STATE LAYS OUT VACCINATION PLAN: State officials announced Wednesday that vaccine allocation would prioritize those most at risk for hospitalization and death from COVID-19, starting with those ages 80 and older (Downard, CNHI). On Friday, the ourshot.in.gov site will open up vaccination reservations to those 80 and older, followed by those 70-79 and then 60-69. “About 93% of the deaths in Indiana and 64% of the hospitalizations from this virus occur in the age group of (those) 60 and older,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said during his weekly COVID-19 update. “(But) we have to continue to practice good public health measures. Vigilance is just as key as the vaccine, so one doesn’t replace the other.” Health Commissioner Kristina Box said that focusing on older Hoosiers would help keep Hoosiers out of hospitals and stop the “heartbreaking rate” of deaths. “Rest assured that an incredible team of experts has looked closely at Indiana’s data to determine the best way to achieve these goals while our vaccine supply remains limited,” Box said. “From the beginning of our planning for the vaccine rollout, we knew that our plans would evolve based on the availability of the vaccine.” Lindsay Weaver, the chief medical officer of the state health department, reported that more than 300,000 Hoosiers would receive their first shot of the two-dose vaccine by the end of the month. Box warned that, with over 1.5 million Hoosiers aged 60 and older, there wasn’t enough vaccine to open up to other age ranges.

 

TRUMP FACES REALITY AMID TALK OF EARLY OUSTER: With 13 days left in his term, President Donald Trump finally bent to reality Thursday amid growing talk of trying to force him out early, acknowledging he’ll peacefully leave after Congress affirmed his defeat (AP). Trump led off a video from the White House by condemning the violence carried out in his name a day earlier at the Capitol. Then, for the first time on camera, he admitted his presidency would soon end — though he declined to mention President-elect Joe Biden by name or explicitly state he had lost. “A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20,” Trump said in the video. “My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power. This moment calls for healing and reconciliation.” The address, which appeared designed to stave off talk of a forced early eviction, came at the end of a day when the cornered president stayed out of sight in the White House. Silenced on some of his favorite internet lines of communication, he watched the resignations of several top aides, including two Cabinet secretaries.

 

PENCE OPPOSES INVOKING 25TH AMENDMENT: Vice President Mike Pence is opposed to using the 25th Amendment to remove President Donald Trump from power, multiple news outlets reported Thursday (AP). A growing number of House and Senate members, including one Republican, have called for Trump's removal via the Constitutional measure following Wednesday's riot by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol that many believe was incited by the president. Before they stormed the Capitol, Trump continued to lob baseless claims of election fraud at a rally. His supporters then went to the Capitol to disrupt the congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Fox News, Business Insider and the New York Times report Pence is opposed to using the 25th Amendment. Additionally, at least two members of Trump's cabinet -- Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos -- resigned Thursday. Since a vote of Cabinet members would likely be needed to invoke the 25th Amendment, it's not clear what happens if too many of them resign.

 

TRUMP, PENCE FINALLY SPLIT: They were never a natural fit, the straight-laced evangelical and the brash reality TV star. But for more than four years, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence made their marriage of political convenience work (AP). Now, in the last days of their administration, each is feeling betrayed by the other. It’s part of the fallout from an extraordinary 24-hour stretch in which Pence openly defied Trump, Trump unleashed his fury on the vice president, and a mob of violent supporters incensed by Trump’s rhetoric stormed the Capitol building and tried to halt the peaceful transfer of power. The Trump-Pence relationship is “pretty raw right now,” said one top GOP congressional aide, who described multiple phone calls in which Trump berated Pence and tried to pressure the vice president to use powers he does not possess to try to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Pence, for his part, was left feeling “hurt” and “upset” by the episode, according to people close to him. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters. Pence’s decision to publicly defy Trump was a first for the notoriously deferential vice president and former Indiana governor, who has been unflinchingly loyal to Trump since joining the GOP ticket in 2016. Pence has spent his tenure defending the president’s actions, trying to soothe anxious world leaders put off by Trump’s caustic rhetoric, and carefully avoiding the president’s ire.

 

6 SHOTS FIRED INTO TIPPECANOE COUNTY DEM HQ: Someone fired at least six bullets into the Tippecanoe County Democratic Party's downtown headquarter offices, Party Chairwoman Heather Maddox said (Wilkins, Lafayette Journal & Courier). "It's outrageous that it's got to this point. It's got to stop," Maddox said late Thursday afternoon from inside the headquarters at 826 Main St. No one was inside the building when it was fired upon and no one was injured, Maddox said. The discovery of the bullets fired into the Democratic Headquarters comes a day after Trump supporters protested outside of the U.S. Capitol while Congress tried to officially count the Electoral College votes.

 

CAPITOL POLICE REJECTED FED OFFERS TO QUELL MOB: Three days before supporters of President Donald Trump rioted at the Capitol, the Pentagon asked the U.S Capitol Police if it needed National Guard manpower. And as the mob descended on the building Wednesday, Justice Department leaders reached out to offer up FBI agents (AP). The police turned them down both times, according to senior defense officials and two people familiar with the matter. Despite plenty of warnings of a possible insurrection and ample resources and time to prepare, the Capitol Police planned only for a free speech demonstration. Still stinging from the uproar over the violent response by law enforcement to protests last June near the White House, officials also were intent on avoiding any appearance that the federal government was deploying active duty or National Guard troops against Americans. The result is the U.S. Capitol was overrun Wednesday and officers in a law enforcement agency with a large operating budget and experience in high-security events protecting lawmakers were overwhelmed for the world to see. Four protesters died, including one shot inside the building. A Capitol Police officer died Thursday after being injured in the Wednesday melee. The rioting and loss of control has raised serious questions over security at the Capitol for future events.

 

REPUBLICANS SPLINTER OVER BREAK FROM TRUMP STAIN: President Trump not only inspired a mob to storm the Capitol on Wednesday — he also brought the Republican Party close to a breaking point (New York Times). Having lost the presidency, the House and now the Senate on Mr. Trump’s watch, Republicans are so deeply divided that many are insisting that they must fully break from the president to rebound. Those divisions were in especially sharp relief this week when scores of House Republicans sided with Mr. Trump in voting to block certification of the election — in a tally taken after the mob rampaged through the Capitol — while dozens of other House members and all but eight Republican senators refused to go along. Republicans who spent years putting off a reckoning with Mr. Trump over his dangerous behavior are now confronting a disturbing prospect: that Wednesday’s episode of violence, incited by Mr. Trump’s remarks, could linger for decades as a stain on the party — much as the Watergate break-in and the Great Depression shadowed earlier generations of Republicans. “His conduct over the last eight weeks has been injurious to the country and incredibly harmful to the party,” said Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey who was the first major Republican to endorse Mr. Trump. Mr. Christie said Republicans must “separate message from messenger,” because “I don’t think the messenger can recover from yesterday.”

 

YOUNG SAYS VIOLENCE STEMMED FOR LEADERS 'NOT BEING TRUTHFUL': Sen. Todd Young on Thursday said the biggest catalyst for the rioting at the U.S. Capitol was “a failure for many of our leaders to be truthful to the American people about what precisely has happened in our elections in recent months” (Lange, IndyStar). The Indiana senator praised Attorney General William Barr for clarifying that the Justice Department had not found evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the vote. But did Trump have any role in encouraging some of the violence? “Of course,” Young said in an exclusive interview with IndyStar. “He’s president of the United States.” Young said whether or not to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office wasn’t up to those in Congress, nor would he weigh in on it due to the separation of powers. “I won't be offering an opinion about that,” Young said, “other than to affirm my confidence in the vice president of the United States and the patriotism of other cabinet members who I believe will continue to conscientiously and legally carry out their duties until Jan. 20, when they leave office.”

 

BUCSHON CONDEMNS TRUMP'S 'DANGEROUS RHETORIC': U.S. Larry Bucshon, M.D. said in a statement Thursday that he "I cannot condone this dangerous rhetoric by the president" (Howey Politics Indiana).  Bucshon, R-Newburgh, said, "Yesterday, the United States changed. The U.S. Capitol was breached for the first time since 1814 when the British took over and burned the Capitol during the War of 1812. Words have meaning and many of the President’s supporters took him literally, resulting in the attempted insurrection. I voted for the President, twice. I have supported his policies and I’m proud of the great successes the President and Congressional Republicans have accomplished on behalf of the American people on a whole host of issues. This is bigger than any one President. In the United States, we do not solve our political differences with violence. In addition, politicians don’t attempt to hold on to power by resorting to insurrection. We have elections and then a peaceful transition of power." Bucshon was at his Rayburn Office Building quarters during the mob riot and sheltered in place. “Before it was all over, a fellow citizen lay dead, and rioters had taken over the Senate floor, occupied the Speaker's office and tried to take over the House floor," he said. "The latter resulting in an armed confrontation risking more lives."

 

WALORSKI CITES 'DARK DAY IN OUR NATION'S HISTORY': U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) called Wednesday "a dark day in our nation’s history," adding, "we are not ruled by violent mobs, and America is strong enough to endure attacks aimed at the heart of our democracy." Walorski signed on to the effort for a congressional investigation of the Electoral College certifications (Howey Politics Indiana). “I believe the integrity of our elections – and the faith the American people have that their votes are fully and fairly counted – is a cornerstone of our democracy. I share the concerns of many Hoosiers about irregularities in how some states conducted the 2020 presidential election. That is why I have strongly supported the creation of an Electoral Commission to conduct a thorough and transparent emergency audit to help restore the American people’s confidence in our electoral system. Because Congress was unable to reach a bipartisan agreement to take such a commonsense step, I voted to formally object to certain electors from contested states in order to shine a light on these concerns." She added, “Another cornerstone of our democracy is the peaceful transfer of power. Like the more than 1.7 million of my fellow Hoosiers who voted for President Trump in November, I am disappointed in the outcome of the election. But Congress has formally certified the Electoral College vote, and we as Americans must follow the Constitution and support a peaceful, orderly transition to the next administration."

 

PELOSI CALLS ON PENCE TO INVOKE 25TH AMENDMENT: Speaker Nancy Pelosi has called on Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to immediately remove President Donald Trump from office following the deadly riots at the U.S. Capitol (Politico). "If the vice president and the Cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment," Pelosi said. Pelosi joined a growing number of lawmakers in demanding the end to Trump's presidency, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, either through the 25th Amendment or impeachment despite Trump having less than two weeks left in office. Democrats and many Republicans have blamed Trump for inciting his supporters to storm the Capitol Wednesday in a failed effort to block certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

 

TRUMP BANNED FROM TWITTER, FACEBOOK: President Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts will be locked through at least Inauguration Day, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Thursday (Politico). “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” Zuckerberg wrote in a statement posted to his personal page. “Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.” Twitter and Facebook froze Trump’s accounts Wednesday in reaction to the president’s incendiary response to a mob of his supporters who invaded the U.S. Capitol, in addition to removing several posts from Trump — including a video in which he called the rioters “very special” and professed his admiration for them. Separately, YouTube removed that video for violating its policies against content alleging rampant voter fraud in the 2020 elections, though it would allow others to repost the video if they added context.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Anyone - anyone - surprised that President Trump's presidency is ending in the chaotic way it is has either not been paying attention or (more likely) has been in deep denial over what we've witnessed over the last five years, reaching the violent crescendo this week The truth ultimately matters. Trump has been lying about everything for years, and about how the 2020 election was "stolen" since Nov. 4. He has been enabled by Vice President Pence and Members of the Indiana delegation until Wednesday's repugnant events at the U.S. Capitol finally pulled off the facade of legitimacy. Unfortunately, his continued cries of a "stolen election" that has been embraced by a number of Members of Congress has the potential metastasize into the political realm by Trump's core supporters. What I am most concerned about at this point is this unstable president's access to the nuclear codes and what other stunts he decides to pull in the final two weeks of his presidency. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

HUPFER, ZODY REACT TO CAPITOL VIOLENCE: Kyle Hupfer, the Indiana Republican Party chair, released a short statement on social media Wednesday night (Downard, CNHI). “The lawlessness on display at the Capitol Building is dangerous, unacceptable and un-American. This is not the way Americans address political disagreements,” he said. Hupfer didn’t answer follow-up questions Thursday about whether Republican leadership had any responsibility for Wednesday’s events. Across the aisle, John Zody, the Democratic Party chair, released a much lengthier statement Wednesday evening. “I never imagined the Republican Party would go as far as to protest the results of a presidential election and incite… a domestic terrorist attack,” Zody said. “Nor that we would witness a President saying 'we love you' to people who breached the people’s house and resorted to violent attacks.”

 

WSJ EDITORIAL BOARD CALLS ON TRUMP TO RESIGN: The Wall Street Journal editorialized today: If Mr. Trump wants to avoid a second impeachment, his best path would be to take personal responsibility and resign. This would be the cleanest solution since it would immediately turn presidential duties over to Mr. Pence. And it would give Mr. Trump agency, a la Richard Nixon, over his own fate. This might also stem the flood of White House and Cabinet resignations that are understandable as acts of conscience but could leave the government dangerously unmanned. Robert O’Brien, the national security adviser, in particular should stay at his post. We know an act of grace by Mr. Trump isn’t likely. In any case this week has probably finished him as a serious political figure. He has cost Republicans the House, the White House, and now the Senate. Worse, he has betrayed his loyal supporters by lying to them about the election and the ability of Congress and Mr. Pence to overturn it. He has refused to accept the basic bargain of democracy, which is to accept the result, win or lose. It is best for everyone, himself included, if he goes away quietly.

 

45% OF REPUBLICANS BACK STORMING CAPITOL: Almost half of Republicans support the pro-Trump protesters who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, putting them at odds with Democrats who largely oppose the actions of the demonstrators, a poll has found (Newsweek). The survey released by YouGov on Thursday morning found that 45 percent of Republican voters backed the attack on the Capitol building, while 43 percent said they "strongly or somewhat" opposed the protesters' behavior. Six percent of Republicans were unsure while a further 6 percent said they were unaware of the events.

 

80% OF REPUBLICANS OPPOSE QUICK TRUMP REMOVAL: 8 in 10 Republicans oppose removing President Trump from office for inciting his supporters to storm Congress in an effort to overturn his election loss, according to a new Ipsos poll for Axios. The stark finding underscores the degree to which the Republican Party has become the Party of Trump.

 

POSEY COUNTY COUNCILMAN CALLS FOR 2ND STORMING OF CAPITOL: A Posey County Council member has stirred concerns with an alleged Facebook post saying he would not condemn Wednesday's violent storming of the U.S. Capitol and calling for more violence (Wilson, Evansville Courier & Press). Posey County Republican Chairman Greg Newman said he had no plans to call for the resignation of Aaron Wilson, an At-Large county council member who was re-elected to a second term in November.Among the statements in the alleged post shared by Adams were: "I say we storm the capital again next week! These lying, cheating, no-good politicians need to learn that the only reason we've had peace in this country for many years is because we've had elected leaders willing to put their party and their ethics above themselves. I do not believe this is the last of the violence we will see and the spineless nincompoops in Washington, D.C. have no one to blame but themselves!"

 

INDEMS CALL ON BRAUN TO RESIGN: The Indiana Democratic Party called on U.S. Senator Mike Braun to resign after he publicly and incessantly incited violence to overturn the presidential election and end American democracy as we know it (Howey Politics Indiana). “These are strong statements, but after yesterday’s attempted coup on our government that follows years of silence or being sycophants to Donald Trump, U.S. Senator Mike Braun and Members of Congress Jim Banks, Jim Baird, Greg Pence, and Jackie Walorski showed their true colors, and it’s that they value the fringe ideology of Trumpism over protecting the U.S. Constitution and the fundamental values of the United States of America,” said John Zody, Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party. “It shouldn’t take a domestic terrorist attack at the U.S. Capitol for some to speak up, and these Indiana Republican politicians have disgraced Hoosiers’ trust to uphold their constitutional duties. They must resign, and if they don’t, now is the time for hardworking Indiana Democratic candidates to think about challenging them for re-election. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary actions - and that time is now. Sign the petition and then consider running."

 

DONNELLY DECRIES VIOLENCE: Former U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly released this statement (Howey Politics Indiana): “I am praying for the safety of all the people who work in the Capitol, the Senate and House members, and the police who are working to protect them. The thugs who have stormed the Capitol grounds are terrorists attacking our country. Why isn’t Donald Trump on television right now telling his supporters to end this terrorist attack on our Capitol and go home? What are you waiting for? Mr. Trump, do you have no decency, do you not care at all about our country?”

 

Presidential 2020

 

PENCE TO ATTEND BIDEN INAUGURATION: Vice President Mike Pence is expected to attend Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration later this month after overseeing Wednesday’s chaotic certification of the president-elect’s Electoral College win (Politico). Three sources close to Pence said he would likely make an appearance at the Jan. 20 event in a show of support for the peaceful transition of power. The decision to attend, they said, became easier after President Donald Trump publicly criticized Pence leading up to, and following, his refusal to stop the certification. “It was a much more difficult decision days ago, but less difficult now,” said a person close to Pence.

 

BIDEN CALLS CAPITOL MOB 'DOMESTIC TERRORISTS': President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday slammed the supporters of President Donald Trump who violently stormed the U.S. Capitol as “domestic terrorists” and emotionally lamented how the members of the mob may have been met with a far harsher law enforcement response if they had been Black (NBC News). Calling Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol "one of the darkest days in the history of our nation" and an “unprecedented assault on our democracy,” Biden said the violent actions of the Trump-flag-toting mob was “not dissent, not disorder — it was chaos.” “They weren’t protesters, don’t dare call them protesters. They were a riotous mob, insurrectionists domestic terrorists. It's that basic, it's that simple,” Biden said during an event in Wilmington, Delaware, to introduce his nominees to lead the Justice Department. “And I wish we could say we couldn’t see it coming, but that's not true, we could see it coming.”

 

BIDEN INTRODUCES GARLAND FOR ATTORNEY GENERAL: President-elect Joe Biden introduced Merrick Garland as his pick for attorney general on Thursday, turning to an experienced judge to help de-politicize the Justice Department and restore the rule of law after what he described as four years of lawlessness under President Donald Trump (AP). Biden also described the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol on Wednesday as “domestic terrorists” and assailed the Republican president for inciting the siege. “The past four years we’ve had a president who’s made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law, clear in everything he has done,” Biden declared, vowing a dramatic change of course in his administration. “More than anything, we need to restore the honor, the integrity, the independence of the Department of Justice that’s been so badly damaged." If confirmed by the Senate, which is likely, Garland would take over as the nation's top law enforcement official at a critical moment for the country and the agency. He would inherit immediate challenges related to civil rights, an ongoing criminal tax investigation into Biden’s son Hunter and calls from many Democrats to pursue criminal inquiries into Trump after he leaves office.

 

BIDEN CHOOSES WALSH FOR LABOR SEC: President-elect Joe Biden has picked Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a former top union leader, to serve as his Labor secretary, according to two sources, sending a selection process that split the labor movement and stoked diversity concerns among Democrats (Politico). Walsh beat out a host of other names floated for the position, including Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.), former Deputy Labor Secretary Seth Harris, California Labor Secretary Julie Su and AFL-CIO Chief Economist Bill Spriggs.

 

BIDEN SELECT RAIMONDO AS COMMERCE SEC: President-elect Joe Biden has selected Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to serve as secretary of Commerce, according to two people familiar with the decision (Politico). Raimondo, who impressed the Biden team when she was considered to be Biden’s running mate, had also been in contention to run the Treasury Department and the Department of Health and Human Services.

 

BIDEN TO SEEK $1,400 RELIEF CHECKS: Joe Biden is considering asking Congress to help suffering Americans in two steps: give them the balance of their coveted $2,000 coronavirus payments, followed by a $3 trillion tax and infrastructure package (Axios). The former senator is confident he can get multiple packages through Congress after Democrats won both Georgia Senate elections. The president-elect's team also wants to get cash in Americans' hands as quickly as possible, according to people familiar with the matter. Democrats are concerned that if they miss early opportunities to combat COVID and reverse its broader effect on the economy, the twin problems could cripple the rest of Biden’s presidency. The first bite would come in the form of $1,400 payments that would be added to the $600 in cash Congress approved last month. Also included in this quick-hit package would be money for state and local aid, as well as funding for vaccine distribution.

 

CHARLOTTE PENCE BOND CONGRATULATES BIDEN, HARRIS: Charlotte Pence Bond, the VP’s daughter, tweeted: “Congratulations to President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris.”

 

General Assembly

 

REP. CAMPBELL STATEMENT ON ASSAULT ON DEM HQ: State Representative Chris Campbell (D-West Lafayette) today issued the following statement after the Tippecanoe County Democratic Party headquarters shooting (Howey Politics Indiana): "Tippecanoe County has been my home for the last three decades," Campbell said. "I attended college at Purdue University. I was married here. I raised a family here. I was a coach for both of my children's soccer teams. I have represented this district and its interests in the halls of the Indiana General Assembly. Tonight's Tippecanoe County is unrecognizable. I am heartbroken. The attack on the U.S. Capitol and the Tippecanoe County Democratic Party headquarters is an attack on democracy itself. This type of political violence demonstrated across the nation was fueled by inflammatory rhetoric that must come to an end. This division needs to stop immediately. We need to get back to a place of civility. It is time for We The People to come together to rebuild a healthy democratic society that we can be proud of. State and local leaders must condemn all acts of political violence, and I hope my colleagues join me in my condemnation of today's events."

 

HUSTON ROLLS OUT HOUSE GOP AGENDA: House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) announced the Indiana House Republicans' list of priorities for the 2021 legislative session on Thursday. It includes a one-time grant to pay for police body cams, establish a new grant program to target Indiana’s most critical health challenges (HB1007), and expand rural broadband to help close the digital divide for Hoosier students, workers and employers (Howey Politics Indiana). "We're focused on continuing to navigate this pandemic and helping Indiana bounce back stronger than ever before," Huston said. "It's critical we get more Hoosiers back to work, businesses open again and our economy firing on all cylinders. This session, our legislative priorities focus on helping small businesses and Hoosier workers, expanding rural broadband, improving public health, and supporting students and law enforcement. I look forward to working with our Senate colleagues and Governor Holcomb, and having a safe and productive legislative session."

 

SCHOOL FUNDING BILL EXPEDITED:  Indiana lawmakers are expediting two similar bills intended to ensure schools receive full funding for all students, regardless of whether they are receiving instruction virtually or in the classroom due to the coronavirus pandemic (Smith, AP). The draft bills were filed in the House and Senate at the start of the 2021 Legislative session, both redefining what constitutes a "virtual student" and ensuring there would be no reduction in per-student funding for traditionally in-person schools. A twice-yearly count of students attending schools is used to determine how much money the state allots to each facility. According to the bills, students will not be counted as "virtual" on Feb. 1 even if most or all of their learning takes place online. Without that change, millions of dollars would be on the line for schools offering instruction online only. Current state law caps per-pupil funding for students who take at least half their classes virtually at 85% of full in-person student funding.

 

BOHACEK BILL WOULD PREVENT LOCAL PD DEFUNDING: State Sen. Mike Bohacek, R-Michiana Shores, is pressing ahead with his plan to deny local elected officials, and the citizens they represent, control over a major portion of the annual tax revenue collected by Indiana counties, cities and towns (Carden, NWI Times). Senate Bill 42 would prohibit local governments from ever cutting spending on police, fire or other public safety agencies absent a reduction or shortfall in tax revenue. Bohacek told the Senate Local Government Committee Thursday he hopes his legislation will keep the "defund the police" movement out of the state by making it impossible for Indiana local governments to reduce public safety spending. "We just want to take that off the table," Bohacek said. "To just say, arbitrarily, we're just going to cut funding — that's not the way to do that."

 

LAWMAKERS TO FIX ACCIDENTAL LAKE COUNTY DELETION: State lawmakers acknowledged Thursday they inadvertently deleted essential Lake County governing procedures during a 2019 cleanup of Indiana election statutes, and took the first step toward retroactively putting things back as they were (Carden, NWI Times). The Senate Local Government Committee voted 8-0 to send to the full chamber Senate Bill 35, reinstating the process for the Lake County Commissioners to veto an ordinance approved by the Lake County Council and for the council to override the commissioners' veto. State Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, the sponsor of the measure, as well as Senate Enrolled Act 560 in 2019, said no one realized deletion of the governing procedures specific to Lake and St. Joseph counties was included in the 130-page election cleanup measure until a veto issue popped up last year in Lake County.

 

HUSTON COMMENTS ON U.S. CAPITOL VIOLENCE: Addressing the storming and entering of the U.S. Capitol, Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston said Thursday morning that the events of the previous day had him on his knees and praying for the country (Herron, IndyStar). "I am tired today. I won’t lie to you. Like many of you, I was up way too late last night. It wasn’t just consuming the news. It was thinking about the news. We, as state and community leaders, have an opportunity to show what is acceptable and what is unacceptable. And what is completely unacceptable is violence disrupting democracy. I was with (minority) Leader (Rep. Phil) GiaQuinta this morning and we talked about the fact that we can disagree here and I think for the most part we all have our moments. Mine too. It isn’t perfect.. maybe not as respectful as maybe I should be. But, frankly, we have to hold ourselves to higher standards."

 

SEN. TAYLOR COMMENTS ON U.S. CAPTIOL RAMPAGE: Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor said state lawmakers had the opportunity to take a bad situation and make it good (IndyStar). "It was a very difficult day for the United States of America and our democracy. I have no doubt that we will bounce back from this but... we are a nation of laws. And when you have a grievance, there's a way to process those and that is to file a lawsuit and get it resolved in the court system. And our election system and our democracy depends on, and is bigger than, any one person or any one policy. Our nation needs to have faith in our democratic process that is very, very important. It took a little bit of a hit yesterday and I have no doubt that we will come back and we're going to continue to be a strong nation and a leader in the world for democracy... but it's something that we need to focus on, and understand just how important that is."

 

REP. ANDRADE COMMENTS ON U.S. CAPITOL VIOLENCE: State Rep. Mike Andrade (D-Munster) today released the following statement against the attack of a pro-Trump mob on the U.S. Capitol yesterday (Howey Politics Indiana): “Today, the very heart of our democracy came under attack by violent rioters fueled by the divisive rhetoric of our president and his allies,” Andrade said. I understand with any election brings frustration and disappointment, but it is important we do not give into our darkest temptations to cause violence and destruction. What happened yesterday afternoon in our nation’s capital is not democracy and does not represent our values or ideals we hold so dear as Americans.”

 

LAWMAKERS TO ADDRESS VIRTUAL SCHOOL FUNDING GAP: Lawmakers affirmed the need to fully fund schools serving an increasing number of students online during the pandemic in discussions at the Statehouse on Wednesday (Erdody, IBJ). The number of students learning virtually in Indiana has grown sharply because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A statewide stay-at-home order issued by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb in March led schools to pivot to e-learning, and many schools continue to offer a virtual or hybrid option to families. But the limitations on in-person classes opened new questions about school funding. Current law calls for Indiana public and public charter schools to receive some funding from the state based on the number of students they serve, a total determined by “count days” in September and February. Students who spend more than half their time learning online earn a school only 85% of what a student learning in the classroom earns. The Indiana State Board of Education in September suspended those rules. Instead, the board fully funded students whom districts were educating online due to the pandemic. But to continue full funding for the spring will require legislative action. Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, wrote an open letter last summer highlighting the issue and the need for lawmakers to find a solution in the 2021 session.

 

REP. FLEMING TO ADMINISTER VACCINES:  State Rep. Rita Fleming (D-Jeffersonville) has volunteered to administer the COVID-19 vaccine at both Clark Memorial Hospital and the local health department in Jeffersonville (Howey Politics Indiana). “A part of me will always be a doctor, and I feel it is my civic duty to help administer the vaccine,” Fleming said. “I can help inform the community and fund the vaccination program as a state legislator, but I can also be on the ground, side-by-side with our healthcare workers.” Fleming received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, as required by those who will administer it. She encourages everybody to get vaccinated and to continue to wear their masks and social distance six feet apart. “Despite mild side effects, such as a headache and muscle aches, the protection and peace of mind I’ll get from the vaccine is worth it,” Fleming said. “We can save lives with this vaccine.”

 

PORTER FILES ANTI-BULLYING BILL: The number of reported bullying incidents is trending down in Indiana schools, according to the latest data (WRTV). But one lawmaker says the numbers can be deceiving, and he’s filed legislation to better protect students from bullying — especially those in private and charter schools. Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis, has filed House Bill 1185 which would require charter and private schools to adhere to the same bullying requirements as public schools. A total of 4,495 bullying incidents were reported in the 2019-20 school year, compared to 5,257 in 2018-19 and 5,604 in 2017-18.

 

Congress

 

4 DEAD DURING CAPITOL SIEGE: Four people died on Wednesday, including one woman who was shot by a police officer, amid protests and rioting on Capitol Hill that resulted in dozens of demonstrators being arrested, police announced (The Hill). Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee called the rioting by pro-Trump demonstrators "shameful" during a news conference alongside Mayor Muriel Bowser (D). Demonstrators stormed the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, forcing both chambers to evacuate as they prepared to certify President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College win. The situation escalated quickly, with officers scrambling to prevent swarms of people from entering the Capitol building before eventually being overrun by scores of people entering the complex. One woman was shot and killed by Capitol Police during the rioting. Police said three other people — a woman and two men — died after apparently suffering "separate medical emergencies" near the Capitol grounds.

 

CARSON CALLS FOR 25TH AMENDMENT: U.S. Rep. André Carson called for President Trump's removal from office "as soon as possible" (Howey Politics Indiana). In a tweet on Thursday, the Indianapolis Democrat said, "President Trump may be leaving office in matter of weeks, but the assault on the Capitol shows how much damage his demagoguery can do in just one day. We must remove him from office as soon as possible — through invoking the 25th Amendment or impeachment."

 

BRAUN FLIP-FLOPS AGAIN ON ELECTORAL COLLEGE CHALLENGE: U.S. Sen. Mike Braun flip-flopped again. Five days after the Indiana Republican announced he would partner with 11 other GOP senators in an effort to retain Donald Trump as president — despite the Republican incumbent losing both the electoral and popular vote — Braun abandoned his allies Wednesday and voted to accept the presidential election results from the challenged states of Arizona and Pennsylvania (Carden, NWI Times). It was the second reversal from the first-term senator in the past month after Braun on Dec. 14 acknowledged Democrat Joe Biden as the president-elect, and Braun admitted state legislatures, state courts and the U.S. Supreme Court all failed to find sufficient evidence to alter any state's election results in the six weeks after Election Day. Braun proudly posted a photo on Twitter at 11:43 a.m. showing himself signing his objection to accepting Arizona's electoral votes, and Braun tagged in the tweet both Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the leader of the challenge caucus. At approximately the same time, Trump exhorted his supporters attending a "Save America March" across the street from the White House to "walk down to the Capitol" to protest an election result Trump claimed was an "egregious assault on our democracy." A mob later stormed the Capitol as state electoral votes were being counted, vandalizing congressional offices, stealing federal property. Four people died following the day's events. Braun, like other members of Congress spirited away to a secure location during the first breach of the Capitol since the British invasion in the War of 1812, appeared shaken by the experience and apparently reconsidered his initial plan to try to give the mob the second Trump term it wanted. "Today's events changed things drastically," Braun said at 10:31 p.m. Wednesday after order was restored to the Capitol.

 

REP. PENCE VOTES AGAINST PENNSYLVANIA E.C. CERTIFICATION: Rep. Greg Pence, R-Ind., joined three other House members overnight in voting against one or both of the Electoral College votes from Pennsylvania and Arizona (Columbus Republic). Joining him were Republicans Jim Baird, Jim Banks and Jackie Walorski. According to the House vote, Pence voted to certify the Arizona results, but against certifying the Pennsylvania results. “I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution on behalf of Hoosiers in the 6th District. The United States is a country of law and order," Pence said in a statement. "There are millions of American voters in our nation who currently feel disenfranchised, but violence and anarchy is never the answer. The way forward for our nation is to follow the U.S. Constitution. My votes reflect both my support of the Constitution and the disenfranchised voters of the 6th District who feel this election process was intentionally altered for political reasons. This was not what the Founding Fathers intended and it was wrong.”

 

REP. SPARTZ 'EXTREMELY UPSET' BY MOB RIOT: U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz said Thursday that she is "extremely upset and worried about the future of our country," but voted against challenges to the Electoral College vote (Howey Politics Indiana). “Whatever the irregularities and politically motivated election law changes in certain states, two wrongs do not make a right, and Congress cannot overrule millions of votes certified by those states," Spartz said. "It’s a threat to our federalist system and would play into the hands of those seeking to end the electoral college. President Trump has done incredible things for our country and I share the disappointment of millions of Hoosiers in the outcome of the 2020 election, but ultimately, the recourse is with the American people, at the ballot box, in the next election as it has been for the last 200 years.”

 

HOLLINGSWORTH EXPLAINS VOTE TO UPHOLD ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTE: Ninth District U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth used a Facebook video to explain his vote to uphold Electoral College results (Legan, Indiana Public Media). “Americans spoke on Nov. 3,” he said. “And the counting of electoral votes in the House chamber is not the place for us to overturn what 160 million Americans said.” In the video, Hollingsworth said he was planning to uphold results before yesterday’s events at the Capitol took place. More than 130 Congressional Republicans had objected to results from Arizona and Pennsylvania because of alleged voter fraud. Hollingsworth was voted into office along with President Trump in 2016 and often sided with the president on issues before Congress. But he said loyalty to the Constitution topped loyalty to the president. “I know that most of us want to see Trump as president,” Hollingsworth said. “I campaigned with Trump. I voted for Trump. But Trump at all costs, including the Constitution, is too high a cost. We must at some point say that we have lost this election.”

 

WALORSKI DUCKS TRIBUNE INTERVIEW: U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, Indiana's 2nd Congressional District Republican, said Thursday she was disappointed Trump lost the election and applauded his "incredible achievements" but decried the "violence and destruction" on the Capitol. Walorski declined The South Bend Tribune's request to be interviewed Thursday but released a statement. "Those who invaded the Capitol and assaulted law enforcement officers must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law," she said in the statement. Walorski was one of the 147 Congressional members who voted to object to Electoral College results in Arizona and Pennsylvania.

 

PELOSI CALLS FOR CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF TO RESIGN: Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for the resignation of Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund and said that House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving will be resigning after the massive security breach of the Capitol on Wednesday by pro-Trump protesters (Politico). A spokeswoman for Sund said earlier he has no plans to step down.

 

SCHUMER WILL FIRE SENATE SGT. OF ARMS: Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said he will fire Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Mike Stenger when Democrats take the majority later this month after the pro-Trump riots in the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon (Politico). “If Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Stenger hasn't vacated the position by then, I will fire him as soon as Democrats have a majority in the Senate," Schumer said in a statement to POLITICO. Stenger and House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving are both under pressure to step down after the deadly and embarrassing breach of security.

 

MAN IN PELOSI OFFICE IDENTIFIED: The man photographed sitting at a desk in Nancy Pelosi’s office during the Capitol Hill riots has been identified by the media as Richard Barnett of Arkansas – and he is now insisting he is "not a thief" despite allegedly swiping a letter addressed by the House speaker (Fox News). Barnett, as of midday Thursday, does not appear to be facing any charges related to the storming of the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, which resulted in four deaths and at least 70 arrests. Demonstrators are still being sought by police. "If you are a wicked attorney get in touch with me – I’m going to need one or two," he told KFSM in a phone interview following the chaos.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB LAUDS RECORD IEDC JOBS YEAR - The state’s lead economic development agency announced Thursday that it secured 282 business relocation or expansion deals in 2020 that are expected to result as many as 31,300 new jobs (IBJ). The Indiana Economic Development Corp. said those businesses together plan to invest more than $5.6 billion in Indiana and create jobs paying an average wage of $28.13 an hour. The job-creation number was a record high for the fourth straight year and the annual wage commitment was the second highest since the establishment of the IEDC in 2005. The IEDC received commitments for 27,137 jobs in 2020, 30,710 jobs in 2018 and 30,158 jobs in 2017. Last year marked all-time highs for commitments in capital investment ($8.44 billion) and average wage ($28.60 per hour). “Despite being an incredibly challenging year for Hoosier businesses in many different ways, I’m extremely encouraged and inspired by the perseverance of our business community,” Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said in written remarks. “Achieving another record-breaking year for economic development in 2020 shows us that Indiana is on the right track and that better times are ahead for Hoosiers, with more than 31,000 new career opportunities over the next few years.”

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SAYS EMERGENCY POWERS LANGUAGE IMPORTANT – Gov. ERIC Holcomb’s not signing on just yet to a bill that would modify his emergency powers (Berman, WIBC). Holcomb says he and legislative leaders have the same goal of keeping legislators in the loop. He says it’s important for a governor to have their input, and to be able to give them the rationale for the actions he takes. But Holcomb says the existing law works, and says any changes mustn’t interfere with the ability to respond quickly to an emergency. He says that’ll come down to specific wording on issues like how and how often legislators need to convene, and what happens once they do. Holcomb says he’s not sure summaries of the bill match what he and leaders have discussed. House Majority Leader Matt Lehman’s (R-Berne) bill would require the legislature to come into session at some point if an emergency lasts longer than a month.

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB ANNOUNCES SOUTH SHORE DOUBLE TRACKING TO BEGIN - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb announced Thursday nearly $173 million in federal funding that will allow construction to begin on the expansion of the South Shore rail line to a double track, a decades-long priority for the region (Howey Politics Indiana). The $491 million project, which is a key piece of Gov. Holcomb’s Next Level Agenda, will speed passenger rail service between Gary and Michigan City as well as make critical safety improvements at grade crossings and platform improvements at five stations. “By improving commuter rail through the region, the project is a game changer for northwest Indiana and the entire state,” Gov. Holcomb said. “Combined with our recent announcement on the West Lake Corridor project, double tracking the South Shore line will connect Hoosiers, attract talent and business, and increase quality of life in our great Indiana communities.” On Thursday, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) signed the Full Funding Grant Agreement. This agreement finalizes the full federal funding for the project through the FTA’s Capital Investment Grant (CIG).

 

ISDH: THURSDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health today announced that 7,344 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 546,499 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. A total of 8,452 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 81 from the previous day. Another 371 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, 2,710,638 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 2,694,585 on Wednesday. A total of 5,950,922 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.

 

EDUCATION: NEXT GENERATION SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE - High-achieving students in high school or college who are planning to teach in the State of Indiana for at least five years can apply for a $7,500 scholarship per year of college (up to $30,000 total) through the Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship program. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education is encouraging students to act swiftly, as there are only 200 scholarships available and the deadline to apply is January 31, 2021. Interested students should apply at ScholarTrack.IN.gov.

 

IU: IDS EDITORS APPEAL FOR FUNDS - Editors of the Indiana Daily Student said on Thursday that the newspaper will run out of money this year. "This could be the last semester the Indiana Daily Student exists as it has for nearly 153 years," the editors wrote. "This isn’t meant to be alarmist, it’s meant to be transparent. The IDS has been struggling financially for years, but the situation has never been this grim. We’re on track to run out of money by May. The IDS is in a strange position: we’re independent, but only when making editorial decisions. The university can’t tell us what to write, but we can’t fundraise or apply for grants without its approval. IU governs our structure. Our professional staffers are IU employees, but we foot the bill for their paychecks and health insurance. Our funding comes mostly from advertising revenue and donations, which are both lower than ever. Our fall semester budget — including professional staff salaries, printing costs and student pay — was $327,603.05. When we run out of money, the Media School or university could step in to take on our deficit. No one knows how much of our budget they would cover or how this would change our structure and content."

 

SPORTS: FOOTBALL COACH ASSN. APOLOGIZES FOR TRUMP TWEET - The Indiana Football Coaches apologized for a message that appeared on its Twitter page late Wednesday afternoon following the violence at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. (IndyStar). The tweet, which was deleted a few minutes later, read: “There is no proof who is behind this. Can’t assume it is Trump supporters given the history of extreme leftist and Marxist groups.” The tweet was deleted after a few minutes and the IFCA issued an apology. “Our Executive Director, Coach (Bob) Gaddis, and Assistant Executive Director, Coach (Jason) Simmons, are aware of what was posted on our account. We are investigating the post and who may have conducted the act. This post is not something our association supports or condones. We apologize!” IFCA executive director Bob Gaddis, who recently retired after a long career at Columbus East, said Thursday that the IFCA is still investigating what happened. He said he and Simmons, the Ben Davis coach, both have iPhones, along with other executive board members with access to the account. The message was posted from an Andriod phone. “We’re trying to get to the bottom of it,” Gaddis said.

 

SPORTS: WISCONSIN DEFEATS IU IN 2OT - Veterans and young players made crucial contributions to keep No. 8 Wisconsin near the top of the Big Ten standings (AP). D’Mitrik Trice scored 21 points and Tyler Wahl made consecutive 3-pointers in the second overtime to spark Wisconsin to an 80-73 victory over Indiana on Thursday night. Wahl finished with a career-high 12 points as Wisconsin (10-2, 4-1 Big Ten) won for the seventh time in its last eight games. Nate Reuvers added 14 points and Micah Potter had 10.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP VIDEO DECRIES 'HEINOUS ACTS' - President Trump late Thursday called the storming of the U.S. Capitol by a mob of his supporters a “heinous attack” and said he would leave office peacefully Jan. 20, after facing bipartisan criticism for his reaction to the riot and increasing pressure for his removal (Wall Street Journal). In a nearly three-minute video, Mr. Trump accepted no responsibility for the riot, which followed a rally where the president urged supporters to head to the Capitol and “fight.” He warned rioters, “To those who broke the law, you will pay.” The video, tweeted shortly after 7 p.m., followed pressure from advisers to more forcefully respond to the riot at the Capitol, which left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. Several of his closest advisers have publicly condemned his response to the violence, and White House counsel Pat Cipollone warned the president that he risked legal exposure related to the riot, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

 

WHITE HOUSE: ISOLATED TRUMP 'IN A DARK PLACE' - The president spent the day in the White House without access to the social media accounts that helped rocket him to power, as advisers described him as increasingly angry and isolated (Wall Street Journal). His Twitter account was locked for a period and Facebook banned him from its platform, citing posts the companies deemed to be inciting violence or undermining the electoral process.  Members of his inner circle, including chief of staff Mark Meadows, senior adviser Stephen Miller, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, Mr. Cipollone, and the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, urged him to put out another statement Thursday, aides said, telling him Americans needed to hear directly from the president. They advised the president that it was important to dissuade supporters from participating in violent riots in Mr. Trump’s name, particularly as Inauguration Day nears, the aides said. On Thursday morning, the president very briefly addressed over speakerphone a members’ breakfast at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting in Florida, thanking the donors for their service to the party but didn’t address the riots, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP PONDERS PARDONS FOR SELF, FAMILY, AIDES - President Donald Trump has been discussing with aides the possibility of pardoning himself and family members, according to news reports Thursday. It's an issue that heads into unprecedented and potentially dangerous legal territory (Tegna). The New York Times reports that Trump has brought it up several times since the election, but it's not clear if he has discussed it since Wednesday's riot in which a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. Among those he's reportedly also considering pardoning are his three eldest children -- Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump. A pardon is also under consideration for Ivanka's husband, Jared Kushner. Both Ivanka and Kushner are White House advisers. Bloomberg reports pardons could also come for Kimberly Guilfoyle, the former Fox News host who's dating Trump Jr., Trump attorney former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and senior adviser Stephen Miller.

 

WHITE HOUSE: SEC. DeVOS RESIGNS - Education Secretary Betsy DeVos submitted her resignation letter Thursday, two department officials confirmed to POLITICO. DeVos, one of a half-dozen members of President Donald Trump's Cabinet who has lasted for the duration of his term, cited Trump’s rhetoric surrounding the Capitol riots as an “inflection point” for her.

 

WHITE HOUSE: LABOR SEC. CHAO RESIGNS - Elaine Chao will resign from her post as the head of the Department of Transportation, an administration official has confirmed (Politico). Chao, whose husband is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will resign as of Jan. 11.

 

WHITE HOUSE: MULVANEY RESIGNS - President Donald Trump’s former acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney joined a growing list of Trump administration officials who are leaving following the violent riot at the Capitol on Wednesday (CBS4). Mulvaney resigned his post as special envoy to Northern Ireland Thursday, saying “I can’t do it. I can’t stay.”

 

WHITE HOUSE: BARR CITES TRUMP 'BETRAYAL' - Former Attorney General William Barr says President Donald Trump’s conduct as a violent mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol was a “betrayal of his office and supporters” (AP). In a statement to The Associated Press, Barr said Thursday that “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable.” Barr was one of Trump’s most loyal and ardent defenders in the Cabinet. His comments come a day after angry and armed protesters broke into the U.S. Capitol, forcing Congress members to halt the ongoing vote to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s election and then flee from the House and Senate chambers.

 

WHITE HOUSE: AMERICAN DEMOCRACY DEFENDED BY ... FRENCH PRESIDENT - The choreography was unusual: President Emmanuel Macron of France, standing before the Stars and Stripes, declaring in English that “We believe in the strength of our democracies. We believe in the strength of American democracy.” And so the presidency of Donald Trump draws to a close with a French leader obliged to declare his faith in the resilience of American democracy, a remarkable development (Cohen, New York Times). Mr. Macron’s wider point was clear enough: The mob of Trump loyalists in Washington attempting to disrupt the peaceful transition of American power also posed a threat to all democracies.

 

WHITE HOUSE: MANUFACTURERS CALL ON PENCE TO INVOKE 25TH AMENDMENT - The head of the National Association of Manufacturers, a group representing 14,000 companies in the U.S., on Wednesday called on Vice President Mike Pence to “seriously consider” invoking the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to remove President Donald Trump from office. The 25th Amendment states that the vice president can become acting president if he and a majority of the Cabinet declare the president no longer able to hold office. However, if the president contests that declaration, it takes two-thirds of the House and Senate to override and remove him. Two Democratic U.S. representatives worked on a letter Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday requesting that he invoke the amendment, according to NBC News.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP, PENCE, BIDEN SCHEDULES - President Trump and VP Mike Pence have nothing on their public schedules. President-elect Joe Biden and VP-elect Kamala Harris will make a transition announcement in Wilmington, Del., receive the President’s Daily Brief and meet with transition advisers. Harris “will also participate in a virtual event thanking supporters of the Biden-Harris campaign.”

 

DISTRICT: SAN DIEGO WOMAN KILLED DURING CAPITOL PROTEST - As dramatic scenes unraveled in the Capitol on Wednesday – with a horde plowing through security – the jarring live video showed a woman draped in a Trump flag who has been shot by a plainclothes officer as she allegedly purported to breach the storied chambers via the window. She was rushed to a local hospital in critical condition and later died from her wounds (Fox News). That woman was later identified as a 14-year Air Force veteran from San Diego, Calif. Her name was Ashli Babbitt. Her husband, Aaron Babbitt, told KUSI-TV in San Diego that she was a "strong supporter of President Trump, and was a great patriot to all who knew her."

 

MEDIA: SUNDAY TALK - “Fox News Sunday”: Panel: Josh Holmes, Marie Harf and Jonathan Swan. Power Player: Gitanjali Rao. NBC “Meet the Press”: Panel: Kasie Hunt, Hallie Jackson, Jeh Johnson and Peggy Noonan. ABC “This Week”: Panel: Chris Christie, Rahm Emanuel, Yvette Simpson and Sarah Isgur.

 

MISSOURI: LAST CIVIL WAR WIDOW DIES AT AGE 101 - Helen Viola Jackson's 1936 marriage to James Bolin was unusual to say the least: He was 93 and in declining health, and she was a 17-year-old schoolgirl (AP). Bolin was also a Civil War veteran who fought for the Union in the border state of Missouri. Jackson was almost certainly the last remaining widow of a Civil War soldier when she died Dec. 16 at a nursing home in Marshfield, Missouri. She was 101.

 

KENTUCKY: COURIER-JOURNAL PRESSES TO BE IDLED - The presses at the Courier Journal building in downtown Louisville, Kentucky are stopping for good (AP). The newspaper’s printing and packaging facility will close permanently in March, according to officials with Gannett, which owns the Courier Journal. Printing and other production operations will be split between Gannett-owned newspapers in Knoxville, Tennessee, and Indianapolis, the Courier Journal reported. The move will result in the loss of 102 jobs, Gannett officials said. It isn’t expected to have an impact on newspaper delivery.

 

Local

 

NOBLESVILLE: MAYOR JENSEN CONDEMNS MOB VIOLENCE - Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen condemned Wednesday's violence at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Trump (Howey Politics Indiana). “The peaceful transition of power is a bedrock principle of our system of government from city hall all the way to the White House," Jensen said. "Yesterday’s violence and unrest in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere across the country were a disgrace and a shameful moment in our country’s history. Those who resort to mob rule and chaos; and those who incite such cowardly acts, have no place in our political discourse. In Noblesville we will continue to handle our debates at the local coffee shop with mutual respect and dignity.”

 

LAFAYETTE: MAYOR ROSWARSKI CONDEMNS CAPITOL ASSAULT – Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski has released a statement on Thursday regarding the attack on the Nation’s Capital that took place on January 6 (WLFI-TV). The statement read:  “Yesterday was a dark day for the United States of America and I want this community to know my position on the events that took place at our Nation’s Capital. Those individuals that were involved were not patriots of our country. They were not promoters of our democracy nor were they promoters of what makes America the nation that it is. Those acts yesterday were crimes. The storming of the Capital is unacceptable. That type of activity jeopardizes our very own democracy, and the very way of life, we have all come to cherish. Those acts of crimes should be prosecuted and all of us have a duty to stand up and be heard that it is not acceptable and we will not accept this as the new normal.”

 

HAMMOND: POLICE UNION PRESIDENT UNDER FIRE FOR ANTIFA POST — The Hammond police union's president is under fire for posting a conspiracy theory to Facebook claiming the rioters who tried to seize the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday were far left-wing anti-fascists disguised as Trump supporters (Cross, NWI Times). “Good job, Antifa! America almost believed the costumes," wrote Michael Elkmann, president of the Hammond Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #51. Elkmann did not respond to requests for comment, but posted a public apology on his Facebook page just before noon Thursday. Lt. Steven Kellogg, spokesman for the Hammond Police Department, said city leaders were in a meeting Thursday morning to discuss Elkmann's post and confirmed that the matter was under review. Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott told The Times he is reviewing the matter with the police union, Elkmann and the chief. "Obviously, citizens have first amendment rights, but when you're a police officer, there's rules you have to follow as well," McDermott said.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: HOGSETT SAYS TOO EARLY FOR NCAA ATTENDANCE DECISIONS - Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett called the NCAA’s March Madness tournament being held in Indianapolis and central Indiana a “once in a lifetime opportunity” during Thursday’s press COVID-19 conference (CBS4). Hogsett said the tournament will be “held with health and safety as a top priority.” According to the mayor, Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine has been working with NCAA as well as being in constant contact with state and local health departments. Hogsett said it is too soon, however, for Dr. Caine to make fan capacity or attendance recommendations. He said our steps taken today will help determine safest public health environment. “Our behavior today determines our public health environment tomorrow,” the mayor reiterated.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: NCAA RESERVED DOWNTOWN HOTEL ROOMS - Most of the hotel rooms in downtown Indianapolis will likely be booked by the NCAA as part of the organization’s plan to stage the entire Division I men’s basketball tournament in the city (IBJ). Five hotels accounting for more than 2,800 rooms—the JW Marriott, the Marriott Downtown, the Westin, the Hyatt Regency and Le Meridien—have already been blocked out by the Indianapolis-based NCAA for use by the 68 teams that will participate in the tournament, which is set to tip off in mid-March and run through the first weekend in April. The hotels, classified as Tier I by the organization, account for about 37% of the rooms in the downtown market. At least 2,500 of those rooms will be part of the heavily controlled environment for student athletes, coaches and support personnel. Each of the hotels is connected to the Indiana Convention Center (where practices will be held) as well as Lucas Oil Stadium.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: FIELDHOUSE EXTERIOR PLANS CHANGE - Plans for a grand, glass-wrapped entry pavilion as part of the $360 million renovation to Bankers Life Fieldhouse have been tabled, in favor of minimal updates that largely keep the existing facade intact (IBJ). New designs have been filed with the Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission, showing the renovation will mean little change to the exterior look of the building—with the exception of some additional landscaping and a new outdoor terrace above the team store, near Georgia Street.

 

FLOYD COUNTY: FORMER DEM CHAIR WILCOX DIES - An influential Southern Indiana political strategist and mainstay in the Floyd County Democratic Party, John Wilcox, died Tuesday at the age of 81 (News & Tribune). Wilcox worked on campaigns for Barack Obama and Bobby Kennedy, helped local candidates achieve their political ambitions and was a schoolteacher. But those who worked with and closely knew Wilcox said above all, he was a reliable, witty and endearing friend. “John Wilcox always had a smile on his face, an outstretched hand to greet you with and never met someone he couldn't charm with his sense of humor and humility,” said New Albany attorney Matthew Lorch.