HOLCOMB MULLS REIMPOSING COVID RESTRICTIONS: Gov. Eric Holcomb will decide later this week whether to reimpose any COVID-19 restrictions as the delta variant surges in Indiana (Smith, Indiana Public Media). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed course Tuesday, urging even vaccinated people to wear masks indoors if they live in areas with high spread of the virus. In Indiana, the percentage of COVID-19 tests coming back positive reached its highest level since early February. Holcomb said the surge in cases is more reason to get the vaccine. “You just look at the numbers, you look at the cases, you look at the hospitalization rates, you look at the deaths – it’s overwhelmingly unvaccinated,” Holcomb said. Indiana remains in the bottom half of the country for the percentage of its population vaccinated against COVID-19. Holcomb’s current public health emergency and remaining COVID executive orders expire at the end of the week. He said he’s reviewing the CDC’s new guidance before he decides the path forward for Indiana. "If this isn't persuasive to get vaccinated, I don't know what could be. This is not hard to understand: vaccinations work. Look at the numbers, look at the cases, look at the hospitalizations rates, look at the deaths. It's overwhelmingly the unvaccinated," Holcomb said (WRTV). Despite encouraging Hoosiers to get vaccinated, at this time, he's not considering a vaccine mandate for state employees. It's something at least one other state and city have implemented for their workers. "I'm not leaning toward that but obviously, I've got some updates to make by the end of this week. We're looking at what the CDC just put out," Holcomb said. "I want to see the EUA, emergency use authorization, turned into permanent. I do understand parents and students who are waiting until it becomes permanent."

 

CDC REVERSES COURSE ON MASKS FOR VACCINATED: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday essentially reversed earlier COVID-19 guidance by saying fully vaccinated people should now wear masks in certain situations (The Hill). The agency said fully vaccinated people should wear masks in "public, indoor settings" in areas of the country with "substantial" or "high" levels of transmission, as defined by the CDC. Those areas currently include much of the South and West. The CDC also said all adults and students should wear masks in K-12 schools regardless of vaccination status. The new guidance contrasts with coronavirus recommendations from May, when the CDC said fully vaccinated people did not need to wear masks, except in a few circumstances. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky on Tuesday said the change was needed because of new science showing that with the delta variant, some vaccinated people could transmit the virus to others on "rare occasions." "This new science is worrisome and unfortunately warrants an update to our recommendations," Walensky said.

 

DR. ADAMS BACKS CHANGE: Dr. Jerome Adams, former U.S. surgeon general and WISH-TV medical expert, spoke to Phil Sanchez about the updated CDC mask guidance. So you’ve been calling for this for the past couple of weeks, so clearly you think this is the right move? “It’s absolutely the right move. Public health officials needed this cover from the CDC. School boards needed this cover from the CDC. Two main things that people should know, No. 1, if you were in an area of substantial or high transmission — and right now that’s Marion County and every county surrounding Marion County. The CDC recommends that you wear masks when you’re in public settings indoors. No. 2, the CDC recommended — and this is really the biggie for me — that everyone in K-12 schools wear masks moving forward until we can get this pandemic a little bit better under control,” Adams said.

 

INDIANA CRACKS 1,000 COVID CASES FOR FIRST TIME SINCE MAY 8: Indiana cracks 1,000 new #coronavirus cases in a day for the first time since May 8, with 1,085. 6.9% of today's batch of tests were positive (Berman, WIBC). The 7-day positivity rate, which runs a week behind, continues a monthlong climb to 6.3%, highest since February 9. Some 21 counties have positivity rates over 10%, including six above 15% high-risk red line. The numbers are a day ahead of those used for IDH's weekly risk scores, which will be updated tomorrow. 33 counties are below the 5% low-risk line. Tipton County has Indiana's highest positivity rate at 20.8%. Fayette and Ohio Counties have positivity rates of zero. Fayette has cases which haven't hit the average yet; Ohio hasn't had a case in 13 days.

 

INDIANAPOLIS HEALTH AGENCY URGES MASKS: The Marion County Public Health Department recommended Tuesday that all residents of the county including Indianapolis wear masks in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. The department said the recommendation was “especially important for those who are, or who live with someone who is, at higher risk for complications from COVID-19” (AP). The recommendation came after the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a similar recommendation, citing a rise in cases and waning vaccination rates and revising guidance issued by the agency in May. The department said “vaccination remains our most powerful tool against COVID-19, and masks provide an extra layer of protection.” It urged all eligible residents ages 12 and up to walk-in to a nearby COVID-19 vaccine clinic and get vaccinated.

 

BRAUN SAYS 'NO MORE MANDATES': U.S. Sen. Mike Braun released ta video responding to reports that the CDC would go back on their previous guidance and again recommend masks for vaccinated Americans, saying, "No more mandates" (Howey Politics Indiana). "I wanted to take a brief moment to talk about what it looks like we're hearing from the CDC: that they're going to recommend masking again," Braun says. "I'm afraid we're going to roll right back in to how the heavy hand of government dealt with COVID in the first place. My observation is when you put the task to businesses and Main Street, they did everything to keep their employees and customers safe. Now we're talking about some of the failed policies that put our economy in a hurt. Blue states asked for a bailout from the federal government on account of it, and it looks we're looping right back to it. I'm going to be a voice for saying, hey, let this be solved at the grassroots level. Let local governments and businesses deal with it. There was no data to show that it worked with the oppressive, heavy-handed government approach to being with. Be respectful of the disease, but exercise individual responsibility. That's the key. No more mandates, masking, and things that didn’t work from the get-go unless it makes common sense to do so."

 

CAPITOL OFFICERS DESCRIBE JAN. 6 INSURRECTION: Officers who defended the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection offered powerful and often emotional testimony before lawmakers on Tuesday, recounting scenes of chaos, violence and destruction as the House select committee kicked off its investigation into the insurrection (The Hill). The civil and somber hearing marked the first meeting of the select committee to investigate the day’s events, a panel with just two Republicans after the party’s leaders — allied with former President Trump — decided to boycott the investigation altogether.   The four police officers on the stand described fearing for their lives as they were overwhelmed by the sheer size of the pro-Trump mob — and how many of them are still suffering from physical and emotional trauma more than six months later. Aquilino Gonell, a Capitol Police sergeant and Army veteran, recounted how he and other officers trying to fight off the rioters were punched, kicked, sprayed with chemical irritants and beaten with flagpoles. "On Jan. 6, for the first time, I was more afraid working at the Capitol than during my entire Army deployment to Iraq. In Iraq, we expected armed violence, because we were in a war zone. But nothing in my experience in the Army, or as a law enforcement officer, prepared me for what we confronted on Jan. 6," Gonell said. The officers seethed at the GOP lawmakers and Trump defenders who have tried to minimize the severity of the day’s violence, like one House Republican who compared it to a “normal tourist visit.” “The indifference being shown to my colleagues is disgraceful!” said Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone as he slammed his fist on the table.

 

HAMILTON SAYS JAN. 6 FACTS NEED TO BE KNOWN: Lee Hamilton is aware of the concerns about the nation’s political system, is no fan of the filibuster, and believes the commission that began investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol Building is a good way to pursue the facts of what happened that day (Zaltsberg, Indiana Public Media). The 17-term Indiana congressman and highly decorated Hoosier statesman who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 shared thoughts on those issues and more in an address Tuesday to the Bloomington Rotary Club over Zoom. He said it’s important to get to the bottom of what precipitated the attack on the Capitol, an event he said shook him deeply. “That was a very dark day in the history of our country,” he said. “I personally remember how strongly it hit me when I saw these people coming into the Capitol Building.” It was the building in which he’d worked for 34 years. “You must have a consensus that we’re going to try to understand as best we can the history of our country,” he said.

 

TRUMP ENDORSED CANDIDATE LOSES IN TEXAS CD: In the special election runoff in Texas’s 6th District, Jake Ellzey defeated the Trump-endorsed candidate, Susan Wright (Politico Playbook). An important caveat from Cook Report's Dave Wasserman: “Before drawing sweeping conclusions about the outcome, a reminder: turnout in this runoff was fairly pathetic. With all early votes and most EDay votes reported, there are only 37k votes counted - less than 8% of registered voters in #TX06 and less than half of 5/1 votes cast.” But still: a pretty rough outcome for Trump in a district where his super PAC spent over $100,000 last weekend, according to the Dallas Morning News.

 

INDIANA FARMLAND AT HISTORIC HIGH VALUE: A new report from the Purdue Center for Commercial Agriculture shows farmland prices across Indiana have risen to all-time highs. Top quality farmland average $9,785 per acre, up 14% from June 2020. Purdue ag economists say even poor-quality farmland saw a price increase, up 12.1% to $6,441 per acre (Mills, Inside Indiana Business). Purdue agricultural economist Todd Kuethe says a unique combination of economic forces drove the price increase. “Net farm income, expected income growth, crop and livestock prices, interest rates, exports, inflation, alternative investments, U.S. policy, and farmers’ liquidity, all played a major factor in the price increase we’re experiencing,” said Kuethe.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: In Thursday's weekly edition of Howey Politics Indiana, we'll explore the potential political impacts of the House Jan. 6 Select Committee as well as the COVID Delta variant. Look for it around 9 a.m. Thursday. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

INDEM JOBS TOUR IN FORT WAYNE TODAY: At 5 p.m. at the USW Local 903 in Fort Wayne, House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta, Mayor Tom Henry, Brett Voorhies (President of the IN AFL-CIO), Amanda Meier (Greater Allen County UAW CAP Council Chair), and Lloyd Osborne (President of the Hoosier Heartland Area Labor Federation) will continue the Indiana Democratic Party’s American Jobs Plan tour, an effort by the Indiana Democratic Party to show why Indiana needs the Jobs Plan and a revitalized infrastructure system (Howey Politics Indiana). The statewide tour, a sequel to the American Rescue Plan tour, will allow Hoosiers to hear more about a Plan that will create good-paying jobs, dismantle the INGOP’s “right to work” laws (creating Indiana’s “work more for less” economy), and build a better future for Hoosier families.

 

INDEMS CHASTISE SEN. YOUNG: The Indiana Democratic Party chastised U.S. Senator Todd Young for criticizing Democrats for delivering the American Rescue Plan to Hoosier families. In a recent op-ed, Young claimed Democrats spent too much on the Rescue Plan, however, the Senator omitted that he once voted for a $2.3 trillion tax law that added to the national debt and gave a tax cut to big corporations and America’s richest people. Further, Young oversaw the Trump Administration adding $7.8 trillion to the national debt over four years...and barely said a thing. The Indiana Republican Party is trying to water down the Rescue Plan’s popularity, and Todd Young’s op-ed is a partisan stunt aimed toward his 2022 reelection campaign. Further, it contradicts state Republicans’ willingness to use the money for the state - including $250 million in broadband expansion. This will be a part of the Indiana Republican Party’s playbook for the 2022 midterm elections despite the facts showing they only care about the national debt when they don’t hold a majority in Congress.

 

TRUMP SPURNS ADORING BUSH: Former President Donald Trump rewarded George P. Bush’s conspicuous loyalty by endorsing Ken Paxton, Bush’s opponent in the race for Texas attorney general (Mediaite). Trump made the announcement Monday night in one of the email statements he now uses in place of the social media platforms. "Ken has my Complete and Total Endorsement for another term as Attorney General of Texas. He is a true Texan who will keep Texas safe—and will never let you down!" Trump said in an email. The endorsement comes after George P., son of former Florida Governor and permanent Trump punching bag Jeb Bush, made fealty to Trump a central feature of his campaign. He frequently spoke out in support of Trump and against Trump opponents, and went viral for campaign merchandise that advertised Trump’s hatred for the rest of his own family.

 

GOP BRANDS TRUMP: Even in defeat, nothing sells in the Republican Party quite like Donald J. Trump (New York Times). The Republican National Committee has been dangling a “Trump Life Membership” to entice small contributors to give online. The party’s Senate campaign arm has been hawking an “Official Trump Majority Membership.” And the committee devoted to winning back the House has been touting Mr. Trump’s nearly every public utterance, talking up a nonexistent Trump social media network and urging donations to “retake Trump’s Majority.” Six months after Mr. Trump left office, the key to online fund-raising success for the Republican Party in 2021 can largely be summed up in the three words it used to identify the sender of a recent email solicitation: “Trump! Trump! Trump!”

 

Congress

 

YOUNG REMEMBERS SEN. ENZI: U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) released the following statement regarding the passing of former Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi (Howey Politics Indiana): “During my time in the Senate, I’ve held great respect for Senator Mike Enzi. Mike was not only a former colleague, but a model of decency and collegiality. He was also my friend. I’m deeply saddened by the news of his passing, and I’m praying for his dear family and loved ones.”

 

THE SENATE is in. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a markup to vote on the nominations of Robert Santos as head of the Census Bureau and Ed Gonzalez as head of ICE at 9:30 a.m.

 

THE HOUSE will meet at 11 a.m. Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan and the other commissioners will testify before an Energy and Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection legislation at 10:30 a.m. Speaker Nancy Pelosi will hold her weekly press conference at 11:30 a.m.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SIGNS CHICAGO CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL BILL - Gov. Eric Holcomb led a pandemic-delayed celebration Tuesday as he reenacted signing his name to a new state law aimed at ensuring all Northwest Indiana children with serious medical conditions can continue being treated at Chicago children's hospitals (Carden, NWI Times). The Republican chief executive was surrounded in his Statehouse office by Northwest Indiana children's health advocates, Chicago hospital leaders and Region lawmakers as he ceremonially signed House Enrolled Act 1305. The new law, which Holcomb officially approved April 26, took effect July 1 after advancing through the Indiana House and Senate without a single Hoosier lawmaker voting no.

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB REQUIRES STUDENT ATHLETE CARDIAC INFO -  Monitoring heart conditions in student athletes: it’s a growing concern among doctors and health experts. On Tuesday, Gov. Holcomb took action, requiring all Indiana high schools to provide educational materials about sudden cardiac arrest to all student athletes, parents and coaches. Plus, now each coach has to be certified in CPR (WRTV). “Sudden cardiac arrest happens in student athletes and you would never know it because they’re all healthy. Or you think they’re healthy until something tragic happens,” said Janelle Guidry. It was Janelle Guidry’s son, Max’s dream to play Division I soccer. He achieved that goal and was headed to IUPUI last August. That is, until he underwent IUPUI required EKG screening for student athletes and it was detected he had a heart condition called long QT syndrome.

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB LAUDS WESTFIELD SITE - West Fork Whiskey Co. wants to become  a destination in Westfield. The Indianapolis-based whiskey distillery, founded in 2015, is expanding to Westfield and building a new 35,000-square-foot facility on 12 acres at 191st Street and Horton Road north of Grand Park (IndyStar). At a groundbreaking ceremony late Tuesday afternoon, Westfield Mayor Andy Cook said the project would be “a mecca for agritourism” in central Indiana. “There’s so much, so much momentum,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said Tuesday at the future West Fork site. “No one, I don’t think, in the country takes green fields and turns them into blueprints and turns those blueprints into realities like right here in Westfield.”

 

ISDH: TUESDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health announced Tuesday that 1,085 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 767,409 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. To date, 13,552 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 15 from the previous day. 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 3,657,554 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 3,654,650 on Monday. A total of 11,164,271 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26, 2020.

 

NICTD: DOUBLE TRACK PROJECT NEARS SECOND CONTRACT - Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District officials and consultants are continuing their summer work to get the South Shore Line Double Track project back on track, with the goal of putting a slimmed-down version out to bid in the next couple weeks and giving a winning contractor a “notice to proceed” this fall (Steele, NWI Times). The NICTD Board of Trustees approved infrastructure purchases at its Monday meetingintended to reduce the risk of commodity price volatility to the contractor, and to reduce the contractor’s uncertainty regarding the federally mandated Positive Train Control safety system railroads have implemented recently. NICTD is also working on deeming some features of the project as “options” that will be undertaken if funding allows. And, it will have additional federal funds from COVID relief legislation to apply to the project. “I’m feeling confident between the actions we’re taking and the new funding available, we’ll be able to give a notice to proceed,” NICTD President Michael Noland said.

 

SOUTH SHORE: PASSENGERS TO BE BUSED FROM SOUTH BEND TO MICHIGAN CITY - For a month, train passengers on the South Shore Line will need to take a bus for the leg between South Bend International Airport and Michigan City’s Carroll Avenue station (South Bend Tribune). The change will run from Monday through Sept. 3, allowing the South Shore to upgrade the track and segments of overhead wire, according to a press release. The buses won’t allow passengers to bring bikes, which are permitted on certain trains.

 

STATE FAIR: RIDE INSPECTIONS THURSDAY - Prior to the 2021 Indiana State Fair opening, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) will host a media availability session to showcase and explain the amusement ride inspection process designed to ensure rider safety (Howey Politics Indiana). Media will have the opportunity to observe and photograph the amusement ride inspectors as they perform their duties on the Indiana State Fair Midway rides. IDHS staff will be available for interviews about the process and to provide amusement ride safety tips for the public.

 

IDEM: AIR QUALITY ALERT FOR CLARK, FLOYD COUNTIES - The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) has issued an Air Quality Action Day (AQAD) and is forecasting high ozone levels for Wednesday, July 28, 2021 in the following region: Southeast Indiana – Clark, Floyd. IDEM encourages everyone to help reduce ozone while remaining safe during the COVID-19 health crisis by making changes to daily habits.

 

INDOT: U.S. 31 BRIDGE MAINTENANCE - The Indiana Department of Transportation will begin bridge maintenance on a number of bridge decks on U.S. 31 in Hamilton County (Howey Politics Indiana). Work is scheduled to start this week on multiple bridges. The work will be on both directions of U.S. 31 from 181st Street to Rangeline Road. The work is scheduled to be complete mid-October. During construction, there will be intermittent lane closures and ramp restrictions. There will always be one lane open in each direction on U.S. 31 throughout construction. The only full closures scheduled in this project are the Keystone/U.S. 31 ramps. Details on the closure of those ramps will come at a later date. Work will be happening on a total of 21 bridge decks in the area. 

 

IU: COVID EXEMPTIONS EXPANDED - Indiana University added an ethical exemption to its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, according to university spokesperson Chuck Carney (Indiana Public Media). Carney said in an email the additional exemption brings the COVID-19 vaccine requirement in line with previous requirements, such as last year’s influenza vaccine. The ethical exemption is in addition to medical and religious exemptions previously allowed by the university, but it does not mean more people are opting out. Carney said almost 85 percent of all IU campus communities have reported getting at least a first dose of the vaccine. Given the current vaccination rate, and with numbers still to come, the university expects to have a comparable amount, if not more, people immunized against COVID-19 than some of the other vaccines it mandates under Indiana law. IU is requiring all students, faculty and staff to attest to being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by August 15.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN AGENDA AT RISK - President Joe Biden’s latest leap into the Senate’s up-and-down efforts to clinch a bipartisan $1 trillion infrastructure deal comes with even more at stake than his coveted plans for boosting road, rail and other public works projects (AP). The outcome of the infrastructure bargaining, which for weeks has encountered one snag after another, will impact what could be the crown jewel of his legacy. That would be his hopes for a subsequent $3.5 trillion federal infusion for families’ education and health care costs, a Medicare expansion and efforts to curb climate change.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN EXPECTED TO ATTEND 9/11 ANNIVERSARY - President Joe Biden is expected to attend the 9/11 memorial in New York City to mark the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, four sources with knowledge of his plans told POLITICO. The White House recently indicated to officials in New York that Biden plans to travel for the commemoration, two of the sources said. Officials are also looking at possible stops at other locations attacked that day: the Pentagon and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville, Pa. But one administration official said it may be logistically difficult to attend all three spots in one day.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN SCHEDULE - 9:30 a.m.: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief. 10:55 a.m.: Biden will leave the White House for Allentown, Pa., arriving at noon.  1:25 p.m.: Biden will visit the Mack - Lehigh Valley Operations (LVO) Manufacturing Facility in Lower Macungie Township, Pa., and deliver remarks at 2 p.m. 3:20 p.m.: Biden will depart Allentown, arriving back at the White House at 4:25 p.m.

 

ILLINOIS: LIGHTFOOT WEIGHS NEW MASK MANDATES - Mayor Lori Lightfoot will consider reinstating a mask mandate and other restrictions if the city starts to consistently record more than 200 new COVID cases per day, she said (Chicago Tribune). Lightfoot made the comments in a wide-ranging interview with The New York Times where she was asked about the pandemic and expressed alarm about rising totals among the unvaccinated, as she did during a news conference last week. Asked what her threshold is for reinstating a mask mandate, Lightfoot said, “Well, look, if we get back into an area where we feel like we’re in a red zone, which we are working very hard to make sure that our daily case rate is below 200, if we start to see consistently going over that, we’re not only going to look at a mask mandate, but we’re going to look back at other tools that we’ve been compelled to use. “I hope we don’t get there," Lightfoot added.

 

MLB: JIMENEZ HOMER LEADS SOX TO 5-3 WIN OVER KC - Eloy Jiménez logged his first big hit of the season, launching a go-ahead, three-run homer in the eighth inning that sent the Chicago White Sox over the Kansas City Royals 5-3 Tuesday night (ESPN). The 24-year-old slugger, who was the 2019 AL Rookie of the Year and then kept up his power surge during the pandemic-shortened season, tore a pectoral muscle in spring training. He hadn't played in the majors until going 0 for 4 Monday night. But Jiménez quickly made up for lost time in his second game. After hitting a single in his first at-bat, he came up in the eighth after a two-out intentional walk to Jose Abreu with Chicago trailing 3-2. Jiménez connected for a 459-foot drive to left-center off Kyle Zimmer (4-1) to cap a four-run rally. "I was thinking they were going to walk Jose because they didn't think I was ready," Jiménez said. "But I was ready for that."

 

MLB: VOTTO'S 2 HOMERS LEADS REDS OVER CUBS 7-4 - Joey Votto continued his power surge with two home runs and started a dazzling double play Tuesday night as the Cincinnati Reds pulled away to a 7-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs (ESPN). Votto has homered in a career-high four consecutive games for the second time (April 2018), one game shy of the team record. Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez also connected as the Reds won for the third time in five games. Cincinnati rookie Vladimir Gutierrez (5-3) pitched 6 1/3 innings of five-hit ball to earn the win. Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Patrick Wisdom went deep for the Cubs, who have lost six of 10.

 

Local

 

FORT WAYNE: COUNCIL HEARS ABOUT TRAA MEDIC SHORTAGE — For the first time since the Three Rivers Ambulance Authority (TRAA) fell out of compliance, officials spoke to the Fort Wayne City Council on the ongoing issue (WANE-TV). During Tuesday night’s meeting, TRAA Executive Director Gary Booher, I.A.E.P. Local 525 union president Ian Case and chief operations officer for TRAA Mike Bureau sat in front of the council to answer questions and talk about solutions to the agencies ongoing issues. “I think we do have a problem,” said local I.A.E.P President of 525 Ian Case said. “It’s not just a local problem but also a national problem with staffing and reimbursements.”

 

FORT WAYNE: COUNCIL REJECTS AMAZON TAX ABATEMENT – Amazon’s tax abatement or “tax phase in” proposal was struck down at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting (WANE-TV). After a long discussion, the proposal failed by a 3-5-1 vote. The proposal would have had the company pay no property taxes at all on its distribution center on Flaugh Road for the first year, with gradually increasing rates the following nine years. By year 10, Amazon would have paid $1,052,103 in taxes.

 

NOBLESVILLE: COUNCILMAN HAMPTON RESIGNS - Noblesville City Council member Wil Hampton is giving up his District 4 seat to move to Florida and start a new job as associate director of athletics at Ave Maria University (IBJ). Hampton, a Republican, has represented the city’s central-most district since he was first elected in 2015. A former TV sportscaster and communications professional, Hampton, 59, started doing part-time work for southern Florida’s Ave Maria University in March. He recently accepted a full-time job offer from the university and is now planning to move 25 miles east of Naples within the month.

 

KENDALLVILLE: COVID OUTBREAK AT NURSING HOME — A COVID-19 outbreak was reported at a Kendallville senior care community, WANE 15 has learned. Noble County Health Officer Dr. Terry Gaff said multiple residents and staff at Lutheran Life Villiages in Kendallville have tested positive for COVID-19. The residents have been moved to the Lutheran Life Villages facility in Fort Wayne, which has a COVID unit, Gaff said. The family of the residents have been notified. The staff has been placed in isolation. Gaff said Lutheran Life Villages was taking “appropriate precautions.”

 

ANDREWS: JUDGE WON’T DECLARE EMERGENCY OVER BAD WATER — More than a year after the town of Andrews learned the town’s water supply was contaminated, a judge has officially ruled on where the fault lies (WANE-TV). In a town council meeting Monday, the council told the crowded room that a judge had denied the town’s emergency motion for a preliminary injunction. “The basis of that decision is that the judge felt it was not an emergency,” said town president John Harshbarger. “None of the tests proved to be over the MCL. The vinyl chloride MCL in Indiana is 2.0 micrograms per liter. Our last test showed 2.0 micrograms per liter but it’s not over the MCL.” The decision was made in February however, the town just learned about the ruling last week. Why it took so long to hear the ruling, council members and the town’s lawyers have theories but nothing concrete.

 

TIPPECANOE COUNTY: TEISING SHOWS UP, BUT KEEPS QUIET - Can’t be a night without a little drama, these days, when the Wabash Township board and trustee get together. Wabash Township Trustee Jennifer Teising – who’s already been targeted by the township’s firefighters in a civil suit, is the subject of 21 felony charges of theft on accusations of collecting paychecks while not keeping residency in the township and generally has been treated like the heel in an ongoing soap opera – did pretty much what she promised to do during Tuesday night’s township board meeting (Bangert, Based in Lafayette). Teising sent a lengthy statement and video minutes before the meeting, showed up in a back row seat and, otherwise, stayed quiet as township board members tried to get the ball rolling on a 2022 budget process.

 

KNOX COUNTY: BROADBAND STUDY REVEALED  - A survey designed to gauge broadband access, identify demand and test internet speeds in Knox County has yielded interesting results. The survey, conducted by the Purdue University Center for Regional Development, shows nearly 90% of the more than 1,000 respondents had internet access at home, even in rural areas, but reliability and technology remain a challenge (Inside Indiana Business). Chris Pfaff, chief executive officer of the Knox County Development Corp., says the county wanted to get an idea of its broadband situation from users. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Pfaff said the survey wasn't just about where broadband exists. "We asked a number of questions about affordability, for example, and learned some things there," said Pfaff. "But really, the underlying motivation is to make sure that we have ground truth in where our broadband providers are, where the gaps lie and then, we feel like that will help us go after some additional federal and potentially state dollars to help with broadband deployment throughout Knox County."

 

WHITLEY COUNTY: 5-FOOT ALLIGATOR CAPTURED AT NEW LAKE — A 5-foot alligator has been captured and removed from a Whitley County lake, WANE 15 has learned. WANE 15 received several reports of an alligator that was spotted in New Lake, off C.R. 350 West and 700 North about 7 miles northwest of Columbia City. Capt. Jet Quillen with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources told WANE 15 that DNR received a report about the alligator on Sunday and a conservation officer was sent out to investigate. The officer did not see anything at that time. Another officer was sent out Monday night and did not see anything, either. Overnight, though, a resident in the area caught the alligator with a trebel hook, WANE 15 learned. It measured 63 inches – more than 5 feet long. The resident put the reptile down.