HOUSE JAN. 6 COMMITTEE TO HEAR FROM ASSAULTED COPS TODAY: Democrats are launching their investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection Tuesday with a focus on the law enforcement officers who were attacked and beaten as the rioters broke into the building — an effort to put a human face on the violence of the day (AP). The police officers who are scheduled to testify endured some of the worst of the brutality. They were punched, trampled, crushed and sprayed with chemical irritants. They were called racial slurs and threatened with their own weapons as the mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters overwhelmed them, broke through windows and doors and interrupted the certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential win. “We’re going to tell this story from the beginning,” said Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat who sits on the new House panel that is investigating the attack. “The moral center of gravity is these officers who put their lives on the line for us.” Testifying will be Capitol Police officers Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell and Metropolitan Police officers Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges.

 

58% BACK JAN. 6 INQUIRY: Beyond all of the political jousting is a public that wants more information about what happened on Jan. 6. According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, 58% of American voters support a congressional commission to investigate the events of Jan. 6. But that support breaks down along party lines: It’s supported by 83% of Democratic voters but just 34% of Republicans (52% outright oppose it).

 

DEMS CALL FOR SECOND ROUND TO REDISTRICTING HEARINGS: Atop state lawmaker is calling for a second round of statewide public hearings on redistricting because new legislative district maps won't be available for Hoosiers to view during the hearings scheduled for early August (Carden, NWI Times). House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, said in a letter sent Friday to the Republican leaders of the Indiana House and Senate he fears the planned redistricting meetings "will be of little value," since "the public will be commenting on abstract concepts rather than detailed proposals." "The House and Senate Elections Committees must hold a second round of public hearings across the state after the Republican redistricting plans are made public," GiaQuinta said. "Only by providing the opportunity for statewide public comment on the Republican plans can Hoosiers truly have their voices heard." Republican legislative leaders have not announced any additional redistricting hearings in response to GiaQuinta's letter.

 

5 INDIANA MSAs RETAINED: Five metropolitan areas across Indiana, including Michigan City-LaPorte, will retain that designation for at least another decade — along with the enhanced federal aid that comes with it — instead of being downgraded to micropolitan communities (Carden, NWI Times). The federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently backed off a proposal to set 100,000 as the minimum population needed to be considered a metropolitan area, instead of 50,000 residents. OMB officials favored the change because the nation's population has doubled since the metropolitan threshold was set in the 1950s, so it made sense to similarly double the minimum population required to qualify as a metropolitan area.  However, OMB said bipartisan opposition to the proposal, including by U.S. Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun spurred the agency to decide instead to keep the current 50,000 resident threshold for at least another 10 years. Young said he's glad OMB reconsidered its plan to double the minimum population requirement for a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) designation. "The proposed change would have excluded Terre Haute, Columbus, Kokomo, Michigan City-LaPorte, and Muncie from this important designation, making it more difficult for these communities to receive federal resources for housing, transportation, health care and more," Young said.

 

EDUCATORS DISPUTE TERM 'LEARNING LOSS': Standardized test scores published this month for Hoosier students in third through eighth grade confirmed the predicted drops in scores. Results show fewer than 29 percent of the state’s tested students passed both the English­– Language Arts and math portions of the test (Bouthier, Indiana Public Media). But ISTA Vice-President Jennifer Smith-Margraf said the term “learning loss” is not an appropriate description of what happened this year. “I think why educators really dislike the term learning loss is it makes it sound like somebody did something wrong,” she said. Smith-Margraf said no one could have anticipated the disruptions the pandemic caused to schooling. And MCCSC Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction Markay Winston agreed. “Our children, they haven’t lost learning­– they’ve lost instructional time," Winston said. "They’ve had an interruption in their learning. And so, the focal point really needs to be on what’s our go-forward strategy?"

 

INDIANA COVID HOSPITALIZATIONS UP: Indiana health officials reported 497 new COVID-19 cases Monday, down from 786 new COVID-19 cases Friday, and Thursday’s 878 new COVID-19 cases, which is the most daily cases reported so far this month. The state reported more than 700 new cases last week on Wednesday and Tuesday (Indiana Public Media). The Indiana Department of Health recorded no new deaths today. The state’s COVID-19 dashboard shows total deaths since the pandemic began as 13,537. The state also reported more than 766,000 positive cases since the pandemic began. The state listed 685 Hoosiers hospitalized with the virus today. The last time hospitalizations were higher than that was June 1. The state also recorded a seven-day positivity rate of 6.1 percent. This is up from Friday’s 5.4 percent, and 4.5 on Friday, July 16. The state’s seven-day positivity rate has been increasing since a low of 1.9 percent June 22. The state has administered more than 5.8 million vaccine doses, and more than 2.9 million Hoosiers are fully vaccinated.

 

VA TO REQUIRE MEDICAL STAFF VAX: The Department of Veterans Affairs is requiring all medical personnel to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the first federal agency-wide mandate of its kind. The requirement comes as the highly contagious Delta variant sweeps the nation and accounts for the vast majority of COVID cases (CBS News). Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough announced Monday he will make all health care personnel — including dentists, registered nurses, physician assistants, chiropractors and many others — who work in Veterans Health Administration facilities, visit those facilities, or provide direct care to VA patients to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Employees will have eight weeks to get vaccinated. "We're mandating vaccines for Title 38 employees because it's the best way to keep Veterans safe, especially as the Delta variant spreads across the country," McDonough said. "Whenever a Veteran or VA employee sets foot in a VA facility, they deserve to know that we have done everything in our power to protect them from COVID-19. With this mandate, we can once again make — and keep — that fundamental promise."

 

NATIVE HOOSIERS CALL ON INDIANS TO CHANGE NAME: The Cleveland Indians announced a name change to the Cleveland Guardians for the 2022 major league baseball season, leaving Indianapolis’s minor league team in the middle of its own controversy (Indiana Public Media). Carolina Castoreno-Santana is executive director of the American Indian Center of Indiana and said the Indianapolis Indians baseball team should change its name. She said indigenous people do not support the name. “But with indigenous people we are literally, overwhelmingly, saying ‘We are not okay with this. We are not mascots, we are humans. Pick something else,'” Castoreno-Santana said. A spokesperson for the team said it formed a nickname committee last summer, and discussions are ongoing regarding changing the name. In a statement, the committee said it has nothing new to report at this time. "If the major teams are finally coming around to the right decesion, on a national level, then Indianapolis should follow suit," Castoreno-Santana said.

 

COACH REICH HAS BREAKTHROUGH COVID CASE: Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich has tested positive for COVID-19 despite being vaccinated. "I'm fortunate to be fully vaccinated and I'm asymptomatic," Reich said in a statement. "I'm feeling well and I'm looking forward to returning as soon as I'm medically cleared." Next Monday is the earliest Reich can return to camp, Colts general manager Chris Ballard said Monday (ESPN). "I think Frank testing positive and showing no symptoms shows (vaccination) works," Ballard said. "It's a shame in our country right now that we've politicized something good." Since NFL personnel returned to work last month, four players and 13 staffers have tested positive for COVID despite being vaccinated, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Reich tested positive Thursday or Friday, Ballard said. The NFL and NFLPA have been in discussions to increase the testing cadence for vaccinated staff and players as an extra precaution.

 

MICHIGAN CITY HAS FULL LIFEGUARD FORCE: Starting Monday, Washington Park will have a full complement of lifeguards, Park Superintendent Ed Shinn said (Ross, NWI Times). That’s 14 lifeguards. Two who still need to be certified will remain land-based, helping with things like first aid until they receive their lifeguard certification. "We increased that wage rate," Shinn said. "Money talks." The city earlier this year decided to increase the starting wage for lifeguards to $25 an hour after it struggled to get enough applicants for a full staff. Now, Shinn is establishing relationships with the LaPorte County YMCA and Michigan City Piranhas swim team to recruit lifeguards for future summers. The lifeguards showed off their lifesaving skills this week at a water safety demonstration.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy opted out of the House Jan. 6 commission and select committee. Now he faces an onslaught of testimony with no one on the panel to add to the discourse. This is message mismanagement. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

DONNELLY MAKES AMERICAN JOBS PLAN PITCH: About 50 local Democrats and interested residents gathered to hear former U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly push for passage of the American Jobs Plan (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald Bulletin). The American Jobs Plan has been proposed by President Joe Biden to spend $2.7 trillion on improving infrastructure throughout the country and creating millions of good jobs. “What’s so interesting about it is, every dollar is paid for,” Donnelly said of the Biden proposal. “It’s not going to add to the federal deficit at all, but what it does do is bring investments to Anderson and Muncie and the people here.” Donnelly said that a few years ago, a multitrillion-dollar tax cut was passed that gave our money away and wasn’t paid for. “It’s rebuilding Indiana, and people will be able to continue to go back to work,” he said in a field near the new downtown Transit Center. “We lost millions of jobs during the pandemic and just last month saw a million jobs come back.”

 

AUSTIN, LANANE MAKE JOBS PITCH: Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, said the American Rescue Plan has $250 million for the expansion of broadband in rural Indiana (Anderson Herald Bulletin). “During the pandemic, there were teachers in Madison County that didn’t have broadband at their home,” she said. “They had to drive somewhere where the internet was available. To say this is not needed doesn’t make sense. “This is the 21st century infrastructure.” Austin said a part of the current labor shortage is because of a lack of high-quality child care. She said funding will be provided for child care. “If you want mothers to come back to work, you need adequate child care.” Austin said 700,000 mothers in the U.S. have not returned to work because of a lack of quality child care. “It will take all of us to pull the economy back together,” she said. “We need to be prepared for a possible second (COVID-19) wave.” Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said the American Jobs Plan needs to be passed by Congress. “Why aren’t Indiana Republicans voting for this? ... They’re part of the do-nothing Republicans in the Congress. Forget politics, we have needs.”

 

DODEN AGAINST GOVERNMENT MANDATES: Indiana’s only declared candidate in the 2024 governor’s race begins his 92 county listening tour today, but not before sitting down with WANE 15. Eric Doden sent a message to potential Republican candidates with his first report to the Indiana Election Division. He raised nearly $1 million to signal this race will likely be expensive and he will be able to compete in any ad war across Indiana’s multiple TV markets. But will voters respond to his message? Doden does not like mandates from the state. “I don’t really think government should be mandating things,” he starts. “I think government’s role is to educate.” He says he would not have imposed a statewide mask mandate to curb COVID-19 but would have allowed cities and counties to require Hoosiers to mask up if they determined a local need. “I think a lot of what should happen is between you and your health provider – even in terms of vaccination. I know I certainly asked my health provider, ‘should I be vaccinated?’ They had a very strong opinion that, given the fact that I had already had some immunity to COVID that I should not. They may change their mind but that’s between me and my health provider.” He’s running, he says, to help Indiana’s smaller towns with their distressed properties. “We have about 80 cities that are between 2,500 and 30,000 (people). And in a lot of those cities, and we’ve started studying this, about 80% of their of their core historic assets are in distress.”

 

INDEMS RESPOND TO ROKITA APPEAL: Indiana Democratic Party spokesman Drew Anderson on Attorney General Todd Rokita's appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court (Howey Politics Indiana): “Todd Rokita is willing to take the Indiana Republican Party's civil war and his 2024 gubernatorial campaign to the Indiana Supreme Court, and frankly, it's a waste of time, taxpayer dollars, and abuses the trust voters gave him last fall. Rokita is once again exposing a Republican Party as lacking an identity or direction, because it doesn't solve today's problems facing Hoosier families. Indiana Democrats will continue to deliver these solutions - through the American Rescue and Jobs Plans - while it appears Republicans like Rokita only view their jobs as an extreme partisan platform."

 

Polls

 

ABC/WP POLL FINDS OPTIMISM DECLINES: As confirmed Covid-19 cases are on the rise in the U.S. — from an average of about 10,000 new cases per day last month to an average of 50,000 cases today — Americans are becoming more pessimistic. That’s according to a recent online ABC News/Ipsos poll — conducted July 23-24 — which finds 55 percent of Americans saying they’re pessimistic about the year ahead, versus 45 percent who say they’re optimistic. That’s a sharp reversal from May, when 64 percent said they were optimistic about the next year, while 36 percent said they were pessimistic.

 

Congress

 

YOUNG OP-ED BIDEN'S TAX & SPEND: U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), a member of the Senate Committee on Finance, penned an op-ed in the Northwest Indiana Times regarding the Biden-Harris administration’s tax-and-spend spree that is hurting families across the nation. As inflation rises, families in every tax bracket are facing a higher cost of living (Howey Politics Indiana). “All of these price increases at the grocery store, the gas station, restaurants, and malls has created a hidden tax — derailing President Biden’s promise that he would not raise taxes on families making under $400,000.“ Bottom line: Since Democrats took control of Washington, Americans are spending more money for basic goods and services with less cash in their wallets,” Young wrote in the op-ed.

 

McCARTHY MAY PUNISH CHENEY, KINZINGER: On the day before a House committee was set to open its investigation of the Jan. 6 Capitol assault, House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy kept up his effort to dismiss the probe and attack the Republicans who've agreed to serve with Democrats (ABC News). When asked on Monday if he'll punish the two Republican members -- Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois -- McCarthy said "we'll see," amid speculation their fellow Republicans might try to remove them from House committee assignments for accepting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's invitation.

 

THE HOUSE will meet at 10 a.m. The Jan. 6 select committee will hold its first hearing at 9:30 a.m.

 

THE SENATE will meet at 10:30 a.m. to take up Todd Kim’s nomination as an assistant A.G., with a vote at 11:30 a.m. The chamber will recess from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Haaland will testify before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee at 10 a.m. Secretary of Homeland Security Mayorkas will testify before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee at 10 a.m. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten and New York A.G. Tish James will testify before a Banking subcommittee hearing on student loan borrowers at 3 p.m.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB/CROUCH INAUGURAL GALA IN AUGUST - Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is getting around to holding an inauguration gala, seven months after beginning his second term in office. Postponed all this time due to COVID-19, the “boots and black tie” inaugural ball will be held on Saturday, Aug. 21, at the JW Marriott in Indianapolis (AP). A concert featuring country music stars Big & Rich will be held two days earlier at the TCU Amphitheater at White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis as part of the inauguration events for Holcomb and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, the Republican governor’s campaign staff announced last week. “These events aren’t just to celebrate our governor and lieutenant governor, this is a way for us to bring together the entire Holcomb-Crouch team that worked so hard to make the governor’s historic reelection happen and to celebrate all Hoosiers for their sacrifice and resilience during the global pandemic,” Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer said.

 

GOVERNOR: CRANE STEPS DOWN AT IDOA - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb announced on Friday Indiana Department of Administration (IDOA) Commissioner Lesley Crane is stepping away to focus her efforts in the private sector (Howey Politics Indiana). “As commissioner, Lesley has been dedicated to delivering gold standard service while maintaining her fiscal responsibility to the taxpayer,” said Gov. Holcomb. “While at IDOA, she has become an advocate for businesses owned by minority, women and veterans in the state’s procurement and contracting process to create equal opportunity for all. I appreciate her commitment to good government service and serving all Hoosiers.” Crane was appointed IDOA commissioner by Gov. Holcomb in 2018. During her time as commissioner, the IDOA increased minority-,women- and veteran-owned business participation, modernized the procurement process and maintained the lowest number of fleets for state government.

 

GOVERNOR: CROUCH UNVEILS CULINARY PASSPORT - Love tenderloins? Pie? Burgers? Something else? There is an Indiana Culinary Trail for you! Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, the Indiana Destination Development Corporation (IDDC) and the Indiana Foodways Alliance (IFA) are teaming up to launch the Indiana State Culinary Trails Passport. The Indiana Foodways Alliance has 21 culinary trails across the state, and now there's a free digital passport to tempt the tastebuds of visitors (Howey Politics Indiana). "The restaurants that make up these trails are family-owned small businesses that play a major role in rural America," Crouch said. "This passport program will help these 250+ establishments thrive and continue to be a part of the heritage and culture of their communities." The Indiana State Culinary Trails "digital passport" encourages visitors to discover new places and enjoy the outdoors. Sign up online for the passport and receive custom prizes for visiting multiple restaurants across the state. Visitors need to check in from a smartphone at one of the designated passport locations. Participants earn more by visiting more locations.

 

GOVERNOR: TOP PAID STATE EMPLOYEES - During the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is perhaps fitting that doctors were among the highest paid Indiana state employees, with 11 physicians and medical officers making the list. Six of those were psychiatrists or medical directors at Indiana's state psychiatric hospitals (IndyStar). The woman who helped lead the state’s pandemic response, Jennifer Sullivan, ranked number 13.  The highest paid public employee was Kristen Dauss, who serves as chief medical officer for the Department of Corrections, providing care to incarcerated individuals. This ranking does not include public employees who are not directly paid by the auditor of the state, such as Indiana University athletic coaches, or staff at the non-profit public trust Citizens Energy Group, which provides utilities in Central Indiana.

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SCHEDULE - Gov. Holcomb Public Schedule for July 27 & 30: Tuesday, July 27: West Fork Whiskey Westfield Agrotourism Facility Groundbreaking Ceremony, Gov. Holcomb, Westfield Mayor Andy Cook, Blake Jones and David McIntyre, co-owner of West Fork Whiskey, 4:00 p.m. ET, Northeast corner of 191st St and Horton Rd. Westfield. Friday, July 30: 2021 Indiana Pork Ham Breakfast, 6:30 a.m. ET, Friday, July 30, Indiana State Fairgrounds & Event Center- Farm Bureau Building Banquet Hall, 1202 E. 38th St. Indianapolis. Friday, July 30: Indiana State Fair Opening Ceremony, Gov. Holcomb and Brad Chambers, Chairman of the Indiana State Fair Commission, 8:30 a.m. ET, Indiana State Fair Grounds & Event Center, 1202 E. 38th St. Indianapolis.

 

ISDH: MONDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health announced Monday that 497 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 766,351 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. To date, 13,537 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19. Another 428 probable deaths have been reported to date based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. A total of 3,654,650 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 3,646,953 on Friday. A total of 11,148,775 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26, 2020.

 

IDEM: RECYCLING STUDY RELEASED - The Indiana Department of Environmental Management announced the release of the Indiana Recycling Infrastructure and Economic Impact Study commissioned by the Recycling Market Development Board (Howey Politics Indiana). The Study highlights the broad infrastructure and significant economic impact of recycling throughout the Hoosier state. Conducted by GT Environmental, the Study provides a comprehensive review and analysis for RMDB members, the recycling industry, recycling manufacturers, decision makers, and other stakeholders necessary to help drive waste diversion efforts through economic development, program development, and legislation to continue building a sustainable solid waste system. “This Study reinforces the fact that the recycling industry continues to power America’s manufacturing base by creating jobs, generating tax revenue, and providing valuable feedstock for new products,” said Bruce Burrow, RMDB Chairman.

 

IDEM: OZONE ACTION DAY IN 4 REGIONS - The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is forecasting high ozone levels Tuesday for four regions in the central, southern and western parts of the state (AP). The alert covers Clark and Floyd counties in southeastern Indiana; Vigo, Carroll and Tippecanoe counties in west central Indiana; Marion, Bartholomew, Boone, Brown, Delaware, Hamilton, Hendricks, Howard, Madison and Shelby counties in central Indiana; and Daviess, Dubois, Gibson, Greene, Knox, Perry, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Vanderburgh and Warrick counties in southwestern Indiana. Anyone sensitive to changes in air quality may be affected when ozone levels are high. Children, the elderly, and anyone with heart or lung conditions should reduce or avoid exertion and heavy work outdoors.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: ROKITA APPEALS CASE TO SUPREME COURT - The Office of the Indiana Attorney General filed papers on Monday directly with the Indiana Supreme Court to stop some of the gubernatorial overreach manifested in the Holcomb v. Bray lawsuit, in which the governor is suing the Indiana legislature because it overrode his veto of a duly passed and now enacted piece of legislation while that body is still in session conducting business (Howey Politics Indiana). “We are asking the Supreme Court to stop the executive branch power grab underway by preserving the constitutional protections that are meant to preserve Hoosiers’ individual liberty and that have served Indiana well for more than 100 years,” said Attorney General Todd Rokita. “Allowing the Governor’s lawsuit to continue confers power on the judiciary, the branch of government that, by design, is least representative of the people. This power grab by the Governor and the authority it would give to the courts to interfere with political decisions should scare us all.”

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN TABS JOHNSON, MYERS FOR DAs: President Biden announced eight nominees to serve as U.S. Attorneys across the country, including Clifford D. Johnson in the Northern District and Zachary A. Myers in the Southern District (Howey Politics Indiana). These individuals — many of whom are historic firsts — were chosen for their devotion to enforcing the law, their professionalism, their experience and credentials in this field, their dedication to pursuing equal justice for all, and their commitment to the independence of the Department of Justice. The President has launched a comprehensive effort to take on the uptick in gun crime that has been taking place for the last 18 months—putting more cops on the beat, supporting community prevention programs, and cracking down on illegal gun trafficking. Confirming U.S. Attorneys as the chief federal law enforcement officers in their district is important for these efforts.

 

Clifford D. Johnson, U.S. Attorney nominee for the Northern District of Indiana: He served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana from 1986 until 2020. Mr. Johnson held numerous positions during his tenure, including as the First Assistant United States Attorney from 2010 to 2020, and as the Acting United States Attorney for several months in 2017. Before joining the United States Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Indiana in 1986, Mr. Johnson was a Trial Attorney in the Employment Litigation Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C. from 1980 to 1985. Mr. Johnson received his J.D. from Valparaiso University Law School in 1980 and his B.A. from Valparaiso University in 1976.

 

Zachary A. Myers, U.S. Attorney nominee for the Southern District of Indiana: He is an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Maryland, where he has served since 2014. Since 2018, Mr. Myers has worked in the District of Maryland’s National Security and Cybercrime Section, serving as Cybercrime Counsel for the District. From 2011 through 2014, Mr. Myers served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana. From 2008 through 2011, Mr. Myers was as an attorney at the Indianapolis law firm then known as Baker & Daniels. Mr. Myers received his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center in 2008, his M.A. from the George Washington University in 2005, and his B.A. from Stanford University in 2003. He is the son of former Indiana health commissioner Woody Myers.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN DECLARES IRAQ MILITARY MISSION OVER - President Joe Biden agreed on Monday to formally conclude the US combat mission in Iraq by the end of the year, another step toward winding down the two prolonged military engagements that began in the years following the September 11 terror attacks (CNN). Biden told reporters in the Oval Office alongside Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi that the US mission in Iraq will shift. “I think things are going well. Our role in Iraq will be … to be available to continue to train, to assist, to help, and to deal with ISIS – as it arrives. But we’re not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission,” the President later said.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN SAYS COVID LONG HAULERS COULD GET DISABILITY - President Joe Biden announced Monday that serious long-term Covid-19 cases could qualify as a disability, making federal protections and resources available to those suffering from the disease (NBC News). Speaking at an event at the White House celebrating the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, he said that lingering Covid symptoms, such as fatigue or brain fog, "can sometimes rise to the level of a disability." "We're bringing agencies together to make sure Americans with long Covid who have a disability have access to the rights and resources that are due under the disability law, which includes accommodations and services in the workplace and school, and our health care system so they can live their lives in dignity," Biden said.

 

WHITE HOUSE: HUNTER BIDEN'S ART DEALER HAS CHINA TIES - The art dealer representing the president's son has longstanding ties to China and said in 2015 that he wanted to be the art world's "lead guy in China" (Fox News). Georges Berges, who is representing Hunter Biden as he ventures into the art world, has talked about his business dealings in China in the past, but his reported ties could pose an ethics issue as he sells Biden's art to anonymous buyers. A representative for Berges previously told Fox News that the sales of Biden’s art will be kept "confidential." The White House has said they have an ethics plan in place to ensure the president's son doesn’t know who buyers are, though Hunter has raised eyebrows with plans to attend art shows where potential buyers will be in attendance.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN/HARRIS SCHEDULES - President Biden's schedule: 10:15 a.m.: The president and VP Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief. 2:20 p.m.: Biden will speak to the Intelligence Community workforce and leadership at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence in McLean, Va. Harris Schedule: Noon: The VP will speak virtually to the National Bar Association. 4:15 p.m.: The VP will host a conversation along with Interior Secretary Deb Haaland focused on voting rights, meeting with tribal and other Alaska Native and American Indian leaders. Press secretary Jen Psaki will brief at 12:30 p.m.

 

TRANSPORTATION: CHASTEN BUTTIGIEG MOCKED FOR RENT COMPLAINT - U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is getting roasted on social media after his husband complained about rent prices in Washington, D.C., claiming they couldn’t afford anything bigger than a one-bedroom apartment (Fox News). In an interview with The Washington Post, Buttigieg's husband, Chasten Buttigieg, said their new Eastern Market digs are a far cry from the price of living in their old city of South Bend, Indiana, where Pete served as mayor from 2012 to 2020. "We couldn’t afford the one-bedroom-plus-den," Chasten said. Instead, they’re renting an 800-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment, sans den, in a high-security building, where the rent for one-bedrooms now starts at $4,500 per month, The Post reported, adding that the rent is higher since the Buttigieges signed a lease last winter. "We’re doing fine for ourselves, and [yet] the city is almost unaffordable," Chasten told the paper. "Which tells you how extremely unaffordable it is for many people."

 

COVID: NYC, CALIFORNIA TO REQUIRE EMPLOYEE VAX - Officials in California and New York City said Monday they would require their workers to either be vaccinated against Covid-19 or be tested at least weekly for the virus (Wall Street Journal). California’s order, which also applies to those who work in healthcare settings, goes into effect in August. The New York City mandate begins after Labor Day. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, also called on private-sector employers to set a similar policy for their workers as the Delta variant pushes the number of new coronavirus infections higher. Last week, the mayor announced that employees of the city’s public hospital network would be subject to the test-or-vaccine mandate starting on Aug. 2.

 

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OK, TX BOLT BIG12 FOR SEC - Texas and Oklahoma have informed the Big 12 that they intend to leave the league, setting off what is likely to be a jolting realignment of the sport in which powerful schools position themselves to jump from one conference to another in search of bigger paydays and more prestigious opponents (Wall Street Journal). The schools, which have called the Big 12 home since 1996, said in a joint statement Monday that they intend to remain in the conference until its current media rights deal expires in 2025. They are reportedly eyeing a landing spot in the Southeastern Conference, where they would join forces with the likes of Alabama, Louisiana State and Georgia and turn the SEC into a 16-school “super-conference” further poised to dominate the top tier of Division I football. “Both universities will continue to monitor the rapidly evolving collegiate athletics landscape as they consider how best to position their athletics programs for the future,” the schools said in their statement, an indication they could defect earlier.

 

MLB: CUBS DEFEAT REDS 6-5 - Pinch-hitter Javier Báez hit a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Chicago Cubs a 6-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night (ESPN). Anthony Rizzo homered in his second straight game for the Cubs, who opened what could be the final homestand for some of their stars. Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Craig Kimbrel and/or Báez could be on the move by Friday's trade deadline. Joey Votto homered for the third time in three games and drove in three runs for Cincinnati, which dropped its second straight and lost for the seventh time in 10 games. Kyle Farmer added a homer as the Reds' winning streak against Chicago ended at four.

 

MLB: KC DOWNS CHISOX 4-3 - Jorge Soler hit two home runs for the second straight game and the Kansas City Royals extended their winning streak to six games with a 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox on Monday night (ESPN). Mike Minor (8-8) gave the Royals their fifth quality start in the last six games. He allowed two runs on three hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out seven. Minor's victory in Milwaukee on July 20 started the Royals' current winning streak.

 

Local

 

KOKOMO: COUNCILWOMAN SANDERS RESIGNS FOLLOWING STROKE - A longtime Kokomo City Council member has resigned due to health issues (Juranovich, Kokomo Tribune). Cynthia Sanders, R-District 5, has resigned from her seat on the council due to recently suffering a stroke, Matt Grecu, council president, announced at Monday’s council meeting. “We are continuing to lift her in prayer as she recovers from her stroke,” Grecu, R-At large, said. “We wish her and her family all the best there is as they work through the change in their lives. We acknowledge and certainly appreciate all the years she gave while serving on the Kokomo Common Council and all the work she did for the city of Kokomo.”

 

EVANSVILLE: COUNCIL MOVES FORWARD ON SPEED BUMPS - The Evansville City Council is moving forward with a change to an ordinance impacting city streets (WFIE-TV). At their last meeting, the council discussed adding speeding bumps to qualifying streets that would be deemed a safety threat because of high traffic or excessive speed. Council members say these revisions not only make achieving that safety easier, but eliminate hoops some residents would have had to jump through otherwise.

 

EVANSVILLE: STEVE MELCHER DIES – Longtime Evansville city leader Steve Melcher passed away on Monday. He was 73 years old (WEHT-TV). Melcher was born in Chicago and served on the Evansville City Council representing the Third Ward for 17 years. He also served on the Vanderburgh County Commission for eight years. Melcher retired from the Community Action Program of Evansville in 2011 after serving as Facility Director for 15 years. Sunset Funeral Home will be holding services on August 3.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: RELIGIOUS LEADERS CALL FOR PEACE — A group of religious leaders across the city is calling on the community to join them in their effort to fast against crime. Several leaders gathered Monday morning bowing their heads, clasping their hands and praying for peace. This comes after another violent weekend in Indianapolis (WRTV). “What would you expect from faith leaders but to lead the people in a stronger expression, public expression of their faith?” Dr. Clyde Posley Jr. of Antioch Baptist Church said. He explained that he's working with dozens of other faith leaders to call for a city-wide fast. “This fast that I'm calling for is designed to bring us back to a place where we become more intimate with God as a part of the solution to the condition of our city."

 

INDIANAPOLIS: CITY NEARS STREET LIGHT GOAL - Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett on Monday announced the city is nearly finished with a five-year effort to replace street lights with LED fixtures as it plans to install over 2,000 new poles on streets citywide, the latest update in a large-scale, years-long effort to increase street lighting throughout Marion County (IndyStar). The announcement is a significant milestone in Operation Night Light, an initiative launched in 2016 to install up to 4,000 new lights in the darkest areas of the city. Mayor Joe Hogsett speaks about Operation Night Light Monday, July 26, 2021, in Indianapolis. Streetlights have long been a dire need in Indianapolis, which stopped erecting new poles in 1980 to save money. A 2016 IndyStar investigation found that 585 pedestrians had been killed since the ban, with 27 pedestrians run down in 2015 alone.

 

CROWN POINT: SCHOOL SUPT SAYS CRT NOT TAUGHT — The Crown Point Community School Corp. made it clear Monday night that it will not teach its students critical race theory (Hilton, NWI Times). Following an extended period of public comment with more than half a dozen comments including those asking the district to not require masks and not to teach critical race theory, Superintendent Todd Terrill said he felt it was important to address the district's position on CRT. "Critical race theory is not a topic that we feel belongs in a K-12 classroom," Terrill said.

 

EVANSVILLE: REGIONAL PARTNERSHIP ANNOUNCES KEY PROMOTION – The Evansville Regional Economic Partnership (E-REP), a unified organization advancing the interests of businesses while fueling economic and community growth, is pleased to announce the promotion of Audrie Burkett to Senior Vice President of Strategy and Operations. Burkett is well-known throughout the Evansville Region for her work as part of the Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana where she most recently served as the Vice President & Chief Operating Officer (Howey Politics Indiana). Joining the Coalition in 2015, she provided administrative oversight and led two significant initiatives: Southwest Indiana’s Regional Cities Initiative dispersing $42 million for quality of place initiatives and the Coalition’s public policy work championing increased internet access for those living in rural areas.

 

OWEN COUNTY: COUNCIL GRAPPLES WITH DEFICIT - Owen County's grim fiscal state was lamented and discussed during a five-hour county council meeting last week attended by about 50 people, the crowd spilling from the courthouse meeting room into the hallway (Bloomington Herald-Times). Citizens and a newspaper reporter watching the July 20 meeting live on the Owen County Government YouTube channel were able to view the first five minutes and 27 seconds of the meeting. Then the video stream stopped. The meeting wasn't recorded or archived like the county commissioners' meeting the previous day, and previous county meetings as well. Auditor Sheila Reeves is responsible for taking minutes from county meetings. She realized the meeting was not being aired, and turned on her cellphone voice recorder hoping to document what was said, and by whom, during the marathon meeting.

 

FLOYD COUNTY: JOINS GEORGETOWN SEEKING READI GRANTS - The Floyd County Commissioners and the Town of Georgetown are seeking state funding to pursue projects that local leaders say would drive major economic development in the county and region (McAfee, News & Tribune). The two entities have submitted project proposals for inclusion in Our Southern Indiana regional development authority’s application for a Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) grant from the state. The “64 Innovation Corridor Project” proposal seeks $9.2 million for three projects on the Ind. 64 corridor in Georgetown. If approved by the local RDA, it would be submitted as part of a regional package for consideration by the state. One of the projects included in the proposal is the development of laboratory and entrepreneurial space in the Novaparke Innovation and Technology campus.