LUGAR CALLED INF WITHDRAWAL 'GRAVELY MISGUIDED': Former Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard Lugar stands by a statement he made on Oct. 25, 2018 calling President Trump's decision to pull out of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty "gravely misguided." Howey Politics Indiana reached out to Lugar, who pointed to his statement following Trump's announcement he was considering withdrawal. "President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is gravely misguided," Lugar said. "Withdrawing will not make us safer, it will rob us of leverage essential to our own security and power. It will foolishly play into the hands of Russian propagandists by focusing global attention on our rejection of the treaty instead of Russian violations. And it will make the world a more dangerous place. The Russian violation of the treaty should be taken seriously. But withdrawing from the treaty will not force Moscow into compliance. Just the opposite will occur. We will open the door to a renewed Russian build-up of intermediate range nuclear weapons. That would pose a far greater strategic threat to us and our allies than this violation, which gives Russia no military advantage." Lugar added, "President Trump and some of his top aides seem to be driven by the false belief that all international treaties are bad for the United States and that we always end up the loser. History and the facts show clearly that this is not the case. President Reagan and Congress entered into the INF Treaty because it was to our benefit, and it remains so." Lugar added, "I urge President Trump to step back from this dangerous course and, as he pledged in Helsinki last summer, to begin a new strategic dialogue with President Putin focused on nuclear risks."

PUTIN PULLS OUT OF INF TREATY: Russia is abandoning a key missile treaty the day after the United States said it was suspending participation, renewing concerns about a nuclear arms race between the two countries (Politico). “We will respond quid pro quo,” President Vladimir Putin said Saturday, according to the Associated Press. “Our American partners have announced they were suspending their participation in the treaty and [we] will do the same." “They have announced they will conduct research and development, and we will act accordingly,” he continued. Putin said Russia would begin to work on intermediate-range weapons. He pledged Russia would “not station” any of these weapons “in Europe or other regions until similar U.S. weapons appear in those regions,” AP reported.

NUNN, MONIZ DECRY INF TREATY PULLOUT: Former Sen. Sam Nunn and Ernest J. Moniz of the Nuclear Theat Initiative warned that the Trump administration's pull out of the INF Treaty is a “foolish play" (Politico). Nunn and Moniz write: "Friday morning’s announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that America will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty because of Russian violations is the latest wake-up call that relations between the world’s nuclear superpowers are dangerously off the rails. The fear of nuclear confrontation was once omnipresent in Washington and Moscow. National leaders recognized the real risk that a military conflict could quickly emerge and escalate, and that they would be forced to calculate in minutes whether survival required “going nuclear first,” with catastrophic consequences. The grim horror of this reality was understood. It provided the foundation of decades of nuclear dialogue between the U.S. and Russia, including a mutual recognition of vital interests, red lines and methods to reduce the chance that accidents or miscalculations would lead to conflict. Today, many of those mechanisms have atrophied. The relationship between the U.S. and Russia is fraught and communications are feeble. Western sanctions placed on Russia in response to Vladimir Putin’s acts of aggression have further frozen relations, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in America’s 2016 elections continues to roil American politics, and Donald Trump’s administration is imperiled if it touches anything related to Russia." They add, "The U.S. and Russia are sleepwalking toward a nuclear disaster, and America’s best hope of avoiding catastrophe is reengaging with Russia now—with Congress taking the lead."

BUTTIGIEG SAYS WHITE HOUSE RUN 'A LEAP FOR ANYBODY': Pete Buttigieg, the Democratic mayor of South Bend, Ind., said on Sunday that he understands the "audacity of somebody like me" running for president. "But frankly, it's a leap for anybody, anybody who arrives behind that desk," Buttigieg added on ABC's "This Week." "And yet, all of the people who have had that job have been mortals who just bring their experience to the table." Buttigieg, who announced his candidacy for president earlier this month is openly gay, a Harvard graduate and a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve. He also said on ABC that he believes his experience as a mayor would be useful in the White House.  “My experience is that of guiding a city through a transformation," Buttigieg said. "I think a mayor at any level has the kind of executive, frontline government experience — and by the way, problem-solving experience — that we need more in Washington right now.”

INDIANA FARM BANKRUPTCIES UP 36% IN 2018: The number of Hoosier farmers who filed for bankruptcy increased significantly last year. The American Farm Bureau says Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings in Indiana increased 36 percent, while national numbers decreased slightly (Turner, Indiana Public Media). The Indiana Farm Bureau says the large surplus of soybeans and corn, paired with the impact of Chinese tariffs, is forcing farmers to tighten their budgets. Bob White is the Director of National Government Relations for the Indiana Farm Bureau. He says 15 farms underwent Chapter 12 Bankruptcy last year, and worries more could be added in 2019. "From 2014 on, it’s been a downhill slide," White says. "They’ve used up their cash reserves, they’ve extended their long term debt to a point where this year it was just too much for them to handle."

SIMON NERVOUS ABOUT MALL RETAILERS: Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group Inc., the nation's largest shopping mall owner, managed to navigate through a often-difficult 2018 despite a landslide of retailer bankruptcies. On Friday, in a conference call with analysts, Simon CEO David Simon warned that more closures and bankruptcies are coming (IBJ). "There are some retailers out there that we're nervous about," said Simon, without naming specific companies. "We are concerned about a few retailers that should shake out in Q1." Simon said he didn't think there would be as many retail bankruptcies as the previous two years, but said there are still some lingering questions facing some retailers. The CEO said the company will continue to redevelop spaces vacated by anchor retailers like Sears, J.C. Penney, Macy's and others, and fill them with non-traditional mall tenants such as health clubs and hotels. "We're excited about the continuation of the evolution of the mall industry," he said, and "the way it's been evolving for 60-plus years." Simon Property reported significant increases in profit and revenue in the fourth quarter, but the company’s results fell just short of Wall Street expectations. The real estate investment trust reported funds from operations, or FFO, of $1.15 billion, or $3.23 per share, in the period. The average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for FFO of $3.24 per share.

REP. PENCE CONTINUES TO DUCK NEWS MEDIA:  Freshman U.S. Rep. Greg Pence, who has declined to speak to The Star Press, on Thursday issued an "action alert," including siren emojis, urging everyone to share his official social media pages (Slabaugh, Muncie Star Press). "We plan to utilize social media to speak directly with our constituents," Pence says in a video posted on Facebook and Twitter. "I need everyone, especially my friends across the Sixth District, to share this page with their friends, family and networks." " … and if you ever find yourself in Washington, D.C., pay us a visit." Unless you're with the media, in which case you might not get in. Pence's office did not allow the Statehouse reporter for The Indianapolis Star to have an in-person interview with him when the reporter was in Washington recently. Bypassing the media in his district has resulted in accusations that Pence is "arrogant," "out of touch" and unwilling to face public scrutiny. But as long as the Republican congressman's approach to the media remains politically effective, expect it to continue, says Johnny Sparks, chair of the department of journalism at Ball State University. "The symbiotic relationship between journalists and politicians has devolved with the co-emergence of social media and President Trump," Sparks told The Star Press. "Trump’s Twitter megaphone demonstrates politicians’ potential to bypass the media, communicate directly to the audience, and control the message." Since winning office, Pence has been quoted in at least one newspaper, The Republic, in his hometown of Columbus. Pence also dodged many journalists during his campaign last year for the district seat formerly represented by his younger brother, now-Vice President Mike Pence. The only extensive media interview reportedly was with his hometown paper.

VP PENCE PROMISES 'ACTION' IN VENEZUELA: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Friday listened to harrowing stories of deprivation, torture and escape from Venezuelans who fled their homeland, and pledged to ramp up pressure to help the opposition trying to oust Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters, NWI Times). In a visit to the largest community of Venezuelan exiles in the United States - and flanked by four prominent Florida Republican politicians - Pence rejected calls for talks with Maduro, and said all options were on the table to force him to leave. “This is no time for dialogue. This is time for action,” Pence told a few hundred people at a rally in a local church, many of whom waved Venezuelan flags and shouted “Libertad!” “The time has come to end the Maduro dictatorship once and for all,” said Pence, who has emerged as one of the strongest voices against the Venezuelan leader in the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

CLYBURN SIGNALS DEM WILLINGNESS TO DISCUSS ‘SMART WALL’: Jim Clyburn wants to call his border security plan a wall, even though it’s really not (McClatchy News). Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat, is proposing what he calls a “smart wall,” a border security strategy that uses technology, not concrete. The South Carolina congressman explained his “wall” would involve drones, scanners, and sensors “to create a technological barrier too high to climb over, too wide to go around, and too deep to burrow under.” His terminology matters because Democrats have signaled they’re willing to make a deal on border security that, at least rhetorically, would include some sort of barrier. They just need to label their plan carefully, and finding the right words and tone is going to be a major theme as congressional negotiators continue to seek a deal next week. Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat and a member of the committee trying to negotiate a breakthrough, chuckled when discussing Clyburn’s idea. If a deal is reached, he said, people can call it whatever they want. “If a wall is part of it, if a fence is part of it, that’s what some people will call it. If it’s smart some other people will call it that,” he said.

TRUMP FACES WATERSHED MOMENT WITH SOTU: When President Trump delivers his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday, a Democrat will be seated at the rostrum over his shoulder for the first time (Washington Post). The presence of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will bring into fresh relief not only the power shift in the Capitol, with the opposition party now able to thwart the president’s agenda, but also the converging pressures on Trump that have brought his presidency to a crossroads. Trump dealt himself a political defeat with the 35-day government shutdown. He has secured no funding to construct a border wall and is preparing to declare a national emergency to fulfill his campaign promise. He is newly at odds with the nation’s intelligence chiefs and some senators in his own party. The Russia investigation, which has ensnared several of the president’s allies, appears to be nearing its conclusion. New congressional oversight investigations will start soon. And the race to defeat him at the ballot box has kicked off in earnest. “This is a watershed moment,” said Chris Whipple, author of “The Gatekeepers,” a history of White House chiefs of staff. “Time is running out. This is a last chance to really get things right.” The challenges mount at a moment when Trump is as unencumbered and isolated as ever. Inside the White House, aides describe a chaotic, freewheeling atmosphere reminiscent of the early weeks of Trump’s presidency.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: General Secretary Gorbachev once had a sculpture of a goose on his Kremlin desk. Why? It was there to remind him that a flock of geese nearly set off the Soviet nuclear early warning system. Most Americans don't pay much attention to the nuclear threats these days, but President Trump's decision to pull out of the INF Treaty and the potential for cyberespionage or hacking that could compromise the command and control of the Russian and U.S. nuclear systems is an emerging nightmare scenario. We should all pay heed to former senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar, who see the INF withdrawal in grave terms. These two patriots headed up the effort to contain decaying Soviet arsenals from falling into the hands of terror groups. There are now an array of new threats. A prohibitively expensive nuclear arms race and a lack of dialogue with the Kremlin and other Russian interests are extremely troubling developments. President Trump, who didn't understand what the U.S. "triad" system while running for president and continues to have a tortured relationship with his intelligence chiefs (which is a very troubling notion), would be wise to deploy both Nunn and Lugar to rekindle this dialogue across the Russian spectrum. They know the territory and they know many of the players. - Brian A. Howey


MERRITT QUESTIONS HOGSETT'S SNOW RESPONSE: State Sen. Jim Merritt, Republican candidate for Indianapolis mayor, has raised critical questions about the Hogsett administration’s response to the snow that fell Thursday night (Howey Politics Indiana). “Beginning Thursday evening, Indianapolis received a relatively light snowfall amounting to a couple of inches in most areas of the city. Although the snowfall ended at least a couple of hours before rush hour – and earlier in some parts of our community – the roads were slick, snow-covered and, in many cases, practically impassable as drivers headed to work,” said Merritt. “Weather forecasters had been predicting the snow for days, so it was not a surprise,” Merritt added. “What surprised me was how unprepared the city was to deal with removing a couple of inches of snow. What happens if we get hit by a significant ice storm or a major blizzard? How will the city deal with those situations?

BAKER ENTERS NOBLESVILLE MAYORAL RACE: A fourth candidate has entered the Noblesville mayoral race (Quinn, IBJ). Vince Baker filed to run in the Republican primary Friday. He joins local business owner Mike Corbett, current city councilor Chris Jensen and former Noblesville School Board member Julia Kozicki in a race to replace Mayor John Distslear, a Republican. Candidates have until Feb. 8 to file to run in May’s primary. Baker is Noblesville’s urban forester, responsible for the care of trees in city's right of way. Those duties include planting and pruning trees, removing them when necessary and dealing with storm damage. He also communicates with Noblesville residents about tree issues and helps the street department with snow removal and leaf pickup when necessary. Baker said he is running for mayor because he is passionate about Noblesville and the people and businesses that make up the community. He pledged to run an honest, positive and transparent campaign, and to listen to concerns and issues that face residents.

NEW GOP, DEM CHAIRS IN ST. JOE COUNTY: St. Joseph County’s two major political parties are under new leadership (Semmler, South Bend Tribune). Joe Canarecci, who just started serving on St. Joseph County Council, was elected by Democrats on Saturday to take the place of Jason Critchlow as head of the county’s Democratic Party. Zach Potts was selected to take over as head of the county’s Republic Party. Canarecci is taking the place of Jason Critchlow, who recently resigned to run for South Bend mayor. He is a financial advisor and previously served on Mishawaka Common Council before successfully running for county office. Potts, who ran U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski’s successful re-election bid in November, is taking the place of Republican Party Chair Lynn Fitzpatrick, who recently resigned so that she could move to her family’s hobby farm in Marshall County. Canarecci said he is planning no major changes in the direction of the local Democratic Party but does want to focus on recruiting talent, expanding diversity and keeping voters engaged.

RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA GEARS UP FOR GABBARD: The Russian propaganda machine that tried to influence the 2016 U.S. election is now promoting the presidential aspirations of a controversial Hawaii Democrat who earlier this month declared her intention to run for president in 2020. An NBC News analysis of the main English-language news sites employed by Russia in its 2016 election meddling shows Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who is set to make her formal announcement Saturday, has become a favorite of the sites Moscow used when it interfered in 2016. Several experts who track websites and social media linked to the Kremlin have also seen what they believe may be the first stirrings of an upcoming Russian campaign of support for Gabbard. Since Gabbard announced her intention to run on Jan. 11, there have been at least 20 Gabbard stories on three major Moscow-based English-language websites affiliated with or supportive of the Russian government: RT, the Russian-owned TV outlet; Sputnik News, a radio outlet; and Russia Insider, a blog that experts say closely follows the Kremlin line. The CIA has called RT and Sputnik part of "Russia's state-run propaganda machine."

TRUMP SAYS BOOKER 'HAS NO CHANCE': On the day Sen. Cory Booker declared he was running in 2020, President Donald Trump said the New Jersey Democrat has "no chance" of taking the White House (Politico). "I say no chance," Trump said of Booker's shot at the presidency in an interview with CBS News "Face the Nation" host Margaret Brennan, recorded Friday and to be broadcast in full on Sunday. When pressed on his analysis, Trump responded: "Because I know him. He has no chance."

BOOKER WOULD BE FIRST VEGAN PRESIDENT: Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), 49, would be the country's first self-described vegan president, the L.A. Times' Nardine Saad writes: "I find myself more and more rejoicing in the delicious simplicity of a whole food, plant based diet,” Booker wrote on Facebook last May, sharing a picture of a roasted-cauliflower lunch. On "The View" on Friday, Meghan McCain asked Booker: "What does a vegan eat at the Iowa State Fair?" Booker responded: "I won’t eat the pork chop on a stick, but there will be a lot of fried stuff."

Sunday Talk

TRUMP MAKES CASE FOR WALL ON ‘FACE THE NATION’: President Trump appeared on CBS "Face The Nation" and was asked: The Senate Republicans voted, the vast majority of them said that they don't support what you're doing. That what you're doing risks national intelligence by a precipitous withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan. Doesn't that concern you?" TRUMP: "I ran against 17 Republicans. This was a big part of what I was saying, and I won very easily. I think the people out in the world -- I think people in our country agree. We've been fighting for 19 years. Somebody said you were precipitously bringing to - precipitously? We've been there for 19 years. I want to fight. I want to win, and we want to bring our great troops back home. "I've seen the people. I go to Walter Reed Hospital. I see what happens to people. I see with no legs and no arm - arms. And I've seen also what happens to them up here because they're in this situation, and they come back and they are totally different people -- where the wives and the fathers and the mothers say, 'What has happened to my son? What has happened in some cases to my daughter?' "It's a terrible thing. We've been there close to 19 years. And it's time. And we'll see what happens with the Taliban. They want peace. They're tired. Everybody's tired. We'd like to have -- I don't like endless wars. This war. What we're doing is got to stop at some point."  TRUMP ON THE NORTH KOREA SUMMIT: "You'll be finding out probably State of the Union or shortly before. But the meeting is set. He's looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to it." TRUMP ON THE INTEL ASSESSMENT ON IRAN: "We were in many many locations in the Middle East in huge difficulty. Every single one of them was caused by the number one terrorist nation in the world which is Iran. So when my intelligence people tell me how wonderful Iran is -- if you don't mind, I'm going to just go by my own counsel."

TRUMP ON RELEASE OF MUELLER REPORT: President Trump said on "Face The Nation" that it's "totally up to the attorney general" whether the Mueller report becomes public.

TRUMP SAYS HE HASN'T TOUGHT ABOUT STONE PARDON: President Trump said in an interview broadcast Sunday that he has not thought about the possibility of a pardon for Roger Stone, but offered praise for his longtime confidant. "First of all, Roger Stone didn't work on the campaign, except way way at the beginning long before we're talking about," Trump said on "Face the Nation" on CBS. "Roger is somebody that I've always liked, but a lot of people like Roger some people probably don't like Roger, but Roger Stone's somebody I've always liked," he added.

TRUMP SAYS POMPEO IS STAYING PUT: On the topic of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leaving to run for the U.S. Senate seat in Kansas, President Trump said on “Face The Nation”: “I think he loves being secretary of state. He's doing a fantastic job. And I asked him the question the other day, he says he's absolutely not leaving. I don't think he'd do that. And he doesn't want to be lame duck. And he's doing a fantastic job as our secretary of State. Great energy and great -- a great, smart gentleman."

TRUMP CALLS FOOTBALL A 'DANGEROUS GAME': President Trump says he would have a "hard time" allowing his 12-year-old son Barron to play football amid growing concerns over the safety of the sport. Mr. Trump sat down with "Face the Nation" moderator Margaret Brennan for a wide-ranging interview ahead of Super Bowl LIII. "I just don't like the reports that I see coming out having to do with football — I mean, it's a dangerous sport and I think it's really tough. I thought the equipment would get better, and it has. The helmets have gotten far better but it hasn't solved the problem," Mr. Trump said. "I hate to say it because I love to watch football," he said. "I think the NFL is a great product, but I really think that as far as my son — well, I've heard NFL players saying they wouldn't let their sons play football. So, it's not totally unique, but I would have a hard time with it," he added.

CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS CALLS FOR NORTHAM TO RESIGN: Reps. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) and Donald McEachin (D-Va.), leaders in the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), on Sunday called on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to resign. Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," McEachin — the CBC whip — said Northam has "lost the authority to lead" following the revelation that his medical school yearbook page featured a photo of a man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe. "He’s lost the authority to govern. (Resigning is) in the best interest of the commonwealth. It’s in the best interest of the party," he added.

McAULIFFE PONDERS PRESIDENTIAL RUN: Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said Sunday he would "like" to run for president in 2020, but hasn't decided yet. "I've said I'd make a decision by March 31. I've been talking to other candidates, I want to see what the positions are out there," McAuliffe said on CNN's "State of the Union," adding he's talked to "over 400 people" about it. McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, earlier this month said there was a 50 percent chance he would run. CNN's Jake Tapper pressed McAuliffe on whether the odds are still 50/50. "I'd like to do it. I think we had a great track record in Virginia," he said.

McAULIFFE SAYS NORTHAM WILL 'DO THE RIGHT THING': Former Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Sunday he believes Gov. Ralph Northam will resign soon amid wide-ranging calls for his former lieutenant to step down. "Ralph will do the right thing for the commonwealth of Virginia," McAuliffe said on CNN's "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper. "He will put Virginia first. And I think that will happen relatively soon." Northam said Saturday he would not step down despite mounting pressure to leave office following the revelation about a racist photo in his yearbook. McAuliffe called for Northam to step down on Friday shortly after publication of the photo, and as pressure has mounted on Northam, McAuliffe predicted he would step aside. "I know in his heart, he's going to do the right thing," McAuliffe said.

SEN. JOHNSON SAYS TRUMP SHOULD LISTEN TO INTEL CHIEFS: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Sunday that it's "imperative" for President Trump to heed the advice of the U.S. intelligence community. "There’s an awful lot, there’s so much tradition, and history and complexity to some of these foreign policy issues, you have to rely on people who have been working these issues for decades," Johnson said on "Fox News Sunday."  "It's just imperative that you actually listen to, for example, the CIA chief, the director of national intelligence," he continued. "These people have the real knowledge and you have to listen to them."

SEN. SHELBY 'TROUBLED' BY TRUMP RELATIONSHIP WITH INTEL CHIEFS: Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) on Sunday said President Trump's public dispute with U.S. intelligence agency leaders is "troubling to all of us." "We should respect them," he said on CNN's "State of the Union," referring to the intelligence community. "Most of the time they are pretty much on point." Last week, intelligence leaders released a threat assessment that differed in several stark ways with Trump's assessment of threats including ISIS, North Korea, and Iran.

CUELLER 'CONFIDENT' OF IMMIGRATION DEAL: Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) said Sunday that he feels "confident" members of a bipartisan committee negotiating border security funding will be able to reach an agreement, despite President Trump's skepticism "I feel if we don’t get outside pressure, the committee can sit down and work this out," Cuellar, a member of the group of lawmakers tasked with crafting a Homeland Security funding proposal, said on "Fox News Sunday." "We can work out a deal," he continued. "I know we can sit down and work it if we just don’t get any outside pressure, do what we need to do, and I feel that the process as appropriators… we can work something out. I feel confident."

General Assembly

INDY COUNCIL URGES HEARING FOR INDY ELEVEN STADIUM: A bipartisan group of city-county councilors has called for a committee hearing on legislation that would use state and local tax revenue for a $150 million, 20,000-seat soccer stadium, part of a larger mixed-use development proposed by the owner of the Indy Eleven (Shuey, IBJ). But the councilors—including President Vop Osili, a Democrat, and Republican Leader Mike McQuillen—stopped short of endorsing the stadium project, saying they want the opportunity to "carefully and thoughtfully engage in discussions" about the proposal and the future of soccer in Indianapolis. “We’re not advocating for anything other than the opportunity for local government to have a say in this,” Osili told IBJ on Thursday. A letter signed by Osili and McQuillen, as well as the council's majority leader, Maggie Lewis, and its vice president, Zach Adamson, says, "Our ability to act on this, however, is dependent on SB 543 being provided a committee hearing and the prospect of passage by the Indiana General Assembly." The letter—obtained by IBJ—is addressed to Senate Appropriations Chairman Ryan Misher, who has said he has no plans to have a hearing on SB 543, which authorizes the tax revenue transfers for the stadium.

TERRE HAUTE ANGLES FOR CASINO: Terre Haute's bid for a casino gets a statehouse hearing next week, and Governor Holcomb says he won't stand in the way (Berman, WIBC). Indiana hasn't authorized a new casino market since 2007, when the racetracks in Anderson and Shelby County added slot machines. Terre Haute wants one of Gary's two Majestic Star casino licenses, as part of a deal to move the other license off the lakefront to downtown Gary. Majority Leader Mark Messmer's (R-Jasper) bill would allow the Gary city council to relocate either or both licenses, as long as one ends up in Vigo County and the other remains in Lake County. A move to Terre Haute would also require approval by the Terre Haute city council, and by Vigo County voters in a countywide referendum. Holcomb's not taking a position on the proposal, though he says the Indiana Gaming Commission will monitor the bill's progress. He says the state long ago embraced legalized gambling and has profited from it, so opening up another part of the state to casinos isn't a problem in itself. But Holcomb and House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) say legislators need to evaluate whether they risk maxing out a single market, or cannibalizing existing casinos by creating new ones. Lake County has four casinos, with the other two in Hammond and East Chicago.

PANEL SCALES BACK VAPE REGS: Indiana lawmakers are moving – reluctantly – to scale back labeling requirements for manufacturers of substances used in vaping, called e-liquids (Indiana Public Media). The General Assembly created regulations for e-liquid manufacturers and retailers in 2017, such as requiring tamper-proof packaging and labeling. Now, proposed legislation would eliminate some of the labeling requirements. That includes scrapping a rule that every e-liquid container have an identifiable, trackable product code. Michael Wilson sells vaping supplies. He says the code is a useful tool. “Especially as a small business owner, having a permit number right there to ensure compliance, that we know what we’re putting on our shelf is compliant,” Wilson says. Sen. Randy Head (R-Logansport) agrees. He wrote the 2017 bill – and he’s the author of this year’s measure, too. He says new federal rules limit what individual states can require of e-liquid manufacturers. “Those were important when we wrote that bill. I argued at the time that they were necessary and I still wish that they could be there," Head says. "But they can’t.” Head’s bill easily cleared the Senate Public Policy Committee.

CLERE BILL WOULD SHUT DOWN JEFFERSONVILLE PROMISE: A bill in the Indiana House seeks to stop Jeffersonville’s Promise — and any similar programs — before the educational initiative even starts (Goforth, News & Tribune). Behind House Bill 1596 are a trio of area representatives, Ed Clere, R-New Albany, Karen Engleman, R-Corydon, and Jeffersonville Democrat Rita Fleming, who now is having second thoughts. Rep. Jeffrey Thompson, a Republican who represents Hendricks and Boone counties, also co-authored the legislation. Language already exists surrounding how redevelopment districts can utilize TIF funds. However, Clere believes the language needs to be tightened to prevent Jeffersonville's Promise and similar programs. The City of Jeffersonville, through its redevelopment commission, has pledged to commit a total of $750,000 of Tax Increment Funds (TIF) over the next five years to fund Jeffersonville’s Promise, Mayor Mike Moore said in November, when he announced the initiative. Moore said then that the city has been collecting TIF dollars for approximately 18 years from new businesses in designated commercial areas of the city, such as parts of 10th Street and Veterans Parkway. Gottbrath Parkway will also have businesses contributing to the city's TIF. Clere said Friday he believes the program lacks structure and accountability, and he thinks it discriminates against some children in the city who attend other high schools outside Jeffersonville while benefitting children from other communities who put their children at JHS. H.B. 1596 stipulates that allocated property tax proceeds can be spent for projects outside a redevelopment district only if the redevelopment commission determines expenditures: (1) will directly benefit the redevelopment district; and (2) will result in the creation of jobs in the private sector.

90 LEGISLATORS FACED SEXUAL MISCONDUCT CHARGES NATIONWIDE: Since the start of 2017, the Associated Press has tallied at least 90 state lawmakers who have faced public allegations or repercussions over sexual misconduct claims. Most of those cases became public since the #MeToo movement gained momentum in October 2017, although some of the incidents allegedly occurred several years ago. None are listed from Indiana.


McCONNELL WARNS TRUMP ON EMERGENCY DECLARATION: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cautioned President Trump privately this week about the consequences of declaring a national emergency to build his border wall, telling him the move could trigger political blowback and divide the GOP, according to two Republicans with knowledge of the exchange (Washington Post). McConnell (R-Ky.) told Trump that Congress might end up passing a resolution disapproving the emergency declaration, the people said — which would force the president to contemplate issuing his first veto ever, in the face of opposition from his own party. McConnell delivered the message during a face-to-face meeting with the president Tuesday at the White House, according to the Republicans, who requested anonymity to describe the encounter. The two men met alone and conversed with no aides present. Their meeting was not publicly announced.


GOVERNOR: FIRST DOG HENRY BECOMES A COACH - The smallest player at Puppy Bowl XV prepared for Sunday's big game with a helping paw from Indiana's top dog (Carden, NWI Times). "Coach" Henry Holcomb, the miniature schnauzer owned by Gov. Eric Holcomb and Janet Holcomb, Indiana's first lady, recently hosted Pistachio, a Maltese rescue dog, for a Puppy Bowl training session. With a whistle around his neck, Henry led Pistachio in running laps around the Governor's Residence, working on toy handling and practicing other drills. Henry "said" afterward on his @FirstDogHenry social media accounts: "Part of my duties as first dog is training up the next generation. I take that very seriously." "I'm pawsitive that my coaching will help Pistachio dominate the Puppy Bowl!" Janet Holcomb said that while Henry usually enjoys playing with larger dogs, such as Butler Blue III, the bulldog mascot of Butler University's sports teams, she is confident Henry was a winning influence on the 4-pound Pistachio. "He was a good coach and he was very patient," she said. "I think Pistachio is going to be MVP (most valuable puppy) and really represent Indiana well."

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB MAKES APPOINTMENTS – Gov. Eric J. Holcomb on Friday announced several new appointments and reappointments to various state boards and commissions.

Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities: The Governor appointed the following members to the council, with terms expiring April 30, 2021: Beth DeHoff (Plainfield), family support coordinator with IU Health Physicians, will join the council. Jennifer Noffsinger (Goshen), staff with the Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds, will join the council. The Governor also appointed the following members to terms expiring Dec. 31, 2021: Jim Aegerter (Greenwood), representing individuals with disabilities, will join the council. Brandy Dickerson (Indianapolis), retention specialist with Easterseals Crossroads, will join the council. Drew Dietrick (Indianapolis), production control analyst with the Marion County Board of Voter Registration, will continue his service on the council. Ledrena Girton (Indianapolis), personal care attendant with QRL, will join the council. Ayden Jent (Indianapolis), public information officer with the City of Indianapolis, will join the council. Amanda Moore (Fishers), director of leadership development with YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, will join the council. Angela Vandersteen (Greenwood), business development manager for Tangram, Inc., will join the council.

Indiana Law Enforcement Training Academy Board: The Governor appointed the following members to the board: Starke County Sheriff Bill Dulin (Ora) will join the board. His term will expire Dec. 31, 2022. Chief Patrick J. Flannelly (Lafayette) will join the board. His term will expire June 30, 2022. Morgan County Sheriff Rich Myers (Martinsville) will join the board. His term will expire Dec. 31, 2022. Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding (Evansville) will join the board. His term will expire Dec. 31, 2022.

Native American Indian Affairs Commission: The Governor appointed the following members to the commission, with terms expiring Dec. 31, 2022: Scott Brewer (Granger), senior vice president of government affairs, community relations, and security with the Four Winds Casino Resort, will join the commission and will serve as chair.  Felica Ahasteen-Bryant (Westfield), director of the Native American Educational & Cultural Center at Purdue University, will join the commission. Dorene Red Cloud (Indianapolis), assistant curator of Native American Art at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, will join the commission. Peter Magnant (Mooresville), retired, will continue his service on the commission. Paul Strack (Monroeville), retired, will continue his service on the commission. Sally Tuttle (Kokomo), retired, will continue her service on the commission.

Soil Conservation Board: The Governor appointed the following members to the board, with terms expiring Jan. 1, 2023: Amy Burris (Loogootee), farmer at Burris Family Farms, will join the board. Martin Chattin (Decker), president of Chattin Brothers, Inc., will continue his service on the board. Robert Eddleman (Indianapolis), associate supervisor for the Marion County Soil & Water Conservation District, will continue his service on the board.

Spinal Cord & Brain Injury Research Fund Board: The Governor made one new appointment to the board, with a term expiring Nov. 30, 2022: Annette Seabrook (Indianapolis), CEO at Community Rehabilitation Hospital North, will join the board.

Statewide Independent Living Council: The Governor appointed the following members to the council, with terms expiring Dec. 31, 2021: Abagail Fleenor (Greensburg), volunteer with Life Church, will join the council. Joseph Gunn (Indianapolis), graduate student at Indiana University SPEA, will join the council. Erin Hall (Indianapolis), executive director of interagency relations and compliance with INDOT, will continue her service on the council. Theresa Koleszar (Indianapolis), director of FSSA’s Bureau of Rehabilitation Services, will join the council. Cynthia Rockwell (Wolcottville), retired attorney with Rockwell & Jansen, LLC, will continue her service on the council. Tammy Themel (Greenwood), CEO of accessABILITY Center for Independent Living, Inc., will join the council. Frederick Vaiana (Westfield), attorney with Voyles Vaiana Lukemeyer Baldwin & Webb, will continue his service on the council.

Worker’s Compensation Board: The Governor made one new appointment to the board, with a term expiring Jan. 1, 2023: Sandra O’Brien (Valparaiso), attorney with Mindel & Associates, will join the board.

ENERGY: LAYOFFS AFTER VECTREN MERGER FINALIZED - The merger of Vectren Corp. and CenterPoint Energy of Houston is now official, and some layoffs occurred Friday across the combined company (Evansville Courier & Press). Two percent of the combined company's workforce was let go, with reductions occurring in Evansville and Houston. A hard number of layoffs was not released. Several senior executives of Vectren were already known to be part of the reduction, but other laid-off employees were not informed until the transaction became official Friday. "The vast majority of both CenterPoint and Vectren talent was retained," said Natalie Hedde, director of corporate communications for Vectren. Vectren officials said last year that employees downsized because of the transaction would be eligible to receive up to two years of their salary, as well as premiums for health care. Although the merger is final, Hedde said that, for now, the company locally will be known as Vectren, a CenterPoint company. "That will be retained for some period of time," Hedde said.

EDUCATION: NOTRE DAME ENDOWMENT TOPS $13B - The University of Notre Dame endowment topped $13.1 billion for the 2018 fiscal year, a 12.2 percent return over the previous year (South Bend Tribune).

CORRECTIONS: TERRE HAUTE PRISON WORKERS FEAR 2ND SHUTDOWN - U.S. Bureau of Prisons workers in Terre Haute are pleased to have received paychecks last week — their first in more than a month — and are grateful for community support during the government shutdown (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). But their checks didn't cover all the wages they were due and the more than 700 employees don't know when they'll receive back pay for working during the longest shutdown in history. They are also concerned about what might happen when current stop-gap funding runs out in less than two weeks. “The main problem they've had is they didn't know how far they had to stretch their money,” Matt Williams, president of the Federal Correctional Complex Terre Haute Employee Club, said. “If they had $100 in their wallet they didn't know if they had to make it last one week or two months and that's kind of where they're at right now,” said Williams, a Parke County resident.

HISTORY: TAX HIKE SOUGHT FOR HARRISON HOME - The group that oversees an Indiana home of the nation’s ninth president is pushing for legislation that would increase the local innkeeper’s tax rate to fund the mansion’s repairs (AP). The Grouseland Foundation is looking for funds to help repair the Grouseland house in Vincennes, where William Henry Harrison lived while he was governor of the Indiana Territory, The Sun-Commercial reported . Harrison was elected U.S. president in 1840. The foundation is seeking a one-point increase on the innkeeper’s tax. It will generate $40,000 to $60,000 annually, which is about 30 percent of Grouseland’s annual budget, said Lisa Ice-Jones, the foundation’s director. “What this would do is provide us with a baseline for restoration and preservation of the building,” Ice-Jones said. “The (mansion) needs a lot of upgrades and improvements.”


WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP CLOSE TO NATIONAL EMERGENCY DECLARATION - President Trump suggested Friday he is moving closer to invoking a national emergency to build a border wall and teased a possible announcement next week, while ramping up his criticism of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over Democrats’ refusal to back funding for the barrier (Wall Street Journal). In remarks from the White House, Mr. Trump reiterated that he doesn’t believe a bipartisan group of lawmakers currently negotiating over border-wall funding will reach a compromise he can accept. The group has until Feb. 15 to reach a deal over federal spending and avoid another government shutdown. Without a deal that underwrites the wall, Mr. Trump suggested he would have no choice but to proclaim a national emergency and build the wall without funds supplied by Congress. “I think there’s a good chance we’ll have to do it,” Mr. Trump said in the White House’s Cabinet Room, where he held a meeting with U.S. officials and outside advocates that highlighted crimes they said spring from illegal border crossings.

WHITE HOUSE: 61% OPPOSE EMERGENCY DECLARATION IN CBS POLL - Sixty-six percent of Americans overall say in a CBS News Poll President Trump should not declare a national emergency if Congress does not fund a border wall, although most Republicans (73 percent) think he should. If government funding runs out on Feb. 15 and there's still an impasse over wall funding, Americans don't want either side to force another shutdown.  Seventy-three percent of Americans want Mr. Trump to continue negotiating while keeping the government open, rather than demand wall funding if that forces a shutdown. A similar number (75 percent) say congressional Democrats should also continue negotiating, rather than deny funding in a move that might force a shutdown.

WHITE HOUSE: DEUTSCH BANK TURNED DOWN TRUMP FOR LOAN IN '16 - It was early 2016, and he was lending tens of millions of dollars to his presidential campaign and had been spending large sums to expand the Trump Organization’s roster of high-end properties (New York Times). To finance his business’s growth, Mr. Trump turned to a longtime ally, Deutsche Bank, one of the few banks still willing to lend money to the man who has called himself “The King of Debt.” Mr. Trump’s loan request, which has not been previously reported, set off a fight that reached the top of the German bank, according to three people familiar with the request. In the end, Deutsche Bank did something unexpected. It said no. Senior officials at the bank, including its future chief executive, believed that Mr. Trump’s divisive candidacy made such a loan too risky, the people said. Among their concerns was that if Mr. Trump won the election and then defaulted, Deutsche Bank would have to choose between not collecting on the debt or seizing the assets of the president of the United States.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP GOLFS WITH TIGER, NICHLAUS - Presidan Trump just played a round of golf with Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus (Washington Post): "Trump has spent more than 150 days at his golf courses since becoming president, playing significantly more than his predecessors, whom he had mocked for golfing too much. Aides used to worry about how much time Trump spent playing but have largely accepted it.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - Monday: President Trump will have lunch with VP Mike Pence. Tuesday: The State of the Union. Wednesday: The president will have dinner with "faith leaders." Thursday: The president will deliver remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast, and will have lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

ECONOMY: U.S. 4TH LARGEST STEEL PRODUCER - The United States ranked fourth in steel production worldwide in 2018 when U.S. mills cranked out 86.7 million tons of steel, a 6.2 percent year-over-year increase (Pete, NWI Times). The World Steel Association reported steel mills worldwide produced 1.8 billion tons of steel in 2018, a 4.6 percent increase as compared to 2017.  "Crude steel production increased in all regions in 2018 except in the EU, which saw a 0.3 percent contraction," the Brussels, Belgium-based trade association said in a press release. China, which had been importing U.S.-made steel little more than a decade ago, before building new mills across the country, again led the world in steelmaking by a wide margin, with 928.3 million tons of steel in 2018, a 6.6 percent year-over-year increase. India was a distant second with 106.5 million tons last year, a 4.4 percent increase as compared to 2017. Japan ranked third with 104.3 tons of steel, a 0.3 percent decline as compared to the previous year. Steel production in Asia rose by 5.6 percent to 1.2 billion tons. Europe's steel production totaled 168.1 million, while the Russian Commonwealth made 101.3 million tons, South America 44.2 million tons, and the Middle East 38.5 million tons. Led by the United States, North America cranked out 120.5 million tons of steel last year, a 4.1 percent increase as compared to 2017.

MEDIA: McCLATCHY LAYS OFF 10% OF WORKFORCE - This morning, Craig Forman, CEO of McClatchy Company, emailed all staff to say about 10 percent of the newspaper chain's employees would be offered voluntary buyouts. All of the details were not immediately available, though a meeting was called for 2 p.m. today at the Miami Herald— the chain's most significant newspaper — to offer details. "This will be a one-time opportunity," the email reads. "We do not anticipate another. Forman stresses the buyout is optional. "It is important to us that [employees] are empowered to make the next steps on their career path," he writes, and also references, "driving our company to a functionally based organizational structure in targeted strategic areas." It's unclear what that statement means.  McClatchy publishes newspapers across the nation, including the Miami Herald, Kansas City Star, Idaho Statesman, Fresno Bee, and Charlotte Observer. Last August, the company cut about 3.5 percent of the staff, nearly 140 employees.

VIRGINIA: GOV. NORTHAM REFUSES TO RESIGN - Resisting widespread calls for his resignation, Virginia's embattled governor on Saturday pledged to remain in office after disavowing a blatantly racist photograph that appeared under his name in his 1984 medical school yearbook (AP). In a tumultuous 24 hours, Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday apologized for appearing in a photograph that featured what appeared to be a man in blackface and a second person cloaked in Ku Klux Klan garb. In a video posted on Twitter, he said he could not "undo the harm my behavior caused then and today." But by Saturday, he reversed course and said the racist photo on his yearbook profile page did not feature him after all. The governor said he had not seen the photo before Friday, since he had not purchased the commemorative book or been involved in its preparation more than three decades ago. "It has taken time for me to make sure that it's not me, but I am convinced, I am convinced that I am not in that picture," he told reporters gathered at the Executive Mansion in Richmond, calling the shot offensive and horrific. While talking with reporters, Northam admitted that he had previously worn blackface around that time, saying he once had used shoe polish to darken his face as part of a Michael Jackson costume he fashioned for a 1984 dance contest in San Antonio, Texas, when he was in the U.S. Army. Northam said he regrets that he didn't understand "the harmful legacy of an action like that."

SPORTS: MAHOMES NFL MVP - The MVP award began as a debate between Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes, but by late December, it had become clear that the Chiefs quarterback was going to win. When Mahomes received 45 of the 50 votes for first-team All-Pro, any remaining drama was gone (NBC Sports). Mahomes collected his prize Saturday night at NFL Honors, getting 41 votes to nine for Brees. “I’m truly honored to win the NFL’s most valuable player award,” Mahomes said, via Brooke Pryor of the Kansas City Star. “You see the rich history that it has. I’m so humbled to share this honor with them.” Mahomes, 23, should have many more chances to win multiple MVP awards to join an elite list of players with more than one. Peyton Manning has a record five MVP awards.


CITIES: ELWOOD SUPT RESIGNS - A central Indiana school superintendent has resigned after being charged with using her insurance to help a sick student receive treatment (AP). The board of the Elwood Community Schools accepted Casey Smitherman’s resignation without comment at a meeting Friday evening. Deputy Superintendent Joe Brown was named interim superintendent. It wasn’t immediately clear why she resigned. The board said last week Smitherman had its support. Smitherman was charged Jan. 15 with insurance fraud, identity deception, and official misconduct. She said she would enter a diversion program allowing dismissal of the charges if she avoids further arrests in the coming year. Smitherman said she recently went to the home of a student who had missed school and saw he had symptoms of strep throat. After one clinic refused to treat him, she took him to another and said he was her son.

CITIES: WASHINGTON IN JAIL WITHOUT BOND - Former Lake County Councilman Jamal Washington is in jail for 15 days following his latest domestic charge as prosecutors seek to revoke his probation in his most recent conviction, the Lake County prosecutor's office said (NWI Times). Washington is on a 15-day hold, meaning he can't post bond for 15 days, pending a planned filing by the special prosecutor to revoke his probation in his most recent conviction, the Lake County prosecutor's office said. Lake Superior Court Magistrate Judge Kathleen Sullivan ordered Washington be held without bond Friday.  Washington, 45, was formally charged Friday with five felony counts related to criminal confinement, domestic battery and intimidation in an incident involving Gary Councilwoman Lavetta Sparks-Wade, who long has been one of his biggest supporters and political allies and is currently running for Gary mayor. Washington is running for an at-large seat on the Gary City Council.

CITIES: SQUARE D PLANT CLOSING IN PERU; 306 JOBS LOST - Schneider Electric announced Friday it is closing its Square D facility in Peru and moving all production to facilities outside the state (Kokomo Tribune). The company, which is one of the largest employers in Miami County, currently employs 306 workers at its plant at 252 N. Tippecanoe St., according to a company spokesperson. The company said in a release it plans to transfer all production to its Schneider Electric’s facility in Texas, and one other East Coast plant yet to be determined. Some production will also be shifted to the company's plant in Monterrey, Mexico. The transfer will result in the closure and sale of the Peru facility, which manufactures switchgear and switchboard apparatus. All transitions are expected to be completed by the end of the 2019.

CITIES: NEW CARLISLE PONDERS FIRE TERRITORY -  Launching a joint fire territory in this area would raise more property taxes, enabling 20 full-time firefighters to be hired next year so that residents don’t depend solely on volunteers for service (South Bend Tribune). Supporters of the territory, which would include New Carlisle and Olive Township, say public safety is at risk because not enough firefighters from the volunteer-only New Carlisle Fire Department respond to emergencies. They contend a paid staff is needed to protect the public and serve the growing industrial area to the east of the town. New Carlisle EMS Chief Josh Schweizer, who also serves as the fire department’s volunteer chief, said there were about 700 calls for service in 2018; for nearly 60 of those calls, one volunteer firefighter responded. “You’re playing with fire,” he said. “What if one person shows up and, God forbid, somebody is trapped and you can’t do anything?”

CITIES: CONTENTION LIMITED ON FORT WAYNE COUNCIL - Of nearly 300 ordinances and resolutions approved by the Fort Wayne City Council last year, the majority were unanimous votes (Gong, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). “What that usually means is that those were routine votes that don't have a Democrat or Republican side,” Councilman John Crawford, R-at large, said. “There weren't that many controversial issues that came up.” Exceptions include issues like collective bargaining, the pay-to-play campaign contribution ordinance and the Electric Works vote. There isn't really a partisan way to fix potholes and pave a road, Crawford said. The City Council passed 295 measures in 2018 and 112 received nine yes votes. There were dozens of other unanimous votes throughout the year, though occasionally some council members were absent or abstained. There are nine members on the City Council: seven Republicans and two Democrats.

CITIES: USW, BP REACH AGREEMENT - The United Steelworkers union reached a tentative deal with BP at the Whiting Refinery that reportedly includes a pay boost over three years (Pete, NWI Times). "The local has a tentative agreement on local issues and the company agreed on the settlement agreement for the USW National Oil Bargaining Program," USW spokeswoman Lynne Hancock said. The tentative deal reached Thursday must be ratified by the more than 1,100 oil workers represented by USW Local 7-1 in Whiting. It follows a pattern agreement USW negotiators reached with lead industry bargainer Shell just hours before the last contract expired Friday. "We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with the USW on the local terms of a new collective bargaining agreement for the Whiting Refinery’s represented employees," BP spokesman Michael Abendoff said.

CITIES: SHATNER TO VIEW 'WRATH OF KHAN' IN EVANSVILLE -  KHAAAAAN!  That famous, one-word primal scream might be recreated right here in Evansville when William Shatner takes the stage at a live viewing of the classic film "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" at the Victory Theatre on April 3 (Evansville Courier & Press). The show will include a screening of the movie followed by a talk by Shatner. The actor will share stories about his time as Captain James T. Kirk and his 50-year acting career.  Fans will also have a chance to ask Shatner their questions during an audience-led Q&A. Tickets will be on sale at Ticketmaster or by calling  1-800-745-3000 on Feb 5 at 10 a.m.