TODAY IS NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING FOR BUSH: Today is a national day of mourning for President George H.W. Bush, and much of the federal government is closed. Speakers for the state funeral include former President George W. Bush, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, former Wyoming Republican Sen. Alan Simpson and historian/Bush biographer Jon Meacham. The funeral is slated to begin at 11 a.m. at the National Cathedral. The funeral will be attended by formers Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. The last time they were together with Trump was at his inauguration in 2017 (Axios). Recalling the funerals for Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, they will all sit together in Washington National Cathedral, with the exception of the younger Bush, who will be seated nearby with his family. All eyes will be on the row directly in front of the pulpit. That’s where President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, are expected to sit, along with the remaining former presidents and their families: George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and his wife — Trump’s 2016 Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Also attending: Britain’s Prince Charles, the king and queen of Jordan, Polish President Andrzej Duda and other dignitaries from around the world.

HOLCOMB TO TAKE ON INFANT MORTALITY: Gov. Eric Holcomb is preparing to ask the General Assembly to approve new tools for reducing Indiana's infant mortality rate, which is the worst in the Midwest and seventh highest in the nation (Carden, NWI Times). The Republican is not yet revealing many details about his plans. Though last month he told participants at a capital city Labor of Love infant mortality summit that the issue will be "a top priority" on the 2019 legislative agenda he'll announce later this month. "Improving infant mortality, or as (State Health Commissioner) Dr. (Kristina) Box describes it, getting more babies to celebrate their first birthdays, is right at the top of our list," Holcomb said. In 2016, 623 Indiana babies died before their first birthdays. Sixty-nine of those deaths happened in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties. Babies die for any number of complex reasons. Many were delivered prematurely or low weight. Poverty, stress, nutrition, pollution and access to health care all can be contributing factors. Data show that 3 of the 10 Indiana ZIP codes with the highest rate of babies dying are in Lake County: two in Hammond, the other in East Chicago. Holcomb said he's challenged Box and Dr. Jennifer Walthall, secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, to make Indiana "the best state in the Midwest for infant mortality by 2024." "It's a tall order," Holcomb said.

HOGSETT TO ANNOUNCE REELECTION CAMPAIGN: Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett is expected to kick off his reelection campaign at the Phoenix Theater at 6 tonight (Howey Politics Indiana). Hogsett returned the City-County Building to Democratic control after two terms by Republican Mayor Greg Ballard, who declined to seek a third term. In 2015, the former secretary of state defeated obscure Republican Chuck Brewer with 62%, winning 92,521 to 56,320. He ran on a law and order platform, though the city has been plagued by record homicide rates during his term. Hogsett has also faced declining infrastructure, pushing through and signing a $120 million road and infrastructure plan this fall. Informed and reliable sources tell HPI that Hogsett will not challenge Gov. Eric Holcomb in 2020. State Sen. Jim Merritt is expected to mount a challenge to Hogsett in 2019. “He believed that public safety was No. 1," said Merritt. "There’s a legitimate debate that Indianapolis is less safe today than when he took over.” Merritt was reelected on Nov. 6 by a 51.4-48.6% margin over Democrat Derek Camp, 30,221 to 28,612. Republican Christopher Moore has filed, while former Councilman Jose Evans is considering a run. The Phoenix Theater doors will open to the public at 5:30 p.m. It is located at 705 N. Illinois St.

YOUNG PRESSES TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOR ECONOMIC STRATEGY: U.S. Sen. Todd Young told Howey Politics Indiana on Monday that while President Trump and Chinese President Xi forged a 90-day truce on the trade wars, he is seeking a "written" economic strategy." Young explained after HPI asked him if he believed Trump was "winging it" on trade policy, "I've introduced legislation that would require the administration to provide a coherent, comprehensive, written national economic security strategy that lays out for all the see precisely what the plan is. This would be a very helpful tool for members of Congress so we could provide oversight for our trade policy and other economic policies moving forward," Young explained. "I think it would be helpful to have outside stakeholders to provide critical analysis of that plan and I think it would be a powerful signaling device for our allies and adversaries alike about what the consequences of illicit economic activities will be. We have a national security strategy. I think the very same thing with our economic strategy would be quite helpful to our country." The full HPI Interview with Sen. Young will be published in Thursday’s weekly HPI.

BANKS WANTS TRUMP TO PROVIDE AFGHANISTAN PLAN: U.S. Rep. Jim Banks called on President Trump to provide a strategy plan on the Afghanistan war (KPC News). Banks led a team of seven congressmen from both parties on a trip to Afghanistan, where he served with the U.S. Army in 2014-2015. Upon his return, Banks called for President Donald Trump to focus more of his attention on the longest war in U.S. history. “Seventeen-plus years later, the American people are weary,” Banks said. He wants to hear the administration’s strategy for Afghanistan. Banks is prodding Trump from a sympathetic point of view. “If he were the president that ended the longest war in American history, that would place him in the history books in a way that I believe the president would want to be portrayed,” Banks said last week on C-Span.

MUELLER FILING SAYS FLYNN DESERVES NO PRISON TIME: President Donald Trump's former national security adviser provided so much information to the special counsel's Russia investigation that prosecutors say he shouldn't do any prison time, according to a court filing Tuesday that describes Michael Flynn's cooperation as "substantial" (Associated Press). The filing by special counsel Robert Mueller provides the first details of Flynn's assistance in the Russia investigation, including that he participated in 19 interviews with prosecutors and cooperated extensively in a separate and undisclosed criminal probe. It was filed two weeks ahead of Flynn's sentencing and just over a year after he became the first of five Trump associates to accept responsibility by pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador. Though prosecutors withheld specific details of Flynn's cooperation because of ongoing investigations, their filing nonetheless underscores the breadth of information Mueller has obtained from people close to Trump as the president increasingly vents his anger at the probe — and those who cooperate with it.

TRUMP CALLS HIMSELF 'TARIFF MAN' AS STOCK TUMBLE: The trade war is back on — at least as far as investors are concerned (New York Times). Stocks sank on Tuesday, as President Trump threatened China with further tariffs, just days after the two countries agreed to a cease-fire in their escalating economic conflict. Referring to himself as a “Tariff Man,” Mr. Trump, in a series of tweets, deepened the murkiness surrounding the trade agreement, while members of his economic team talked down the prospects of a broad deal. The fear is that a lasting trade war will undermine the global growth at a time when some of the world’s largest economies are already slowing down, and the United States, a standout performer, is also expected to slow. The global and domestic worries are undercutting the prospects for manufacturers, technology companies, regional banks and airlines, intensifying the sell-off in stocks. The S&P 500 lost more than 3 percent on Tuesday, after rallying the day before on the hope of a deal with China. “They actually want to see a positive resolution where this problem is solved so they don’t have to worry about it,” said Randy Watts, chief investment strategist at the brokerage firm William O’Neil & Company.

DOW TUMBLES AS DOUBTS ABOUT TARIFF TRUCE BREW: U.S. stocks veered sharply lower in afternoon trading Tuesday, pulling the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 700 points (Associated Press). The wave of selling erased the market's gains from a day earlier, when stocks rallied on news the U.S. and China had agreed to a temporary truce in their trade dispute. Investors' confidence in that truce appeared to falter Tuesday, contributing to renewed fears about a slowing global economy. Technology companies, banks and industrial stocks accounted for much of the sell-off as traders moved assets into the relative safety of U.S. government bonds, driving yields sharply lower. Utilities stocks rose. Smaller-company stocks fell more than the rest of the market. "You have the drop in bond yields and the implications on growth going forward," said Willie Delwiche, investment strategist at Baird. "The bigger issue is you have this unwind from yesterday's rally." The sharp turn in the markets followed a strong rally on Monday fueled by optimism about the news President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping had agreed at the G-20 summit to a temporary, 90-day stand-down in the two countries' escalating trade dispute. But the market's optimism faded Tuesday amid published reports questioning the scant details out of the Trump-Xi talks and growing skepticism China will yield to U.S. demands anytime soon. "The actual amount of concrete progress made at this meeting appears to have been quite limited," Alec Phillips and other economists at Goldman Sachs wrote in a research note.

CHINA BEGINS TO MOVE ON TARIFF TIMELINE: China is beginning to flesh out details of a weekend tariff truce with the U.S., after days of vague Chinese statements and a barrage of comments from President Trump and other administration officials (Wall Street Journal). China’s Commerce Ministry in a statement Wednesday acknowledged for the first time that Beijing on Saturday agreed to a 90-day cease-fire to allow negotiations to take place. The statement, attributed to an unnamed spokesman, said that the negotiations have a “clear timeline and road map” and that China aims to quickly implement “an agreed upon consensus.” Also this week, key government agencies and China’s supreme court announced tough punishments for infringing on intellectual property—a prominent complaint by the Trump administration. Together, the moves begin to fill in some of Beijing’s understanding of the agreement between Mr. Trump and President Xi Jinping. 

COATS REVEALS KREMLIN VIOLATIONS OF MISSILE TREATY: The United States' top intelligence official has quietly revealed key new details about Russia's alleged violations of a bedrock Cold War nuclear treaty, an unexpected move that comes as U.S. officials push to build new support from European allies (Radio Free Europe). Congress, meanwhile, is gearing up for a new fight over U.S. arms-control policy, even as President Donald Trump's administration intends to withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and has signaled lukewarm support for another even bigger nuclear treaty. Taken together, the developments mark a new phase in the fight between Moscow and Washington over the fate of their two nuclear arsenals, and highlight fears that the two countries are sliding into a new arms race. Beginning in 2014, the United States publicly accused Russia of violating the INF, which eliminated, among other things, an entire class of intermediate-range missiles. In a statement published November 30, Dan Coats, the U.S. director of national intelligence, for the first time revealed significantly more evidence from U.S. intelligence about the type of missile Russia tested and how it was tested. Coats said the Russia tested the missile from a fixed launcher and then a mobile launcher -- one within the range banned by the INF treaty. "By putting the two types of tests together, Russia was able to develop a missile that flies to the intermediate ranges prohibited by the INF Treaty and launches from a ground-mobile platform," Coats said.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: It appears that Mayor Joe Hogsett is poised to seek a second term, which means that the mayors of Indiana’s three largest cities – Hogsett, Tom Henry in Fort Wayne and Lloyd Winnecke in Evansville – will be seeking another term. Those yet to reveal are South Bend’s Pete Buttigieg, Hammond’s Tom McDermott and Kokomo’s Greg Goodnight. Buttigieg is considering the 2020 presidential race and McDermott is mulling a gubernatorial challenge to Gov. Holcomb. - Brian A. Howey



Campaigns

EVANSVILLE COUNCILMAN ADAMS WON'T SEEK REELECTION:  After eleven years, At-large City Councilman Dr. H. Dan Adams has decided to not seek re-election next Fall (Evansville Courier & Press). The long-time Council member said the decision to not run again is based on the notion that "it's just time."  In his announcement today, Adams (D) said he has "genuinely enjoyed" serving Evansville residents. "I thank those who supported and criticized me, as they both leavened and tempered my performance wisely," he stated in a release.

SPENCE ELECTED TO VIGO COUNCIL: Going from community activist to public official, Lisa Spence was elected Tuesday to fill an upcoming vacancy on the Vigo County Council (Taylor, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Spence was selected on the second ballot at a Democratic party caucus attended by 85 of the county’s 87 precinct committee members. She received 45 votes to 35 for runner-up Clyde Kersey, a former county councilman who recently retired as state representative. Jeff Fisher and Bill Verdeyen each received two votes while one vote was cast for Rick Burger, another former councilman.

DEMOCRATS ON BRINK OF WILD 2020 RUN: Democrats are about to hit the wildest turn we have seen in a presidential campaign: Dozens of people are thinking of running — and running early — in the rage-and-rapid-reaction era of Donald J. Trump. Oh, and they may be doing this while trying to impeach the guy they're running against (Allen, Axios).  There will be no Clintons (probably), no Kennedys (probably) and no Obamas (probably) — leaving a wide open field for the 30+ and counting Democrats thinking about running. Democratic officials tell Jim VandeHei and me that the race will be the biggest strategic free-for-all in modern political history, with a quiet war for donors, staff and endorsements already being fought across the country. This process is a wonder of democracy where everyone from Oprah to Massachusetts congressman Seth Moulton can be taken seriously. Billionaires hit the campaign trail: Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke in Iowa, and told AP he'll do everything he can to make climate change the race's defining issue. And Tom Steyer held a roundtable on voting rights in South Carolina. Sanders' 2016 campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, said "a much bigger campaign" is being planned for 2020. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), who recently visited Hollywood to pitch potential donors, was on "Hardball," talking about running. Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.) is "seriously thinking" about a bid, per Colorado Public Radio. Plus, Julián Castro of Texas told Rolling Stone he's "likely" to run. Among those who are interviewing for campaign staff, according to Democratic sources: Bloomberg, Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz (who has talked to former GOP operative Steve Schmidt).

BIDEN SAYS HE'S 'MOST QUALIFIED' FOR PRESIDENCY: Former vice president Joe Biden said Monday that he considers himself “the most qualified person in the country” to be president and that he would make a decision about moving forward with a 2020 bid in the next two months (Washington Post). His comments came during a book-tour stop at the University of Montana at which Biden also acknowledged he has some liabilities, including being a “gaffe machine,” but said none of those would scare him from running. Biden, 76, would join what is expected to be a crowded field of Democrats, including several senators, looking to topple President Trump. [‘I dream about Biden’: Trump says he’d have no problem beating the former VP in 2020] “I’ll be as straight with you as I can,” Biden said, according to accounts from CNN and local media. “ I think I’m the most qualified person in the country to be president. The issues that we face as a country today are the issues that have been in my wheelhouse, that I’ve worked on my whole life.” Those issues, he said, include “the plight of the middle class and foreign policy.”

O'ROURKE MEETS WITH OBAMA: Beto O’Rourke, weighing whether to mount a 2020 presidential bid, met recently with ¬≠Barack Obama at his post-presidency offices in Washington (Washington Post). The meeting, which was held Nov. 16 at the former president’s offices in Foggy Bottom, came as former Obama aides have encouraged the Democratic House member to run, seeing him as capable of the same kind of inspirational campaign that caught fire in the 2008 presidential election. The meeting was the first sign of Obama getting personally involved in conversations with O’Rourke, who, despite his November loss in a U.S. Senate race in Texas, has triggered more recent discussion and speculation than any other candidate in the burgeoning 2020 field.

PATRICK WON'T RUN IN 2020: Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is calling close allies and informing them he is not running for president in 2020, sources close to the governor tell POLITICO. Patrick informed staff and advisers of his decision today, the sources say, with an announcement to come as soon as this week.

AVENATTI WON'T RUN FOR PRESIDENT: Michael Avenatti announced on Tuesday that he will not run for president in 2020, saying his family has requested that he not mount a campaign and warning that the Democratic Party must put up an aggressive candidate against Donald Trump (Politico). "I do not make this decision lightly — I make it out of respect for my family. But for their concerns, I would run," Avenatti said in a statement.

HOUSE CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE HACKED: The House GOP campaign arm suffered a major hack during the 2018 election, exposing thousands of sensitive emails to an outside intruder, according to three senior party officials (Politico). The email accounts of four senior aides at the National Republican Congressional Committee were surveilled for several months, the party officials said. The intrusion was detected in April by an NRCC vendor, who alerted the committee and its cybersecurity contractor.



Congress

YOUNG WANTS TRUMP TO MOVE ON YEMEN: Sen. Todd Young demanded that the administration do more to stop the civil war in Yemen and the threat of starvation for 14 million people there. Young then voted with a majority to call for removal of U.S. armed forces from hostilities in Yemen (KPC News). Young criticized Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s reports to Congress about Yemen as “not credible” and in conflict with known facts. The Hoosier senator said he has followed Yemen as closely as anyone in the Senate. He agreed that U.S. enemy Iran is backing the forces fighting against U.S. ally Saudi Arabia. However, Young said Saudi Arabia’s attacks on Yemen are the wrong approach. “I will take a back seat to no one as an Iran hawk,” Young said in a speech on the Senate floor last week. “I believe the best way to oppose Iran in Yemen … is to bring all parties to the negotiating table, to end this civil war and to address the humanitarian crisis,” Young said.

YOUNG SUPPORTS FIRST STEP ACT: U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) today announced his support for the First Step Act (S.3649), bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation that would reduce federal recidivism and crime, prepare inmates for successful return to society, enhance prison security and officer safety, and reform federal criminal sentencing (Howey Politics Indiana). Senator Young is a cosponsor of the First Step Act along with more than a quarter of the United States Senate . “Earlier this year I launched my Fair Shot Agenda with the goal of ensuring all Hoosiers have a fair shot at success. This includes people in need of a second chance to turn their lives around,” said Senator Young. “The First Step Act will make needed reforms to our criminal justice system to reduce recidivism, create fairer sentencing requirements, and prepare inmates to be successful members of society. I am proud to support this bipartisan legislation, and I will continue working with Indiana stakeholders to ensure that it accomplishes its goal creating a fairer and more effective criminal justice system, and ensuring non-violent inmates become successful law-abiding citizens when they return to society.”

CORKER SAYS MBS IS GUILTY: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would be convicted of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in “30 minutes” if there were a jury trial, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said Tuesday after being briefed by the CIA (Politico). Corker (R-Tenn.) and members of both parties expressed unbridled rage at Salman in the aftermath of the briefing from CIA Director Gina Haspel, which focused primarily on how Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey earlier this year. The State and Defense departments briefed senators last week, but they demanded to hear from Haspel after that meeting. “I have zero question in my mind that the crown prince directed the murder … zero question,” Corker said. “Let me just put it this way. If he was in front of a jury he would have a unanimous verdict in 30 minutes. A guilty verdict.”

GRAHAM CITES 'SMOKING SAW': After CIA director Gina Haspel briefed a handful of senators on Tuesday about U.S. intelligence related to the murder of dissident Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, lawmakers said they were even more confident that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was directly involved in the brutal assassination (CBS News). "There's not a smoking gun — there's a smoking saw," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters after the classified meeting. "I went into the briefing believing it was virtually impossible for an operation like this to be carried out without the Crown Prince's knowledge," Graham added. "I left the briefing with high confidence that my initial assessment of the situation was correct."

General Assembly

LAWMAKERS SEEK TOLLING AUTHORITY: State lawmakers are discussing ways to increase oversight of the Indiana Toll Road after the governor's recent plan for steep fee hikes on the road was approved with no involvement from legislators (Erdody, IBJ). In September, the Indiana Finance Authority approved an amendment to its lease with the operator Indiana Toll Road Concession Co. that allowed the company to increase toll road fees by 35 percent for heavy vehicles. In exchange for the fee hike, the Indiana Toll Road Concession agreed to pay the state a total $1 billion through 2020 and invest an additional $50 million in toll road improvements. The fee increase went into effect in October. The lease amendment did not require legislative approval, which surprised and upset some state lawmakers. During a State Budget Committee meeting Tuesday, the issue resurfaced as committee members heard a presentation on the amendment and the funds the state will receive from it. “This is a major change in the lease,” Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, said. “I had no discussion. I don’t know if anybody else had any discussion.” State Sen. Ryan Mishler, a Bremen Republican, said lawmakers are exploring legislation that would prevent a governor from doing the same in the future (Associated Press). “There has to be some legislative oversight,” said Mishler, who leads the Senate Appropriations committee. “We’ll discuss with our colleagues in the House … how we want to handle that billion dollars.”

GiaQUINTA MAKES ASSIGNMENTS: Indiana House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) announced the caucus leadership team and the ranking Democrats on House committees (Howey Politics Indiana): Leadership: Democratic Leader: State Rep. Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne); Assistant Leader: State Rep. Karlee Macer (D-Indianapolis); Floor Leader: State Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis); Assistant Floor Leader: State Rep. Terri J. Austin (D-Anderson); Caucus Chair: State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Munster); Assistant Caucus Chair: State Rep. Dan Forestal (D-Indianapolis); Whip: State Rep. Justin Moed (D-Indianapolis); Assistant Whip: State Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis); Assistant Whip: State Rep. Earl Harris, Jr. (D-East Chicago). Ranking members: Agriculture and Rural Development: State Rep. Melanie Wright (D-Yorktown); Commerce, Small Business, and Economic Development: State Rep. Rita Fleming (D-Jeffersonville); Courts and Criminal Code: State Rep. Ragen H. Hatcher (D-Gary); Education: State Rep. Vernon G. Smith (D-Gary); Elections and Apportionment: State Rep. Chuck Moseley (D-Portage); Employment, Labor, and Pensions: State Rep. Lisa Beck (D-Hebron); Environmental Affairs: State Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie); Family, Children, and Human Affairs: State Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis); Financial Institutions: State Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-Indianapolis); Government and Regulatory Reform: State Rep. Chris Campbell (D-West Lafayette); Insurance: State Rep. Terri J. Austin (D-Anderson); Judiciary: State Rep. B. Patrick Bauer (D-South Bend); Local Government: State Rep. Chris Chyung (D-Dyer); Natural Resources: State Rep. Tonya Pfaff (D-Terre Haute); Public Health: State Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis); Public Policy: State Rep. Justin Moed (D-Indianapolis); Roads and Transportation: State Rep. Dan Forestal (D-Indianapolis); Rules and Legislative Procedures: State Rep. Ryan Dvorak (D-South Bend); Select Committee on Government Reduction: State Rep. Carolyn Jackson (D-Hammond); Utilities, Energy, and Telecommunications: State Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington); Veterans Affairs and Public Safety: State Rep. Karlee Macer (D-Indianapolis); Ways and Means: State Rep. Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis); Statutory Committee on Ethics: State Rep. Sue Errington (D-Muncie), Vice Chair; Interstate and International Cooperation: State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Munster); Committee on Joint Rules: State Rep. Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne).



State

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB EXPANDS CODING PROGRAM - One year ago Indiana adopted a unique program that trains prisoners to become software engineers. On Tuesday, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the program will expand, thanks to a $2 million grant from Google (Daudelin, Indiana Public Media). The program is called The Last Mile. It’s designed to prepare incarcerated individuals for tech jobs through virtual coding courses. With new money from Google.org, the company’s charitable arm, it's now coming to the Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility east of Indianapolis. Speakers from Google.org, The Last Mile, and The Last Mile's board of directors (including rapper MC Hammer and SiriusXM radio host Sway) joined the governor at an announcement event inside the facility. About 15 young people from the correctional facility attended. At the end of his speech, Holcomb addressed them directly. "Technology is scaling up and changing at such an unprecedented scale and pace," Holcomb said. "You're tapping into the skills to help pioneer that change. The very skills that Google is craving. And countless other companies are looking, anxious, eager, for you to complete this mile, this last mile, so that you can start determining your destiny."

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB APPOINTS LAKE JUDGE - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb today announced Magistrate Thomas P. Hallett as his appointment to the Lake County Superior Court. Hallet succeeds Judge Elizabeth F. Tavitas, who was appointed to the Indiana Court of Appeals in July (Howey Politics Indiana). Hallett currently serves as a magistrate judge for the Lake County Superior Courts in the civil division in Gary. Hallett began his legal career in private practice. He also served as city attorney for the city of Lake Station and as judge of the Lake Station City Court. Hallett has served as a magistrate in Lake County since 2009. Hallett earned a Bachelor of Arts from Notre Dame University and his law degree from Indiana University Maurer School of Law in Bloomington, Indiana. He will be sworn in on a date to be determined.

AGRICULTURE: TRADERS AWAIT TARIFF REDUCTION BEFORE MOVING BEANS - While the U.S. and China have reached a deal for China to buy U.S. agricultural goods, the market is waiting for China to drop tariffs before transactions take place (Hoosier Ag Today). Reuters reports no substantial purchases can happen with a 25 percent duty still in place on U.S. soybeans, corn, sorghum and wheat, according to buyers and analysts. China over the weekend agreed to a trade war ceasefire, and the White House said China had promised to buy an unspecified but “very substantial” amount of agricultural, energy, industrial and other products, with purchases of farm goods to start “immediately.” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says the purchases will likely start next month. China’s foreign ministry said on Monday that the two presidents had instructed their economic teams to work towards removing all tariffs. The South China Morning Post reports a deal between the U.S. and China could turn Brazil’s expected bumper crop of soybeans into a glut. Brazil is nearing harvest time of the crop as it was thought to be the primary supplier of soybeans to China due to the U.S.-China trade war. But, with China and the U.S. halting further tariffs and working through a 90-day period to strike a deal, along with China’s promise to buy more U.S. ag products, Brazil farmers seem likely to lose the China demand.

ENERGY: NEW COAL PLANT PROPOSED - A new coal plant that has been proposed in southern Indiana would spew millions of tons of climate change-inducing greenhouse gases and dozens of tons of cancer-causing chemicals into the air each year, according to a draft permit for the facility (Bowman, IndyStar). The facility, if built, also will be located within one mile of an elementary school and nursing home. Still, the state’s environmental agency has determined that those emissions would not exceed any legal limits and, thus, have “no significant impact” — a finding that is drawing some skepticism. “For the state to claim that this will have no significant impact is, in my opinion, simply false,” said Randy Vaal, a retired chemical engineer who worked in the oil and gas industry for decades. Riverview Energy Corporation is seeking an air permit for its “clean coal” diesel plant in Spencer County that would turn the state’s abundant coal reserves into diesel fuel. This plant would be the first of its kind in the United States.

AGRICULTURE: EPA GRANT TO PROTECT LAKE ERIE - The Environmental Protection Agency awarded the Indiana State Department of Agriculture more than $400,000 to improve water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin. The grants were distributed through the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Great Lakes Commission (Howey Politics Indiana). “This funding reinforces the critical work being done in the Western Lake Erie Basin,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “We have a long road ahead, but every action taken to improve water quality, whether large or small, is a step in the right direction.”   Lake Erie’s western basin is one of the nation’s most significant collections of inland rivers and streams. It encompasses nearly 7 million acres, gathering water from farms, fields, towns and cities in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan. “With six Indiana counties feeding into Lake Erie, we have a responsibility to conserve this important natural resource,” said Bruce Kettler, ISDA Director. “Our department devotes more resources to the Western Lake Erie Basin than any other part of the state, and we’ll continue to focus our attention on this area moving forward.”

LAW: STUDY COMMISSION TO REVIEW BAR EXAM - A 14-member Study Commission will review the Indiana Bar Examination. The Indiana Supreme Court unanimously ordered the creation of the Commission to consider an in-depth analysis of the bar exam to determine whether changes in the format or content are needed (Howey Politics Indiana). Former Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard will chair the Commission. Court of Appeals Chief Judge Nancy A. Vaidik will serve as vice chair. In addition to judges and lawyers, all Indiana Law School Deans are on the Commission. The group will make a report to the Court by December 2019. The order creating the Commission is available online as are details about the Office of Admissions and Continuing Education.

BUSINESS: CHAMBER TO HOST CYBER CONFERENCE - Cybersecurity and technology are areas that no organization can afford to ignore. The Indiana Chamber of Commerce combines the two into the new Cyber Technology Conference and Policy Summit on January 8-9, 2019, in downtown Indianapolis (Howey Politics Indiana). Professionals in cybersecurity and the data privacy field as well as government leaders will be among the presenters at the two-day conference, sponsored by Comcast Business. It opens January 8 with a luncheon and keynote session by Darshan Shah, chief data officer for the Indiana Management Performance Hub. An Indiana Chamber tech policy committee update will follow on day one. On January 9, the keynote session focuses on federal efforts to combat cybersecurity. Speakers are Thomas Wheeler, senior adviser in the Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education; Sujit Raman, associate deputy attorney general of the U.S. Department of Justice; and U.S. Navy Rear Adm. Gene Price.

Nation

WHITE HOUSE: BOLTON SAYS TRUMP WILL MEET WITH KIM -  President Trump plans to hold a second summit meeting early next year with Kim Jong-un, even though North Korea has failed to follow through with promises to start dismantling its nuclear weapons program, John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, said on Tuesday (New York Times). “They have not lived up to the commitments so far,” Mr. Bolton said. “That’s why I think the president thinks another summit is likely to be productive.” Mr. Bolton was referring to a pledge that the North Korean leader made in June at his first face-to-face meeting  with Mr. Trump in Singapore. At the time, Mr. Kim said North Korea would work toward “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP ORGANIZATION A LEGAL TARGET - The attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Maryland plan to file subpoenas Tuesday seeking records from the Trump Organization, the Internal Revenue Service and dozens of other entities as part of a lawsuit accusing Donald Trump of profiting off the presidency (Associated Press). The flurry of subpoenas came a day after U.S. District Court Judge Peter J. Messitte approved a brisk schedule for discovery in the case alleging that foreign and domestic government spending at Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel amounts to gifts to the president in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause. The subpoenas target 37 entities, including 13 Trump-linked entities and the federal agency that oversees the lease for Trump’s Washington hotel. Subpoenas were also being sent to the Department of Defense, General Services Administration, Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture and the IRS, which have spent taxpayer dollars at the hotel or have information on Trump’s finances relevant to the case.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP LOOKING FORWARD BEING WITH BUSH FAMILY - President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he's "looking forward" to spending time with the Bush family, whose members include longstanding political rivals of his, during their stay in Washington this week for the funeral of former President George H.W. Bush (Politico). "Looking forward to being with the wonderful Bush family at Blair House today. The former First Lady will be coming over to the White House this morning to be given a tour of the Christmas decorations by Melania," Trump tweeted. "The elegance & precision of the last two days have been remarkable!"

WHITE HOUSE: DOLE PAYS RESPECTS TO BUSH41 - They came together Tuesday from worlds that can often seem so far apart, current and former elected officials, intelligence chiefs and foreign dignitaries standing alongside suit-clad federal workers, college students and other everyday Americans. They came together to bid farewell to George H.W. Bush, the patrician former president who dedicated years to public service (Washington Post). Throngs of people streamed into the Capitol Rotunda for a quiet moment seeing Bush’s flag-draped coffin as he lies in state. Those who gathered included Bush’s relatives, people who served under him while he was commander in chief and onetime political rivals, including Bob Dole, the former Senate majority leader and Republican nominee for president, who made an emotional appearance. Dole, who had twice competed with Bush for the Republican nomination, approached the casket in a wheelchair. An aide helped him stand briefly before Bush’s body. With his left hand, Dole gave a salute to Bush, who like him had been a veteran of World War II.

WHITE HOUSE: KELLEY WAS GOLF BUDDY OF BUSH41 - Fort Wayne TV station WANE reports that local auto dealer Tom Kelley planned to attend the Texas funeral services this week for former president George H.W. Bush (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Kelley had met Bush through Bush's vice president, former senator and representative Dan Quayle of Huntington, and Kelley "became golfing buddies with the president," WANE reported Monday. After leaving office, Bush spoke in 1996 at the annual fundraising dinner of the Boys and Girls Club of Fort Wayne. He was invited by Kelley, who was a member of the club's board of directors, The Journal Gazette reported at the time. Later that year, Kelley told the newspaper about caddying for Bush at the 1994 Bob Hope Chrysler Classic golf tournament in Palm Springs, California. Bush's foursome included comedian Hope and then President Bill Clinton. Kelley told WANE that he had met with Bush at least 40 times over the years and had delivered at least 20 cars to Bush and his family.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP LAMENTS ARMS RACE - President Donald Trump complained Monday about how much the U.S. spends on weapons in an “uncontrollable” arms race with Russia and China, though he vastly overstated how much is spent on actual weapons, even under a budget his administration has increased (Associated Press). The president said in a tweet that the U.S. has spent $716 billion this year, an amount he called “Crazy!” He said he expects to discuss the issue with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. “I am certain that, at some time in the future, President Xi and I, together with President Putin of Russia, will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race,” he said on Twitter. His statement appeared to confuse the total Defense Department budget with America's investment in the nation's missile defense systems and the strategic nuclear weapons usually associated with the arms race. The Pentagon's budget for 2019 totals about $716 billion, but that includes everything from health care and pay for service members to the costs of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The arms race is just a fraction of that amount, totaling about $10 billion this year for a wide range of missile defense and nuclear weapons programs.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - President Trump and first lady Melania Trump will leave the White House at 10:15 a.m. for the Washington National Cathedral to attend George H.W. Bush's funeral service. Afterward, the two are expected to return to the White House. Trump is expected to attend the Army-Navy football game on Saturday.

TREASURY: POSTAL SERVICE RATES PROPOSED TO GO UP - A Treasury-led task force is proposing that the U.S. Postal Service charge more for certain package deliveries, going after Amazon.com Inc. and other online retailers that President Trump has said benefit at the post office’s expense (Wall Street Journal). The Postal Service hasn’t priced package deliveries with profitability in mind, according to the task force’s report released Tuesday. It said the agency should be able to charge market-based prices for mail and package items that aren’t deemed essential services. The report, requested by Mr. Trump in April, recommended raising prices for many types of commercial package deliveries, a growing business for the Postal Service. Mr. Trump has often claimed on Twitter that the Postal Service has given a sweetheart arrangement to Amazon, which he blames for unfairly hurting bricks-and-mortar retailing. Mr. Trump also has clashed with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos over coverage of his administration in the Washington Post, which is owned by Mr. Bezos. “Only fools, or worse, are saying that our money losing Post Office makes money with Amazon,” Mr. Trump tweeted in April before signing the executive order calling for the report.

INTELLIGENCE: NEW ZEALAND WON'T REVEAL COATS VISIT -  Minister for spy agencies Andrew Little is having a high-level meeting with American security officials in Wellington today, where the decision to block Spark from using Huawei for its 5G network is almost certain to be discussed (New Zealand Herald). A Globemaster C-17 plane was seen at Wellington Airport last night, and a spokeswoman for Little confirmed that American officials were meeting officials from the NZ Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Security Bureau. "The plane is transporting security officials who are in New Zealand to meet with their counterparts. These security officials routinely meet with their New Zealand counterparts," the spokeswoman said. She said Little was at the meeting, but Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was not. She would not comment on whether Dan Coats, director of national intelligence, was visiting New Zealand.

WISCONSIN: LAMEDUCK GOP IN POWER DRIVE - Wisconsin Republicans are charging ahead with lame-duck legislation that would limit the authority of the incoming Democratic governor and attorney general, with votes set for late Tuesday despite a public outcry and a wave of protests at the State Capitol (Washington Post). By Tuesday evening, the Wisconsin Senate had passed the least controversial of the three lame-duck bills, a measure on taxes and transportation that was approved by the GOP-controlled chamber on a party-line vote. Legislators were meeting behind closed doors after Tuesday’s initial vote, and it was unclear when they might take up the remaining two parts of the package. Among the more hotly debated parts of the plan are provisions that would limit early voting, which has helped Democrats, and restrict the ability of Gov.-elect Tony Evers (D) to make appointments. The plan also would take away from the governor the power to withdraw the state from a lawsuit, allowing lawmakers to make that decision instead. 

Local

CITIES: GRIFFITH OFFICIALS MEETS WITH NORTH TOWNSHIP - While the Town Council still hopes to be in North Township by year's end, it will also request a new state law to provide its own poor relief if membership is denied. "Griffith continues to lobby North Township for acceptance," Council President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd, said Tuesday evening (Haber, NWI Times). "We are concurrently working to meet a Dec. 10 deadline imposed on the legislators for submitting documentation to Legislative Services Agency in order for any bill to be drafted." At the invitation of the North Township Board, Griffith officials met with them Tuesday afternoon, hours before the council's business meeting. "The meeting was productive," Ryfa said. "We were presented with some very good questions regarding the full ramifications of Griffith transferring into North Township. We will work very hard in the next few days to provide additional information." Some of that information was provided during the meeting, via conference call, by Matthew Parkinson, deputy commissioner and chief of staff for the Department of Local Government Finance. North Township Trustee Frank J. Mrvan, who attended the earlier meeting, could not be reached for comment by press time.

CITIES: SNYDER DEFENSE SAYS HE WAS 'NAIVE' - Portage Mayor James Snyder's actions were more out of naivety than criminal intent, according to his defense team in the latest filing in the public corruption case (Russell, NWI Times). Snyder's attorney Jackie M. Bennett Jr., of Indianapolis, filed a 22-page response to prosecutors' 83-page proffer filing last month that offered excerpts of undercover tapes between Snyder's co-defendant John Cortina and a confidential source. "Mr. Snyder is innocent and naïve to a fault," Bennett writes, saying while Cortina and the informant spoke about a $12,000 bribe to have the informant's towing company placed on the city's tow list, Snyder always saw the exchange of money as a loan from Cortina. "So even if Mr. Cortina, at CHS1’s (confidential human source) urging, privately play acted the role of a 79-year-old gangster, yukking it up about 'juice money,' the government’s own proffer proves Mr. Snyder had no idea what they were talking about," writes Bennett.

CITIES: MAYOR NEESE WILL SEEK INDEPENDENT PD REVIEW - Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese announced late Tuesday that he will seek an independent review of the policies and practices of the Elkhart Police Department in the wake of video showing officers beating a handcuffed man and reports by The Tribune and ProPublica about the department (South Bend Tribune). Neese had last month asked the Indiana State Police to conduct a “thorough and far-reaching” investigation to look for any patterns of excessive force in his city’s police force. The state police declined, saying such an investigation was beyond their purview, and referred Neese to the U.S. Department of Justice. The Justice Department has retreated from such oversight of local departments since the election of Donald Trump as president. Neese said Tuesday that the Justice Department has not responded to three separate inquiries about potential involvement in the Elkhart investigation. Once Neese selects an entity to conduct the review, that work will be done “in conjunction with Police Chief Ed Windbigler, who will return to the department” Dec. 17, Neese’s statement said. 

CITIES: NEW CARLISLE PD ACCUSED OF WIRETAPPING - Command staff in the New Carlisle Police Department are being accused of secretly recording private conversations in a civil wiretapping lawsuit filed Monday (Wright, South Bend Tribune). The lawsuit was filed by Jeff Roseboom, Abby Moffitt, Patrick Cicero and Ron Colpitts. Roseboom is the former police chief and Colpitts previously served on New Carlisle’s Town Council. According to the lawsuit, Moffitt and Cicero are or were employees of the police department. The four are alleging their Fourth Amendment rights were violated and that the town violated the Indiana Wiretapping Act. “At various times and dates, plaintiffs had their personal, private conversations recorded in various spaces within the New Carlisle Police Department and/or New Carlisle Town Hall without permission or notification,” according to the suit. It is alleged that Deputy Police Chief Brian Thompson and Chief Calleb Dittmar secretively “placed, or caused to be placed,” recording devices in the ceilings of non-essential areas of the department. Command staff allegedly knew of the recording devices and failed to notify employees that their conversations were being recorded and monitored, according to the lawsuit.

CITIES: MAJOR DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT FOR FISHERS - Fishers officials announced plans Tuesday for a massive downtown development that includes apartments, businesses, a corporate headquarters and an upscale hotel (IndyStar). The project, estimated to cost $157 million, will occupy both sides of 116th Street near the Municipal Center and be built by Browning Investments and First Internet Bank. A five-story apartment building with 241 units, 10 townhouses, office and retail space, and a public parking garage will be built on the north side of 116th, near North and Maple streets.

CITIES: BLOOMINGTON PARKING GARAGE VOTE DELAYED - Bloomington’s Redevelopment Commission is postponing a vote on two new downtown parking garages to a special meeting next week (Indiana Public Media). Plans still have to be drawn for the structures, and the city council needs to approve the project. That led to confusion Monday night over how the redevelopment commission could move forward with the proposal. The Fourth Street Parking Garage is slated to close at the end of the year due to safety concerns. City leaders also want to build a 300-spot parking garage in the Trades District, the city’s certified tech park.

CITIES: MAN WINS SUIT V. GARY PD - A man who filed a federal lawsuit in April alleging he was attacked by a former Gary cop because of an affair he had with the officer's wife reached a financial settlement last month with the city of Gary (NWI Times). The city agreed to pay Shawn Wade $47,500 to settle claims by Wade that Gary police officer Gerald Richardson violated his constitutional rights during an Aug. 26, 2016, traffic stop.

CITIES: MERRILLVILLE PD TO EXPAND -  The growth of the Merrillville Police Department has it closer to a milestone (Reilly, NWI Times). Officers Julian Garza and Nicholas Enyeart are the latest to join the force after they were sworn in Tuesday. Merrillville Police Chief Joseph Petruch said Garza, 26, comes to Merrillville from the Gary Police Department, and Enyeart, 29, comes from the Rensselaer Police Department. Petruch said Merrillville plans to hire another two officers by the start of 2019. When that happens, Merrillville will reach 60 officers, a staffing level the department hasn't reached before.

CITIES: FORT WAYNE COUNCIL RECONSIDERS REBATE - An update Tuesday on the performance of Red River Waste Solutions left some City Council members in the dumps (Gong, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Several council members left the table dissatisfied with answers provided by city Solid Waste Manager Matt Gratz and Adrienne Maurer, a member of Mayor Tom Henry's working group on garbage and recycling collection. The working group, Maurer said, has recommended against providing ratepayers a refund sought by Councilman Russ Jehl, R-2nd, and others. No one from Red River attended Tuesday's meeting. “Granting a rebate for one month of service or however it was going to be applied, in the opinion of the committee, was not something that was going to improve service,” Maurer said. “We have already assessed a number of fines on Red River to the extent that it's cutting into quite a bit of their dollars. So far, assessing fines has not worked to make them more efficient. All that does is take more money out of their pocket and cause them to have more problems.” According to figures provided by the city, Red River has been fined $542,500 so far this year for missed garbage collections and $167,500 for missed recycling pickups. The company was fined $153,850 in August and $188,800 in September for missed garbage collections alone. Red River's contract runs through 2025.

CITIES: HOGSETT HONORS SHELTON HEIGHTS NEIGHBORHOOD - Mayor Joe Hogsett announced this week that Shelton Heights will be the city’s ‘Neighborhood of the Month’ for December 2018 (Howey Politics Indiana). The ‘Neighborhood of the Month’ program highlights Indianapolis neighborhood initiatives, works to engage community groups and promotes projects by City departments *. Located between Washington Street, Holt and Rockville roads on the city’s west side, this neighborhood may be small, but is also mighty. "A neighborhood becomes resilient when all essential partnerships work together to improve the quality of life for our residents,” Mayor Hogsett said. “Shelton Heights represents a strong-willed neighborhood that fought to take back its community with the right partnerships. That is why I am proud to honor this community as Neighborhood of the Month for December.”

CITIES: MISHAWAKA COUNCIL WON'T APPROVE AUTO SPA -  John’s Auto Spa failed to get a rezoning approved so that it could build a car wash along Grape Road, thanks to a narrow Common Council vote of 5-4 against the proposal on Monday (Dits, South Bend Tribune). Council members raised questions about the business’s ability to keep oil, gas and other contaminants from leaking or running into nearby Juday Creek, which sits on the other side of a retention pond. The site is in front of Tanglewood Trace senior living community and across Grape from the Kohl's store. John’s Auto Spa, with a similar business in Nappanee, where it is based, uses a series of three underground concrete tanks to separate the substances from wastewater. A representative from the company that services those tanks answered questions from the council.

CITIES: SETH MEYERS FALLS FROM INDY SCOOTER - Seth Meyers is a big Northwestern fan and came to Indianapolis this past weekend for the Big Ten Championship game (WTHR-TV). The game didn't go like he had hoped and neither did his time here in Indianapolis. On "Late Night with Seth Meyers" Monday night, he talked about his experience riding an electric scooter around the city. It didn't take long though for him to fall and hurt himself. Meyers joked, "Five minutes before I fell off my scooter, I sent an iPhone video to my wife of me on the scooter saying, and these are my exact words, 'look at me I am young and cool.'" He says he tried to play it off like he wasn't injured, but his wrist hurt the rest of the weekend.


COUNTIES: THREAT PROMPTS CARROLL HS LOCKDOWN - A Carroll Junior-Senior High School student made a threat during lunch in the cafeteria Monday, resulting in a brief lockdown of the school (Lafayette Journal & Courier). Superintendent Keith Thackery said the threat was made to the school, and when administrators learned of it, they located the student and pulled him from class. There was no weapon found, Thackery said. School policy is to go on lockdown anytime there is a threat so that the students are safe, Thackery said. In this instance, he said they went on an internal lockdown.

COUNTIES: ALLEN ISSUES $1B IN PERMITS - For the second straight year, Allen County has issued more than $1 billion in construction permits, as new building and remodeling continued at the highest rate in the last five years, county officials announced at a news conference this morning (Rodriguez, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). According to statistics compiled by the county building department, as of Dec. 2, permits totaled $1.022 billion -- on pace to reach or surpass the $1.032 billion for all of 2017. Slightly fewer permits -- 25,230 -- have been issued through Nov. 29 than for last year, when the total was 26,185 by year's end. But this year's numbers are expected to continue to rise as the industry is scrambling to beat cost uncertainties in 2019, John Caywood, commissioner of the Allen County Building Department, told The Journal Gazette after the announcement. The permit numbers include both commercial and residential construction and new construction and remodeling. Apartments and senior living homes are considered commercial permits, even though the result is residential space.

COUNTIES: ALLEN INCOME GROWS, POVERY DROPS - Allen County's median household income grew last year and its poverty rate shrank, according to estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau (Francisco, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The median household income for 2017 was $52,661, a 2.5 percent increase from the previous year and roughly $5,000 more than in the early part of this decade, when the nation was emerging from a severe economic recession. “Wages are going up. ... We're starting to see that we're making up ground, getting back to where we were at a somewhat pre-recession level,” said Rachel Blakeman, director of the Community Research Institute at Purdue University Fort Wayne. Allen County's median household income remained below the nation's $60,336 and the state's $54,134. The median is the middle point of a set of numbers. Nationally, household incomes climbed by 4.7 percent last year, and Indiana incomes rose by 3.5 percent.