INDIANA TO HOST NCAA 'MARCH MADNESS' IN TOURNEY BUBBLE:  The NCAA is giving Indiana an exclusive ticket to showcase March Madness and the basketball-crazed state can’t wait to take center stage this spring (AP). The NCAA announced Monday that its showcase event — the Division I men’s basketball tournament, all 67 games of it — will be played entirely in or near Indianapolis. The hope is to limit the possibility that the coronavirus pandemic cancels the wildly popular and lucrative tournament for a second consecutive season. “There are a number of world-class facilities in a close location and that was critical because you have to run a large number of games simultaneously that you can manage and control,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “There were a number of cities that were very interested in hosting this event, but the immediate opportunity to do this in Indianapolis was pretty self-evident for several reasons. For one, we were already going to be there.” Indy was already scheduled to host the Final Four and it didn’t take long for the city to emerge as the favorite. The original plan was for the 67 games to be played at 13 sites across the country, starting with the First Four in Dayton, Ohio. Regional sites were set for Minneapolis, Denver, New York City and Memphis, Tennessee. Instead, the buzzer beaters and jaw-dropping performances will all take place in a state known perhaps more than any other for its love of basketball.It will be expanded to include Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse, Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis, Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington and Mackey Arena at Purdue University. An official announcement on the tournament is expected to be made on Monday. Last month, Indiana Sports Corp President Ryan Vaughn told Inside INdiana Business Host Gerry Dick said a deal was still in the works.

 

NCAA TO HAVE $100M ECONOMIC IMPACT FOR STATE: Tourism officials estimate the NCAA Tournament, held exclusively in Indiana this year, will provide a much-needed shot in the arm to the local economy that has otherwise been crushed by COVID-19 (WTHR-TV). "Our pregame estimate shows a healthy nine figures in economic impact generated from hosting March Madness in its entirety," said Chris Gahl, spokesperson for Visit Indy.  "An exact number (will be) fine-tuned once the nets are cut down after the championship game on April 5." Gahl said a flurry of 67 games over a 25-day period in March will bring in 3,000 visitors, including coaching staff, referees, and essential game personnel - and that's assuming no fans in the stands.

 

PANDEMIC GENERAL ASSEMBLY OPENS:  Indiana lawmakers opened their 2021 legislative session on Monday, largely wearing masks and in greatly modified settings for coronavirus precautions, even as legislative leaders said they were braced for disruptions from possible COVID-19 infections (Davies, AP). The House was gaveled into session for the first time it what will be its temporary location for the next several months, giving up its wood-paneled Statehouse chamber that’s adorned with a 100-light brass chandelier and a marble counter-topped speaker’s dais. That chamber has been deemed too crowded for the 100 House members and necessary staffers, so the House will meet in a large conference room in a neighboring state office building that appears more like a business convention site filled with folding tables and standard office chairs. The Senate will continue meeting in its Statehouse chamber, but the balcony is closed to the public as 20 of the 50 senators will be sitting there to allow greater distancing. Plexiglass surrounds the lecterns from which senators speak. The Republican-dominated Legislature will face debates over whether to roll back GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb’s authority to issue public health orders to stem the COVID-19 spread that has killed more than 8,000 in Indiana and flooded the state’s hospitals with thousands of patients since a sustained surge started in September. Lawmakers must figure out a new state budget by the end of June with plenty of questions about how the coronavirus-sparked recession will impact future state tax collections.

 

PENCE TORN BETWEEN LOYALTY TO TRUMP, CONSTITUTION:  He has been President Donald Trump’s most loyal soldier, dutifully backing the unpredictable leader through one chaotic situation after another. Now Vice President Mike Pence finds himself in the most precarious position of his tenure as he prepares to preside over Wednesday’s congressional tally of Electoral College votes, the last front in Trump’s futile attempts to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November election (AP). Seated on the House of Representatives’ rostrum, Pence will bear witness to the formalization of Trump’s — and his own — election defeat, as tellers from the House and Senate record states’ electoral votes. At the end of the count, it will be his job to announce who has won the majority of votes for both president and vice president. But Pence, whose proscribed role is largely pro forma, is under intense pressure from the president and legions of supporters who want the vice president to use the moment to overturn the will of the voters in a handful of critical battleground states. “I hope Mike Pence comes through for us, I have to tell you,” Trump said at a rally Monday night in Georgia for candidates in two Senate runoff elections. “Of course, if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much,” Trump added, drawing laughs. He said Pence was “going to have a lot to say about it. And you know one thing with him, you’re going to get straight shots. He’s going to call it straight.” Pence has spent hours huddling with the president, staff and the Senate parliamentarian. His office declined to discuss his plans heading into Wednesday’s count. But people close to the vice president stressed his respect for institutions and said they expect him to act in accordance with the law and hew to the Constitution.

 

PENCE SAYS HE'LL HEAR ELECTORAL COLLEGE OBJECTIONS: Vice President Mike Pence on Monday vocalized his support for some Republicans’ efforts to keep President Donald Trump in the White House by overturning the Electoral College results (Groppe, USA Today). But Pence stopped short of saying he would do anything other than allow objections to the certified results to be heard. “I promise you, come this Wednesday, we’ll have our day in Congress. We’ll hear the objections. We’ll hear the evidence,” Pence said at a rally in Milner, Georgia, for the two Senate races being decided on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Pence – in his constitutional role as president of the Senate – will preside over Congress’ acceptance of the Electoral College results, which have been certified by states. He did not take questions from the press and did not mention Trump's effort Saturday to strong-arm Georgia officials to overturn his election defeat in that state.

 

BANKS, WALORSKI TO JOIN BRAUN IN OPPOSING ELECTORAL COLLEGE CERTIFICATION: So far, three Republicans in Indiana's Congressional delegation plan to vote against certifying President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory when Congress meets on Wednesday (IndyStar). Monday evening, Rep. Jackie Walorski tweeted that she would object to certain electors in battleground states if an Electoral Commission is not created to conduct an emergency audit of the presidential returns. On Sunday, Rep. Jim Banks posted on Facebook saying he would vote against certification in certain battleground states. Their decisions come after Sen. Mike Braun and 10 other Republican Senators released a joint statement Saturday saying they intend to reject electors from "disputed states" until a 10-day audit of election returns is completed. In his post, Banks said his planned vote was akin to upholding the Constitution. "Article II, Section 1, clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution clearly states that Presidential Electors must be appointed according to rules established by each state’s legislature," Banks said in his Facebook post. "But in the months before the 2020 election, these rules were thwarted in some states not by their legislatures — but by governors, secretaries of state, election officials, judges and/or private parties." Rep. Victoria Spartz's office said the congresswoman is reviewing all information ahead of Wednesday's vote, and did not indicate which direction she was leaning. The other Hoosier Republicans, including Rep. Jim Baird, Rep. Larry Bucshon and Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, did not respond to IndyStar questions about how they plan to vote. Rep. Frank Mrvan, a Democrat, could not be reached for comment.

 

BUSINESS LIABILITY REFORMS TO BE FAST-TRACKED: Indiana businesses, schools and health care providers, including nursing homes, appear likely to gain immunity from COVID-19 liability lawsuits well before a meaningful proportion of Hoosiers are immunized against the coronavirus (Carden, NWI Times). Legislative leaders signaled Monday they intend to fast-track proposals aimed at thwarting the perceived threat of civil lawsuits from individuals claiming they were infected with or exposed to COVID-19 and are entitled to monetary damages as a result. The Republican-controlled House and Senate are likely to initially consider separate COVID-19 liability protection proposals with one or both advancing to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb in late January or February, instead of with the usual April batch of recommended new laws sent to the governor for his approval. "Many Hoosier businesses, especially small businesses, are already struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and these costly accusations could very well put a reputable company out of business," said state Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, sponsor of the legislation and the Senate Republican floor leader.

 

USPS UNABLE TO DELIVER SMALL TOWN NEWSPAPERS: Jeff Wagner hardly knew what to tell his delivery driver when the man returned one day in late December from a run to the post office in their northern Nebraska town with a trailer still full of newspapers. The post office wouldn’t take them, the driver said, as it had every Tuesday for decades, because it was so stacked up with packages and delayed mail there was simply no room (Washington Post). Wagner, the president of Iowa Information, a regional printing press that publishes four newspapers and a handful of shopping pamphlets, then checked his messages, where he found at least a half-dozen complaints about late or missing newspapers. The U.S. Postal Service has been under siege for months as record volumes of holiday packages and election mail ran up against a spike in coronavirus cases within its workforce, leaving the agency severely short-staffed. Nearly 19,000 workers were in quarantine at the end of 2020 after becoming infected or exposed to the virus, according to the American Postal Workers Union. That has left hundreds of small publishers struggling to deliver their products, according to the National Newspaper Association, undercutting their advertising revenues and subscriber bases, and depriving the largely rural communities they serve of crucial news coverage. Some news operations have even called on reporters and editors to deliver papers.

 

RIGHT TO LIFE EXPECTS ABORTION DECLINE THIS YEAR: Indiana Right to Life anticipates a "significant drop in abortions in the new year as a result of Indiana’s 18-hour ultrasound law" going back in effect on January 1. The action is the result of Indiana’s largest abortion business, Planned Parenthood, dropping its suit against the law in August 2020 (Howey Politics Indiana). The ultrasound law, part of the 2016 Dignity for the Unborn Act signed by then-Gov. Mike Pence, requires that women considering abortion be provided the opportunity to view a fetal ultrasound at least 18 hours prior to an abortion. From July through December 2016, while the ultrasound law was previously in effect, there were 496 fewer abortions in Indiana compared to the period of July through December 2017, after the ultrasound provision was blocked by a federal judge. During the 2017 period, abortions spiked by 13 percent. “Indiana’s ultrasound law will save lives,” states Indiana Right to Life President and CEO Mike Fichter. “Every woman deserves the opportunity to see an ultrasound image of her unborn baby in order to have ample opportunity to reconsider an abortion decision.”

 

FIAT/CHRYSLER/PEUGOT MERGER APPROVED; STELLANTIS CREATED: Shareholders of Fiat Chrysler and PSA Peugeot decisively voted Monday to merge the U.S.-Italian and French carmakers to create world's 4th-largest auto company. Addressing separate meetings, both PSA Peugeot CEO Carlos Tavares and Fiat Chrysler Chairman John Elkann spoke of the "historic" importance of the vote, which combines legacy car companies that helped write the industrial histories of the United States, France and Italy (AP). Before the merger is finalized, shares in the new company, to be called Stellantis, must the launched. It will be traded in Milan, New York and Paris. "We are living through a profound era of change in our industry,'' Elkann told the virtual shareholders' meeting. "We believe that the coming decade will redefine mobility as we know it. We and our merger partners at Groupe PSA are intent on playing a leading role in building this future. It is this intention that has brought us together." The new company, to be called Stellantis, will have the capacity to produce 8.7 million cars a year, behind Volkswagen, Toyota and Renault-Nissan, and create 5 billion euros in annual synergies.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: It is altogether fitting that March Madness will be held in full in the Hoosier Hoops Holyland. This could be a huge revival event for dozens of restaurants and bars who have suffered greatly during this pandemic. Let's hope that the COVID vaccine is widely available across Indiana by March. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

TRUMP TO 'FIGHT LIKE HELL' TO OVERTURN ELECTION:  With mounting desperation, Donald Trump declared he would “fight like hell” to hold on to the presidency and appealed to Republican lawmakers to reverse his election loss to Joe Biden when they convene this week to confirm the Electoral College vote (AP). Electoral voters won by President-elect Biden are “not gonna take this White House!” he shouted as supporters cheered at an outdoor rally Monday night in Georgia. Trump’s announced purpose for the trip was to boost Republican Senate candidates in Tuesday’s runoff election, but he spent much of his speech complaining bitterly about his election loss — which he insists he won “by a lot.” Earlier, in Washington, he pressed Republican lawmakers to formally object Wednesday at a joint session of Congress that is to confirm Biden’s victory in the Electoral College, itself a confirmation of Biden’s nationwide victory Nov. 3. Though he got nothing but cheers Monday night, Trump’s attempt to overturn the presidential election i s splitting the Republican Party. Some GOP lawmakers backing him are rushing ahead, despite an outpouring of condemnation from current and former party officials warning the effort is undermining Americans’ faith in democracy. All 10 living former defense secretaries wrote in an op-ed that “the time for questioning the results has passed.”

 

DON'T EXPECT GEORGIA SENATE RACE RESULTS TONIGHT: Just like in November, it’s very possible Americans will go to bed without knowing who won (AP). In a close contest, look for the Republican candidate to jump out to an early lead. That due to two factors: First, Republican areas of the state usually report their results first. Second, Republican voters have been more likely to vote in person, either on Election Day or during the early voting period. Many counties release those in-person results first. Meanwhile, heavily Democratic counties, including Fulton, DeKalb and Chatham counties, historically take longer to count votes. Democratic candidates could also make late surges because of late-counted mail ballots.

 

GEORGIA OFFICIALS REFUTE TRUMP: Georgia's top elections official on Monday systematically dismissed and dismantled the inaccurate claims made by President Trump and his allies about the election, calling it "anti-disinformation Monday" (CBS News). The press conference by Gabriel Sterling came just hours after two House Democrats are calling on the FBI to open a criminal investigation into President Trump's explosive call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger for possible violations of federal and state election laws. "This is all easily, provably false. Yet, the president persists," Sterling said, as he went one-by-one through the various unfounded and false claims about Dominion voting systems and uncounted ballots.

 

BIDEN TEAM SKEPTICAL OF WINNING GEORGIA SENATE RACES: Joe Biden is eyeing a more ambitious agenda for the first 100 days of his presidency — if, that is, Democrats can win twin upsets in a pair of Georgia Senate runoffs on Tuesday (Politico). But Biden’s advisers are privately skeptical about Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock’s chances, Democrats say. And though confidants say that the incoming team’s core priorities for that 100-day agenda will remain the same regardless of the outcome — the pandemic, the recession, climate change and racial inequality — they concede that the scale of their plans could change dramatically come Tuesday evening.

 

DONNELLY SAYS BRAUN STANCE 'STUNNING': Former senator Joe Donnelly finds it "stunning" that the man who defeated him in 2018 is backing a bizarre attempt to decertify Electoral College results (Howey Politics Indiana). "Indiana has a long history of serious, hard-working U.S. Senators," Donnelly said on Monday. "It is stunning Hoosiers now have a Senator who is trying to overthrow the Electoral College results and Joe Biden's election."

 

INDEMS ASSAIL BRAUN'S 'PROTEST VOTE': The Indiana Democratic Party fundamentally condemned U.S. Senator Braun for agreeing to a rhetorical, political game that amounts to what he even views as a “protest vote” against American Democracy and the U.S. Constitution (Howey Politics Indiana). “Senator Mike Braun’s self-own ‘protest vote’ is a reveal of the entire Indiana Republican Party, because their actions demonstrate how they’d rather play political games determined by their Washington, D.C. leaders than work to protect the health and safety of Hoosiers,” said Drew Anderson, Indiana Democratic Party spokesman. “Voters put trust in their elected leaders to protect American values, but after this week, the Indiana GOP has made clear that American values come second to Donald Trump.”

 

LIBERTARIANS TO RALLY AT STATEHOUSE THIS MORNING: Liberty Is Essential, the political action committee established by 2020 Indiana Libertarian Party candidate for governor Donald Rainwater, will gather at 9:00 a.m. EST on today at the Indiana Statehouse, to rally in support of the Indiana House concurrent resolution introduced November 17, 2020 by Rep. Curt Nisly (R-Milford) (Howey Politics Indiana). The resolution would put an end to the state of emergency declared by Governor Holcomb on March 6, 2020 and which remains in effect.

 

68% SAY SECOND RELIEF BILL 'ESSENTIAL': While Congress continues debating whether to send Americans as much as $2,000 in a second round of coronavirus stimulus payments, voters overwhelmingly say a new round of stimulus checks is necessary to help the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 68% of Likely U.S. Voters think a second stimulus is essential to America’s COVID comeback. Twenty-four percent (24%) disagree and say a second check would push the federal budget deficit dangerously higher.

 

Presidential 2020

 

200 BUSINESS LEADERS CALL ON CONGRESS TO CERTIFY BIDEN WIN: Almost 200 of the country’s top business leaders urged Congress to certify the electoral results for President-elect Joe Biden in a letter Monday, arguing that “attempts to thwart or delay this process run counter to the essential tenets of our democracy” (Washington Post). The letter marked the business community’s most significant push yet to ensure President Trump’s efforts to overturn the November election are unsuccessful. Signers included a wide array of executives of Fortune 500 companies, from the leaders of banks, airlines, investment firms, pharmaceutical companies, professional sports leagues, real estate conglomerates, top law firms and media companies. “The presidential election has been decided and it is time for the country to move forward,” the letter reviewed by The Washington Post said. “ … The incoming Biden administration faces the urgent tasks of defeating covid-19 and restoring the livelihoods of millions of Americans who have lost jobs and businesses during the pandemic.”

 

BIDEN TO SEEK THIRD RELIEF CHECK: President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday outlined the basics of what he plans to request from Congress in a new round of COVID-19 relief once he takes office, including a new round of stimulus checks, calling the just-passed aid bill a "down payment" in addressing the pandemic (CBS News). Speaking to reporters at a news conference in Delaware, Mr. Biden also warned Americans that the "darkest days in the battle against COVID-19 are ahead of us," even as health care workers across the country begin to receive the first vaccines. The president-elect's comments come hours after the House and Senate passed a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package, ending months of congressional inaction. Any proposal would have to be negotiated with Congress, where Democrats enjoy a slim majority in the House and control of the Senate remains undetermined. "Leaders in both House and Senate, both parties deserve credit for making the hard compromises to get this done. But like all compromises, it's far from perfect, but it does provide vital relief at a critical moment," Mr. Biden said.

 

General Assembly

 

HUSTON, BRAY STRESS FLEXIBILITY: Legislative leaders of the GOP-controlled Indiana General Assembly are emphasizing that flexibility will be key to the session as more COVID-19 precautions were made public Monday (Erdody, IBJ). During the first day of the 2021 session, House Speaker Todd Huston announced that the chamber will only convene on Thursdays, for now, to limit how often all 100 members have to be in the same room together. House committees will meet throughout the week, and those schedules will be posted on Thursday afternoons, Huston, R-Fishers, said. House lawmakers will be able to participate remotely in committee hearings, unless a vote is taking place and then they would need to be at the meeting in-person, Huston said. “We’re just going to have to do things a little differently and we’ll continue… adjust to changes as we go throughout the session,” Huston said. The Senate is maintaining its typical floor schedule, though, and will meet on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. In that chamber, 20 lawmakers are sitting in the balcony instead of on the floor in order to socially distance everyone. Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said the Senate staff is working in two shifts, with half of the staff members rotating days when they are in the building and when they are home, as a way to limit exposure and prevent a higher number of staff members from having to quarantine if someone tests positive. While both leaders have acknowledged that a break in the session may be necessary at some point because of the number of staff or lawmakers quarantining, neither has set a threshold for when that break would be triggered. “We’re just going to have to try to play that by ear and continue to move through this session the best we can,” Bray said.

 

HOUSE, SENATE CERTIFY GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION RESULTS: In one last bit of technical business, the House and Senate certified the results of the 2020 gubernatorial election (Howey Politics Indiana). The House and Senate jointly approve a resolution that appoints a committee of lawmakers to “inform” Gov. Holcomb and Lt. Gov. Crouch that they have been elected government and lt. governor. Without objection from any member, House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, recited the results of the Nov. 3 general election — Holcomb 1,706,739 votes; Democratic Dr. Woody Myers 968,106; and Libertarian Donald Rainwater 345,569 — and then designated Holcomb, as the highest vote getter, to be sworn in as governor Jan. 11.

 

MESSMER FILES SB1 ON BUSINESS LIABILITY: State Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) filed Senate Bill 1, which would provide liability protections to Indiana businesses and individuals if they become involved in a COVID-19 lawsuit (Howey Politics Indiana). Senate Bill 1 would provide employers and individuals with immunity from civil liability for damages if someone is exposed to COVID-19 on their property or during an activity they organized, unless the employer or individual's actions contribute gross negligence or willful misconduct. While there are no confirmed lawsuits of this nature in Indiana at this time, Messmer says Senate Bill 1 would act as a precautionary measure, ensuring no Hoosier businesses are overwhelmed and forced to cease operations by such an accusation. "Many Hoosier businesses, especially small businesses, are already struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and these costly accusations could very well put a reputable company out of business," Messmer said. "I don't anticipate a large number of cases like this, but it's important we prepare and protect factories, local shops, restaurants, houses of worship and other organizations so Hoosiers can maintain their jobs and our economy can continue to recover."

 

 

 

HOUSE SUPER MAJORITY WON'T BRING MUCH CHANGE: Indiana House Republicans expanded their supermajority in the 2020 election, going from 67 seats to 71. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the caucus will change how it governs (Smith, Indiana Public Media). House Republicans’ 71-seat supermajority is their largest since before the 2016 election. And Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics director Andrew Downs said growing that majority by four seats this past election gives the GOP a little more flexibility. “At 67, they had to worry about losing one or two members and being out of the supermajority," Downs said. "You add a couple more in and you can be, you know, a little less cautious, so to speak.” Still, Downs said given the Republicans’ domination in the Statehouse for years, don’t expect things to change much now. “I don’t think that it really will change the content of what happens," Downs said. "I don’t think it will push legislation much further to the right, if it does at all.”

 

GiaQUINTA OUTLINES HOUSE DEM PRIORITIES: Indiana House Democratic Caucus Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) outlined the key legislative priorities of the caucus during his speech on the House floor this afternoon, marking the first day of the 2021 Legislative Session for the Indiana General Assembly (Howey Politics Indiana). "I see more Hoosiers than ever desperately relying upon their unemployment benefits," GiaQuinta said. "More Hoosiers at risk of losing their homes. More Hoosier businesses at risk of closing permanently, and more Hoosiers than ever falling behind on their bills. Our citizens are frustrated by a perceived back and forth approach to this health virus where restrictions are put in place only to be lifted while the pandemic surged leading to yet another round of restrictions. Can we blame our constituents for their lack of confidence in government when the state’s response to this health crisis has run hot and cold often without explanation? The truth is that the pandemic has exposed some of our state’s weaknesses by uncovering some ugly failures; namely a decade of underinvesting in our state's social service infrastructure. These policies have magnified the crushing economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic in our state." This legislative session, House Democrats will aggressively advocate for solutions to important issues. We ask that the Republican majority join us in accepting the following, not as a wish list but as a mandate from our constituents:

 

Reduce the Costs of High Quality Health Care: Indiana is fortunate to be blessed with residents with an unmatched work ethic; especially our front line healthcare workers: nurses, doctors, in-home health care professionals; therapists; dental personnel; medical technicians and the office staff who support them along with all essential workers.  They have stepped up to fight this pandemic and they deserve our recognition for their work across our great state. We are ranked low in obesity, smoking and other key public health metrics. If the past year has taught us anything it should be that we must meet this challenge head-on this session. We must do whatever needs to be done to ensure we come out of this pandemic with a resolve to do much better in the area of public health. This is our opportunity.

 

Commit to Improving Traditional Public Schools and Raising Teacher Pay: While it was reassuring to hear Governor Holcomb commit to fully funding our public schools, the fact of the matter is that our local school districts have been asked to do more with less for a nearly a decade starting with a $300 million cut to the education budget in January, 2010.  Now this pandemic has squeezed every ounce out of them. It's going to take a substantial investment from our state in order to make Indiana's public school teachers’ salaries even remotely competitive with those states.

 

Criminal Justice Reform: This summer showed us that Indiana has work to do when it comes to providing equal protection for ALL Hoosiers under our justice system. I want to take this opportunity to commend Representatives Shackleford, Steuerwald and other members of the Courts Committee for their commitment to finding common ground on these critical and often emotional issues – especially as they affect Hoosiers of color.

 

Support Hoosier Small Businesses & Families: Hoosier small businesses are struggling. We know that Indiana fumbled on an opportunity to show support for Hoosier businesses with our allotment of CARES Act money in 2020, which resulted in uncertainty and ultimately closure of too many neighborhood businesses. With ample resources, we urge the majority to work together with us to find a way to ease the economic burden on the backbone of Indiana's economy, our local small businesses.

 

Enact A Fair Redistricting Process: House Democrats remain steadfast in their belief that voters should pick their legislators…not the other way around. Advances in modern technology have helped to manipulate the redistricting process. House Democrats feel strongly that an independent redistricting commission is the best way to depoliticize the redistricting process and ensure that Hoosiers are accurately represented in the General Assembly.

 

SENATE DEMS TO UNVEIL PRIORITIES AT 2:30 TODAY: At 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, members of the Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus will hold a virtual press conference to announce their priorities for the 2021 legislative session (Howey Politics Indiana).

 

ILBC COMMENTS ON DEATH OF BLACK DOCTOR; COVID DEATH RATES: The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) today released the following statement regarding IU Health's response to the death of Dr. Susan Moore (Howey Politics Indiana): "The members of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus have always considered ourselves advocates for all, but especially for the African American community. In the beginning of this pandemic, we addressed our concerns over growing medical disparities caused by racial and gender bias. It goes without saying that African Americans have battled the COVID-19 pandemic this year, but we also have a long battle with another pandemic: racism. It is for this reason that we are deeply saddened that we must keep having these conversations to what feels like no avail. The recent deaths of Dr. Susan Moore and Dr. Chaniece Wallace are simply unacceptable and our prayers go out to their families. The IBLC believes servant leadership and advocacy are integral to governing; we also believe governing must include action. We cannot call ourselves one of the most developed countries filled with opportunities while millions of marginalized individuals are suffering. We cannot call ourselves progressive when more than 40 percent of frontline workers are people of color and they are disproportionately being infected by and dying of COVID-19. According to a recent report from the Indiana Health Disparities Task Force, Black and Latinx Hoosiers are overwhelmingly dying of the virus in our state, with 18.7 percent of the deaths being Black and more than 20 percent being Latinx. We have found this is due to numerous factors, including the fact that these groups are prone to longer wait times in the emergency room, experience discrimination in care, and are predisposed to underlying conditions among certain racial and ethnic groups. As aforementioned, the cases of Dr. Moore and Dr. Wallace are absolutely inexcusable. We cringe at the thought of what happens to other Black women who lack the same access."

 

GARY BACKS OFF CASINO TAX BILL: Hours after the Jerome Prince administration said they were seeking approval from the council and state lawmakers for a food-and-beverage tax within a 1-mile radius of the Hard Rock casino, they are setting it aside (Cross, NWI Times). "We don't have the support yet," Trent A. McCain, deputy mayor, said Monday afternoon. Rep. Earl Harris Jr., D-East Chicago, said he has been asked to sponsor the bill for the city, but that he wouldn't author it unless there is "complete Gary buy-in" — meaning the council, administration and Gary-area lawmakers are on board. "I'm an (East Chicago) guy. I'm not going to walk into someone's backyard and tell them to pay more taxes unless everyone's in agreement," Harris said when contacted Monday afternoon.

 

HOUSE GOP HAVE LARGEST MAJORITY SINCE 2016: Indiana House Republicans expanded their supermajority in the 2020 election, going from 67 seats to 71. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the caucus will change how it governs (Smith, Indiana Public Media). House Republicans’ 71-seat supermajority is their largest since before the 2016 election. And Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics director Andrew Downs said growing that majority by four seats this past election gives the GOP a little more flexibility. “At 67, they had to worry about losing one or two members and being out of the supermajority," Downs said. "You add a couple more in and you can be, you know, a little less cautious, so to speak.”

 

SEN. QADDOURA FIRST MUSLIM TO SERVE IN SENATE: Fady Qaddoura is one of the newest Hoosier state senators and the first Muslim American to serve as a state lawmaker in Indiana history (Smith, Indiana Public Media). Qaddoura said he’s proud to be Indiana’s first Muslim state lawmaker. But he’s also aware of the heavy responsibility it comes with. “Especially for our young generation, to feel that and know that when you want to make change in your community, in your city, in your state, it is possible – even if your name is Fady, even if you’re a Muslim, even if you’re an immigrant,” Qaddoura said. “When it comes to Black and Brown communities, when it comes to immigrants, when it comes to my siblings in the LGBTQ+ community, when it comes to many in our community that feel like they have not been represented, I think we have a long way to go,” Qaddoura said.

 

Congress

 

HOW JOINT SESSION WILL UNFOLD ON WEDNESDAY: Under federal law, Congress must meet Jan. 6 to open sealed certificates from each state that contain a record of their electoral votes. The votes are brought into the chamber in special mahogany boxes used for the occasion. Bipartisan representatives of both chambers read the results out loud and do an official count. The president of the Senate, Vice President Mike Pence, presides over the session and declares the winner. The session begins at 1 p.m. EST (AP). The Constitution requires Congress to meet and count the electoral votes. If there is a tie, then the House decides the presidency, with each congressional delegation having one vote. That hasn’t happened since the 1800s, and Biden’s electoral win over Trump was decisive, 306-232. The two chambers meet together midday to count the votes. If the vice president cannot preside, there is precedent for the Senate pro-tempore, or the longest-serving senator in the majority party, to lead the session. That’s currently Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. The presiding officer opens and presents the certificates of the electoral votes in alphabetical order of the states. The appointed “tellers” from the House and Senate, members of both parties, then read each certificate out loud and record and count the votes. At the end, the presiding officer announces who has won the majority votes for both president and vice president. After a teller reads the certificate from a state, any member can stand up and object to that state’s vote on any grounds. But the presiding officer will not hear the objection unless it is in writing and signed by both a member of the House and a member of the Senate. If there is such a request, then the joint session suspends and the House and Senate go into separate sessions to consider it. For the objection to be sustained, both chambers must agree to it by a simple majority vote. If they do not both agree, the original electoral votes are counted with no changes.

 

BANKS EXPLAINS HIS ELECTORAL COLLEGE PROTEST: When asked who won the presidential election, Congressman Jim Banks (R, IN3) does not hesitate (WANE-TV). “It’s clear at this point that Joe Biden is the President Elect and will likely take office and be inaugurated on January 20th,” Banks said. So why does he plan to protest some of the results on Wednesday when Congress gathers to count Electoral College votes for president? “The Constitution is very clear about how federal elections are conducted,” Banks said. Banks contends the Constitution explicitly says presidential electors must be appointed according to rules established by each state’s legislature. When governors or election boards changed rules during the pandemic, those changes were unconstitutional. “For my part, I will vote to uphold the Constitution and send a message to states that they must adhere to our founding document’s instructions – so I will vote against certification in disputed states,” he posted on Facebook.

 

CARLSON NAMED COMM DIRECTOR FOR BANKS: Mitchell Hailstone was named the new communications director for the Republican Study Committee under Chairman Jim Banks, and Buckley Carlson has been promoted from press secretary to communications director for Rep. Jim Banks’ personal office (Howey Politics Indiana).

 

CHENEYS PULL A POWER PLAY: Former Vice President Dick Cheney and House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney have pulled a power play against President Trump’s attempt to overthrow the election (Axios). The elder Cheney helped pull together an op-ed from all 10 living former defense secretaries to warn against military intervention to thwart a transfer of power. Liz Cheney pounded out a 21-page argument against plans to try to stall certification of Biden's win. Each has said little about President Trump over the past four years. But now that they're speaking out, they're making it count — with muscular, blunt cases against obstruction of the inevitable. Liz Cheney has ambitions to run for the White House or House speaker. Her dad remains a formidable force in establishment Republican politics.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB 'EXCITED' TO HOST ALL NCAA MEN'S TOURNAMENTS - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb offered the following statement regarding the NCAA’s decision to stage the 2021 men’s basketball championships in Indiana (Howey Politics Indiana). “Indiana is a basketball state, and we’re beyond excited to safely host the 2021 NCAA men’s Division I, II and III basketball championships here. Games will take place around the state – from Evansville to Indianapolis and from West Lafayette to Fort Wayne. With our deep commitment to public health, strong infrastructure and historic facilities, I have no doubt that this year’s tournaments will be among the best we’ve ever seen.”

 

GOVERNOR: CROUCH STATEMENT ON MARCH MADNESS - Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch offered the following statement regarding the NCAA’s decision to stage the 2021 men’s basketball championships in Indiana (Howey Politics Indiana). "Hoosiers know hoops and we also know how to host primetime events in a safe manner. I have no doubt Hoosier hospitality will be in full effect during the 2021 NCAA men's basketball championships. Our strong tourism sector will help promote Indiana and the tournaments for basketball fans across the world."

 

ISDH: MONDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health Monday announced that 3,630 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 529,688 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. A total of 8,150 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 39 from the previous day. Another 364 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by the state and occurred over multiple days. To date, 2,675,056 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 2,667,473 on Sunday. A total of 5,814,026 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.

 

DWD: STATE AWAITING FED GUIDELINES ON JOBLESS BENEFITS - Over the holidays, the federal government signed a law that would increase unemployment benefits to out-of-work Hoosiers. But Indiana has not yet announced when it will begin sending out an additional $300 in unemployment benefits (Hicks, Indiana Public Media). The so-called Continued Assistance Act would restart additional Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) benefits at a lower rate – it was originally $600 – and extends the length of time an unemployed worker can be eligible for benefits. It also gives states a new ability to waive overpayments in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for self-employed workers, but requires those workers to provide more documentation to be eligible.

 

TOURISM: $6B GENERATED DESPITE PANDEMIC - With all 2020 threw at the tourism industry, including 50% less spending by travelers, Indiana tourism still generated more than $6 billion for Hoosier communities (sources: Rockport Analytics/Tourism Economics). If supported and funded by state legislators, Indiana’s destinations and attractions can do more, employ more and provide more (Indiana Public Media). In a video released this week, the Indiana Tourism Association (ITA) provides a glimpse at the people who hold the potential for an additional $6.6 billion infusion to Indiana’s economy. The video also speaks directly to Indiana policy makers with a call to action to fund Indiana’s tourism industry. The research is clear. The best way to support Indiana communities for future economic recovery is to invest in Indiana tourism and the Hoosiers who work in the industry. “We know the next family vacation is more likely to be a road trip,” explains Jamie Bohler Smith, president, ITA referencing a recent study that revealed 73% of travelers will do so by car (source: MMGY Travel Intelligence). “From Fort Wayne to Evansville, we are ready to optimize the opportunity for Indiana communities and regain financial ground lost in 2020.”

 

DNR: NATURAL RESOURCE COMMISSION MEETING CANCELLED - The Indiana Natural Resources Commission’s regularly scheduled bi-monthly meeting, which was scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 19 at Fort Harrison State Park, has been canceled (Howey Politics Indiana). The NRC’s next scheduled meeting is at 10 a.m. ET on March 16, at Fort Harrison State Park, at the park’s Garrison Ballroom, 6002 North Post Road, Indianapolis.

 

DNR: BATTLE OF THE BULGE REENACTMENT JAN. 9 - The Museum of 20th Century Warfare at Fort Harrison State Park will host a World War II Battle of the Bulge re-enactment on Jan. 9 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Howey Politics Indiana). The re-enactment will begin near the park’s Saddle Barn and will continue east toward the museum, ending near the Camp Glenn Historic District. There will be viewing areas for visitors to observe the re-enactors throughout their path of travel. Visitors should park near the Saddle Barn, from where museum volunteers will direct them to the nearest spectator station. Visitors with limited mobility are encouraged to arrive after noon, when spectator stations will be more easily accessible.

 

DNR: OUTDOOR INDIANA FEATURES McCORMICK'S CREEK SP - Outdoor Indiana magazine’s January/February issue features a cover article on McCormick’s Creek, which became Indiana’s first state park in 1916 (Howey Politics Indiana). The issue also includes an article on Indiana’s state rifle and another feature on native mammals that usually don’t get much attention. Outdoor Indiana is available now at most Barnes & Noble stores in Indiana for $4. Subscriptions are $15 for one year (six issues, a 38% savings off cover) and $28 for two years (12 issues, a 42% savings off cover).

 

MEDIA: WEIDENBENER NAMES IBJ EDITOR - Indianapolis Business Journal co-owner and CEO Nate Feltman announced Monday that Managing Editor Lesley Weidenbener has been promoted as the publication’s top editor effective immediately (IBJ). Former IBJ Editor Greg Andrews, who also has penned the award-winning “Behind the News” column for many years, is transitioning to a role focusing on investigative reporting for IBJ while continuing to write his column. Feltman also announced that Laurinda Swank has been promoted to chief operating officer/chief financial officer. Swank, who previously worked for Feltman as CFO of Home Health Depot, was hired as IBJ Media’s CFO in 2017 when Feltman became part-owner of the company along with Mickey Maurer and Bob Schloss.

 

LEGAL: EVERETTE JOINS DENTONS ENERGY PRACTICE - Dentons Bingham Greenebaum LLP is pleased to welcome Douglas Everette as a partner and member of the Energy practice. Licensed in both Washington, D.C. and Indiana, Everette is experienced in both federal and state regulatory and transactional aspects of energy and telecommunications law.

 

SPORTS: PACERS COME FROM BEHIND TO DEFEAT PELICANS IN OT - Malcolm Brogdon capped a 21-point, 11-assist performance by bouncing in a driving, one-handed floater with 1.7 seconds left in overtime, and the Indiana Pacers beat the New Orleans Pelicans 118-116 on Monday night (AP). “It was pretty simple,” Brogdon said of the winning basket. “Coach (Nate Bjorkgren) trusts me with the ball. He wanted me to get it, get to my spot and make the last shot. I got to my spot and it dropped.” Victor Oladipo scored 25 points for Indiana, hitting a 29-foot 3-pointer and following that up with a steal from Lonzo Ball to spark a six-point comeback in the final 20 seconds of regulation.

 

SPORTS: IU RALLIES TO DEFEAT MARYLAND - Trayce Jackson-Davis took over the game midway through the second half, finishing with 22 points and 15 rebounds, leading Indiana to a 63-55 win over Maryland on Monday night (AP). Race Thompson added 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Hoosiers (7-4, 2-3 Big Ten) and Aljami Durham also scored 13. Second-leading scorer Armaan Franklin (13.8) only played seven minutes before leaving with an injury. Aaron Wiggins scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Maryland (6-5, 1-4). Hakim Hart scored 10 and Donta Scott had 12 rebounds.

 

SPORTS: TONIGHT'S PURDUE/NEBRASKA GAME POSTPONED - The men's basketball game between Nebraska and Purdue, scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 5, is being postponed, as mutually agreed upon by both teams due to health and safety concerns (WLFI-TV). The two schools will work with the Big Ten Conference to reschedule the game at a later date.

 

SPORTS: BSU GAME POSTPONED - Tonight's scheduled Ball State-Western Michigan men's basketball game has been postponed due to COVID-19 (Muncie Star Press).

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP FINALLY REACHES RAFFENSPERGER ON 19TH CALL - President Donald Trump’s now-notorious call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was the 19th time the White House had tried to reach the state official since the election, NBC News reports (Daily Beast). According to reporters Julia Jester and Geoff Bennett, Trump finally made contact on Saturday after 18 unsuccessful attempts—and then went on to urge Raffensperger to “find” enough votes to overturn Trump’s election defeat in the state. The secretary of state reportedly told his staff that he didn’t want their recording of the call to be released unless Trump went on to attack state officials or publicly lie about what had been discussed. However, before The Washington Post published the recording Sunday, Trump attacked Raffensperger in a tweet, writing that he was “unwilling, or unable, to answer” questions about his false claims of widespread voter fraud and that he “has no clue!”

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP COULD FACE GEORGIA CRIMINAL PROBE - Georgia Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that it was unlikely his office would open an investigation into his weekend phone call with President Donald Trump, but suggested a criminal probe could still be launched by an Atlanta-area district attorney (Politico). "I understand that the Fulton County District Attorney wants to look at it," he said. "Maybe that’s the appropriate venue for it to go."

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP LAWYER 'DISAPPOINTED' CALL WAS RECORDED - President Trump's attorney on Monday said the president and his legal team were "disappointed" that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger "secretly recorded and released" what he described as a "confidential settlement discussion" about the Georgia election results (Fox News). The attorney's comments come after audio of Trump's Saturday phone call with Raffensperger was obtained by The Washington Post, and published in full, in which the president urged the secretary of state to "find" enough votes to reverse the state's election results. "We are disappointed that the secretary of state and his staff secretly recorded and released a confidential settlement discussion to settle the two pending lawsuits," Trump attorney Kurt Hilbert said Monday.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP THREATENS SEN. COTTON - President Donald Trump warned Sen. Tom Cotton on Monday that Republican voters would "never forget" GOP lawmakers who fail to embrace Trump's baseless effort to contest President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory (Politico). “How can you certify an election when the numbers being certified are verifiably WRONG,” Trump tweeted. “You will see the real numbers tonight during my speech, but especially on JANUARY 6th. @SenTomCotton Republicans have pluses & minuses, but one thing is sure, THEY NEVER FORGET!”

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP ORDERS CARRIER BACK IN MIDDLE EAST - President Donald Trump was behind the abrupt decision announced on Sunday night to reverse course and keep the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the Middle East due to Iranian threats against top U.S. officials, according to two people familiar with the discussions (Politico). The move was the latest in a string of reversals that befuddled observers and sent mixed signals to Iran. The Pentagon, alarmed by increased Iranian activity ahead of the one-year anniversary of the death of Iranian leader Qasem Soleimani, has in recent weeks taken action to shore up its forces in the Middle East and signal that the U.S. will respond to any attack. So Iran watchers were surprised on Thursday when acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller ordered the Nimitz, which had been on station in the Middle East, to return home.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP HONORS JORDAN, NUNES -  President Donald Trump is set to present one of the nation's highest civilian honors to two of his most outspoken congressional allies, California Rep. Devin Nunes and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, as he looks to reward loyalists with just over two weeks left in his term (ABC News). The White House confirmed that Trump would present Nunes with the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Monday. The former chair of the House Intelligence Committee has been an ardent backer of Trump's during probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the president's 2019 impeachment by the Democratic-led House.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP, PENCE, BIDEN SCHEDULES - President Trump has nothing on his public schedule. Vice President Pence will lead a coronavirus task force meeting at 2:15 p.m. in the Situation Room. President-elect Joe Biden and VP-elect Kamala Harris will meet with transition advisers.

 

AUTOS: LOWEST SALES EXPECTED IN A DECADE - The U.S. auto industry is expected to report its lowest yearly sales tally in nearly a decade Tuesday, as the fallout from the Covid-19 crisis in 2020 upended a record run for the American auto sector (Wall Street Journal). But a sharp bounce back in demand in the year’s second half led shoppers to pay record sums for new wheels, bolstering car-company profits and giving executives optimism for a sustained recovery in 2021. Analysts from several research firms expect U.S. vehicle sales to total 14.4 million to 14.6 million in 2020, which would be down roughly 15% from a year earlier and the lowest level since at least 2012. The decline snapped an unprecedented five-year stretch in which sales topped 17 million vehicles annually.

 

DISTRICT: NATIONAL GUARD CALLED OUT FOR WEDNESDAY - The District of Columbia National Guard will activate 340 troops to provide support to D.C. Metropolitan Police for the pro-Trump demonstrations expected on January 5 and January 6, according to a senior defense official (CBS News). Thousands are expected to descend on D.C. streets to protest the election results this week, as President Trump continues to baselessly claim that he — and not President-elect Joe Biden — won the presidential election. "The BIG Protest Rally in Washington, D.C. will take place at 11.00 A.M. on January 6th... StopTheSteal!" Mr. Trump tweeted on Friday. He's said the rally "will be wild."

 

DISTRICT: PROUD BOYS LEADER ARRESTED - The leader of the Proud Boys, Enrique Tarrio, was arrested by D.C. police Monday afternoon on a warrant charging him with burning a Black Lives Matter banner taken from a historic Black church during a demonstration last month, officials said (Washington Post). Police stopped a vehicle Tarrio had been in shortly after it entered the District, said Dustin Sternbeck, a D.C. police spokesman. He said it is believed that Tarrio, who lives in Miami, was coming into the District from the airport.

 

Local

 

SHELBYVILLE: ICU BEDS MAXED OUT — A hospital in Shelby County recently ran out of ICU beds and many health experts warn we're still waiting to see the coronavirus surge from the holidays. At one point over the weekend at Major Hospital in Shelbyville, capacity got maxed out (Runevitch, WTHR-TV). "We are there. We are there. We stressed our staff to the maximum," said Jack Horner, president and CEO of Major Health Partners.

 

HAMMOND: CITY EMPLOYEE FIRED FOR NYE GUNFIRE — A city water department worker was fired this morning after a Facebook video surfaced apparently showing him shooting celebratory gunfire into the air during the New Year's Eve holiday (Cross, NWI Times). "This is how one of our employees decided to celebrate #NYE2020, by firing 2 clips into the sky in 'celebration' — Where do these dumb (expletive) think the bullets are going to end up? In orbit?" Mayor Thomas McDermott wrote in a social media post Monday. "Our employee was so proud of his work, that he posted the crime on social media for all to see. He was terminated this (morning) over this dangerous action, and is no longer a Hammond Water (Department) employee."

 

HAMMOND: PD CHIEF RESIGNS AFTER 7 YEARS — The city's police chief, John Doughty, is resigning as chief to focus on family, he said (Cross, NWI Times). “Being chief of police is a very demanding job,” Doughty said. “At this point in my life, I need to focus more on my family and be able to spend more time with them. I appreciate the faith and trust Mayor (Thomas) McDermott has shown me." "The Hammond Police Department is honored to have had chief Doughty serve as their leader for the past seven years as he has helped the police department take great strides forward and has led the department in excellence of service for the citizens of Hammond," department spokesman Lt. Steven Kellogg said.

 

CLINTON: FD GETS NEW RESCUE BOATS - New boats for water rescues have arrived at the city of Clinton’s new fire station, capping off a long-planned building project (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Fire Chief Chris Strohm said the department now hopes to train six more firefighters to be swift-water techs for a total of 12 firefighters who can handle rescues on the Wabash River, area creeks and lakes. “These boats are specifically built for rescue purposes, whereas the old boat we were using was a fishing boat we had adapted,” Strohm said. Purchased with $50,000 from the Vermillion County public safety tax, the new boats are stacked on a trailer that sits inside the new fire station.

 

STEUBEN COUNTY: FRESHMAN TO HEAD COMMISSIONERS - The Steuben County Board of Commissioners, with two freshmen members starting the new year, broke with tradition and named as its president a commissioner with no seniority on the board (Marturello, KPC News). When it came time to name president of the board, the lone veteran, Lynne Liechty, was passed over in favor of Wil Howard, one of two freshmen along with Ken Shelton. "I'm disappointed," Liechty said after the meeting. Liechty is in the middle of her second term in office. She represents the North District. This year marks the start of her seventh year in office. Commissioner terms are four years.

 

UNION COUNTY: REID TO PROVIDE AMBULANCE SERVICE -  After two years providing ambulance service to a portion of Wayne County, Reid Health began New Year's Day to also serve Union County (Richmond Palladium-Item). Reid won Union County's bid during early September, according to a Reid news release, and took over providing ambulance service Jan. 1. "We plan to be an active partner in the community supporting local events and school functions as well as working closely with the volunteer fire departments to provide EMS education to enhance the care provided to Union County residents and those who visit the area," said Ryan Williams, Reid's director of EMS, forensics and trauma services.

 

TIPPECANOE COUNTY: HEALTH DEPT TO STAFF NEEDLE EXCHANGE - The Tippecanoe County Health Department is taking steps to give one of its programs the attention it deserves (WLFI-TV). It's adding a harm reduction supervisor for Gateway to Hope. This person will be dedicated to the county's needle exchange program. That's something the department has never had before. Administrator Khala Hochstedler used to be in charge, but she said the pandemic has shifted her focus elsewhere. "I just don't have the time to give it what I was giving it a year ago due to COVID-19," Hochstedler said. "So, this will greatly help alleviate the stress of that."