LEGISLATORS VOTE TO BOOST OWN POWER; GOV TO VETO: Indiana legislators voted Monday to give themselves more authority to intervene during emergencies declared by the governor (AP). The votes in the Republican-dominated House (64-33) and Senate (37-10) will send the bill to GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb, who has said he doesn’t believe it is allowed under the state constitution and said last week he would veto it. Holcomb has faced criticism from some conservatives over coronavirus restrictions he’s imposed by executive order over the past year. Republican legislative leaders praise the governor’s actions during the pandemic but say the bill is meant to allow the input of lawmakers during extended emergency situations. The bill would establish a new process for the General Assembly to call itself into an emergency session when it isn’t meeting during its annual legislative session.   House Majority Leader Matt Lehman, a Republican from Berne, said the bill was not “anti-governor” but a response to a generational crisis. “We’re creating something that needs to take place in the eyes of Hoosiers who are looking to us and saying, ‘You’re my voice, and I want you to have a seat at that table,’” Lehman said. “We will have the time to consider the override,” House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, said Friday. “(The governor) knows the strong likelihood of us overriding the veto.” Lawmakers could potentially vote to override Holcomb’s veto by a simple majority of both houses before the current legislative session ends in late April. “I cannot skirt my duty and do something that I believe is unconstitutional,” Holcomb said last week when stating that he would veto the bill. The governor’s office declined any additional comment Monday.

 

INDIANA MASK MANDATE ENDS TODAY: Hoosiers might want to hang on to their face masks for at least a few more weeks (Carden, NWI Times). Even though Indiana's mask mandate officially expires Tuesday, face coverings still will be required for the foreseeable future in most Northwest Indiana businesses and government buildings, along with all casinos, public schools and COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said his decision to turn the state mask mandate into a mask recommendation does not limit the ability of Indiana local governments and Hoosier businesses to continue imposing more stringent COVID-19 prevention protocols, including requiring a face mask to enter. "So whether that is a bank branch lobby, on the factory floor, or a county courthouse or city hall, they retain the authority to make decisions about COVID restrictions for their operations and should be afforded the respect, compliance and understanding of all who visit them," Holcomb said.

 

DRIVE THRU DYNGUS DAY IN SOUTH BEND: Dyngus Day looked a little different at the West Side Democratic Club in South Bend this year due to COVID-19 safety measures (South Bend Tribune). The club, traditionally packed with hundreds of guests enjoying kielbasa and listening to political speeches, switched to drive-thru service this year because of the pandemic. Last year, the club had to cancel all activities due to the COVID-19 outbreak. As of 1 p.m., it had served more than 200 meals that included kluski noodles, vegetables, sauerkraut and bread to guests waiting in their cars along Ford Street. The plan was to serve until 2 p.m. or until they ran out of the Polish favorites. At times, the cars were lined up around the corner with some guests ordering as many as 10 meals to take home.

 

FAUCI PANS VACCINE PASSPORT: The federal government will not mandate the use of vaccine passports for travelers or businesses post-pandemic, President Biden's chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told the Politico Dispatch podcast Monday (Axios). Passports showing proof of vaccination could speed up international travel re-openings, but the idea of requiring immunization credentials has become a point of contention, particularly among Republican officials. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) banned the use of vaccine passports in his state on Friday. "I doubt that the federal government will be the main mover of a vaccine passport concept," said Fauci.

 

RECORD 4 MILLION VACCINATED ON SATURDAY: More than four million people in the United States received a coronavirus vaccine on Saturday — the nation’s highest one-day total since the shots began rolling out in December — amid a rising caseload and increase in hospitalizations (Washington Post). An average of 3.1 million shots were administered each day over the past seven days, and nearly 1 in 4 adults are now fully vaccinated, said Andy Slavitt, the White House’s senior adviser for covid-19 response, speaking at a news briefing.

 

TAMM COMMENTS ON ST. ELMO'S COVID CLOSURE; BARTENDER DIES: CEO and President of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association Patrick Tamm provided the following quote in response to St. Elmo Steak House team members testing positive for COVID-19 (Howey Politics Indiana). "Huse Culinary took action out of an abundance of caution to temporarily pause operations to ensure the safety of their team members and guests. St. Elmo Steak House is neither the first nor will it be the last among other businesses, retailers, manufacturers, medical offices, schools, places of worship, and restaurants to put in place pre-planned precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19," Tamm said. "I send my thoughts to the team members impacted for a swift recovery." Current and former employees say longtime bartender Michael Gaines died Saturday after being tested for the virus about a week prior (IndyStar).

 

McCONNELL WARNS CORPORATIONS TO 'STAY OUT OF POLITICS': Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says it's a “big lie” to call the new voting law in Georgia racist and he warned big business to “stay out of politics" after major corporations and even Major League Baseball distanced themselves from the state amid vast public pressure (ABC News). McConnell particularly slammed President Joe Biden's criticism that the Georgia bill was restrictive and a return to Jim Crow-era restrictions in the Southern states aimed limiting ballot access for Black Americans. “It’s simply not true,” McConnell told reporters Monday. The choice by the GOP leader to dive into voting politics lends heft to efforts nationwide to install strict new voting laws after Donald Trump's false claims of fraud that cost him the election to Biden. The new laws are aimed at scaling back early voting and other options that became wildly popular during the pandemic.

 

BAYLOR DEFEATS GONZAGA 86-70 FOR NCAA TITLE: Nothing could stop Baylor from cutting down the nets. Not even Gonzaga (AP). The fresh-as-can-be Bears obliterated wobbly-legged Gonzaga’s march to its own undefeated season Monday night. It was an 86-70 runaway that brought this once-downtrodden program’s first national title back home to Waco, Texas. Jared Butler scored 22 points and MaCio Teague had 19 for the Bears (28-2), who were ranked second or third in the AP poll all year long. But never first. That was because of one team and maybe, just maybe, because of a three-week break that put a halt to a 17-0 start and sapped some of Baylor’s burgeoning momentum. “Prior to COVID, us and Gonzaga were on the track to being undefeated,” coach Scott Drew reminded everyone in the socially distanced arena, during a TV interview, while brushing off confetti.

 

13 UNDEFEATED TEAMS SINCE '76 HOOSIERS FAIL TO WIN TITLE: After winning 31 straight games and going wire to wire as No. 1, the Bulldogs became the 13th team to start an NCAA Tournament with a perfect record and finish it without taking the trophy home. Instead, Baylor won its first championship with an 86-70 game that wasn’t ever really close. Only seven teams have been crowned as undefeated national champions, the last being the Indiana Hoosiers in 1975-76 (AP). The 45-year gap is the longest stretch without an unbeaten national champion since the tourney began in 1939. Of the other 13 teams, four failed to reach the Final Four. Six lost in the national semifinals, including two played in Indianapolis (UNLV in 1991 and Kentucky in 2015). Gonzaga is now the third team to suffer its only loss in the title game and the first since Larry Bird’s Indiana State team in 1979. The other was Ohio State in 1961; Bob Knight played on that team long before coaching the Hoosiers to their crowing achievement 15 years later.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: It's a modern General Assembly tradition, which is to pass constitutionally dubious legislation, override the governor's veto with simple majorities, and then let the courts decide. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

INDEMS REACT TO PASSAGE OF HB1123: “The Republican supermajority at the Statehouse has indicated all legislative session that their top priority was to bully Governor Eric Holcomb and Indiana’s cities and towns into an extreme partisan agenda," said Indiana Democratic Party spokesman Drew Anderson (Howey Politics Indiana). "Hoosiers have grown tired of the power games. While Gov. Holcomb has been pressured to make more political moves — like prematurely ending the state’s mask mandate — House Bill 1123 completely crosses the line. It does nothing to help Indiana responsibly get out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indiana Democrats are fed up with the partisan games and are ready to get stuff done on behalf of the state and its families. Instead, Democrats will continue to lead through action, like passing the American Rescue Plan and Indiana House Bill 1006, while Republicans will just continue to bicker.”

 

INDIANA LIBERTARIANS PROMISE TO BE COMPETITIVE IN 2022:  The Libertarian Party of Indiana has a new chairman and with that a new set of goals in order to be competitive in the Hoosier state (Abdul, WIBC). Evan McMahon has been elected as the new party chairman for Libertarians in Indiana. He feels the party has a lot of momentum after what he calls a surprising turnout for Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Donald Rainwater in 2020. “I don’t think it was a fluke,” McMahon told Abdul At-Large on 93 WIBC. “People kind of see that now we’re ready. We have the right message and more importantly, the average voter is tired of being lied to by the two dominant parties.” Rainwater won 11% of the vote in the race for governor in Indiana in 2020, he finished second in 32 counties ahead of Democratic candidate Dr. Woody Myers.

 

DNC BILLBOARDS AIMED AT SENS. YOUNG, BRAUN: The Democratic National Committee is putting up a billboard in Indianapolis this week, attacking Sen. Mike Braun and Sen. Todd Young for voting against President Joe Biden's latest $1.9 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package (IndyStar). "Thanks to President Biden help is here," the billboard reads, next to "$1,400 checks," "$$$ to reopen schools" and "$$$ for vaccines." "No thanks to" Braun and Young, the billboard will read. The billboard, which will be installed for one month, will be placed on I-465, north of I-70 on the city's west side, 1.7 miles from the Indianapolis International Airport.  The DNC has paid for similar billboards in 20 other states, either thanking senators for voting for Biden's plan or criticizing them for not.

 

INDEMS AIM AT SB353: Senate Bill 353, a policy similar to Georgia’s controversial election laws, would allow deceptive intimidation tactics on voters and would sow further doubt in the overall election process, Indiana Democrats said on Monday (Howey Politics Indiana). The Indiana Democratic Party has called on Hoosiers to take action by contacting State Representative Timothy Wesco, Chairman of the House Elections and Apportionment Committee, and demand the Committee not take up SB353 during tomorrow’s hearing scheduled for 8:30AM. Indiana Democrats firmly believe this policy is irresponsible, not rooted in common-sense, and remains a solution in search of a problem. “As I read Senate Bill 353, it was clear the policy’s intentions are to create a new requirement that will confuse and intimidate Hoosiers from participating in their American right to vote,” said Myla Eldridge, Marion County Clerk and Indiana Democratic Party vice chair. “Hoosiers should not have to be election law experts. The state should be making the ballot box more available and equitable for our voters, not throwing all the onus on them. Indiana Republicans continue to prioritize their partisan agenda ahead of fairness -- and it’s going to harm the future of our state and its families in the process.”

 

Polls

 

REUTERS POLL FINDS 60% OF REPUBLCANS DON'T BELIEVE CAPITOL SIEGE: Since the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have pushed false and misleading accounts to downplay the event that left five dead and scores of others wounded. His supporters appear to have listened (Reuters). Three months after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to try to overturn his November election loss, about half of Republicans believe the siege was largely a non-violent protest or was the handiwork of left-wing activists “trying to make Trump look bad,” a new Reuters/Ipsos poll has found. Six in 10 Republicans also believe the false claim put out by Trump that November’s presidential election “was stolen” from him due to widespread voter fraud, and the same proportion of Republicans think he should run again in 2024, the March 30-31 poll showed.

 

General Assembly

 

BILL ELIMINATING FIREARM PERMITS DIES IN SENATE: The Indiana Senate did not hear a measure that would have eliminated firearms carry permits in Indiana – a move that kills the bill (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Sen. Liz Brown has posted a Judiciary meeting for Wednesday - but the constitutional carry bill, 1369, was not listed. Thursday is the committee deadline.

 

SB251 AIMED AT ISTA: Teachers could be required to take extra steps to keep their union membership if legislation headed to the House floor advances after it passed a committee vote last week along party lines (Hicks, Indiana Public Media). Senate Bill 251 would have teachers opt in to union membership every year while being informed of their right to not join the Indiana State Teachers Association. School districts would have to confirm their decision by email. Advocates for the bill say a Supreme Court decision means teachers have to give “affirmative consent” before union dues are deducted from their paychecks. But Rep. Ryan Hatfield (D-Evansville) disagreed that the case, often referred to as “Janus,” means teachers have to reaffirm their consent every year. “That’s preposterous,” he said to Vincent Vernuccio from the Mackinac Center, which touts its efforts getting workers to drop labor unions. “I’m sorry sir, that’s just absurd. There’s absolutely nothing in Janus that Justice Alito alluded [to] that this required an annual consent.”

 

SENATE PASSES LAKE JUDICIAL BILL: Debate in the Indiana Senate Monday over changes to the judicial selection process in Lake County grew personal at times as senators seemingly ignored the chamber's rule against impugning the motives of other senators (Carden, NWI Times). House Bill 1453 would replace the nine-member Lake County Judicial Nominating Commission with a seven-member commission and eliminate the commissioners currently selected by lawyers and judges working in Lake County. Instead, the governor would nominate three members, the Lake County Commissioners would nominate three members, and the seventh would be designated by the chief justice of Indiana and vote only to break ties. Niemeyer, however, stood his ground and the Republican-controlled Senate ultimately voted 34-13 to approve the legislation.

 

BRINEGAR FRUSTRATED BY CIG TAX DEMISE IN SENATE BUDGET: Supporters of boosting Indiana’s cigarette tax expressed frustration Friday with a decision by state Senate Republicans to drop any increase from their state budget proposal being released next week (AP). The removal of the 50 cents-per-pack increase that was included in the House budget bill is the latest rejection of a cigarette tax hike by Republicans who dominate the Senate. For several years, they have blocked any increase of the current 99.5 cents-per-pack rate that was last raised in 2007. Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar argued it “boils down to the decision makers in the Senate majority caucus just are not looking at this from the right perspective.” “The reason we’re advocating for this is to reduce our smoking rate because it has been demonstrated through study after study that raising the tax on tobacco products is the best way to reduce smoking rate,” Brinegar said.

 

SB353 WOULD ADD VOTING RESTRICTIONS: In 2020, Gov. Eric Holcomb delayed the primary election from May until June and loosened restrictions on absentee voting as Indiana coped with the outbreak of COVID-19 (Shrake, Statehouse File). Under legislation proposed a year later, he wouldn’t be able to do either. Senate Bill 353, authored by Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, would limit the authority to change the “time, place or manner of holding an election’’— including the loosening of requirements for absentee voting — to the General Assembly. Currently, the requirement to obtain an absentee ballot is to fill out an application and to meet certain criteria such as being in poor health or out of the voting precinct at the time of the election.

 

PRESSEL BILL AIMED AT STUDENT CARDIAC ARREST: Spurred to action by the death of a LaPorte High School football player, Indiana lawmakers are determined to ensure the coaches and parents of student-athletes and marching band members are aware of the risks and warning signs of sudden cardiac arrest (Carden, NWI Times). Jake West was a junior at LaPorte when he collapsed in 2013 while running laps during football practice and died of sudden cardiac arrest due to an undiagnosed genetic weakening of the muscular wall of his heart. A subsequent screening of some 250 Northwest Indiana student-athletes by Indiana University LaPorte Hospital found at least three warranted further testing for similar conditions. House Enrolled Act 1040 would require additional information about sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) be provided to school employees and the parents of student athletes, including how to obtain electrocardiogram testing. "SCA is the leading cause of death for young student-athletes in the country. Over the last several years, LaPorte County has lost three kids due to this condition,” said state Rep. Jim Pressel, R-Rolling Prairie, the House sponsor.

 

REP. CAMPBELL COMMENTS ON SB3 PASSAGE: As innovations in care delivery technology continue to transform the Hoosier State’s rural communities and pandemic response, State Rep. Chris Campbell (D-West Lafayette) released the following statement on how Senate Bill 3 falls short in improving education and outcomes (Howey Politics Indiana). “Demonstrated throughout the duration of the global pandemic, telemedicine is a critical component of the health care industry, and state lawmakers must work diligently to ensure Hoosiers have access to convenient and comprehensive medical care,” Campbell said. “Senate Bill 3 was a step in the right direction, but unfortunately not the bold action needed to address concerns in education and outcomes."

 

Congress

 

PARLIAMENTARIAN TO ALLOW FILIBUSTER BYPASS: The Senate parliamentarian ruled Monday that Democrats can use special budgetary rules to avoid a GOP filibuster on two more pieces of legislation, setting the stage for President Biden's infrastructure agenda to pass in two packages with simple-majority votes (The Hill). It's a win for Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) that allows him to pass Biden's $2.25 trillion package by revising the fiscal 2021 Budget Resolution. Schumer could pass a budget resolution for fiscal 2022 to do a third reconciliation package for the second half of the Biden infrastructure agenda. Or the fiscal 2021 budget could be revised a third time to set up a third reconciliation package.

 

BRAUN WRITES BECERRA ON ABORTION FUNDING: On March 31, U.S. Sen. Mike Braun sent a letter to Secretary Becerra to ensure that he is following the current HHS Title X Rule in place which confirms the Congressional intent and requires that Title X funds not be distributed to any program or organization which provides or recommends abortion (Howey Politics Indiana). Senator Braun writes in his letter: “On March 29, 2021, my office received notice that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has awarded over five million dollars to the Indiana Family Health Council Incorporated (IFHC), an entity tasked with distribution of Title X grant dollars to organizations in the Hoosier state.  During your nomination process, you pledged that if confirmed, you would uphold the law. It is imperative that you take steps to ensure the longstanding intent of Congress is respected and no federal dollars under Title X are used to support abortion.”

 

BANKS SAYS MIDDLE CLASS WILL TAKE BRUNT OF BIDEN PLAN: President Biden is insisting that middle-class workers throughout the U.S. will not be taxed in order to pay for a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure bill (Darling, WIBC). The bill would instead raise corporate tax rates on businesses from 21-percent to 28-percent. Indiana Congressman Jim Banks (R) told Hugh Hewitt on his podcast that it doesn’t matter which tax you raise, it will still be American workers that will be hurt the most by the bill. “Essentially, all the tax hikes in the bill, from the corporate tax to the inheritance tax, everything in this bill is going to end up falling on workers,” Banks said. “Those tax hikes just end up landing on the consumer, they land on the worker.”

 

REP. GAETZ WON'T RESIGN: Rep. Matt Gaetz said Monday he will not leave Congress and denied accusations that he had sex with an underage girl, suggesting that he's being targeted by political foes because he “loathes the swamp” (ABC News). In a column appearing in the Washington Examiner, a conservative news outlet, the embattled Florida Republican predicted that “some of my feckless colleagues in Congress" will call for him to step down. “No, I am absolutely not resigning," he wrote Monday in one of his first public comments about the allegations.

 

THE SENATE will meet at 2 p.m. in a pro forma session. THE HOUSE is not in session.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB OBSERVES DISTRACTED DRIVING AWARENESS - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb issued a proclamation declaring April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month in Indiana. Now in its 11th year, the national observance is dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers and consequences of distracted driving, as well as reminding motorists about the importance of paying attention to the road (Howey Politics Indiana). “There’s only one task we should be focused on when behind the wheel and that’s safe driving – everything else can wait,” Gov. Holcomb said. “By making a commitment to always pay attention to the road, we all work together to save lives.”

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SCHEDULE - Below find Gov. Eric J. Holcomb’s public schedule for April 6, 2021. Tuesday, April 6: Gary Mass Vaccination Clinic Press Conference, 10 a.m. (CT) today, Gary Roosevelt High School, 730 W 25th Ave. Gary.

 

ISDH: MONDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health announced Monday that 762 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 691,625 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. To date, 12,668 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of one from the previous day. Another 407 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. A total of 3,279,662 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 3,277,052 on Sunday. A total of 9,038,809 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26, 2020.

 

COVID: CATALENT TO DOUBLE MODERNA VACCINE PRODUCTION - Contract drug manufacturer Catalent Inc. is expanding its U.S. production of the Covid-19 vaccine from Moderna Inc.,  a development that could ensure the U.S. has ample supply as it ramps up vaccinations (Wall Street Journal). Catalent has reached an agreement with Moderna that will nearly double the vaccine output at the contract manufacturer’s Bloomington, Ind., plant this month to about 400 vials a minute, according to people familiar with the matter.

 

PUBLIC AFFAIRS: WILLIAMS JOINS TAFT LAW - Taft is pleased to announce that Clifton R. S. Williams III has joined the firm as a director of public affairs in the Public Affairs Strategies Group (Howey Politics Indiana). Williams will provide government affairs advisory services with a focus on municipal, educational policy, and infrastructure matters. Prior to joining Taft in 2021, Williams served as District Director for Ohio’s 11th Congressional District, the Office of Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge.

 

IU: FIFE JOINING WOODSON STAFF - Another Hoosier is coming back to Bloomington to coach Indiana Men’s Basketball. Dane Fife will join Mike Woodson’s staff ( CBS4). Fife has spent the last eight seasons with Michigan State. He most recently served as the Spartans’ associate head coach.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN/HARRIS SCHEDULE - President Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:30 a.m. He’ll visit a vaccination site at Virginia Theological Seminary at 1:45 p.m. Back at the White House, he’ll deliver remarks about the vaccination effort at 3:45 p.m. VP Harris will leave Los Angeles at 7 a.m. Pacific time for Chicago, where she’ll tour a vaccination site for union members at 1:10 p.m. Central time. At 4 p.m. Eastern time, she’ll leave Chicago for Washington. Press secretary Jen Psaki will brief at noon.

 

TREASURY: YELLEN CALLS FOR GLOBAL MINIMUM TAX - The United States is working with G20 nations on a global minimum tax for companies, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Monday (CBS News). It's part of President Biden's corporate tax plan that also includes raising the corporate tax rate in the United States and setting minimum taxes on U.S. companies' foreign earnings. Yellen said reaching an agreement would move the world away from what she called a 30-year race to the bottom. "Together we can use a global minimum tax to make sure the global economy thrives based on a more level playing field in the taxation of multinational corporations, and spurs innovation, growth and prosperity," Yellen said.

 

JUSTICE: SCHAFFER DETENTION HEARING MOVED TO APRIL 21 - Jon R. Schaffer’s detention hearing scheduled for April 6 has been moved to April 21 at 10 a.m. The order was signed by United States District Court for the District of Columbia Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell on Monday (Columbus Republic). Schaffer, 53, Edinburgh is being held in Washington D.C. without bond. He faces six federal charges in connection to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. His preliminary hearing has been scheduled for 1 p.m. May 3.

 

ARKANSAS: GOVERNOR VETOES TRANSGENDER BILL - Arkansas’ governor on Monday vetoed a ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender youths, calling the legislation a “vast government overreach” and a “product of the cultural war in America” (Washington Post). Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said that if signed into law, the bill would interfere with physicians and parents “as they deal with some of the most complex and sensitive matters involving young people.” The bill, which is part of a wave of similar legislation across the country, would have banned doctors from providing transgender minors with gender-affirming treatments such as puberty blockers, hormone therapies and transition-related surgeries, and from referring them for such treatments. Republican lawmakers in at least 17 other states have introduced similar bans on medical treatments for transgender minors, despite opposition from major pediatric and psychiatric organizations.

 

SCOTUS: DISMISSES TRUMP TWITTER SUIT - The Supreme Court on Monday ordered a dispute over former President Donald Trump's ability to block his critics on Twitter to be tossed out, bringing the battle over Mr. Trump's Twitter account to a close as he is no longer in office and has since been banned from the platform (CBS News). The high court vacated a decision from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals against the former president and sent the case back to the lower court with instructions to dismiss it as moot. The New York-based 2nd Circuit found Mr. Trump's decision to block seven users from interacting with his Twitter account was unconstitutional, as the space associated with the former president's account was a designated public forum.

 

MLB: ALL-STAR GAME MOVED IN DENVER - Major League Baseball plans to move its All-Star Game to Denver after the league announced Friday that it was pulling the game out of Atlanta in protest of the state’s new restrictive voting laws (The Hill). The league is scheduled to announce on Tuesday that the game, set for July 13, will take place at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, USA Today reported Monday evening citing a person with knowledge of the decision.

 

MLB: MERCEDES DRIVES SOX TO WIN OVER SEATTLE - Yermín Mercedes continued his early season tear with three hits, Carlos Rodon struck out nine and the Chicago White Sox three-hit the Seattle Mariners 6-0 on Monday night (AP). Mercedes is the first player since at least 1900 to total 12 hits in his first four career starts — all in the first week of this season. He was also the first player since at least 1900 to start a season 8 for 8. The 28-year-old designated hitter is up to 12 of 18. Yasmani Grandal hit his 150th homer, driving in three and scoring twice to help Chicago snap a two-game skid. Rodon (1-0) allowed two hits over five innings in his first appearance of the season. Michael Kopech followed with five strikeouts over two innings, allowing a walk and a hit, and José Ruiz closed out with two perfect innings.

 

MLB: CUBS DOWN BREWERS 5-3 - Willson Contreras, Javier Báez and David Bote homered during a four-run fourth inning to lift the Chicago Cubs over the Milwaukee Brewers 5-3 on Monday night (AP). Trevor Williams pitched perfectly until Omar Narváez's leadoff single in the sixth — Narváez also broke up a no-hit bid in the eighth inning Saturday against Minnesota. Narváez added a three-run homer in the seventh.

 

World

 

PUTIN SIGNS LAW TO SERVE 2 MORE TERMS: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday signed a law allowing him to potentially hold onto power until 2036, a move that formalizes constitutional changes endorsed in a vote last year (ABC News). The July 1 constitutional vote included a provision that reset Putin's previous term limits, allowing him to run for president two more times. The change was rubber-stamped by the Kremlin-controlled legislature and the relevant law signed by Putin was posted Monday on an official portal of legal information. The 68-year-old Russian president, who has been in power for more than two decades — longer than any other Kremlin leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin — said he would decide later whether to run again in 2024 when his current six-year term ends.

 

Local

 

INDIANAPOLIS: ST. ELMO CITED FOR COVID VIOLATIONS LAST SUMMER - St. Elmo Steak House, which closed for deep cleaning last weekend after learning nine employees had tested positive for COVID-19, was found in late August to be in violation of a COVID-19 public health order that mandated all bar areas be closed, Marion County Public Health Department records show (IBJ). The restaurant corrected the problem and passed subsequent inspections in September and March, according to county records. There’s no indication that the reported violation in August is related to the current closure, but it does shed light on the restaurant’s record of following public health orders during the pandemic. The operator of the iconic downtown restaurant has declined to answer questions about the recent outbreak beyond its initial statement late Saturday night about the infections and closure.

 

DELPHI: REWARD FOR MURDER CASES GROWS TO $325K - The reward for information leading to a conviction in the 2017 killings of two teenage girls slain during a hiking trip in northern Indiana has grown to $325,000, state police said Monday (AP). The reward fund was boosted by an anonymous donation of $100,000, Indiana State Police said in a statement which said the full $325,000 reward “will be given to anyone who can provide information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the deaths of Abigail Williams and Liberty German.” The bodies of German, 14, and Williams, 13, were found in a rugged area near a hiking trail on Feb. 14, 2017, one day after they vanished while walking on that trail near the Monon High Bridge, just outside their hometown of Delphi, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) northwest of Indianapolis.

 

COLUMBUS: POLICE RELEASE VIDEO OF RACIST GRAFFITTI SUSPECT — Columbus police continue to pursue a suspect caught on surveillance camera in connection with white supremacist graffiti stenciled on downtown Columbus buildings which was discovered early Saturday morning (Columbus Republic). The suspect is described as a white male wearing glasses, a gray sweatshirt, blue jeans and a black backpack. The same graffiti also was found Saturday in other nearby cities such as the Cincinnati metro area, according to news reports.

 

KOKOMO: MALL BANKRUPTCY DELAYED BY 2 WEEKS - The owner of Markland Mall has been given a two-week extension to restructure its debt as part of a last-ditch effort to avoid filing for bankruptcy, but the company has indicated that it may be inevitable (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). Washington Prime Group, which owns around 100 malls in the U.S., skipped a $23.5 million interest payment in February, and was given until March 31 to come up with the money. That deadline has been extended to April 14 to allow the company more time to find a solution before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

 

MICHIGAN CITY: SON OF FORMER MAYOR SENTENCED - The stepson of former Michigan City mayor Ron Meer has pleaded guilty to a gun charge and was sentenced to six years with the Indiana Department of Corrections (WSBT-TV). Adam Ross Bray pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon. Drug possession and resisting law enforcement charges were dismissed. Bray was arrested about a month before the 2019 General Election. He must serve two-and-a-half years in prison before being eligible for the work release program.

 

NOBLESVILLE: JENSON TO BREAK GROUND ON NEXUS TODAY - Noblesville Mayor Chris Jenson will be joined by officials from Hamilton County and the City of Noblesville, as well as private industry partners to break ground on the Cityscape Residential development, NEXUS (Howey Politics Indiana). The $50+ million project will transform the former Marsh Supermarket property in downtown Noblesville, providing 287 new luxury apartments on Noblesville’s west side.

 

TERRE HAUTE: CANDLES SEEKS EXEC DIRECTOR - The CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center is launching the search for a new executive director, the board of directors has announced (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Leah Simpson has served as the interim executive director since March 2019. She will use her dedication to CANDLES to focus on education by leading program development, further building educational resources for both teachers and students, guest experience, and daily operations of the museum, according to a news release.

 

HOBART: CITY SELLS SITE TO LAKE COUNTY PARKS — The Lake County Parks Department has purchased 40 acres of property in Hobart with plans to complete environmental and recreational enhancements to the area once speculated could become the site of an immigrant detention facility (Reilly, NWI Times). Lake County Parks on Thursday closed on a deal to buy the land for $576,000 from The GEO Group. “We’re thrilled,” said Craig Zandstra, superintendent of planning and natural resources for Lake County Parks.

 

ELKHART COUNTY: MASK MANDATE EXTENDED TO MAY 14 - With the support of local hospitals, Elkhart County Health Officer Dr. Bethany Wait has extended the county mask mandate through May 14, 2021 (WSBT-TV). She cited rising cases and hospitalizations as well as the recent expanded vaccine eligibility as reasons for renewing the mask mandate for another month. “It is my goal to help Elkhart County control the spread of the virus to allow us to keep our kids in school, keep our hospitals accessible, and keep our businesses open,” stated Dr. Wait. “I believe that a certain level of mitigation must be required until individuals 16 years of age and older have an opportunity to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine.”

 

DELAWARE COUNTY: COMMISSIONERS DROP MASK MANDATE - The Delaware County commissioners dropped the requirement for a countywide mask mandate during their meeting on Monday, ultimately saying it will fall to local business owners to make their own decisions (Ohlenkamp, Muncie Star Press). A caveat to the mandate being dropped by local officials is it will actually remain in place in a lot of areas. Mask mandates remain in place in Indiana K-12 schools for at least the rest of the school year, as well as in state buildings and COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites. Masks still will be required for Delaware County-owned property and buildings as well.

 

POSEY COUNTY: 2 MASS VACCINE CLINICS SCHEDULED - The Posey County Health Department is holding two mass COVID-19 vaccine clinics (WFIE-TV). They’ll use the Moderna vaccine, and attendees should attend both dates to get two doses. It will be April 17 and May 15 at Marrs Elementary School, 9201 Old Highway 62, Mt. Vernon. Both clinics are from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

 

MONROE COUNTY: MASK MANDATE REMAINS - Monroe County's mask mandate will continue to be enforced after Indiana's statewide order becomes an advisory (WRTV). Penny Caudill, administrator of the Monroe County Health Department, said in an email that officials do not plan to change any current regulations. In a letter sent Friday, officials from the Monroe County Health Department, Monroe County Board of Commissioners, City of Bloomington, Indiana University Health and Indiana University said they support continuing COVID-19 safety precautions amid rising cases. "We are united in the belief that the pandemic is not yet over and that it is not yet time to let down our guard," the letter said.

 

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: 5 NOMINATED FOR JUDICIAL POSITION - The St. Joseph Superior Court Judicial Nominating Commission announced five nominees to fill an upcoming judicial vacancy. The Commission selected the following nominees: Magistrate Cristal Brisco, Magistrate Keith Doi, Magistrate Andre Gammage, Stephanie Steele, and  Magistrate Julie Verheye. The nominees will be submitted to Governor Eric Holcomb for consideration. Under state law, the Commission must submit to the governor a list of five candidates with written evaluations of each candidate. Upon receiving the list of nominees, Governor Holcomb has 60 days to make an appointment to the St. Joseph Superior Court.