WHERE THE BUCK STOPS NOW: A reporter asks President Trump on the South Lawn, as he headed to Marine One for the border trip: "Does the buck stop with you over this shutdown?" The President: "The buck stops with everybody." It was a foundational promise of Donald Trump’s historic presidential campaign: Mexico would pay for his 2,000-mile border wall. But as he desperately fights for $5.7 billion in taxpayer money for the project, Trump now claims he never said Mexico would directly foot the bill. “Obviously, I never said this, and I never meant they’re going to write out a check,” the president told reporters Thursday at the White House (Washington Post). He did say it — at least 212 times during his campaign and dozens more since he took office. And he put it in writing — in a March 2016 memo to news outlets that was then posted on his campaign website. 

MERRITT ENTERS GOP INDY MAYORAL RACE: Voters in the state capital will likely find a competitive mayoral race after State Sen. Jim Merritt announced his candidacy on Thursday. Should he defeat Jose Evans, Christopher Moore and John Schmitz in the Republican primary, he would face Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett as he seeks a second term (Howey Politics Indiana). "Our city is going in the wrong direction and we can’t afford four more years of Joe Hogsett,” Merritt said. “Our murder rate continues to skyrocket. Our showcase downtown has grown more dangerous. And, we all know Mayor Joe Hogsett struggled with a sluggish, lethargic response to last winter’s destruction of our streets. I want to get back to solving crimes and data collections and monthly meetings out in the townships and talking to people at the drop of a hat rather than having everything set up. I want to be a very accessible mayor." Republicans took a pass on the race in 2015, nominating obscure businessman Chuck Brewer, who lost to Hogsett by more than 35,000 votes. But there are a number of Hoosier cities where mayors are nominated by minority parties, including Democrat Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry, Republican Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett, Democrat Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight and Republican Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke. All of those mayors have been reelected in their cities and all are running again this years. Hogsett is just the second Democratic mayor after Unigov was passed almost half a century ago. But after Democrat Mayor Bart Peterson's two terms, Republican Gregg Ballard, who is chairing the Merritt campaign, held the office for two terms before Hogsett won. Merritt had a tough reelection battle for the Senate last November, defeating Democrat Derek Camp 51.4% to 48.6%, or by less than 2,000 votes. He has served in the Senate since 1990. He then stepped down as Marion County Republican chairman after spending most of last year branding Hogsett "Pothole Joe" after city streets deteriorated. Hogsett has also presided over a city that has set record homicide rates during his term after he ran in 2015 as a law and order candidate. “Hogsett promised to be a public safety mayor, but look at where we are in just three short years and we all feel a little less safe,” Merritt said. “These three years, taken together, give Joe the dubious distinction of presiding over a historic level of deadly violence. Our problems have gotten significantly worse under the current administration.”

HOLCOMB UNVEILS BIENNIAL BUDGET: Indiana schools would see a 2 percent increase in funding under Gov. Eric Holcomb's budget unveiled this morning (Kelly, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The $33.8 billion, two-year spending plan also would fully fund requests for the Indiana Department of Child Services; cover increased Medicaid costs; maintain school safety funds and leave a healthy surplus of at least $1.8 billion. The proposed budget does more than many might have expected after a December revenue forecast. When the forecast came out, key Republicans said the state would have about $828 million new revenue over the two years with much of that going to DCS and Medicaid. But those estimates didn't accurately take into account the current fiscal year revenues being revised upward – changing the base of revenue lawmakers have to spend for the future. No one corrected that calculation error until now. It means that lawmakers actually have more than $1 billion in new money to spend on priorities over the biennium – giving them more wiggle room than originally thought. That is how the Holcomb plan pays for a 2 percent increase in education funding both years. Other highlights include: Ending the state subsidy for the Hoosier State Train from Indianapolis to Chicago. Exempting military pension from the state income tax. Giving state colleges and universities a 1 percent increase each year. Redeploying existing workforce development dollars on programs, with up to $7 million in new money.

COHEN TO TESTIFY TO CONGRESS IN FEBRUARY: Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former lawyer who has implicated the president in campaign finance crimes, will testify to the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 7 (Politico). The high-profile hearing, which the panel announced Thursday, is one of the first examples of how Democrats will use their new oversight powers and control of House committees to arrange events that could be embarrassing and distracting for the White House. Cohen pleaded guilty last year to various criminal charges, including campaign finance law violations and lying to Congress. He received a three-year sentence and is set to report to prison March 6.

WHITE HOUSE CONSIDERING DIVERTING HURRICANE, FIRE FUNDING: White House officials [are considering] diverting emergency aid from storm- and fire-ravaged Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and California to build a border barrier, perhaps under an emergency declaration," per the N.Y. Times. Cleanups at Superfund sites are suspended around the nation, "deepening the mistrust and resentment of surrounding residents who feel people in power long ago abandoned them." (AP) "With more federal security screeners refusing to work without pay, Miami International Airport plans to cut off access to one of its terminals over the weekend ... to send TSA workers to busier checkpoints." (Miami Herald) What's closed, per AP: "Nine of the 15 Cabinet-level departments have not been funded, including Agriculture, Homeland Security, State, Transportation, Interior and Justice. Some iconic National Park facilities are shuttered as are the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo in Washington. Nearly everyone at NASA is being told to stay home, as are most at the Internal Revenue Service, ... though the administration says tax refunds will be issued during the shutdown." Who's working but not getting paid: "Some 420,000 federal employees ... are working without pay, including the FBI, TSA and other federal law enforcement officers. Some staff at the State and Homeland Security departments are also working without compensation. The Senate has approved a bill to provide back pay to federal workers. The House must vote on it. Trump said this week that federal workers will 'get their money.'"

TRUMP VISITS BORDER: President Trump arrived in this border town Thursday on a trip that he did not want to take to discuss a crisis that Democrats say does not exist, repeating his request for a long-promised border wall that has led to a bitter political impasse and a 20-day government shutdown (New York Times). Flanked by Border Patrol officers, as well as Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security, and a cache of drugs, cash and weapons seized by the authorities at the border, Mr. Trump again blamed the protracted shutdown affecting vast swaths of the federal government on Democrats. He reiterated an untrue claim that Mexico would indirectly pay for the wall through a revamped trade agreement, and heard from people who had loved ones killed by immigrants. “If we had a barrier of any kind, whether it’s steel or concrete,” Mr. Trump said of tragic stories involving violence and human trafficking, “they wouldn’t even bother trying. We could stop that cold.”

PENCE RULES OUT DREAMER DEAL: Vice President Pence had ruled out any agreement that involved protections for “dreamers” brought to the country illegally as children (Washington Post). “When we get the resources that we need to build a wall and secure our border, this is a president that also wants to. . .fix our broken immigration system. We believe the opportunity after the Supreme Court case will be the time to do that,” Pence said, referring to the high court’s expected ruling on the DACA program. Deal-minded Senate Republicans had been shuttling between meetings with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Pence on Thursday morning, batting around a proposal that would include Trump’s desired $5.7 billion in wall funding, a renewable, three-year status for DACA recipients and beneficiaries of the Temporary Protected Status program, and fulfill the White House’s request for detention beds, immigration judges and other enforcement priorities, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions.

SEN. GRAHAM 'NEVER BEEN SO DEPRESSED': President Donald Trump has rejected a plan proposed by a bloc of Senate Republicans who had hoped to break an impasse over the government shutdown, leaving Congress and the White House with little obvious way out of the extended battle over Trump's border wall (Politico). On the 20th day of the shutdown, the GOP group tried to jump start bipartisan talks before Trump declares a national emergency to get his wall. But the president rejected their idea to allow congressional committees to sort out his border wall request while the government reopened, deeming the idea likely to leave him with nothing to show for the shutdown. Vice President Mike Pence and acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney had been consulting with senators about the matter on Thursday. Pence and Mulvaney took the idea to the president, who shot it down, according to multiple people directly involved in the talks. "I think we're stuck. I just don't see a pathway forward. I don't see a way forward," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who had been leading the effort. "I have never been more depressed about moving forward than I am right now. I just don’t see a pathway forward."

INDIANA DELEGATION MUTE ON SHUTDOWN: With the U.S. government shutdown stretching into a third week, several Republican members of Congress from Indiana remain vague on the matter, even as they stand behind the president (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). Indiana Republican Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun, and Rep. Jackie Walorski declined The Tribune’s requests for interviews on the shutdown, and declined to answer the following questions via email: • Do you agree with Trump’s stance on wall funding — not “border security” but specifically the wall? Is a wall necessary and do you agree that we should spend $5 billion on it? • If you do agree, do you think the wall funding is worth the shutdown? • What are you telling federal employees in Indiana who aren’t getting paychecks (as of Friday)? • Do you have any ideas for a compromise to end the stalemate? Young, Braun and Walorski issued similar written statements, all blaming Democrats for the shutdown. “(Tuesday night) the president made it clear why border security is so important,” Young said, “but Democrats are refusing to address the humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border. The sooner we agree to secure our border, the sooner the entire government can reopen.” Stated Braun, “President Trump has made a courageous decision to secure the border and to stop illegal immigration, meanwhile Democrats have refused to address this crisis or offer any solutions, prolonging the partial government shutdown.” “We have a responsibility to the American people to reopen the government and secure our borders,” Walorski said. “I will continue working with my colleagues to find a bipartisan solution that achieves both of these important goals.”

FED'S POWELL 'DOESN'T SEE RECESSION' IN 2019: Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he doesn't see a U.S. recession in the near future, despite the rising likelihood of slowing growth elsewhere around the globe. He also said he would "be patient" as the central bank determines when to hike interest rates next (CBS News). Speaking to an audience in Washington, D.C, Powell delivered the same reassuring message that bolstered markets last Friday. "I don't see a recession," he told a gathering of the Economic Club of Washington. "The U.S. economy is solid. The principal worry we have is global growth" in Asia, Europe and elsewhere. "It's a tightly integrated economy and financial markets will see the effects of that," he said.

FARM BUREAU CITES 'EXTRATERRITORIAL JURISDICTION': Extraterritorial jurisdiction. It’s not just a mouthful to say, but it’s a big issue facing rural Hoosiers. This issue is one of many legislative priorities for Indiana Farm Bureau this session. INFB President Randy Kron explains that some cities and towns are using a loophole in state code that allows them to make decisions outside of their jurisdiction (Pfeiffer, Hoosier Ag Today). “When cities and towns decide they can go 3 and 4 miles outside of their borders and control what happens, maybe on land development or if you’re wanting to expand… say you have a son or daughter coming back and you want to put a livestock facility, a quad barn, or something, and all of a sudden the city, which you’re not even a part of and you vote for nobody in that city, can say ‘Nope. You can’t do that.’” Director of State Government Relations for INFB Justin Schneider says this seems like a simple concept that the people who regulate you should be the ones that you vote for and you shouldn’t have two layers of county government regulating the same conduct. “What we have seen over the years, it’s not a new issue, it’s something we’ve been watching, you have a county ordinance in place, you have a state regulation in place, and then the city or town tries to prohibit or restrict activity outside of their jurisdiction. We can’t have multiple layers of regulation. We can’t have a city or town impacting rural residents, folks who live outside of the city. We can’t have them trumping county ordinances that are passed by the folks who are elected by all of the individuals in the county.”

FIRE DAMAGES ANTELOPE CLUB: A fire in the bar area of the Antelope Club occurred after closing on Wednesday night. Fortunately, the fire was spotted when the alarm company contacted General Manager Brad Klopfenstein and he saw the fire via a remote camera (Howey Politics Indiana). Damage was contained to the area around the pull tab machine, but smoke and soot spread throughout the club. Repairs are already underway, but it is estimated that it will be a few days before the club is cleaned and ready to be reopened. Please follow the club's Facebook page for updates.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: While the Kansas City Chiefs are favored by 5.5 points against the Colts on Sunday, I think we advance to the AFC Championship Game, 23-17. Just a hunch. I also predict the Chargers will defeat the evil Patriots.- Brian A. Howey



Campaigns

HOGSETT, DEMS REACT TO MERRITT CANDIDACY: Indianapolis Mayor Hogsett reacted to the Merritt candidacy, saying, “This November, Indianapolis voters will have the opportunity to make their voices heard. Should Senator Merritt win his party’s nomination, I look forward to a spirited conversation” (Howey Politics Indiana). Democratic Chairman Kate Sweeney Bell added, "Indianapolis voters have rejected Senator Merritt's extremist views in the past, and we are confident they will do it again this year."

MERRITT'S DUCT-TAPE CAMPAIGN: Jim Merritt's campaign to become the next mayor of Indianapolis began in front of a campaign sign that had been duct-taped to the wall of a former auto dealership (Briggs & Martin, IndyStar). The dozens of enthusiastic supporters who came to cheer Merritt on Thursday might have wondered if there was any duct tape left over to aid the furnace, which either was broken or had not been turned on, leaving the vacant Butler Tarkington building nearly as cold as the winter air outside. "I'm so happy this is indoors," former Mayor Greg Ballard deadpanned, just before he introduced Merritt. The bohemian setting — there was a chalkboard in the room listing beer options, a remnant from a defunct brewery that once occupied the space — was a fitting backdrop for a campaign that will operate on a low budget. Merritt, a Republican, said he is launching his candidacy with $10,000 in campaign funds. Democratic Mayor Joe Hogsett, by contrast, made his re-election announcement a month earlier in the glistening — and toasty-warm — new Phoenix Theatre. "The mayor has $3 million," Merritt said, a number that is consistent with leaked reports on Hogsett's latest campaign finance figures, which have yet to be released. "He'll probably add a million or two, whatever. But if I have $1.5 million, with my energy, I'm going to win."

ZODY COMMENTS ON HOLCOMB BUDGET: Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody issued the following statement after the Holcomb administration introduced its 2019-2021 budget (Howey Politics Indiana). “Even after ‘finding’ additional resources, Governor Holcomb's budget doesn't earmark even one dime specifically for teacher pay raises. 'I owe u’s' and empty promises won’t cut it for hardworking teachers. Budgets are about priorities, that Holcomb failed to include a teacher pay raise or significantly expand preschool sure looks like a governor without a serious plan."

REP. CHYUNG TO ADDRESS INDEMS: The Indiana Democratic Party, in partnership with the National Democratic Training Committee, will hold a one-day candidate training boot camp in Indianapolis on Saturday (Howey Politics Indiana). The candidate training will be the Party’s largest to date, with 300 Hoosier Democrats scheduled to attend and will feature State Representative Chris Chyung as keynote speaker. Chyung, a millennial and previously a first-time candidate, attended a similar training last year before winning his election to the General Assembly last November. It will take place at 9:30 a.m. at Ivy Tech Conference Center, 2820 N Meridian St.

JAMAL WASHINGTON TO RUN FOR GARY COUNCIL: Jamal Washington has moved into the city and is back on the campaign trail here less than a month after being sentenced for his second domestic violence conviction (NWI Times). Washington filed late Wednesday morning with county election officials to put his name on the May 7 ballot as a Democratic candidate for one of the three at-large seats on the Gary Common Council. "My heart is in Gary," Washington said Thursday, confirming he moved several months ago from his previous residence on Connecticut Street in Merrillville's Hilldale subdivision where he twice was involved in domestic assaults.

General Assembly

HUSTON PRAISES HOLCOMB BUDGET: State Rep. Todd Huston (R-Fishers), co-chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, in your coverage of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s proposed budget: “Governor Holcomb’s proposed two-year state budget is responsibly balanced based upon the revenue forecast and reflects many of our shared priorities, including increasing funding for Hoosier schools. The state’s latest fiscal outlook confirms Indiana’s economy is running strong, and we will continue working with Governor Holcomb and our counterparts in the Senate to keep the momentum going.”

MISHLER COMMENTS ON HOLCOMB BUDGET PROPOSAL: Senate Appropriations Chairman Ryan Mishler (R-Bremen), made the following statement today regarding the governor’s proposed budget: “The state budget proposal the governor announced today is a great starting place for our budget discussions – it is balanced, protects reserves and represents a fair and accurate picture of the revenue available in the next two years. I look forward to a robust discussion with the governor and our colleagues in the House as we move forward with writing a budget that will make a positive impact on the Hoosier state.”

NRA BACKING 2 BILLS: The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) is backing two bills in the Indiana State Legislature that would give law-abiding Hoosiers greater opportunities to defend themselves (Howey Politics Indiana). HB 1643 introduced by Rep. Ben Smaltz (R-52) would expand self-defense options in the following ways: Eliminate state fees for a lifetime state License to Carry a Handgun (LTCH); allow law-abiding gun owners greater ability to carry for self-protection in churches; allow gun owners to register to vote when they apply for a LTCH. “There is no good reason why an honest, hard-working gun owner should be forced to pay $125 to exercise a fundamental right that ought to free,” said Chris Kopacki, NRA-ILA Indiana State Director. “HB 1643 would put a stop to this abuse and ensure that our state’s most vulnerable gun owners are able to protect and defend themselves without worrying about the cost of a license.” Additionally, the NRA-ILA is backing HB 1284 introduced by Rep. Jim Lucas (R-69), a measure that would give greater protection to gun owners who use their firearms in self-defense. “Currently, state law places an undue burden for lawful self-defense on the defendant,” added Kopacki. “HB 1284 would shift that burden off the defendant. Furthermore, under HB 1284, a person who acts in self-defense and is later forced to defend themselves a second time in the courtroom could get reimbursed for the legal fees associated with their defense.”

ELDER ABUSE REGISTRY PROPOSED: A bill has been introduced in the Indiana General Assembly that would create an "elder abuse registry" of those convicted of crimes against senior citizens and those who are mentally or physically challenged (WIBC). Republican State Sen. Randy Head of Logansport says his bill would be similar to the state's sex offender registry and would track those who are convicted of physical abuse or stealing money from an "endangered adult". "If someone has a condition for abusing an elderly person, we want to create a registry and have their names on it so if nursing homes are hiring people they've got somewhere they can check and see their background," says Sen. Head. "If you've got a person in your family that needs healthcare and you want to check someone because you feel something bad may be happening, you've got a place to go to see if this person has been convicted of that kind of crime," says Sen. Head.

REPUBLICANS PUSH BACK ON ELIMINATING TEACHER BONUSES: Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb received pushback Thursday from fellow Republicans when he suggested eliminating teachers’ performance-based bonuses without another plan to earmark money for increasing teacher pay (Chalkbeat). Educators have bashed those bonuses as being unfairly distributed and too small, but state Senate appropriations chairman Ryan Mishler, R-Bremen, said he worried that getting rid of the $30 million annual bonus pool would kill the only dollars specifically designated for teacher pay. “My only concern is in some schools, that’s the only pay increase that some teachers see,” Mishler said. “So I still like the idea that that money goes straight to teachers.”

SEN. TALLIAN REACTS TO HOLCOMB BUDGET: State Senator Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) released the following comments after the governor released his proposed biennial budget: “Once again, the governor is trying to pull the wool over Hoosiers’ eyes. He says that we don’t have enough money to add new funding for teachers’ salaries. All we can do, according to the governor, is give tax credits for school supplies – while still expecting teachers to use their own money to support their classrooms. This budget does not guarantee one cent for teacher pay raises. As much as Republicans might like to think it does, a tax credit does not increase teacher pay. The Senate Democrats, on the other hand, have a proposal to directly give raises to teachers. Where is the $1 billion in new toll revenue, governor? This money does not show up at all in your budget proposal. This money is real, and it is available. The governor must let the legislature do its constitutional job and appropriate this money. If we allocate half of this surplus, that is $500 million in new money for teacher pay. Lastly, I encourage the governor to look at his proposed funding for the Department of Child Services (DCS). The governor’s budget awards over $500 million in extra funding for DCS without addressing the problems in that agency’s operations. We need to be assured that DCS complies with the report that provided recommendations for the department. Hoosier children must be kept safe, and Hoosier families must be kept together.”

MELTON REACTS TO HOLCOMB BUDGET: State Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary) noticed the governor’s omission in asking for additional money to fund teacher salary increases (Howey Politics Indiana). “Gov. Holcomb neglected to request necessary funding to provide teachers across Indiana with a pay raise. The entire Republican supermajority is boasting they support teacher pay, but the proof is in the pudding why aren’t they proving their support by adequately funding education to make teacher salary increases a reality? Without new money, there is no way to ensure that teachers will actually receive a raise. The lack of commitment to our teachers is just as evident in the Indiana House. After seeing the House Republicans’ proposal on teacher salaries, it has become very clear to me that this is in no way a teacher pay bill, but rather, a school reporting bill. House Bill 1003 adds 20 new reporting requirements for school administrators and does not stipulate anywhere in the bill that teachers receive a pay increase.

INDY ELEVEN STADIUM FINDS LEGISLATORS NON-COMMITAL: The Indy Eleven's request for a new stadium is getting a poker face from legislators (Berman, WIBC). The Indy Eleven wants the city to float bonds financed by taxes collected at a 20,000-seat stadium. Team owner Ersal Ozdemir would finance and build a hotel, office and retail development around it. The team hasn't said where the stadium would be, but House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says he's heard from people questioning the wisdom of another 200-room hotel downtown. A hotel is already part of the Bottleworks development on the northeast edge of downtown. Legislators rejected the soccer team's last request for a new stadium. Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) both say a vibrant downtown is important. But Bray says he doesn't know if senators' views have changed in the years since the last stadium push.

 


Congress

REP. PENCE SAYS 'SHUTDOWN IS AFFECTING ME': President Donald Trump’s insistence on building a wall along the southern border of the United States for security — a contentious issue that has resulted in a partial government shutdown — has the support of the Columbus businessman elected to serve Indiana ‘s 6th District in the U.S. House of Representatives (Johannsen, Columbus Republic). “I’m supportive of his $5.7 billion border security funding,” said U.S. Rep. Greg Pence, R-Ind., who was elected to Congress for the first time in November. About 800,000 federal employees are affected by the shutdown, and as of Thursday were facing the prospect of missing a paycheck today. House members, however, most of whom earn $174,000 a year, are paid during the shutdown. “That doesn’t make sense to me,” Pence said Thursday, in a video in which he announced he would suspend his pay until the shutdown is over. Some other members of Congress have opted not to receive their pay, too. “My thinking is to share the pain. Now it is affecting me as well,” Pence said by phone.

BANKS TO CHAIR REPUBLICAN STUDY COMMITTEE: The Republican Study Committee (RSC), the largest caucus of conservatives in Congress, named U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) the incoming Chairman of the Budget & Spending Task Force (Howey Politics Indiana). According to the RSC announcement, the task force “will be in charge of producing the annual RSC budget and spearheading RSC strategy related to spending caps, the debt limit and appropriations.”  The annual RSC budget is often the only conservative budget introduced each year that balances in five years.  Additionally, Congressman Banks will continue to be one of only ten members of Congress to sit on the RSC Steering Committee. Said Rep. Banks, “Chairing the RSC Budget and Spending Task Force is a tremendous opportunity to bring the fiscal responsibility used by Hoosiers in their everyday life to the federal budget.  Our government spends too much, and improperly prioritizes how people’s hard-earned money should be allocated.  In this role I hope to bring together my colleagues to develop innovative and conservative solutions that tackle our country’s debt and deficit and enable Congress to be better stewards of taxpayer money.  I thank Chairman Johnson (R-LA) for this opportunity, and the chance chart a better course for our country.”

YOUNG REINTRODUCES REINS ACT: U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), along with Senators Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and 29 other cosponsors, reintroduced the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act to increase accountability and transparency in the federal regulatory process (Howey Politics Indiana). The REINS Act would rein in unelected federal bureaucrats by requiring that Congress affirmatively approve every new “major rule” proposed by the Executive Branch before it can be enforced on the American people, as opposed to the status quo, where regulations ultimately take effect unless Congress specifically disapproves. “We have made significant progress reining in costly, job-killing regulations since I first introduced the REINS Act in the House six years ago, but we still have more work to do to protect hardworking Americans. I will continue fighting for the passage of this common-sense legislation in the new Congress,” said Senator Young.

STUTZMAN PART OF GROUP WHO BOUGHT KRUSE FACILITY:  A northeast Indiana investment group has bought the Kruse property, often referenced as the World War II Museum, from the Dean V. Kruse Foundation (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The owners and directors of the group include entrepreneur and local Auburn resident John Kruse, former U.S. Congressman Marlin Stutzman, and Jason Bontrager, entrepreneur and former managing partner of RV giant Jayco Inc., according to a news release Wednesday. “Our goal is to build on the Kruse legacy of promoting northeast Indiana by being a community-centric event and education hub of activity,” John Kruse said in a news release Wednesday.

BARR MEETS WITH DEMOCRATS: Attorney general nominee William P. Barr tried Thursday to assuage Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats’ concerns that he might be too biased to oversee the special counsel’s Russia probe, but the lawmakers said they would need to see public proof to back up his closed-door assurances before they could consider backing his nomination (Washington Post). “The Mueller probe is the big issue for me . . . he reassured to some extent. The hard questions have to get asked in the public and get on the record,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the panel’s ranking Democrat, said of her Thursday morning meeting with Barr. “These meetings are different; they really are just people to people . . . what matters is what happens in the committee and what’s said on the record.”



State

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB STICKING TO TEACHER PAY SCHEDULE -  Gov. Eric Holcomb is proposing a two-year state budget that provides inflation-level increases for elementary and high school education, while also meeting Indiana's growing costs for Medicaid and the Department of Child Services (Carden, NWI Times). Altogether, the Republican chief executive is asking the Republican-controlled General Assembly to approve spending of $16.8 billion during the 2020 budget year that begins July 1, 2019, and $17.1 billion for 2021. Approximately half the annual spending will go toward kindergarten through 12th grade education, with student tuition support set to receive a 2 percent funding bump in each year of the biennium, or an overall increase of $289 million. Holcomb's spending plan, presented Thursday to the State Budget Committee, does not include a specific line item for teacher pay raises, or money to expand the state's On My Way pre-kindergarten program beyond the 20 pilot counties, including Lake. Instead, the governor is sticking to his previously announced schedule to provide a general school funding increase in the 2020-21 budget, and to continue working toward a dedicated appropriation for teacher pay hikes during the 2021 legislative session.

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SCHEDULE - Below find Gov. Eric J. Holcomb’s public schedule for January 11 and 14, 2019. Friday, January 11: Saturn Petcare Jobs Announcement, 11 a.m., Saturn Petcare, 411 E. Dallas Dr., Terre Haute. Monday, January 14: Indiana Ready Mixed Concrete Association Annual Short Course, 9:15 a.m., Union Station Grand Ballroom. Gov. Holcomb,First Lady Janet Holcomb, Chief Justice Loretta Rush, Secretary of State Connie Lawson, State Auditor Tera Klutz, State Treasurer Kelly Mitchell, House Speaker Brian Bosma, President Pro Tem Rodric Bray,  11 a.m., Indiana Statehouse.

STATEHOUSE: HILL COMMENTS ON FIATCHRYSLER SETTLEMENT - AG Curtis Hill announces settlements with Fiat Chrysler and supplier over consumer and environmental improprieties (Howey Politics Indiana). Attorney General Curtis Hill today announced that Indiana, as a member of a coalition of states, has reached landmark settlements with Fiat Chrysler and supplier Robert Bosch. These settlements provide for combined civil-penalty payments of approximately $2.5 million to Indiana and more than $171 million to 52 jurisdictions nationwide. Bosch supplied and helped program the illegal emissions “defeat device” software used by both Fiat Chrysler and Volkswagen in their diesel vehicles. “Whenever businesses take unfair advantage of Hoosier consumers or otherwise disregard Indiana state laws, they should anticipate that our office will come after them hard for whatever damages they have done,” Attorney General Hill said. “This settlement represents the fruits of such labor. We will continue to work hard every day to protect consumers and defend the rule of law.”

EDUCATION: COLE TO HEAD NOTRE DAME LAW SCHOOL - G. Marcus Cole has been hired as the next dean of Notre Dame Law School, the university announced Thursday (South Bend Tribune). Cole currently is an international professor of law at Stanford University. Cole will succeed current Dean Nell Jessup Newton, who is stepping down July 1 after serving 10 years. A scholar of the empirical law and economics of commerce and finance, Cole joined the Stanford faculty in 1997. He previously held two endowed chairs and served for five years as associate dean for curriculum and academic affairs. Before joining the Stanford faculty, Cole was an associate with the Chicago law firm of Mayer Brown. He clerked for Judge Morris Sheppard Arnold in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

EDUCATION: FIRM SUES PURDUE - Greentree Environmental Services President John Casey said when he entered into a contract with Purdue University in 2016, he hoped his business’ lead renovation, repair and painting refresher classes could be a leader in online certification training (NWI Times). Two and a half years later, Casey’s Portage-based company is suing Purdue, claiming the university failed to deliver on its promise to help build the training website. “They couldn't pull a website up or get it to work,” Casey said. “And they couldn’t explain why.” Casey said he first contacted Purdue about a partnership in early 2016 after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency changed its standards for the required lead renovation, repair and painting training, allowing professionals to seek recertification training online every other year rather than attending in-person classes.

SPORTS: INDY ELEVEN PROPOSES STADIUM - Indy Eleven is proposing a $550 million, 20,000-seat stadium, as part of a larger real estate development, to “usher in a new era for soccer in Indiana” (WRTV). The proposal, called Eleven Park, would include a public plaza, office building, retail center, apartments and a hotel, as well as the new stadium. “Soccer is the globe’s most popular sport and the world’s game needs a permanent home in our state,” said Ersal Ozdemir, CEO of Keystone Group and owner of Indy Eleven. “By paving the way for a world-class soccer facility as part of this transformational development, Indiana can fully capture a once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure the future of soccer in its capital city.” The plans include about $400 million in private investment and about $150 million related to the stadium, public plazas and infrastructure. The financing plan currently calls for a public-private partnership with no appropriations from city or state governments, according to an Eleven Park spokesperson.

Nation

WHITE HOUSE: U.S. BEGINS SYRIAN WITHDRAWAL - The United States began withdrawing its troops from Syria on Friday, an American military spokesman said, a first step in President Trump’s plan to remove American forces from one of the Middle East’s most complex battlefields (New York Times). The surprise announcement came in a statement from Col. Sean Ryan, the spokesman for the United States-led coalition against the Islamic State. Colonel Ryan said the coalition had “begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria,” adding that he would provide no further information about “specific timelines, locations or troop movements.” The withdrawal of the roughly 2,000 American troops posted in northern and eastern Syria threatened to hinder the enduring defeat of the Islamic State and unleash a potentially violent scramble between the other forces in Syria to fill the void. Mr. Trump has made no secret of his desire to bring the troops home, saying that they were sent to fight the Islamic State and that their mission has nearly been accomplished, but his plan to do so has become muddled.

WHITE HOUSE: CHINA, U.S. STEPPING UP TRADE TALKS - China and the U.S. are moving ahead with plans to hold a round of higher-level talks to resolve their continuing trade conflict, with President Xi Jinping’s economic-policy captain scheduled to visit Washington in late January (Wall Street Journal). For now, Vice Premier Liu He is planning to meet with his U.S. counterparts including U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for negotiations on Jan. 30 and Jan. 31, according to people briefed on the matter. These people caution that the plan could be delayed by the partial U.S. government shutdown. The next round of talks would follow midlevel trade talks held in Beijing from Monday to Wednesday this week. Negotiators from both sides, led by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish and Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Wang Shouwen covered a range of issues including more Chinese purchases of U.S. products, further opening of China’s markets to U.S. businesses, better protection of American intellectual property, and a reduction in Chinese subsidies to domestic firms.

WHITE HOUSE: 2 REMARKABLE STATEMENTS ON THURSDAY - President Trump has long claimed that he puts “America first” overseas. But in two remarkable statements on Thursday, Mr. Trump and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, explicitly favored foreign autocrats over elected American leaders (New York Times). Mr. Pompeo chose Cairo, the site of President Barack Obama’s 2009 address to the Islamic world, to deliver a caustic, point-by-point repudiation of Mr. Obama’s message. He paid tribute to Egypt’s repressive president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, for his courage in supporting Mr. Trump’s alternative approach. About an hour later, on the South Lawn of the White House, Mr. Trump said that China’s Communist Party bosses negotiated in better faith than the Democratic leaders in Congress, with whom the president is in a bitter standoff over his border wall that has shut down much of the federal government. “I find China, frankly, in many ways to be far more honorable than Cryin’ Chuck and Nancy. I really do,” Mr. Trump said, referring to the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “China is actually much easier to deal with than the opposition party.”

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP NOT WORRIED ABOUT COHEN TESTIMONY - President Trump on Thursday said he’s not concerned about his former personal attorney Michael Cohen’s testimony to Congress, even though it could reveal damaging allegations about Trump’s actions during the 2016 campaign (The Hill). “I’m not worried about it at all, no," Trump said when asked about Cohen’s testimony before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Feb. 7. The president spoke while visiting the border in Texas soon after the panel announced the hearing with Cohen.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP DISAVOWS SAYING MEXICO WOULD PAY FOR WALL - It was a foundational promise of Donald Trump’s historic presidential campaign: Mexico would pay for his 2,000-mile border wall. But as he desperately fights for $5.7 billion in taxpayer money for the project, Trump now claims he never said Mexico would directly foot the bill. “Obviously, I never said this, and I never meant they’re going to write out a check,” the president told reporters Thursday at the White House (Washington Post). He did say it — at least 212 times during his campaign and dozens more since he took office. And he put it in writing — in a March 2016 memo to news outlets that was then posted on his campaign website. Specifically, Trump threatened to cut off billions of dollars in remittance payments from Mexican nationals in the United States to families in their home country. That, he proclaimed, would pressure the Mexican government to cough up “a one-time payment of $5-10 billion” for the wall.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP CANCELS DAVOS APPEARANCE - President Trump on Thursday canceled his planned trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, citing the prolonged government shutdown (The Hill). “Because of the Democrats intransigence on Border Security and the great importance of Safety for our Nation, I am respectfully cancelling my very important trip to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum,” he tweeted. The president also offered his “warmest regards and apologies” to the organizers of the gathering of world leaders and global elites. The announcement came on the shutdown's 20th day, with no end in sight to the funding impasse. Trump stormed out of a meeting with top Democrats on Wednesday, calling it a “waste of time” because they denied his request for border wall money.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - President Trump will host a roundtable on border security at 2:30 p.m.

STATE: POMPEO LASHES OUT AT OBAMA IN CAIRO - Secretary of State Mike Pompeo laid out a new manifesto for American action in the Middle East on Thursday, telling a university audience here that “the age of self-inflicted American shame is over” and that the United States would take a far more activist role in the region, despite fears that President Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria marks a new phase of withdrawal (New York Times). Mr. Pompeo delivered a scathing — and quite personal — rejection of President Barack Obama’s approach to the Middle East, excoriating Mr. Obama for “fundamental misunderstandings” about the region that “underestimated the tenacity and viciousness of radical Islamism.” And he described a policy of containment of Iran’s power, pressing for allies in the region to isolate the country. He vowed to “expel every last Iranian boot” from Syria, but offered no plan to achieve that goal at a moment that the small American force of 2,000 troops is scheduled to get out.

WHITE HOUSE: PENCE DECRIED PRESIDENTIAL POWERS - Long before President Donald Trump considered declaring a national emergency to free up money for a wall along the southern border, his vice president criticized the idea of the White House making an end run around Congress (USA Today). Vice President Mike Pence, speaking on a Republican Governors Association panel in 2014, attacked the idea of using presidential powers to act unilaterally in the face of congressional opposition.  The then governor of Indiana said that "barnstorming around the country defending" such measures was "not leadership." Leadership, he argued, came with negotiating and finding "common ground." Pence, in his comments, was specifically targeting former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and the executive orders he announced on Nov. 20, 2014, one day after the conference.  Although the positions were reversed, Obama was also frustrated by a lack of congressional action for what he viewed as a broken immigration system.

TREASURY: MNUCHIN LIFTS SANCTIONS ON OLIGARCH - House Democrats said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin failed to convince them in a closed briefing Thursday that the United States should lift sanctions on a Russian aluminum company controlled by a Vladimir Putin ally, calling for more information and a delay (Washington Post). Treasury notified Congress last month that it planned to lift sanctions on Rusal, an aluminum company controlled by Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Treasury said the Russian business leader will remain under personal sanctions but that sanctions on Rusal and two other firms could be lifted because Deripaska had agreed to reduce his ownership in the companies below 50 percent. “This, with stiff competition, mind you, was one of the worst classified briefings we’ve received from the Trump administration,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said after the briefing. “The secretary barely testified. He answered some questions, but he didn’t give testimony.”

PENTAGON: COAST GUARD FRETS MISSION READINESS - The government shutdown could impact the Coast Guard's "mission readiness," since it's the only military branch that doesn't get paid, a Coast Guard spokesman told CBS News Thursday. The Coast Guard will continue necessary operations, but the spokesman said it will be difficult to project the impact "months or years from now" (CBS News) "We don't know how long the government shutdown will last, but the Coast Guard is statutorily obligated to maintain the essential safety, security, and environmental protection services the public expects during the government shutdown," said Lt. Commander Scott McBride in a statement. "However, absent an approved budget, the longer the shutdown lasts, the more difficult it will become for the Coast Guard to maintain mission readiness."

FED: POWELL FLEXIBLE ON RATES - Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said muted inflation will give the central bank the ability to be patient in raising its benchmark short-term rate this year (Wall Street Journal). During a lunchtime appearance at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Mr. Powell largely stuck to a market-friendly tone he offered at a similar question-and-answer session last week. “We are in a place where we can be patient and flexible and see what does evolve,” Mr. Powell said Thursday. He was interviewed by the economic club’s president, David Rubenstein, who is a co-founder of the Carlyle Group . Mr. Powell worked at the private-equity firm from 1997 to 2005.

AUTOS: FIATCHRYSLER AGREES TO EMISSIONS FINE - Fiat Chrysler agreed on Thursday to pay hundreds of millions of dollars, including a $300 million fine to the U.S. government, to settle allegations that the Italian-American automaker cheated on emissions tests (AP). Under a deal with the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, the automaker will recall and repair the more than 104,000 out-of-compliance Jeep SUVs and Ram pickup trucks. Separately, Fiat Chrysler also agreed to pay $280 million to settle lawsuits brought by vehicle owners – leading to payouts of about $2,800 per owner – and will pay $19 million to California to settle similar state regulatory allegations. Federal officials allege the vehicles, made between 2014 and 2016, were equipped with diesel engines programmed to run pollution controls during lab tests that would turn off under certain conditions on the road. "By concealing this software, Fiat Chrysler deceived regulators and violated environmental law," said Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio. "Fiat Chrysler's conduct was serious and egregious. Its deception robbed the public of the clean air we work hard to protect and put law-abiding competitors at a disadvantage."

AUTOS: FORD REVAMPS EURO OPERATIONS - Ford Motor Co. F -0.57% is launching an overhaul of its money-losing European business that is expected to include thousands of job cuts, plant closures and the cancellation of low-profit models amid a storm of bad news for global car makers (Wall Street Journal). The move is part of a broad cost-cutting effort Ford Chief Executive Jim Hackett has embarked on in a changing automotive landscape buffeted by electric vehicles and a push toward autonomous driving. In October, Ford informed employees of a global reorganization that could affect salaried jobs, part of Mr. Hackett’s push to improve profits and boost its sagging stock price.

CLIMATE: OCEANS WARMING QUICKER THAN EXPECTED - Ocean temperatures are increasing faster than scientists previously thought, according to new research (ABC News). An analysis published in the journal Science on Thursday states that improved methods of testing found that warming throughout oceans between 1971 and 2010 was more widespread than originally reported. The planet is "clearly warming," according to the analysis. Evidence from the new testing in four independent groups now suggest stronger observed “Heat Ocean Content” warming, with all four recent studies showing that the rate of ocean warming accelerated after 1991.

MEDIA: SUNDAY TALK - CBS "Face the Nation": Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Julián Castro, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Jeh Johnson. Panel: Michael Crowley, Jeff Goldberg, David Nakamura and Seung Min Kim. NBC "Meet the Press": Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). Panel: Cornell Belcher, Al Cardenas, Carol Lee and Peggy Noonan. "FOX News Sunday": Panel: Karl Rove, Josh Holmes, Jane Harman and Juan Williams. CNN "State of the Union": Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.). Panel: Luis Gutierrez, S.E. Cupp, Karen Finney and Michael Caputo. CNN "Inside Politics": Julie Pace, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Nia-Malika Henderson and Mike Bender.

MICHIGAN: MEDICAL POT USERS DRIVE HIGH SAYS STUDY - Many medical marijuana patients are driving high, according to a new study from the University of Michigan Addiction Center (AP). Researchers surveyed 790 patents with chronic pain who were renewing their medical marijuana cards in 2014 and 2015. They found 56 percent of them reported driving within two hours of using cannabis. “With medical marijuana patients using this in their daily lives to treat and alleviate symptoms, they’re also going to do other things in their daily lives — like driving,” said Erin E. Bonar, an assistant professor of psychiatry and a practicing clinical psychologist at U-M Addiction Treatment Services and a lead author on the study. Of those surveyed, half said they drove while they were a “little high,” in their opinion. Separately, 21 percent said they had driven while “very high.”

TEXAS: GOP FAILS TO OUST MUSLIM FROM LEADERSHIP - Republican officials in Texas on Thursday night voted down an effort to oust a local party leader because he is Muslim (Wall Street Journal). GOP precinct chairs in Tarrant County, which includes Fort Worth, rejected a proposal, 139-49, to remove Shahid Shafi as vice chairman of the party there. Some conservative activists in Tarrant County had said Dr. Shafi, who came to the U.S. in 1990 before becoming a surgeon, was unfit for leadership because, they argued, Islam is entwined with political ideology and incompatible with Republican Party positions and American values. Dr. Shafi and party leaders rejected the effort to remove him as prejudice. The recall effort spurred divisions among the Tarrant County GOP and prompted top Texas Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Greg Abbott, to rally around Dr. Shafi. “My faith in our party and our country has been reaffirmed,” Dr. Shafi said following the meeting, saying the past few months had been difficult for him and his family.

WISCONSIN: MISSING TEEN FOUND ALIVE - A Wisconsin teenager missing for nearly three months after her parents were killed in the family home was found alive barely an hour's drive away, by a woman who stumbled across the 13-year-old girl and pounded on her neighbors' door shouting: "This is Jayme Closs! Call 911!" Jayme was skinny and dirty, wearing shoes too big for her feet, but appeared outwardly OK when she was discovered Thursday afternoon near the small town of Gordon, the neighbors said (AP). "I honestly still think I'm dreaming right now. It was like I was seeing a ghost," Peter Kasinskas told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "My jaw just went to the floor." Authorities said a suspect was in custody, but otherwise didn't give any additional details ahead of a planned Friday news conference in Barron, in northwestern Wisconsin. Jayme went missing on Oct. 15 after police discovered someone had broken into the family's home outside Barron and fatally shot her parents, James and Denise Closs. Jayme was nowhere to be found, with the Barron County Sheriff's Department describing her as likely abducted.

Local

CITIES: PAST GARY MAYORS ON PANEL - Gary government leaders have fought for decades to rise above the perception from outsiders as a crime-riddled, corrupt city faced with disinvestment, the loss of the industry and jobs, white flight and declining tax base (Cross, NWI Times). Today’s Steel City is no different, said former Mayor Scott L. King, who tried through his three terms as mayor from 1995 to 2006 to turn around the decline of the long-struggling, cash-strapped city, with public safety as his No. 1 concern. “Nothing else is going to happen here until there’s a reality and the perception that Gary is safe, that Gary is a safe place to live, for kids to go to school, to invest in, and to grow jobs,” King said Wednesday. His comments came during a “Living Mayors” roundtable forum that drew more than 125 people to Indiana University Northwest's Bergland Auditorium.  "Gary was never as unsafe as portrayed by the media. And investors' views of the city are informed by perception. You have to fight like crazy to get a fair perspective, but you also have got to show you are making changes and investments," he said.  Representing six decades of public service, King was joined by four of the city’s former and current living mayors. The panel included Richard G. Hatcher, 85, the city’s first African-American mayor elected in November 1967; Dozier T. Allen, who had a brief stint as mayor of Gary after King resigned; and Thomas V. Barnes, who served from 1988 to 1995, joined the city’s current mayor, Karen Freeman-Wilson, who served as the panel’s moderator.

CITIES: NEW CARLISLE PONDERS FIRING COP - The New Carlisle town council postponed taking action this week on a request by Chief Calleb Dittmar that an officer be fired (South Bend Tribune). Dittmar filed disciplinary charges against Sgt. Ron Whitt late last year for improperly logging hours, failing to report a crash in which he damaged his vehicle and unsafe driving. At a Wednesday meeting of the town council, Dittmar planned to add another charge alleging Whitt improperly searched people in the state's database of driver information. However, Whitt's attorney, Clint A. Zalas, objected to amending the charge, saying the board had to first vote to add the fourth charge to the other three.

CITIES: FORT WAYNE DISCUSSES RIVERFRONT OPTIONS - Close to 200 people attended a public meeting Thursday outlining the progress so far on two upcoming phases of downtown riverfront development (Gong, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Those in attendance Thursday heard from David Rubin, principal and founder of David Rubin Land Collective, the firm contracted to lead the second and third phases of the project. Rubin discussed his firm's vision and guiding principles with the assembled crowd before encouraging the audience to participate in a series of stations designed to hear from residents about what they'd like to see along the riverfront.  “Our goal will be to establish a plan that is financially responsible and capable of being realized,” Rubin said. “If we don't do that, we will have failed.”  Attendees also heard from Mayor Tom Henry, who described Fort Wayne's rivers as a treasure and announced that Promenade Park – the focus of the project's first phase – is expected to open June 21. “On June 21, we will begin a celebration, a celebration of our rivers,” Henry said. “We will open up Promenade Park to all of you, to your friends, your relatives, and in fact to the entire region to let everyone know that we in fact now have realized that our rivers truly are a treasure.”

COUNTIES: ACLU SUES JACKSON OVER NATIVITY SCENE - The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana is suing Jackson County on behalf of a resident who says a Nativity display on the courthouse lawn violates the Constitution (Indiana Public Media). The ACLU filed the lawsuit Dec. 28, shortly after a Madison, Wisconsin-based organization wrote a letter to Jackson County Commissioners asking for the Nativity display to be taken down. According to the lawsuit complaint, resident Rebecca Woodring frequently travels to Brownstown and is "forced to come into direct and unwelcome contact with the display." It says the display is an endorsement of religious belief, which violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The complaint says the county responded to the letter by placing a figure of Santa and carolers near the Nativity display.

COUNTIES: HAMILTON RICHEST; CRAWFORD POOREST - The folks at 24/7 Wall St. crunched the numbers to find the richest and poorest counties in every state (IndyStar). The review used the five-year estimates of median annual household incomes for every county in the country from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey in 2017, as well as the survey's poverty rates, median home values and percentage of adults who have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. Hamilton County boasts a poverty rate of 5 percent and a median household income of $90,582. Unemployment in October was just 2.9 percent. Estimates showed a 12.2 percent increase in population over the past five years, which the report cites as a driving factor in the county's wealth at six times rates of the state's growth. The median home value in Hamilton County is $240,000, which is $110,000 higher than the state average. What is the poorest county in Indiana? The report found only one in every 10 Crawford County adults has a bachelor's degree, where the median household income falls nearly $12,000 below the state average at $40,067. 24/7 Wall St. found the southwestern Indiana county had significantly higher concentration of manufacturing jobs than the average county, noting one in every four workers fell into that line of work. The poverty rate was 3.2 percent higher than the national average at 17.8 percent and had an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent.