BRAUN VOTES AGAINST YOUNG'S ENDLESS FRONTIER BILL; BANKS OPPOSES: While U.S. Sen. Todd Young's bill passed the Senate by a 68-32 vote, Republican colleague Sen. Mike Braun voted against it along most of the emerging Senate 2024 GOP presidential field, and U.S. Rep. Jim Banks is whipping votes against it (Howey Politics Indiana). Young was asked why in a Zoom call with Indiana reporters on Wednesday. "It's really interesting because the idea for this legislation emerged during the Trump era. I worked with the Trump administration on some of the early draft provisions," Young said. "If that memorandum wasn't broadly circulated, perhaps it will come as a surprise for those who voted nay and they may want to vote differently on the final package. I am unclear as to exactly why." Asked by HPI whether he believes President Biden would sign the bill, Young said he has not engaged in a dialogue with the administration. Young said he has had "limited and intermittant dialogue with the White House, and added, "Candidly, that's been quite helpful. If the president spends a lot of time discussing a particular issue, especially in this tribalized, highly-politicized atmosphere, that can undermine support. It's been helpful that in this has been in the main, this legislation has been under the radar." As for potential passage in the House, Young said they are "very strong."

 

BRAUN EXPLAINS VOTE AGAINST ENDLESS FRONTIER: According to a source close to U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, his vote against Sen. Young's Endless Frontier was based on deficits and abortion (Howey Politics Indiana). "Senator Braun believes red ink is going to do us in faster than Red China," the source said. "So while he agrees the U.S. must stay competitive in science and tech innovation, we cannot do it through hundreds of billions in deficit spending without offsets, and we must ensure that taxpayer funds are not being used to fund research which does not respect the sanctity of human life such as experiments using fetal tissue obtained from an abortion or unethical research into animal-human hybrids, both of which amendments were voted down by Democrats in the Senate."

 

BAYH, COATS JOINING IU:  Former U.S. Sen. and Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh and former Director of National Intelligence and U.S. Sen. Daniel R. Coats will join Indiana University at the Paul H. O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, respectively, IU President Michael A. McRobbie announced (Howey Politics Indiana). Bayh will be appointed to the university as distinguished scholar and executive at large, while Coats will serve as distinguished scholar and ambassador at large. They will assume these roles in schools that include some of the country's most respected scholars, educators, researchers, policymakers and experienced professionals. "This is yet another banner day for the Indiana University community," McRobbie said. "Former senators Evan Bayh and Dan Coats are two of Indiana's and our nation's most accomplished and distinguished public servants and two of IU's most renowned alumni. Both have had lengthy and productive careers in the public sector, and both have served as bipartisan leaders at the highest levels of government, where they have consistently championed the causes of education, civic responsibility, community service and global engagement. Both also remain highly influential voices on the most critical issues facing our nation and our world and, as such, will further enhance IU's mission to educate the next generation of leaders to confront our most pressing challenges."

 

FORT WAYNE CHOSEN ALL-AMERICAN CITY: Fort Wayne is getting national recognition, after the city was named a 2021 All-America City for the fourth time (WPTA-TV). This year’s theme was based on the city's effort to improve equity and resilience in the community. There were ten winners, and each were selected based on how well the city works to build stronger communities and representing everyone who lives here. "Fort Wayne has really worked hard to be a city of inclusiveness and diversity, so I'm exhilarated at the announcement tonight.” Mayor Tom Henry said. "Trying to make sure people know Fort Wayne does exist.”

 

SPIKE IN INDIANA EVICTIONS EXPECTED: Hoosiers behind on rent will be at higher risk of losing their homes in three weeks when the CDC’s national moratorium on evictions expires, and some agencies organizations across Indiana are working to help those who may be affected (WANE-TV). “We’re looking at a race against time,” said Andrew Bradley, policy director for Prosperity Indiana, which works to connect Hoosiers in need to rental assistance and other support services. “From the partners that we have who are in the homelessness prevention business, they’re saying that the system is already taxed to the max,” Bradley said. “And they are not really in a place to handle an influx in capacity.” But despite the federal and state moratoriums, thousands of eviction filings have been made in Indiana throughout the pandemic, according to data from the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. “There have been over 45,000 evictions filed in Indiana since COVID began,” Bradley said, citing the data. “And nearly 16,000 of those are in Marion County alone.”

 

CDC AWARDING ISDH $40M TO ADDRESS COVID DISPARITIES: CDC has awarded the Indiana State Department of Health and the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County $40,705,446 to address COVID-19-related health disparities. The funding, part of a $2.25 billion nationwide investment, seeks to advance health equity by expanding state, local, US territorial, and freely associated state health department capacity and services. This is CDC’s largest investment to date to improve health equity in the United States (Howey Politics Indiana). “These grants demonstrate our steadfast commitment to keeping equity at the center of everything we do,” said CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky. “The pandemic has laid bare longstanding health inequities, and health departments are on the front line of efforts to address those inequities,” said José T. Montero, M.D., Director of CDC’s Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support. “These grants will provide these health departments with much needed support to address disparities in communities that need it most.”

 

CHINA RENEWS COVID LOCKDOWNS AS PANDEMIC STORMS BACK: Neighborhoods under strict lockdown. Thousands quarantined. Millions tested in mere days. Overseas arrivals locked up for weeks and sometimes months. China has followed variations of that formula for dealing with the coronavirus for more than a year — and a new outbreak suggests that they could be part of Chinese life for some time to come (New York Times). China appeared to get the coronavirus under control nearly a year ago. But hundreds of millions of Chinese people remain unvaccinated. New variants of the coronavirus have appeared, and questions remain about whether China’s self-made vaccines can stop them. The latest cases have been found in Guangzhou, capital of the southern province of Guangdong. The authorities have blamed the Delta variant, which has caused widespread loss of life in India.

 

PENCE BUYS $1.9M CARMEL HOME: Former Vice President Mike Pence is spending his post-vice president days in a $1.93 million house he and his wife Karen purchased in Hamilton County, according to the sales disclosure form (IndyStar). The 10,300-square-foot house, which sits on a 5-acre lot on the northwest side of Carmel, has seven bedrooms, 7.5 bathrooms and an in-ground pool, according to a Realtor.com listing. There's also a dock overlooking a pond, an indoor basketball court and a lower level media room. Pictures of the house, built in 2008 according to Realtor.com, show four garages, a spacious basement bar, a workout room and a stone fireplace on the main level. A spokesperson for Pence did not respond to questions about the purchase. The house has a Zionsville postal address but is within Carmel city limits.

 

CRITICIZED LaPORTE COUNCILMAN JOINS PRIDE EVENT: A LaPorte official heavily criticized last year for publicly denouncing the LGBTQ lifestyle joined in the presentation of a pride flag to the city Monday night (Maddux, NWI Times). City Councilman Roger Galloway said his personal views have not changed, but he stands by the effort of the LGBTQ community to be accepted. “I believe my opinion, my religious beliefs are the same, but we’re all in this together,” he said.

 

MEDIA NOTE TO HPI READERS: This past week, a Northern Indiana newspaper featured its lead story on a county sheriff winning a doughnut eating contest. A major chain has substituted court and government coverage for stories that used to be relegated to the sports section. Indiana journalism is in atrophy. So it is heartening that, like Howey Politics Indiana did 26 years ago, degreed, veteran journalists like Dave Bangert is stepping up via the Substack platform and offering credible and relevant local and state-based journalism. Bangert, who spent more than two decades at the Lafayette Journal & Courier, is now publishing "Based in Lafayette." I highly urge HPI subscribers to reach out and support these endeavors. We need more journalists and more competition and I hope that other sidelined Hoosier journalists decide to step up and contribute to the kind of journalism that makes our state better.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Alas, Evan Bayh and Dan Coats are on the same bill, joining IU's O'Neill School. In 1998, the two were on a collision course for Coats's U.S. Senate seat, until Coats decided to leave the upper chamber, with Bayh going on to defeat Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke (who is also teaching at IU). In 2010, Coats abruptly launched a late challenge to Bayh, only to have the senator shock the political world by announcing he would retire just before filing deadline. Having these two at IU is a great move by old IU. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

DONNELLY TOUTS RESCUE PLAN IN KOKOMO: Former U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly and former Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick stopped in Kokomo on Tuesday evening to tout the local benefits of more than $50 million coming into the county through the American Rescue Plan (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). The two former Democratic officeholders spoke inside Roger’s Pavilion at Highland Park following a meeting of the Howard County Democratic Party. The visit was part of a statewide tour to talk about the impact of the $1.9 trillion spending package. Locally, the plan is expected to give Howard County $16 million, the city of Kokomo $20.6 million and Howard County schools $20.3 million. “That’s what this rescue plan is about,” he said. “It’s about caring about people.” McCormick also defended the rescue plan, saying the funding going to schools is necessary as districts struggle to recoup from the pandemic. “The money that is flowing into Howard County schools, into all our schools, came at a vital time,” she said. “It matters tremendously, and its going to have a huge impact.”

 

McDERMOTT EYES SENATE BID: Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott is eyeing a 2022 U.S. Senate campaign that he plans to announce after summer, according to two sources familiar with his plans. The Democrat did not immediately return IMPORTANTVILLE messages seeking comment. Asked by IMPORTANTVILLE whether he would challenge Young last June, he said: “I’m keeping my options. I may run for president in 2024. I was inspired by Pete Buttigieg.” Republican U.S. Sen. Todd Young announced his re-election bid earlier this year. Young is sitting on a $2.6 million war chest. McDermott would join fellow Democrat Haneefah Khaaliq, executive director for a civil rights agency who has also announced her bid.

 

DEMOCRAT STEPHENS ANNOUNCES FOR 3RD CD:  Democrat John Stephens is running for Indiana’s 3rd District Congressional seat because he believes incumbent Rep. Jim Banks isn’t representing Hoosiers properly (Brownlee, WANE-TV). “I don’t think he is doing a very good job of listening to Hoosiers and taking those concerns to Washington D.C.,” Stephens said. “He is holding a culture war right now which is all about teaching us to hate people and teaching us to be angry with people.” Rep. Banks was first elected in 2016 and has held the 3rd District seat for nearly three terms. Banks wasn’t available for an interview, but he sent this statement: “We just got through an election and right now I’m focused on pushing back against Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi’s radical and dangerous socialist policies. I will focus on the campaign next year.” 

 

HARRISON TO KEYNOTE VIRTUAL INDEM DINNER: The Indiana Democratic Party will hold its annual Hoosier Hospitality Dinner at 6 p.m. tonight where Hoosiers from across the state are expected to gather (virtually) to celebrate why the Democratic Party has the winning agenda for future elections in Indiana (Howey Politics Indiana). Indiana Democrats will be joined by various special guests for the dinner, including a conversation with Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison, messages from U.S. Congresswomen Lauren Underwood and Sharice Davids, a visit from Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, and remarks by Indiana Congressmen André Carson and Frank Mrvan, Jr.

 

CONRAD STILL MULLING SECRETARY OF STATE RACE: Former Newton County clerk Kyle Conrad told Howey Politics Indiana he is still weighing a Republican Party convention challenge to Secretary of State Holli Sullivan. Conrad said he expects to make a decision in the next month or so. Sullivan was appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb to finish the term of retiring Sec. Connie Lawson.

 

SEAT ENDORSED BY 13 GOP COUNTY CHAIRS: Below is a current list of Republican county chairs who have publicly endorsed Pete Seat for Indiana State Treasurer (Howey Politics Indiana): JD Beckley Blackford County; Lavinia Herzog Union County; Shannon Mattix White County; Kitty Merkley Dubois County; Jon Myers Whitley County; Jeff Phillips Jasper County; Litany Pyle Fountain County; Mike Ragan Kosciusko County; Darren Reese Grant County; Rick Ring DeKalb County; Shelly Williams Noble County; Russ Willis Madison County; and Jon Winkler Spencer County.

 

REP. DEMINGS TO CHALLENGE SEN. RUBIO: Orlando Democratic Rep. Val Demings on Wednesday launched her bid to knock off GOP Sen. Marco Rubio, a race that Democrats hope to use to regain relevance in a state dominated by Republicans (Politico). Demings, a 64-year-old black former Orlando police chief, is seen as the Democrat’s top statewide candidate. She had eyed a run for governor before POLITICO reported in May that she was shifting focus to challenge Rubio. That move sent ripple effects throughout the field, as Demings was seen as a likely favorite in either Democratic primary race. “I'm running for U.S. Senate because I will never tire of standing up for what is right. Never tire of serving Florida. Never tire of doing good,” Demings said on Twitter.

 

TRUMP IN EXILE: He’ll show up to anything. In recent weeks, Donald Trump has popped into engagement parties and memorial services. A Mar-a-Lago member who recently attended a club gathering for a deceased friend was surprised when Trump sauntered in to deliver remarks and then hung around, apparently enjoying himself (Green, Bloomberg). This insular feedback loop, amplified by the worshipful validation he gets for doing Newsmax or OAN TV hits, doesn’t appear likely to diminish as he settles into his New Jersey golf club for the summer and prepares to resume his trademark rallies. "Donald Trump needs the adulation of the crowd the way you or I need oxygen to breathe," says Michael Cohen, his estranged former lawyer. By all accounts, Trump’s life after the White House doesn’t resemble that of a typical ex-president so much as a foreign monarch cast into exile—like NAPOLEON at Elba, but with golf and a bigger buffet.

 

CHASTEN BUTTIGIEG RESPONDS TO McDANIEL PRIDE TWEET: Chasten Buttigieg responded to Ronna McDaniel in a series of media appearances on Wednesday over a tweet she made celebrating LGBT Pride Month, calling the Republican National Committee chair’s language hypocritical (Politico). “Happy #PrideMonth! @GOP is proud to have doubled our LGBTQ support over the last 4 years, and we will continue to grow our big tent by supporting measures that promote fairness and balance protections for LGBTQ Americans and those with deeply held religious beliefs,” McDaniel posted on Twitter on June 2. Chasten Buttigieg, husband of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay Cabinet secretary, fired back the following day, responding: “Those with ‘deeply held religious beliefs’ are often the parents who force their LGBTQ children out of the home and onto the street. I’ve met with those kids. 40% of homeless youth in this country are LGBTQ. Re-visit your party’s platform before you open your mouth about #pride.”

 

Congress

 

WALORSKI QUESTIONS BECERRA: U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) on Tuesday pressed Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra on reports that American children and youth in foster care have been displaced from their residences due to the border crisis and surge of unaccompanied migrant children (Howey Politics Indiana). “The Biden administration has a responsibility to acknowledge that what we are seeing at the southern border is indeed a crisis, and that its misguided policies are to blame,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “The Biden administration also has a duty to address the downstream effects of the current border crisis. We’ve seen local news reports from Washington and Texas about foster youth being displaced and forced to vacate their residences in order to make room for unaccompanied migrant children. This is extremely alarming, especially given the already limited availability of more permanent placements for foster children.” Video of Walorski questioning Becerra at the Ways and Means Committee hearing on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) FY2022 budget proposal is available here.

 

SEN. CAPITO SAYS BIDEN 'KEPT MOVING GOALPOSTS': Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said Wednesday that she was “frustrated” that the White House “kept moving the goalposts on us” after infrastructure negotiations with the Biden administration fell apart Tuesday (Politico). “I'm a bit disappointed and frustrated that the White House really kept moving the ball on me and then just finally brought me negotiations that were untenable and then ended the negotiations altogether,” Capito said in a Fox News interview.

 

NEW SENATE GROUP EMERGES TO DEAL WITH BIDEN: President Joe Biden ended talks with a group of Republican senators on a big infrastructure package on Tuesday and started reaching out to senators from both parties in a new effort toward bipartisan compromise, setting a summer deadline for Congress to pass his top legislative priority (AP). Those senators receiving phone calls from Biden were among the group of 10 assembled with Sinema and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, late Tuesday in Portman’s office for what was described as a productive meeting, the person familiar with the session said. Portman and Sinema have been engaged for months with Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on a sizable infrastructure proposal that is expected to include proposed ways to pay for it. The senators’ group has expanded in recent weeks to include the others from both parties. Romney has described it a “back burner” group, in case the administration’s talks with the GOP senators faltered.

 

THE SENATE will meet at 10:30 a.m. to take up a couple of judicial nominations, including a vote on Ketanji Brown Jackson at 1:45 p.m. The Judiciary Committee will vote on several nominations and bills, including David Chipman for ATF director, at 9 a.m. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley will testify before the Armed Services Committee at 9:30 a.m. HUD Secretary Fudge and acting FDA Commissioner Woodcock will testify before Appropriations subcommittees at 10 a.m. HHS Secretary Bercerra will testify before the Finance Committee at 10 a.m.

 

THE HOUSE is out. FBI Director Wray will testify before the Judiciary Committee at 10 a.m. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin will testify before an Appropriations subcommittee at 2 p.m.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: IS HOLCOMB ALREADY A LAMEDUCK? If former Gov. Mitch Daniels was mad at a lawmaker or didn't like a bill, that legislator knew it.  Former Republican Rep. Mike Murphy recalled a time when Daniels showed up on the House floor and told Murphy he was going to kill a bill he did not like — a very public confrontation in front of a TV camera (Lange, IndyStar). “With Mitch Daniels, you knew if you crossed him,” Murphy said. “You knew there were going to be consequences and you knew that you were playing with fire.” Daniels by most accounts was seen as a successful governor in his second term, who, whether by his more aggressive nature or success during his first term, was still able to influence legislative policy as he neared the end of his time in office. The less aggressive Gov. Eric Holcomb faces a potentially different outlook just months after the start of his second term, raising questions about whether he's reaching lame duck status despite having nearly four years to go. Since the year began, members of his own party have curtailed his power, complained about his handling of the pandemic and overridden an unusual number of vetoes. He's also locked in a court case against members of his own party who serve at the Statehouse, all of which speaks to the general lack of concern Indiana Republicans seem to have with crossing the head of their own party. “I would have to say that the kind of disharmony that appeared in this last session between the Republicans in the legislature and the governor, I've never seen anything like it,” said Republican John Mutz, a former lieutenant governor who served in the Indiana House and Senate in the 1960s and 1970s while Roger Branigin, Edgar Whitcomb and Otis Bowen were governor. "If all of this and more constitutes a 'lack of influence', then so be it," Holcomb said in a statement. "In the meantime, I’ll continue to focus on creating opportunity for all Hoosiers and leave the prognostication to the experts.”

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB HONORS MERRILLVILLE PASTOR WITH SAGAMORE - A Northwest Indiana pastor who ministers to both those in need and those with means has been recognized by Gov. Eric Holcomb with one of the state's top honors (NWI Times). Rev. Randy Scott was presented the Sagamore of the Wabash award on behalf of the governor by state Sen. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, during Sunday services at Scott's church, Pentecostals of South Lake. Holcomb said Scott's award commemorates his community service as chaplain for first responders in Merrillville, speaker at numerous community events and celebrations, and frequent prayer-giver before the start of daily sessions at the Indiana House and Senate.

 

ISDH: WEDNESDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health announced Wednesday that 308 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 747,799 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. To date, 13,289 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 12 from the previous day. Another 419 probable deaths have been reported to date based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record.    A total of 3,530,620 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 3,527,622 on Tuesday. A total of 10,588,907 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26, 2020.

 

BOND BANK: MEETING RESCHEDULED - The June 9, 2021 IBB Board of Directors meeting has been rescheduled for June 23, 2021.  Additional details will be shared later.

 

ECONOMY: NFIB SEES SLIGHT UPTICK IN OPTIMISM - The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index fell 0.2 points in May to 99.6. May saw a slight pause in the recovery of small business optimism after steadily increasing each month in 2021. As reported in NFIB’s monthly jobs report, a record-high 48% of owners reported unfilled job openings (Howey Politics Indiana). “The data from this survey proves what we’ve been hearing from our Hoosier members for months. They simply and most frustratingly can’t find qualified workers. Here’s the deal: if small businesses can’t hire staff, they can’t grow. If they can’t grow, recovery will stall. It’s as simple as that. Small businesses are typically the engine that leads states like Indiana out of recession and creates at least two thirds of the net new jobs. If small businesses can’t hire enough workers to staff their establishments, the state and national economy is in trouble,” said Barbara Quandt, NFIB State Director in Indiana.

 

PURDUE: LIMESTONE LANDMARKS TO BE INCORPORATED INTO UNION - Last seen, in December 2018, the brick-and-limestone monuments bearing Purdue University’s name and the carved inscription, “Founded 1869,” were being plucked from the corner of State and Grant streets, having celebrated their final weekend as the backdrop to thousands of cap-and-gown photos during fall commencement, the way they had since 1984 (Bangert, Based in Lafayette). Coming just five months later, in a real scramble that campus facilities teams pulled off in time for the May 2019 graduation weekend, was a $2 million gateway that showcased the Purdue Memorial Union and paid tribute to the school’s 150th anniversary. In a new plan, “Stone’s stones” will be incorporated in the university’s $47 million renovations of the Purdue Memorial Union, in the works now to remake the ground floor dining areas and build out the campus landmark’s terraces.

 

NBA: PACERS FIRE BJORKGREN - Expected to bring the Indiana Pacers into the "modern" era of coaching, Nate Bjorkgren had the plug pulled after his first year on the job, league sources tell IndyStar, as he was fired Wednesday. Bjorkgren went 34-38 in his only season as a head coach, hired from the Toronto Raptors where he had been an assistant under Nick Nurse and won the 2019 NBA championship. The Pacers won its first game in the NBA play-in tournament over Charlotte, but were blitzed by Washington, 142-115, failing to make the playoffs. While injuries certainly contributed to the Pacers limping to the finish line, they were underperforming long before Myles Turner was lost for the last 19 games with turf toe on his right foot, Jeremy Lamb's surgically repaired left leg cost him the last 17 games and Malcolm Brogdon's right hamstring soreness kept him on the shelf for the final 10. The Pacers never won more than three games in a row and lost season series with East foes such as the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN CITES 'INFLECTION POINT' - President Biden, arriving in England on the first of eight days in the U.K. and Europe, speaking to U.S. Air Force personnel and families, stationed at Royal Air Force Mildenhall (Howey Politics Indiana): "I believe we’re at an inflection point in world history — the moment where it falls to us to prove that democracies will not just endure, but they will excel as we rise to seize the enormous opportunities of a new age."

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN TO GIVE 500M DOSES ABROAD - President Joe Biden will announce Thursday at the G-7 meeting in Britain his plan to purchase 500 million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to donate to other countries struggling with a limited supply, according to three people familiar with the plans (NBC News). Of the doses, 200 million will be donated this year and 300 million across the first half of next year. The doses will be distributed through COVAX — a humanitarian program run in part by the World Health Organization that aims to fairly distribute vaccines — and will be given to 92 low-income countries as well as the African Union. COVAX's goal is to make 2 billion doses available to countries in need by the end of 2021. So far, approximately 81 million vaccines have been shipped to over 129 participants.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN TO LAY OUT VAX PLANS -  One year ago, the U.S. was the deadliest hotspot of the COVID-19 pandemic, forcing the cancellation of the Group of Seven summit it was due to host. Now, the U.S. is emerging as a model for how to successfully recover from more than 15 months of global crisis (AP). For President Joe Biden, who is meeting with leaders of the wealthy G-7 democracies on his first overseas trip since taking office, it’s a personal vindication of his pledge to turn around the U.S. virus, but also a call to action to enlist other countries in the global fight. In a speech on the eve of the summit, Biden on Thursday will unveil plans for the U.S. to donate 500 million vaccine doses around the globe over the next year, on top of 80 million he has already pledged by the end of the month. U.S. officials say Biden will also include a direct request to his fellow G-7 leaders to do the same.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN REVERSES TIK-TOK BAN - President Joe Biden has reversed executive orders from former President Donald Trump that tried to ban the popular Chinese-owned video app TikTok. Mr. Biden replaced the failed ban with a new executive order calling for a government review of foreign-owned apps, and whether they pose any security risks (CBS News). The White House said in a statement that it is "committed to promoting an open, interoperable, reliable and secure Internet" and "protecting human rights online and offline."

 

WHITE HOUSE: DEVELOPER SCUTTLES KEYSTONE PIPELINE - Canada’s TC Energy Corp. TRP 0.59% and the Albertan provincial government said Wednesday they would scuttle the Keystone XL oil pipeline project, bringing to an end a yearslong controversy over an effort to pipe more Canadian crude to the U.S. (Wall Street Journal). The decision had been expected after President Biden used his first day in office to revoke a key permit for the pipeline to cross the country’s northern border, shutting down construction. It marks a historic victory for environmentalists who for a decade have made Keystone XL the focus of a campaign to block new pipeline construction as a way to limit oil consumption that contributes to global warming.

 

WHITE HOUSEL BIDEN SCHEDULE - President Biden's schedule, 1:30 p.m. British Summer Time: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief. 2:55 p.m.: The president and first lady Jill Biden will depart St. Ives, Cornwall, U.K., en route to Carbis Bay, Cornwall, U.K. 3 p.m.: The Bidens will greet British PM Boris Johnson and his wife, Carrie. 3:10 p.m.: Biden and Johnson will view the Atlantic Charter.  3:15 p.m.: Biden and Johnson will participate in a bilateral meeting. 4:30 p.m.: Joe and Jill Biden will depart Carbis Bay en route to St. Ives, where they will arrive at 4:35 p.m. — 6:15 p.m.: The president will deliver remarks on Covid-19 vaccination efforts and the global response.

 

LABOR: CONSUMER PRICES ROSE IN MAY - U.S. consumer prices likely continued to rise rapidly in May as the economic recovery picked up, reflecting a surge in demand along with shortages of labor and materials (Wall Street Journal). Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal estimate that the Labor Department will report that the consumer-price index increased by 4.7% in May from a year earlier, up from 4.2% for the year ended in April. That would be the highest 12-month inflation rate since 2008. The core-price index, which excludes the often-volatile categories of food and energy, likely rose 3.5% in May from a year before, they estimated.

 

INTERIOR: IG FINDS PARK SERVICE DIDN'T CLEAR FOR TRUMP PHOTO OP - The Interior Department's inspector general said in a report released Wednesday that evidence it obtained "did not support a finding" that federal authorities forcibly cleared protesters from Lafayette Park last year so then-President Trump could walk from the White House and pose for a photo outside the historic St. John's Church (CBS News). The watchdog, which examined the incident that occurred June 1, 2020, during protests against racial injustice and police brutality in Washington, D.C., instead found the U.S. Park Police had the authority to clear the park and surrounding areas, and did so to allow a contractor to install anti-scale fencing after several nights of violent clashes. U.S. Park Police also did not know that Mr. Trump would potentially be leaving the White House and crossing Lafayette Park until "mid-to late afternoon" on June 1, hours after the contractor had arrived to begin installation, according to the report. "The evidence we obtained did not support a finding that the USPP cleared the park to allow the president to survey the damage and walk to St. John's Church," the report from the Interior Department's inspector general states.

 

TREASURY: 50% OF UNEMPLOYMENT FUNDS WERE STOLEN - Criminals stole as much as half of the unemployment benefits the U.S. pumped out over the past year (Axios). Unemployment fraud during the pandemic could easily reach $400 billion, according to some estimates. The bulk of the money likely ended in the hands of foreign crime syndicates — making this not just theft, but a matter of national security. When the pandemic hit, states weren't prepared for the unprecedented wave of unemployment claims. They all knew fraud was inevitable, but decided getting the money out to people who desperately needed it was more important than laboriously making sure all of them were genuine. Blake Hall, CEO of ID.me, which tries to prevent this kind of fraud, tells Axios that America has lost more than $400 billion to fraudulent claims. As much as 50% of all unemployment money is suspected stolen, he says. Haywood Talcove, CEO of LexisNexis Risk Solutions, estimates that at least 70% of the money stolen by impostors ultimately left the country, much of it ending up in the hands of criminal syndicates in China, Nigeria, Russia and elsewhere. "These groups are definitely backed by the state," Talcove tells Axios. Much of the rest of the money was stolen by street gangs domestically, who have made up a greater share of the fraudsters in recent months. The Treasury Department declined to comment on these estimates.

 

COVID: FAUCI SAYS ATTACKS ON HIM AS 'ATTACKS ON SCIENCE' - Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday many of the attacks on him over the past year amounted to "attacking science," saying all his public health recommendations had been rooted in fact (Fox News). In a sympathetic interview with MSNBC's Chuck Todd, Fauci responded to Republican criticisms of him based on released emails last week that delved into his public health recommendations such as on masks, financial links between his federal health agency and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and his early doubts of the "lab-leak" idea that's become increasingly viewed as a credible origin. "A lot of what you’re seeing as attacks on me quite frankly are attacks on science, because all of the things that I have spoken about consistently from the very beginning have been fundamentally based on science," Fauci said. "Sometimes those things were inconvenient truths for people and there was pushback against me, so if you are trying to, you know, get at me as a public health official and a scientist, you’re really attacking not only Dr. Anthony Fauci, you’re attacking science, and anybody that looks at what is going on clearly sees that."

 

MEDIA: FASTLY SAYS OUTAGE LINKED TO COMPUTER BUG - Fastly the company hit by a major outage that caused many of the world's top websites to go offline briefly this week, blamed the problem on a software bug that was triggered when a customer changed a setting (CBS News). The problem at Fastly meant internet users couldn't connect to a host of popular websites early Tuesday including The New York Times, the Guardian, Twitch, Reddit and the British government's homepage. "We experienced a global outage due to an undiscovered software bug that surfaced on June 8 when it was triggered by a valid customer configuration change," Nick Rockwell, Fastly's senior vice president of engineering and infrastructure, said in a blog post late Tuesday.

 

MLB: CUBS TOP PADRES 3-1 - Joc Pederson of the Chicago Cubs hit a towering, game-tying home run off San Diego ace Yu Darvish and, as he approached third base on his trot, mimicked the stutter step Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. does after he homers (ESPN). If Tatis can have fun, so can he, Pederson figured. "I see Tatis, he has a lot of homers, he's done it, he's having fun out there," Pederson said after the Cubs beat former teammate Darvish and the Padres 3-1 on Wednesday. "He's got some of the most swag in the game. Our team's just having fun."

 

MLB: RED POWER BY BREWERS 7-3 - Vladimir Gutierrez settled down nicely after a tough start (ESPN). A conversation with a teammate helped. Gutierrez pitched seven effective innings, Tyler Stephenson drove in three runs and the Cincinnati Reds stopped Milwaukee's five-game win streak with a 7-3 victory over the Brewers on Wednesday night.

 

MLB: BLUES DEFEAT SLOPPY SOX 6-2 - The Chicago White Sox were rolling along with Lance Lynn delivering another dominant start. Once he left the game, things turned around in a big way (ESPN). The bullpen stumbled. So did the defense, and the Blue Jays came away with the win. Randal Grichuk hit a long home run and Toronto took advantage of a season-high four errors by Chicago as well as a bases-loaded walk to beat the AL Central leaders 6-2 on Wednesday night.

 

Local

 

MUNCIE: COUNCIL OVERRIDES MAYOR RIDENOUR VETO - The Muncie City Council on Monday overrode Mayor Dan Ridenour's veto of an ordinance changing some of the rules governing the Muncie Fire Merit Commission. The veto was the first mayoral veto in a decade (Ohlenkamp, Muncie Star Press). The merit commission is a city-appointed board that is in charge of hiring, promotion and disciplinary action for the Muncie Fire Department. Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour vetoed the ordinance 7-21, without any indication beforehand that he was going to do so. The move caught several city council members off guard. The most recent previous veto by a sitting mayor in Muncie was by former Mayor Sharron McShurley, who vetoed an ordinance in 2010 related to the Muncie Animal Shelter.

 

WEST LAFAYETTE: MASK FINES OFF - Since the January unveiling of a $15.9 million remodel at West Lafayette City Hall – the former Morton Community Center, former Morton School, now dubbed the Sonya Margerum City Hall … whew – the one constant has been an empty meeting space. Thanks, COVID. Until Monday’s city council session, when council members found their way to the stark white surrounds, topped with the black “M” above what once was the school’s stage, of a renovated meeting space (Bangert, Based in Lafayette). Council members seemed to agree: It was good to see everyone’s faces, again, after more than a year of meeting via phone and video conferencing. It seemed right, too, that among the business was closing the loop on what proved to be a controversial bit of West Lafayette history: So long to the city’s mandatory mask policy.

 

LOGANSPORT: CITY TO MONITOR ZINC OXIDE PLANT - The city of Logansport plans to do its own air monitoring for pollution from a proposed zinc oxide manufacturing plant in Cass County. Waelz Sustainable Products' installed an air monitor in Logansport's downtown earlier this year in collaboration with the county (Indiana Public Media). City Council President Dave Morris said the city's testing site would be closer to the facility at Logansport’s wastewater treatment plant — which he said will allow Logansport to better protect its residents. “That’s where the highest concentration would come into the city. So that’s where we feel like it would be the best," he said at Monday's city council meeting.

 

KOKOMO: WASTEWATER FUNDING SECURED - The City of Kokomo closed a low-interest loan, in the amount of $24,500,000, through the Indiana Finance Authority’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) Loan Program to finance improvements to the City’s wastewater treatment systems. By utilizing the SRF Loan Program instead of securing a traditional loan, Kokomo will save approximately $598,385 in interest costs over the life of the loan (Howey Politics Indiana). The SRF Loan Program is administered by the Indiana Finance Authority with joint funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Indiana.  The City’s project includes the construction of Peak Excess Flow Treatment Facility #2.  The project will allow the City of Kokomo to treat additional wet weather flow as required by the City’s Combined Sewer Overflow Long Term Control Plan, which protects water quality and public health for the residents and businesses in the service area.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: HOMICIDE SURGE LEADS TO DELAY IN EXAMS – According to the Marion County Coroner’s Office, this past weekend, it saw a record number of people who died, needing examinations (CBS4). Deputy Chief Coroner, Alfarena McGinty, said, “When we look at a weekend from Friday to Sunday where there were 24 deaths that require examinations and you have five people that are able to assist in performing those examinations, that is difficult.” McGinty said the office is already facing staffing shortages, which is something she has pushed to resolve for years.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: 7 CHARGED IN INMATE DEATH - At least seven people have been charged with murder in connection to the death of an inmate inside the Marion County Jail (DePompei, IndyStar). On Oct. 10, 38-year-old Martin Cruz was found unresponsive during a routine check, according to in-custody death records provided by the sheriff's office. He was taken to a hospital where he died. Officials said his death appeared to be caused by an "inmate-on-inmate assault." Court documents provided by the Marion County Prosecutor's Office to IndyStar on Wednesday detail a brutal, organized assault against Cruz. Cruz was booked into the Marion County Jail on July 23, 2020, and charged with three counts of child molesting. Cruz denied the allegations. According to the sheriff's office, Cruz was also placed on an immigration detainer by the Department of Homeland Security.

 

VANDERBURGH COUNTY: JUDGES RULES FOR UTILITY IN EXPLOSION - A judge has ruled in favor of a utility in a lawsuit filed over a 2017 natural gas explosion in southwestern Indiana that killed two women and injured three other people (AP). A Vanderburgh County judge granted CenterPoint’s motion for summary judgment on Tuesday in the civil lawsuit. The judge found that the plaintiffs failed to produce evidence the utility was negligent and that their negligence directly resulted in the two victims’ deaths and injuries to three others, the Evansville Courier & Press reported. The June 2017 explosion leveled a house in Evansville, killed Sharon Mand and Kathleen Woolems and wounded a man, a woman and her 10-year-old son.

 

TIPPECANOE COUNTY: TRUSTEE TERMINATES FIREFIGHTER BENEFITS - Wabash Township officials say Trustee Jennifer Teising informed the township's firefighters their benefits will end at the end of the month (WLFI-TV). As News 18 previously reported, Teising is facing scrutiny over a pending felony theft case and her firing of the township's fire chief in December. She's also been at odds for months with the township's board members and fire fighters.  Board Member Angel Valentín says she will terminate health insurance benefits for the township's three paid firefighters by the end of the month. But he says there's still room in the budget for those benefits. Teising secured an emergency fire loan last year to offer health insurance. "Unless something insane has happened when it comes to our finances, we know the money was allocated and the money was there," he says.

 

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: LOWEST COVID POSITIVITY RATE SINCE PANDEMIC - Local health leaders are pushing for more COVID-19 vaccinations as St, Joseph County continues to report big progress against the pandemic (WSBT-TV). Right now the county's 7-day positivity rate is at 3.8 percent. That's the lowest it's been since the pandemic really took hold about a year ago. According to the latest figures from the health department, over 42 percent of people living in the county are considered fully vaccinated.

 

MADISON COUNTY: CORONER SEEKS $1.4M FOR NEW MORGUE - Madison County Coroner Dr. Troy Abbott is requesting $1.4 million to construct a morgue and autopsy room (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald Bulletin). The Madison County Council took no action Tuesday on the request that Abbott is seeking from the county’s share of the CARES Act COVID-19 fund. Abbott requested $1 million to construct a morgue to hold between 12 and 18 bodies and $337,300 to equip a room to conduct autopsies. He said the request is being made from the funding that has not been appropriated by county officials. Abbott said with the warmer weather it’s important to store bodies in a cold area to prevent decomposing. Thus far this year the Coroner’s Office has handled 125 cases, he said.