HOLCOMB, BOX REFUSE TO RELEASE NURSING HOME DATA: A group of lawmakers expressed more frustration Thursday after Gov. Eric Holcomb and State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box rejected requests to release COVID-19 for individual long-term care facilities (Kenney, WRTV). Call 6 Investigates has been asking since April where people have died in Indiana nursing homes and where the outbreaks have occurred, but the state has refused to provide the information saying it does not keep the information in a document. Senate Democrats wrote a letter to Holcomb and Box, urging them to collect and release the data, just days after Call 6 Investigates reported ISDH claims it does not have nursing home documents that contain COVID-19 death and case information. Nearly half of COVID-19 deaths in Indiana have happened in long term care facilities. “We are having ongoing discussions with AARP, with the nursing home associations, with the individual facilities,” said Dr. Box. “At the State Dept of Health we have strongly supported releasing that information to all of our residents and all of the individuals that represent them. They give that data directly to the Indiana state department of Health and local health departments and we will continue to support that.”

31K MORE JOBS CLAIMS FILED IN INDIANA: Nearly a third more Indiana workers filed initial unemployment claims last week compared to the previous week, the U.S. Labor Department reported Thursday (WLFI-TV). The number of new claims totaled 31,885 during the week of June 20, compared to an adjusted number of 24,017 the week before, the department reported. That's an increase of 7,868. The total number of Indiana workers receiving jobless benefits during the week ending June 13 fell by about 5,000 to 206,265 from 211,255 the week before, the department said. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Indiana typically saw fewer than 3,000 initial unemployment claims per week. Thursday’s report also showed that an additional 17,439 Indiana residents applied for jobless benefits nationally last week under the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for self-employed and gig workers. That was up from 12,016 new claims the previous week. The state reported 209,080 people were receiving continued Pandemic Unemployment Assistance as of June 6, up from 117,441 the prior week.

TRUMP ASKS SCOTUS TO END OBAMACARE: The Trump administration on Thursday night urged the Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare, pushing forward with its attack on the health care law as millions of newly jobless Americans may come to depend on its coverage (Politico). The Justice Department in a new legal brief argues Obamacare in its entirety became invalid when the previous Republican-led Congress axed the unpopular individual mandate penalty for uninsured people. The filing comes weeks after President Donald Trump confirmed his administration would continue to press for Obamacare's elimination, ignoring warnings from top aides about the risk of voter backlash in November. “No further analysis is necessary; once the individual mandate and the guaranteed-issue and community-rating provisions are invalidated, the remainder of the ACA cannot survive," the Justice Department stated.

WEINZAPFEL CRITICAL OF HILL, OBAMACARE LAWSUIT:  As the U.S. Supreme Court considers Indiana’s partisan lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act, today Jonathan Weinzapfel, the Democratic nominee for Indiana Attorney General criticized Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill for failing to protect Hoosiers’ health and safety (Howey Politics Indiana). “In the middle of a pandemic, instead of standing up and using the power of his office to get vital information about COVID-19 cases in nursing homes released to the public, Curtis Hill is fighting to strip away the health care of nearly half a million Hoosiers,” said Weinzapfel. “His priorities and his judgment are just plain wrong.” Hill has joined the Trump administration in the lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Opening briefs were filed today with the U.S. Supreme Court. Now more than ever, Hoosiers understand how critically important access to health care really is,” added Weinzapfel. “People won’t be safe and our economy won’t get back on track if Hoosiers can’t see a doctor or get the care they need. Hill’s lawsuit would dismantle protections for those with pre-existing conditions and would destroy the Healthy Indiana Plan. It’s completely unacceptable.” 

HANNITY ASKS TRUMP WHY HE WANTS 2ND TERM: Fox News Sean Hannity traveled with President Trump to Green Bay, Wis., for a Fox News town hall, and asked him this good question: “What’s at stake in this election as you compare and contrast, and what are your top priority items for a second term?” This is as standard a question as a sitting president can get -- why should we give you another four years, and compare yourself to your opponent (Politico Playbook). Here is how Trump responded: “Well, one of the things that will be really great, you know, the word experience is still good. I always say talent is more important than experience. I’ve always said that. But the word experience is a very important word. It’s a very important meaning. I never did this before -- I never slept over in Washington. I was in Washington I think 17 times, all of the sudden, I’m the president of the United States. You know the story, I’m riding down Pennsylvania Avenue with our first lady and I say, ‘This is great.’ But I didn’t know very many people in Washington, it wasn’t my thing. I was from Manhattan, from New York. Now I know everybody. And I have great people in the administration. You make some mistakes, like you know an idiot like Bolton, all he wanted to do is drop bombs on everybody. You don’t have to drop bombs on everybody. You don’t have to kill people.”

TEXAS HITS ECONOMIC PAUSE AS CASES SPIKE: Just 55 days after reopening Texas restaurants and other businesses, Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday hit the pause button, stopping additional phases of the state’s reopening as new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations soared and as the governor struggled to pull off the seemingly impossible task of keeping both the state open and the virus under control (New York Times). The announcement by Mr. Abbott — which allows the many shopping malls, restaurants, bars, gyms and other businesses already open to continue operating — was an abrupt turnaround and came as a growing number of states paused reopenings amid rising case counts. The latest developments call into question any suggestion that the worst of the pandemic has passed in the United States, as rising outbreaks in the South and the West threaten to upend months of social distancing meant to help keep the virus at bay. The nation recorded a new high point with 36,975 new cases on Wednesday, nearly two months after many states began to reopen with the hope of salvaging the economy and the livelihoods of millions of Americans. Alabama, Missouri, Montana and Utah all hit new daily case records on Thursday.

FIORINA VOTING FOR BIDEN: Republicans who say Donald Trump should lose in November but insist they won’t vote for Joe Biden aren’t being honest, Carly Fiorina argues (The Atlantic). Fiorina was a Republican candidate for president just four years ago, and was briefly Ted Cruz’s prospective running mate. Trump needs to go, she says—and that means she’s voting for Biden. Fiorina is not going to keep quiet, write in another candidate, or vote third-party. “I’ve been very clear that I can’t support Donald Trump,” she told me, in an interview that can be heard in full on the latest episode of The Ticket. “And elections are binary choices.” She struggled with the decision, and whether to go public. But she said that this struggle is one Republicans need to have—including those who have rationalized supporting Trump despite their disagreements, because of some of his policies or judicial appointments. “As citizens, our vote is more than a check on a box. You know, it’s a statement about where we want to go, and I think what we need now actually is real leadership that can unify the country.”

BUTTIGIEG TO TEACH AT NOTRE DAME: The University of Notre Dame has hired former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg as a researcher and teacher for the 2020-2021 academic year, the university announced Thursday (South Bend Tribune). As a faculty fellow in the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, Buttigieg will work on two research projects: one that explores how to restore trust in political institutions and another that considers the forces shaping the 2020s. He joins a group of more than 30 faculty and student fellows who will conduct research on the nature of trust, the institute’s 2020-2021 research theme. Buttigieg will take part in weekly seminars and other academic programs. He also will teach an undergraduate course on the importance of trust in different fields, the university said. The seminar draws on literature, politics, economics and philosophy, with guest experts participating. “I am delighted to join this academic community to pursue research on one of the most salient issues of our time, the nature of trust,” Buttigieg said in a statement. “I look forward to engaging with faculty and students from various disciplines at a time in the life of our country that calls for deep and wide-ranging inquiry.”

$1.4B IN RESCUE MONEY WENT TO DECEASED: Nearly 1.1 million coronavirus relief payments totaling some $1.4 billion went to dead people, a government watchdog reported Thursday. Legal and political issues hang over the misdirected taxpayer funds, the latest example of errors in massive aid being dispensed at crisis speed (AP). More than 130 million so-called economic impact payments were sent to taxpayers as part of the $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief package enacted in March. The Government Accountability Office, Congress’ auditing arm, cited the number of erroneous payments to deceased taxpayers in its report on the government programs. While the government has asked survivors to return the money, it’s not clear they have to. It also may be a politically sensitive gambit for the Treasury Department to aggressively seek to claw back the money, especially because some recipients may have died in the early months of this year from COVID-19.

NO BOND REQUIRED IN MIAMI COUNTY POT CASES: Miami County is set to stop requiring bonds in order to be released from jail for people charged with certain misdemeanor crimes, including possession of marijuana and public intoxication (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). Starting July 1, the county won’t require a bond on seven misdemeanor charges, including possession of paraphernalia; possession of marijuana, hash oil, hashish, or salvia; illegal possession, consumption or transportation of alcohol by a minor; public intoxication; and three driving while suspended charges. The changes come after the Indiana Supreme Court issued a new directive, called Criminal Rule 26, which states all inmates must be released on bond or recognizance unless they present a risk of flight or danger to themselves or others. The directive took effect Jan. 1. Miami Circuit Court Judge Tim Spahr said that led the county to review its bond schedule to better comply with the new rule. “There are some folks who really don’t have $300,” he said. “If they sit in jail for 90 days over a misdemeanor possession charge, how much are we paying as taxpayers for that because they couldn’t afford $300 to get out?”

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: One reason Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 was she failed to articulate a reason why she should have been president. On Thursday, Fox News' Sean Hannity asked Trump what his second term agenda would be and his response was an incoherent rambling. The Wall Street Journal  editorialized this morning: "As of now Mr. Trump has no second-term agenda, or even a message beyond four more years of himself. His recent events in Tulsa and Arizona were dominated by personal grievances. He resorted to his familiar themes from 2016 like reducing immigration and denouncing the press, but he offered nothing for those who aren’t already persuaded." - Brian A. Howey

Campaigns

WEINZAPFEL CALLS FOR RELEASE OF NURSING HOME COVID DATA: Democratic Attorney General nominee Jonathan Weinzapfel also called out Hill for his “failure of leadership” surrounding the release of information detailing the COVID-19 cases in Indiana nursing homes and long-term care facilities (Howey Politics Indiana). The Indiana State Department of Health is refusing to release any information, despite repeated requests from news media outlets and organizations like the AARP Indiana. Weinzapfel criticized Attorney General Hill for failing to push for the release of nursing home data. “Every day, Hoosiers are making personal family decisions about how to care for their loved ones.  If you have a loved one inside one of these facilities, or if you’re deciding whether to visit or live in one of these facilities, you need to know whether people are sick there,” said Weinzapfel. “This is a matter of public information and public health.  The Attorney General could offer clear guidance here and Hill’s failure to do so is a failure of leadership.” 

ZODY CALLS ON GOP AG CANDIDATES TO END ACA CASE: On the day the Trump administration filed opening briefs in a Supreme Court case to end the Affordable Care Act, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody called on the Republican candidates for Attorney General to commit to removing Indiana from the suit. Zody believed voters deserve a clear answer on where all the candidates stood on an issue that threatens the care of 564,000 Hoosiers (Howey Politics Indiana). “Curtis Hill’s fingerprints are all over legal action that would leave more than half a million Hoosiers without health care in the middle of a global pandemic,” said Zody. “Are the other GOP Attorney General candidates just as committed as Curtis Hill in putting health care out of reach for 500,000 working Hoosiers? I’m calling on the Republican candidates to make it clear where they stand: with Hoosiers or the corporations and insurance companies set to gain.”

Presidential 2020

BIDEN LEADS IN FLA IN FOX NEWS POLL: Voters think Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden is better suited to handle the issues of the day, expanding his lead over President Donald Trump in the battleground state of Florida (Fox News). Biden tops Trump by 9 points, 49-40 percent, in a Fox News survey of Florida registered voters. That’s up from a 3-point edge in April (46-43 percent).

BIDEN LEADS TRUMP IN GEORGIA FOX POLL: Democrat Joe Biden is narrowly preferred over President Donald Trump in a new Fox News survey of Georgia registered voters (Fox News). Neither candidate receives majority support in the head-to-head presidential matchup, as Biden garners 47 percent to Trump’s 45 percent.  Biden’s 2-point edge is within the poll’s margin of error and nearly one out of ten voters is up for grabs.

FOX NEWS POLL SHOWS TEXAS TOSSUP: Texas is a tossup, as Democrat Joe Biden tops President Donald Trump by a percentage point, 45-44 percent, in a new Fox News survey of Texas registered voters (Fox News). Ten percent are up for grabs, and this small subgroup of voters is more likely to disapprove than approve of Trump’s job performance by 52-34 percent. The good news for Trump: he bests Biden by 51-45 percent among those “extremely” motivated to vote in the election. Trump corralled the Lone Star State by 9 points in 2016 (52 percent vs. Hillary Clinton’s 43 percent), and it has been in the Republican column in every presidential election since 1980.

TRUMP TRAILS BIDEN IN FOX NEWS NC POLL: President Donald Trump trails Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden by a 47-45 percent margin, according to a Fox News survey of North Carolina registered voters. That 2-point edge is within the survey’s margin of sampling error. Trump beat Hillary Clinton by nearly four points in North Carolina in 2016.

TRUMP CAMPAIGNS SEEKS TO THWART TULSA DEBACLE - President Donald Trump wasn’t the only one thrown off course by a lower-than-expected turnout at his comeback rally in Tulsa (Politico). Republican officials and Trump campaign aides, some of whom have been working since last year to plan the party’s convention festivities, said the disappointing event last weekend imparted a critical lesson as they look ahead to Jacksonville, where Trump will deliver his acceptance speech as the GOP’s presidential nominee in late August: Learn to manage expectations and plan for trouble. “The last thing we want to do is over-promise and under-deliver,” said an adviser to the Trump campaign. “Obviously we wish Tulsa had not turned out the way it did, but it was a useful reminder of what we hope to avoid next time.”

Congress

HOUSES POISED TO PASS POLICE REFORMS: The House on Thursday passed an expansive Democratic-led measure that would revamp law enforcement practices following the public clamor for change after the death of George Floyd (Washington Post). The largely party-line vote of 236 to 181 epitomized the polarized debate in recent weeks, despite public polling showing broad support for some restrictions on law enforcement after the high-profile deaths of Floyd and other African Americans at the hands of police. With the Trump administration threatening a veto, most House Republicans lined up against the Democratic proposal and instead indicated support for a narrower proposal offered by Senate Republicans. Only three Republicans — Reps. Will Hurd (Tex.), the lone black GOP House member; Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), and Fred Upton (Mich.) — broke ranks and joined Democrats in backing the House bill.

General Assembly

SEN. BREAUX SEEKS ISDH NURSING HOME DATA: During their Wednesday press conference, Governor Holcomb and ISDH Commissioner Dr. Box were questioned about the letter sent by Democratic members of the Senate Health Committee, which asked the governor to collect and release COVID-19 data for individual long-term care centers (Howey Politics Indiiana). Neither the governor nor Dr. Box agreed to release this data even as nearly 48 percent of all COVID-19 deaths are attributed to these long-term health facilities. State Senator Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis), Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Health Committee, issued the following statement in response to the questions about releasing this data: "Unfortunately, I still don't have a response from either the governor or Dr. Box with regard to the requests stated in our letter. I also have yet to see a concise answer to an important question that constituents are asking: Consumers need to know the conditions that exist within long-term care facilities and nursing homes, so how are they supposed to find the information and answers to these concerns? Contrary to what we have been told in public press events, there is no coordinated or standardized method used by all facilities in order to collect and report this data. This is what my constituents are pleading for. Both the governor and Dr. Box have the authority to require the collection and reporting of individual long-term care facility data. I truly believe it's their duty to do so during this public health crisis."



State

ISDH: THURSDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) today announced that 523 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at ISDH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and private laboratories. That brings to 43,655 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s total. Intensive care unit and ventilator capacity remains steady. As of today, nearly 36 percent of ICU beds and nearly 83 percent of ventilators are available. A total of 2,394 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 9 over the previous day. Another 192 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by ISDH and occurred over multiple days. To date, 444,252 tests have been reported to ISDH, up from 431,883 on Wednesday. Today’s totals include the addition of 3,563 historical negative tests from a laboratory that recently began reporting negative results into ISDH’s electronic reporting system.

EDUCATION: $135K AWARDED TO GRADUATES - The Indiana Commission for Higher Education, in partnership with Indiana Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), awarded $135,190 to 11 college, university and community partners to support the high school graduating students of 2020 as they transition to college (Howey Politics Indiana). The Summer 2020 COVID-19 Learning Support Grants aim to help students who may experience learning loss due to school closures and the transition to online learning, and will support collaborative efforts that fit within summer tutoring and pre-college boot camps. Programs will be focused on students who are most vulnerable to learning loss.

SPORTS: PURDUE ATHLETE TESTS POSITIVE - The Purdue athletic department announced Thursday its first confirmed positive case of COVID-19 (Carmin, Lafayette Journal & Courier). The press release did not indicate if the individual was an athlete, coach, staff member or when the positive case was determined. "We are following the protocol and procedures that have been established based on guidance from the Big Ten, NCAA and our own medical advisors," the school said in its statement. "The individual who tested positive is currently quarantined and receiving prescribed medical care as needed. Our medical team continues to monitor the health and wellness of those impacted by this test result. We are also continuing to screen and monitor all student-athletes, coaches and staff on a daily basis." Purdue began bringing back student-athletes on June 8 when members of the football team returned to campus to begin testing and voluntary workouts. Men's basketball followed June 15 and women's basketball players, coaches and staff returned this week.

Nation

WHITE HOUSE: OPTIMISTIC PENCE REASSURES JITTERY GOVERNORS - When state leaders got on a conference call with President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force on Monday, a sense of alarm over the spike in cases sweeping the South and West was palpable (Politico). Yet as daily new infections climbed above 30,000 for the first time since May 1, Vice President Mike Pence repeated the same assurance offered by Trump at his rally in Oklahoma two days earlier: The spike is largely due to increased testing. A task force official said Pence was referencing what many governors had previously observed — that the increased numbers in their states were because of expanded testing — and that he was simply urging them to explain that situation to their constituents. But to others on the call, the exchange was emblematic of the lack of meaningful federal guidance from the task force, even as states wrestle with new contagions that threaten to erase weeks of steady progress. Participants on the weekly calls say the federal officials — a rotating cast led by Pence that often includes task force coordinator Deborah Birx and testing czar Brett Giroir — rarely deviate from Trump’s view that the pandemic response is a success. The tone is usually optimistic, with Pence highlighting governors that are reopening their economies and officials making clear that while they’re sharing their insights, it’s up to the governors to make their own determinations.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SAYS SOME U.S. TROOPS TO POLAND - President Trump said Wednesday he will send “some” of the 9,500 U.S. troops he plans to pull out of Germany to Poland, but made no new commitment to increase the numbers of those permanently based there (Washington Post). In a Rose Garden news conference with visiting Polish President Andrzej Duda, Trump offered his first breakdown of what he intends to do with the withdrawn troops, totaling about one-third of current deployments in Germany. “Some will be going home, some will be going to other places in Europe. Poland will be one of those,” he said without elaborating.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP/PENCE SCHEDULE - President Trump will deliver remarks at the American Workforce Policy Advisory board meeting at 2:40 p.m. in the East Room. Ivanka Trump is chairing the meeting. At 3:15 p.m., Trump will depart the White House en route to Morristown, N.J. He will arrive at Bedminster at 4:50 p.m. The White House announced that Vice President Mike Pence will host a briefing Friday afternoon with members of the coronavirus task force at the Health and Human Services Department. It will be the first such briefing in nearly two months.

MEDIA: SUNDAY TALK - CNN “State of the Union”: John Bolton. NBC “Meet the Press”: John Bolton. Panel: Eddie Glaude Jr., Hugh Hewitt and Kasie Hunt. ABC “This Week”: Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Panel: Chris Christie, Rahm Emanuel, Sara Fagen and Yvette Simpson. “Fox News Sunday”: Tom Frieden. Panel: Marc Thiessen, Gillian Turner and Mo Elleithee. Power Player of the Week: Lonnie Bunch. CBS “Face the Nation”: Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.),  Scott Gottlieb.

KENTUCKY: DERBY TO HAVE SPECTATORS -  Spectators will be allowed at the Kentucky Oaks and Derby, Churchill Downs announced (WTHR-TV). Under new guidelines, there will be reduced capacity to limit crowd density on Derby weekend. Churchill Downs said general admission tickets that only grant access to the infield will be limited to a specific number of people. The racetrack said state health officials and Gov. Andy Beshear were consulted in the decision. Derby week will be Sept. 1-5, with Oaks Sept. 4 and Derby Sept. 5.

ILLINOIS: PRITZKER ANNOUNCES EARLY REOPENING - Illinois residents will be able to go to work, exercise at the gym, dine indoors at a restaurant and see a movie at the theater starting Friday as the state moves further into resuming some semblance of normal living during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic (AP). Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that the state is progressing much more quickly than expected into the fourth phase of his five-part Restore Illinois program in response to the coronavirus, a vaccination for which is still at least several months away. Bars and restaurants, shut down in mid-March, may return to long-awaited indoor service provided they maintain social distancing, require face coverings and observe other safety protocols, Fitness centers and movie theaters may reopen, schools and day care centers may resume operations. People are free to return to traditional workplaces.

Local

INDIANAPOLIS - IMPD ASKED WHY OFFICERS BACKED OFF PROTEST - More downtown business owners coming forward and insisting IMPD officers could not prevent the destruction of property after they were asked to move back during the downtown protests on May 29 and May 30 (CBS4). “I’ve heard a lot of leadership saying Saturday could not be avoided, I beg to differ,” George Stergiopoulous, Giorgio’s Pizza owner said. “It could have been avoided. I think it’s been a lot of blame game. One of the biggest issues for me was the public service people were also put in harm’s way without reason. They weren’t allowed to do their job. That was visible to myself and a lot of the business owners here.” During a virtual June 10 meeting of city-county council’s public safety meeting, Assistant Chief Chris Bailey said Deputy Mayor David Hampton, while alongside peaceful protestors, asked them to move back. Chief Taylor said there was never a time IMPD officers left the downtown area where the protestors were, but acknowledges they did pull back. “So, we obviously wanted things to go peacefully and that’s why we backed off, but we didn’t leave the area,” Taylor confirmed.

EVANSVILLE: COUNCILMAN BURTON DEFENDS REMARKS - After an Evansville City Council meeting last Monday where city leaders voted to approve a resolution calling racism a public health crisis, Evansville City Council President Alex Burton made a Facebook post stating that he “didn’t have anything nice to say” about how the meeting played out, ending the post by saying “the two Dixiecrats are awful and are an embarrassment to our city. Period” (WEVV-TV). Weaver is among those that had called for the resignation of City Council President Burton. Missy Mosby, Ward 2 representative of the Evansville City Council, also responded to Burton’s statement. City Council President Burton has issued a response: “I’m sorry that they feel that way. I have no intention of resigning.” “I’m focused on housing, economic development, and making sure that every resident in our community is safe,” Burton continued. “No, I’m not going to get along with everybody on council, and that’s perfectly fine – as long as the residents of Evansville are benefiting from the leadership that I provide, I’ll be okay with that.”

MONTICELLO: RALLY FOR RACIAL JUSTICE - All we are trying to do tonight is uphold the constitution that all men are created equal, liberty and justice for all, that's all we are trying to do," said London Griesey (WLFI-TV). 19-year-old Monticello native London Griesey organized the demonstration. She wanted to keep the same message on racial injustice, but a different call to action. "You have to become an informed voter and vote for people that will promote policies that will fix our broken institutions," said Griesey. Griesey had a voter registration table set up for those who weren't registered to vote. She didn't do it all alone. With the help of her friends who gave speeches such as Kiara Johnston she was able to get a message across peacefully.

SOUTH BEND: RALLY FOR IMMIGRATION REFORM - Advocates for immigration reform rallied in South Bend Thursday night, calling on Indiana lawmakers to make changes that would help many undocumented Hoosiers (Hicks, Indiana Public Media). Although the issues aren’t new, they are getting renewed support from Black Lives Matter groups and a recent win at the Supreme Court. Organizations including the Cosecha Movement, Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance, and La Casa De Amistad rallied together.Darryl Heller of the South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center said Black Lives Matter groups should fully support undocumented citizens, noting that Black Americans had to fight to be considered citizens too. “We’re comrades because this fight is our fight,” he said. “It’s a fight that we all take to heart because an injustice to anyone is an injustice to everyone.”

COLUMBUS: IN-PERSON PRIDE EVENT CANCELLED - An in-person Third Annual Columbus Pride Festival, which had been rescheduled for Aug. 15 at Mill Race Park in downtown Columbus, has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic (Columbus Republic). The organizing committee made the announcement on Facebook.The group currently is considering a virtual celebration possibly in mid-August, said Sarah Franklin, the event’s publicity coordinator. “As a committee, we believe strongly in keeping the safety and well being of our supporters at the forefront of all decisions,” organizers wrote in the social media post. “For this reason, we have to do what seems at this time to be the best way to keep our community safe as well as abide by the given CDC (Centers for Disease Control) regulations as they pertain to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

MISHAWAKA: COLUMBUS STATUE TARGETED — A national controversy over removing monuments to historical figures with problematic backgrounds is coming to Mishawaka (South Bend Tribune). St. Joseph, Mich., resident Madolyn Wesaw has organized a protest at 6 p.m. Friday at the city of Mishawaka’s statue of Christopher Columbus, which sits near the main entrance to Central Park. “The idea is to bring an Indigenous voice to a colonized space,” said Wesaw, an enrolled citizen of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. Mishawaka Mayor Dave Wood said the city has no plans to consider removing or relocating the statue. He said Mishawaka hasn’t received any formal requests from citizens and reconsidering the statue would have to be a community-led conversation. “If citizens are willing to speak with us, we’re willing to listen,” he said.

BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY: JOBLESS RATE FALLS TO 12.7% - Bartholomew County’s unemployment rate fell in May but still remains historically high as state officials take tentative steps to reopen an economy at a standstill in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic (East, Columbus Republic). In May, local unemployment stood at 12.7%, compared to an estimated 18.4% in April, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Last month’s unemployment rate, however, was still higher than the statewide rate of 11.9% and over five times higher than Bartholomew’s jobless rate May 2019, when unemployment stood at 2.3%.

CARROLL COUNTY: JUDGE RESIGNS AFTER ESCORT VIDEO EMERGES - Carroll Superior Judge Kurtis Fouts mailed his resignation letter to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on June 3, effective July 31. His resignation comes after a recent video of him at the home of an escort was posted on a website titled "Diary of a Mad Escort," during which Fouts is seen kissing and touching the escort. Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby confirmed the man in the video is Fouts. The Journal & Courier called Carroll Superior Court and was told that Fouts does not speak to the media. A message was left for Fouts giving him the opportunity to comment on this story. The Journal & Courier also email Fouts to give him an opportunity to comment on Sherer's video and allegations, but did not get a return message. The escort's name is Jaylen Rain, according to the website. Her real name is Tierra Sherer, and she told the Journal & Courier she is no longer an escort.