BIRCH BAYH ACHIEVED POLICY FOR AGES VIA TINY PLURALITIES: There were two compelling aspects of U.S. Sen. Birch Bayh. He was a liberal senator representing a conservative state, and yet he took audacious policy stances at odds with a broad swath of his constituency that would have doomed most other politicians (Howey Politics Indiana). In essence, this was a public servant willing to use all of his political capital to achieve compelling and enduring policy goals. Birch Bayh was a statesman. He crafted the most amendments (two, precisely) to the U.S. Constitution since the Founding Fathers created the Bill of Rights nearly two centuries before. Inspired by his wife, Marvella, he championed women's equality through the failed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and access to collegiate sports funding through his Title IX provisions included in the 1972 Education Act. Bayh, 91, died at his Maryland home on Thursday, succumbing to pneumonia. It ended an unprecedented political life, where the farmer from Shirkieville with a degree from Purdue became speaker of the Indiana House at age 34, then decided to take on three-term incumbent U.S. Sen. Homer Capehart in 1962. President John F. Kennedy had adopted much of Capehart's foreign policy stances, particularly with the blockade of Cuba during the missile crisis, yet Bayh steered through to and amazing political upset with pull a 10,943 vote plurality. Subsequently, Bayh never won more than 51.7% of the vote during his four Senate races, and his opponents never had less than 46.4%, reached when the Democrat defeated former Indianapolis Mayor Richard Lugar in 1974.

BAYH FAMILY STATEMENT: The Bayh family released this statement: "The only person since the Founding Fathers to draft more than one amendment to the Constitution, Senator Bayh devoted his life to championing the rights of all Americans - especially women, people of color, young people, and others whom history had too long pushed to the margins."

HAMILTON PAYS TRIBUTE TO BAYH: Former Congressman Lee Hamilton is remembering his longtime friend former U.S. Senator Birch Bayh, who died at 91 Thursday (Brosher, Indiana Public Media).  Their friendship spans nearly seven decades. The two first met in the 1950s when they were presidents of the same fraternity at each of their universities. They remained close confidantes for decades. "Over the years he's been a steady friend," Hamilton says.  Hamilton and Bayh both started representing Hoosiers in Washington, D.C. in the 1960s. Hamilton calls Bayh an iconic figure in Indiana politics, and says he changed the way people campaign in Indiana.  "He would stand, for example, at the corner of the stoplight in Nashville, Indiana when the trees were turning colors and the cars would be backed up for miles," Hamilton says. "And then he’d go down the line and shake hands with people in every car. He just never stopped campaigning." That included while out for lunch or dinner. Hamilton says Bayh would often get up in the middle of a meal to shake hands with everybody in the restaurant.  While Bayh only served three terms in the U.S. Senate, he accomplished more than some politicians do in their entire careers. He wrote the 25th and 26th Amendments, which create a presidential succession plan and set the voting age at 18. "I think he wrote more of the Constitution than any senator since James Madison," Hamilton says.

NATION CALLS BAYH "QUINTESSENTIAL FARM BOY': Fred Nation served as Bayh's press secretary from November 1979 through December 1980, the first half as his Washington spokesman and the last half for his senate re-election campaign (Loughlin & Taylor, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). While Nation served as editor of the Terre Haute Spectator from 1974-1979, he wrote stories about Bayh and even went to Iowa to cover the primary when Bayh sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976. "I got to know him pretty well," Nation said. "He was the quintessential Hoosier farm boy," Nation said. "He had that 'aw shucks' manner about him." While Bayh is well known for authoring the 25th and 26th amendments to the U.S. Constitution, he told Nation his proudest legislative accomplishment dealt with school re-organization while he served in the Indiana Legislature. The Indiana School Reorganization Act of 1959 called for each county to develop and implement a reorganization plan. It was passed soon after Sputnik, when the Soviet Union launched the first artificial Earth satellite. "There was great concern about the U.S. educational system," Nation said. "He [Bayh] knew that to compete, high school students needed more science, math and resources than a 100-pupil high school could give." Bayh was a leading supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, which fell just short of ratification. He also led an effort in 1969-70 for an amendment that would have made the popular vote, not the Electoral College, the deciding mechanism by which the president is elected. The measure easily cleared the House, and it was thought to be only a handful of votes short in the Senate. But, as Bayh noted, it never was called to the Senate floor for a full vote. Describing Bayh, Nation said he could "connect with anyone, whether they liked him or not. He reveled in campaigning and meeting people." In his campaigns, he used to go to an industrial plant's gates at shift change to shake hands. Describing Bayh's legacy, Nation referred to a book, "The Last Great Senate," which focused on senators from the 1960s and 1970s and all that they accomplished. "Birch Bayh was one of those. He was one of the giants of his time in the Senate" with his accomplishments that included two Constitutional amendments, Title IX and his efforts to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.

SENATE REBUKES TRUMP ON EMERGENCY DECLARATION: The Senate approved a resolution Thursday blocking President Trump’s emergency declaration at the southern border, setting up a likely veto by the president (Wall Street Journal). The vote was 59 to 41, with a dozen Republicans joining all 47 members of the Democratic caucus to back the measure, but still well short of a veto-proof majority. Mr. Trump declared the emergency at the border last month, using it as part of his plan to divert $6.7 billion to build more barriers on the border with Mexico, after Congress authorized only $1.38 billion. The move, designed to improve border security, immediately drew bipartisan objections, with lawmakers saying the president was overstepping his Constitutional authority. The 12 Republicans who voted today to buck Trump on using emergency powers to bypass Congress: Wicker (Miss.), Rubio (Fla.), Portman (Ohio), Collins (Maine), Murkowski (Alaska), Toomey (Pa.), Blunt (Mo.), Alexander (Tenn.), Romney & Lee (Utah), Paul (Ky.) and Moran (Kansas). Following the vote Thursday, Mr. Trump tweeted that he looked forward to vetoing the resolution, saying it “would OPEN BORDERS while increasing Crime, Drugs, and Trafficking in our Country.” While not directly acknowledging GOP defections, he added: “I thank all of the Strong Republicans who voted to support Border Security and our desperately needed WALL!”

U.S. HOUSE VOTES UNANIMOUSLY TO RELEASE MUELLER REPORT: The House voted overwhelmingly and in bipartisan fashion to urge the Justice Department to publicly release the entirety of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 election, once completed (Washington Post). The move is an attempt to “send a clear signal both to the American people and the Department of Justice” that lawmakers expect to see the full account of Mueller’s work, according to the Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). The final vote count was 420 in favor, with no one voting no. Four lawmakers voted “present.” But the resolution by itself cannot force Attorney General William P. Barr to publish more of the report than he intends to — and that is why even some of the Republicans supporting it complained that the measure was a waste of time.

INDY HOTEL CONCERNS DELAY CIB BILL: After a lengthy 4-hour testimony session on Wednesday, the Capital Improvement Board bill authored by Sen. Ryan Mishler, SB7, is now on to the next step (Curry, Howey Politics Indiana). That’s not a committee vote just yet, though, as the complex bill will undergo a few weeks of revision and further discussion. The portion of the bill getting the most scrutiny deals with the construction of a new major hotel in downtown Indianapolis. Executives and representatives from major Indy hotels spoke to the Ways & Means committee about their concerns that the new plans would negatively affect the balance of the city’s hotel industry, costing revenue and jobs. The hoteliers also complained that they were not sufficiently consulted prior to session. Senate President Pro Tempore Rod Bray argued the bill wouldn’t necessarily lead to a new hotel, though. “The bottom line is the CIB bill that we have moved over to the House doesn’t dictate construction of other hotels. The market is going to dictate that” Bray told reporters on Thursday. Speaker of the House Brian Bosma also addressed the issue, saying the bill is “going to be a difficult needle to thread” but that lawmakers will be giving it a serious look; “Representative [Todd] Huston’s working on it, I’m working with him, we’ll see what we can do.”

ABORTION EXEMPTION LAW PASSES HOUSE: Senate Bill 201, a bill extending medical professionals’ ability to seek ethical exemptions for performing abortions, passed the House Thursday afternoon on a 69-25 vote (Curry, Howey Politics Indiana). The bill’s House sponsor is Representative Ronald Bacon. Specifically, the bill allows nurses, physician assistants, and pharmacists to refuse a patient’s request to perform an abortion or procedures intended to result in an abortion on ethical, moral, or religious grounds. The bill also exempts certain providers from having to prescribe, administer, or dispense an abortion inducing drug. Currently, this exemption applies only to physicians and employees. House Democrats cautioned that the bill could harm Hoosier women who need immediate emergency services that fall under the exemption, keeping them from receiving the care they require.

PENCE DINES WITH IRISH PM, GAY PARTNER: Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar arrived in Washington this week as part of an annual trip ahead of St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish leader aims to use the meeting to reaffirm the historical ties between Ireland and the United States (Washington Post). “I think that the relationship between Ireland and the U.S. is long-lasting — it’s strong,” Varadkar told The Washington Post in an interview on Wednesday. However, some differences between the two nations’ administrations were highlighted Thursday morning, when Varadkar arrived at the Naval Observatory for a breakfast meeting with Vice President Pence — and took along his partner, Matt Barrett. Varadkar is one of only a handful of openly gay world leaders. Pence, on the other hand, is a socially conservative Christian who has long been criticized by LGBTQ advocates for pursuing policies that they say hurt the gay community while he was governor of Indiana.

HOWEY, MARCUS, GUY TALK DISCUSS JOURNALISM IN PODCAST: HPI Publisher Brian A. Howey joined economist and columnist Morton Marcus and investor John Guy on his podcast (Howey Politics Indiana). In this important conversation, Brian Howey, descended from a journalist-grandfather and a journalist-father, talks about failing business models and potential new models including philanthropic support, as well as his own entrepreneurially-successful private effort known as

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Hoosier voters have an excellent track record on who we send to the U.S. Senate, and Birch Bayh stands out as the true lion of the class. Beyond his historic legislative achievements that have been well documented over the past day, anyone who knew or worked with Sen. Bayh found a remarkably friendly person. We extend our sympathies to the Bayh family. - Brian A. Howey

Birch Bayh

INIANAPOLIS MAYOR JOE HOGSETT TRIBUTE: “Birch Bayh was a tireless advocate for equality with the rare ability to transcend the prejudices of the moment and see beyond seemingly intractable divisions. He embodied what it means to be a Hoosier: Kindness, compassion, common sense, and integrity. We, as a state and as a nation, are forever shaped by his leadership and tenacity. Today our community joins the Bayh family in mourning the passing of one of our country’s true civic giants."

VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: "Senator Birch Bayh served the people of Indiana with distinction through his lifetime of service in the Armed Forces, the General Assembly, and the U.S. Senate. Karen and I send our deepest condolences and prayers to Evan, Susan, and the entire Bayh family as they mourn the passing of this good man and great Hoosier Statesman.”

GOV. ERIC HOLCOMB: "Birch Bayh was a trailblazer who dedicated himself to improving the lives of all Hoosiers. His remarkable legislative and personal legacy transformed the country and will live on for years to come." Gov. Holcomb ordered flags lowered to honor Sen. Bayh.

GOV. JOE KERNAN: "Birch was a good friend to Maggie and me. He was one-of-a-kind and he worked tirelessly to get things done for everyone. We especially appreciated his determined efforts to reduce discrimination against women. A true statesman, Birch and his big smile will be missed." 

SEN. RICHARD LUGAR: “I agree with historians that he deserves recognition as a constitutional scholar. I think in recent years he is being more widely recognized for that.” Lugar said besides being a “good listener and communicator,” Bayh “was a keen observer of what was happening in the workplace and executive offices and he responded to it.”

SEN. TODD YOUNG: "Birch Bayh is a modern-day founding father. He used his tenure in the Senate to push for substantive and substantial change, including two constitutional amendments and the passage of Title IX. While we remember his legacy, my thoughts and prayers are with the entire Bayh family." Indiana Senate President Rod Bray said, "Indiana has lost one of our most talented statesmen with the passing of Birch Bayh. His service in the Indiana General Assembly and U.S. Congress earned him a national reputation for being a thoughtful and dedicated public servant. I join all Hoosiers in remembering his contributions to our state and nation, and am keeping the Bayh family in my thoughts and prayers.”

PURDUE PRESIDENT MITCH DANIELS: “Birch Bayh qualifies for the mantle of greatness as a Boilermaker, Hoosier, and American in equal measure. Even for a U.S. Senator, he made an unusual imprint on our nation’s history, personifying Indiana’s best qualities as he did so.  I am grateful to have become his friend in his post-government life, and to have enjoyed his warmth, humor and wisdom firsthand.”

SPEAKER BRIAN BOSMA: "Great Hoosier statesman. I told my brief story about being a law clerk with Fred Glass and Susan Brooks, of all people, in his law firm in the early 80s, and he just treated everyone with respect. It was mentioned by Rep. Pfaff; he’s one of the only persons other than our founding fathers that actually sponsored more than one amendment to our United States Constitution. He should be in the hall of fame of Hoosier statesmen, there’s no doubt about it. I don’t even think of him as a Democrat, although I know he was a Democrat, I just think of him as a great leader. "

REP. ANDRE CARSON: “Today, we mourn the passing of Senator Birch Bayh, a giant of Indiana politics, and celebrate the indelible legacy he leaves behind. At a time when our nation needed strong leaders to help advance progressive ideals, Birch Bayh rose to the challenge, proving himself a fearless champion of those values. His tireless work on behalf of civil rights, women’s equality, expanding access to the ballot box, and more have benefitted so many and continue to inspire my work in Congress. Today, in a similarly turbulent political era when we continue fighting the forces of bigotry and discrimination, I pledge to build on his legacy, strengthening his message to the world that Indiana stands against hate and intolerance, and for good governance. I send my deepest sympathies to his loved ones, including his sons, former Senator Evan Bayh and Chris Bayh, and their families, during this difficult time. As Hoosiers and all Americans grieve this loss, we also thank Birch Bayh for a life well lived in service of others.”

SOUTH BEND MAYOR PETER BUTTIGIEG: "Birch Bayh was not afraid of the idea that upholding our Constitution includes amending it from time to time to strengthen our democracy. His bold ideas, from co-authoring the Equal Rights Amendment to lowering the voting age to 18 to passing Title IX, ensure that we are on a path towards guaranteeing equal opportunity for all Americans. He was one of the greatest Hoosiers ever to serve, a champion for equality, and an example for us all. My deepest sympathies to Evan, Susan, and the rest of the Bayh family today."

SENATE PRESIDENT PRO TEM ROD BRAY: “Indiana has lost one of our most talented statesmen with the passing of Birch Bayh. His service in the Indiana General Assembly and U.S. Congress earned him a national reputation for being a thoughtful and dedicated public servant. I join all Hoosiers in remembering his contributions to our state and nation, and am keeping the Bayh family in my thoughts and prayers.”

SENATE MINORITY LEADER TIM LANANE: "Sen. Bayh understood that we cannot be a completely free country if some citizens are not given the same rights as others. By playing a vital role in crafting and passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, he showed the country that Indiana can lead the way in making sure all people are guaranteed equality under the law."

FORMER SPEAKER JOHN GREGG: "Sen. Birch Bayh was a true statesman whose legislative legacy is unmatched in modern history. America is stronger and more inclusive because of Birch Bayh. We send our love to the Bayh family and thank them for sharing him with us."

ISU PRESIDENT DEBORAH CURTIS: "The Indiana State family mourns the loss of this incredible leader. Senator Bayh and his late wife, Marvella, took classes at Indiana State in the 1950s and are part of a family connection to the University that spans more than a century. We are proud that our renowned College of Education carries the Bayh name and stands as a permanent tribute to this legacy and Birch Bayh's distinguished career."

NANCY PAPAS: Nancy Papas worked as a summer intern in Bayh’s Washington office in 1965 before becoming a staffer in 1967. At Butler, she studied Constitutional law which meshed well with Bayh’s chairmanship of the Constitutional Amendments Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). “One of my first days in the office, the legislative director told me not to do anything that I wouldn’t want to see splashed across the front age headlines of the newspaper. He said we were there to serve Hoosiers and the nation and not ourselves. I took that to heart.” That Judiciary role put Bayh in the forefront of federal court cases on school prayer, abortion, Vietnam protest rights and others. “But he was always respectful of others’ opinions and had a keen sense of how to frame issues so that people could see multiple perspectives. In that respect, he was a teacher and a leader,” Papas recalled. She added, “I was surprised and thrilled to see that the office manager was a woman. So was the person in charge of the Senator’s schedule as well as the person who was my immediate supervisor in the legislative department,” she said.

REP: JACKIE WALORSKI: “Birch Bayh was a true statesman who dedicated his life to public service. Generations of Hoosiers have felt the impact of his bold leadership, and he has left an incredible legacy for our state and nation. Dean and I will keep the Bayh family in our prayers.”

DEMOCRATIC CHAIRMAN JOHN ZODY: "Birch Bayh was driven by a belief in what we could accomplish given equal opportunity. That simple truth belies towering accomplishments. A United States Senator who twice amended the Constitution, father of Title IX, contributor to critical civil rights legislation. His legacy endures every day on college campuses. It endures in the form of equal opportunity, the right to vote and that all Americans deserve justice."

SEN. MIKE BRAUN: "Though Birch Bayh left his indelible mark on our Constitution, our universities, and the history of the United States Senate, he was first and always a Hoosier."

REP. PETE VISCLOSKY: "Birch Bayh never failed to exhibit a gracious and pragmatic approach to public service, listening to all individuals, and working hard every day for a better future for our state and nation. He lived a life dedicated to serving others. May his example continue to lead the way for all current and future public servants."

BARON HILL: "Few people can be called great. Birch Bayh was one of them."


O'ROURKE ENTERS DEMOCRATIC RACE: Former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke formally announced Thursday that he'll seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, ending months of intense speculation over whether he'd try to translate his newfound political celebrity into a White House bid. Until he challenged Republican Sen. Ted Cruz last year, O'Rourke was little known outside his hometown of El Paso (AP). But the Spanish-speaking 46-year-old former punk rocker became a sensation during a campaign that used grassroots organizing and social media savvy to mobilize young voters and minorities. He got within 3 percentage points of upsetting Cruz in the nation's largest red state — and shattered national fundraising records in the process — immediately fueling chatter that he could have higher ambitions. Now O'Rourke must prove whether the energy he brought to the Texas campaign will resonate on a much larger stage.

TRUMP CALLS BETO 'CRAZY': President Donald Trump mocked newly announced presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke on Thursday, saying the Texan moves his hands too much and that he might be “crazy” (Politico). O’Rourke, a former congressman, announced his bid for president on Thursday with a video filmed in his hometown of El Paso. In it, O’Rourke sits next to his wife, Amy, and articulates his vision for the nation, making sweeping hand gestures to emphasize his various points in the 3½-minute clip. He also gave an animated performance in an Iowa coffee shop on Thursday morning that was broadcast live on both CNN and MSNBC. “I’ve never seen so much hand movement,” Trump said to reporters, adding that he’d watched O’Rourke in what he called a news conference earlier that day. “I said: ‘Is he crazy or is that just the way he acts?’”

HARRIS BLASTS PENCE FOR WOMEN MEETING POLICY: Sen. Kamala Harris on Thursday called out Vice President Mike Pence for limiting his one-on-one meetings with women, saying the practice is “outrageous” (Politico). Pence told The Hill in 2002 that he “never eats alone with a woman other than his wife,” according to a profile of his wife Karen Pence in The Washington Post. The practice, which some Evangelical Christians follow, drew backlash from some observers, including Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Harris, who is part of the sprawling 2020 Democratic field, broadly criticized Pence in an interview on MSNBC, and took specific aim at his approach to meetings with women, though her description of the practice appeared to differ from his. “I disagree with most of what the vice president stands for, when he makes decisions about our LGBTQ community in a way that doesn’t understand that they should be entitled to full equality and all rights under the law as any other American,” Harris said. “I disagree with him when he suggests it’s not possible to have meetings with women alone by himself. I think that’s ridiculous — the idea that you would deny a professional woman the opportunity to have a meeting with the vice president of the United States is outrageous.”

PENCE TELLS TRUMP NOT TO WORRY ABOUT BIDEN: During a recent meeting involving President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and senior officials from the White House Office of Political Affairs, a discussion ensued about whether the president should be nervous about Biden entering the 2020 fray, a White House official told POLITICO. Several people in the room told Trump he shouldn't be 'overly nervous' as long as Biden is 'pulled to the left' in the primary, according to the official."

CHENEY LETTER ON DEMOCRATS AND JEWS: House Republican conference Chair Liz Cheney sent out this fundraising appeal (Politico Playbook): "This is Liz Cheney. The Democrats are enabling anti-Semitism. We must take action. Donate NOW to restore our conservative majority!"

General Assembly

SCHOOL BUS BILL REVISED: Indiana lawmakers have revised a bill that would install cameras on school buses to catch and punish motorists who pass illegally to address concerns that anyone might profit from the legislation (AP). The Indiana House Courts and Criminal Code Committee on Wednesday amended the bill to bar schools or camera vendors from making money from the camera enforcement. Fines collected can be used to pay for camera equipment. The bill comes after six-year-old twin brothers Xzavier and Mason Ingle and their nine-year-old sister, Alivia Stahl, were struck and killed by a pickup truck as they crossed a northern Indiana road to board a school bus in October. The goal of the bill isn't to make money but to deter drivers from passing a school bus that has its stop arm extended, said Republican Sen. Randy Head, the bill's sponsor. "There can be no ongoing source of revenue for the schools, there can be no ongoing source of revenue for the vendor," Head said. The bill proposes suspending the driver's license for 90 days the first time someone passes a stopped school bus and a year for repeat offenders. It would raise the offense of not stopping for a school bus from a ticketed infraction to a misdemeanor and make it a felony offense to recklessly pass a bus and injure someone.

BILL PROTECTS PEOPLE WHO USE FORCE: Protecting people who have to use force to protect themselves is the purpose of a proposed bill making its way through the Indiana legislature (Berman, WIBC). State Rep. Jim Lucas (R-Seymour), one of the sponsors of the bill, says HB 1284 is yet another way to support Hoosiers and their safety.  "Basically it's a Good Samaritan Protection Act. In Indiana, we currently have very strong protections in the case of criminal use of force as it pertains to self-defense, but we don't have those same protections on the civil side," Lucas said. If passed, the bill would protect those who may have caused damage or injury while defending themselves against someone who was trying to commit a felony or someone trying to physically hurt another person.  HB 1284 also requires the courts to award reasonable attorney fees to a defendant when they're claiming justified use of force in a civil lawsuit. The bill was heard in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee March 4. It gets its next hearing March 20.

STAND FOR CHILDREN DIRECTOR TESTIFIES: Stand for Children Indiana  Executive Director Justin Ohlemiller testified to the Senate School Funding Subcommittee today urging lawmakers to invest meaningful new revenue dedicated to teacher pay (Howey Politics Indiana). “My organization has heard from parents who have had three or four teachers in one school year.  Data shows that the number one factor in student learning is the quality of the teacher. How can we expect children to learn and reach their full academic potential if there is a revolving door of teachers in their classroom? For the sake of Hoosier children, we have a moral imperative to solve this issue, and if that argument is not enough we have an economic imperative to focus on teachers as well. The fact is, teachers are the ones who shape our tomorrow and we can’t be the state that works if we don’t have the workers trained to fill the jobs we’re creating."

RIGHT TO LIFE ON CONSCIENCE BILL: The Indiana House by a 69-25 vote passed Senate Bill 201 which expands Indiana law to extend conscience protections to additional medical providers (Howey Politics Indiana). Currently, physicians and hospital employees can object to participating in abortions for ethical, moral or religious reasons. SB 201, authored by Sen. Liz Brown, would extend conscience protections to other medical providers, including nurses, physician assistants and pharmacists. Chemical abortions are on the rise in Indiana, accounting for 36 percent of abortions in 2017. As this type of abortion increases in popularity, more medical providers, including pharmacists, may become involved in the procedure. "This law will send a message to health care providers that they can practice their profession in Indiana without making ethical concessions," said Mike Fichter, President and CEO of Indiana Right to Life. "No one should be forced to participate in the deliberate ending of a child's life. Sen. Brown's bill extends important protections to health care providers. We're pleased the Indiana Senate and House have passed SB 201 and we urge Gov. Eric Holcomb to sign it into law."

TEACHERS PRESS FOR MORE PAY: Senate lawmakers heard hours of testimony Thursday from teachers and education professionals urging the state to give schools, and ultimately teachers, more money (Lindsay, Indiana Public Media).  The House approved a budget proposal to boost school funding by a little more than 2 percent each year through 2021, but many who testified in the senate’s school funding committee – including Brownsburg teacher Christianne Beebe – say current proposals are not enough for schools to increase teacher pay and still address basic needs. “When local control is touted as the solution to the teacher pay crisis, instead of additional state funding,” she says. “Teachers may gain a pay increase but will undoubtedly lose support staff, administrative help, smaller class sizes, professional development, and more.” Teachers and superintendents at the meeting also raised concerns about a recent proposed change to what’s called complexity funding. It provides additional dollars to schools based on their population of low-income students. Lawmakers are proposing a roughly 14 percent – or $105 million – cut to complexity dollars to put more resources into basic tuition support.


YOUNG VOTES WITH PRESIDENT TRUMP ON DECLARATION: U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) today voted to protect the border and preserve President Trump’s national emergency declaration (Howey Politics Indiana). Just last month, 76,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended or deemed inadmissible at a port of entry on our southern border; that is not counting those who crossed undetected. We are on track for 900,000 apprehensions this year – greater than the entire population of Indianapolis. “As a U.S. Marine, I was stationed on the southern border in Yuma, Arizona. I saw firsthand the need for greater border security,” said Senator Young. “We must address the situation taking place along our southern border where illegal crossings and smugglers trafficking drugs and people have created a humanitarian and national security crisis.”

YOUNG TO VISIT FFA: U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) will visit with FFA CEO Mark Poeschl and FFA officers at the National FFA Center Friday. Senator Young and Mr. Poeschl will hold a media availability beginning at 10:30 a.m. to discuss the recently passed updates to the FFA Charter (Howey Politics Indiana). Senator Young’s National FFA Organization's Federal Charter Amendments Act was signed into law on February 22. The new law better reflects agriculture education in the 21st Century. It updates the FFA’s charter to allow for regional diversity among student officer vice presidents and provides governing flexibility for national officers in order to reduce operational delays caused by vacant seats.

CARSON COMMENTS ON REP. OMAR: As clumsy and offensive as Rep. Ilhan Omar’s remarks were when she questioned the patriotism of pro-Israel members of Congress, some Democratic lawmakers and left-leaning Mideast peace advocates say the episode could nevertheless open the door to a more robust debate about U.S. foreign policy and rekindle interest in the plight of Palestinians, particularly among younger Democrats (San Diego Union-Tribune). Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), a Muslim, agreed. “I think that it could spark a series of conversations that seek to address the Israeli-Palestinian question with more depth, more objectivity, more compassion, more readiness to have a dialogue that will foster greater relationships between Muslims, Jews, Christians, secularists and other faiths,” he said.

TILLIS REVERSES COURSE: Two weeks ago, Sen. Thom Tillis said President Donald Trump's national emergency declaration violated the separation of powers and created a dangerous precedent, stating in an op-ed that he would vote to reverse it (Politico Playbook). On Thursday, the North Carolina Republican flipped and sided with Trump on the border vote. While a dozen Senate Republicans joined Democrats to support a resolution undoing Trump's move to fund a border wall, Tillis and all but one other Republican up for reelection in 2020 — Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — stuck with the president. The list includes Sen. Cory Gardner of blue-trending Colorado and Sen. Martha McSally, who was appointed this year but will face Arizona voters again in 2020 after losing a tough race in 2018. The vote underscores how little Republicans on the ballot in 2020 want to break with the president, even on an issue that divided the party and in states where Trump's approval rating is low.


WEATHER: 27K WITHOUT POWER FOLLOWING CYCLONE BOMB - Storms packing high winds, hail and possible tornadoes have swept across Indiana, leaving thousands of power customers without service (AP). Indiana utilities reported more than 27,000 customers without service Thursday evening. The National Weather Service issued several tornado warnings, mostly in southern Indiana, but none were immediately confirmed. The weather service recorded a 60 mph wind gust at Indianapolis International Airport.

GOVERNOR: CROUCH SCHEDULE - Below is Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch's public schedule for March 15, 2019. Crouch speaks at grand opening of the Indiana NeuroDiagnostic Institute and Advance Treatment Center, Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, 9:45 a.m. - 11:00 a.m., ET, with Crouch remarks at 10:15 a.m., ET, 5435 E. 16th St., Indianapolis. Crouch speaks at Hoosier Homestead Awards, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m., ET, with Crouch remarks at 1:05 p.m., ET, Indiana Statehouse, Second Floor South Atrium.

OCRA: TO HOST GREAT LAKES MAINSTREET CONFERENCE - The Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs will host the inaugural Great Lakes Main Street Conference from August 18-20 in downtown South Bend. The conference will offer networking for leaders in downtown and historic commercial district revitalization from all over the Great Lakes and asset-based strategies to community and economic development (McLaughlin, Inside Indiana Business). Multi-track sessions will focus on sustainability, economic vitality and cultivating quality places. Local tours and networking opportunities will also be featured. “The conference will explore techniques and practices for downtown revitalization and economic development in our communities,” said Jodi Golden, executive director of OCRA. “Communities will hear success stories, best practices and innovations from experts from the field focusing on the National Main Street model. We are thrilled to offer an opportunity for our Midwest Main Street partners who may not have the ability to attend the national conference.”

HEALTH: STATE REVIVES TOBACCO QUIT LINE - The Indiana Tobacco Quitline is open once again to give Hoosiers free nicotine replacement therapy (WTHR-TV). The hotline will be open until supplies last. Last year, nearly 7,500 Hoosiers received a two-week supply of the medication for free. To participate, Hoosier tobacco users must first enroll. Then, participants will get a coach and a personalized quit plan, which includes a two-week supply of gum or patches and online counseling. While the season of New Year's resolutions has passed, it's never too late to make a change to a healthier lifestyle. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, Hoosiers quit smoking every day, ad there are more former smokers than current smokers nationwide. To enroll, call the Indiana Tobacco Quitline at 1-800-QUIT-NOW or go to

DNR: BROWN COUNTY CAT KILLED BY MOUNTAIN LION - A Nashville family said a large cat attacked and killed their beloved house cat. They chased the animal through the woods with a gun because they believed it to be a mountain lion (Fox59). "I've seen multiple bobcats. I've lived here in these woods for 37 years, I work in the woods," James Halcomb said. "Ive seen multiple bobcats, very large bobcats, there was no confusion.” James Halcomb came face to face with the animal.  He said the big cat was nearly waist high and appeared to weigh roughly 100 pounds.  He and their dog went after the animal and eventually got it to run up two trees. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is investigating the body of their house cat for clues, but saw no additional evidence in the woods near Yellowwood State Forest. Mountain lions are more than double the size of bobcats and have a long rope like tail.  The DNR said they are not native to Indiana with the last confirmed sighting coming in 2010 in Greene County. Data suggests they have appeared outside of their normal ranges over the past decade, but the possible one in Brown County cannot be confirmed yet.

JUSTICE: APPEALS RULING RESTORES PART OF 2016 ABORTION LAW - A federal appeals court has ruled portions of a 2016 Indiana abortion law are not unconstitutionally vague and has reversed an injunction blocking them (AP). The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 Thursday that U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson should have ruled against plaintiffs Indiana University and three of its researchers challenging the law that requires aborted fetuses to be buried or cremated. Magnus-Stinson found a section of the law dealing with the acquisition, receipt and transfer of the fetal tissue to be too uncertain to have legal force. But the appeals court opinion written by Judge Frank Easterbrook says, “Some uncertainty at the margins does not condemn a statute.”

EDUCATION: FORMER ST. MARYS PRESIDENT SUES OVER DISMISSAL - The former president of Saint Mary’s College has filed a lawsuit against the college claiming she was pushed out by the head of the board of trustees and that an agreement to stay on as a tenured faculty member has been violated (South Bend Tribune). Janice Cervelli in her lawsuit claims she resigned in October 2018 after being pressured to do so by Mary Burke, chair of the Saint Mary’s College Board of Trustees. Burke instructed Cervelli to tell people she was on sick leave and “indicate that she was resigning because her mother needed more care,” according to the suit. Those reasons were “not true,” the lawsuit claims. Statements that Burke made to The Tribune — saying the board did not influence Cervelli’s decision, that her resignation came as a surprise and that the board asked if “there was something we could do” to keep Cervelli — were also false, the suit says.

SAFETY: INDY DUI CHECKPOINTS SATURDAY - The Marion County Traffic Safety Partnership announced that local law enforcement agencies will conduct DUI checkpoints on Saturday (WRTV). Starting at 6 p.m., Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Indiana State Police, Speedway, Cumberland, Lawrence, Beech Grove, Airport and IUPUI PD plan to conduct the checkpoints throughout Marion County. The "Driving Under the Influence Indiana" project is aimed at reducing alcohol-related automobile and motorcycle crashes.

SPORTS: PAINTER NAMED BIG TEN COACH OF THE YEAR - After leading Purdue to its second Big Ten title in three seasons, head coach Matt Painter was selected as the league's Coach of the Year in voting done by league coaches and media (Purdue Exponent). In addition, junior guard Carsen Edwards was voted unanimously to the All-Big Ten first team on both coaches and media ballots. Edwards and Michigan State's Cassius Winston were the only unanimous selections on either ballot.


WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP BUDGET CONFLICTS WITH HIS GOALS - As President Trump stood before a joint session of Congress for his State of the Union address in February, he urged Republicans and Democrats alike to support the audacious goal of stopping the spread of HIV within a decade. “Together, we will defeat AIDS in America and beyond,” he declared (Washington Post). The White House’s 2020 budget request, issued this week, does propose an additional $291 million as a down payment for a new HIV initiative. Yet the $4.7 trillion budget also calls for sharp spending reductions to Medicaid, the public insurance program for the poor on which more than 2 in 5 Americans with the virus depend. Such a contradiction — giving while also taking away — runs through the budget arithmetic for many of the Trump administration’s health-care priorities. In addition to combating HIV, the president has taken aim at childhood cancer and the opioid crisis, but his budget would undermine all those efforts by shrinking the health infrastructure that people struggling with those issues rely on while throttling back national cancer research spending — even as it offers discrete pots of money for those causes, policymakers say.

WHITE HOUSE: NORTH KOREA EYES SUSPENDING TALKS WITH U.S. - North Korea is considering suspending talks with the United States and may rethink a ban on missile and nuclear tests unless Washington makes concessions, news reports from the North’s capital on Friday quoted a senior diplomat as saying (Reuters). Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui blamed top U.S. officials for the breakdown of last month’s summit in Hanoi between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Russia’s Tass news agency and the Associated Press said. “We have no intention to yield to the U.S. demands (at the Hanoi summit) in any form, nor are we willing to engage in negotiations of this kind,” TASS quoted Choe as telling reporters in the North Korean capital.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - President Trump will leave the White House at 10:45 a.m. en route to the Pentagon to meet with national security officials. He is having lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 12:30 p.m. in the private dining room.

TREASURY: MNUNCHIN SAYS HIS TAX RATE WENT UP - Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said today that his taxes went up in the wake of the Republican tax rewrite thanks to its cap on state and local tax deductions (Politico). “I can tell you I did not personally benefit” from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Mnuchin told the House Ways and Means Committee. “I personally pay taxes in New York and California and my tax rate did go up because I no longer have the SALT deduction,” he said.

CONNECTICUT: SANDY HOOK MASSACRE VICTIMS CAN SUE GUNMAKER - The gun industry suffered a potentially significant legal setback Thursday when the Connecticut Supreme Court said that a leading maker of AR-15 rifles can be held legally responsible for marketing practices that allegedly made the semiautomatic gun the weapon of choice for mass shooters (Wall Street Journal). The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that Remington Outdoor, the maker of the AR-15 style rifle used in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, can be sued over the deaths of children killed there. In a 4-3 ruling, the court overturned the dismissal of a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by families of victims killed in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School against Remington Outdoor Co., the maker of the weapon Adam Lanza used in the 2012 rampage in Newtown, Conn.

MEDIA: SUNDAY TALK - CBS "Face the Nation": Preet Bharara, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). Panel: Mark Landler, Ramesh Ponnuru, Jamal Simmons and Amy Walter. CNN

"State of the Union": Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). Panel: Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), Karen Finney, Mia Love and Waleed Shahid. CNN "Inside Politics": Julie Hirschfeld Davis, Toluse Olorunnipa, Lisa Lerer and Manu Raju. "Fox News Sunday": South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Panel: Karl Rove, Jerry Seib, Katie Pavlich and Mo Elleithee. Power Player: T. Denny Sanford, billionaire businessman and philanthropist. NBC "Meet the Press": Panel: Yamiche Alcindor, Arthur Brooks, Jose Diaz-Balart and Susan Page.


49 KILLED IN NEW ZEALAND MASSACRE: New Zealand police said a man in his late 20s had been charged with murder after 49 people were killed and 48 others injured in shooting attacks at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, Axios' Dave Lawler and Rebecca Falconer write. An account believed to belong to one of the attackers featured a link to an 87-page manifesto filled with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim ideas" (CNN). Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison described one alleged gunman, who had Australian citizenship, as an "extremist, right-wing" terrorist (BBC).


CITIES: MARTINSVILLE MAYOR HAS CANCER - Martinsville Mayor Shannon Kohl tells RTV6 she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. “It’s not something anyone ever wants to hear or expects to hear, but I am facing this head on,” Kohl told RTV6 Thursday. “I have a great support group around me of family and friends.” The city’s first female mayor in nearly 200-years, will not seek re-election, which means the Morgan County community will have a new mayor in 2020. However, it’s unclear if Kohl’s decision not to run for re-election was prompted by her cancer diagnosis. “Of everything I have won, this battle is the most important and I plan on winning this one too,” said Kohl. Several people have already announced their candidacy for Martinsville mayor including businessman Kenny Costin as well as Kevin Coryell.

COUNTIES: CLARK HAS OVERDOSE SPIKE - Health officials in Clark County are asking the public to be alert to more potent strains of fentanyl-laced drugs in the area after a spike in overdoses late last week (Rickert, News & Tribune). The Clark County Health Department issued a public health notice Saturday afternoon to alert the community of increased overdose activity, which had started about mid-week, health officer Dr. Eric Yazel said. The notice states that while verification is still pending, it is believed the increase may be due to a drug supply with higher fentanyl content than usual in the area.  Yazel said the roughly five cases over five days last week may include multiple fatalities, pending coroner’s results; this is about the same number the county has been averaging in a month’s time over the past year. In February, the health department reported a total of 50 suspected overdose death cases in Clark County in 2018, which was 15 percent lower than 2017 and the lowest total since 2013.  He said the number of overdoses last week were enough that he believed it warranted an alert to help stop subsequent overdoses if there is a stronger strain of drugs in the area. He said Monday he was not aware of more overdoses since the weekend.

COUNTIES: VANDERBURGH COMMISSIONERS DIVIDED OVER SOLAR ZONING - A possible code amendment some saw as anti-solar power likely won't be considered anytime soon (Wilson, Evansville Courier & Press). A draft ordinance that would have placed commercial solar developments under Vanderburgh County's zoning code provoked a flurry of concerns and confusion when it surfaced last week. Unsupported by two of the county's three commissioners, the ordinance was withdrawn from consideration. Currently, land use decisions for energy production projects of any kind are considered a special use. As such, proposed projects must petition the county's Board of Zoning Appeals for approval.

COUNTIES: OWEN ROADS IN CRISIS - February flooding along with frequent swings in temperature has put a strain on county resources (Indiana Public Media). Director of Owen County’s Highway Department Greg Melton says the biggest problem is the lack of proper drainage throughout the county.  "I have 697 miles of country road that need to be ditched," he says. "Times two because I have to do each side." Melton says crews have been out in force since early February trying to make roads passable for emergency personnel and local residents.