SANDERS RISING & INDIANA IMPLICATIONS: Bernie Sanders is rising, and conventional wisdom is that a Democratic nomination of the Vermont Democratic socialist will play right into President Trump's reelection wheelhouse. But look back to the faint echoes of 2016 here in the Hoosier State and that conventional wisdom finds plenty of doubt (Howey Politics Indiana). Sanders catapulted into the Iowa caucus lead in a Des Moines Register/CNN poll with 20% on Friday. In a Monmouth New Hampshire Poll, Mayor Pete had the lead at 20%, with Biden at 19%, Sanders at 18% and Warren at 15%. In that 2016 Indiana primary, both Trump and Sanders were the anti-establishment candidates. Both drew yuuuuge crowds, with Sanders filling Monument Circle with 10,000 followers on primary election eve. Both won their Indiana primary with 53% of the vote and with virtually no support from their party leaders, fueled by stump rhetoric complaining of a "rigged system." Hoosier Republicans eventually warmed up to Trump after he selected Gov. Mike Pence for his ticket in July. When the INGOP put its original Republican National Convention slate together before Pence's ascension, delegates Rex Early and Sullivan County's Bill Springer were the only two Trump delegates. Since Pence was added to the ticket, Indiana has become a "Trump state."  As for Sanders, there has been no discernible Sanders presence on the calcified Indiana Democratic Central Committee. Here was HPI's take on Sanders in the May 5, 2016 edition: "Sanders and Trump are clearly feeding off the same energy." Trump appears to be savoring a Democratic nomination by Sanders, who he will portray as a "socialist," but if there's a case of socialism encroaching on the state, look no further than the farm, where President Trump's $14.5 billion Market Facilitation Program created about 40% of agricultural profits in  2019. The farm bailout is twice the size of President Obama's 2009 rescue of the domestic automakers, which was opposed by then-U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, who urged those manufacturers to recover via traditional bankruptcy.

SANDERS TAKES IOWA LEAD AS PETE FADES: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders leads the Democratic field three weeks ahead of Caucus Day in Iowa — narrowly overtaking his closest competitors, who remain locked in a tight contest just behind him. A new Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll shows 20% of likely Democratic caucusgoers name Sanders as their first choice for president. After a surge of enthusiasm that pushed Pete Buttigieg to the top of the field in November, the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor has faded, falling 9 percentage points to land behind both Sanders and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Warren is at 17%; Buttigieg, 16%; and former Vice President Joe Biden, 15%. “There’s no denying that this is a good poll for Bernie Sanders. He leads, but it’s not an uncontested lead,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, president of Selzer & Co., which conducted the poll. “He’s got a firmer grip on his supporters than the rest of his compatriots.” The poll of 701 likely Democratic caucusgoers was conducted Jan. 2-8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points. Other Democratic candidates — including those banking on a late burst of momentum — failed to gain much ground in the January poll. U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Cory Booker of New Jersey both held steady: Klobuchar at 6% and Booker at 3%. Entrepreneur Andrew Yang grew his support from 3% in November to 5% today.

McDERMOTT LEADS 1ST CD FIELD IN MONEY: Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. appears to have raised more money in the two months since U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Gary, announced his retirement than any of the other Democratic candidates seeking to represent Northwest Indiana in Congress (NWI Times). The five-term leader of Lake County's most populous city tells The Times his Federal Election Commission fundraising report, set to be made public Jan. 31, will show he raised $170,000 from 271 donors between Nov. 6, when he announced his bid, and Dec. 31. McDermott said he was particularly proud that nearly half his donations were under $100, including 72 donors who gave $20.20 in recognition of the 2020 election year. "It's a real good cross-section from Lake and Porter counties," McDermott said. "Every penny counts, and we appreciate all the support. I think next quarter we'll do better than this. I need to have half a million dollars to run the campaign I want to run, so I'm 40% of the way to where I need to be." State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, expects to report donations totaling $100,000. Valparaiso attorney Jim Harper, who ran an unsuccessful 2018 campaign for Indiana secretary of state, said he feels "really good" about raising $80,000 in a multi-candidate field during the six weeks he's been actively campaigning. North Township Trustee Frank J. Mrvan said his FEC report will show he raised $53,916 from 91 donors during the same period as McDermott.

TEACHER PAY DOMINATES TERRE HAUTE LEGISLATIVE CRACKER BARREL: Teacher pay and K-12 public education dominated discussion Saturday morning at the year’s first Legislative Crackerbarrel session at the Vigo County Public Library (Modesitt, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). A standing-room only crowd of nearly 100 people were given the opportunity to discuss concerns with local legislators Tonya Pfaff, Bruce Borders and Bob Heaton after the first week of the 2020 legislative session. Heaton, R-46, said he has little interest in seeing the state do much more than appropriating money to the various school corporations and letting them and the teacher’s collective bargaining units hash out the details from there. “You don’t want the state of Indiana to start saying, ‘OK, Richmond, Indiana, your teachers are going to get paid this and this teacher is going to get paid that,’” Heaton said. “We don’t want to go there. “And when I talk to my colleagues about it, we want to leave it up to the individual school district and elected school boards to make those decisions, not state legislators.” Borders, a staunch fiscal watchdog, said that unless taxpayers want to see property taxes uncapped and again be a burden to the average Hoosier, funding increases should be carefully considered, despite public education’s unquestioned importance. “We have to be careful not to go back to the same scenario we had in the past where we were basically raking taxpayers over the coals,” said Borders, R-45. “... On the same token, I think we have to be cautious for the taxpayers.” Pfaff, D-43, said it’s a problem easily solved if the majority party actually wanted to see it solved. “If they saw this as a crisis it would be dealt with,” Pfaff said.

PELOSI TO SEND IMPEACHMENT ARTICLES TO SENATE: Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Friday she will send the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate next week, ending a heated standoff with Republicans over the terms of the impeachment trial (Politico). "I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the Floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate," Pelosi said in a letter to House Democrats. Pelosi added she will talk to the caucus at their weekly meeting Tuesday morning on “how to proceed further.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — having already secured GOP votes for his preferred trial framework — could start the impeachment trial shortly after he receives the articles.

OBAMACARE ENROLLMENTS DIPS 5% IN INDIANA: Enrollment in health insurance plans offered through the federal Affordable Care Act has fallen by 5% in Indiana, the fifth straight year of declining participation (Francisco, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released data last week showing that 140,931 Hoosiers either selected coverage plans from the federal insurance marketplace or were automatically reenrolled during the open enrollment period in November and December. For a similar period a year earlier, 148,404 Indiana residents chose plans from private insurers. Slightly more than 139,000 ended up paying premiums to obtain coverage. Nationwide enrollment dropped 1.5% from a year ago to about 8.3 million people this year.

TRADE WAR IMPACTS NOT SEVERE: Farmers took a big hit. Importers of auto parts, furniture and machinery choked down punishing tariffs. Investment between the world’s two largest economies tumbled. Yet despite the damage to these trade-related sectors, most of the U.S. economy sailed through two turbulent years of trade war with China with barely a scratch, a review of key economic indicators shows (Wall Street Journal). The outcome is in contrast to warnings in 2018 by those who thought the trade conflict could push the U.S. economy into recession. World Trade Organization leader Roberto Azevêdo warned in March 2018 that tit-for-tat tariffs globally could become an “eye for an eye [that] will leave us all blind and the world in a deep recession.” Still, as the U.S. and China prepare to sign a first-stage trade accord Wednesday, some economists warn that it could take years for the full consequences to be realized—especially with most Chinese imports still subject to U.S. tariffs. “People are wanting to wrap this up in a bow and draw lessons and put this behind us, but I really think it’s way too premature,” said Chad Bown, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a nonpartisan policy outfit.

U.S. PROBE RUSS TARGETING BIDEN: U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials are assessing whether Russia is trying to undermine Joe Biden in its ongoing disinformation efforts with the former vice president still the front-runner in the race to challenge President Donald Trump, according to two officials familiar with the matter (Bloomberg News). The probe comes as senior U.S. officials are warning that Russia’s election interference in 2020 could be more brazen than in the 2016 presidential race or the 2018 midterm election. Part of the inquiry is to determine whether Russia is trying to weaken Biden by promoting controversy over his past involvement in U.S. policy toward Ukraine while his son worked for an energy company there. Trump was impeached by the House and faces a trial in the Senate over his pressure on Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden, the early front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, as well as an unsupported theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election. A Kremlin strategy to undermine Biden would echo its work in 2016, when American intelligence agencies found that Russia carried out a sophisticated operation to damage Democrat Hillary Clinton and ultimately help Trump, according to the officials, who asked not to be identified discussing the sensitive matter.

NO RULES FOR CYBER WAR ENGAGEMENT: The U.S. and Iran may have walked back from the brink of war, but the potential for a cyber battle looms with no clear rules of engagement (The Hill). Lawmakers and military officials say there’s no agreed-upon definition of what constitutes cyber warfare, leaving them to operate on a case-by-case basis on how best to respond to individual incidents. “We've never really gone down the route to define what constitutes an act of war when it comes to cyberattacks,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, told The Hill last week. Sen. Gary Peters (Mich.), the top Democrat on the committee, told reporters it’s an issue that “needs some further attention,” and one that isn’t going away anytime soon. “We’re likely to see this not just with Iran, but in the future you are going to see cyber as one of the main domains of warfare going forward,” Peters said. “So it’s important to try to get our arms around how we would define it.”

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: In 1940 Europe endured the "phony war" before the Blitzkrieg. I get the feeling we're in the cyber equivalent now with Russia and Iran. - Brian A. Howey


PRIMARY FILINGS: Primary filings with the Indiana secretary of state’s office as of Friday: Thomas M. McDermott, Jr., D, CD1;  Scott Costello, D, CD1; Dee Thornton, D, CD5; Christopher (Chris) Magiera, R, CD3;  Matthew (Matt) Hook, R, CD5; Susan Marie Smith, R, CD7;  Bill Dixon , HD22; Dale Basham, R, HD34; Ryan Scott Davis, D, HD33; Jerry Torr, HD39; John C. Ruckelshaus, R, SD30; Aaron Freeman, R, SD32; Jack E. Sandlin, R, SD36.

FORMER LAKE COMMISSIONER SCHEUB SEEKS COMEBACK: If name recognition and memory of public service mean anything in Lake County politics, Gerry Scheub intends to prove it this spring (Dolan, NWI Times). Scheub, of Crown Point, placed his name this week on the May 5 ballot as a Democratic candidate for 2nd District Lake County commissioner. Scheub was county commissioner of that sprawling south county district from 1996 to 2016, and before that he was St. John Township's trustee for 20 years. “I love public service,” Scheub said Friday. “I miss that. I still get up at 6 a.m. ready for work. I still get calls from people who need county government services." Scheub, who is in his early 80s, said he is physically prepared for the rigors of campaigning. “Experience is more important than age,” he said.

Presidential 2020

IOWA CONGRESSMAN ENDORSES BUTTIGIEG: Seven-term Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack (IA-02) announced his endorsement of Pete Buttigieg for president (Howey Politics Indiana). "I'm proud to announce that I'm endorsing Pete Buttigieg to be the next president of the United States,” said Congressman Dave Loebsack. “Pete offers a new kind of leadership that we desperately need –– he's a midwestern mayor, a veteran, and is from a new generation. Iowans and our country face great challenges like climate change, increasing health care costs, and an economy that isn't working for the majority of Americans. They can't be solved with the same political warfare that is on display in Washington. Pete is the candidate that can heal our divides, restore decency to the presidency, and bring this country together. When I introduced Pete to a crowd of more than 1,000 Iowans in Mount Vernon in December, it was clear that his campaign is already inspiring a sense of hope and optimism. With Pete in the Oval Office, I believe our nation will unite and move forward together."

BUTTIGIEG APPEARS BEFORE NEVADA CULINARY UNION: Pete Buttigieg introduced himself to workers from Culinary Union Local 226 in Las Vegas Saturday as part of the union’s presidential candidate town hall series (Las Vegas Review-Journal). The political newcomer did not enjoy the fanfare preceding more experienced candidates their Culinary Union forums, but the crowded union hall embraced Buttigieg’s responses to questions on health care, immigration and war in the Middle East. He opened by crediting the Culinary Union for helping the Nevada State Legislature pass a law restricting surprise emergency room bills, which union members loudly cheered, and ended his remarks with a well-received answer on why he is tough enough to take on President Donald Trump in what union leaders said will be a dirty 2020 presidential election.

BLOOMBERG VOWS TO SPEND 'ALL MY MONEY' TO DEFEAT TRUMP: U.S. presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg told Reuters he is ready to spend much of his vast fortune to oust Republican President Donald Trump from the White House in 2020, rejecting criticism from rivals for the Democratic nomination that the billionaire is trying to buy the U.S. election (Reuters). Ranked by Forbes as the eighth-richest American, Bloomberg has flooded U.S. airwaves and social media feeds with messages that he stands the best chance to beat Trump, spending more on campaign ads since he launched his campaign in November than his main Democratic rivals have over the last year. “Number one priority is to get rid of Donald Trump. I’m spending all my money to get rid of Trump,” Bloomberg told Reuters aboard his campaign bus on Saturday, during a nearly 300-mile (483-km) drive across Texas, one of the 14 states that will vote on Super Tuesday on March 3.

POLL SHOWS 56% DON'T FAVOR TRUMP IRAN POLICY: A majority of respondents in a new poll say they disapprove of the way President Trump is handling Iran amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran (The Hill). Fifty-six percent said they disapprove of Trump’s actions toward Iran, compared to 43 percent who approve, according to the ABC News/Ipsos poll released early Sunday. Almost nine in ten Republicans – 87 percent – back Trump on Iran, while 90 percent of Democrats do not, ABC News noted.

MESSINA WARNS DEMS OF NOMINATING SANDERS: Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign manager is warning that Democrats would struggle in a general election against Donald Trump if Bernie Sanders is the nominee. In an interview with POLITICO, Jim Messina predicted that Trump would exploit Sanders’ stamp of socialism in battleground states needed to defeat Trump, keep control of the House and have a shot at winning the Senate. “If I were a campaign manager for Donald Trump and I look at the field, I would very much want to run against Bernie Sanders,” Messina said. “I think the contrast is the best. He can say, ‘I’m a business guy, the economy’s good and this guy’s a socialist.’ I think that contrast for Trump is likely one that he’d be excited about in a way that he wouldn’t be as excited about Biden or potentially Mayor Pete or some of the more Midwestern moderate candidates.”

Sunday Talk

BOSMA EXPECTS TEACHER PAY PROPOSALS: The fight to increase teacher pay is heating up at the Statehouse. Senate Democrats unveiled their plans Thursday morning while some House Democrats tried to tack the issue onto other bills (CBS4). Several amendments related to teacher pay increases were struck down on the house floor Thursday afternoon. Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said he expects more of them to come this session. “I’m sure we’ll get the chance to debate it,” said Bosma. While teacher pay increases are not on the Republican agenda this session, Gov. Eric Holcomb’s State of the State Address next week is expected to touch on the issue. “The Governor’s proposal is going to be outside of this budget year,” explained Bosma. “So, he is going to propose a future resolution which I think is a very wise one.”

PELOSI WON'T RULE OUT BOLTON TESTIMONY: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday that President Trump is impeached for life regardless of “any gamesmanship” by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), whom she accused of orchestrating a “coverup” of Trump’s actions as the Senate waits for the House to transmit the articles of impeachment. Challenging McConnell to hold a serious trial that includes testimony from witnesses, Pelosi did not rule out the possibility that the House would subpoena former national security adviser John Bolton if the Senate chooses not to. She repeatedly chastised McConnell for signaling that he is not interested in fully weighing the House’s charges. “Dismissing is a coverup. Dismissing is a coverup. If they want to go that route again, the senators who are thinking now about voting for witnesses or not — they will have to be accountable for not having a fair trial,” Pelosi said on ABC News’s “This Week.”

PELOSI SAYS 'EVERY KNOCK IS A BOOST' FROM TRUMP: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday responded to President Trump’s recent attacks on her by saying “every knock from him is a boost.” ABC’s “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos asked Pelosi to react to Trump’s Sunday morning tweet calling her "Crazy Nancy" and telling Stephanopoulos to ask her to justify Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) remarks during the House's impeachment inquiry. “Let me just say, it's Sunday morning, I'd like to talk about some more pleasant subjects than the erratic nature of this president of the United States, but he has to know that every knock from him is a boost,” she said.

PELOSI DOESN'T REGRET IMPEACHMENT DELAY: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she did not regret her decision to delay sending the articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate. ABC’s “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos asked the Speaker on Sunday if she had any “second thoughts” about withholding the articles from the upper chamber. "No, no, no," Pelosi responded, adding that she thought the delay “produced a very positive result” in allowing more unredacted documents to surface and giving former national security adviser John Bolton the opportunity to agree to testify if subpoenaed. She said the withholding the articles helped with “more importantly, raising the profile of the fact that we need to have witnesses and documentation and if we don’t that it's a cover up.”

ESPER DIDN'T SEE IRAN INTEL: Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on Sunday that he did not see intelligence that supported President Trump’s comments that the Iranian commander killed in a U.S. drone strike was plotting attacks against four U.S. embassies. Esper said on CBS's "Face the Nation" that he shared Trump’s view that planning was underway, but did not cite intelligence information he saw to support the claims. “What the president said was he believed there probably and could've been attacks against additional embassies, I shared that view, I know other members of the national security team shared that view, that’s why I deployed thousands of American paratroopers to the Middle East to reinforce our embassy in Baghdad and other sites throughout the region,” Esper said.

WALLACE GRILLS O'BRIEN OVER IRAN CONTRADICTIONS: Fox News’s Chris Wallace on Sunday grilled White House national security adviser  Robert O’Brien on President Trump’s claims that the U.S. killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani to avert an imminent attack on four U.S. embassies, which lawmakers say was never mentioned in a briefing by representatives of the Trump administration. “It does seem to be a contradiction; he’s telling Laura Ingraham [of imminent attacks] but in a 75-minute classified briefing, your top national security people never mentioned this to members of Congress, why not?” Wallace asked O’Brien on “Fox News Sunday.” “I wasn’t at the briefing and I don’t know how the Q&A went back and forth, sometimes it depends on how the questions are asked and how they were phrased,” O’Brien said. “It’s always difficult, even with the exquisite intelligence that we have, to know exactly what the targets are but it’s certainly consistent with the intelligence to assume that they would have hit embassies in at least four countries,” he added.

COONS SAYS TRUMP TOLD FOX MORE THAN PENTAGON DID CONGRESS: Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, on Sunday decried what he called a lack of meaningful information presented to members of Congress about the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, saying President Trump provided more detail in an interview with Fox’s Laura Ingraham. “In the classified briefing, we got less detailed information than President Trump shared with Laura Ingraham,” Coons said on “Fox News Sunday,” adding that administration representatives told members of Congress there was an “imminent threat” and “there was no more detail than that.”

General Assembly

COUNTY CLERKS WORRIED ABOUT EXTENDING VOTE HOURS: County clerks are worried a proposal for extending Indiana’s Election Day voting time by two hours would make it more difficult to find enough poll workers (AP). The bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Tim Wesco of Osceola would change Indiana’s current 6 p.m. closing time to 8 p.m. Kentucky and Hawaii are the only other states with poll closing times that early, Wesco said. The Indiana county clerks association told the House elections committee this past week that a longer Election Day could lead to fewer available poll workers and greater costs in paying them. Supporters of extended voting hours said they believed it could help boost Indiana’s voting turnout that has been among the country’s lowest.

KRUSE WANTS 'IN GOD WE TRUST' POSTERS IN CLASSROOMS: For the second year in a row, state Sen. Dennis Kruse is seeking to enact a law requiring the national motto “In God We Trust” to be plastered in large letters inside Indiana public schools (Pritchett, Statehouse File). Kruse, R-Auburn, told the Senate Education and Career Development Committee Wednesday that it’s important to remind students of the national motto.


VISCLOSKY TO HOLD FINAL TOWN HALLS: U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky will hold his last town forums later this month as he will not be seeking reelection in 2020 (Chicago Tribune). Visclosky, D-Gary, announced in November that he would not seek reelection after 35 years in office. Since the announcement, about a dozen candidates have announced they will run for the seat. The 2020 town forums will be held over two days, Jan. 17 and Jan. 18, throughout Indiana’s First Congressional District, according to a press release. Friday, Jan. 17: 10 a.m., Hammond - United Steelworkers Local 1010 Union Hall, 7047 Grand Ave. Noon, Highland - Wicker Social Center, 2215 Ridge Road. 2 p.m., Schererville - Dyer-Schererville Library, 1001 W. Lincoln Highway. 4 p.m., Crown Point - Bulldog Park, 183 S. West St. 6 p.m., Gary - Indiana University Northwest, 3400 Broadway, Anderson Library LC105. Saturday, Jan. 18 11 a.m., Westville - Purdue University Northwest, Westville Campus, 1401 S. U.S. 421, in the Library of the Student and Faculty Building. 1 p.m., Portage - Woodland Park, 2100 Willowcreek Road. 3 p.m., Lake Station - Lake Station City Hall, 1969 Central Ave.

HOLLINGSWORTH LAUDS JOBS REPORT: U.S. employers added 145,000 jobs in December to close out 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been looking for job growth of 160,000 (Inside Indiana Business). The report also shows the unemployment rate held steady at 3.5%, and even lower in Indiana at 3.2%. “We have a great situation in Indiana where unemployment is lower than the national unemployment rate,” said Congressman Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN), who serves the 9th congressional district. “I think that this is another positive report, especially coming off of the huge report last month.” The November jobs report showed 266,000 hires. Ball State University economist Michael Hicks says that number was “clouded” by the fact that General Motors union workers returned to work following their 6-week-long strike.

REP. PENCE VOTES V. WAR RESOLUTION: Rep. Greg Pence, R-Indiana, voted against a resolution asserting that President Donald Trump must seek approval from Congress before engaging in further military action against Iran. Pence criticized the House measure as “ill-timed” and “reckless political theatre” (East, Columbus Republic) “The War Powers resolution is ill-timed and reckless political theatre from @SpeakerPelosi with the sole purpose of undermining Commander-in-Chief @realDonaldTrump,” Pence tweeted on Thursday. “A resolution like this emboldens our enemies and sends the wrong message to our armed forces abroad.”


REVENUE: UP OVER 1% FOR DECEMBER - General Fund revenues for December totaled $1,531.4 million, which is $15.7 million (1.0%) above estimate based on the December 20, 2019 revised revenue forecast and $57.7 million (3.9%) above revenue in December 2018 (Howey Politics Indiana). Overall, slightly higher than expected monthly collections from sales and use,individual income and corporate taxes and other sources such as interest revenues combined to drive General Fund revenues above current year estimates and prior year actuals both on a monthly and fiscal year-to-date basis. Significant monthly fluctuations are expected and revenues are better interpreted within the context of the longer term trend for fiscal year 2020 as April and June are by far the months with the most revenue activity.

• Sales tax collections totaled $686.9 million for December, which is $3.6 million (0.5%) above the monthly estimate and $13.9 million (2.1%) above revenue in December 2018. While it is difficult to identify the specific impact of the state enforcement of the recent changes in the taxation of remote sales on the fiscal year-to-date tax collections, revenues from remote sellers are included in the year to date collections. Revenue collections attributable to compliance from marketplace facilitators contribute to the growth relative to prior year actuals.

• Individual income tax collections totaled $512.1 million for December, which is $3.8 million (0.8%) above the monthly estimate and $23.7 million (4.8%) above revenue in December 2018. As April will be the month with the most individual income tax collections, comparisons relative to actuals and prior year will likely be better interpreted in the upcoming months.

• Corporate tax collections totaled $177.2 million for December, which is $4.0 million (2.3%) above the monthly estimate and $3.2 million (1.9%) above revenue in December 2018. Notably, corporate refunds have come in below current year estimates and below prior year actuals both on a monthly and fiscal year-to-date basis.

• Riverboat wagering collections totaled $25.7 million for December, which is $0.6 million (2.2%) below the monthly estimate but $1.3 million (5.2%) above revenue in December 2018.

• Racino wagering collections totaled $8.5 million for December, which is $0.8 million (8.2%) below the monthly estimate.

IDEM: STEELMAKERS DENIES MANIPULATING DATA - An Indiana steelmaker has denied allegations of manipulating results from toxic readings required after a chemical spill killed more than 3,000 fish last year (AP). State regulators said that ArcelorMittal’s steel plant in Burns Harbor is redoing daily ammonia and cyanide tests and sending the lower score to regulators, according to the Post-Tribune. In a statement, ArcelorMittal denied the Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s allegations. “ArcelorMittal (Burns Harbor) does not manipulate data,” spokesman Bill Steers said in the statement. “We use certified, independent laboratories to analyze samples and we report the data, including any corrected data, from the labs to the regulatory agencies consistent with industry and laboratory standards.”

EDUCATION: IU TO CELEBRATE BICENTENNIAL - Indiana University officials plan to toast the school’s bicentennial later this month with the dedication of a new supercomputer, the inaugural chiming of a rare collection of bells and a speech by Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis (AP). The university’s Day of Commemoration events are scheduled for Jan. 20, the 200th anniversary of former Indiana Gov. Jonathan Jennings’ signing of a bill that led to the school’s founding in 1820. All three events are part of a day-long slate of activities to mark the date, including the unveiling of a replica of a giant ground sloth skeleton once housed on the school’s Bloomington campus. “We’re starting in the morning and going through the evening hours,” Jeremy Hackerd, project manager in the Indiana University Office of the Bicentennial, told The (Bloomington) Herald-Times.

EDUCATION: IVY TECH ALLIANCE WITH McDONALD'S - McDonald’s restaurants and Ivy Tech Community College across Indiana have launched an alliance to make college more affordable and offer training for the workforce that will be shared at more than 300 McDonald’s locations and 18 Ivy Tech campuses with 40 sites (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Through McDonald’s Archways to Opportunity program, restaurant employees who work a minimum of 90 days at 15 hours per week will be eligible for tuition assistance of up to $2,500 per year as a crew member and up to $3,000 per year as a manager. Ivy Tech will offer “crosswalk credits” to McDonald’s restaurant employees for some on-the-job training and classes, plus individualized counseling – allowing them to earn a degree faster.

AGRICULTURE: SOYBEAN ALLIANCE ELECTS RODIBAUGH - The Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA) board of directors have elected David Rodibaugh of Rensselaer, Ind., as the board’s chair for 2020. Rodibaugh served as ISA vice chair in 2019 (Hoosier Ag Today). Rodibaugh grows soybeans and corn, plus he manages a farrow-to-finish hog farm in Jasper County, Ind. Joe Tuholski, who was the 2019 ISA chair, was elected as the new chair of the ISA Marketing and Communications Committee. Tuholski raises soybeans, corn, seed corn, alfalfa and wheat on his farm in LaPorte and St. Joseph counties near Mill Creek, Ind.


WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP WARNS IRAN - President Trump in an early morning tweet on Sunday called on Iranian leaders to halt their crackdown on protesters (The Hill). “To the leaders of Iran - DO NOT KILL YOUR PROTESTERS. Thousands have already been killed or imprisoned by you, and the World is watching. More importantly, the USA is watching. Turn your internet back on and let reporters roam free!" Trump tweeted. "Stop the killing of your great Iranian people!”

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP'S ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES WILL HURT MINORITIES - President Trump's proposed overhaul of a bedrock environmental law aims to streamline project reviews, but those changes are likely to hit minority communities and those with high poverty rates the hardest, experts warn (The Hill). The White House on Thursday detailed a sweeping proposal to revamp the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) which requires environmental reviews for big proposed projects like highways or pipelines, as well as when polluting industries plan to discharge into the air or water. The changes eyed by the Trump administration would limit the scope of the environmental analysis required for such projects, including allowing greater industry involvement in environmental reviews and diminishing the role climate change plays in those assessments. “The most vulnerable communities are going to pay with lives and their health. They always have,” said Mustafa Santiago Ali with the National Wildlife Federation, who was previously a senior advisor for environmental justice at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “Moving forward with this is reckless and will endanger the lives of black and brown communities and indigenous communities. It’s really that simple.”

WHITE HOUSE: HAMILTON SEES DANGEROUS PERIOD WITH IRAN - Joe Hren: What do you expect to see come out Iran in the near future? (Indiana Public Media). Lee Hamilton: First I think we're in a very uncertain period, a very dangerous period. A miscalculation, heated rhetoric, some event could happen that would push us towards war. The good news at the moment is that both parties seemed to have stepped back away from confrontation, how long that will last is anybody's guess. From where I sit, it seems to me the next move is Iran's and they could choose to quiet things down, deescalate or they could ratchet it up. I think the decision at the moment is to deescalate the violence, let's hope it stays that way. But I think what happens depends on what the leadership of Iran wants to achieve. Now so far as we are concerned it is not clear to me what our policy is with respect to Iran.

STATE: U.S. WARNS IRAQ OVER TROOPS - The Trump administration warned Iraq this week that it risks losing access to a critical government bank account if Baghdad kicks out American forces following the U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian general, according to Iraqi officials (Wall Street Journal). The State Department warned that the U.S. could shut down Iraq’s access to the country’s central bank account held at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a move that could jolt Iraq’s already shaky economy, the officials said.

PENTAGON: SAUDI TRAINEES MAY BE SENT HOME - At least a dozen Saudi military trainees in the United States could be sent back to their home country after an FBI investigation found connections to extremist rhetoric, possession of child pornography, and a failure by a small number of people to report alarming behavior by the gunman who killed three people last month at a Pensacola, Fla., military base, according to people familiar with the matter (Washington Post). Federal law enforcement and military officials are preparing to announce developments in the case in a matter of days. The FBI has been treating the shooting as a terrorist incident, particularly after discovering an anti-American screed posted by the gunman just before the December shooting, according to the people familiar with the matter. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss decisions by government officials.

LABOR: U.S. JOBLESS RATE 3.5% -  U.S. employers added 145,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate held steady at 3.5%, signaling that the job market remains strong at the start of 2020 even if hiring and wage gains have slowed somewhat more than a decade into an economic expansion (AP). Friday's snapshot from the Labor Department showed hiring slipped from robust gains of 256,000 in November, which were given a boost by the end of a strike at General Motors. For the year, employers added an average of roughly 175,000 jobs per month, compared with about 223,250 per month in 2018. Annual wage growth fell in December to 2.9%, down from an annualized average of 3.3% a year earlier, a possible sign that some slack remains in the labor market and that unemployment could fall even further from its current half-century low.


MICHIGAN CITY: BLACKS TAKE COUNCIL LEADERSHIP - For the first time in history, the Michigan City Common Council is majority-black and has all-black leadership (Michigan City News-Dispatch). At its meeting Tuesday, Fourth Ward Councilman Sean Fitzpatrick unseated Councilman At-Large Don Przybylinski as president by a 6-3 vote, split along racial lines. Third Ward Councilman Michael Mack was elected vice president, beating Second Ward Councilman Paul Przybylinski by a 6-3 vote, again split again along racial lines. Fitzpatrick also appointed Councilwoman At-Large Angie Nelson-Deuitch to serve as parliamentarian. “I’m truly humbled to be selected by my council peers as president of this council,” Fitzpatrick said Thursday, “and I have full confidence that we will be able to work with the new administration to ensure the residents of Michigan City are well-represented and their tax dollars are managed responsibly. I’m excited about the next four years.”

INDIANAPOLIS: IPS SEEKS TO CONTROL 3 STATE SCHOOLS - Indianapolis Public Schools is revealing its plan to take back control of three of its schools currently run by the state (WRTV). The Indiana State Board of Education will vote Wednesday on whether or not it will return the three schools back over to IPS after a state takeover in 2012. IPS announced its intentions for each school at a meeting Saturday night. On the south side, Emma Donnan Middle School will be run by either Phalen Leadership Academy or Adelante Charter Schools, Manual High School will be turned into a Providence Cristo Rey charter and, on the east side, Howe High School will close its doors for good. IPS leaders said this plan has been years in the making. "A couple years ago we closed 3 of our public high schools, merged from seven to four and we had made a statement that if these high schools were returned to us, we were not going to reopen them as our high schools," IPS school board president Michael O'Connor said.

INDIANAPOLIS: FIRE DAMAGES KOUNTRY KITCHEN - The Indianapolis Fire Department is investigating a two-alarm fire early Saturday morning on downtown’s near-north side at Kountry Kitchen Soul Food Place, a landmark eatery for the city’s black community (IBJ). The restaurant at 1831 N. College Ave. sustained significant damage but no injuries were reported. It was not immediately clear how operation of the restaurant would be affected.

BLOOMINGTON: HERALD-TIMES MOVING PRINTING TO INDY - The Bloomington Herald-Times is moving all of its printing and production operations to Indianapolis (Wittmeyer, Indiana Public Media). According to a story in the paper, management made the announcement this morning. The decision will result in layoffs. General Manager Larry Hensley was quoted in the Herald-Times saying it was a financial decision and necessary to sustain the future of the paper. “This was not an easy decision at all, and in no way a reflection on the dedicated and talented staff that have produced our newspapers for so many years," Hensley said. Gannett, which now owns the newspaper, operates a printing facility in Indianapolis. In addition to printing the Herald-Times, the Bloomington press also currently prints the Indiana Daily Student and several community newspapers in the Hoosier Times newspaper group.

ELKHART COUNTY: SHERIFF AGREES TO HOLD ICE INMATES - The Elkhart County Jail will hold detained immigrants for up to 72 hours, rather than the previous limit of 48 hours, following a request from U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement, Sheriff Jeff Siegel announced Thursday (Elkhart Truth). Siegel, in a statement, said he has allowed an amendment to the existing contract with the U.S. Marshals Service to hold no more than two individuals at a time up to 72 hours.

LaPORTE COUNTY: SUCCESS TO TAKING WEAPONS OFF STREETS - A continuing effort to get illegal firearms off the street, started in response to a rash of violence in the Michigan City area in late 2018, led to the seizure of more than 50 illegal weapons last year (Michigan City News-Dispatch). The La Porte County Drug Task Force on Thursday announced that its officers seized 52 illegally possessed handguns in 2019 through joint operations with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearm and Explosives; and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The Drug Task Force is comprised of investigators from the La Porte County Sheriffs Office, Michigan City Police Department and La Porte Police Department, along with assigned agents from ATF and DEA, according to MCPD Lt. Tim Richardson, commander of the unit. The La Porte County Prosecutor’s Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Bend assisted in many of the cases.