HOUSE ETHICS COMMITTEE DROPS BOSMA COMPLAINT: The House Ethics Committee dropped a House Ethics Rule 166 complaint against Speaker Brian Bosma (Howey Politics Indiana). It concerned an allegation of a sexual liaison between Bosma and an intern two decades ago. The IndyStar reported that Bosma paid a law firm more than $40,000 in campaign funds to gather unflattering information about a woman who said she had a sexual encounter with him in 1992. Bosma has denied the allegation. Last week it was reported the committee hired outside legal counsel, but on Monday, released a statement, "Based upon the report submitted by outside counsel, the committee found that reasonable cause does not exist to support the alleged violation, and the complaint is dismissed. All investigations and records of the committee are confidential." It was signed by Republican Reps. Sharon Negele, Karen Englman, Greg Steuerwald, and Democrat Reps. Sue Errington, Reps. Matt Pierce and Terri Austin. The complaint was filed on Oct. 22, 2018 by then State Rep. Linda Lawson following an IndyStar article on the allegation. “I am pleased with the unanimous and bipartisan decision from the House Ethics Committee to dismiss this politically motivated complaint after a thorough and months-long review," Bosma said. "I have said from the start that the complaint was unfounded and baseless, and clearly timed to impact the November election. This is now two independent, bipartisan and unanimous decisions that this complaint is without merit.” In January, the Indiana Election Commission, made up of two Republicans and two Democrats, unanimously dismissed a complaint against Speaker Bosma regarding his use of campaign funds to hire an attorney to defend himself against false allegations.

BUTTIGIEG CAMPAIGN KICKOFF SET FOR 2 SUNDAY: Mayor Pete Buttigieg will kick off his Democratic presidential campaign at 2 p.m. (EST) Sunday in downtown South Bend (Howey Politics Indiana). This event is free and open to the public, however a digital RSVP is strongly encouraged. Individuals can RSVP at https://www.peteforamerica.com/april14. Gates will open for guests at 12 noon at the corner of E Wayne and S. Michigan Streets.

MAYOR PETE SIGNALS AN INFLECTION POINT: Imagine two decades ago, or even one, that the 37-year-old, openly gay mayor of a medium-size American city appeared on stage and declared he was running for president. He either would have been laughed off that stage, or widely ignored (Seib, Wall Street Journal). Today, that person, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, isn’t simply making a run, he may be the hottest candidate in the land. He raised more than $7 million in the first quarter of the year, has qualified for Democratic primary debates, has moved the needle with policy proposals and is getting wide media attention, including an appearance on “Meet the Press” Sunday. Much of this surprising evolution comes because of Mr. Buttigieg’s own intelligence and considerable political skill set, of course. But his candidacy also is both a sure sign of, and a result of, the destruction of the old political patterns. The long-prevailing rules of politics are shattered, the dominance of the traditional political establishment has waned, and there are no clear rules about what comes next. The Buttigieg candidacy, in short, is a sign that the political system is at an inflection point, and voters are prepared to think outside the box. “I’ve bet a lot on that premise,” Mr. Buttigieg said in an interview. Put another way, as different as the two men are in most every way, Candidate Buttigieg might not exist without the example of President Trump, who shattered expectations and all the old paradigms in 2016.

BARR TO TESTIFY THIS MORNING AS CONGRESS AWAITS MUELLER REPORT: Congress has its first opportunity on Tuesday to question Attorney General William Barr on the results of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, the details of which remain secret more than two weeks after the inquiry ended (USA Today). The House Appropriations subcommittee is expected to press Barr on his decision to release a bare-bones summary of the special counsel's report last month in which the attorney general said Mueller had not found a conspiracy involving President Donald Trump's campaign and the Russian government. The special counsel did not make a determination about whether the president's actions during the investigation amounted to obstruction. Instead, Barr and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, separately determined that Trump's conduct did not constitute a crime. The hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. EST.

HOGSETT PUSHES FEDERAL GUN CRIME PARTNERSHIP: With Indianapolis reeling from a weekend homicide spree, Mayor Joe Hogsett joined Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) Chief Bryan Roach as well as local and federal law enforcement partners to introduce Indianapolis’ Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC) to the community (Howey Politics Indiana). An embrace of the technology-led precision policing model, CGIC allows IMPD and its partners to more effectively target the most violent offenders and their sources of crime guns. “This weekend, we saw the senseless devastation crime guns have on our community,” said Mayor Hogsett. “And so today, we add another tool to our violence reduction toolkit. By focusing on violent individuals, rather than on the areas they victimize, we more effectively hold accountable those who are disproportionately responsible for gun crime in our city.” The CGIC model focuses on the collection and real-time analysis of crime gun evidence from homicide and non-fatal shootings using forensic technologies. By helping detectives connect a single perpetrator to multiple crime scenes, Indianapolis’ CGIC is generating investigative leads that result in the arrest and prosecution of repeat violent offenders, and the removal of crime guns from the community. Year-to-date, CGIC investigations have yielded 38 arrests and removed 28 crime guns from Indianapolis neighborhoods. “With each arrest made, charge filed, and gun recovered from this new model, we send a message that those who perpetrate violence in our community will be held accountable,” said IMPD Chief Roach.

TRUMP SEEKS TO REINSTATE FAMILY SEPARATION POLICY: The White House is moving to take tighter control of immigration policy as the number of illegal border crossings has surged, fueling tensions with the Department of Homeland Security and presaging more departures from the agency (Wall Street Journal). President Trump’s efforts accelerated Sunday with the departure of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. In recent days, Mr. Trump also pulled his nominee to run U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and he has signaled he may oust the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Randolph Alles, the Secret Service director whose departure the White House announced on Monday, said in a memo to his staff that the administration had told him weeks ago that “transitions in leadership should be expected across the Department of Homeland Security.” Internally, Mr. Trump also has told aides he wants to reinstate his family-separation policy, which provoked a political outcry when it was in place last spring, in order to deter would-be migrants. An administration official said Mr. Trump recently told Stephen Miller, one of his most hard-line advisers, of the administration’s immigration policy: “You’re in charge.”

AT CENTER OF CHAOS, STEPHEN MILLER IS LONE SURVIVOR: Amid the chaos, Stephen Miller is in charge now. The iconoclastic hard-line young conservative policy aide to President Donald Trump, hated by the left, and celebrated by the extreme right, is the obvious winner in the power struggle that led to Kirstjen Nielsen's ouster Sunday night as Homeland Security secretary (NBC News). Miller has unofficially taken the reins of border security amid a purge at the department that has also seen Secret Service Director Randolph "Tex" Alles removed from his job and Trump's pick to head the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, Ron Vitiello, yanked. The Department of Homeland Security, a sprawling agency charged with defending the nation at home, does not have Senate-confirmed officials in the roles of secretary, deputy secretary, ICE chief, Secret Service director or inspector general. When Kevin McAleenan, who has been tapped to take over Nielsen's job on a temporary basis, moves into his new digs, there won't be a Senate-confirmed leader at Customs and Border Protection, either. Miller has always had a strong hand in the administration's internal wars over immigration policy, but now there's no one left to fight him. "Stephen Miller's fingerprints are all over Secretary Nielsen's resignation letter," said Dan Eberhart, a major Republican donor who is in touch with administration officials. "Trump wants to double down on the immigration strategy and Nielsen was apoplectic at the idea of closing the border."

CBS POLL SHOWS AMERICANS PAN TAX REFORM: A majority of Americans see the recent changes to the tax laws as benefiting the wealthy and large corporations, and most feel their own taxes have not gone down because of the law. Partisanship more than income drives views of how Americans view their tax situation (CBS News). Four in 10 Americans say their taxes haven't been impacted by the tax law changes that went into effect in 2018. For those who do see a change, more say it has made their taxes higher (32 percent) than lower (25 percent). Most Americans believe large corporations (65 percent) and wealthy people (61 percent) have been helped by the recent tax law changes. Far fewer think the middle class (31 percent) and homeowners (25 percent) have been helped. More Americans think those groups have been hurt rather than helped by the new law.  The public divides along partisan lines on how their own taxes have been affected by the law — more so than by income level. Americans across income groups are more likely to say their taxes are now higher than lower. Those earning less — with household incomes under $50,000 — are the most likely to say their taxes haven't been affected by the law.

FARMERS WANT DISASTER BILL TO PASS SENATE: Farmers and ranchers enduring billions of dollars in losses need Congress to pass disaster assistance immediately. Critical disaster funding remains stalled in Congress as losses continue to rise (Hoosier Ag Today). The Senate has just rejected two versions of a bill that would send funding to the Department of Agriculture to assist producers affected by natural disasters in 2018 and 2019. R.J. Karney, American Farm Bureau Federation congressional relations director, says lawmakers are at odds over humanitarian relief for Puerto Rico. “The House of Representatives has passed a supplemental disaster assistance bill. In the Senate, the bill is currently stalled. There’s disagreements amongst Republicans and Democrats with regards to the amount of funding allocation for Puerto Rico.” The House bill does not include the expanded disaster assistance added by the Senate. Karney says AFBF supports both the inclusion of funds for disaster recovery in 2018 and 2019 and the efforts to help Puerto Rico with a humanitarian crisis. Meanwhile, losses in the Midwest are expected to rise. “Losses total more than $8 billion between the catastrophic weather events that occurred in 2018 and 2019. The flooding in the Midwest, those assessments are still underway, and we expect that total number to increase.”

TRUMP CANCELS MLB/CUBA DEAL: The Trump administration canceled a four-month-old deal between Major League Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation Monday, saying that the federation was part of the Cuban government and trade with it was illegal under current law (Washington Post). The announcement came less than two weeks after the start of the 2019 baseball season, and just days after the federation released the names of 34 Cuban players it said were eligible to sign with Major League Baseball. Some of those players were expected to be signed and playing this year. First negotiated by the Obama administration, the agreement was intended to prevent Cuban players from undertaking risky escapes from Cuba, and from having to give up their citizenship to play in the United States.

I-69 POT HOLE TORT CLAIMS COMING: Forty of the scores of motorists whose cars have been damaged on a 15-mile, pothole-ridden section of Interstate 69 have brought tort claims against the state. The potholes are making an already dangerous route — due to construction zones —even more hazardous (Muncie Star Press). From Oct. 1 through Feb. 28, there were 186 crashes, resulting in 25 injuries and one death, on I-69 between mile markers 219 (Pendleton) and 234 (Daleville), according to  Indiana Criminal Justice Institute records. Chris Polo, who commutes from Fishers to his job as a chef at Muncie Community Schools, says he feels like a race car driver once he gets north of Pendleton. "I put down my coffee and start swerving," he said. "I know where the potholes are. It's crazy."

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: President Trump's immigration policy at the U.S./Mexican border has been chaos. The child separation strategy was not only cruel, but grossly ineffective as evidenced by the current flood of immigrants now at the border. Despite this fiasco, Trump is purging the Department of Homeland Security, eliminating those opposing his disjointed policies and hardline aide Stephen Miller appears to be in charge with little check on his power. The notion of returning to the child separation policy fits the definition of insanity. Even more troubling is the gaping void in DHS, which is now being run by an array of "acting" officials operating under a president who spends much of his time watching cable TV and tweeting. We are now flirting with a disaster should we face a national crisis (terror attack, Cat 5 hurricane). - Brian A. Howey



Campaigns

HOGSETT OPENING FIELD OFFICE: Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogett's reelection campaign will open up its first field office on Saturday (Howey Politics Indiana). "Late last year, we launched an unprecedented city-wide effort to re-elect Mayor Joe Hogsett and grow our City-County Council majority," the campaign said Monday. "Led by Mayor Joe and Council President Vop Osili, the 2019 Coordinated Campaign goes beyond the mayor’s race or any one campaign - we’re moving forward as one coalition. In the months since, we’ve hired staff, put field organizers on the ground, knocked hundreds of doors, and reached thousands of voters. Now, we’re ready for the next big step. We’re thrilled to announce that this Saturday, we’ll be opening our first field headquarters!"

FADNESS PRIMARY OPPONENT SAYS CITY MOVING TOO FAST: Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness and his backers see the transformation of Fishers as a resounding success story (Quinn, IBJ). But some residents say it’s all been too much, too fast, and has left parts of their community almost unrecognizable. Logan Day, the Republican challenging Fadness in the May 7 primary, is betting that sentiment, coupled with residents’ feelings they’ve been left out of the conversation about development, is broad enough to sweep him to victory. Day said that, as he meets with voters, many tell him development is happening too quickly and isn’t sustainable. He said they long for features of “old Fishers” that have disappeared as development moves in. “Change is good,” said Day, a self-employed consultant. “I don’t know that the way it’s being forced on a fast track is tending to gain support with people who live here.”

ZODY BLASTS HOUSE ETHICS PROBE: Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody issued the following statement after the House Committee on Ethics dismissed a complaint against Speaker Brian Bosma (Howey Politics Indiana). “I don’t blame Hoosiers for distrusting a shadowy process where the judge and jury are politicians and the trial is conducted completely behind closed doors. After nearly a decade in complete control, it’s clear Republicans just don’t think the rules apply to them. Today’s result is just another confirmation to Hoosier taxpayers that the system appears rigged to protect politicians.”

INDEMS CRITICAL OF HOLCOMB FLIPS ON HATE CRIME LAW: Indiana Democrats criticized Gov. Eric Holcomb of botching the hate crime law, saying he "made hate crimes a top priority, then never laid out a vision, never led or lifted a finger to get it passed. Now, he struggles to even say where he stands on the bill he signed" (Howey Politics Indiana). The Democrats pointed to a Fox59 interview in which he called SEA198 "a step in the right direction" while stating that he still wanted state policy. "If it doesn't match your employment policy and is only a 'step in the right direction', it doesn't cover everyone. Pick one, governor," Democrats said. Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody wasn’t surprised have-it-both-ways Holcomb struggled to clearly articulate his position. “It’s par for the course that our caretaker governor can’t give an interview without trying to have it both ways on hate crimes,” said Zody. “Leaders take a principled stand. Holcomb took a backseat and watched a top priority get watered-down by his GOP colleagues.”

BUTTIGIEG COMMITTEE SEEKS STREET CLOSURES IN SOUTH BEND: Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s exploratory presidential campaign is asking the city to close parts of Michigan Street and Jefferson Boulevard, outside the campaign's new headquarters, Friday through Sunday (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). In a one-minute fundraising video he emailed Thursday to prospective donors, Buttigieg said he would make an announcement that day and invited supporters to attend or watch it via livestream. Campaign officials have not yet announced a specific time and place for the event. According to the agenda for the city's Board of Public Works meeting set for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, the "Pete for America" campaign will request the closures.

BIDEN LEADS IN MORNING CONSULT POLL; BUTTIGIEG AT 5%: The spate of negative stories about Joe Biden’s interactions with women hasn’t upended the former vice president’s standing as presumptive 2020 Democratic front-runner, according to the first national poll of the presidential field conducted since the controversy erupted (Politico). In a survey from Morning Consult, Biden was still at the top of the list of candidates with the support of 32 percent of voters who say they intend to participate in a Democratic primary or caucus next year. He is 9 points ahead of the next closest contender: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), at 23 percent. The latest poll, which was conducted April 1-7, included 13,644 voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percentage point. After the top two candidates, the Morning Consult poll showed no other hopeful had double-digit support. California Sen. Kamala Harris is third at 9 percent, followed by former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke at 8 percent, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 7 percent, South Bend (Ind.) Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 5 percent and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker at 4 percent. Buttigieg has been rising slowly but steadily over the past few weeks. After hovering below 1 percent through mid-March, he registered 1 percent in the week ending March 17, 2 percent on March 24, 3 percent last week and now 5 percent in this week’s poll.

SANDERS TO CAMPAIGN IN INDIANA: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders announced a campaign swing Monday that will take him to five Great Lakes region states that are a key part of the Democratic strategy to rebuild a "blue wall" and defeat President Donald Trump (Indiana Public Media). Sanders planned weekend rallies in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania along with stops in Ohio and Indiana. The Sanders campaign said the tour will emphasize that the Democrats' "clearest and strongest path to victory in 2020 runs through the Upper Midwest." His Indiana stop has not be announced.

KLOBACHAR POSTS $5.2M: Sen. Amy Klobuchar raised more than $5.2 million for her presidential bid since launching her campaign in mid-February, trailing behind top contenders for the Democratic nomination in 2020 (Politico). Amy for America, Klobuchar's campaign committee, announced Monday that it finished the first quarter of the year with $7 million in the bank after adding in an additional $3 million that Klobuchar raised for her Senate campaign last year.

REP. SWALWELL ENTERS PREZ RACE: California Rep. Eric Swalwell will become the latest Democrat to enter the 2020 presidential race Monday evening in an appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" (NBC News). "I see a country in quicksand, unable to solve problems and threats from abroad, unable to make life better for people here at home. Nothing gets done," Swalwell says in a clip released early by the show. "I'm ready to solve these problems -- I'm running for president of the United States."



General Assembly

HOUSE MAKES CIB BILL CHANGES: The House Ways and Means Committee has approved a bill that would create a new soccer stadium in Indianapolis, with one major exception. Our partners at WIBC report the committee Monday removed the requirement that Indy Eleven receive a Major League Soccer franchise before the stadium could be built (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). The Indy Eleven is currently a part of the United Soccer League and recently-proposed plans for a new stadium as part of the overall $550 million Eleven Park development. Senate Bill 7 would create a sports development area to capture taxes to help fund the facility, which would be owned by the Capital Improvement Board in Indianapolis. Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers), who co-chairs the committee, said Monday that Major League Soccer wants to see stadiums in progress before granting expansion teams, according to WIBC. The version of SB 7 passed by the Senate earlier this year required the Indy Eleven to secure an MLS franchise in order to receive a new stadium. Senate Bill 7 also allows for renovations of Bankers Life Fieldhouse and extends the Indiana Pacers' lease at the arena. However, the committee removed a provision that would provide funding for two new Hilton hotels in downtown Indy as part of a $120 million expansion of the Indiana Convention Center. Huston said other funding options from the city would be available, according to the station. The full House now will consider the bill.

HOGSETT ADMINISTRATION REACTS TO CIB CHANGES: Taylor Schaffer, deputy chief of staff for Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, released a statement following Monday's vote (Inside Indiana Business): "Today's display of unanimous support for Senate Bill 7 is another productive step forward toward a taxpayer-friendly vision for long-term funding of these critical assets. The Capital Improvement Board's facilities are an economic engine for our city and our state, and Mayor Joe Hogsett applauds the continued work of the Indiana General Assembly as we move closer to preserving the progress we've made over the last five decades without a single tax or fee increase on Hoosier taxpayers.

KENNEDY APPRECIATIVE OF CIB BILL CHANGE: The president of the Capital Improvement Board in Indianapolis says one of the recently-approved changes to a bill involving the CIB was not unexpected. The House Ways and Means Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 7, which details many items related to the CIB. However, a provision that originally provided funding for the expansion of the Indiana Convention Center and the addition to two new hotels in downtown Indianapolis was removed.  In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Melina Kennedy says other funding sources for the $120 million project were always being considered. "An effort by the CIB and the city to add more convention space and hotel space has a big, strong demand from some of our biggest convention customers, such as FFA, Gen Con and others," said Kennedy. "The expanded convention center portion to help accommodate those customers would be funded by the city, that has always been contemplated in that regard and the hotel portion would be private investment by those developing the hotel."

WAYS & MEANS AMENDS INDY ELEVEN STADIUM: State lawmakers changed the conditions Monday for the Indy Eleven soccer team’s ability to build a new stadium and collect tax revenue from the area around it. The House Ways and Means Committee unanimously passed an amended bill that removes a requirement that Indianapolis have a Major League Soccer franchise before the Eleven may collect taxes from the stadium district (Horton, Indiana Public Media). The new language now states the team must only be in a professional league, which it is. Committee co-chair Todd Huston says this gives the state more flexibility. “To meet the Major League Soccer requirements, they want a stadium and at the end of the day, they want to see a stadium in process,” Huston says. “It may be that the stadium is in process while the team is under a different league.” The previous version of the bill that passed out of the Senate required Indy Eleven to become an MLS team within three years.

WAYS & MEANS TAKES UP CASINO BILL TODAY: An Indiana House panel is set to take up a bill that would allow one of Gary's casinos to move to Terre Haute (Indiana Public Media). The House Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on the bill, which cleared the Senate in February before being revamped by the House Public Policy Committee. The Tribune-Star reports those changes include tough new requirements for Spectacle Entertainment's plans to move one of its two Gary casinos along Lake Michigan to Terre Haute and shift the second to an inland Gary location. The changes specify that Spectacle Entertainment would be permitted to move the Gary casino inland only if it pays the Indiana Gaming Commission $100 million and surrenders its second casino license. That license would be auctioned off for a casino in Terre Haute.

REVENGE PORN BILL PASSES HOUSE: Two bills penalizing those who share intimate or pornographic images without a person’s consent cleared the Indiana House (Smith, Indiana Public Media). The two measures create penalties in both criminal and civil court. There’s nothing in Indiana law to punish what’s commonly referred to as “revenge porn,” distribution of pornographic images or videos without someone’s consent. Rep. Mike Speedy’s (R-Indianapolis) bill makes it a Class A misdemeanor to do so and a Level 6 felony if an offender does it more than once. Speedy points to the recent case of a Hamilton County teacher. “Formerly married woman whose ex-husband distributed images throughout the community and the police were wanting to help her but couldn’t,” Speedy says. Rep. Sharon Negele’s (R-Attica) bill creates monetary penalties, in civil court, for revenge porn. “And this is one tool in the tool chest to hopefully stop some of these problems that are occurring in our society,” Negele says. Both measures head back to the Senate.

SENATE PASSES STAND YOUR GROUND BILL: The Indiana Senate approved an expansion Monday of the state’s Stand Your Ground law (Smith, Indiana Public Media). Indiana’s Stand Your Ground law protects you from criminal charges if you use force to defend yourself, your property or someone else. The proposed bill extends that to civil court – it says a criminal can’t sue the person who used that justified force on them. Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) says the bill provides immunity for “vigilante justice.” “You go out and you shoot somebody that you maybe think is doing wrong – I mean, this is right out of Charles Bronson,” Tallian says. But Sen. Mike Young (R-Indianapolis) says that’s not the case. “If a jury finds – and it goes to trial – that you didn’t have justification, you don’t get immunity under this bill,” Young says. The measure goes back to the House.

FERTILITY BILL PASSES HOUSE: An Indianapolis fertility specialist who secretly inseminated patients with his own sperm faced no criminal charges other than lying to investigators. Legislators are about to approve a bill to change that (Berman, WIBC). Donald Cline's patients believed they had been artificially inseminated with donor sperm, until their now-adult children began researching their genes and discovered Cline had been the donor, fathering at least 41 children. The half-siblings believe the total will surpass 50. Cline received a suspended sentence after pleading guilty in 2017 to obstruction of justice for lying to investigators. But prosecutors concluded Indiana's fraud laws couldn't be stretched to charge him directly with misleading his patients. Rolling Prairie Representative Jim Pressel's bill specifically adds fertility treatments and other medical procedures to the law which makes it a misdemeanor to misrepresent property you're selling. Medical cases, including sperm or eggs, would be felonies, carrying up to three years in prison. Pressel says the law needs to create accountability for the hardships caused by actions like Cline's.

BILL WOULD GIVE CHARTER SCHOOLS OVERSIGHT: Virtual charter schools would be overseen by statewide authorizers rather than individual school communities under a bill in the Indiana General Assembly (Eubanks, BSU). The bill comes after the task of running an online charter proved too great for Daleville Community Schools, which is ending its virtual charter program. Daleville graduated 2.2 percent of its online students during the 2017-18 school year, according to the Indiana Department of Education. Daleville Superintendent Paul Garrison told the State House Education Committee in January that more oversight is needed to provide better virtual education for students. “There is indeed a need to provide regulation of virtual education programs, beyond that which we’ve been able to provide as an authorizer, to help ensure the best educational practice for the benefit of the school and students,” Garrison said.

REP. FRYE HONORS TASK FORCE ONE: State Representative Randy Frye (R-Greesnburg) recently honored Indiana Task Force One at the Statehouse for its services in the state and around the country (Madison Courier). Indiana Task Force One is one of 28 urban search and rescue teams in the country and includes 70 emergency responders, including physicians, paramedics, engineers, search dogs and their handlers, and damage-stucture specialists from fire departments in and around Marion County. These emergency responders volunteer their time and services to help Indiana and the country and are trained to serve in the six areas of disaster response: search, rescue, medical, hazardous material, logistics and planning. “These brave men and women help keep Americans safe during times of disaster in our country,” said Frye. “The task force assisted local emergency personnel in search and rescue operations in recent years in Klondike, Evansville and Henryville after tornadoes struck the towns. Their commitment to our communities is heroic and deserving of recognition.”



Congress

GRASSLEY WARNS TRUMP OVER DHS PURGE: The most senior Senate Republican is warning the White House not to oust another top immigration official, making appeals to the administration against dismissing Lee Francis Cissna, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, amid a purge of Homeland Security leaders (Washington Post). In an interview with The Washington Post, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said he was “very, very concerned” regarding reports that Cissna could be next in a series of rapid-fire DHS dismissals that began late last week when the White House suddenly pulled the nomination of Ronald Vitiello, who had been tapped as director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  “One, those are good public servants,” Grassley said Monday evening, after rumors of Cissna’s potential exit percolated all day. “Secondly, besides the personal connection I have with them and the qualifications they have, they are the intellectual basis for what the president wants to accomplish in immigration.”

LAWMAKERS AGREE ON IRAN TERROR DESIGNATION: Three Republican federal lawmakers representing northeast Indiana said Monday they fully support the Trump administration's designation of the Iranian military as a terrorist organization (Francisco, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, said in a statement that Iran and its Revolutionary Guard Corps "are the largest exporters of terrorism in the world. They have caused death and despair across the Middle East and openly advocate for the eradication of our Israeli allies." Banks also said: "Following the Obama administration's years of appeasement and apologies toward the Iranians, President Trump is calling out Iran and holding them accountable for the harm they cause to their people, and the security of the world.” Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., tweeted: "Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism & Iran’s military, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, has American blood on its hands. I commend @POTUS for this designation. We must continue the maximum pressure campaign on the Iranian regime." Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., said in a statement: "President Trump made a courageous decision to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, building off his success of rooting out ISIS and keeping our country safe from the threat of global terrorism.” Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-2nd, said in a statement: “Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, and the IRGC bears responsibility for deadly attacks on Americans and our allies. I applaud President Trump’s decision to designate the IRGC a foreign terrorist organization and continue holding Iran accountable for its destabilizing activities.”

BANKS SAYS HUAWEI EXPLOITS RURAL COMMUNITIES: U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) released the following statement regarding the use of taxpayer funds to purchase components of Chinese telecommunications company, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. by participants in the rural broadband program (Howey Politics Indiana). Rural communities rely on connectivity from smaller telecommunications companies, some of which use components from Huawei. The cheaper equipment gives them an advantage in the rural broadband market, which is in need of enhanced connectivity. Unfortunately, the use of Huawei components poses a significant national security threat given the Chinese government’s control of the company.  The threats of espionage and cyber warfare via Huawei components is made even greater given the proximity of many of the rural broadband towers to military installations. Said Rep. Banks, “Over 31 percent of rural Americans don't have access to broadband. While we build out rural connectivity, it cannot be done at the expense of national security.  No more taxpayer funds should be used to purchase Huawei components.  That’s why I requested the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture to take a whole-of-government approach to ensure our national security is not compromised in the pursuit of rural broadband connectivity.”

State

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB TO GIVE BSU COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS -  Indiana’s top elected official will give the keynote address at Ball State University’s Spring Commencement on May 4 (Slabaugh, Muncie Star Press). Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb will speak during the ceremony, which will begin at 10 a.m. on the Arts Terrace. About 3,200 Ball State graduates are expected to receive their diplomas. This year will mark the first time an Indiana governor has given an address at Ball State’s Spring Commencement while in office, according to a release. “We are very grateful to Gov. Holcomb for speaking to and inspiring our graduates and their families,” Ball State President Geoffrey S. Mearns said in the release. “The governor has supported higher education and Ball State during his time in office. We look forward to Gov.  Holcomb joining us as we celebrate this major achievement in the lives of our students.”

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SCHEDULE - Below find Gov. Eric J. Holcomb’s public schedule for April 9 and 10, 2019. Tuesday, April 9: Economic Development Announcement and Groundbreaking, 10 a.m., Tuesday. 11460 N. Meridian St., Carmel, IN 46032. Wednesday, April 10: 92nd Annual Fire Department Instructors Conference, 8:45 a.m.,, Indiana Convention Center, Sagamore Ballroom.

STATEHOUSE: HILL PURSUES FIRM OVER PRIZES - Attorney General Curtis Hill is pursuing legal action against yet another promotions company over allegations of deceptive advertising. Once again, the issue involves mailings that allegedly lead Hoosiers to falsely believe they have won valuable prizes (Howey Politics Indiana). In a civil lawsuit filed April 4 in Morgan County, Attorney General Hill alleges that Texas-based Hopkins and Raines Inc. sent mailings to 2.1 million Indiana consumers as part of 56 different promotions for car dealers in Indiana between March of 2016 and March of 2018. The complaint alleges that all the mailings contained game pieces purporting to determine whether recipients had won prizes – which included such valuable items as vehicles, TVs or $1,000 in cash. Each mailing, however, contained identical game pieces with winning numbers. Thus, each mailing allegedly communicated to all recipients that they had won significant prizes when they had not. Recipients who went to dealerships to claim winnings were awarded “prizes” much less valuable than those advertised – typically such items as a $5 Walmart gift card, a scratch-off lottery ticket, a cheap MP3 player or a mail-in rebate coupon for $10 off the purchase of a turkey. “Always be skeptical of anything that seems too good to be true,” Attorney General Hill said.

AGRICULTURE: INDIANA FSA STRUGGLING TO STAFF UP - The government furlough in January and February has kept USDA Farm Service Agency employees playing catch-up for much of 2019. “We are getting there.” That’s Indiana FSA Director Steve Brown’s response concerning where they are in the catch-up process (Pfeiffer, Hoosier Ag Today). While Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue was in town last week at Purdue University, Brown and his employees told him that staffing is a major hurdle they’re facing right now. Specifically, the amount of time it takes to get a job posted after it has been approved. “We had a lot of retirements at the end of the year. Then with the furlough and what took place there, being down 35 days roughly, it just has all been backlogged. We went to a new hiring system and it’s like anything else, there are growing pains, but we’ve actually fared very well in Indiana. We have replaced some positions, we just have several more we need to.”

EDUCATION: PURDUE GLOBAL EMPLOYEES TAXED - Of the 432 people enrolled in Purdue’s employee-benefit program, which grants free or reduced tuition to the online university Purdue Global, 33 were sent unanticipated tax forms for the cheaper tuition (Weliever, Purdue Exponent). The extra expense came as a surprise to the employees and the University. “There are a multitude of different tax regulations and exemptions in play (bachelor’s/master’s, employees/dependents, etc.),” said Purdue spokesman Tim Doty in an email. “The 33 people receiving corrected W-2 forms either were in excess of the tax-free allowances offered by the IRS or they were family members of Purdue employees and not employees themselves.

EDUCATION: PURDUE PARTNERS WITH U.N NETWORK -  Purdue University has joined a United Nations initiative that aims to bring together international scientific and technological expertise to address global challenges. Gerald Shively, associate dean of Purdue’s College of Agriculture and director of International Programs in Agriculture, will serve as the university's Sustainable Development Solutions Network liaison (McLaughlin, Inside Indiana Business). The SDSN runs under the U.N. secretary-general to support the development of Sustainable Development Goals.  Those goals include building "a holistic framework, applicable to all countries, aiming to eradicate poverty and deprivation" while also growing the economy, protecting the environment and promoting peace and good governance, according to the U.N. The SDSN says it will implement these goals locally, nationally and globally by partnering with the academic community to included the latest knowledge and developments in sustainable development into action. “Purdue has a strong demonstrated track record of success working on issues relating to sustainable development,” Shively said in a news release. “Joining the SDSN will raise our profile and help us to engage with development leaders from all regions and sectors, including civil society, the U.N. system, and the public and private sectors.”

TRANSPORTATION: AMTRAK SUSPENDS INDY/CHICAGO ROUTE - Amtrak on Monday issued an official notice that it plans to suspend operation of the Hoosier State line, which provides Indianapolis-to-Chicago service, starting July 1 (IBJ). Indiana’s contract to provide funding for the line ends June 30, and new public financing hasn’t been proposed at the Statehouse. The passenger line was not included in budget proposals from Gov. Eric Holcomb or the Indiana House GOP. The Senate releases its budget plan Thursday. The Hoosier State runs to and from Chicago four days a week. It receives $3 million annually in subsidies from the state under the current two-year budget, plus a combined $500,000 annually from five local communities along the route: Crawfordsville, Lafayette, West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County and Rensselaer. Tickets for service after June 30 are no longer being sold, Amtrak said.

INDOT: TARGETS INTERSTATE LITTER - INDOT hopes to spruce up the interstates with Trash Bash, an event when INDOT crews and volunteers work to pick up the litter (Fox59). Last year, the effort lasted only two days and a total of 3457 bags of trash were collected. This year, the effort is extended to 15 days, and INDOT said they hope more people can find time to help, thus increasing productivity. "There's probably a lot of people that have time on their hands that you can throw a yellow vest on and go out on the side of the road and pick up garbage,” Reardon said.

MEDIA: NEXSTAR OFFLOADS INDY TV STATIONS - Texas-based Nexstar Media Group Inc. (Nasdaq: NXST) has announced plans to sell its two Indianapolis television stations. The company has signed an agreement with Circle City Broadcasting Inc. to offload WISH-TV and WNDY-TV in a $42.5 million cash deal (Inside Indiana Business). The acquisition will become official following the completion of Nexstar's previously-announced acquisition of Tribune Media Co. (NYSE: TRCO). WISH is an affiliate of The CW Network and WNDY is an affiliate of MyNetworkTV.  CCB is a newly-formed company owned by DuJuan McCoy, who is also the owner, president and chief executive officer of Texas-based Bayou City Broadcasting LLC. McCoy will manage the operations of the stations after the acquisition is complete.



Nation

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SAYS U.S. IS 'FULL' - President Trump has adopted a blunt new message in recent days for migrants seeking refuge in the United States: “Our country is full” (New York Times). To the degree the president is addressing something broader than the recent strains on the asylum-seeking process, the line suggests the nation can’t accommodate higher immigration levels because it is already bursting at the seams. But it runs counter to the consensus among demographers and economists. They see ample evidence of a country that is not remotely “full” — but one where an aging population and declining birthrates among the native-born population are creating underpopulated cities and towns, vacant housing and troubled public finances.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP PURGES HOMELAND SECURITY - President Trump moved to replace the top ranks of the Department of Homeland Security on Monday, a day after forcing the resignation of its secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, as he accelerated a purge of the nation’s immigration and security leadership (New York Times). The White House announced the departure of Randolph D. Alles, the director of the Secret Service, who had fallen out of favor with the president even before a security breach at his Mar-a-Lago club that the agency effectively blamed on Mr. Trump’s employees. Government officials, who asked not to be identified discussing personnel changes before they were announced, said at least two more top department figures were expected to leave soon as well: L. Francis Cissna, the head of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and John Mitnick, the department’s general counsel and a senior member of Ms. Nielsen’s leadership team. The latest shake-up came just a day after Mr. Trump pushed out Ms. Nielsen during a Sunday afternoon meeting at the White House for not doing enough in his view to secure the border. And it came three days after Ronald D. Vitiello, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the president’s nominee to take the job permanently, was told to step aside so the administration could go in a “tougher direction,” as Mr. Trump put it.

WHITE HOUSE: SECRET SERVICE CHIEF LEAVING - U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph "Tex" Alles is expected to leave the Trump administration (AP). That's according to two administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the personnel matter. The officials say Alles' departure stems from a personality conflict within the agency. They said it was unrelated to the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and a recent security breach at the president's private club in Florida. Alles, a former Marine general, was recommended to the post by former White House chief of staff John Kelly.

WHITE HOUSE: JUDGE BLOCKS TRUMP ASYLUM POLICY - A federal judge on Monday blocked an experimental Trump administration policy that requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases make their way through the immigration court system, a major blow to President Trump as border crossings have surged to their highest point in more than a decade (Washington Post). U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg in San Francisco enjoined the Migrant Protection Protocols policy days after outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen pledged to expand the program. The policy began in January. Trump has justified blocking asylum seekers from entering the United States by claiming that many asylum seekers are trying to carry out a scam — that they are coached to file false asylum claims knowing that they will be released into the country because of a lack of detention bed space. The administration had hoped to keep more asylum seekers in Mexico — and off U.S. soil — while they await court hearings on their claims.

WHITE HOUSE: MNUNCHIN TO TESTIFY ON TRUMP TAX RETURNS - Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is set to testify Tuesday on Capitol Hill, where House Democrats are likely to press him on whether the agency intends to comply with their request for President Trump’s tax returns (Wall Street Journal). The chairman of the House tax-writing committee last week formally requested that the Internal Revenue Service turn over Mr. Trump’s returns by Wednesday, kicking off what could be a bruising legal fight between Congress and the Trump administration. Neither the Treasury nor the IRS has said what they will do with the request, though a top White House official signaled that it would be rejected. Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said on Sunday that Congress would “never” obtain Mr. Trump’s returns and called the request a “political stunt” by Democrats. “That is an issue that was already litigated during the election,” Mr. Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Voters knew the president could have given his tax returns and they knew he didn’t. And they elected him anyway, which of course what drives the Democrats crazy.”

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP DESIGNATES REVOLUTIONARY GUARD AS TERRORISTS - The United States moved Monday to list Iran’s elite military Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization as the Trump administration looks for new ways to increase economic and political pressure on the Islamic regime in Tehran (Washington Post). The designation marks the first time Washington has branded a foreign government entity a terrorist group and came despite warnings from U.S. military and intelligence officials that other nations could use the designation as a precedent against U.S. action abroad. The announcement also comes one day before Israeli elections in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking a fifth term by highlighting his close ties to the Trump administration and hawkish promises to battle threatening Iranian behavior across the Middle East. “This action sends a clear message to Tehran that its support for terrorism has serious consequences,” President Trump said in a statement.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - President Trump will participate in the arrival and then hold a bilateral meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the Oval Office at 12:05 p.m. The two will participate in an expanded working lunch in the Cabinet Room at 12:35 p.m. Sisi will depart at 1:35 p.m.

CDC: MEASLES OUTBREAK ACCELERATING - The spread of measles is accelerating in the U.S., driven mostly by an outbreak in New York City, data released Monday show, signaling the difficulties that public health officials are having in stopping transmission of the highly contagious disease (Wall Street Journal). The number of measles cases that have occurred in the U.S. since the beginning of the year has jumped to 465 from 387 the previous week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday. That is the largest weekly increase in U.S. cases in 2019, the CDC said. The cases are in 19 states, but most are tied to a large outbreak in New York City involving mostly members of the Orthodox Jewish community and centered in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.

PENTAGON: 3 U.S. SOLDIERS, CONTRACTOR KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN - U.S. forces in Afghanistan say three U.S. service members and a contractor have been killed in a roadside bombing near the main American air base in the country. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack (AP). The U.S. and NATO Resolute Support mission says the four Americans were killed on Monday near the Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul. The statement also says three American soldiers were wounded in the explosion and are receiving medical care. It says that in accordance with U.S. Department of Defense policy, the name of the service members killed in action are being withheld until 24 hours after notification of next of kin. The Taliban said a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden vehicle near the NATO base in Bagram district, in Parwan province.

AUTOS: FIATCHRYSLER TO SETTLE $110M LAWSUIT - Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV will pay $110 million to settle a longstanding lawsuit alleging that the auto maker misled U.S. investors regarding safety concerns and excess diesel emissions, according to court documents (Wall Street Journal). A group of investors sued the Italian-American company in 2015, alleging that Fiat falsely claimed it was complying with safety regulations. The investor group also said it lost money when it was disclosed that the company didn’t properly carry out recalls of some of its cars that year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in July 2015 hit the auto maker with a $105 million penalty for lapses with nearly two dozen recalls covering more than 11 million vehicles. The $110 million settlement agreed to on Friday must be approved by a federal judge. The company said in a written statement it was pleased to resolve the matter. “The company continues to vigorously deny the allegations of wrongdoing made in this lawsuit,” Fiat Chrysler said. “The settlement amount will be completely covered by the company’s insurance.”

MICHIGAN: NILES APPROVES 2 MARIJUANA FIRMS - Three months after voting to double the number of medical marijuana provisioning centers in Niles, Mich., from two to four, the City Council on Monday night awarded preliminary licenses to two additional businesses (South Bend Tribune). Green Stem, of Farmington, Mich., and Weinberg Family Enterprises got the city’s nod to bring provisioning centers to town. The licenses are conditional on each business receiving state approval for a local operation. Since both companies already have state approvals for medical marijuana businesses elsewhere, another state approval seems likely, Community Development Director Sanya Vitale said. Vitale made the recommendations to council on which businesses to approve after city staff reviewed applications from 10 potential businesses. “We’re looking forward to bringing a family-oriented business here,” Green Stem owner George Lynch told the council.

SPORTS: UVA WINS NATIONAL TITLE - Now that, Virginia, is the way to close out a season. And quiet those critics, too. Led by De'Andre Hunter and his NBA-ready game, the Cavaliers turned themselves into national champions Monday night, holding off tenacious, ferocious Texas Tech for an 85-77 overtime win — a scintillating victory that came 388 days after a crushing setback that might have sunk a lesser team for years (AP). But Virginia was better than that. A season after becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 — the one thing that had never happened in a tournament where anything can — the Cavaliers watched a 10-point lead turn into a 3-point deficit before Hunter came to the rescue. The sophomore made the game-tying 3 with 12 seconds left in regulation, then made another with just over two minutes left in the extra period to give the Cavs the lead for good.

SPORTS: WESTFIELD MAN WINS AXIOS BRACKET - Congrats to Craig Oppenheim of Westfield, Ind., who won the Axios Sports March Madness bracket. Craig has been an Axios reader for nearly two years and is a huge U.Va. fan.

Local

CITIES: EPA REMOVING SOIL FROM EAST CHICAGO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to excavate soil tainted with lead and arsenic from around more than 160 homes in East Chicago, in a push the agency says could complete exterior residential cleanups this year in the northwest Indiana city (AP). The EPA intends to remove polluted soil from about 167 properties in East Chicago’s Calumet neighborhood, which is part of the U.S.S. Lead Superfund site. Sarah Rolfes, an EPA remedial project manager, said Saturday that the exterior residential cleanups would end in 2019 if the properties targeted for remediation are completed and the agency receives access for sampling and remediation at 28 properties in the neighborhood, the Post-Tribune reported. Since 2016, the EPA has dug 582 properties in East Calumet and Calumet, which are the Superfund site’s two residential zones. “Every year, we’ve made continuous progress,” said Rolfes. In 2016, over 1,000 people were forced from the West Calumet Housing Complex after tests found high lead levels in blood samples from some children and some yards with lead levels over 70 times the U.S. safety standard.

CITIES: 460 JOBS COMING TO SHELBYVILLE - Greenleaf Foods SPC, a manufacturer of plant-based burgers, sausages, hot dogs and other vegetarian meat alternatives, plans to build a $310 million production facility in Shelbyville that will employ 460 people when the plant is fully operational in 2021, the company announced Monday (Orr, IBJ). The plant, to be constructed on a 57-acre site near the intersection of Interstate 74 and State Road 44, will occupy 230,000 square feet and is expected to begin operations in the fourth quarter of 2020. Construction could begin this spring. Greenleaf said the plant will be the largest plant-based protein facility in North America, producing 60 million pounds of products annually. The Shelbyville plant will double Greenleaf’s production capacity.

CITIES: CLINE AVENUE BRIDGE RISING - Work crews at the new Cline Avenue Bridge are finishing installation of the piers that will support the 6,236-foot bridge, and have begun putting up the segments of its surface, with the goal of opening it to traffic in nine months (Steele, NWI Times). "We're on schedule; we plan to open up in January 2020," said Terry Velligan, the general manager for bridge owner United Bridge Partners, on Monday. The first of 685 bridge segments went up March 21, Velligan said, with three since then. At full speed, four of the pre-cast concrete segments, most of which are 10-feet long and weigh as much as 85 tons, will be lifted into place by crane daily.

CITIES: NEW HAVEN MAYOR McDONALD GIVES LAST ADDRESS - The last 20 years in New Haven, the word “mayor” has meant only one person – Republican Terry McDonald (Rodriguez, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Or, as mayoral-hopeful Steve McMichael put it during his introduction to McDonald's State of the City address Monday night, you could have had a baby the year McDonald was elected, 1999, and pretty soon, that baby could drop by a New Haven watering hole and have “an adult beverage. Legally.” “Twenty years has gone by very fast,” McDonald, 59, told about 160 attendees at the buffet-style dinner at The Orchid that preceded his speech. “My service to you has been an honor,” he said. “My true regret, my only true regret, is that I have nothing left to give. I'm tired. It's time to turn the ship over to a new mayor with new ideas.”

CITIES: CROWN POINT REFUNDING TAP IN OVER CHARGES - The City Council recently approved more than $16,000 in refunds to homeowners who were overcharged for tap-in fees due to a “codification error” in a city waterworks ordinance (NWI Times). After a 7-0 vote by the council recently, 52 water customers will be reimbursed. Of those, 49 residential homeowners will be receiving refunds of $343.10 for the 1 inch meter rating they paid for as part of building permits. Three businesses will be receiving refunds of $5.34 for being charged at the 2 inch rate for a 1.5 in meter that was purchased. The refunds total $16,872.92. “The city has never had issues like this before,” Crown Point Mayor David Uran told The Times. “It was a codification error that we are now rectifying.”

CITIES: CROWN POINTS GETS $999,000 TO REPAVE ROADS - Crown Point was recently awarded nearly $1 million from Indiana’s Community Crossing Grant and for Mayor David Uran, the funding is a big help (NWI Times). During a recent open forum with residents, Uran began the event with sharing the news. This year’s $999,717.54 Community Crossing grant funding will go toward paving projects.

CITIES: MUNCIE CHRISTIAN CHARTER SCHOOL SHUT DOWN - Two weeks after its building was condemned by the city of Muncie, a private Christian school that received state funding announced it will close at the end of the school year (Muncie Star Press). Delaware Christian Academy placed a classified advertisement in The Star Press over the weekend saying it would close due to a lack of enrollment. On March 20, the city condemned the building where the school had been conducting classes, the former Riley Elementary School, for being unsafe to occupy, structurally impaired, a fire hazard, a public nuisance and blighted. On March 22, the Delaware County Health Department issued the school an order to abate an unlawful condition that might transmit, generate or promote disease, based on multiple leaks; standing water in the hallways; collapsing ceiling coverings, damaged floor tile; a musty smell throughout the building; unused/bare electrical wires protruding in various areas; and temporary electrical heating appliances.

CITIES: EVANSVILLE COUNCIL MULLS ACCESSIBILITY - Two city programs aimed at making government more accessible were the focus of Monday's City Council meeting (Stubbs, Evansville Courier & Press). Councilwoman Michelle Mercer, R-At-Large, asked Deputy Mayor Steve Schaefer when her constituents could expect to watch cable access broadcasts of City Council meetings. Council approved funding for contracts and equipment to air the meetings starting in 2019 after some residents spoke out about not being able to physically attend. "We're past the first quarter, and we approved it for this year," Mercer said. "Why has it taken so long?" Schaefer said the equipment was recently delivered and is now being tested and implemented. "Before we could order the equipment, the state had to approve the budget," he said. Schaefer said broadcasts should be ready to air by May 1 on both WOW! and Spectrum public access channels.

CITIES: SOUTH BEND COUNCIL PASSES TAX BREAKS - The South Bend Common Council unanimously approved property tax breaks for six business development projects Monday night, including two that especially signal a strong local economy, a city administration staffer told the council (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). The real and personal property tax abatements, combined, will give the businesses more than $7.6 million in tax discounts in exchange for creating 62 new jobs, or $123,161 of tax reduction per new job. One of the abatements, to South Bend-based health care patient survey firm Press Ganey, will help retain 500 jobs. Press Ganey for several years has been looking to consolidate its administrative staff, now spread out across four buildings in the River Glen office complex east of the downtown, and had been considering facilities in other cities where it has offices. It will move those operations to a new $16 million, 83,000-square-foot building that Great Lakes Capital will build in Ignition Park and lease to the company. The city has pledged $900,000 in TIF money toward the project, under terms of a 2015 agreement with Great Lakes Capital to build out Ignition Park.

CITIES: CHARLESTOWN PARK NAMES AFTER FALLEN OFFICER - A new southern Indiana park has been named for a police officer who was killed last year in a high-speed crash while pursuing an auto theft suspect. The Ben Bertram Memorial Park was dedicated Saturday in Charlestown not far from the house where Bertram grew up in the small Ohio River community. The News and Tribune reports that Bertram’s mother, Diane Bertram, says she’s grateful that her son’s name is now associated with “something so wonderful” as a park. She recalled that he grew up nearby, riding bikes, playing tag and roller blading.

COUNTIES: MONROE COMMISSIONER BARGE RESIGNS - A southern Indiana county commissioner is stepping down from her post after being accused of sexual harassment by a former county contractor (AP). Monroe County Commissioner Amanda Barge said Monday she will resign from the board of commissioners on April 15. She said in a statement that she “struggled mightily with this decision” following the sex harassment allegations. The Herald-Times reports that former county contractor Brandon Drake told local media in March that Barge had repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances toward him over the course of a year before she effectively dismantled his job with the county. She’s denied Drake’s allegations. Barge was challenging Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton in the May 7 Democratic mayoral primary. She suspended her campaign in March, but has not officially withdrawn from the mayoral race.

COUNTIES: NEW VIGO PARKS SUPERINTENDENT NAMED - Adam Grossman has been named today as the new superintendent of the Vigo County Parks & Recreation Department (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Grossman,35, joined the parks department in May 2013 as assistant superintendent. He is a 2009 graduate of Indiana State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in ecology and organismal biology.  He will take over for Kara Kish, who is resigning as parks superintendent on May 1. Kish will serve as deputy director/chief operations officer of the Cincinnati Park Board starting May 6. Kish has been with the parks department for 10 years, serving six years as superintendent.