BUTTIGIEG SAYS CONGRESS SHOULD ACT ON INFRASTRUCTURE BY MEMORIAL DAY: Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Sunday that President Biden wants Congress to act on his massive infrastructure package by Memorial Day. Buttgieg told ABC "This Week" host George Stephanopoulos that he's been in talks with congressional Republicans and Democrats on infrastructure and that he expects to get some support even from GOP members on Biden's more than $2 trillion plan. But when asked about possible opposition by some House Democrats unless federal income tax deductions for state and local taxes are reinstated, Buttigieg said Biden has an "open mind" when it comes to the proposal. “We know that this is entering a legislative process where we’re going to be hearing from both sides of the aisle, and I think you’ll find the president’s got a very open mind. But time is of the essence," Buttgieg said. “So we’ll look at these ideas on how to pay for it. We’ll look at ideas on where the investments ought to be, too. But the president is hoping for major progress from Congress before Memorial Day. And we can’t allow this thing to just keep dragging on, because the need is there today.”

 

'HAUNTED' MICHIGAN CITY MAYOR APOLOGIZES: Park Superintendent Ed Shinn was beside Mayor Duane Parry when the latter left a racist message for Pastor James Lane. Parry told Lane, who is black, and other members of the Michigan City Spiritual Task Force about Shinn’s reaction. “He lowered his head, and he shook his head. He had no control over me,” Parry said. “He did not approve of my action at all. He said, ‘Man, you gotta get it together’” (Ross, NWI Times). The mayor said he has been haunted by that moment ever since. Parry’s remarks came as he was tired and stressed, he told the pastors last week. “There’s no positive word that could be said about my action.” The mayor listened last week as eight faith leaders on the task force preached to him about racism, forgiveness and reconciliation before responding. “I apologize sincerely to all of the pastors of the spiritual task force,” Parry said. “I apologize to your congregations, I apologize to every person in Michigan City, and to Michigan City, and I know that’s not enough.”

 

PANDEMIC MAKING TEACHER SHORTAGE WORSE: The pandemic has pushed teachers out of the workforce in droves, and many schools don't have a safety net to fill the gaps as children come back into classrooms (Axios). Teaching has been one of the toughest pandemic-era jobs, with the pivot to remote learning, then the stress of reopening. Teacher retirements are up 44% in Michigan since August, Crain's Detroit Business reports. School in Long Beach, Calif., saw teacher leaves of absence spike 35% this year, according to EdSurge. 73% of districts said their need for substitute teachers was more dire in 2020 than in 2019, Education Week found in a survey of principals and school administrators. 74% said the number of applicants for sub positions dropped. What to watch: Schools are hiring. While many industries are still recovering from the initial pandemic crash, job openings for teachers are 2% higher than pre-pandemic levels, AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at the job-search site Indeed, tells Axios.

 

BUSINESSES CAN STILL REQUIRE MASKS: Major retailers in Indiana, like Whole Foods Market and Walmart, have already indicated they will continue to require face coverings even once the state mandate expires. IndyStar reached out to a sampling of locally owned businesses that also plan to continue enforcing a face mask policy. Those businesses include Shapiro's Delicatessen, Cafe Patachou and Strange Brew. And according to Steve Sanders, a constitutional law professor at the Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, those businesses have the right to do so. Sanders said a fundamental principle in American law is that a person can’t be forced to do business with another. “You can’t force me to sell you something if I don’t want to sell it to you,” Sanders previously told IndyStar. “There are plenty of examples where business are allowed to turn people away and turn people away all the time." For example, Sanders said, restaurants with dress codes can turn people away who don’t abide by the code.

 

GOTTLIEB SEES MORE YOUNG COVID CASES; NO 4TH WAVE:  Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb on Sunday said that a rise in coronavirus infections among young people is driving new outbreaks in some states, but he does not believe there will be a "true" fourth wave of the pandemic (CBS Face the Nation). "What we're seeing is pockets of infection around the country, particularly in younger people who haven't been vaccinated and also in school-aged children," Gottlieb said in an interview on "Face the Nation," noting the rise in cases among school-aged kids in Michigan, Minnesota and Massachusetts.  "You're seeing outbreaks in schools and infections in social cohorts that haven't been exposed to the virus before, maybe were doing a better job sheltering, now they're out and about getting exposed to the virus and they're getting infected," he continued. "The infection is changing its contours in terms of who's being stricken by it right now."

 

J&J TAKING OVER VACCINE MANUFACTURING: Johnson & Johnson is taking over manufacturing of its Covid-19 vaccine at a contract manufacturer’s plant that makes the main ingredient, after a production problem ruined a batch (Wall Street Journal). In order to give J&J full control, production of AstraZeneca  PLC’s vaccine at the Emergent BioSolutions Inc.  plant in Baltimore will move elsewhere, according to a person familiar with the matter. The moves, which the person said were facilitated by the Biden administration and which were confirmed by the companies, mark a rapid response to the recent discovery of the contaminated batch. The New York Times first reported J&J’s takeover of the plant.

 

BAYLOR FINALLY FACES GONZAGA FOR NATIONAL TITLE TONIGHT:  Baylor made a mockery of the first Final Four game, stifling Houston for a chance at the program’s first national title. Then Gonzaga made miracles happen, winning on one of the greatest shots in NCAA Tournament history at Lucas Oil Stadium (AP). The showdown between Baylor and Gonzaga that was called off in December because of the coronavirus pandemic is finally back on, with the biggest stakes of all: The two best teams all season will play for the national championship Monday night. The wait was worth it. The Bears opened the first Final Four in two years by overwhelming Houston, 78-59, cruising to their first national championship game since 1948. Gonzaga's free-flowing offense was struck down in the nightcap by UCLA, which slogged the game down enough to get it to overtime. Freshman Jalen Suggs came to the Bulldogs' rescue, banking in a 3-pointer from just inside the half-court line at the buzzer for a 93-90 win. “At the end of it, you could tell how both staffs and all the players reacted that it was an all-timer,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.

 

BOBBY PLUMP STILL A BIG SHOT: One big shot turned Bobby Plump into an instant celebrity (AP). More than 50 years later, he’s every bit as popular. Heck, he might be more popular. At age 84, the affable, silver-haired Plump remains one of the state’s top basketball ambassadors and nothing, not a pandemic or an unprecedented NCAA Tournament, can keep those yearning to meet him away. “I’ve had quite a a few requests mainly from fans,” he said. “We’ve had people come into our restaurant/sports bar (during the NCAA Tournament) and one group I remember was four students from Rutgers who drove 11 hours for the game, then had to go back to school the next day. They came all that way for one game.”

 

POPE FRANCIS DENOUNCES SCANDALOUS WARS DURING PANDEMIC: Pope Francis in his traditional Easter Sunday address denounced as “scandalous” how armed conflicts continue to rage even as the coronavirus pandemic has triggered severe social and economic suffering and swollen the ranks of the poor (AP). Francis tempered his “Urbi et Orbi″ address (Latin for ”To the city and to the world”) wishes of joy on the Christian feast day along with accounts of pain from the globe’s many armed conflicts in Africa, the Mideast, Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe. Describing vaccines as an ”essential tool” in the pandemic battle, Francis called for a “spirit of global responsibility” as he encouraged nations to overcome “delays in the distribution of vaccines” and ensure that the shots reach the poorest nations. “Everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us, requires assistance and has the right to have access to necessary care.” the pontiff said.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: My wife and I went out to dinner with friends for the first time in a year in Indianapolis after our vaccination. Masks were required for entry, but were then taken off after seating. Staff wore masks. Tables and booths were spaced. The restaurant was very busy. This is what recovery looks like. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

NYT ANALYZES GEORGIA VOTING LAW: Go page by page through Georgia’s new voting law, and one takeaway stands above all others: The Republican legislature and governor have made a breathtaking assertion of partisan power in elections, making absentee voting harder and creating restrictions and complications in the wake of narrow losses to Democrats. The New York Times has examined and annotated the law, identifying 16 provisions that hamper the right to vote for some Georgians or strip power from state and local elections officials and give it to legislators.

 

General Assembly

 

LAWMAKER PUSHES TAX BILL THAT WOULD BENEFIT GOP LEADER: This is the story of a Republican lawmaker pushing legislation that would benefit a top Republican party official, one who in conjunction with his business and immediate family members has poured $360,000 into state and county campaign committees since 2006 (Lange & Cook, IndyStar). It’s also the story of that same lawmaker getting a $9,000 property tax break that he shouldn’t have received. And a story of party in-fighting due in part to accusations that a local county assessor is charging too much for property taxes. But more than anything, it’s a story of how sausage gets made in the Indiana Statehouse. As the saying goes, it's often a nasty process. State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, is pushing for property tax legislation that would benefit Indiana GOP Treasurer Chuck Williams — one of the leaders of a party apparatus that has contributed about $93,000 to Soliday’s campaigns since Williams joined its leadership in 2017. House Bill 1166 would prohibit local assessors from increasing someone’s property taxes after a property owner wins a tax appeal for the following four years, unless there are significant changes that impact the property.

 

WHERE BILLS STAND: Of the more than 1,000 bills and joint resolutions introduced at the Indiana legislative session, only 316 are moving forward, according to an analysis from Hannah News Service. Here's where notable bills stand and what you may have missed at the Statehouse last week (Lange, IndyStar):

 

Holcomb's powers during health emergencies: Even though Holcomb ended his mask mandate and capacity restrictions for the state on Tuesday, March 30, House Bill 1123 is still alive and well. House Bill 1123 allows legislative leaders to make the call on whether to bring lawmakers back for a special session if Holcomb declares an emergency. Plus, the bill requires the General Assembly to decide how federal stimulus money is spent if lawmakers are in session, and if not, for that spending to be reviewed by the State Budget Committee. Seven department heads from the Holcomb administration had testified against the bill in committee. The bill could be voted on one final time by both chambers and on its way to the governor by Monday, April 5. He plans to veto it.

 

State budget: The Indiana House has already passed its version of the two-year state budget. It includes a cigarette tax increase and a major expansion to the state's private school choice programs. The $36.3 billion budget sets aside 11.9% of the budget for reserves in 2022 and 11.7% in 2023. There are some key differences between what Gov. Eric Holcomb and House Republicans proposed. Holcomb's version did not have a cigarette tax increase. Likewise, the House Republicans' budget invests more in K-12 education spending over the two years than Holcomb's version, but a large chunk of those new dollars will be spent on expanding the state's private school choice programs. The Senate will present its own version of the budget, House Bill 1001, later in the session.

 

De-escalation training for police: Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law Thursday, April 1, House Bill 1006, which puts in statute requirements for police to be trained on de-scalation tactics and requires prospective employers to request an officer’s employment record from the officer’s previous agency.

 

Nursing home visitation: On Mar. 31, the House Public Health Committee unanimously passed Senate Bill 202, which would require health facilities to allow visitation by family caregivers during states of emergency. The committee also amended the bill to include hospitals in the types of health facilities required to participate. The proposed legislation would require affected health facilities, such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities and now hospitals, to participate in an existing program that allows caregivers to visit and care for their loved ones. The essential family caregiver program debuted in Indiana in June, but facilities were not required to participate. Many family members of nursing home residents have voiced deep concerns about the impacts of isolation on their loved ones in nursing homes during the pandemic.

 

COVID-19 liability: Gov. Eric Holcomb signed Senate Bill 1 earlier this legislative session, giving businesses including nursing homes coronavirus-related liability protections. The act went into effect immediately. On Wednesday March 31, The Senate Judiciary Committee amended another measure, House Bill 1002, that would expand those protections for nursing homes and other health care providers. Among other things, the amended version extends the protections to the end of 2024 and shield providers from injuries patients suffered because of inaction or delays of care in response to COVID-19, or because of a reallocation of staff. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for a vote.

 

Indy Eleven: A bill from Sen. Jack Sandlin, R-Indianapolis, to extend the deadline for a new Indy Eleven stadium was signed by Holcomb on Thursday, April 1. Senate Bill 385 would give the city two more years to establish a special taxing district to help pay for the stadium, moving the deadline from 2022 to 2024. It passed the House 83-6.

 

Local COVID-19 restrictions: A bill that passed out of a House committee Wednesday, March 31, could make it more challenging for health departments such as the one in Marion County to keep planned COVID-19 restrictions in place. Senate Bill 5 was amended to prohibit local health officials from implementing more stringent restrictions than the state during an emergency order, unless those restrictions are approved by either the local city council or county legislative body. The bill now moves to the House floor for consideration.

 

Driver's license suspensions: A bill that looks to change how driver's license suspensions work passed the Senate with a unanimous 50-0 vote on Tuesday, March 30. It now goes back to the House for consideration of amendments. House Bill 1199 looks to make it easier for Hoosiers to get back on the road legally if their driver's license was suspended for economic reasons. If the bill makes it to the governor's desk, there's little doubt about what would happen next. Making it easier to reinstate licenses was on Gov. Eric Holcomb's agenda for this legislative session.

 

Pregnancy accommodations: Gov. Holcomb has been pushing lawmakers to pass legislation to force businesses to make certain pregnancy accommodations for women for years. House Bill 1309 would require businesses to respond in writing in a timely fashion to pregnancy-accommodation requests made by women, but it does not require them to grant those requests. The proposal passed out of a Senate committee , Wednesday March 31, and now awaits consideration on the Senate floor.

 

Overweight trucks: The Senate transportation committee spent only 20 minutes discussing House Bill 1190 before its chair held it another week. Allowing more overweight trucks on Indiana roadways, the bill has become controversial, with diverse groups in favor and opposed. The same committee heard testimony from more than a dozen people two weeks earlier. It did not take a vote that day, either. The bill is in the hands of committee chair Michael Crider, R-Greenfield, who said he was trying to be fair with his handling of the bill and felt stuck. Sen. James Tomes, R-Wadesville, suggested moving the bill to a summer study committee. Ultimately Crider decided to hold the bill as he said he would at the beginning of the hearing. It's scheduled for another hearing on Tuesday, April 6. Bills die if they don't pass out of committee by April 8.

 

Veterans benefits: The House passed Senate Bill 316 Tuesday, March 30, by a 90-3 vote and now heads to the governor for consideration. The act would expand the number of veterans who are eligible for benefits from the Military Family Relief Fund by including anyone who is not dishonorably discharged.

 

Renewables or fossil fuels: There are a handful of bills this year that are coming out of the 21st Century Energy Task Force that wrapped up at the end of 2020. One bill, House Bill 1220, would reestablish the task force for a version 2.0 to discuss topics such as net metering, energy efficiency and electric vehicles. House Bill 1520 would create some metrics to ensure utilities are providing reliable service. Both bills passed out of the Senate on March 30, and were returned to the House with amendments. House Bill 1381 would create some consistent standards for locating wind and solar projects across the state. The bill, which has received pushback from local officials in counties with more restrictive wind or solar ordinances, was substantially amended in the Senate Utilities committee on April 1 to allow those counties to be grandfathered in. The bill was reassigned to the Senate Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy, where it awaits hearing. House Bill 1348, which has been assigned to the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy committee, would create a uniform tax assessment structure for solar projects. It is still awaiting a hearing. Senate Bill 386, which would create a pilot program on how to pay for coal plants that have been retired early, passed out of the House on March 29, and returned to the Senate with amendments. The Senate concurred with House amendments on April 1.

 

Eliminating wetlands: A bill that would repeal the state law protecting wetlands has been referred to the House Environmental Affairs committee. That committee did not meet once or hear any of the 13 bills assigned to it during the first half of the session, but had a meeting for Senate Bill 389 on March 22. Two amendments to the bill were discussed, but not voted on. Both would keep the state's wetlands law, but change and strip it to different extents. The bill has not yet been scheduled for a follow-up hearing. Citing communication issues and high costs, supporters of this bill say it would remove red tape for developers and builders. But opponents of the bill worry it would open the door for destroying wetlands that environmentalists and engineers say are crucial for flood mitigation and groundwater stores. And considering Indiana has lost 85% of the wetlands it had a century ago, they fear it could further diminish a natural state habitat.

 

Local control and natural gas: A bill that would prevent cities from being able to ban or place favor on any particular fuel source has been assigned to the Senate Utilities Committee, where it is awaiting a hearing.  Though House Bill 1191 doesn't list any particular fuel source, the bill's author has made it clear the legislation targets natural gas. Those in opposition worry that the bill could slow if not stop a city's efforts to electrify or mitigate climate change. Those in support, however, say it's needed to keep cities from taking away consumer choice.

 

Protection of monuments: A bill to protect monuments and statues from vandalism passed the House committee on Courts and Criminal Code Wednesday, March 31. Senate Bill 187 would allow Indiana to prosecute any person destroying monuments or inciting a riot will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It was amended on March 9 to also protect the state capitol and Indiana state government campus.

 

Abortion 'reversal': Under House Bill 1577 abortion clinics would have to provide information in writing about Progesterone, a drug some anti-abortion groups say can reverse medically-induced abortions, as long as a mother has only taken one of the two required abortion pills. Not everyone agrees the science behind the reversal pill is sound, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. House Bill 1577 also would require parents to take an additional step when they write to consent to their minor receiving an abortion: That consent would need to get notarized. The legislation was passed out of a Senate committee on Wednesday, March 31 by a 7-4 vote.

 

Police use of force: An amended version of Senate Bill 311, authored by Sen. Scott Baldwin, R-Noblesville, has been referred to the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee. A hearing had not yet been scheduled as of Friday, April 2. It previously passed through the Senate 40-8. The original version of the bill aimed to prohibit municipalities from banning or restricting use of force options, like chokeholds. It also would have allowed officers to disregard the department's use of force continuum "based upon the officer's determination of what is reasonable and necessary under the totality of the circumstances."

 

Landlord-tenant relations: Earlier this legislative session, both chambers voted to override Gov. Eric Holcomb's veto of Senate Enrolled Act 148, a 2020 bill that would prohibit Indianapolis from regulating relationships between tenants and landlords. The bill does forbid landlords from retaliating against tenants who bring concerns about living conditions. House and Senate Republicans are pushing for the passage of a separate bill, either Senate Bill 150 or House Bill 1541, to narrow the scope of the act, and nix vague language that prohibits local governments from regulating "any other aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship." In a win for tenants-rights advocates, House Bill 1541 was amended Thursday, March 25, to prohibit landlords from forcing tenants to sign away their rights in a waiver. The bill passed out of committee unanimously and now awaits consideration on the Senate floor.

 

IndyGo bus rapid transit: After nearly two hours of testimony from more than a dozen people, the chair of the House Roads and Transportation committee held the bill that jeopardizes IndyGo's future Purple and Blue lines. The Wednesday, March 24, hearing was the bill's first in the House. It will now be up to that committee chair — Rep. Jim Pressel, R-Rolling Prairie — to decide whether to hold another hearing on the bill.  A bill is dead if it doesn't pass out of committee by April 8. After the hearing and again on Monday, March 29, Pressel told IndyStar he had not yet decided what he would do. Debate continues over whether IndyGo is meeting requirements in current law. The bill's author, Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis, cites an Indiana attorney general opinion to argue they're not meeting it. IndyGo cites the State Board of Accounts and a law firm opinion to say otherwise.

 

'Constitutional carry': The Indiana House previously voted 65-31 to nix the law requiring a license to carry a handgun in Indiana. The bill is now awaiting a hearing in the Senate. Under House Bill 1369,  the license would be eliminated in March 2022. Certain offenders would still be prohibited from carrying handguns. The bill would require state police and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to develop a process to enable law enforcement to quickly check whether someone is prohibited from carrying a handgun. Right now, the licenses raise $5.3 million per year to train law enforcement officers, a tab that taxpayers would at least partially have to pick up.

 

Obstructing police: A bill carrying heavier penalties for obstructing emergency vehicles that passed the Senate floor is still waiting to be heard by the House committee on Courts and Criminal Code. Senate Bill 194 would give a felony six charge to any person blocking an emergency vehicle. It applies to any vehicle using a visual or audible emergency signal, responding to an emergency call or in pursuit of a suspect. It also applies to people blocking the entry to a building that provides emergency medical services. The bill, proposed by Sen. Scott Baldwin, R-Noblesville, would carry a harsher level five felony sentence if the act causes catastrophic injury or death. The bill passed the Senate floor 45-2 on Feb. 2, with Democratic Sen. Jean Breaux and Sen. Lonnie Randolph voting against it.  The committee pulled language from the bill that would have made it a misdemeanor to provoke a public safety official to commit battery, citing constitutional issues.

 

Marion County zoning: A bill to change the makeup of Marion County's board of zoning appeals passed out of the House committee on Government and Regulatory Reform with a few changes. Senate Bill 392 would give the four excluded cities and towns of Marion County — Lawrence, Speedway, Southport and Beech Grove — the power to rezone land for various uses. The latest amended bill requires those excluded municipalities to conduct a hearing on any proposed amendment to a zone map within the excluded territory. Those excluded cities and towns would now have the power to make the decision regarding changes to the zoning map, rather than the city and county. That's good news for cities like Lawrence, which has had re-zoning issues with the consolidated city in the past.

 

Rioting: A comprehensive bill on rioting passed the Senate Feb. 16 and awaits consideration in the House by the Rules and Legislative Procedures committee, often a graveyard for bills. Senate Bill 198 enhances penalties for rioting, making it a felony. The legislation also allows businesses to sue cities like Indianapolis for damages incurred during a riot if the city recklessly failed to suppress the unlawful assembly. The bill passed the Senate 37-8, with seven Democrats and Republican Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute, voting against.

 

Local prosecution powers: A bill that could once again interfere with Marion County's new policy on prosecuting marijuana possession passed still awaits consideration by the House committee on Courts and Criminal Code after the Senate passed the bill Feb. 23.  Senate Bill 200 allows the state attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor if the local prosecutor refuses to prosecute certain offenses.  It's the second time the legislation has been proposed since Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced in 2019 that his office would no longer prosecute certain marijuana possession offenses.  The bill passed the Senate 29-20, with 10 Republicans joining Democrats in voting against.

 

5G cell towers: A bill that would ultimately lessen restrictions on 5G cell poles passed the House Feb. 22 and awaits a vote in the Senate Utilities Committee. House Bill 1164 eliminates height and distance requirements for wireless support structures. Small cell towers, or 5G poles, have drawn the ire of many Indianapolis residents who have seen them erected in public rights of way right in front of their homes. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ethan Manning, R- Denver, would limit a city’s ability to restrict poles. That’s bad news for Indianapolis, which has been using one complicated loophole to deny poles in various neighborhoods. A bill sponsored by Democrat Sen. J.D. Ford, D-Indianapolis, to give communities and local governments more input and regulations for wireless providers died without a hearing. Senate Bill 225 was drafted in response to many constituent concerns and confusion over 5G poles erected in neighborhoods.

 

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

 

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

 

Congress

 

SEN. YOUNG PROFILED: If President Biden is going to score legislative compromises in this age of disunity, especially on foreign policy, he’ll need the help of a below-the-radar, rock-ribbed Republican senator from Indiana to do it (Wren, Business Insider). Meet Todd Young, who’s scored a rare GOP invite to the Biden White House, retweets from the Democratic president’s national security advisor, and private meetings with the ‘shadow’ secretary of State, Delaware Sen. Chris Coons. In hours of exclusive interviews with Insider’s Adam Wren, including playing pickup soccer in the Indianapolis suburbs, Young dishes about his White House meeting with Biden, his unlikely partnership with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Trump, and the future of the GOP.

 

THE HOUSE will meet at noon and THE SENATE at 2 p.m. in pro forma sessions.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB ORDERS FLAGS LOWERED - Gov. Eric Holcomb is directing flags across the state to be flown at half-staff in honor of the victims of Friday's attack at the United States Capitol.  Per the President's order, flags should be flown at half-staff until sunset on Tuesday, April 6. Holcomb also asks businesses and residents to lower their flags to half-staff.

 

ISDH: SUNDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health announced Sunday that 952 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 690,910 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. To date, 12,667 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19. Another 407 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. A total of 3,277,052 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 3,272,565 on Saturday. A total of 9,029,487 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26, 2020.

 

IURC: $900K FINE FOR PIPELINE VIOLATION - Indiana regulators have fined CenterPoint nearly $900,000 for natural gas pipeline violations the utility previously known as Vectren committed in 2019 (AP). The $894,000 civil penalty is part of CenterPoint’s settlement agreement with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for failing to locate or mark its pipelines within two days of gas line excavations. The IURC said those procedures include accurately marking those pipelines and contacting the excavator within those two working days, Evansville Courier & Press reported.

 

NATIONAL PARKS: WILDFIRE HITS DUNES - A wildfire has burned more than 300 acres at Indiana Dunes National Park in the northwestern part of the state (AP). The National Park Service was notified of the wildfire Friday while working on a prescribed fire, according to park officials. The wildfire took place in Gary in Miller Woods and was contained Saturday evening. National park spokesman Micah Bell said there were no reports of injuries or private property damage. Park officials released a satellite photo showing smoke from the wildfire extending 80 miles north onto Lake Michigan. The cause of the fire remained under investigation.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN, HARRIS SCHEDULE - President Biden will arrive at the White House at 11:30 a.m. and receive the President’s Daily Brief at noon. He’ll deliver remarks about “the tradition of Easter at the White House” at 1 p.m. Biden will visit a vaccination site in Alexandria, Va., and deliver remarks about the vaccine effort Tuesday. He’ll deliver remarks about his infrastructure/jobs bill proposal Wednesday. VP Kamala Harris will travel to Oakland, Calif., at 8:40 a.m. Pacific time from Los Angeles. She’ll tour a facility to highlight the infrastructure bill’s investments in clean drinking water infrastructure. She’ll then hold a listening session with California leaders and a small business owner who got help from Community Development Financial Institutions. She’ll leave Oakland at 2:25 p.m. Pacific time for Los Angeles, where she’ll remain overnight. The White House Covid-19 response team and public health officials will brief at 11 a.m. Press secretary Jen Psaki will brief at 1:30 p.m.

 

FLORIDA: STATE WORKS TO PREVENT CATASTROPHIC POND COLLAPSE - Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Sunday that crews are working to prevent the collapse of a large wastewater pond in the Tampa Bay area while evacuating the area to avoid a “catastrophic flood” (AP). Manatee County officials say the latest models show that a breach at the old phosphate plant reservoir has the potential to gush out 340 million gallons of water in a matter of minutes, risking a 20-foot-high (about 6.1-meter-high) wall of water. “What we are looking at now is trying to prevent and respond to, if need be, a real catastrophic flood situation,” DeSantis said at a press conference after flying over the old Piney Point phosphate mine.

 

NCAA: STANFORD WINS WOMEN'S TITLE - After a 29-year wait, Stanford still had to sweat through 6.1 pressure-packed seconds on Sunday to claim its trophy, holding off Arizona 54-53 when Wildcats star guard Aari McDonald missed a shot just before the buzzer (ESPN). VanDerveer couldn't exhale until that moment.

 

MLB: ANGEL PITCHER HITS HOMER, DEFEATS SOX -  In the first inning alone, Shohei Ohtani threw a ball nearly 101 mph and hit a homer that jumped off his bat at 115 mph (AP). By the time he left, the Los Angeles Angels' two-way star had dazzled on the mound and at the plate in a historic two-way performance. And after Sho-time ended, Jared Walsh put on his own impressive effort to secure another win for the Halos. Ohtani both smashed a 451-foot homer and pitched two-hit ball into the fifth inning, and Walsh hit a walkoff homer to end the Angels' 7-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday night.

 

MLB: REDS DEFEAT CARDINALS 12-1 - Nick Castellanos came out swinging with his bat a day after being ejected for inciting a bench-clearing melee, hitting a three-run homer and triple to lead the Cincinnati Reds to a 12-1 rout over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday (ESPN). Tyler Naquin also a three-run shot for the Reds, who won two in a row to take the opening series in matchup of NL Central teams that earned wild-card spots last season.

 

MLB: CUBS DOWN PIRATES 4-3 - Zach Davies pitched into the sixth inning in his Chicago Cubs debut, leading his new team to a 4-3 victory over the short-handed Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday (Fox News). Ian Happ homered and Kris Bryant reached three times as Chicago earned its second straight win after losing on opening day. Joc Pederson also drove in a run with a groundout.

 

Sunday Talk

 

BUTTIGIEG SAYS PLAN WILL CUT DEFICIT BY 'YEAR 16': Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Sunday that the Biden administration's plan for infrastructure reform would pay for itself and begin chipping away at the deficit 16 years after it is passed. Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," Buttigieg told host Chuck Todd that the White House had laid out a "clear vision" for funding the $2.25 trillion proposal, while adding that the administration was open to hearing alternative proposals. "Across 15 years, it would raise all of the revenue needed for these once-in-a-lifetime investments. So by year 16, you'd actually see this package working to reduce the deficit," Buttigieg said.

 

HUNTER BIDEN EXPECTS TO BE CLEARED: Hunter Biden, the son of President Biden, said in a new interview that said that he is “100 percent” certain that he will be “cleared of any wrongdoing” in a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into his taxes. Hunter Biden told CBS News correspondent Tracy Smith that he is "cooperating completely." “I am absolutely certain, 100 percent certain that at the end of the investigation, that I will be cleared of any wrongdoing,” Hunter Biden said, adding that “all I can do is cooperate, and trust in the process.”

 

CHRISTIE SAYS BIDEN LYING ABOUT GA VOTING BILL: Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) argued Sunday that President Biden was lying when describing new voting laws in Georgia that critics say impose restrictions. Christie, a member of the board of directors of the New York Mets, was asked by host George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week" about MLB's decision to move the All-Star Game out of Atlanta because of Georgia's new voting laws. Christie called MLB's decision a "symptom of what's going on in our country right now" and then cited Biden's inauguration speech as evidence of Biden having "broken his own rule."

 

WICKER HAMMERS PLAN TO RAISE CORPORATE TAXES: Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) took aim at President Biden's infrastructure proposal during a Sunday appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" over the plan's funding via an increase of the corporate tax rate. Speaking with host Chuck Todd, Wicker questioned how the plan could get bipartisan support given that a central part of the proposal involved a partial rollback of the GOP's 2017 tax reform plan. I think [Transportation Secretary] Pete [Buttigieg] and I could come up with an infrastructure bill. What the president proposed this week is not an infrastructure bill," said Wicker, adding that what the bill really amounted to was a "huge tax increase."

 

OSTERHOLM CITES VACCINE 'MESSAGING PROBLEM': A top epidemiologist and member of President Biden's COVID-19 advisory board acknowledged that a messaging "problem" exists surrounding whether Americans are completely safe from contracting COVID-19 after being vaccinated and if they should travel. During an interview with Michael Osterholm on "Fox News Sunday," host Chris Wallace noted that many Americans are unsure whether activities such as air travel are safe for those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine. "It’s not perfect, it’s not 100 percent [protection from COVID-19]," Osterholm said of the three COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the U.S. "We do have a problem right now from a public health standpoint nuancing that message," he continued, adding that Americans should still "avoid [travel] if it’s nonessential," even after being vaccinated.

 

WALLACE CHALLENGES BLUNT ON NATIONAL DEBT: Fox News host Chris Wallace challenged Republican Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.) on Sunday to defend the GOP on the issue of the national debt. On "Fox News Sunday," Wallace displayed graphics indicating that the national debt grew by trillions during former President Trump's term in the White House and asked Blunt whether Republicans had any "credibility" on the issue after voting for the 2017 tax cuts that lowered the corporate rate. "Haven't you lost your credibility on this issue?" Wallace asked. "I don't think anybody has a very good record," Blunt responded. Blunt also said that Congress came together to pass "not one ... but five" bills addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said had a significant effect on the debt.

 

MISSISSIPPI GOV CALLS BIDEN PLAN LIKE 'GREEN NEW DEAL': Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) on Sunday weighed in on President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal, saying it looks more like the Green New Deal, an ambitious climate proposal touted by progressives. "It looks more like the Green New Deal than it looks like an infrastructure plan,” Reeves told host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “The problem with this particular plan though is although the Biden administration is calling it an infrastructure plan, it looks more like a $2 trillion tax hike plan to me,” Reeves said.

 

OMAR DESCRIBES MINNEAPOLIS 'ON EDGE': Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar (D) on Sunday said the Minneapolis community is “on edge” as it watches the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former police officer who is charged with murdering George Floyd, and waits for a verdict. When asked by host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” if the city is prepared for the possibility of a hung jury or a not guilty verdict, Omar said the community is “on edge,” but expressed confidence in Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison (D) and the prosecutors in the case. “We have seen justice not delivered in our community for many years. I think that there is a lot of confidence in Attorney General Keith Ellison and the prosecutors in this case, but we are all eagerly awaiting to see how this trial shakes out,” Omar, who represents Minneapolis, said.

 

Local

 

INDIANAPOLIS: IPS STUDENTS RETURN TO CLASS TODAY — All Indianapolis Public Schools’ students return to full in-person learning on Monday (CBS4). Pre-K through 6th grade students have been back to the classroom full time since last January. Middle school and high school students were on a hybrid schedule of remote and in-person learning. Families who are not comfortable sending their students back and would still like to do remote learning have that option. They just need to contact their child’s school directly. Families can switch from in-person to remote learning at any time. But once that decision is made, the student must stay in remote learning for the rest of the school year.