HUSTON SELECTED TO LEAD INDIANA'S HOUSE: Indiana House Republicans met yesterday at the Statehouse in Indianapolis and selected State Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers) to serve as the next House speaker (Howey Politics Indiana). As noted in a news release from the Republican Caucus, House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis) recently announced his plans to not seek re-election and retire after the 2020 legislative session. To smooth the transition, House Republicans gathered on Monday and chose Huston to serve as speaker-elect. He will work closely with Bosma during the upcoming short session and is expected to be sworn in as House speaker by the full House as session closes. First elected in 2012, Huston represents House District 37, which includes Fishers and a portion of Hamilton County.

ZODY: 'HUSTON JUST MADE HIS OWN REELECTION A TOSSUP' - Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody issued the following statement after Indiana House Republicans selected Rep. Todd Huston as Speaker-elect (Howey Politics Indiana): “Todd Huston is his own worst enemy. In 'winning' behind closed doors today, Rep. Huston just made his own reelection a tossup. Huston will be catching wind with a net to keep ultra-conservative allies on board while running in a purple district. Every bone he throws to extremists is at the expense of moderates in a constituency that elected a Democrat in 2019. There’s no winning when Speaker Huston’s decisions imperil Representative Huston’s electoral future.” Zody's statement noted. "Added together, the top vote-getting Democrats in council races within HD37 (Fishers and Noblesville) outpaced Republicans (Dem: 4,094 Rep: 4,049)."

BOSMA: HUSTON 'A RELIABLE, GO-TO LEGISLATOR FOR OUR CAUCUS' - “Todd is an invaluable member of our team and a respected leader, and I’m excited for him to take the reins and continue building on Indiana’s success story,” Bosma said in a news release (Howey Politics Indiana). “Whether it’s serving as a tough budget hawk or finding common ground among differing viewpoints, he’s been a reliable, go-to legislator for our caucus time and time again.  I firmly believe he will take hold of this opportunity with both hands, and bring the vision and energy needed to help keep Indiana on the right track.”

MYERS CALLS FOR FULL INVESTIGATION INTO AMAZON DEATH: Indiana Candidate for Governor Dr. Woody Myers is renewing his call for a full, independent investigation into Governor Holcomb and his administration’s response to the death of Amazon employee Phillip Lee Terry (Indiana Talks). The subsequent investigation by IOSHA employee John Stallone led to $28,000 in fines against Amazon. Those fines were then reversed. A recent news report questioned the timing of the reversal, which was during the same period that Indiana was pursuing Amazon’s second headquarters. Myers says worker safety is the paramount issue. Myers says the investigation should also address the issue of a campaign contribution from Amazon to the Governor immediately after the Amazon fines were cancelled.

LIKE CLINTON, IMPEACHMENT LOOMS OVER TRUMP'S TRIP ABROAD: President Trump left Washington on Monday to meet foreign leaders at a NATO summit. But if history is any guide, Trump won't be able to leave behind the impeachment inquiry that looms over his White House (NPR). At one time, lawmakers would refrain from criticizing a president traveling overseas, abiding by the adage that "politics stops at the water's edge." But even in 1998, when then-President Bill Clinton was traveling in Ireland and the Middle East during the impeachment hearing process, he could not escape questions about what was happening in Washington. Much like Clinton, President Trump's entire time in office has been clouded by investigations. That means that even as impeachment looms over his trip to London, it won't be Trump's first foreign trip overshadowed by bad headlines back home. It's something all modern presidents have had to deal with, to varying degrees.

TRUMP SAYS FRANCE 'VERY INSULTING' TO NATO: President Trump began a two-day summit meeting on Tuesday to mark the 70th anniversary of NATO — an alliance that has been strained, in part, by his own brash handling of overseas allies — by lashing out at one of them (New York Times). In a meeting with Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, Mr. Trump said President Emmanuel Macron of France had been “very insulting” to the alliance when he warned recently about the “brain death” of NATO. Mr. Macron had suggested that Europe could no longer assume unwavering support from the United States. The two leaders were scheduled to meet later in the day. 

BARR DISPUTES KEY IG FINDING ABOUT FBI'S RUSSIA INVESTIGATION: Attorney General William P. Barr has told associates he disagrees with the Justice Department’s inspector general on one of the key findings in an upcoming report — that the FBI had enough information in July 2016 to justify launching an investigation into members of the Trump campaign, according to people familiar with the matter (Washington Post). The Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horo¬≠witz, is due to release his long-awaited findings in a week, but behind the scenes at the Justice Department, disagreement has surfaced about one of Horowitz’s central conclusions on the origins of the Russia investigation. The discord could be the prelude to a major fissure within federal law enforcement on the controversial question of investigating a presidential campaign.

SENATE INTEL PANEL FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF UKRAINE INTERFERENCE: With the impeachment inquiry charging forward, President Donald Trump’s allies have defended his demand for political investigations from Ukraine by claiming that the government in Kyiv tried to sabotage his candidacy and boost Hillary Clinton in 2016 (Politico). But the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee thoroughly investigated that theory, according to people with direct knowledge of the inquiry, and found no evidence that Ukraine waged a top-down interference campaign akin to the Kremlin’s efforts to help Trump win in 2016.

IVANKA, ROSS TO VISIT INDY TOMORROW, THURSDAY: Ivanka Trump, daughter and advisor to President Donald Trump, will visit Indianapolis on Wednesday and Thursday, the White House said Monday (WISH-TV). Ivanka Trump and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross serve as co-chairs of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board, which will hold its quarterly meeting Thursday on the campus of the Indiana Women’s Prison in Indianapolis, the White House said. On Wednesday evening, Ivanka Trump will tour Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Gov. Holcomb and other members of the board. On Thursday morning, board members will tour the Indiana Women’s Prison to learn about “The Last Mile,” a business-skills and coding training program to help prisoners move into the workforce after their incarceration, before convening their fourth meeting. 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Hoosiers hold their basketball teams to a high standard, which is certainly one factor why the Butler Bulldogs are ranked 24th in college hoops. We've also come to expect a lot from our politicians: State Rep. Todd Huston will be facing major issues - from teacher pay to infrastructure costs - when he assumes the speakership at the end of the current session, all while navigating an electorate agitated by both local and national politics. Huston will have help preparing for his new duties: The current speaker, Rep. Brian Bosma, who has done much for the Republican agenda during his tenure, promises to work closely with his successor "so he can see every aspect of this job." - Mark Curry

Campaigns

WHAT INDIANA'S 1974 ELECTION PORTENDS FOR 2020: With the House readying an impeachment vote for President Trump and Watergate analogies everywhere, it seems worthwhile to revisit a piece I wrote in August 2018 (Foughty, Howey Politics Indiana). In it, I used historical data to show that in the modern era, national waves which favor the Democratic Party don't typically wash ashore in Indiana. But that came with an important caveat: "...[R]ecent Democratic waves that upended Washington – with the exception of the Watergate-fueled wave in 1974 – haven’t translated to Indianapolis." ... [T]he Watergate bump itself was small in Indiana, but that small bump had a huge impact because of the underlying fundamentals.

ENVIRONMENT FOCUS FOR DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE HAAKE IN 1ST CD: An environment and animal rights advocate from Gary is entering the contest to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Gary, in Congress (Carden, NWI Times). Sabrina Haake last week filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to run in the Democratic primary for the 1st House District, which includes all of Lake and Porter counties and western LaPorte County. She said her goal, if elected, is the wholesale transformation of Northwest Indiana's economy by transitioning to 100% renewable, carbon-free energy; a modernized electric grid; expanded industrial use of solar and wind farms; and investments in bioconversion and zero emission technology. She's also the first openly LGBT candidate in the 1st District race that includes Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., North Township Trustee Frank J. Mrvan, Valparaiso lawyer Jim Harper, and state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster.

REPUBLICAN McGRATH LAUNCHES BID IN BOSMA DISTRICT: Republican Party leader and Fishers Deputy Mayor Leah McGrath launched her campaign for the Indiana House of Representatives today in District 88, the seat being vacated by Speaker of the Indiana House Brian Bosma (Howey Politics Indiana). McGrath, who is currently serving as the deputy mayor of the City of Fishers, had previously announced that she will be leaving that post this month to join Indianapolis-based Knowledge Services as a Vice President in January. A campaign news release stated, as Fishers first deputy mayor, McGrath helped to lead the community’s transition from a town to a city, including efforts to modernize the city’s internal operations, eliminating antiquated ordinances and updating local codes. She also spearheaded a city-wide effort to develop its first long-range comprehensive plan. 

KELLY MITCHELL HIRES OLIVER WISE AS CAMPAIGN MANAGER IN 5TH CD: Kelly Mitchell’s Congressional campaign announced that she has hired Oliver Wise to serve as campaign manager (Howey Politics Indiana). Wise has served in various capacities including Staff Assistant, Executive Assistant, and Field Representative in the Office of Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks in both Washington, DC and Carmel, IN, a news release stated. He also served as Special Projects Director and Political Director for Rep. Brooks' successful 2018 reelection campaign. Most recently, Wise served as Executive Director of the Marion County Republican Central Committee. 

NATIONAL GOP'S STATE LEGISLATURE EFFORT IN TURMOIL: The GOP group charged with winning state legislatures is in turmoil — sparking concerns that the party is at risk of blowing the next round of redistricting (Politico). The Republican State Leadership Committee has seen an exodus of top staff in recent months, has lagged behind its Democratic counterpart in fundraising and is struggling to explain why its new president, Austin Chambers, was also moonlighting as a general consultant for Louisiana businessman Eddie Rispone's failed bid for governor. The troubles come on the cusp of a crucial opportunity for the party to amass political power for the next decade: the 2020 state-level elections, which will determine which party controls the process of redrawing the political maps for the next decade. The RSLC announced last week that Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma will serve as chair of the RSLC’s 2020 efforts to elect Republican legislators and protect Republican majorities across the country.

TRUMP CAMPAIGN BANS BLOOMBERG REPORTERS: News organizations reacted warily to the Trump campaign's announcement Monday that it will no longer credential Bloomberg News reporters for campaign events in response to the outlet’s decision not to investigate its owner, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, or his Democratic rivals for president (Politico). Trump Campaign manager Brad Parscale said the move, which Bloomberg News said would ensure equal footing for each Democratic candidate, indicated a bias against Trump because the outlet would continue to cover him critically while going easy on his Democratic rivals. 

BIDEN SEES FUNDRAISING IMPROVEMENT: Joe Biden took in more than $15 million for his White House run over the past two months, a sum that shows the former vice president’s fundraising operation has rebounded slightly after a lackluster summer in which he trailed his leading rivals (Associated Press). Biden’s campaign would not say exactly how much he has raised since the end of September. But with roughly one month left before the next reporting deadline, campaign manager Greg Schultz said in a memo provided to The Associated Press that Biden has already surpassed the $15.6 million he raised across July, August and September.

Congress

YOUNG OP-ED: TSA EXEMPTIONS FOR WOUNDED WARRIORS - Indiana Republican Sen. Todd Young authored an op-ed published in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette entitled "Wounded warriors need not suffer TSA indignities." "This holiday season, millions of Americans are preparing to travel," Young wrote. "But some veterans with disabilities are dreading the trip because of the indignities they will endure at TSA security checkpoints. I've proposed a solution that received unanimous support in the U.S. Senate. Now, bureaucrats in Washington are holding it up, and we must speak out... With momentum on our side, the bill passed the Senate and moved to the House. I had hoped this would be a clear example of Congress working together to make a positive difference in the lives of our wounded warriors. Sadly, that was not the case. After five months and counting, the legislation continues to languish in the House over objections being raised by Washington bureaucrats in the Department of Veterans Affairs. What has transpired over the past five months is nothing short of outrageous – the VA opposes my legislation because they do not know the names of the disabled veterans who would be eligible for PreCheck benefits under my legislation."

WALORSKI BILL TO EASE ESTATE TAX BURDEN ON FARMERS: The Preserving Family Farms Act of 2019, co-sponsored by Indiana Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-02), helps farm families continue to operate after the death of a loved one (NAFB News Service). Legislation in 2017 temporarily increased the estate tax exemption, benefiting farm families. Paul Schlegel, American Farm Bureau Federation Public Affairs Vice President, says this bill will provide another needed relief from the estate tax. “It essentially would allow a farmer or a rancher when they inherit land to value that asset as agricultural land as opposed to say what a developer might pay for it. By doing that, we’re hoping to keep more farms in operation in allowing heirs to continue farms and business.”

HOLLINGSWORTH ANNOUNCES $1.1M PUBLIC TRANSPORT GRANT FOR BLOOMINGTON: The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a $1,125,000 grant for the Bloomington Public Transportation Corporation (BPTC) in Bloomington, according to a news release posted to the website of Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN) (Howey Politics Indiana). This grant was awarded through the DOT’s Grants for Buses and Bus Facilities Program, which makes federal resources available to states to replace, rehabilitate, and purchase buses and related equipment or to construct bus-related facilities including technological changes or innovations to modify low or no-emission vehicles or facilities.

PENCE FORMS VETERANS ADVISORY BOARD: U.S. Congressman Greg Pence (IN-06) announced the formation of the Sixth District Veterans Advisory Board and hosted its first meeting yesterday (Howey Politics Indiana). The board is comprised of veterans within the Sixth District and those who serve as leaders on veterans issues, a news release stated. Each member of the Board serves on a volunteer basis and provides counsel to the Congressman on all matters relating to veterans, including legislation pending in the United States House of Representatives. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done to support our men and women in uniform this year. As a Beirut veteran myself, I understand there is always more to be done in Congress to support our nation’s veterans and the families who sacrifice so much for our freedom,” said Congressman Pence.

HOUSE PANEL IMPEACHMENT REPORT TO BE RELEASED TODAY: A U.S. House Intelligence Committee report laying out the Democratic case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment will be publicly released on Tuesday, the panel’s chairman said in a television interview (Reuters). “We’re putting the finishing touches on the report, which will be released tomorrow,” Democrat Adam Schiff said on MSNBC on Monday night. The Democratic-controlled panel is expected to vote on the report’s approval on Tuesday night. A copy of the report was made available privately to House Intelligence members on Monday night for a 24-hour review period. House Republicans issued their own rebuttal report on Monday, saying Democrats had not established an impeachable offense by Trump. 

HOUSE GOP OFFERS PREVIEW OF IMPEACHMENT DEFENSE STRATEGY: House Republicans offered a new preview of their defense strategy on Monday as Democrats’ drive to impeach President Donald Trump moves to its next phase (Politico). According to a draft copy of the GOP’s formal rebuttal, Republicans asserted that Democrats failed to unearth evidence that Trump committed impeachable offenses when he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. The Republicans’ 123-page report largely reiterates their previous defenses of the president and blasts House Democrats for pursuing impeachment, painting the effort as an attempt to reverse the results of the 2016 presidential election. https://www.politico.com/news/2019/12/02/house-republican-rebuttal-impeachment-trump-074795

DEMOCRATIC CONSTERNATION AS BILLS LANGUISH IN SENATE: Democrats in the House have been passing bills at a rapid clip; as of November 15, the House has passed nearly 400 bills, not including resolutions (Vox). But the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee estimates 80 percent of those bill have hit a snag in the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is prioritizing confirming judges over passing bills. This has led to House Democrats decrying McConnell’s so-called “legislative graveyard,” a moniker the Senate majority leader has proudly adopted. McConnell calls himself the “grim reaper” of Democratic legislation he derides as socialist, but many of the bills that never see the Senate floor are bipartisan issues, like a universal background check bill, net neutrality, and reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

REP. HUNTER TO PLEAD GUILTY TO CAMPAIGN FINANCE VIOLATIONS: GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter will plead guilty in federal court on Tuesday after denying for more than a year that he illegally misused campaign funds (Politico). Hunter told TV station KUSI in San Diego that "Tomorrow, on Tuesday, I'm going to change my plea to guilty."  Hunter said he wanted to avoid a trial "for my kids. I think it would be really tough for them." The California Republican didn't say definitively that he was resigning, but the former Marine officer did mention that "It's been a privilege to serve in Congress. I think we've done a lot of great things for the nation." 

SENATE APPROVES BROUILLETTE TO REPLACE SEC. PERRY: President Donald Trump’s pick to succeed Rick Perry as energy secretary has won easy Senate confirmation (Associated Press). That’s despite one senator’s objections the nominee hadn’t fully answered questions related to the Trump impeachment investigation. Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette’s promotion to secretary passed 70-15. Monday’s vote came a day after Perry’s resignation became effective.

General Assembly

BRAY SAYS HUSTON 'GREAT CHOICE' FOR HOUSE SPEAKER: Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) made the following statement regarding the selection of State Rep. Todd Huston as the next Speaker of the House (Howey Politics Indiana): “House Republicans have made a great choice in electing Rep. Todd Huston as their next Speaker. Over the years I’ve worked with Todd, I have come to know him as a dedicated public servant with vision and integrity. I look forward to working with both him and Speaker Bosma this session as they make the transition, and I have no doubt Rep. Huston and I will be able to work very well together as we craft policy for the State of Indiana.”

State

GOVERNOR: HUSTON 'A HOME RUN PICK' - Governor Eric J. Holcomb offered the following statement on new Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston: “Todd Huston is a home run pick for Indiana House Speaker. He has proven himself a strong leader and has touched so many facets of state government through the budget process. Having a year to learn from Speaker Bosma will prove invaluable. I look forward to working with him and Sen. Bray going forward.”

EDUCATION: PURDUE NAACP SEEKS APOLOGY FROM DANIELS - Writing in the Lafayette Journal & Courier, the president of the Indiana NAACP Youth and College chapter called for Purdue President Mitch Daniels to apologize for a comment made on Nov. 20. "Daniels described [an] individual as 'one of the rarest creatures in America,' Carey Walls wrote. "When confronted about his response, Daniels justified his comment as 'a figure of speech.' Since that day, Purdue students have taken to social media to express their outrage and disagreement with Daniels’ description... The leadership of the NAACP chapter on Purdue University’s campus are calling for a public apology from President Daniels. We demand that President Daniels not only apologize to the student, but to the entire African American student body, faculty and staff."

MEDIA: INDYSTAR EXECUTIVE EDITOR STEPPING DOWN - Ronnie Ramos, executive editor of The Indianapolis Star, who has overseen the newsroom's transformation into a digital operation focused on subscription growth and new storytelling efforts, announced to his staff Monday he is stepping down (IndyStar). Ramos, who joined IndyStar in 2013 and has led the news operation since March 2018, said he is leaving to pursue new opportunities. Gannett Co. Inc., the parent company of IndyStar and USA TODAY, will conduct a national search for Ramos' replacement, said Rick Green, Midwest regional editor for the USA TODAY Network and Ramos’ supervisor.

Nation

SCOTUS: SHOWS LITTLE APPETITE TO EXPAND GUN RIGHTS - The Supreme Court seemed unlikely to deliver a major win for gun-rights activists during arguments on Monday in the first significant Second Amendment case the justices have heard in nearly a decade (CNBC). The case was challenging a New York City gun regulation that barred the transport of handguns outside of the city, even to a second home or firing range. After the court agreed to hear the case, though, the city did away with the regulation and the state passed a law that prevented the city from reviving it. While court conservatives including Justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito seemed eager to use the case to address the reach of the Second Amendment, it appeared likely after an hour of arguments that Chief Justice John Roberts would side with the court’s liberals to dismiss the matter altogether as moot in light of the repeal of the regulation.

COURTS: ADMIN ASKS SCOTUS TO ALLOW EXECUTIONS TO RESUME - The U.S. Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to allow the resumption of the death penalty at the federal level after a 16-year hiatus, hours after an appeals court blocked the department’s bid to pave the way for four scheduled executions (Reuters). A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied the department’s request to overturn a judge’s decision that at least stalled plans for executing four convicted murderers. The first was scheduled to die on Dec. 9. In its application to the Supreme Court, the Justice Department called the district court’s position “fundamentally flawed” and argued that the legal challengers’ case “wholly lacks merit.” 

DHS: PROPOSES FACE SCANS FOR CITIZENS - The Trump administration intends to propose a regulation next year that would require all travelers - including U.S. citizens - to be photographed when entering or leaving the United States, according to the administration’s regulatory agenda (Reuters). The proposed regulation, slated to be issued in July by the Homeland Security Department, would be part of a broader system to track travelers as they enter and exit the United States. The plan has already drawn opposition from some privacy advocates. Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union, blasted the idea in a written statement on Monday.

TRADE: TRUMP SAYS CHINA DEAL MAY HAVE TO WAIT FOR ELECTION - U.S. President Donald Trump said a trade agreement with China might have to wait until after the U.S. presidential election in November 2020, denting hopes of a quick resolution to the dispute which has weighed on the world economy (Reuters). “I have no deadline, no. In some ways I think I think it’s better to wait until after the election with China,” Trump told reporters in London where he was due to attend a meeting of NATO leaders. 

TRADE: TRUMP TO RESTORE STEEL, ALUMINUM TARIFFS ON BRAZIL, ARGENTINA - President Trump said Monday that he will be slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum imported from Brazil and Argentina (CBS News). In a pair of early-morning tweets, Mr. Trump said he decided to reinstate the levies because the two South American countries have been "presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies," which is hurting American farmers. The tariffs on metal imports from Brazil and Argentina will be restored immediately, he said.

TRADE: FRANCE THREATENS EU RETALIATION OVER US TARIFFS - France’s finance minister is threatening a “strong European riposte” if the Trump administration follows through on a proposal to hit French cheese, Champagne, handbags and other products with tariffs - of up to 100% (Associated Press). The U.S. Trade Representative proposed the tariffs on $2.4 billion in goods Monday in retaliation for a French tax on global tech giants including Google, Amazon and Facebook.  The move is likely to increase trade tensions between the U.S. and Europe - and set the stage for a likely tense meeting Tuesday between President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron.

ECONOMY: MANY STATES IN GOOD SHAPE TO WEATHER A RECESSION - After a couple years of robust tax collections, states across the U.S. are better prepared than ever to weather a potential recession, according to a report released Monday that examines states’ savings (Associated Press). The good news in the report from Moody’s Analytics is tempered by the reality that one-fifth of all states still have nowhere near enough money set aside to survive a recession without resorting to spending cuts or tax hikes. And some states with healthy surpluses haven’t specifically designated them for rainy day funds, meaning lawmakers and governors still could spend the money before a recession occurs.

ECONOMY: MANUFACTURING CONTRACTS FOR FOURTH STRAIGHT MONTH - U.S. manufacturing output deteriorated for the fourth consecutive month, damaged by trade conflicts and a weakening global economy (Associated Press). The Institute for Supply Management, an association of purchasing managers, said Monday that its manufacturing index dipped to 48.1 last month from 48.3 in October. Anything below 50 signals contraction. U.S. factories have been on a losing streak since August. New orders, production and hiring all dropped for the fourth straight month. Export orders fell in November after rising in October.

MARIJUANA: HUNDREDS WAIT IN LINE FOR LEGALIZED POT IN MICHIGAN - Nearly two hours before the first sales of recreational marijuana began Sunday, the line at Arbor Wellness snaked around a city block (Detroit Free Press). Customers came from near and far for the first day of recreational sales, including trips from Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The day was one part rampant capitalism with marijuana businesses dealing with the challenges created by the crowds and one part circus. Across the state, as of late last week, 18 retailers had been licensed to sell recreational marijuana.

CHARITY: GIFTS DROPPED 1.7% LAST YEAR - Last year was a tough one for many charities even though the overall economy was strong: Donations declined 1.7 percent, to $427.7 billion, according to the annual “Giving USA” report released Tuesday (Chronicle of Philanthropy). The drop in contributions — due largely to average Americans donating less — follows four years of sustained growth that reached a high of $435.1 billion in 2017. 

World

NORTH KOREA WARNS U.S. OF UNWELCOME 'CHRISTMAS GIFT': North Korea said on Tuesday that dialogue with the United States had been nothing but a “foolish trick” and warned Washington it could be on the receiving of an unwelcome Christmas gift (Washington Post). The North Korean regime has given the United States until the end of the year to drop its “hostile policy,” come up with a new approach to talks and offer concessions in return for its decision to end nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests in 2018.

Local

CITIES: SBOA SAYS MUNCIE COUNCIL PRESIDENT MUST REPAY SALARY - For the second time, the Indiana State Board of Accounts (SBOA) has stated that Muncie City Council President Doug Marshall is in non-compliance and is asking him to pay his salary back (Ohlenkamp, Muncie Star Press). How much exactly he is being asked to pay back is not exactly clear, but it could be more than $200,000. The SBOA is holding Marshall to what's commonly known as a "double dipping" law that was passed in 2013 that bars government employees from holding elected office.

CITIES: NEW JUDGE IN CHARLESTOWN MAYORAL RECOUNT - A senior judge from Salem, Robert Bennett, has been named to oversee the Charlestown mayoral race recount after Senior Judge Steven Fleece recused himself (News & Tribune). Sitting Mayor Bob Hall, Republican, lost his bid for re-election by 32 votes to political newcomer Treva Hodges, Democrat. According to Indiana law, the recount must be completed no later than Dec. 20. However, the appointed commission may petition the court for an extension.

CITIES: PROSECUTOR APPOINTED IN MAYOR MEER TRIAL - Porter County Prosecutor Gary Germann has been appointed to serve as special prosecutor in the criminal misconduct case involving Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer (Kasarda, NWI Times). The decision was made by Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Thode, who took on the case after it was passed over by judges in LaPorte County.

CITIES: MUNCIE COUNCIL ABRUPTLY ADJOURNS FINAL MEETING - Muncie City Council abruptly shut down its meeting Monday after initially moving to remove one council member, leaving a sour note to end out many veteran council members' tenures and setting the stage for potential issues in 2020 because of unfinished business (Ohlenkamp, Muncie Star Press). Muncie resident Audie Barber, who ran for city council in the spring primary as a Democrat, asked for council to remove council member John Hampton with a two-thirds vote.

CITIES: RICHMOND HAS PLANS FOR FORMER HOSPITAL SITE - "Richmond Rising: A Community Action Plan" made its public debut two weeks ago. Its 170 pages will be used over the next decade to guide decisions about zoning, investing in redevelopment projects, transportation improvements, parks, annexation and more (Truitt, Richmond Palladium-Item). Included in the document are 12 top priorities to be tackled by city officials, the first of which is the creation of sub-plans for six areas of the city. One of the those is the former hospital property.

CITIES: PROBE OF FATAL SOUTH BEND POLICE SHOOTING ONGOING - More than five months have passed since Eric Logan was shot and killed by a South Bend police officer, but a special prosecutor’s investigation into the high-profile case is unlikely to wrap up until at least February (Sheckler, South Bend Tribune). Logan, 54, who was black, was shot and killed June 16 by then-Sgt. Ryan O’Neill, who is white, during an encounter in the parking lot of the downtown Central High Apartments. Police have said the officer responded to a report of someone breaking into cars, and opened fire after Logan approached him with a knife.

CITIES: GREENFIELD UPDATING DEVELOPMENT RULES - Officials in Greenfield are nearly finished with the first overhaul of the city’s development and zoning rules since the late 1990s (Kirk, Greenfield Daily Reporter). Leaders say the update, now about two years in the making, realigns those rules with Greenfield’s goals while simplifying the processes and interpretations for those who need them. Joanie Fitzwater, Greenfield zoning administrator, described zoning regulations as an implementation tool of the city’s comprehensive plan.

CITIES: CRASHES INCREASE IN CARMEL ROUNDABOUTS - An IndyStar investigation found that crashes in Carmel have increased, not decreased, often drastically, at many major intersections after they changed from lights or signs to roundabouts (Tuohy, IndyStar). And roundabout crossings are consistently the most crash-prone in Hamilton County, rivaling some of the most dangerous intersections in Indianapolis without them.

CITIES: HOLIDAY DECORATIONS SWIPED IN CHESTERTON - Police fear a Grinch may be at work in the community with the discovery of holiday decorations missing from downtown (Kasarda, NWI Times). A box and two bags of decorations left by volunteers in the area of Broadway and Third Street were reported missing last Tuesday, police said. The decorations, which are owned by the town, included 30 winterberry branches, 96 birch branches and 12 snowflake branches, according to police. 

COUNTIES: MADISON PROSECUTOR TO ASK FOR CHANGE IN DCS LAWS - Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings will be asking Gov. Eric Holcomb to change Indiana’s law when it comes to wards of the state (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald Bulletin). Cummings on Monday said he is contacting Holcomb and local legislators to change the law so that protecting children becomes the main focus for the Indiana Department of Child Services. His comments came after a caseworker was charged Monday by a Madison County grand jury with four felony counts of neglect of a 4-year-old Anderson boy.

COUNTIES: VIGO APPROVES CASINO AGREEMENT - The three-member Vigo County Board of Commissioners this morning unanimously approved a local development agreement, which is one of the state requirements for a proposed Terre Haute casino (Greninger, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). The agreement calls for Spectacle Entertainment to pay about $3 million based on $100 million adjusted gross receipts. Additionally, the proposed agreement calls for a payment equal to 3 percent of the company’s net commission received from any sports wagering vendor.

COUNTIES: NO BIDS ON ST. JOSEPH JAIL HEALTHCARE CONTRACT - After no providers bid on a contract to provide medical services to inmates at the St. Joseph County Jail for 2020, the county may bring the service in-house by offering jobs to existing staff members, who are currently employees of Beacon Health System, and reworking the program (Bauer, South Bend Tribune). Medical services at the jail have been provided by Beacon through a contract that has been renewed since it was originally signed in 2013.