STATE SEEKS MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES IN 11 OPIOID COUNTIES: Indiana is trying to attract more mental health care providers to 11 rural eastern counties by helping them pay off their professional loans (AP). The Indiana State Department of Health says a new program is aimed at attracting psychiatrists, alcohol and substance use counselors and practitioners in related disciplines to a federally designated region experiencing high numbers of opioid deaths. The region includes the counties of Blackford, Dearborn, Fayette, Franklin, Grant, Henry, Jay, Randolph, Switzerland, Union and Wayne. The plan calls for 30 awards each year of a four-year grant period. The Health Department doesn’t say how large the grants will be but says they will come out of a total repayment pool of $600,000 in state and federal funds.

HPI 2019 POWER 50 LIST COMING TUESDAY: The annual Howey Politics Indiana Power 50 List will be published around 9 a.m. Tuesday. This is our annual power rating of Hoosiers who will likely have the most impact on events in the coming year.

ON SHUTDOWN DAY 17, PENCE DIDN'T HAVE INFO: The one positive element our sources took out of yesterday's meeting at the White House is that this government funding stalemate needs to get much worse before it gets solved, and that is what began happening yesterday (Politico Playbook). Democrats were put off when, at the beginning of the meeting, the White House did not have the budgetary information ready that they had asked for. Democrats complained that it took 45 minutes for the administration to come up with it. Meanwhile, Republicans say that VP MIKE PENCE simply asked for OMB to dig up more information because Democrats were asking for it. They had to produce the information in one day. The White House sent a letter to the Hill, detailing what it wants as part of this funding bill. The Trump administration is asking for $5.7 billion for a "steel barrier," which is doubling down on a position that Democrats have rejected countless times already. President Trump said, "I informed my folks to say that we'll build a steel barrier. Steel. It'll be made out of steel. It'll be less obtrusive, and it'll be stronger. But it'll be less obtrusive, stronger, and we're able to use our great companies to make it, by using steel. ... They don't like concrete, so we'll give them steel. Steel is fine."

TRUMP SEEKING $5.7B FOR WALL: Trump administration officials began taking extraordinary steps to contain the fallout from the partial federal government shutdown Sunday, as the budget impasse between the president and congressional Democrats showed no signs of nearing a breakthrough (Washington Post). As agencies sought to deal with cascading problems across the federal bureaucracy, acting White House budget director Russell T. Vought sent congressional leaders a letter detailing the administration’s latest offer to end the shutdown. It demanded $5.7 billion “for construction of a steel barrier for the Southwest border” but also proposed “an additional $800 million to address urgent humanitarian needs” and unaccompanied migrant children arriving at the border. The posturing came as the shutdown’s impacts mounted, with the Trump administration scrambling to mitigate its effects on Americans expecting to get a tax refund next month, those who rely on federal assistance for their housing, and vulnerable national monuments and parks.

SANDERS REPEATS FALSE CLAIMS OF 'TERRORISTS' AT BORDER: White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Sunday repeated a false claim put forth by her and other Trump administration officials about the number of suspected terrorists apprehended at the southern border, one that is contradicted by the administration's own data on the topic (CBS News). Sanders appeared on "Fox News Sunday" with Chris Wallace and was asked about comments made by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen last week. Nielsen said Customs and Border Protection "has stopped over 3,000 what we call 'special-interest aliens' trying to come into the country in the southern border. Those are aliens who the intel community has identified are of concern." Wallace cited a State Department report stating there is "no credible evidence" of terrorists crossing the border with Mexico. Sanders responded by connecting the issue of terrorism with the fight over border security. "We know that roughly, nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists come into our country illegally, and we know that our most vulnerable point of entry is at our southern border," Sanders said. In an appearance on "Fox and Friends" on Friday, Sanders falsely said last year there were "nearly 4,000 known or suspected terrorists that CPB picked up that came across our southern border."  Wallace interjected on Sunday, saying he had "studied up" on the statistic. "Do you know where those 4,000 people come [from], where they're captured? Airports," Wallace said. "I'm saying that they come by air, by land and by sea," Sanders replied. "I'm not disagreeing with you that they're coming through airports." According to statistics from the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, 2,554 people on the FBI's terrorist screening list were stopped trying to enter the U.S. in fiscal year 2017, the most recent year for which data is available. The majority — 2,170 — were attempting to enter through airports, and 49 were attempting to enter by sea.

SHUTDOWN TESTING AIR CONTROLLERS IN INDY: 309 air traffic controllers work in Indianapolis. And they are beginning to feel the pain of the partial government shutdown (WRTV). The jets continue to fly and the controllers continue to make sure that there is no chaos in the skies — but there is a price. "We are working 6 days a week. Some are working 10 hours a day, that's across the country," said Marc Schneider, National Air Traffic Controllers Association President. "We are at a 30 year low in staffing for air traffic controllers nationwide. The school in Oklahoma is shutdown." According to Schneider, controllers were recently trained on new technology: to text message pilots in the cockpit. Which was supposed to roll out today, and is now not happening because of the shutdown. If it is not implemented by January 15, all the controllers will have to be retrained — at a high cost. "It's a stressful job to begin with. These are people's lives we are dealing with," Scneider said. "Everyone just got done paying for Christmas and now there is no money coming in. Those are things we have to worry about."

FED EMPLOYEES FACE 1ST MISSING PAYCHECK FRIDAY: Federal workers braced for missing their first paycheck this week as negotiators showed little sign of progress in ending a two-week-old partial government shutdown (Wall Street Journal). White House officials and congressional leadership staff members met Saturday and Sunday but didn’t agree on allocating money for President Trump’s request for hundreds of miles of a wall along the southern U.S. border. Because of the partial shutdown, about 420,000 employees, deemed essential, are working without pay, while 380,000 federal employees have been placed on unpaid leave, or furlough. Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said in remarks on NBC that aired Sunday that if lawmakers don’t reach an agreement by midnight on Tuesday, federal employees would miss their first full paycheck on Friday.

CAN TRUMP DECLARE A NATIONAL EMERGENCY? YES: Two weeks into a partial government shutdown triggered by an impasse over the money President Donald Trump demanded for his promised border wall, Trump said he could declare a state of emergency and build his wall without congressional approval. "I can do it if I want," he told reporters at the White House on Friday (NBC News). "We can call a national emergency because of the security of our country. We can do it. I haven't done it, I may do it." Is that true? Legal experts said it might not be as simple to bypass Congress — which ultimately controls the federal budget — as Trump suggests, but not necessarily impossible. NBC News reported Friday that lawyers from the White House, the Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon are meeting to discuss whether or not it's doable. "We're in uncharted territory," said University of Texas School of Law Professor Stephen Vladeck in an interview Friday evening. A president can declare that the country is in a state of national emergency at his discretion. The declaration confers a set of special executive authorities that are designed to give the president the power to effectively handle emergencies, such as an outbreak of war. Experts in executive authority told NBC News that while Trump can declare an emergency, his powers — and the funds he has access to once he's done so — are unclear. “He can declare some kind of national emergency, but what it would allow him to do legally is a totally different question,"said Matt Dallek, professor at Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management and an expert in presidential power.

TRUMP TWEETS ABOUT PENCE MEETING WITH CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS: President Trump tweeted: "V.P. Mike Pence and group had a productive meeting with the Schumer/Pelosi representatives today. Many details of Border Security were discussed. We are now planning a Steel Barrier rather than concrete. It is both stronger & less obtrusive. Good solution, and made in the U.S.A."

TRUMP IN NO HURRY TO REPLACE CABINET MEMBERS: President Donald Trump said Sunday that he is "in no hurry" to name official replacements for several Cabinet-level positions in his administration (CNN). "Well, I'm in no hurry. I have acting (administration officials). And my actings are doing really great," Trump told reporters at the White House before departing to a White House staff retreat at Camp David. The President said that both acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who was former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's second-in-command at the department, and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney are "doing great." Currently, there is also an acting secretary of defense, Patrick Shanahan, the former deputy to former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who resigned last month over differences with Trump's foreign policy views. In addition, there is an acting administrator of the EPA, Andrew Wheeler, and an acting US ambassador to the United Nations, Jonathan Cohen. Matthew Whitaker is serving as the acting attorney general, although former Attorney General William Barr has been nominated to be the the departments' permanent head once again.

BIDEN NEARING DECISION FOR 2020: Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is in the final stages of deciding whether to run for president and has told allies he is skeptical the other Democrats eyeing the White House can defeat President Trump, an assessment that foreshadows a clash between the veteran Washington insider and the more liberal and fresh-faced contenders for the party’s 2020 nomination (New York Times). Many Democratic voters, and nearly all major Democratic donors, are keenly interested in Mr. Biden’s plans because of their consuming focus on finding a candidate who can beat a president they believe represents a threat to American democracy. But there is also a rising demand in the party for a more progressive standard-bearer who reflects the increasingly diverse Democratic coalition. Mr. Biden would instantly be the early front-runner if he ran, but he would have to bridge divides in a primary that would test whether Democrats are willing to embrace a moderate white man in his 70s if they view him as the best bet to oust Mr. Trump. “He has the best chance of beating Trump, hands down,” said Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, Mr. Biden’s longtime friend and former colleague. “On a scale of one to 10, that’s probably about a 12 for us.”

BEARS SEASON ENDS WITH A DOUBLE DOINK ... AND A THUD: The football spun end over end through the lakeside chill, off the right foot of Cody Parkey and toward an inanimate antagonist the Chicago Bears will curse until their final breath. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles had executed another miracle, the Bears’ invincible defense had yielded, and a loopy NFC first-round playoff game had distilled to the outcome of a flying football and, as cruel fate would have it, 25 feet of yellow steel and aluminum (Washington Post). The ball bonked off the left upright and fluttered downward, still holding possibility for Chicago’s season. It bounced off the crossbar and up, a momentary tease. It bounded toward the field and landed with a thud, one more story Philadelphia parents will tell their kids at night before tucking them into Kelly green sheets. The Eagles’ Super Bowl defense continued Sunday evening, surviving on a fourth-quarter touchdown march, then the capriciousness of a football’s bounce. Philadelphia’s 16-15 victory over the Bears provided the latest evidence of its championship toughness and Foles’s witchcraft. The Eagles advanced to the divisional round while the Bears’ 12-win season ended with an unfathomable twist. In one game this season, Parkey had hit four goal posts on kicks. In the final week of the season, he hit another. The misses drew calls for him to be released, but the Bears stuck with him. Parkey drilled the three previous field goals he attempted Sunday evening, and he even made the final 43-yarder once, only to learn Eagles Coach Doug Pederson had iced him with a timeout. And then, on his final kick of the day, the last gasp of the Bears’ season, he hit the upright again. And then the crossbar, too.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: After watching the double doink of Bears kicker Cody Parkey, it just makes you want to give Adam Vinatieri a big hug. So, now Colts-Bears Super Bowl rematch, but I really like the Colts chances in Kansas City on Saturday. - Brian A. Howey


DNC CHAIR PEREZ FACES CRUCIAL DECISIONS: Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez is at the center of the biggest test his party has faced in recent history (AP). The party has rebounded from its disastrous 2016 performance with key midterm victories , but now stares at a long and potentially divisive presidential primary fight that could include dozens of candidates. The DNC is rehabilitating from years of neglect and infighting and lags its Republican counterpart in fundraising and data capabilities — key elements a national party organization provides its nominees. The decisions Perez faces in the coming weeks — from finalizing rules for presidential debates to convincing state leaders to give up control of voter files and choosing which city will host next year's Democratic convention — will be picked apart for any sign that he's throwing his weight behind one candidate or another. That underscores what could be Perez's most daunting task: convincing party faithful and activists that the DNC is a neutral actor in the primary process. It's a tough argument to make to a Democratic base scarred by a bitter primary in 2016 that many supporters of Bernie Sanders said was tilted in favor of Hillary Clinton.

TRUMP CAMPAIGNS SEEKS TO CONTROL CONVENTION: President Donald Trump is tightening his iron grip on the Republican Party, launching an elaborate effort to stamp out any vestiges of GOP opposition that might embarrass him at the 2020 Republican convention (Politico). The president’s reelection campaign is intent on avoiding the kind of circus that unfolded on the convention floor in 2016, when Never Trump Republicans loudly protested his nomination before a national TV audience. The effort comes as party elites like Utah Sen. Mitt Romney are openly questioning Trump’s fitness for the job, and it’s meant to to ensure that delegates to next year’s convention in Charlotte, N.C., are presidential loyalists — not anti-Trump activists looking to create a stir. Shortly before the holidays, Trump political aides Bill Stepien and Justin Clark, the organizers of the project, held a national conference call with Republican state party chairs, who traditionally play an outsize role in picking delegates. Last week, the two advisers began having one-on-one calls with the state chairs to describe the campaign’s mission and discuss various circumstances in each state. “The goal is to have the convention be an advertisement of who we are as a party, as a unified party, to 300-plus million Americans, not an internal battle of the 15,000 people in the arena,” Stepien said.

WARREN TAKES ON TRUMPISM IN IOWA: Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s first presidential campaign foray to this early voting state merged the economic views she has honed for years and the lesson learned by successful Democratic candidates in the midterm elections two months ago (Washington Post). She aimed directly at voters tempted by President Trump’s angry populism in 2016 but avoided mentions of Trump himself almost entirely. “Our 2020 issue will be how we talk about what we stand for,” Warren said, when asked why she was not taking on Trump, something she has not been shy about doing in the past. “Our affirmative vision of how we build a country that reflects our best values. That’s what I try to talk about every chance I get.”

Sunday Talk

MULVANEY ASKS CABINET HEADS TO SEEK WALL MONEY: Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said President Donald Trump has directed his Cabinet to find government funding that could be redirected toward building a border wall (Politico). “Presidents have authority to defend the nation,” Mulvaney said on CNN’s “State of the Union” when asked whether Trump should use emergency powers to get the money he’s seeking to build physical barriers along the border with Mexico. “The president has asked every single Cabinet secretary, and the Office of Management and Budget, to go out and find money that can be used legally to guard the southern border,” he said.

SANDERS TALKS OF WALL FUNDING OPTIONS: White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Sunday left open the possibility that President Donald Trump will attempt to build a wall on the southern border using his own authority (Politico). The president’s demands for more than $5 billion for physical border barriers have led to a more than two-week-long partial government shutdown, as House Democrats have declined to provide any new funding for that purpose. Trump said earlier this week that he could declare a national emergency and entirely bypass Congress. Asked about those comments on “Fox News Sunday,” Sanders said Trump “is prepared to do what it takes to protect our borders to protect the people of this country.” “We’re looking at exploring every option available that the president has,” she said. “Whatever action he takes will certainly be lawful.”

DURBEN SAYS TRUMP 'DOESN'T CARE' IF SHUTDOWN CONTINUES: Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-highest ranking Democrat in the Senate, said lawmakers and the White House remain deeply divided over budget negotiations to reopen the government, saying President Trump "doesn't care" if the partial shutdown continues to drag on. "I can't say that we're close, because the president has made it clear he doesn't care," Durbin said on "Face the Nation" Sunday. "He's prepared to see a shutdown for months and even said years, and reaffirmed that before the cameras. It was stunning to hear a president of the United States say that about his own government, a government we elected him to lead."

REP. CHENEY AGAINST SYRIAN PULLOUT: The new chair of the House Republican Conference said Sunday that reports the administration is slowing down its withdrawal of troops from Syria makes her “very hopeful” because “it would be really devastating” for the United States to pull out “precipitously.” “I've said that the administration -- that the United States should not pull out of Syria,” Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, said on “This Week” Sunday. “I've been very hopeful as I've seen reports that we are now going to slow that down. We've got about 2,200 special operations forces there and they are conducting crucially important work in terms of air support, in terms of artillery support.

General Assembly

ALLIANCE SEEKS CIG TAX HIKE: Indiana lawmakers this legislative session will be urged by some to raise Indiana’s cigarette tax by $2 (Indiana Public Media). Indiana has one of the highest smoking rates in the country, and some of the lowest cigarette taxes. The advocacy group Alliance for a Healthier Indiana says it’s made higher cigarette taxes a focus this year, and lawmakers are being pushed to consider the issue. Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar says raising the cigarette tax is proven to reduce smoking. "And that will help keep young people from ever becoming smokers because the vast majority of people who smoke throughout their lives start before they’re 21," says Brinegar.


VISCLOSKY SEEKS NATIONAL PARK DESIGNATION: A congressman from Gary wants to continue the push to turn Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore into America’s 61st national park. The NWI Times reports that Democratic U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky says efforts will continue with the new Congress. The U.S. House approved proposal failed to advance from a Senate subcommittee and expired Thursday when the 2-year term of the 115th Congress ended. Visclosky said renaming Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore a national park may help grow the regional economy and provide the 15,000-acre lakeshore along Lake Michigan “with the recognition it deserves.” National Park Service acting director P. Daniel Smith told a U.S. Senate subcommittee in August that the Trump administration wants to limit that designation to sites with a variety of resources and encompassing large land or water areas.


GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB HONORS THE LATE REP. COCHRAN - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb is directing flags in Floyd County to be flown at half-staff to honor former state Rep. William Cochran (Howey Politics Indiana). Flags should be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on the day of his funeral, Monday, January 7, 2019. Gov. Holcomb also asks businesses and residents in Floyd County to lower their flags to half-staff on Monday to honor Cochran.

INDOT: I-69 WORK SHIFTING TOWARD INDY - Work is expected to shift northward this year on the decade-long project to extend Interstate 69 through southwestern Indiana (WTHR-TV). The new focus follows state officials opening the 21-mile Bloomington-to-Martinsville segment to full highway speeds in November. The (Bloomington) Herald-Times reports work in that section such as planting trees will resume in the spring. Initial work on the highway's final 26 miles to Interstate 465 in Indianapolis is planned through Martinsville outside the current Indiana 37 lanes. Gov. Eric Holcomb announced in September plans to speed up the section's construction using $600 million from increased Indiana Toll Road rates, but details haven't been determined. The highway's construction began in 2008 near Evansville, but a failed privatization plan approved by then-Gov. Mike Pence delayed the Bloomington-to-Martinsville section by two years.


WHITE HOUSE: BOLTON CONTRADICTS TRUMP ON SYRIA - White House national security adviser John Bolton on Sunday outlined conditions for a U.S. troop departure from Syria that appeared to contradict President Trump’s insistence less than a month ago that the withdrawal would be immediate and without conditions (Washington Post). Speaking during a visit to Israel, Bolton said that certain “objectives” must be achieved before a pullout could take place. “The timetable flows from the policy decisions that we need to implement.” Bolton acknowledged that pockets of the Islamic State remain undefeated and that a quick U.S. pullout could endanger U.S. partners and allies in the region, as well as U.S. forces themselves. Trump, who has declared the battle won against the militants, and just two weeks ago said he refused military entreaties for more time, said Sunday that he remained committed to the withdrawal but told reporters: “I never said we’re doing it that quickly.”

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - President Trump will have lunch with VP Mike Pence.

PENTAGON: U.S. KILLS COLE ATTACK LEADER - The U.S. killed Jamal al-Badawi, a Yemeni al Qaeda operative accused of leading the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, in a strike this month, a U.S. defense official said (Wall Street Journal). President Trump announced the death in a tweet on Sunday, saying: “Our GREAT MILITARY has delivered justice for the heroes lost and wounded in the cowardly attack on the USS Cole. We have just killed the leader of that attack, Jamal al-Badawi.” The Jan. 1 precision strike targeted Mr. Badawi as he was driving alone east of the Yemeni capital, San’a, in Marib governorate, the official said. Until Friday, the Pentagon said it was still assessing whether Mr. Badawi had been hit in the strike. The Pentagon confirmed his death after Mr. Trump’s tweet.

SPORTS: NCAA NATIONAL TITLE GAME TONIGHT - Although No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Clemson meet tonight in their third college football championship in four years (they met in the semifinals the other year), this game is unpredictable (Axios): In their last three meetings, the highest Alabama ranked in points per game nationally was No. 15 (2017-18), while the highest Clemson ranked was No. 14 (2016-17). This season, Alabama ranked No. 2 (47.7 points per game) and Clemson ranked No. 4 (44.3 points per game), as both teams ascended to offensive juggernaut status. They both allow very few points (Alabama ranked No. 5 in points allowed; Clemson ranked No. 1), but that was the case in all three of their previous playoff matchups, so the improved offenses are the key variable to watch. More storylines: NFL scouts will be busy: Tonight's game could feature 20 or more 2019 NFL draft picks. For comparison, the LSU-Alabama "Game of the Century" in 2011 featured 13. 8 p.m. ET, ESPN (with a variety of other ways to watch). Lines: ALA -5.5 | O/U: 58 | Money: ALA -215 / CLEM: +180


CITIES: RICHMOND STUDENT TODAY RETURN AFTER SCHOOL SHOOTING - Students at Dennis Intermediate School will return to school for the first time Monday since a shooting at the school in December left a teenage suspect dead (WRTV). Students and staff gathered at the Tiernan Center before winter break to celebrate already scheduled end of the semester activities, according to a tweet from the school district. When students and staffed arrived at the center, therapy dogs and cards were there to greet them.

CITIES: ELKHART EYES SEWER EXPANSION - Local residents and businesses could be looking at sewer installation bills costing thousands of dollars in coming years, as the City of Elkhart looks at options to expand a sewer north of the toll road (Elkhart Truth). The city’s sanitary sewer line that serves the area north of the toll road along Cassopolis Street is at capacity, according to City of Elkhart Utility Engineer Tory Irwin. That could clog up new development in the area, leaving Elkhart unable to reach the level of growth that city government aims for. For that reason, the city commissioned a study to determine the best way forward. The study, conducted by VS Engineering Inc., was presented to the Elkhart Redevelopment Commission in December and detailed two short-term options, ranging from $3,800,000 capital cost and $4,800,000 5 to 10-year life cycle cost, to a $6,700,000 capital cost with a $6,600,000 5 to 10-year life cycle cost.