Johnson vaccine today through Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and beginning today at the mass vaccination clinic at the former Roosevelt High School in Gary (Howey Politics Indiana). The Indiana Department of Health is making both vaccines available at the two mass vaccination sites so that Hoosiers have a choice about which vaccine they receive. “We want to give Hoosiers every opportunity possible to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “All three vaccines are safe and effective, but we recognize that some Hoosiers might have a preference for a specific manufacturer. Providing options at these sites can help people who might be on the fence make that life-saving choice to get vaccinated and help us all put this pandemic behind us.”

 

COVID: LILLY EARNINGS DOWN AFTER DEMAND SLIPS - Eli Lilly fell well short of Wall Street’s first-quarter expectations, and the drugmaker chopped the top end of its earnings forecast due to lower demand for COVID-19 treatments (AP). Shares of the Indianapolis company started sliding early Tuesday morning. Lilly said it now expects 2021 adjusted earnings to range from $7.80 to $8 per share after predicting in late January a range of $7.75 to $8.40. Analysts forecast, on average, earnings of $8.24 per share, according to FactSet. Lilly pulled in $810 million in the quarter from sales of COVID-19 treatments and expects to bring in as much as $1.5 billion from the drugs this year. But the company also said it changed its adjusted earnings outlook mainly due to lower expected demand for the treatments and higher research and development costs.

 

INSURANCE: MEDICAL CALCULATOR SITE AVAILABLE - The Indiana Department of Insurance wants Hoosiers to know about a helpful tool they may use when taking advantage of the Special Enrollment Period for health insurance on the Federal Affordable Care Act Exchanges on HealthCare.gov (Howey Politics Indiana). The Health Insurance Marketplace Calculator, developed by the Kaiser Family Foundation, will estimate health insurance premiums and subsidies for people purchasing marketplace coverage. You can find the Health Insurance Marketplace Calculator on the Indiana Department of Insurance Open Enrollment Fact Sheet web page, along with information you should know to get coverage for 2021. With the calculator, you can enter your income, age, and family size to estimate your eligibility for subsidies and how much you could spend on health insurance. You can also use the calculator to estimate your eligibility for Medicaid. As eligibility requirements may vary by state, please contact your state's Medicaid office or a local Indiana Navigator for Marketplace enrollment questions

 

IU: WHITTEN VISITS IUNW - Indiana University Northwest’s campus is full of springtime promise. Trees are in bloom, and manicured lawns are green. Only the student body is missing. COVID-19 restrictions have left this commuter campus’ parking lot, its classroom hallways and outdoor paths nearly empty (Dolan, NWI Times). IU recently announced its fall 2021 semester will be conducted in a nearly normal, in-person way. Pamela Whitten, IU's first female president, will navigate this most unseasonable period in this regional campus’ 60-plus year history. “IUN is hungry and ready,” she said. “We are serving students to make them successful, providing ground-breaking research, economic development and be an important partner with the state of Indiana in economic development and persuading a developing workforce to stay in Indiana.” She spoke Monday at a media roundtable discussion at IUN's Arts and Sciences building's Resource Center.

 

IU: WHITTEN TOURS IUK - Incoming IU President Whitten spoke highly of IU’s commitment to its students. She’s seen it in Bloomington and said it’s prevalent at the regional campuses too. Kokomo was no different (Kokomo Tribune). A meeting with faculty showed how dedicated the university branch is to a “very tailored, individualized education,” Whitten said. “They’re deeply committed to their students,” she added. IUK Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke said she’s looking forward to working with the new president. “She shares our philosophy that student success is the most important part of our mission, and shows great support for our regional campuses,” the chancellor said in a statement. “I am happy we had the opportunity to showcase the great initiatives happening at IU Kokomo, and we are excited about the future.”

 

IU: WHITTEN AT IUEAST - New Indiana University President-elect Pamela Whitten visited the Indiana University East campus Tuesday morning as partof her three-day tour of the school's five regional campuses (Martin, Richmond Palladium-Item). IU East was the fourth stop for Whitten, as she met with media members in the Vivian Auditorium and then with others involved with the university outside of Whitewater Hall. She discussed topics ranging from her desire to join IU, her past professional experience and her impressions of the regional campuses so far. "I am struck by how impressive and beautiful the facilities are at all the regional campuses I've visited so far ... the resources that are available for students are top-notch, Whitten said. "More importantly, I'm so impressed by the programs that are available for students, the range of things that they can study, the access to experiences they can have ... the one thing that has been common so far is really just a deep commitment to students. Without exception, it is about serving students, and the passion and the commitment and, frankly, the excitement you hear from everyone that I've spoken to on the campuses, it's just palpable and that's wonderful because that's who we're here for."

 

BUSINESS: EQUALITY COALITION LAUDS 3 INDIANA CORPORATIONS - The Business Coalition for the Equality Act announced it has grown to include more than 400 major U.S. corporations (including three major Indiana businesses) calling for the urgent passage of the Equality Act (Howey Politics Indiana). The federal legislation that would modernize our nation’s civil rights laws by including explicit protections for LGBTQ people, as well as improve protections for women, people of color, and people of all faiths. The announcement signals unprecedented support for the Equality Act among America’s business leaders, who join a majority of Americans, hundreds of members of Congress, hundreds of advocacy organizations, and more than 60 business associations — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers — in endorsing the federal legislation. Indiana corporations that have joined the coalition include Eli Lilly and Company, Cummins Inc. and Zimmer Biomet Holdings Inc. They employ 92,506 people across the state, have three headquarters in the state, and generate $50.2 billion in annual revenue for Indiana.

 

MEDIA: NEWSPAPER UNIONS PRESS GANNETT ON WAGE GAPS - Journalists at the Indianapolis Star and the South Bend Tribune are criticizing corporate owner Gannett for race and gender pay gaps. They say the disparities were uncovered when 14 unionized papers analyzed combined wage data to publish a nationwide study (Hicks, Indiana Public Media). The Newsguild-Communications Workers of America union says nationally, Gannett paid long-time female employees a median salary of about $27,000 less than their male counterparts. Meanwhile, journalists of color reported median earnings 10 percent less than White journalists. At the Indianapolis Star alone, women journalists made 80 percent of men's median salary – a difference of about $12,000 – while workers of color made 97 percent of their White peers' pay. The South Bend Tribune union found its male journalists made more than $6,000 more than female writers. Both newspapers had staff that were more White than the communities they cover.

 

NBA: PORTLAND DRUBS PACERS - Anfernee Simons delivered the knockout flurry for Portland on Tuesday. His teammates and coaches enjoyed watching it. Simons made his first nine 3-pointers, finished with 27 points and helped the Portland Trail Blazers snap a season-high, five-game losing streak with a 133-112 rout at Indiana (AP). “After the first 3 I made in the second half, I knew it was going to be a good night for me,” Simons said. “After that, I felt like it didn’t matter who was contesting or how close they were, I knew it was going to go in.”

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN NOMINATES SHERIFF FOR ICE - After migration at the southern border skyrocketed and became a major crisis for the Biden administration, the Harris County, Texas, sheriff has been nominated to become director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ABC News). Ed Gonzalez, a Democrat, was re-elected for a second term as sheriff in 2020 but will now move into the Biden administration to tackle a major challenge. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that announcing Gonzalez's nomination Tuesday shows it was a "priority." "The president looks forward to having someone in place in this position and it certainly indicates a priority that we've put it out today," she told reporters in a briefing that was in progress when the list of nominees was released.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN SEEKS TO BEEF UP IRS ENFORCEMENT - President Biden is expected to propose giving the Internal Revenue Service an extra $80 billion and more authority over the next 10 years as he looks for ways to raise money to pay for his economic agenda, according to two people familiar with the plan (New York Times). Mr. Biden is expected to propose beefing up the I.R.S. to crack down on individuals and corporations that evade paying federal taxes. He will use the recouped tax funds to help pay for the cost of his American Families Plan, which he will detail before addressing a joint session of Congress on Wednesday.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN RAISES FED CONTRACT WORKER WAGES - Although U.S. President Joe Biden was unable to get a $15 minimum wage provision included in his COVID-19 relief package, he's making good on that campaign promise for one group of people: federal contract workers (ABC News). Biden will sign an executive order on Tuesday increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour for hundreds of thousands of people who are working on federal contracts.  However, the raise won't kick in immediately. The executive order states that all federal agencies will need to implement the $15 minimum wage in new contracts by March 30, 2022. It's difficult to amend existing contracts, but wages can be changed when they are up for annual review.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN SCHEDULE - President Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10 a.m. Biden will address a joint session of Congress at 9 p.m. (ET) at the Capitol.

 

CDC: GUIDELINES ON VACCINE FOR PREGNANT WOMEN - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday there is "growing evidence" about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy, and it reiterated its guidance on vaccinations for pregnant people, after it was asked to clarify a remark the CDC director made Friday about the recommendation (CBS News). "If facing decisions about whether to receive a COVID-19 vaccine while pregnant, people should consider risk of exposure to COVID-19, the increased risk of severe infection while pregnant, the known benefits of vaccination, and the limited but growing evidence about the safety of COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy," a CDC spokesperson said in a statement emailed to CBS News.

 

JUSTICE: PELOSI OFFICE INVADER TO BE RELEASED FROM JAIL - The stun-gun-toting Capitol rioter who famously posed for a photo with his feet on a desk in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office will be released from a Washington, D.C., jail after nearly four months in government custody, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday (Politico). Richard Barnett, 60, who left a crude and menacing note for Pelosi and stole a piece of her mail, does not present the kind of danger to society that would warrant his pretrial detention, U.S. District Court Judge Christopher Cooper found. Barnett had been held since January, one of the first arrests made in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

 

MEDIA: PENCE BOOK STRAINS PUBLISHER - Things were already strained at Simon & Schuster. After backing out of a deal with Senator Josh Hawley, a prominent supporter of former President Donald J. Trump, the company announced this month that it would publish two books by former Vice President Mike Pence (New York Times). Dana Canedy, who joined Simon & Schuster as publisher last year, called Mr. Pence’s memoir “the definitive book on one of the most consequential presidencies in American history.” That’s when much of the staff erupted in protest. On Monday, editors and other employees at Simon & Schuster delivered a petition to management demanding an end to the deal, with signatures from more than 200 employees and 3,500 outside supporters, including Simon & Schuster authors such as Jesmyn Ward and Scott Westerfeld. Most were probably not aware that the company has also signed the former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway, according to people familiar with the matter — a move that is sure to throw gas on the fire.

 

MICHIGAN: NILES MARIJUANA FESTIVAL APPROVED - A cannabis festival is one step closer to coming to Niles (WSBT-TV). The city council approved the one-day event at Riverfront Park South. But it will only happen if organizers follow proper staffing recommendations. City leaders say their biggest concern is safety.

 

NEW YORK: FORMER OBAMA ADVISER INDICTED - The founder of a national charter school network who once served as a White House adviser under President Barack Obama has been arrested on charges alleging he stole over $200,000 from the network (AP). Seth Andrew is the founder of Democracy Prep. He was arrested Tuesday in Manhattan on wire fraud, money laundering and false statement charges. His lawyer says he will plead not guilty.

 

MLB: BRAVES BLANK CUBS 5-0 - Ian Anderson allowed one hit in seven innings, Ronald Acuña Jr. hit a long home run and the Atlanta Braves beat the skidding Chicago Cubs 5-0 on Tuesday night (ESPN). Anderson (2-0) won his second consecutive start, after throwing 6 2/3 shutout innings in a 4-1 win at Yankee Stadium last Wednesday. He walked only one Cubs batter and struck out eight. "His last two outings have been excellent," Acuña said through a translator. "He's a tremendous pitcher. I'm not surprised at all. He's a superstar in my opinion."

 

MLB: DETROIT DEFEATS CHISOX 5-2 - Miguel Cabrera and Niko Goodrum homered, José Ureña went seven innings for his first win in two years, and the Detroit Tigers overcame a season-high five errors to beat the Chicago White Sox 5-2 on Tuesday night (ESPN). Owners of the worst record in the majors, the Tigers matched their highest error total since they committed five against the White Sox in Chicago on Aug. 31, 2014. Third baseman Jeimer Candelario allowed a run to score in the first when he missed a throw and helped bring home another in the third with a throwing error as Chicago grabbed a 2-1 lead. But despite the struggles on defense, Detroit opened a nine-game trip on a winning note after losing 10 of 11.

 

MLB; VOTTO LEADS REDS OVER DODGERS 6-5 -  Joey Votto hit a go-ahead double, Jesse Winker homered and drove in two runs and the Cincinnati Reds rallied for the second straight night to defeat the scuffling Los Angeles Dodgers 6-5 on Tuesday (ESPN). The defending World Series champions have dropped six of eight, including three straight for the first time since 2019.

 

Local

 

DELPHI: POLICE QUESTIONING MAN IN DOUBLE HOMICIDE CASE - Detectives investigating the Feb. 13, 2017, killings of Libby German and Abby Williams have taken notice of James Brian Chadwell II (Lafayette Journal & Courier). Tippecanoe County prosecutors accused Chadwell of luring a 9-year-old girl into his house at 714 Park Ave. on April 19. Once inside his house, Chadwell allegedly beat the girl, sexually assaulted her and locked her in the basement until police knocked on his door. "The information has obviously been shared with us, and our investigators are looking into him," Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby said. He did not elaborate on any details about the investigation into Chadwell.

 

SOUTH BEND: COUNCIL BANS INVASIVE PLANTS - The city council voted 8-0 Monday to approve a ban on the future sale or planting of invasive species in the city limits, including the Bradford pear tree (South Bend Tribune). The measure fills the gap of 47 species of land-based plants that the state had left off of a ban that it created in 2019 against 44 species. As The Tribune reported on Sunday, many of the plants covered by the city’s ban aren’t sold in garden stores. But the list does cover the callery pear tree, which includes a cultivar known as Bradford pear, along with Norway maple trees, burning bush and the groundcovers periwinkle (or vinca vine) and English ivy. All have been known to spread aggressively into local parks.

 

SOUTH BEND: MORRIS CIVIC AUDITORIUM TO GET PARKING GARAGE — New seats with cup holders, a new parking structure and an endowment to foster greater diversity and equity in the arts in South Bend. All of that and more is planned at the Morris Performing Arts Center, the city’s Venues Parks & Arts department announced Tuesday as it kicked off the public phase of a fundraising campaign that already has reached more than half of its $30 million goal (South Bend Tribune). Other planned improvements include replacing of the 100-year-old concrete main floor, a new roof, the addition of a second elevator, new lighting, a new heating and air conditioning system, and other modifications to make the building more energy efficient.

 

EVANSVILLE: MOBILE VAX CLINIC SEEKS HOMELESS - Tuesday, the Commission on Homelessness for Evansville and Vanderburgh County announced it will conduct mobile clinics to provide COVID-19 vaccinations at area homeless shelters, housing and services agencies (WFIE-TV). The Commission is partnering with the Vanderburgh County Health Department, area healthcare organizations and volunteers using an equipped 14-passenger van provided by The Evansville Promise Zone. The Commission’s mobile clinic will make regular stops at local agencies beginning Wednesday and will continue every other week as needed.

 

TERRE HAUTE: CITY USING RELIEF FUNDS FOR WIFI HOT SPOTS - The Terre Haute Board of Public Works and Safety on Monday approved a measure to add 40 WiFi fiber optic spots throughout the city for use by students in the Vigo County School Corp. (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). "Originally, we were going to use EDIT (Economic Development Income Tax) funds to do this across two years, but we didn't get in the budget last year, since the budget had to be advertised in August," Mayor Duke Bennett told the board. " But since we have access to American Rescue Plan funds now, we will use those funds this year to pay for that." The city will pay $543,580 to add 40 locations in the city. Terre Haute will receive $38.23 million from American Rescue Plan Act

 

FISHERS: MAN COMMITS SUICIDE AT POLICE HQ - Fishers police say early Tuesday morning a man took his own life in front of police headquarters (CBS4). Police say the man walked inside the Fishers Police Department and picked up a phone. The 68-year-old dialed 911 and reported he intended to kill himself. Officers tried to de-escalate the situation by asking the man to step outside, which he did, before taking his own life. “Our officers grieve with this family. This is tragic,” said Fishers police Chief Ed Gebhart.

 

LOGANSPORT: SCHOOL NETWORK HACKED — Cyber forensics experts are investigating how hackers took control of a school corporation's network (WLFI-TV). Logansport Community School Corp. Supt. Michele Starkey says hackers accessed some information and held it for ransom. Starkey says hackers on April 11 shut down the internet and phone systems in every building in the Logansport school system, forcing the corporation to move to e-learning the next day. A team of experts is still in-house investigating the issue. "We have some people on site and working virtually still evaluating every single thing and area to help us pinpoint how and where they got in to our system," Starkey says.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: LINCOLN FUNERAL TRAIN STOP VIGIL FRIDAY - A local nonprofit organization is hosting a candlelight vigil on Friday in downtown Indianapolis to commemorate President Abraham Lincoln's funeral stop 156 years ago (WRTV). Apr. 30, 1865 was one of 14 consecutively mournful days in America. But April 30 was especially big in Indianapolis when thousands came to pay their respects to President Lincoln as his funeral train made its final Hoosier stop. It's a day that the local nonprofit "The Lincoln Special" believes should be remembered — especially amid racial tensions across the United States. “History has an echo—our task is to make it heard,” Chris Allen, filmmaker and the executive director of The Lincoln Special, stated.

 

LAKE COUNTY: MASKS REQUIRED IN GOVT BUILDINGS THROUGH MAY 31 - Face masks must continue being worn inside Lake County government buildings for another month (Carden, NWI Times). Lake County Commissioner Mike Repay, D-Hammond, announced Tuesday all visitors to the Lake County Government Center, county courthouses, and other county government buildings must wear a face mask to enter through at least May 31. County officials initially issued a mask mandate for Lake County government buildings April 1 after the governor's statewide face mask directive was changed into a mere recommendation.

 

VANDERBURGH COUNTY: COMMISSIONERS APPROVE ARP ORDINANCE - Vanderburgh County is a step closer to finalizing plans for the money it will receive from the American Rescue Plan Act. On Tuesday, county commissioners approved an ordinance that would establish the local recovery fund. The county is expecting to get $35 million over the course of two years (Johnson, WFIE-TV). While Tuesday’s vote puts the county one step closer, it does not yet outline when and where that money will be spent. Instead, county commissioners say the ordinance is more or less required paperwork from the federal and state government. They say it is an important step every city and county must complete. “It does not, at this time, spend any of that money,” says County Commissioner Cheryl Musgrave. “We will have to adopt, later on, the plan of spending of that money. This is just the required ordinance.”

 

TIPTON COUNTY: EMPLOYEES HEALTH INSURANCE COSTS CUT — Tipton County employees will now pay half of what they used to pay in health care premiums (Kokomo Tribune). The Tipton County Commissioners unanimously approved Monday halving what county employees pay in premiums per pay period. Employees will see the change on their May 28 paycheck. Now, county employees will pay $38.25 in premiums per pay period for a single employee, $86.50 for employee and spouse, $78.25 for a single employee and child and $114.75 for a family plan. That’s compared to $76.50, $173, $156.50 and $229.50, respectively, county employees were paying in premiums before the change.

 

CASS COUNTY: 2 OPEN DOOR LAWSUITS FILED - The two lawsuits that citizens filed against Cass County government over alleged violations of open door laws continue, first with testimony last Friday and then with testimony set for 1 p.m. on May 7 (Logansport Pharos-Tribune). The suits, both of which concern Cass County officials’ actions about the Waelz Sustainable Products (WSP) zinc reclamation plant, have been moved out of Cass to Miami County to avoid conflict of interest. The WSP plant is being built near Clymers in the Cass County AgriBusiness Park. On Friday, Miami County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Spahr heard from citizens involved in the lawsuit as to whether this is a public suit or a private one. Royal Center attorney John Schwartz, who is representing the citizens with Logansport attorney Jim Brugh, said a public lawsuit is one that is filed on behalf of the public. If Spahr rules it isn’t a public suit, then those suing Cass won’t need to put up bond to pay for any potential damages.