TRUMP RENEWS WALL CALL, ANNOUNCES KIM SUMMIT: President Trump in his State of the Union on Tuesday renewed his call for a wall on the southern U.S. border, but without repeating his threats in recent weeks to declare an emergency, striking a less-rigid tone in his first address to a divided Congress (Wall Street Journal). Mr. Trump, who spoke with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence seated behind him, called for both parties to “work together, compromise and reach a deal” to pass a spending bill including funding for the project, but he suggested some flexibility on how long and what it would look like. “This is a smart, strategic, see-through steel barrier—not just a simple concrete wall,” Mr. Trump said. “It will be deployed in the areas identified by border agents as having the greatest need.” If Congress fails to act, “I’ll get it built,” the president said. The 82-minute address carried less of a dark tone than the president typically adopts in rally speeches. Mr. Trump hailed the strength of the economy and called for both parties to work together on infrastructure and trade. One exception: his description of illegal immigration, which he said was causing “lethal drugs” and “savage” gangs to pour into the country. He used the address to announce the time and place for his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un: Feb. 27-28 in Vietnam. And he highlighted his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria—a move met with criticism from both parties that contributed to the departure of his defense secretary, Jim Mattis—declaring: “Great nations do not fight endless wars.”

TRUMP CALLS FOR END OF INVESTIGATION: The president’s first address to Congress since Democrats won control of the House came as he enters what will be a more challenging second half of his term, as his agenda will encounter partisan roadblocks while his administration faces a broad set of investigations by U.S. prosecutors and lawmakers (Wall Street Journal). At one point, the president declared: “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.” In the Democratic response to Mr. Trump’s speech, Stacey Abrams, who lost Georgia’s gubernatorial race in November, decried the government shutdown as a “disgrace” and blamed Mr. Trump. It was “a stunt engineered by the President of the United States, one that defied every tenet of fairness and abandoned not just our people—but our values,” she said. Mr. Trump earned some of his most vigorous applause when he mentioned that women had taken most of the new jobs in America in the past year and gained many seats in Congress. Female lawmakers, dressed in white to show unity, stood and applauded, many pointing at themselves. “You weren’t supposed to do that,” said Mr. Trump, apparently referring to the fact that so many Democrats were applauding.

DEMOCRAT RESPONSE RANGES FROM STOIC TO DEFIANT: Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said President Trump had “abandoned not just our people but our values.” Sen. Kamala D. Harris, a presidential candidate, dismissed his “insecure appeals to unity.” And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered her criticism with exasperated looks and pointed applause behind the president’s back (Washington Post). Emboldened by Trump’s poor polling and the coming presidential campaign, Democrats firmly rejected his call for a bipartisan reset in his State of the Union address Tuesday, responding with fierce criticism and a dramatically different vision for the country. The Democratic response, at times stoic and at others defiant, amounted to a statement of strength by a party that recently took back control of the House and forced Trump to back down during a 35-day partial government shutdown he had hoped would pressure Congress to fund a new wall on the southern border.

HUPFER CITES 'UNIFYING' SOTU: Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer called President Trump's State of the Union address "unifying" and "inspiring" (Howey Politics Indiana). "With his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump delivered a unifying address to Americans, rallying us all behind what we have achieved together as a nation and inspiring us with a positive vision for America's future," Hupfer said. "The issues, policies and stories he told tonight weren't inherently Republican or Democrat -- they're common sense, bipartisan solutions that will continue to make America great. There's no question that President Trump and Vice President Pence are leading our nation into a position of economic and global strength. And that's while President Trump is working on an infrastructure package that will invest in vital national infrastructure projects, much like Governor Holcomb is investing $32 billion into Indiana's infrastructure over the next 20 years here at home. Hoosiers strongly support President Trump, and tonight's State of the Union address is just another example why."

HOUSE PASSES VETERAN TAX EXEMPTION BILL:  Veterans would pay no state tax on their military retirement income under legislation overwhelmingly approved Tuesday by the Indiana House (Carden, NWI Times). House Bill 1010, which now goes to the Senate, phases in the retirement income tax exemption, which also would apply to surviving spouse benefits, over a four-year period retroactive to the start of 2019. State Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, sponsor of the measure, said eliminating the state income tax on military retirement benefits will lure more individuals leaving military service to Indiana, and help meet the ongoing demand for well-trained, highly skilled workers. "These are good citizens, they've paid their dues and all of our surrounding states are giving this exemption already," Cherry said. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency, exempting military retirement benefits from Indiana's 3.23 percent income tax will reduce state revenue by approximately $15 million a year when fully implemented during the 2023 budget year. That high cost last year prompted state lawmakers to scuttle a similar plan.

HILL ASKS SCOTUS TO RULE ON FETAL ULTRASOUNDS: Attorney General Curtis Hill this week asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court’s ruling on the constitutionality of an Indiana law requiring fetal ultrasounds at least 18 hours prior to abortions (Howey Politics Indiana). In July of 2018, a panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit enjoined the law – accepting Planned Parenthood’s contention that it placed an undue burden on women seeking abortions. In this week's filing, however, Attorney General Hill notes that the law essentially combines two Indiana statutes that have been on the books for years. In 1995, the Indiana General Assembly passed the informed-consent statute, which specified that a woman must receive, in person, information relevant to abortion and childbirth at least 18 hours before an abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a similar statute in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. Then, in 2011, the state legislature passed another law requiring an ultrasound be performed before an abortion. It required medical staff to show the ultrasounds to women seeking abortions unless they expressed in writing that they did not wish to see them. In 2016, lawmakers added the provision at issue in this week’s filing – which stipulates that the required ultrasound take place at the informed-consent appointment at least 18 hours before the abortion procedure. “The state has a compelling interest to protect fetal life and dignity,” Attorney General Hill said. “It also has an obligation to ensure that women do not feel rushed or pressured into getting an abortion. I hope the Supreme Court will establish the clear constitutionality of this vitally important legislation.”

2ND PURDUE POLYTECH HS COMING TO BROAD RIPPLE: The founding principal for the second Purdue Polytechnic High School location in Indianapolis says the school's mission is to make sure all students have access to a high-quality education. Plans for the new school, which will initially be located in a former Central Indiana Community Foundation building in Broad Ripple, were announced Tuesday morning (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). Keeanna Warren says serving in her new role fulfills a goal she set when the first Purdue Polytechnic High School was unveiled. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business reporter Mary-Rachel Redman, Warren outlined some of the school's goals.  "We are very passionate about making sure that underrepresented minorities have access to high-quality education, specifically in STEM," said Warren. "So we'll know that we're successful once we increase that pipeline of students who are academically and socially prepared for the workforce or for any post-secondary education they pursue." The tuition-free public charter school is set to open in the fall with a freshman class of up to 150 students. Warren said her goal is for every student to know that they are valued and appreciated at the school. "Our academic model and curriculum allows for really individualized attention for each student and students are really most successful when they're in an environment that is supportive and that they know that they're valued and that they're free to make mistakes, they're free to learn and grow and they know that they can be vulnerable in the space," said Warren. "So really my personal mission is just to make sure that every student is valued and loved."

RUSSIA TO BUILD NEW MISSILE SYSTEM AFTER INF BREAKDOWN: Russia said it was working to develop new missile systems, including a hypersonic long-range rocket, in the first concrete indication of its response to the breakdown of a Cold War-era nuclear treaty (Wall Street Journal). President Vladimir Putin has instructed Russia’s defense ministry to take retaliatory measures, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday, to what he said were U.S. plans to create land-based missiles with a range of more than 300 miles over the next two years, according to the ministry’s website. Mr. Shoigu’s comments follow Washington’s announcement Friday that it would quit the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty in six months if Moscow didn’t destroy missile systems that U.S. officials say are in violation of the pact. Mr. Putin said Saturday that his country would also suspend its involvement in the agreement, and the Kremlin accused Washington of breaching it. The treaty bans U.S. and Russian land-based missiles with a range between 300 and 3,400 miles. “We have provided Russia in writing specific steps it could take to return to compliance and save the INF Treaty,” U.S. Defense Department spokesman Johnny Michael said in an email to The Wall Street Journal. “Only the complete and verifiable destruction of Russia’s 9M729 missiles, launchers, and associated equipment will resolve Russia’s violation.” “We’ve sort of been in an arms race that’s been gradually accelerating,” said Richard Weitz, a senior fellow and director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at Hudson Institute in Washington. “This is another step.”

TRUMP DIDN'T CONSULT WITH MIDDLE EAST COMMANDER ON SYRIAN PULLOUT: The top U.S. military commander for the Middle East said President Trump didn’t discuss with him the withdrawal of all American troops from Syria before announcing the decision, a move that has rattled allies and stirred fears of a possible Islamic State resurgence (Wall Street Journal). Army Gen. Joseph Votel, head of the military’s Central Command, made his comments Tuesday while testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, telling Sen. Angus King (I., Maine), “I was not consulted.” Gen. Votel also said that, despite Mr. Trump assertion during a Sunday interview with CBS News that U.S. troops would be staying in Iraq in part to “watch Iran,” military officials haven’t received new orders to change the U.S. military mission there, which is focused on the Islamic State. The president’s comments drew the ire of Iraq’s leaders, who said they didn’t want their country used as a staging area for a U.S.-led anti-Iran campaign. “Our military mission remains very focused on the reason that government of Iraq asked us to be there,” meaning the defeat of ISIS, Gen. Votel told the Senate panel.

CORRUPTION DOGS ONE-PARTY BIG CITIES: A senior aide to a former mayor of Atlanta collapses on a courtroom floor after hearing that she is headed to prison. F.B.I. agents in Los Angeles haul away computers and documents during a raid of a veteran councilman’s office. News cameras trail the most powerful alderman in Chicago as he walks to court to face a charge of attempted extortion. Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia accuse a powerful labor boss of keeping a key city councilman on his union’s payroll (New York Times). Four of America’s largest cities are under the dark clouds of major federal corruption investigations. Residents, politicians and power brokers in all of them are holding their breath, waiting for signs of how deeply their civic cultures will be shaken. The investigations raise questions not just about who else might be caught up in them, but also about whether there can be any lasting cure for the chronic corruption problems that seem to dog big cities, so often dominated by a single party or political machine. In Chicago, Dick Simpson, a former alderman who is a political scientist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, called corruption a part of the municipal culture there. To change that, he said, “you have to not only destroy the political machine, but also actually create a history of clean government — that’ll be decades of work.” In Chicago, the criminal charges against Alderman Ed Burke have created all kinds of complications for the municipal elections set for Feb. 26. Political insiders are watching uncomfortably to see whether the scandal will harm any of the 14 candidates vying to succeed Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

MAGNETIC NORTH POLE IS MOVING: Magnetic north is not where it used to be. Since 2015, the place to which a compass points has been sprinting toward Siberia at a pace of more than 30 miles a year. And this week, after a delay caused by the month-long partial government shutdown in the United States, humans have finally caught up (Washington Post). Scientists on Monday released an emergency update to the World Magnetic Model, which cellphone GPS systems and military navigators use to orient themselves. It’s a minor change for most of us — noticeable only to people who are attempting to navigate very precisely very close to the Arctic. But the north magnetic pole’s inexorable drift suggests that something strange — and potentially powerful — is taking place deep within Earth. Only by tracking it, said University of Leeds geophysicist Phil Livermore, can scientists hope to understand what’s going on. The planet’s magnetic field is generated nearly 2,000 miles beneath our feet, in the swirling, spinning ball of molten metal that forms Earth’s core.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: President Trump delivered what I would call a “political speech” 10 days before the federal government could shut down for a second time in two months. He renewed his call for the border wall, but there was little said that will bring Democrats into a compromise situation. With Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warning against a presidential emergency decree, we still don’t have a clear path to solve the immigration riddle and keep the federal government funded and open. A second shutdown is a deplorable option. His line that “great nations don’t fight endless wars” was, perhaps, Trump’s best line of the night. It is encouraging that he will meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un later this month. Dialogue on that front, as opposed to sabre rattling, is a prudent course. Watch for full HPI analysis in Thursday’s weekly edition. - Brian A. Howey


HAMILTON COUNCILMAN GLYNN TO CHALLENGE BRAINARD: A county councilor who just staved off a primary and general election challenger plans to take on Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard in May (IBJ). Fred Glynn Glynn, a Carmel resident who represents District 1, including parts of Carmel, on the Hamilton County Council, announced Tuesday morning he plans to run against Brainard, who is seeking his seventh term, in May’s Republican primary. Glynn, a mortgage loan lender, was just re-elected to his second term on the county council, where he’s known as a fiscal conservative. In his latest run for a council seat, Glynn told IBJ he’d like to introduce the concept of zero-based or priority-based budgeting in Hamilton County. Essentially, rather than starting with the budget a department had the year prior and adding on, the county would begin with a budget of $0, and department heads and council members would build a new budget every year. In his campaign for mayor, Glynn is targeting spending by Brainard’s and the current Carmel City Council. Carmel’s current debt obligations total $1.32 billion, according to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance. That’s higher than any of the other Hamilton County municipalities. “It is a false narrative that we have to choose between good government and fiscal responsibility,” Glynn said in a prepared statement. “My time on county council proves you can do both.” 

CHAIRMAN GENTRY BARS GOP COUNCIL CANDIDATE: The Terre Haute City Council’s lone Republican says he is being barred from seeking his party’s nomination in the GOP-leaning Second District because he cast a Democrat ballot in last year’s primary (Taylor, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Vigo County Republican Chairman Randy Gentry says there is more behind a decision he made not to certify Earl Elliott as a party member and that Elliott agreed to run as an at-large candidate but backtracked. Elliott said this week he was not aware until he went to file his candidacy in early January that, under Indiana law, his choice of ballots in 2018 might keep him off this year’s ballot unless Gentry vouched for his GOP credentials. Elliott chose a Democratic ballot because of a contested race for county assessor, he said, pointing out no Republican was running. As a certified public accountant and the council’s finance committee chair since taking office in 2016, he said he was keenly aware that under-assessment of commercial properties was “a real hindrance to our city and county.” He called the assessor contest “the most important local race by far.” Elliott confirmed backing away from an at-large run but explained the path Gentry offered was an unusual one. It would have required him to first vote in the May 7 party primary and then seek to be added to the ballot at a party caucus.

JENSEN UNVEILS PLAN FOR NOBLESVILLE DOWNTOWN: as part of the Noblesville’s Next Chapter policy agenda, Chris Jensen announced his plan to protect and enhance Noblesville’s historic downtown (Howey Politics Indiana). “Noblesville is one of the best places in Indiana to live, work, and raise a family because of our history, traditions, and the strength of our city’s community. Our historic downtown and Courthouse Square are at the heart of those traditions and community,” Jensen said. The Noblesville’s Next Chapter Agenda policy platform is made up of four key pillars that drive Jensen’s campaign: Transforming Public Safety, Protecting and Enhancing Historic Downtown, Strong and Sustainable Workforce Development, and Smart Infrastructure Investment.

SCHULTZ TO SPEAK AT PURDUE THURSDAY: Undaunted by Democratic attacks, former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz plans to deliver a major policy address at Purdue University on Thursday to further explain his vision for an independent presidential campaign that would take aim at the country's two-party political system (Washington Post). The speech comes after a week-long media blitz that prompted sharp verbal sparring between Schultz and Democratic leaders, who worry a self-funded bid by a billionaire fiscal moderate and social liberal will ultimately help President Donald Trump win re-election. "Howard burst onto the scene in a way that no one anticipated, and now that a majority of Americans know who is he is, he is laying out some of his ideas and prescriptions for the greatest problems facing our country," said Bill Burton, a spokesman for the Schultz effort.

SCHULTZ VOWS NOT TO BE A SPOILER FOR TRUMP: Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told a Chicago crowd Monday night that he'll take "three to four months" before deciding whether to run for president in 2020 as an independent. And he'll "back out" if the numbers don't work for him (Illinois Playbook). "I promise I would do nothing whatsoever to be a spoiler to reelect Donald Trump. Nobody wants to see this president leave office more than me," Schultz said during a Q&A with Chicago businesswoman and Starbucks Vice Chair Mellody Hobson. "If I don't see the evidence to me, I'll back out."

WARREN APOLOGIZES FOR CALLING HERSELF NATIVE AMERICAN: Sen. Elizabeth Warren said Tuesday that she was sorry that she identified herself as a Native American for almost two decades, reflecting her ongoing struggle to quiet a controversy that continues to haunt her as she prepares to formally announce a presidential bid (Washington Post). Warren will be vying to lead a party that has become far more mindful of nonwhite voters and their objections to misuse of their culture. “I can’t go back,” Warren said in an interview with The Washington Post. “But I am sorry for furthering confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and harm that resulted.”

POLL SHOWS ONLY 26% WOULD VOTE FOR TRUMP: President Donald Trump delivers his second State of the Union address on Tuesday night at a moment of major political peril. A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted in the run-up to the speech shows a majority of voters, 52 percent, say they would definitely vote for someone other than Trump if the 2020 election was held today — up from 47 percent last week — with another 6 percent saying they would probably vote against him. Just more than one-in-four voters, 26 percent, say they would definitely vote to reelect Trump, and another 10 percent say they would probably vote for him.

JOE RICKETTS APOLOGIZES: Joe Ricketts, the father of Chicago Cubs' sibling owners, has apologized for a series of racist emails published Monday by Splinter News (Illinois Playbook). "I deeply regret and apologize for some of the exchanges I had in my emails," the 77-year-old Ricketts said in a statement. "Sometimes I received emails that I should have condemned. Other times I've said things that don't reflect my value system. I strongly believe that bigoted ideas are wrong." The emails appear in a feature titled "The Billionaire's Inbox." Some emails were addressed to Todd Ricketts, who last week was named finance chair of the Trump Victory Committee, a joint fundraising committee for the RNC and Trump's re-election campaign. Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts issued his own statement, saying, "Let me be clear: the language and views expressed in those emails have no place in our society." He said his father is not involved in decision-making for the Cubs.

General Assembly

SPRAWLING GAMING PROPOSALS TO BE HEARD TODAY: A sprawling proposal to reshape Indiana's gaming industry for the next decade, including moving one of the Majestic Star casino licenses outside Gary and legalizing sports betting, will be evaluated Wednesday by the Senate Public Policy Committee (Carden, NWI Times). It's the first of several controversial measures set for review over the next two weeks at the Statehouse, as representatives and senators work toward the Feb. 19 House deadline and Feb. 21 Senate deadline for advancing legislation out of committees. Also on tap are debates over bias crime legislation, teacher pay, abortion, guns, cigarette and vape taxes, marijuana, school safety, an Indianapolis professional soccer stadium and the two-year state budget. "If you're asking are we going to be busy over the last two-and-a-half weeks? Yes, we are," Senate President Rod Bray, R-Martinsville, said Thursday. The gaming proposal, Senate Bill 552, would permit the owner of the two Majestic Star casino licenses to relocate one to a land-based site in Lake County, which specifically will be limited to Gary once an expected committee amendment is adopted, and the other to Vigo County, whose largest city is Terre Haute. It also legalizes sports wagering at casinos, the two central Indiana horse track "racinos" and their satellite facilities; eliminates a limit on gaming companies owning more than two casinos and two racinos; authorizes table games, in addition to slot machines, at the racinos; and deletes restrictions on how many gaming positions a casino or racino may have.

MELTON WORKING WITH MESSMER ON GARY COMPENSATION: The legislation, sponsored by state Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, does not provide any one-time or ongoing compensation to Gary for the transfer of its second gaming license, as state Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, proposed in Senate Bill 636 (Carden, NWI Times). But Melton said he is working with Messmer toward incorporating some kind of remuneration for Gary in the measure, either through an amendment Wednesday, or when the proposal is further reviewed by the Senate Appropriations Committee, on which Melton sits, due to its impact to state gaming tax revenue. "A lot of work is being put into it now, so it'll be ready to go when the hearing comes," Bray said.

BOSMA PLEASED SENATE TAKES LEAD ON GAMING: House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, seemed happy that the Senate is taking the lead on those measures, while the House is going first on various tax and spending proposals, as required by the Indiana Constitution (Carden, NWI Times). "There's some important legislation that hasn't moved yet. It will. We're early," Bosma said. "We've got sufficient time to take care of the important issues." In particular, Bosma said on teacher pay: "We're working hard to be sure that the increase in (education) funds that we're talking about works its way to teachers through a variety of means." Though he also pointed out that after controlling for the state's comparably low taxes and housing expenses, Indiana teachers are among the best paid in the country.

BOSMA HINTS AT TOUGH ABORTION RESTRICTIONS: House Speaker Brian Bosma hinted that the Republican-controlled House is likely to consider tough, new abortion restrictions, in part as a "pro-life" response to the loosening of abortion regulations elsewhere in the country (NWI Times).

ARMING TEACHERS PART OF SCHOOL SAFETY BILL: The latest school safety bill at the statehouse opens the option of arming teachers (Berman, WIBC). The Senate could vote next week to allow schools to ask voters' permission in a referendum to bust Indiana's property tax caps by up to a tenth of a percent to pay for school security measures. It'd be the third referendum option for schools, who can already seek approval to raise extra money for construction or the operating budget. The school safety money could be spent on security officers, technology, or mental health services. But a late amendment says money from the current school safety grant program could also be spent on firearms training for staffers. The bill passed a Senate committee 12-1, but two Democrats who voted yes say the gun provision adds a troubling twist to a bill they'd otherwise support without reservation. Senators J.D. Ford of Carmel and David Niezgodski of South Bend say they're concerned arming teachers would give students another avenue to get a weapon. And Indianapolis Democrat Greg Taylor, who didn't vote, argues adding guns raises the possibility of an accidental shooting, either because teachers' aim is off or because police mistake them for bad guys in the chaos of an emergency.

SENATE PASSES BILL NIXING PARTISAN PRIMARY CHALLENGES: Voting in a primary election could get less contentious under a proposal approved 31 to 18 Monday by the Indiana Senate (NWI Times). Senate Bill 194, sponsored by state Sen. Mike Bohacek, R-Michiana Shores, eliminates the opportunity to challenge a voter's political party affiliation and force the voter to swear allegiance to a particular party to cast a primary election ballot. "You can see how cumbersome that could be and serve to disenfranchise voters and plug up the electoral system," Bohacek said. "We need not look any further than the Porter County elections of this last cycle to see that's not a good thing." Bohacek also pointed out that requiring a primary voter whose party loyalty is challenged to agree to support the party in the general election is "absolutely, positively unenforceable," since Indiana uses secret ballots. Under the plan, which now goes to the House, voters still could be challenged at the polls for any other customary reason, such as identity or precinct residency.

PROSECUTORS APPLAUD PANEL PASSAGE OF SB551: Senate Bill 551, authored by Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, passed unanimously out of committee today by a vote of 7-0 (Howey Politics Indiana). The bill greatly expands the rights of crime victims in Indiana, especially domestic violence and child victims. The bill adds protections for the community against sex offenders who improperly register or fail to register on the sex offender or violent offender registry, allows for child victims to bring a comfort item or specially trained comfort animal with them to court during testimony and includes an enhancement for domestic battery if the convicted person has a prior conviction of strangulation, among many other needed fixes to Indiana code to support the plight of crime victims in the Hoosier state. The bill supports criminal investigations and prosecutions of child abuse cases by restricting disclosure of sensitive information about the child victim and defendant during the criminal investigation or prosecution of the case. It allows parents to seek a protective order against persons who are making inappropriate contact or contacts with their child. SB 551 also plugs a loophole in current law that potentially allows adults to engage in inappropriate sexual relations with a person 13 or 14 years of age. Finally, the bill addresses a gap in the current kidnapping and criminal confinement laws by creating an offense when the kidnapping or criminal confinement results in moderate bodily injuring to the victim. Current law only provides for offenses that include “bodily injury” or “serious bodily injury.” 

HOUSE PASSES BEHNING VIRTUAL SCHOOL BILL: The House of Representatives recently advanced State Rep. Bob Behning’s (R-Indianapolis) legislation that would strengthen Indiana’s virtual education programs (Howey Politics Indiana). “For many seeking an alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar schools, online programs provide flexible learning options,” said Behning, chair of the House Education Committee. “However, without a strong understanding of what to expect in a virtual program, kids are at a higher risk of falling behind in their studies. By establishing something similar to an orientation program, students and parents would have a stronger foundation to be successful in a virtual school.” Building off of recommendations made by the Indiana State Board of Education in 2018, Behning’s proposal would establish an onboarding process for students and parents. Behning said this annual process would ensure students and parents have a better understanding of the unique challenges and benefits of a virtual program. “Most important, students need to be engaged in their learning,” Behning said. “An adult involved in a student’s learning is also critical in ensuring success. This is no different for kids taking classes online.”

HEARING UNLIKELY FOR NET METERING BILL: A bipartisan bill in the state Senate would bring back higher rates for net metering in Indiana. At a press conference on Monday, sponsors of the bill urged supporters to contact the chair of the Senate utilities committee to make sure the bill gets a hearing (Turner, Indiana Public Media). Net metering gives people with solar panels credits for any excess energy that they deliver to the grid. Two years ago, Indiana passed a law to slowly decrease the amount solar customers get for that energy — from the higher retail rate to the lower wholesale rate. Sen. J.D. Ford (D-Indianapolis), who authored this new bill, says that was a mistake. “When we decided to phase it out, we were really phasing out the freedom for Hoosiers to help their home communities and neighbors by generating their own energy,” he says.

SPORTS BETTING BILL WOULD BAN PREP WAGERING: The bill to legalize sports betting in Indiana will also lay down markers on what's legal to bet on (Berman, WIBC). Majority Leader Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) says he'll ask a Senate committee to allow gambling on any pro or college sport, as long as the Indiana Gaming Commission approves in advance. The only thing the bill authored by Messmer and Terre Haute Senator Jon Ford (R) rules out completely is betting on high school sports. The bill also puts the commission in charge of setting rules on how casinos determine the point spreads. Messmer says the commission could also set limits on "prop bets" like who wins the coin flip or whether the game will feature a safeety. Messmer says some bets, like whether a player will miss a free throw, create thje risk a single player could swing the result. The Public Policy Committee plans a Wednesday hearing on a bill which couples sports betting with a proposal to move Gary's two lakefront casinos -- shifting one to downtown Gary and the other to Terre Haute.

BILL WOULD ALLOW INMATES TO BE INVOLVED WITH THEIR KIDS: Proposed legislation would allow some incarcerated parents to better maintain involvement in their child’s life (Sheridan, Indiana Public Media). Indiana has one of the highest rates of incarcerated parents. The emotional and physical health impact on children whose parents are in prison can be lasting. Rep. Karlee Macer (D-Indianapolis) authored the legislation. “It allows the court to consider whether the parent continues to play a meaningful role in the child’s life,” Macer says. The bill would allow parents to appear in court to discuss the case involving their child. It would also give judges more flexibility to determine if termination of parental rights, after a certain period of time, is warranted or not. The bill passed a committee on Tuesday and now heads to the full House.

MOMS DEMAND ACTION RALLY AT STATEHOUSE: More than 200 red shirt-clad volunteers flooded statehouse hallways to support of gun safety legislation Tuesday (Barrett, Indiana Public Media). Advocates included students and parents affected by the shooting at Noblesville West Middle School, and the mother of a 4-year-old who fatally shot himself after a babysitter left a loaded firearm unattended. Moms Demand Action Indiana, the local chapter of a national gun safety organization, lobbied lawmakers to expand Indiana’s Red Flag laws, which give courts the power to remove guns from people who exhibit dangerous behavior. The group also supported a bill that would make it a crime to leave loaded firearms unsecured if children access them and are killed or injured.  Moms Demand Action leader Rachel Guglielmo says this is the most volunteers the group has had at their annual statehouse day. A majority of attendees to the statehouse were first-time Moms Demand Action volunteers.


YOUNG SOTU REACTION: U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) issued the following video statement regarding the President’s State of the Union address (Howey Politics Indiana): “Tonight I was glad the President delivered a powerful message, a unifying message about the importance of us rallying together as a country around a number of major issues facing America. Immigration reform, national security, infrastructure investment, protecting American workers – all of these things need to be priorities moving forward, and I hope we can come together for the common good to make them happen. I was also glad the President reflected on the many accomplishments that a Republican President working with a Republican Congress has been able to achieve over the last couple of years. From tax reform – which has created 45,000 jobs just in the state of Indiana since passage – to regulatory relief, to many wins on the national security front, to the confirmation of 85 federal judges and counting. There’s a whole lot to be proud of but much work remains to be done.”

WALORSKI SOTU REACTION:  U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today released the following statement on President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address (Howey Politics Indiana): “President Trump spoke to the American people with clarity, a call for unity, and a renewed commitment to our shared ideals. We need to work together to keep our economic momentum going, allow our manufacturers and farmers to succeed, and make sure hardworking Hoosiers have the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. We need to defend against global threats by working alongside our allies, standing strong against our adversaries, and continuing to rebuild our military. And we need both sides need to come together to fix our broken immigration system and secure our borders. I stand ready to work with President Trump, his administration, and my colleagues in Congress to find commonsense solutions that make our country and our communities stronger.”

BAIRD REACTION: U.S. Rep. Jim Baird Releases Statement on President Trump’s State of the Union (Howey Politics Indiana): “The President demonstrated his willingness to put aside partisan politics and work with anyone who has good ideas to secure our border, grow our economy, and help our citizens. I was elected to deliver results for our constituents and I am focused on finding common-sense policies that continue to move our Country forward.”

BUCSHON REACTION: U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D. (IN-08) responded to President Trump’s State of the Union, applauding a year of accomplishments and focusing on coming together (Howey Politics Indiana): "President Trump reflected on the successes of the past year and laid out his bold vision to move the nation forward. Looking back, President Trump outlined how the pro-growth economic agenda that he and Republicans in Congress worked to implement has unleashed the power of Main Street job creators and resulted in Americans going back to work, wages rising for the first time in a decade, and growing opportunities for all. However, as President Trump emphasized, our focus must be on the future. We must come together as a nation and close the divides in our society. In Congress, Democrats and Republicans must put aside the hostility and come together to pass commonsense solutions that President Trump can sign. There is no doubt, the issues in front of us aren’t easy. We know that our nation’s legal immigration system is broken, but that we can fix it by securing our border and reforming the legal immigration process. We must also make long-term investments in order to bring our crumbling roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure into the 21st century. And, with costs continuing to skyrocket for families, we know that we must reform our health care system to ensure Americans have greater access to health care plans that best fit their needs and their budget."

BANKS SEEKS HUAWEI TESTIMONY: U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) wrote a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman, Joseph Simons, regarding Huawei’s recent witness testimony (Howey Politics Indiana).  Huawei’s products are banned in the United States due to security concerns. Read the full letter here. Said Rep. Banks, “It is alarming that the FTC, a regulatory body in the U.S. government, would utilize an executive from a foreign company – whose products are banned by the U.S. government due to security concerns – as a key witness in a regulatory case.  This letter seeks answers about why one part of the government is actively working to keep Huawei’s products from harming U.S. interests while another is giving the company a legitimizing platform, like the FTC, to share their propaganda.”

BROOKS INVITES TRENT FAMILY TO SOTU: U.S. Rep. Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05) is pleased to announce Tony and Kelly Trent as her guests to the President’s State of the Union Address (Howey Politics Indiana). Tony and Kelly of Carmel, Indiana, are the parents of Tyler Trent, a young Purdue super fan who dedicated his life to inspiring and helping others. Tyler lost his battle with cancer earlier this year, but his passion and optimistic outlook on life continue to touch the hearts of Americans across the country.

SENATE REBUKES TRUMP ON SYRIA: The Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would impose new sanctions on Syria, weaken a global campaign to boycott Israel and rebukes President Donald Trump’s push to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan (Politico). The bill, which passed the Senate 77-23, divided Democrats, some of whom argued that a provision that allows states and local governments to withhold contracts against companies that participate in the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement against Israel stymies free speech. In Tuesday’s final vote, 25 Democrats voted in favor of the bill, while 22 voted against it.


GOVERNOR: CROUCH ANNOUNCES NEW HARDWOOD STRATEGY - Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch announced today a new economic development strategy to grow the state’s hardwoods industry. Unveiled at the Indiana Hardwood Lumbermen’s Association’s annual convention, the Indiana Hardwood Strategy will be used by the state to expand current and attract new wood processing facilities to Indiana and strengthen the hardwoods industry (Howey Politics Indiana). “Indiana is renowned for producing high quality hardwood timber, yet more than $230 million of sawmill products are coming from outside the state,” Crouch said. “With demand there and our robust, sustainable forest resource base, we want to provide that supply chain link and help capture some of that economic activity in Indiana.” According to the strategy, the hardwoods industry contributes more than $10 billion to the state’s economy and supports over 70,000 high-wage jobs. The employment multiplier for this sector is 1.8, meaning that every 10 jobs directly related to hardwoods supports an additional eight jobs in the state. In addition, the value of Indiana’s hardwood exports totaled more than $250 million in 2017, with Canada and China serving as the state’s top two markets.

INDOT: INDIANA TO RECEIVE $6.2M IN EMERGENCY HIGHWAY FUNDS - The Federal Highway Administration has announced Indiana will receive nearly $6.2 million in emergency relief funds to repair roads and bridges damaged by severe storms and flooding a year ago (AP). The flooding caused by heavy rainfall and melting snow closed numerous roads across both Indiana’s northern tier of counties and parts of southern Indiana along the Ohio River. The FHA announced the Indiana funding Tuesday as part of more than $705.7 million in funding to help 34 states and three territories make repairs to roads and bridges damaged by storms, floods, and other unexpected events.

IDEM: EARTH DAY KIT AVAILABLE FOR STUDENTS - To help Indiana schools celebrate Earth Day 2019, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) is offering free hands-on classroom presentations to students across the state. Every year, IDEM staff visit schools to talk about their careers and share STEM-based lessons on air, land, water and recycling (Howey Politics Indiana).  Registration is now open and teachers can request a presentation by visiting The deadline to register is Feb. 22, 2019.

DEFENSE: PURDUE STARTUP LANDS DOD CONTRACT - A Purdue University-based cybersecurity software startup could soon help monitor high-value assets for the U.S. Air Force. SensorHound Inc. has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research Phase 1 contract sponsored by the Air Force and AFWERX, the Air Force's technology hub. The Air Force is interested in the company's environmental condition monitoring and tracking device, Beagle (Parker, Inside Indiana Business). “The Beagle solution is purpose-built for high-value assets addressing key requirements of high cybersecurity, long-lasting and remote configurability,” said Vinai Sundaram, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of SensorHound. “Beagle uses SensorHound’s core solution to monitor device firmware failures and intrusions in the field.”

MEDIA: INDYSTAR REPORTER LEAVING FOR USA TODAY - Marisa Kwiatkowski, one of the investigative reporters for The Indianapolis Star whose series on the sexual abuse of gymnasts led to a national outcry on the topic and a guilty verdict against Dr. Larry Nassar, has accepted a position on the investigative team for USA Today (IBJ). Kwiatkowski, who also worked on high-impact and award-winning projects about children’s mental health services and Indiana Adult Protective Services, announced her decision via Twitter on Tuesday afternoon. The tweet read: “I recently accepted an offer to join USA TODAY’s investigative team. I’m so excited to be able to work more closely with my friends and colleagues there. I have a project to finish in Indianapolis, then I’ll be shifting onto the national team.” Like The Indianapolis Star, USA Today is owned by Virginia-based media giant Gannett Co.


WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP TO SUMMIT WITH KIM THIS MONTH - President Trump will meet for the second time with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from Feb. 27-28 in Vietnam, he revealed during his State of the Union speech on Tuesday (Wall Street Journal). “Much work remains to be done, but my relationship with Kim Jong Un is a good one,” Mr. Trump said. Messrs. Trump and Kim met for the first time in June in Singapore. They emerged with an agreement but it provided few particulars on the president’s stated goal of the rapid denuclearization of North Korea.

WHITE HOUSE: POLLS SHOW SOTU APPROVAL - CNN's instant reaction poll found that 59% of viewers had a "very positive reaction" to Trump's speech — and CBS News found a 76% approval rating against just 24% disapproval (Axios). But CNN notes "the audience had the largest partisan tilt measured in any CNN instant poll following a presidential address to Congress dating back to 2001." "Viewers were roughly 17 points more likely than the general public to identify as Republicans."

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SOTU FACT CHECKED - President Trump’s State of the Union speech once again was chock-full of stretched facts and dubious figures. Many of these claims have been fact-checked repeatedly, yet the president persists in using them. Here, in the order in which he made them, are nearly 30 statements by the president (Washington Post). As is our practice with live events, we do not award Pinocchio rankings, which are reserved for complete columns. “We have created 5.3 million new jobs and importantly added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs.” Trump often inflates the number of jobs created under his presidency by counting Election Day, rather than when he took the oath of office. There have been almost 4.9 million jobs created since January 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of which 436,000 are manufacturing jobs, according to the BLS. This is an impressive gain for almost two years; under Barack Obama, about 900,000 manufacturing jobs were gained over seven years from the 2010 nadir after the Great Recession. Moreover, despite the recent gains, the number of manufacturing jobs is still nearly 1 million manufacturing jobs below the level at the start of the Great Recession in December 2007. “Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades.” Wages rose 3.1 percent from December 2017 to December 2018, according to the Labor Department’s Employment Cost Index for civilian workers, a widely watched measure of pay that does not take inflation into account. That is the biggest increase — not adjusted for inflation — since the year that ended in December 2008.

WHITE HOUSE: PENCE TO VISIT COAST GUARD BASE - Vice President Mike Pence will be coming to Portsmouth to visit the US Coast Guard Base on Wednesday (News13Now). The Vice President will receive a briefing from the Department of Homeland Security Joint Task Force-East, Joint Task Force-West and Joint Task Force-Investigations. His briefing will focus on the Department of Homeland Security Joint Task Force efforts to address border security threats, vulnerabilities, and risks related to transnational criminal organizations.

WHITE HOUSE: AFGHAN PEACE TALKS SHIFT TO MOSCOW - Members of the Taliban and key Afghan power brokers, including former president Hamid Karzai, discussed their vision for the future of Afghanistan on Tuesday, meeting in Moscow for talks aimed at ending the war (Washington Post). The meeting shifted the fragile peace process from the United States, whose special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad declared a potential breakthrough with the Taliban just days ago. Moscow seeks to reassert its influence in the region and probably would want a role in shaping any possible peace plan. But the talks, being held over two days in a hotel maintained by the Russian government, included no representatives of President Ashraf Ghani’s government, inviting fierce criticism from the U.S.-backed Afghan leader. “A peace deal with the Taliban will not be implemented unless there is a nationwide consensus,” Ghani said, adding that any agreements made without the Afghan government were meaningless. “Let hundreds of such meetings be held.”

WHITE HOUSE: MULVANEY INVITES DEMS TO CAMP DAVID - Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney has invited a small bipartisan group of lawmakers to Camp David on Friday for what administration aides are describing as a casual gathering (Politico). It's the second time in recent weeks that Mulvaney has invited lawmakers to Camp David, although this is the first session that includes Democrats, according to administration officials. That Mulvaney is even asking Democrats to Camp David is significant, since the Trump administration has practicall no relationships with the new House majority, which is looking to probe President Donald Trump and his inner circle. Trump is not planning to attend the get-together.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP, PENCE SCHEDULE - VP Mike Pence will speak to Jeff Glor for an interview on "CBS This Morning." President Trump will announce the next World Bank president at 1:30 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room. POLITICO has scooped it's David Malpass. At 2:50 p.m., he is leaving the White House for the State Department, where he will deliver a speech to the ministers of the global coalition to defeat ISIS. Trump will host a dinner at 6:30 p.m. in the Blue Room with the host committee and pastors ahead of the National Prayer Breakfast.

VIRGINIA: LG FAIRFAX'S ACCUSER GOES PUBLIC - The woman accusing Democratic Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault 15 years ago has hired Christine Blasey Ford's legal team to represent her (NBC News). Vanessa Tyson, an associate professor of politics at Scripps College in California who is currently on leave, has accused Fairfax of sexual assault in a hotel room at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Tyson hired Katz, Marshall & Banks to represent her, NBC News has confirmed. That legal team represented Ford, who accused now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when both were in high school.


CITIES: MUNCIE COUNCILWOMAN RESIGNS - Alison Quirk, longtime member of the Muncie City Council, announced Monday night she was resigning her position as one of the at-large representatives on the council (Muncie Star Press). “I’ve been through a lot in the last few months personally and it’s time for a break,” Quirk said. Quirk has served on the council for 16 years, saying that while she was stepping away for now, she would be back in some capacity with city government after some time away.

CITIES: WASHINGTON BARRED FROM GARY COUNCIL MEETINGS - Despite objections from legal counsel, the City Council voted to bar ex-Lake County councilman Jamal Washington from meetings after allegations he battered political ally and Gary Councilwoman LaVetta Sparks-Wade in her home last week (Cross, NWI Times). “Things could have went bad, and I’m thankful to God things did not go that way,” Gary Council President Ronald Brewer said at Tuesday's meeting at the Genesis Center downtown. Brewer made a motion banning Washington from City Council and committee meetings. Washington remains in police custody pending a police investigation and as Porter County probation officials move to revoke his probation at the request of a special prosecutor in his most recent conviction, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter said.

CITIES: HOGSETT PREPARES FOR STRIP PATCHING - Strip patching Indianapolis' city streets will start next week, as part of the mayor's $400 million roads plan. Mayor Joe Hogsett and Dept. of Public Works Director Dan Parker announced the plans to open the city's asphalt plants and start the patching Tuesday (Davis, WIBC). The news conference was inside a shop full of equipment purchased for the road improvement, planned for the next four years. "The freeze and thaw cycle is back and some of our streets are seeing rapid deterioration," said Hogsett. "One thing is different this year. This year we have a new plan of action. That plan includes resurfacing 167 miles of roadway this year." The plan also includes the immediate strip patching of potholes, as a companion to the resurfacing. Hogsett said residential streets, and major thoroughfares will get the treatment, both in the short-term and long-term. First is the $126 million plan for this year, which depends on asphalt plants opening and the weather cooperating. "With asphalt plants slated to open next week, providing the necessary materials that we need, we will be able to fix these roads immediately," said Hogsett.

CITIES: INDY STRIP PATCHING LIST - The first locations to be addressed using the strip-patching technique include: 16th Street, from Lynbrook Drive to Post Road; Pennsylvania Street, from 40th to 43rd streets; Washington Street, from Arlington Avenue to Kenyon Street; 86th Street, from Purdue to Harcourt roads; Southport Road, from Mann Road to Tibbs Avenue; Allisonville Road, from 46th to 47th streets; German Church Road, from 38th to 42nd streets; Senate Boulevard, from 16th to 21st streets; 21st Street, from Senate Boulevard to Meridian Street; Forest Manor Avenue, from 28th to 45th streets; Gadsden Street, from S McClure Street to Holt Road; Wellesley Boulevard, from 16th to 21st streets; Raymond Street, from 8300 to 8400 Raymond Street; 16th Street, from 8100 to 8200 16th Street; 10th Street, from Holt to Concord roads; Westfield Boulevard, from Meridian Street to College Avenue; and Madison Avenue, from McCarty Street to 550 feet south of McCarty Street. DPW will work from a rolling list of strip-patching locations for future work, based on recommendations from DPW Operations leadership using pavement data to target the most deteriorated streets.

CITIES: INDYGO TO EXPEDITE REDLINE - IndyGo plans to expedite construction of its 13-mile Red Line project running from Broad Ripple to the University of Indianapolis campus, moving up scheduled completion to no later than the end of the summer (IBJ). The Indianapolis-based transit agency plans to provide details about the plan at a press conference late Tuesday afternoon. Construction of the $96.3 million project began last June, including dedicated lanes for the buses and stations with canopies and ticket vending machines. The acceleration of the construction schedule is expected to shave four months off the project, according to IndyGo. The construction activity has had a direct impact on local drivers along the route, closing lanes of traffic as crews relocate utilities and pour foundations for the stations. Lane restrictions are expected in coming weeks for portions of Virginia Avenue, Shelby Street, Capitol Avenue and Meridian Street.

CITIES: UINDY TO OFFER SUSTAINABILITY SUMMIT IN APRIL - The Office of Sustainability and IUPUI will partner to co-host the 2019 Indianapolis Sustainability Summit on Wednesday, April 17. The second annual summit will bring together hundreds of leaders from across Indianapolis businesses, nonprofits, and civic communities to develop a roadmap for meeting our city’s sustainability goals (Howey Politics Indiana). The 2018 Summit gathered a broad range of input, creating a vision for what a sustainable Indianapolis means to our residents. Those insights helped craft the goals and actions in Thrive Indianapolis, our city’s first sustainability and resilience action plan. “With Thrive Indianapolis nearly finalized, our work as a community has only just begun," said Mayor Joe Hogsett. "The 2019 Indianapolis Sustainability Summit is designed to start a discussion among our business, nonprofit, and public sectors, gathering information and laying the groundwork for a sustainable path forward.”

CITIES: BROAD RIPPLE PARK LAND TRANSFER - Controversy over Broad Ripple Park has both sides speaking out as the neighborhood plans to make room for development (Fox59). The Department of Metropolitan Development recently approved a proposal for Indy Parks to transfer land. That land isn’t being used now, but it could be home to a medical clinic, along with a new community center. It also would mean the Indy Parks would make money off those businesses to keep the park open, but park visitors have questions.

CITIES: CUMMINGS TO BE NEXT SOUTH BEND SCHOOL SUPT - The South Bend school board confirmed a contract for an administrator to become the system’s next superintendent (South Bend Tribune). The candidate, Todd Cummings, was selected as the superintendent amid discrepancies in his resumé and requests for a state search. Cummings is currently the deputy superintendent at the South Bend Community School Corp. Five board members approved the contract — John Anella, Leslie Wesley, Rudy Monterrosa, Dawn Jones and Stuart Greene. Two other board members — Ruth Warren and Oletha Jones — abstained.

COUNTIES: PORTER INSURANCE COSTS DECLINE - Porter County spent more than $12 million in 2014 on its employees' health insurance. This year, that figure is projected to be about $8.5 million (NWI Times). Decreasing costs have been the trend since 2014, when county officials embarked upon an incremental but comprehensive overhaul of health insurance policies. At the time, budget shortfalls and cost overruns were the norm. Now, in 2019 alone, the county stands to save about $600,000, according to a report by R.E. Sutton, which the commissioners hired to help lower costs. Sutton analyst Tony Bontrager presented the projections and other findings at Tuesday's meeting. "Over time you guys have made some really good changes," Bontrager told commissioners.

COUNTIES: ST. JOE COMMISSIONERS OK BRIDGE TAX HIKE - The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners voted 2-1 on Tuesday to increase taxes in 2020 for a fund used to maintain the 24 "major bridges" across the county, which are ones that are at least 200 feet long (Booker, South Bend Tribune). The property tax rate for the county's Major Cumulative Bridge Fund will increase from 1.8 to 3.3 cents per $100 of assessed value. That could result in increases from $5 to $14 on property tax bills mailed next year to homeowners. But increases will only affect property owners whose taxes haven’t yet hit maximum rates allowed by a state law passed in 2008 called the “Circuit Breaker,” which caps property taxes at 1 percent of the net assessed value for homesteads, 2 percent for rental homes and agricultural land, and 3 percent for commercial and personal property.