HOLCOMB SAYS FUTURE IS NOW IN SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS: Gov. Eric Holcomb, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and Attorney General Todd Rokita were quietly sworn in Monday morning at the Indiana State Museum due to the pandemic (Howey Politics Indiana). Holcomb said, "Upon taking his oath for a second time, my favorite President, Abraham Lincoln, said that there is 'less on occasion for an extended address as there was at the first.' In his second inaugural, even as as he focused on the issues of slavery and the Civil War, Lincoln rightly looked to the future. At this moment, our moment, even knowing full well the awful toll of COVID-19 and acknowledging that we are still in its deadly grip, it's important to now, look to the future, a future for our state and our citizens that I believe is filled with hope and opportunity. So we will remain laser focused on managing our way through the pandemic and rolling out the vaccines with all the energy and resources our administration has. I will further up what we are doing in my State of the State address just next week. But I'm reminded that in the midst of that Civil War, the United States was constructing the first trans-continental railroad, even as the country was tearing itself apart, we were binding ourselves in ways that proved far more meaningful and durable." He added, "We are steadily clawing our way back. For Indiana, the future is now." Also sworn in was Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, who said, "Let us commit ourselves to the idea that we can and will make a difference if we act with purpose and conviction. And let us not look back on our days with regret, but with the knowledge that we continued a legacy of leadership that will make Hoosiers more proud and more prosperous than ever before."

 

FBI WARNS ARMED DEMONSTRATIONS AT 50 STATE CAPITOLS: The FBI is warning of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitols and in Washington in the days leading up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, stoking fears of more bloodshed after last week's deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol (AP). An internal FBI bulletin warned that, as of Sunday, the nationwide protests may start later this week and extend through Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, according to two law enforcement officials who read details of the memo to The Associated Press. Investigators believe some of the people are members of some extremist groups, the officials said. The bulletin was first reported by ABC. “Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the U.S. Capitol from 17 January through 20 January,” the bulletin said, according to one official. The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

 

TRUMP, PENCE MEET; 25TH WON'T BE INVOKED: Vice President Mike Pence signaled he’ll spurn demands to immediately oust Donald Trump over a deadly riot by the president’s supporters as the two met and agreed to work together for the remainder of the term, according to a senior administration official. The discussion adds to indications that Trump has no plans to resign before Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration (Bloomberg News). It was the first time Trump and Pence have spoken since the president’s supporters stormed the Capitol while Pence was presiding over formal affirmation of his re-election defeat, according to two people familiar with the matter. The two men, meeting in the Oval Office, agreed that people who broke into the Capitol don’t represent Trump’s “America First” movement and pledged to continue their work on behalf of the country for the remainder of their term, the official said. It was a good conversation in which Trump and Pence discussed the week ahead and reflected on the last four years of the administration’s work, the official added. Pence was initially furious at Trump after hundreds of the president’s supporters breached the Capitol last Wednesday, disrupting the count of Electoral College votes and causing the vice president and lawmakers to flee the House and Senate chambers. The episode raised the prospect that Pence might act to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, which allows the vice president and a majority of the cabinet to remove the president from office -- a move encouraged by Democratic members of Congress. But Pence has privately dismissed the idea as not feasible, according to one person familiar with the matter.

 

ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY SEC WOLF QUITS: Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is stepping down from his post, days after criticizing President Donald Trump over the riot at the U.S. Capitol (AP). Wolf said in a message to staff that he would step down at 11:59 p.m. Monday, even though he had earlier said he planned to remain in his job. He said Pete Gaynor, who ran the Federal Emergency Management Agency, would become the acting homeland security secretary. The resignation comes a day before Trump is set to visit the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Last week, Wolf asked Trump and all elected officials to “strongly condemn the violence” that took place at the Capitol. Five people died, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer.

 

TRUMP BLAMES ANTIFA FOR CAPITOL MAGA RIOT: President Trump  privately — and falsely — blamed "Antifa people" for storming the Capitol, even though clear video and documentary evidence exists showing the rioters were overwhelmingly Trump supporters, Axios' Jonathan Swan reports. Despite facing an impeachment vote for an assault he helped incite, the outgoing president is still sticking with his tried-and-true playbook of deflecting and reaching for conspiracies. In a tense, 30-minute-plus phone call this morning with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Trump trotted out the Antifa line. McCarthy would have none of it, telling the president: "It's not Antifa, it's MAGA. I know. I was there," according to a White House official and another source familiar with the call. The White House official said the call was tense and aggressive at times, with Trump ranting about election fraud and an exasperated McCarthy cutting in to say, "Stop it. It's over. The election is over."

 

TRUMP ABDICATES JOB HE FOUGHT SO HARD FOR:  President Donald Trump’s days in office are numbered. But he’s already stopped doing much of his job. In the last three weeks, a bomb went off in a major city and the president said nothing about it. The coronavirus surged to horrifying new levels of illness and death in the U.S. without Trump acknowledging the awful milestones (AP). A violent mob incited by the president’s own words chanted for Mike Pence’s lynching at the U.S. Capitol and Trump made no effort to reach out to his vice president. Trump only belatedly ordered flags flown at half-staff to honor an officer who gave his life defending the Capitol, and couldn’t be bothered to describe the officer’s actions. The transgressions, big and small — of norms, of leadership, of human decency — cast a pall over his final days in office, and, in the view of even close advisers speaking privately, have indelibly stained his legacy. A half-dozen current administration officials expressed dismay at the president’s action’s in recent weeks, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they are still working for Trump. “Even after losing the election, President Trump had the opportunity to leave the White House with his head held high, celebrating achievements like the COVID-19 vaccine, progress in the Middle East, and the vibrant pre-pandemic economy fueled by tax reform,” said GOP operative Michael Steel, a onetime aide to former House Speaker John Boehner. “Instead, he chose to wallow in delusion and grievance, and — as a result — the defining images of his presidency will be a bloody, murderous mob looting the cathedral of our democracy, the United States Capitol,” Steel said.

 

RAGA MADE ROBO CALLS FOR CAPITOL INSURRECTION: An organization linked to the group responsible for robocalls urging recipients to march on the US Capitol last week gave more than $1 million to Hoosiers seeking office in 2020 (Turner, Indiana Public Media). The Republican Attorneys General Association’s Action Fund provided $944,600 to Todd Rokita’s recent AG campaign. Rokita was sworn into office Monday. His campaign spokesman declined an interview, but insisted Rokita had no involvement or knowledge of the calls. First reported by the watchdog group Documented, the Rule of Law Defense Fund placed calls urging recipients to “stop the steal.” “At one o’clock p.m. we will march to the Capitol Building and call on Congress to stop the steal,” the recording stated. “We are hoping patriots like you will join us to continue the fight to protect the integrity of our election.”

 

15K NATIONAL GUARD TROOPS WILL BE IN DC NEXT WEEK: Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday urged Americans to avoid the city during President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration next week and to participate virtually following last week's deadly domestic terror attack on the US Capitol (CNN). Meanwhile, the National Guard has plans to have up to 15,000 National Guard troops to meet current and future requests for the inauguration, Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Monday. The dramatic increase in troops comes as law enforcement in the nation's capital and around the country brace for further extremist violence amid the transition of power.

 

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FINALLY GIVES BIDEN TO PANDEMIC ACCESS: The Trump administration this week will give Biden transition officials their first direct access to certain regular meetings tied to the government's coronavirus vaccine development effort, Operation Warp Speed, a senior administration official told POLITICO. The invite to those meetings comes after POLITICO reported that the Biden team had been denied access to standing meetings on the pandemic response, hampering its planning efforts. The sessions are typically focused on a range of Covid-19 initiatives, including vaccine distribution, therapeutics and manufacturing and supply issues. The Biden team was receiving regular briefings on those meetings, the senior administration official said, but have not actually attended any.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: With eight days left of the Trump presidency, impeachment articles will be introduced in the House on Wednesday, where passage is likely. The only question is whether it will pick up any Republican support. It will die in the Senate. Sound familiar? - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

HUPFER COMMENTS ON HOLCOMB INAUGURATION: Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer issued the following statement on today’s inauguration ceremony of Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, and Attorney General Todd Rokita (Howey Politics Indiana): “I couldn’t be more optimistic for Indiana’s future as Governor Holcomb and Lt. Governor Crouch take the oath of office for a second term. Their commitment to Hoosiers is unwavering and their unifying vision of One Indiana For All is one we can all rally behind. I also am glad that Todd Rokita has assumed the office of Attorney General of Indiana. He will be a good partner to the Governor and Republican supermajorities in the legislature as he protects and defends the laws of Indiana.”

 

INDEMS CALL FOR PHONE CALLS TO MEMBERS: The Indiana Democratic Party called on Hoosiers who were disgusted and heartbroken from last week’s domestic terrorist attack at the U.S. Capitol to call their Members of Congress and demand they vote to impeach President Donald Trump for inciting an insurrection against the United States (Howey Politics Indiana). “U.S. Senator Mike Braun and four Members of Congress claim Hoosiers told them to overturn American democracy and incite a public campaign to discredit the 2020 presidential election results -- and the Indiana Democratic Party is calling their bluff,” said John Zody, Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party. “We’re asking all Hoosiers regardless of political affiliation to call their representatives and demand they hold President Trump accountable for inciting insurrection against the United States. Hoosiers expect their elected officials to uphold and respect the U.S. Constitution and American democracy, values many in the Indiana GOP willingly broke last week.”

 

CORPORATIONS PULLING GOP DONATIONS: The breakup between the business world and the Republican Party is rapidly accelerating in the wake of last week’s deadly pro-Trump riot at the Capitol, posing a serious financial threat to the party just as it’s being stripped of power in Washington (Politico). Ten major companies so far, including some of the biggest corporate givers in politics, have decided to withhold contributions to Republican lawmakers who objected to the certification of the Electoral College votes, and dozens more are stopping all of their political donations after the riot. Hallmark, MasterCard and American Express — all of whom doled out most of their political contributions to Republicans during the 2020 election cycle — announced Monday they were cutting off Republicans who challenged the election results. So too has Dow, the chemical company, and Blue Cross Blue Shield, the health insurance giant whose political action committee has favored Republicans in every election since 1996.

 

Presidential 2020

 

LAW ENFORCEMENT WILL BE READY FOR BIDEN INAUGURATION: This time, they’ll be ready. The inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden will be held on the same risers in the same spot at the U.S. Capitol where a violent, pro-Trump mob descended last week. But the two events aren’t even comparable from a security standpoint, said Michael Plati, U.S. Secret Service special agent in charge, who is leading the inauguration security (AP). The inauguration is designated as a “national special security event,” which clears the way for communication, funding and preparation between multiple agencies in Washington, like the Capitol Police, Pentagon, Homeland Security and District-area police. Other such events are the State of the Union, the Super Bowl and the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

 

BIDEN TO UNVEIL PANDEMIC PLANS ON THURSDAY: President-elect Joe Biden is set to unveil a sweeping coronavirus vaccination plan on Thursday, calling the nationwide distribution effort his "number one priority" (Politico). The plan, which Biden teased on Monday, will serve as the incoming administration's roadmap to quickly vaccinating millions of Americans amid frustration over the slow rollout of the initial doses. "Three thousand to 4,000 people a day dying is just beyond the pale, it's just wrong," Biden said Monday after receiving his second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. "And we can do a lot to change it."

 

BIDEN GETS SECOND VACCINE: Joe Biden on Monday received the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on camera, as part of an effort by the President-elect's incoming administration to reassure the country of the safety of the vaccines (AP). Biden was administered the shot in his left arm by Ric Cuming, chief nurse executive at ChristianaCare's Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware, according to Biden's transition team. The President-elect said he would be announcing his plan to "get the entire Covid operation up and running," including the necessary costs, on Thursday. Biden said he had a meeting with members of his team later Monday afternoon.

 

BIDEN NOT AFRAID TO TAKE OATH OUTSIDE: President-elect Joe Biden says he’s "not afraid" to take the oath of office outside during his inauguration next week (Fox News). Biden’s comments come less than a week after the Capitol – where the Jan. 20 inauguration will take place – was attacked by a large mob of supporters of President Trump. "I'm not afraid of taking the oath outside," Biden told reporters in his home state of Delaware after receiving the second of two coronavirus vaccine injections on Monday. "And we’ve been getting briefed."

 

BIDEN, FORMER PRESIDENTS TO LAY WREATH AT TOMB: In keeping with the theme of unity, the Biden/Harris inaugural committee also announced that after he is officially inaugurated, Joe Biden, Vice President-elect Harris and their spouses will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, and will be joined there by former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and their wives (Politico Playbook).

 

General Assembly

 

STATEHOUSES ACROSS NATION STEP UP SECURITY: State capitols across the nation stepped up security Monday, deploying National Guard units, SWAT teams and extra police officers while several legislatures convened amid heightened safety concerns following last week’s violence at the U.S. Capitol (AP). The protections came as the FBI issued a bulletin warning of plans for armed protests at all 50 state capitals and in Washington ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee activated hundreds of National Guard troops to help state police keep order at the state Capitol. At least two people were arrested, including a man who tried to walk past authorities as lawmakers were to begin their session and shouted: “I have every right to witness this.” At the Georgia Capitol, a state patrol SWAT team walked the perimeter wearing fatigues and carrying rifles while lawmakers gathered inside for the start of a two-year term. State troopers were stationed throughout the Iowa Capitol for opening day as more than 200 people opposing coronavirus mask mandates chanted “freedom” during a peaceful rally.

 

2 SCHOOL FUNDING BILLS UNDERWAY: Indiana lawmakers are working on identical COVID-related bills to secure funding for schools during the pandemic (Brownlee, WANE-TV). Due to the circumstances of the pandemic, traditional in-person schools are in the position of having to offer virtual courses, which is pushing them into the virtual category. Currently, schools that are considered “virtual” are reimbursed at a lower rate compared to schools with traditional in-person learning. Prior to the pandemic, if a student received 50 percent or more of his or her education virtually, the school district would receive only 85 percent – essentially a 15 percent cut in funding. “These in-person schools have facilities and infrastructure where the cost doesn’t go away,” explained Representative Hal Slager (R-15th District). “The teachers are still doing their job, in fact now they have to make sure they are covering the virtual instruction as well as the in-person instruction.” House Bill 1003 was authored by Rep. Slager and Senate Bill 02 was authored by Senator Jeff Raatz (R-27th District). Both bills clarify and codify Governor Eric Holcomb’s executive order to continue funding schools this term. Without these bills, K-12 schools could lose up to $164 million. “That’s a lot of money, 85% versus 100%,” said Representative Dave Heine (R-85th District). “This takes the stress off the table, stress off of the teachers. They know they are going to be fully funded.”

 

CHARTER SCHOOLS PUSH FOR MORE FUNDING: Nearly two decades after the first charter schools opened in Indiana, a years-long campaign to increase their funding is gaining momentum in the state legislature (McCoy, Chalkbeat). Charter schools enroll about 44,000 Indiana children, including nearly 20% of Indianapolis public school students. But the schools miss out on about $3,300 per student in local funding because they don’t get the property tax money that traditional districts use to pay for buildings, transportation, and technology. That long-standing gap grows when districts successfully pass referendums to increase property taxes, which can be used to foot the bill for higher teacher pay. Charter advocates have been making a case for more than a year for lawmakers to give the schools more money, arguing the independent public schools serve a disproportionate share of students from low-income families. “I believe that there is a broad recognition of the need here,” said former Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson, who leads Hoosiers for Great Public Schools, a political action committee that donated about $250,000 to state politicians in 2020.

 

SEN. BECKER IN QUARANTINE: Sen. Vaneta Becker's (R-Evansville) has had close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 while she was away from the Statehouse (Howey Politics Indiana). She has not had contact with any members of the General Assembly or General Assembly staff since the exposure. She will be quarantining at home per CDC guidelines and will be tested for COVID-19.

 

FREEMAN BILL WOULD EXTEND CHILD SEX ABUSE TIME: A state senator has filed legislation that would remove the statute of limitations for victims of child sexual abuse to file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator or other responsible parties (WRTV). Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis, filed Senate Bill 135 which has been assigned to the senate judiciary committee. Currently, child sexual abuse victims have seven years from their 18th birthday or seven years from the time they discover the abuse to file a civil lawsuit.

 

SMITH BILL WOULD ESTABLISH SAME-DAY VOTE REGISTRATION: State Rep. Vernon G. Smith (D-Gary) today announced he is introducing a bill during the 2021 legislative session that would permit same-day voter registration. HB 1301 would allow voters to register at the polls on the day of an election, providing they have not voted elsewhere and show an I.D. and proof of residence (Howey Politics Indiana). "We need to begin removing the harmful barriers that discourage people from exercising their right to vote," Smith said. "There is strong evidence that same-day registration increases voter turnout. The more people we have participating in our democratic process, the better." Over time, same-day registration can increase voter turnout by three to seven points. It positively impacts turnout among younger voters, who often find the process more convenient.

 

McNAMARA INTRODUCES HUMAN TRAFFICKING BILL: Monday is National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, and Indiana State Rep. Wendy McNamara has authored a new bill that could help victims of human trafficking (WFIE-TV). It’s called House Bill 1200. McNamara tells us this bill if passed, could fill some of the gaps in the legal process for human trafficking victims. Many of those victims are children, and McNamara says this bill would modify the definition of a “protected person” for those less than 14 years old, allowing more time to process what happened for purposes of an admission statement or videotape from those individuals.

 

SENATE BILL SEEKS PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE:  Indiana is already known as the Crossroads of America, but a new bill introduced in the State Senate could be the first step at also making The Hoosier State home to the 'crossrails' of America (WRTV). "We think we need to increase rail passenger service in Indiana because it's often times less money than an airplane," said Senator Dennis Kruse. Indiana Senate Bill 9 proposed by the Republican Senator from Fort Wayne would establish the Indiana Passenger Rail Commission, an official government entity with legal authority to lay the groundwork for a passenger rail system, which would give Hoosiers another option to get around. "We'd like to connect the major cities. It would be ideal to have Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, and Evansville, and Louisville, Indianapolis, and Chicago. And we've got the South Shore going across the top already," Kruse said.

 

BILL WOULD BAN LGBTQ CONVERSION THERAPY: Two Democrats have introduced proposals to ban conversion therapy in Indiana (WRTV). Conversion therapy, according to GLAAD, is an attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Dozens of medical organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and the World Health Organization have denounced conversion therapy. Sen. JD Ford, D-Indianapolis, and Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, have introduced similar bills in both chambers to ban the practice in Indiana. "Putting a stop to this harmful and detrimental practice can save the lives of countless LGBTQ Hoosiers,” Ford said. “Our state has the chance to end this harmful and detrimental practice this year. A person's sexual orientation or gender identity is not a disease that needs cured.” A similar bill was filed in the 2019 session, but it didn’t get a hearing.

 

SUICIDE PREVENTION BILL ADVANCES: Data shows one in five Indiana teenagers have seriously considered taking their own life, according to the Indiana Center for Prevention of Youth Abuse and Suicide (CBS4). That number is only expected to increase during this pandemic. “I think this COVID era makes it even worse,” said Senate Bill 19 author State Sen. Jon Ford, of Terre Haute. “Kids are feeling isolated, they are home alone, they are not in their networks of friends, and I’m really concerned about the mental health of our kids.” Ford’s bill passed out of committee Monday morning 7-2.

 

POPCORN PROPOSED AS STATE SNACK; PASSES SENATE PANEL: It perhaps says something about Hoosier eating habits that Indiana does not have a recognized state fruit or state vegetable, but this year could get an officially designated state snack (Carden, NWI Times). The Senate Agriculture Committee voted 7-0 Monday in favor of legislation designating popcorn grown in Indiana as the official state snack. State Sen. Ron Grooms, R-Jeffersonville, sponsor of Senate Bill 97, said popcorn is the perfect state snack because Indiana grows more popcorn than any state other than Nebraska, and popcorn grown in Indiana is highly sought after in foreign countries. "It creates a lot of conversation and it's a good way to market Indiana," Grooms said of his proposal.

 

REP. PACK IBLC TREASURER: State Rep. Renee Pack (D-Indianapolis) announced she will serve as treasurer for the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) during the 2021 Legislative Session (Howey Politics Indiana). The IBLC aims to develop policies and pass laws that positively impact minority communities across the State of Indiana. "I am honored to serve as treasurer of the IBLC during this upcoming legislative session," Pack said. "I look forward to working with the other members of the IBLC as we advance legislation that will create lasting change in our communities.

 

Congress

 

HOUSE TO CONSIDER IMPEACHMENT ON WEDNESDAY: Democrats say the House will consider the impeachment of President Donald Trump on Wednesday, one week after an angry mob of his supporters invaded the Capitol (AP). House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told Democrats on a call Monday that members should plan to return to Washington on Tuesday evening to consider a House resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke constitutional authority to remove Trump from office. That resolution is expected to pass, but Pence is unlikely to act.Hoyer says the House will then consider impeachment on Wednesday.

 

McCARTHY FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL: His admonition of Trump notwithstanding, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is under siege, raising challenges to his best-laid plans for becoming House speaker (Axios). The California Republican had been ready to vault out of the minority at the 2022 midterms. But now he finds his fundraising challenged, his links to Trump toxic and a tricky impeachment environment to navigate. While some in the House Republican caucus broke ranks with the president following his incitement of the riot, that's no easy feat for McCarthy. He, more than any other Republican leader, has personally tied himself to Donald Trump during the past four years. A huge part of his success as House minority leader has been because Trump — who has dotingly referred to him as “my Kevin” — and his base have had his back. McCarthy and his team are worried because the sprint to the midterms begins now.

 

2 CAPITOL COPS SUSPENDED; 10-15 UNDER PROBE: Two Capitol Police officers have been suspended and another person has been arrested for their alleged involvement in the riot on Jan. 6, said Rep. Tim Ryan, who is chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee handling the investigation into the police response to the Capitol attack last week (CNN). “I know that there were two people that were suspended,” Ryan said during a press call. “One was the selfie officer and another was an officer that put a MAGA hat on that started directing some people around,” the lawmaker said. Ryan confirmed that there are approximately 10 to 15 Capitol Police officers under investigation for their behavior during the riot, but he did not have specific details.

 

YOUNG SOUGHT TO SHIELD SENS. COLLINS, MURKOWSKI: Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., moved to protect two of his fellow senators during Wednesday’s riot at the U.S. Capitol building when it was still unclear whether they would be attacked while in the chamber (WRTV). Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, wrote an account for the Bangor Daily News in Maine. In it, she described the moment when the senators learned the rioters had entered the building. Collins said the Sergeant at Arms burst into the chamber and removed Vice President Mike Pence. Then the two Senate leaders were also rushed away. “My first thought was that the Iranians had followed through on their threat to strike the Capitol, but a police officer took over the podium and explained that violent demonstrators had breached the entire perimeter of the Capitol and were inside,” she wrote. “Several of us pointed out that the doors to the press gallery were unlocked right above us. That tells you how overwhelmed and unprepared the Capitol Police were, although many, many of them were very courageous.” She said the senators were told to stay in the chamber, even though they believed the crowd may have been headed their way. She said at that time, Young moved over to her and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Ala. She later learned he was getting ready to protect them if the rioters broke into the chamber.

 

YOUNG CONDEMNS HOUTHI DESIGNATION: U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) released the below statement regarding the Trump Administration’s decision to designate the Houthi movement in Yemen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Senator Young has previously cautioned against this designation (Howey Politics Indiana). “Our foreign policy approach in Yemen should be governed by two overarching questions: First, are we living up to our principles by helping to ease the suffering of the innocent in Yemen? Second, are we helping to advance our national security by taking steps to end, rather than exacerbate, the conflict? “Today’s decision by Secretary Pompeo to designate the entire Houthi movement in Yemen as a Foreign Terrorist Organization accomplishes neither. “I believe that this designation will further destabilize a war torn country, which is already the home of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, cut off our ability to continue negotiations toward peace, and will force the many NGOs in Yemen to stop providing lifesaving assistance in the country."

 

WALORSKI NAMES NEW CoS: U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today announced Tim Cummings as her new Chief of Staff. Tim previously served as Chief of Staff of the Employee Benefits Security Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor and as Deputy Chief of Staff for Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Texas). He is also an alum of former Rep. Dennis A. Ross (R-Fla.) and former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). A native Virginian, he is a graduate of the University of Richmond (Howey Politics Indiana). “My job is to fight every day for 2nd District Hoosiers, and my staff plays a vital role in providing constituent services and making their voices heard in Washington,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “I’m excited to welcome Tim Cummings as my new Chief of Staff leading our Washington, D.C., and district offices. His extensive experience in both the legislative and executive branches will bring tremendous value to our team as we work toward bipartisan, commonsense solutions aimed at restoring our way of life, rebuilding our economy, and renewing the American Dream for every worker and family.” The announcement follows the departure of Mike Dankler after more than five years in Walorski’s office.

 

State

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: ROKITA VOWS TO DEFEND LIBERTY - Attorney General Todd Rokita vows to defend liberty after he was inaugurated on Monday (Howey Politics Indiana). "Today I reiterate my commitment to promoting liberty in all ways. But preserving our liberty requires more than speeches and promises. It demands real, on the ground work and attention - from all of us. In my administration you can expect our team to put liberty in action every single day," Rokita said.

 

COVID: VIRUS VARIANT TURNS UP IN STATE - A more contagious variant of the coronavirus that was first identified in the United Kingdom late last year has been found in Indiana, state health officials announced Monday (AP). The Indiana State Department of Health said the variant was identified in the state through testing by the state agency’s laboratory and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but Monday’s announcement included no additional information on its discovery in Indiana. Messages were left Monday with the health department seeking information on where in Indiana the more contagious variant had been found and how many people had tested positive for it.

 

COVID: TEACHERS WONDER WHEN THEY'LL BE VACCINATED - When the state rolled out a new COVID-19 vaccine plan prioritizing the state’s oldest residents last week, it left a lot of Indiana teachers asking the question: what about us? The state’s original vaccine plan prioritized teachers and other essential workers in the second group of Hoosiers that would have access to the vaccine, right after frontline health care workers and longterm care facility residents (Herron, IndyStar). The thinking at the time was that those are the individuals most likely to be exposed to the virus while doing critical work. That original vaccine plan, though, has been amended. Over the weekend, Hoosiers 80 and older started receiving the vaccine. The state said last week it would prioritize those 80 and up to start, then move to individuals 70 and older and then expand access to those age 60 and up. State health officials said the change was to focus on getting the vaccine into the arms of those most at risk for hospitalization and death.

 

LAW: QUEISSER JOINS DENTONS' DC OFFICE -  Dentons, the world’s largest law firm, announces Monday that Brad A. Queisser has joined the Firm’s Public Policy practice as principal. Resident in the Washington, DC, office, Queisser will focus his work in Dentons’ federal advocacy practice.

 

PURDUE: CAPITOL PD OFFICER ATTENDED - The U.S. Capitol Police officer who died days after defending the nation's seat of government from rioters was a Hoosier before joining the force (IndyStar). Howard Charles Liebengood, 51, graduated from Purdue University in May 1991 with a bachelor's degree in history, according to university officials. He died while off-duty on Saturday. Liebengood had been with the Capitol Police since April 2005 and was assigned to the Senate Division. The department did not disclose the cause of Liebengood's death and has not released any details about the circumstances.

 

NBA: PACERS FALL TO KINGS - Buddy Hield made a big 3-pointer moments after Indiana’s Domantas Sabonis had a basket taken away following a replay review, and the Sacramento Kings beat the Pacers 127-122 on Monday night (AP). Hield finished with 18 points on six 3s as the Kings won for the second time in seven games. Harrison Barnes had a season-high 30 points and eight rebounds, and De’Aaron Fox added 21 points and nine assists.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: BARR, CIPOLLONE WARN TRUMP ON SELF-PARDON - White House counsel Pat Cipollone and former Attorney General Bill Barr have warned President Donald Trump that they do not believe he should pardon himself, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell CNN. Barr conveyed this position to Trump before resigning last month, sources say. Trump has in recent weeks raised the idea of pardoning himself, as well as members of his family, though it is not known if he has done so since Wednesday's attack on the Capitol. Trump has been heavily criticized for his role inciting the attack. Over the weekend, the acting US attorney for the District of Columbia told NPR that top prosecutors will follow every investigative lead they can to determine people's roles in the attack, even if that involves scrutinizing government officials. White House officials are also contemplating how the federal investigation into the insurrection affects other pardons Trump has discussed, such as for his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani who called for "trial by combat" at Wednesday's rally before the Capitol was stormed.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BELICHICK DECLINES MEDAL OF FREEDOM - New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has announced that he is declining the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he was scheduled to receive from President Donald Trump on Thursday (CNN). Belichick cited the "tragic events of last week" as leading to his decision. Pro-Trump rioters rampaged in the US Capitol last Wednesday. Five people died as a result of the chaos, including a US Capitol Police officer. House Democrats want to impeach Trump, accusing him of "incitement of insurrection."

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP APPROVAL FALLS TO LOW 33% - Following last week's mob attack on the U.S. Capitol during a joint session of Congress to formally certify Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election, nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of voters say democracy in the United States is under threat, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll of registered voters released today. Just 21 percent of voters say that democracy in the United States is alive and well. "When it comes to whether American democracy is under threat, both Republicans and Democrats see a raging five-alarm fire, but clearly disagree on who started it," said Quinnipiac University Polling Analyst Tim Malloy. A majority of voters, 56 percent, say they hold President Trump responsible for the storming of the U.S. Capitol, while 42 percent say they do not hold him responsible. A slight majority, 52 - 45 percent, say President Trump should be removed from office. Voters also say 53 - 43 percent that he should resign as president. President Trump has a negative 33 - 60 percent job approval rating, which is a substantial drop from the negative 44 - 51 percent rating he received in December of 2020.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - President Trump will leave the White House for Alamo, Texas, at 10 a.m. Vice President Pence will lead a video teleconference with governors on pandemic response and recovery at 2 p.m. in the Situation Room. President-elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief and meet with transition advisers.

 

STATE: CUBA NAMED STATE SPONSOR OF TERRORISM - The Trump administration is putting Cuba back on the list of countries considered state sponsors of terrorism, rescinding a 2015 move by the Obama administration to thaw ties to the onetime Cold War adversary (Wall Street Journal). The redesignation, announced Monday, may complicate President-elect Joe Biden’s efforts to improve ties with Havana. It is the latest in a series of foreign-policy steps the administration has taken in recent days to try to lock in policies before it leaves office. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that the redesignation was warranted because Cuba has harbored several American fugitives, including a woman accused of killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973. He also said that Cuba has rebuffed Colombia’s extradition request for 10 members of the National Liberation Army, which is tied to a 2019 bombing in Bogota that killed 22 people.

 

MEDIA: CUMULUS WARNS RADIO TALK SHOW HOSTS ABOUT LYING - After months of stoking anger about alleged election fraud, one of America’s largest talk-radio companies has decided on an abrupt change of direction (Washington Post). Cumulus Media, which employs some of the most popular right-leaning talk-radio hosts in the United States, has told its on-air personalities to stop suggesting that the election was stolen from President Trump — or else face termination. A Cumulus executive issued the directive on Wednesday, just as Congress met to certify Joe Biden’s election victory and an angry mob of Trump supporters marched on the Capitol, overwhelmed police and briefly occupied the building, terrorizing lawmakers and leading to the deaths of five people.

 

MICHIGAN: GUNS BANNED FOR STATEHOUSE - Michigan has banned the open carry of guns in the state Capitol a week after an armed mob rioted in the U.S. Capitol and following a protest in the statehouse last year (AP). Moves to ban weapons at the statehouse have been pushed since April, when protesters opposed to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions, some armed with long rifles and other weapons, entered the statehouse demanding to be allowed into the legislative chambers. The Michigan Capitol Commission has been reluctant to issue rules for firearms, but it shifted course Monday and issued the order to ban the open carry of weapons.

 

KANSAS: JUDGE HALTS WOMAN'S EXECUTION AT TERRE HAUTE -  A judge has granted a stay in what was slated to be the U.S. government’s first execution of a female inmate in nearly seven decades — a Kansas woman who killed an expectant mother in Missouri, cut the baby from her womb and passed off the newborn as her own (AP). Judge Patrick Hanlon granted the stay late Monday, citing the need to determine Montgomery’s mental competence, reported the Topeka Capital-Journal. Lisa Montgomery faced execution Tuesday at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, just eight days before President-elect Joe Biden, an opponent of the federal death penalty, takes office.

 

SPORTS: ALABAMA WINS NATIONAL TITLE - DeVonta Smith was uncoverable, Najee Harris unstoppable and Mac Jones impeccable. With a performance that was both surgical and explosive, No. 1 Alabama won the College Football Playoff national championship game 52-24 against No. 3 Ohio State on Monday night (AP). The final game of a college football season in a pandemic, a season that was uncertain to be played in the summer and filled with disruptions in the fall, ended in the most predictable fashion: Alabama (13-0) as national champion for the sixth time in the last 12 years under coach Nick Saban. For Saban, it was career title No. 7 overall, breaking a tie with Alabama great Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most by a major college coach.

 

Local

 

INDIANAPOLIS: COUNCIL SPENDS $13M IN PANDEMIC RELIEF FUNDS - The Indianapolis City-County Council on Monday night voted 23-0 to to direct $12.9 million from the city’s general fund to pandemic relief efforts while it waits for possible additional federal funding (Shuey, IBJ). The measure allocates an additional $6 million toward direct rental assistance, $4.5 million toward homeless programming and $1.9 million toward contact tracing, among other programs. The city last year received and allocated $168 million in funds from the federal government, including more than $70 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, which has been allocated for numerous programs, including combatting homelessness, food assistance and rental assistance, along with financial aid for hundreds of local businesses.

 

SOUTH BEND: COUNCIL TABLES PD REFORMS - After Council President Karen White said it’s "too important" of an issue to rush, the South Bend Common Council Monday night tabled for two more weeks consideration of a job description for the director of the new office that will handle community police misconduct complaints (South Bend Tribune). White and Mayor James Mueller said the job description didn’t precisely follow language in the ordinance that the council passed in October to create the office, but they didn’t cite many examples. Mueller noted that the proposed description, presented to the council by Clerk Dawn Jones, incorrectly called the job the “Director of Community Review Board” when it should say “Review Office,” since the board will consist of community members appointed by the council.

 

COLUMBUS: HOSPITAL TO GET PD FORCE - Columbus Regional Hospital is getting its own police force (Kenney, WRTV). The announcement of a new police department comes after two years of WRTV Investigates asking questions about ghost employment involving Columbus police officers working security at the hospital. However, the health system maintains the shift has nothing to do with ghost employment or an ongoing investigation by Indiana State Police into the Columbus Police Department. Columbus Regional Health is registered for 225 beds and has a network of 25 primary and specialty care offices.

 

NOBLESVILLE: MAYOR JENSEN EXPLORES PROJECT FUNDING - Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen said he is explore ways to fund infrastructure projects (Howey Politics Indiana). "Noblesville has experienced significant growth over the past two decades and is well positioned to maintain its momentum going forward," Jensen said. "However, facilitating this growth requires investment in upgraded infrastructure, additional housing options, and other capital improvement projects that will benefit the community. The recent and continued growth of our city creates exciting new opportunities but also begs the important questions of how do we pay for such projects in a responsible way?  While there is no universal answer as funding varies project-by-project, a fiscally responsible and common way cities fund major projects is with municipal bonds. As a general rule, I approach municipal budgeting in the same way I partner with my wife to manage our household budget – not spending more than we earn, not mortgaging our future, maintaining savings for unexpected expenses, and being good stewards of funds that we’re fortunate enough to earn or receive."

 

EAST CHICAGO: SCHOOLS TO STAY VIRTUAL — The School City of East Chicago will join other Lake County school districts in Gary and Merrillville delaying its anticipated return to in-person learning as the coronavirus pandemic continues (Lanich, NWI Times). School city Superintendent Dee-Etta Wright recommended Monday night that the district not return to in-person learning until at least mid-February. "I'm recommending that we postpone traditional school until Feb. 16, which is four weeks," Wright said in a Monday school board meeting. "In the first board meeting in February, we will reevaluate the data, again, and we'll make a determination."

 

WELLS COUNTY: COMMISSIONER RESIGNS -  The Wells County Republican Party is looking for a new commissioner. Dr. Tammy Robbins officially announced her resignation as county commissioner on Jan. 4 after accepting a new job out of state. Robbins currently represents District 1 which is the lower half of the county. Her resignation will go into affect Feb. 1 (WANE-TV). Before that date, the Wells County Republican Party will hold a caucus to elect a new commissioner. Precinct committeemen in the county will gather at the Republican headquarters to vote on the candidate they feel best to take Robbins’ place. The caucus will take place Saturday, Jan. 30 at 9 a.m. at the Republican Headquarters. However, due to COVID-19, the event will not be open to the public in an attempt to fit all 22 committee men and candidates in the building and keep them socially distant.

 

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: VACCINE CLINIC OPENS - As part of the push by the state of Indiana to get as many elderly Hoosiers vaccinated for coronavirus as possible in the next week, a new vaccine clinic had a soft opening on Monday (WIBC). A full-scale opening will take place today at the Hedwig Memorial Center in South Bend. The clinic is run entirely by the St. Joseph County Health Department. “It’ll take a few days to work out the kinks, but it’s a great vaccine and we’re thrilled to offer it to the community,” said Dr. Robert Einterz, the county’s health officer. “As more and more people get vaccinated and the message gets out there into the community, these individuals, more and more, will be ready to become vaccinated.”