GAMING BILL FACES TOUGHER CHALLENGE IN HOUSE: A gambling bill sailed through the Senate last week. It could face choppier waters in the House (Berman, WIBC). The bill makes at least four major changes in what you can bet on and where. It authorizes a new casino in Terre Haute, allows Gary to turn two lakefront casinos into a single casino downtown, legalizes sports wagering, and allows live dealers at the racetrack casinos in Anderson and Shelbyville. House Speaker Brian Bosma says having that many moving parts increases the likelihood some legislators will object to one of them. He warns if the bill's not slimmed down, it'll be a delicate balance to make sure existing casinos don't get hurt, and to get enough votes to pass it. Bosma acknowledges the nature of the gambling debate at the statehouse appears to have changed. Past changes typically centered on making the case that the state was not expanding gambling. When legislators allowed slot machines at the racetracks, for instance, it was packaged with a crackdown on illegal "Cherry Master" video slots at bars and truck stops. Bosma says the legalization of sports betting can be similarly rationalized as turning illegal bets into legal ones. But Bosma says he has bigger concerns about the Terre Haute casino, which would be the first new casino since Shelbyville added slots 10 years ago. And he says the push to allow live dealers at the racinos upends a deal reached under then-Governor Mike Pence to delay that change till 2021. That date ensured live table games wouldn't begin until Pence, a gambling skeptic, left office. But Bosma says it was also to give the French Lick casino time to get on solid financial ground.

INDIANA JAIL POPULATIONS TOPS IN THE NATION: A non-profit research group looking into jail incarceration rates found that Indiana is among the worst states in the country when it comes to jail overcrowding (CBS4). The Vera Institute works with justice systems, stakeholders, communities and policy makers to “reimagine and improve justice systems.” Jack Norton and Jasmine Heiss took it upon themselves within the last couple of years to visit small and rural counties across the country. They were investigating incarceration trends and who was behind bars. “The jail incarceration rate rose 32 percent in the last two years,” Norton said. “That 32-percent increase in Indiana is the first time that has happened in the state since 2003.” The Vera Institute found that no other state had seen their jail population grow as rapidly as Indiana’s in the last 15 years. “Indiana, we found, sort of engaged in some prison reforms. They wanted to get the prison incarceration rates down,” Heiss explained. Heiss referenced House Bill 1006, which former Governor Mike Pence signed in 2015. It forced low-level felons to be housed in county jails rather than at state prisons. “Now in Indiana, you have a situation that counties across the state are facing. Their jails are overcrowded and they’re needing to build bigger jails,” Heiss said. CBS4 confirmed there are at least nine counties looking to build a new facility including Adams, Delaware, Fountain, Hamilton, Hancock, Johnson, Orange, Vanderburgh and Vigo Counties.

SUICIDES, OVERDOSES HIT NEW HIGH: The number of deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicide in 2017 hit the highest level since federal data collection started in 1999, according to an analysis of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data by two public health nonprofits (USA Today). The national rate for deaths from alcohol, drugs and suicide rose from 43.9 to 46.6 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017, a 6 percent increase, the Trust for America's Health and the Well Being Trust reported Tuesday. That was a slower increase than in the previous two years, but it was greater than the 4 percent average annual increase since 1999. Deaths from suicides rose from 13.9 to 14.5 deaths per 100,000, a 4 percent increase. That was double the average annual pace over the previous decade.

WHITE IDENTITY POLITICS BACKFIRE ON POPULATION: Nationalism meets mortality in the new book "Dying of Whiteness" by Vanderbilt physician and sociologist Jonathan M. Metzl, who identifies several public health trends related to white identity politics. These policies made life sicker, harder, and shorter in the very populations they purported to aid, with white gun suicides soaring, life expectancies falling, and school dropout rates rising (Howey Politics Indiana). One epidemiological chain goes like this: Whites without opportunity in the hinterlands drop out of high school at ever higher rates with “failure to attain a high school diploma correlated with nine years of life lost, in conjunction with rising rates of smoking, illnesses such as diabetes, and missed doctor visits.” Want to guarantee a disaffected white rural populace? Slash the education budget, as former Kansas governor and Trump appointee Sam Brownback did and drop out rates rose. Metzl examines rising rates of suicide by gun, noting that from 2009 to 2015, “white men accounted for nearly 80% of all gun suicides in the U.S., despite representing less than 35% of the total population.”  Republican governors in states like Missouri and Tennessee refused to expand Medicaid due to vitriolic GOP opposition to Obamacare. In Tennessee, opposition to Obamacare “cost every single white resident of the state 14.1 days of life”  with many white Tennesseans, Metzl writes, “voiced a willingness to die, literally, rather than embrace a law that gave minority or immigrant persons more access to care.”

INDIANA A TOP SMOKER STATE, BUT TAX HIKE LANGUISHES: To his credit, then-Gov. Mike Pence did expand Medicaid via HIP 2.0, where more than 400,000 Hoosiers enrolled. But here's an Indiana example of Republican policy negatively impacting its citizens (Howey Politics Indiana). According to the CDC, Indiana's 21.8% tobacco smoking rate  trails only red state West Virginia (26%), Kentucky (24.6%), Louisiana (23.1%), Tennessee (22.6%), Arkansas (22.3%) and Mississippi (22.2%). Despite these stats, the effort to triple the cigarette tax to $3 a pack was rejected in the House. Senate President Pro Tem Rob Bray has "no doubt" the tax will be raised "at some point." But not this year. Why wait? Bray concedes to WIBC's  Eric Berman that a tax hike would lower smoking rates, as the "Raise It 4 Health" coalition has argued. But he says there's no sign of "enthusiasm" for the proposal in either the House or Senate.

NORTH KOREA REBUILDING NUKE SITE: North Korea is restoring a missile launch site it previously claimed to be dismantling as an overture to the U.S., according to newly released commercial satellite photos and people briefed on South Korean intelligence (Wall Street Journal). The move has sparked concerns that North Korea may be wavering on some of the gestures it made to demonstrate its willingness to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. The disclosure of the restoration work comes in the wake of last week’s U.S.-North Korean summit meeting in Hanoi, which failed to make headway on nuclear and sanctions issues. “It is not a positive signal,” said Joel Wit, a former State Department official who is the director of 38 North, a website on North Korea nuclear issues. “It is a step backwards from where we have been in terms of North Korea’s demonstrated willingness to restrain its programs.“

U.S. BUDGET DEFICIT GROWING TO $913B: The U.S. budget gap widened in the first four months of the fiscal year as tax collections fell and federal spending increased (Wall Street Journal). The government ran a $310 billion deficit from October through January, compared with $176 billion during the same period a year earlier, a 77% increase, the Treasury Department said Tuesday. Federal outlays climbed $115 billion, or 9%, in the first four months of fiscal 2019, which began Oct. 1, driven by higher spending on the military, veterans’ affairs and interest on the debt. Total receipts declined $19 billion, or 2%, due to weaker corporate and individual income-tax collection. Part of the percentage increase in the deficit was attributable to a shift in the timing of certain payments, which made the deficit appear smaller in the first four months of fiscal year 2018, the Treasury said. If not for those timing shifts, the deficit would have risen 40.2% so far this fiscal year. The Republican tax overhaul that took effect last year has constrained federal revenues, while a bipartisan two-year budget deal has boosted government spending, particularly on defense, pushing the deficit up sharply over the past year. On a 12-month basis, government revenues declined 1.5%, while outlays have risen 4.4%. The budget deficit rose to $913.5 billion for the 12 months ended January, or 4.4% of gross domestic product. The last time the 12-month deficit exceeded 4.4% of GDP was in May 2013, when the deficit was still coming down from high post-recession levels.

76K MIGRANT IMMIGRANTS APPREHENDED AT BORDER: For the fourth time in five months, the number of migrant families crossing the southwest border has broken records, border enforcement authorities said Tuesday, warning that government facilities are full and agents are overwhelmed (New York Times). More than 76,000 migrants crossed the border without authorization in February, more than double the levels from the same period last year and approaching the largest numbers seen in any February in the last 12 years. “The system is well beyond capacity, and remains at the breaking point,” Kevin K. McAleenan, commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, told reporters in announcing the new data. Diverted by new restrictions at many of the leading ports of entry, migrant families continue to arrive in ever-larger groups in remote parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. At least 70 such groups of 100 or more people have turned themselves in at Border Patrol stations that typically are staffed by only a handful of agents, often hours away from civilization. By comparison, only 13 such groups arrived in the last fiscal year, and two in the year before.

INDIANA TECH JOBS RISE JUST 1%: The number of jobs in Indiana’s life sciences sector grew by about 1 percent last year, to 56,323, and averages wages climbed 3 percent, to $97,607 (Russell, IBJ). The figures were released Tuesday in a new study by BioCrossroads, an Indianapolis-based group that promotes and invests in the state's life sciences sector, and the Indiana Business Research Center at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. The sector’s economic impact, which measures company revenues, exports, capital expenditures and several other factors, edged up about 1 percent, to $79 billion. Indiana’s life sciences payroll totaled $5.5 billion, up from $5.3 billion in 2017. According to the annual report, the number of life science companies in the state increased to 1,751, from 1,689 last year.

WIFE OF SLAIN EVANSVILLE FIREFIGHTER ARRESTED: The wife of the Evansville firefighter shot to death last week was booked into the Vanderburgh County Jail early Tuesday morning. Elizabeth Fox-Doerr, 47, of Evansville, was arrested on a preliminary charge of obstruction of justice. Bond had not been set as of Tuesday morning (Fater, Evansville Courier & Press). Fox-Doerr is accused of deleting part of a call record from her cell phone the night her husband, Robbie Doerr, was killed. According to a probable cause affidavit, police checked records from Sprint against her seized cell phone and believe Fox-Doerr deleted a record of a phone call she received that night. She allegedly received the call just before calling 911 on Feb. 26, the night Doerr was fatally shot. The affidavit does not specify who the call came from or what Evansville Police believe it was about. Department spokesman Sgt. Jason Cullum said Fox-Doerr is only being investigated for obstruction of justice in connection with the events of Feb. 26. Doerr's funeral service was Monday. City police are investigating his death as a homicide.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Instead of waiting for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to release his Russian collusion findings and pressing for its public release, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee is launching a "sweeping" probe of President Trump, his campaign, his organization and his family. It issued 81 document requests spanning from Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, David Pecker and Steve Bannon to Cory Lewandowski and Allen Weisselberg. If there are impacts on any Hoosiers, the list includes the Trump Campaign, the Trump transition team headed by Vice President-elect Mike Pence, and the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee. What could go wrong for Democrats? Trump allies characterized all of it as an expanded "witch hunt." On the public relations front, there is traction for the White House. Trump's approval has risen to 46% in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal Poll. This could be a classic overreach in the making. - Brian A. Howey



Campaigns

DEMS RENEW TARGET PLANS FOR BROOKS: Democrats have named Republican U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks as a top 2020 election target amid what they call a shifting political landscape (Miley, CNHI). Brook’s Congressional Fifth District is changing, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody said. He points to U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly’s district win in 2018 and improving the Democratic vote share over 2016 by nearly seven percent; Donnelly still lost the re-election bid. “From double-digit vote share shifts toward Democrats in Hamilton County, to a record number of candidates on the ballot in 2018, the evidence is clear: game on in 2020,” Zody said. Democrats have not announced a Fifth District candidate for the 2020 race. But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) recently named Brooks as a target. The national committee is going after Republicans in suburban areas such as Brooks’ district, which runs from Hamilton County north to Grant County. “We’d recommend that the DCCC checks its math on this one again. Indiana’s 5th Congressional District, while having a suburban core, has overwhelmingly elected Congresswoman Susan Brooks four times,” State Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer said.

BLOOMBERG WON'T JOIN 2020 RACE: Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor who joined the Democratic Party last year to crusade against President Trump, has decided not to challenge Mr. Trump as a candidate in the 2020 election (New York Times). Rather than entering the race himself, Mr. Bloomberg intends to plow his political energy and immense personal fortune into other efforts to thwart Mr. Trump and his agenda, including an initiative aimed at rapidly accelerating the country’s transition to renewable energy. Mr. Bloomberg’s decision appears to reflect a recognition of the long odds he would face in a Democratic primary campaign, as well as the looming presence of a more prominent moderate Democrat, Joseph R. Biden Jr., as a potential rival for the nomination. “It’s essential that we nominate a Democrat who will be in the strongest position to defeat Donald Trump and bring our country back together,” Mr. Bloomberg wrote. “We cannot allow the primary process to drag the party to an extreme that would diminish our chances in the general election and translate into ‘Four More Years.’”

64% BELIEVE TRUMP COMMITTED CRIMES IN QUINNIPIAC POLL: Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that Donald Trump committed crimes before he became president, according to a new Quinnipiac poll conducted after Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen testified to Congress (Politico). Among those surveyed, 64 percent believe that the president committed crimes before he was elected, with 24 percent saying they don’t think he did. Those polled were split on whether they believe Trump has committed crimes while in office: According to the poll, 45 percent believe the president has, while 43 percent say he hasn’t.

TRUMP REELECT ONLY 40% IN FLA: Donald Trump is in trouble in Florida, a state that's crucial to his reelection hopes (Politico Playbook). Just 40 percent of Florida voters said they believed the president should be reelected, while 53 percent were opposed to a second term, according to a new Bendixen & Amandi International poll.

PENCE, HALEY, POMPEO JOCKEYING FOR 2024: Top Republicans loyal to President Trump are already jockeying to succeed him in 2024 - or even in 2020, an unusual dynamic spawned by the uncertainty of a White House invariably embroiled in controversy (Washington Examiner). The moves are subtle and can be plausibly explained as something other than preparation for a presidential run. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in early primary campaign battleground Iowa to reassure voters about Trump’s trade policy. Nikki Haley, former ambassador to the United Nations, has formed a conservative nonprofit to influence policymakers. Vice President Mike Pence’s well-developed political operation was built to service his boss. But GOP insiders concede that politically ambitious Republicans such as these three have ulterior motives. “A couple of people are trying to be prepared in case Trump didn’t run for some reason,” Charlie Black, a veteran Republican operative, told the Washington Examiner. “The others are keeping their powder dry and just trying to position themselves for ’24.”

General Assembly

UNIVERSITY PRESIDENTS MAKE BUDGET PITCHES: Indiana’s public universities made their funding requests to Senate legislators Tuesday as that chamber’s budget hearings are underway (Smith & Atkinson, Indiana Public Media). The state’s Commission for Higher Education began the hearing by telling lawmakers the number of people completing degrees is up 15 percent over the last five years. The university presidents emphasized that progress. Indiana University President Michael McRobbie says his institution’s online classes are a major factor. "More than 30,000 IU students are enrolled in at least one online course … that’s about a third of the total student body of the university," McRobbie says. McRobbie touted the high performance of the university's Bloomington campus but warned lawmakers that expecting more from the campus could lead to unwarranted funding cuts. "It is becoming increasingly difficult for it to be rewarded under the current metric calculations," he says. "There’s just only so much more we can squeeze out of that campus’ performance, compared even to national comparisons." McRobbie also noted IU’s request for $9 million in facility upgrades and asked legislators to consider that IU’s top priority moving forward. "Maintaining our existing facilities is both essential for education and teaching, and it is essential to maximize external research funding," he says.

DANIELS EMPHASIZES LOWERING STUDENT COSTS: Purdue President Mitch Daniels used his pitch to emphasize his university’s continued push toward lowering the cost to students (Indiana Public Media). "Last year, I was very pleased when we saw that 58 percent of our graduates left with zero debt," Daniels says. Ball State President Geoff Mearns related that idea of value to the state as a whole. "More than 70 percent of our graduates stay in the state of Indiana," Mearns says. The House version of the budget increases university funding less than the Commission for Higher Education recommends. The Senate budget draft will come out in the next few weeks.

VIRTUAL SCHOOL BILLS APPROVED: Both the Senate and House have approved their own versions of a virtual education bill, but some worry the proposed new rules for virtual education moving forward don’t do enough (Lindsay, Indiana Public Media). The state board of education made policy recommendations focused on virtual education ahead of the session. Those include limiting enrollment and growth for virtual schools and stricter regulations for virtual charter authorizers. The bills approved by lawmakers so far focus mostly on orientation for virtual school families also included in the recommendations. But some Senate lawmakers raised concerns during a debate last week about funding for virtual schools, and a lack of accountability. Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary) says he doesn’t want to see the issue go away after this session. “I’m scared that if we close this book this year, it’s going to be a while before we get back to revisit this,” he says. The original version of the Senate bill approved last week would have included limiting enrollment at virtual schools and reduce the fees authorizers can collect for overseeing virtual schools. That language was taken out before it passed.

BEHNING CONCERNED ABOUT SCALING BACK VIRTUAL SCHOOLS: House Education Committee chair Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) says scaling back virtual school and authorizer funding could disincentivize efforts to improve failing programs. And he says, the state board already has more oversight authority for charters than it does for a traditional public school (Indiana Public Media). “They have the right to take it over, but they really don’t even have the right to close the school,” he says. “Why are those kids any different than the kids in a virtual program?”

TOBACCO TAX BILLS FALTER: An estimated 21 percent of Hoosiers smoke – one of the highest smoking rates in the country. But of the nine bills related to smoking, cigarettes, and e-liquids introduced at the Statehouse this session, only two are moving forward (Costello, Indiana Public Media). A bill to raise the minimum age to buy tobacco and e-cigarettes from 18 to 21 passed out of one Senate committee, but died in a second Senate committee without another hearing. Advocates have long lobbied to raise the tax rate on cigarettes, which hasn't been increased since 2007. A recent poll showed 70 percent of Hoosiers support an increased tax, and more than three-fourths say it's important revenue be spent on tobacco prevention. Indiana lags in smoking and prevention and cessation funding – it spends 10 percent of the CDC’s recommended amount. But two proposals to increase the tax died this session. One would have raised the tax by $1, and another would have raised it by $2.



Congress

BANKS AT WHITE HOUSE FOR BUDGET TALKS: U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03) released the following statement regarding his meeting at the White House with Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Mike Johnson (LA-04) and fellow RSC Task Force Chairmen.  Rep. Banks currently serves as Chairman of the RSC Budget and Spending Task Force, which is responsible for producing the only serious, conservative budget in Congress (Howey Politics Indiana). Said Rep. Banks, “Today, I told President Trump of my commitment to work with him to help rein in government spending and put forward a conservative budget.  As the Chairman of the RSC Budget and Spending Task Force, I had the opportunity to thank the President for his fiscally conservative leadership and look forward to working with his Administration to do right by the American taxpayer.  On Monday, President Trump will release his budget framework for Fiscal Year 2020, and shortly thereafter RSC will take a balanced budget to the floor of the House that will deliver the fiscal sanity the American people deserve.”

WALORSKI AUTHORS WATER INITIATIVE: U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) today introduced the Move America Act of 2019 to bring billions of dollars of investment to state and local governments to help grow and repair America’s aging infrastructure (Howey Politics Indiana). “A strong American economy depends on a modern infrastructure built for the 21st century,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “State and local governments need cost-effective ways to revitalize our aging infrastructure and move America forward. This bipartisan bill will give them the tools and flexibility they need to leverage private dollars for the infrastructure projects most important to our communities.” “Our country’s infrastructure is falling apart and we are quickly falling behind our global competitors,” Congressman Blumenauer said. “The Move America Act supports billions of dollars of investments in much-needed projects around the country to restore the safety and functionality of all sectors of infrastructure. We can’t afford to wait.”

SEN. YOUNG OP-EDS: In an op-ed for the Northwest Indiana Times and the Jeffersonville News and Tribune, U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) highlights three recent public lands wins for Indiana – designation of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as a national park, the authorized extension of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail across Southern Indiana, and protection for fishing and hunting rights within the Hoosier National Forest. From the Northwest Indiana Times: “The designation of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as America’s 61st national park verifies what we Hoosiers have known all along — this is not just a state treasure, but a national treasure as well. The new designation should drive additional visitors to this Hoosier wonder and in turn spur northwest Indiana’s economy. It rightfully commemorates the important ecological diversity of the Indiana Dunes. I commend my colleague in the House, Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Gary, for his perseverance on this important Hoosier priority. Without his tireless advocacy, this goal would not have been accomplished. I look forward to continuing to work with Visclosky to ensure Northwest Indiana is not ignored.” From the News and Tribune: “Both houses of Congress also recently passed a bipartisan lands package that includes two important provisions for Indiana. The first is my Eastern Legacy Extension Act, which would extend the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail from St. Louis, Missouri, to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, including all of Indiana’s southern border along the Ohio River. The proposed extension travels through seven states: Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. This extension would honor the important legacy of the Lewis and Clark journey through Indiana."

BOYS/GIRLS CLUBS HONOR WALORSKI: Boys & Girls Clubs of America announced U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) as one of the recipients of their 2019 Champions of Youth Award. The honor was presented at the organization’s fifth annual National Days of Advocacy in Washington D.C. where nearly 200 Boys & Girls Club leaders, volunteers and youth from across the nation meet with members of Congress to advocate on behalf of America’s youth (Howey Politics Indiana). “Congresswoman Walorski is a prime example of a leader who goes above and beyond, demonstrating an outstanding commitment to our nation’s youth,” said Jim Clark, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “A familiar face at the Boys & Girls Clubs in her district, she is an instrumental supporter of the work Clubs do each day to make sure every child realizes their true potential.  On behalf of the more than 131,000 kids Clubs serve in Indiana, we are proud to recognize her distinguished leadership and exceptional service in representing the interests of kids and teens.”

HOUSE INTEL HIRES FORMER RUSSIAN MOB PROSECUTOR: The House Intelligence Committee has hired a seasoned former Southern District of New York federal prosecutor with experience going after Russian organized crime to lead its myriad investigations into President Donald Trump (Politico). Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) announced on Tuesday that Daniel Goldman joined the committee last month as senior adviser and director of investigations. Goldman, who was second-in-command at SDNY’s organized crime unit, has prosecuted the Russian mob and has secured convictions for racketeering, murder and money laundering, including against the Genovese crime family.

HOUSE DEMS GIRD FOR COURT FIGHT OVER TRUMP RETURNS: House Democrats are girding for a fight over President Donald Trump's tax returns, one that will likely lead all the way to the Supreme Court (ABC News). A team of four attorneys has been guiding the House Ways and Means Committee, which has the authority to request the IRS documents from the Treasury Department. They have been actively crafting what they hope will be an "air-tight" legal strategy to compel the president to hand over 10 years of his personal tax returns, working on the assumption their request will be challenged by the courts, according to a senior Democratic aide. "It will be fought out in the courts, and then possibly the Supreme Court," committee member Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., told



State

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB TO MEET WITH TRUMP - Gov. Eric Holcomb will join President Donald J. Trump and Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump at the White House for the inaugural meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board (Howey Politics Indiana). The first meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board will be held on March 6, 2019 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The American Workforce Policy Advisory Board will provide advice and recommendations to the interagency National Council for the American Worker on ways to encourage the private sector and educational institutions to combat the skills crisis by investing in and increasing demand-driven education, training, and re-training, including training through apprenticeships and work-based learning opportunities.

TAXES: INDIANA RANKS 23RD IN TAXATION - Taxes are one of the few certainties in life – but they do not have to be a great burden. From the checkout counter to the 1040 form due every April, what Americans end up paying in taxes depends largely on where they live (USA Today). While all Americans are generally subject to the same federal tax code, each of the 50 states has broad authority to levy its own sales, income and property taxes – or not. With data from tax policy advocacy group Tax Foundation, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the total tax burden as a share of income on a per capita basis to identify the states with the lowest and highest tax burden. Indiana ranks 23rd: Taxes paid as percentage of income: 9.5 percent; Income per capita: $45,150 (16th lowest); Income tax collections per capita: $787 (20th lowest); Property tax collections per capita: $975 (14th lowest); General sales tax collections per capita: $1,101 (10th highest).

EDUCATION: IU RESEARCH JOINING FORT WAYNE'S ELECTRIC WORKS - It's official. The Indiana University Research and Technology Corp. on Tuesday announced plans to lease space in Electric Works. The Journal Gazette first reported in November that IU officials were committed to taking up residence in the $248 million, mixed-use project's innovation district. Tony Armstrong, president and CEO of the IU Research and Technology Corp., described the organization's goals. “While Indiana University's primary focus in northeast Indiana will always be on our IU Fort Wayne campus, Electric Works provides us with a unique opportunity to tap into the entrepreneurial expertise of the IU alumni network in the region, as well as those associated with a broad range of entrepreneurial endeavors,” he said in a statement. Jeff Kingsbury, a partner in Electric Works' developer RTM Ventures, praised the project's newest committed tenant.

EDUCATION: IU MEDICAL GETS $10M GRANT - Researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine and two other institutions have won a $10.4 million grant to study new therapies to improve musculoskeletal conditions (IBJ). The National Institutes of Health awarded the five-year grant to IU, the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Texas at Arlington. IU announced the grant on Monday. Researchers at the three institutions say they are particularly interested in developing therapies for osteosarcopenia, a condition marked by the loss of bone density and muscle mass, common in older people.

EDUCATION: JENKINS TO ADDRESS NOTRE DAME PLAN ON SEX ABUSE -  The Rev. John I. Jenkins, the University of Notre Dame’s president, on Monday announced a campus plan to address the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal (South Bend Tribune). The plan includes organizing public events to educate and encourage discussion of the crisis, offering research grants, sharing research and training Notre Dame students for effective leadership in the Catholic Church. Jenkins also is vowing to redouble efforts to create a culture of accountability and transparency around campus sexual assault and misconduct, whether committed by clergy or lay people. In 2019-2020, the Catholic Church abuse crisis will be the focus of the Notre Dame Forum, a series of campus events focusing on a single topic. The university will host at least two major events during that academic year focusing on that topic, Jenkins said. The university president’s office will provide up to $1 million during the next three years to fund research projects addressing issues emerging from the abuse crisis.

EDUCATION: BELL TO FOCUS ON WGU PARTNERSHIPS - Alison Bell is returning to WGU Indiana and taking on a new role as the university’s chancellor. Bell plans to hit the ground running, with a focus on growth and an in-depth evaluation on statewide workforce needs (McLaughlin, Inside Indiana Business). “Adults have different needs and find their way into education a different way than your traditional out-of-high-school college student. Where are adults? They’re working. So, by partnering with corporations and employers we can, one, identify where there are education training needs for that workforce that exists, what the corporations identify as needs for education and development and where we can help to provide that or partner to provide that.” Bell said.

DNR: PROPHETSTOWN SP TO EXPAND - The Indiana Department of Natural Resources says it’s expanding Prophetstown State Park by 134 acres and will likely avoid having large power lines pass over the pasture and barnyard of a historic working farm (AP). The agency said Tuesday it’s purchasing the land near the entrance to the park north of Lafayette from a private trust for $1.1 million. The Duke Energy power lines are being moved by 2020 as part of development along a lake near the park’s entrance in Battle Ground. The Farm at Prophetstown has leased 125 acres since the state park opened in 2004. Some supporters feared the presence of the power lines would hurt the aesthetics of the farm. Lafayette-area officials had petitioned Gov. Eric Holcomb to have the power lines moved away from the farm.

BUSINESS: SCHNATTER REACHES SETTLEMENT WITH PAPA JOHN'S - Papa John’s has reached a settlement agreement with founder John Schnatter that will see him step down from the company’s board (AP). The agreement comes after more of a year of tussling between the Louisville-based pizza chain and Schnatter, who made a series of racially insensitive remarks that caused sales to plummet. Schnatter stepped down as CEO in late 2017 and resigned as chairman in July after facing backlash for blaming disappointing sales on NFL player protests and using the N-word during a conference call. Under the settlement, Schnatter and the board will mutually agree on an independent director who will replace Schnatter on the company’s nine-member board. If a new director isn’t named prior to Papa John’s 2019 annual shareholders meeting April 30, Schnatter’s term will expire at the meeting, according to a regulatory filing.

Nation

WHITE HOUSE: REFUSES TO GIVE UP KUSHNER SECURITY DOCS - The top White House lawyer on Tuesday said the Trump administration will refuse to provide Congress with information about senior adviser Jared Kushner’s security clearance, slamming House Democrats for “overly intrusive document requests” (Politico). White House Counsel Pat Cipollone said the administration would brief the House Oversight Committee about the White House’s process for granting security clearances, but he balked at the committee’s demand for information specific to Kushner, setting up a potential subpoena fight between the powerful House panel and the White House. “These actions suggest that the Committee is not interested in proper oversight, but rather seeks information that it knows cannot be provided consistent with applicable law,” Cipollone wrote in a letter to Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings. “We will not concede the Executive's constitutional prerogatives or allow the Committee to jeopardize the individual privacy rights of current and former Executive Branch employees.”

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP FUMES AT HOUSE DEMS - On Tuesday, President Trump’s anger was showing, in the form of tweets lashing out at House Democratic committee chairs, whom he accused of going “stone cold CRAZY” with their sweeping new oversight investigations into his White House and allies, arguing that the lawmakers are needlessly harassing the 81 people and groups that they're targeting (Politico). “They won’t get ANYTHING done for our Country!” Trump added of the Democratic lawmakers.

WHITE HOUSE: FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY REFUTES 'WITCH HUNT' - Ty Cobb, the veteran Washington attorney who represented the White House as special counsel Robert Mueller ramped up his investigation into Russian meddling, said he considers the man leading the probe “an American hero” and does not share President Donald Trump’s view that the Russia inquiry is a politically motivated hoax (ABC News). “I don't feel the same way about Mueller,” Cobb said in an extensive interview for the latest episode of ABC News' podcast The Investigation. “I don't feel the investigation is a witch hunt.” The indictment against the Russian hackers was “highly detailed,” he said. “And there's no link to Trump or the campaign. The same thing with Manafort -- they just filed an 800-page sentencing memorandum, and in 800 pages there's no reference to collusion,” Cobb said, referring to Manafort.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SOUGHT TO SEIZE ACADEMIC RECORDS - In 2011, days after Donald Trump challenged President Barack Obama to “show his records” to prove that he hadn’t been a “terrible student,” the headmaster at New York Military Academy got an order from his boss: Find Trump’s academic records and help bury them (Washington Post). The superintendent of the private school “came to me in a panic because he had been accosted by prominent, wealthy alumni of the school who were Mr. Trump’s friends” and who wanted to keep his records secret, recalled Evan Jones, the headmaster at the time. “He said, ‘You need to go grab that record and deliver it to me because I need to deliver it to them.’ ”The superintendent, Jeffrey Coverdale, confirmed Monday that members of the school’s board of trustees initially wanted him to hand over Trump’s records to them, but Coverdale said he refused.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP TO COMFORT ALABAMA TORNADO VICTIMS - Seven members of a single family were among the 23 killed in one of the regions hit hardest by deadly tornadoes that tore through the Southeast, officials said Tuesday. President Trump said he plans to visit Alabama on Friday (Washington Post). “Its been a tragic situation,” Trump said from the Roosevelt Room Tuesday afternoon. “But a lot of good work is being done.”

WHITE HOUSE: PENCE PUSHES BORDER WALL IN ARIZONA -  Vice President Mike Pence is calling on the Senate not to reject President Donald Trump's emergency declaration freeing up money to build a wall on the southern border (Fox10). Pence spoke Tuesday to the board of directors of the National Association of Manufacturers during a meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona. The vice president urged business leaders to call on Congress to "stand up for border security and put the safety and security and wellbeing of America first."

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP, PENCE SCHEDULE - President Trump will meet with former Yemen hostage Danny Burch and his family in the Oval Office at 2 p.m. He is meeting with Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) at 2:45 p.m. in the Oval Office. At 4 p.m., Trump will participate in the "American Workforce Policy Advisory Board Meeting" in the State Dining Room. Vice President Mike Pence will be in Columbus Friday to speak to the Ohio Oil and Gas Association. He’ll be the closing keynote speaker at a noon lunch at the Hilton Columbus at Easton, the association said in a written statement. Only people who are registered for the event can attend.

DOJ: BARR WON'T RECUSE HIMSELF OVER RUSSIA PROBE - Attorney General William Barr will not recuse himself from overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign, a Justice Department spokeswoman said Monday (Politico). Barr’s confirmation for a second stint as attorney general was complicated by the disclosure that he had written a 19-page memo last June expressing deep skepticism about aspects of Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. During his confirmation hearing, Barr refused to say whether he would recuse from any role in Mueller’s probe.

FDA: COMMISSIONER GOTTLIEB RESIGNS - Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, known for his aggressive efforts to regulate the tobacco and e-cigarette industries, resigned Tuesday (New York Times). Dr. Gottlieb, whose wife and three children have remained in their Westport, Conn. home since he took office, said recently he was weary of the commute and missed his family. But he has also been subject to increasing pressure from Republicans in Congress and his former associates in the conservative movement for his tough stance against youth vaping and traditional cigarettes.

MUELLER: JUDGE WARNS STONE AGAIN - Attorneys for Roger Stone withheld and misrepresented plans for his new book criticizing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in violation of a gag order in his case, a federal judge found Tuesday, warning that any “costs or consequences” that result are solely his responsibility (Washington Post). The new order by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington does not spell out consequences but bodes ill for the longtime friend of President Trump and Republican operative, who asked the court for leeway late Friday regarding the “imminent release” of a new version of his book about Trump’s 2016 campaign, retitled “The Myth of Russian Collusion.” Jackson found that, in fact, Stone deliberately waited until after publication to disclose plans that had been underway for weeks, suggesting his defense was using her docket to gin up publicity about the book.

SPORTS: 3 GET PRISON IN HOOPS RECRUITING SCANDAL - A former Adidas executive and two others who paid families to persuade top college basketball recruits to play for schools sponsored by the shoe brand were sentenced to prison Tuesday by a judge who said he wanted to send a "great big warning light to the basketball world" (AP). U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said he had to balance the need for a stern message with the realization that others who did similar crimes were not prosecuted in a widespread college basketball recruiting scandal that has tainted two dozen schools. Former Adidas executive James Gatto, business manager Christian Dawkins and Merl Code, a former Adidas consultant, were convicted in October of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for funneling illegal payments to families of recruits to the University of Louisville, University of Kansas and North Carolina State University. Gatto got nine months in prison; Dawkins and Code got six months each. The judge said each can remain free until a federal appeals court decides whether to uphold their convictions.

MICHIGAN: GOV. WHITMER CALLS FOR 45 CENT GAS TAX HIKE - Michigan gas station operators near the Indiana border are concerned about a proposal to nearly triple gasoline taxes to improve the state’s aging roads (AP). On Tuesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called for a 45-cent per gallon increase to the state’s current 26-cent per gallon fuel tax. The increase would give the state the distinction of having the highest fuel taxes in the nation. And operators close to the Indiana border are concerned the proposed hike would put them at enough of a price disadvantage that it could make surviving very difficult, said Mark Griffin, president of the Michigan Petroleum Association and the Michigan Association of Convenience Stores. “We’re disappointed that her first salvo was to raise the tax,” Griffin said. “Clearly, gas station owners along the border will get whacked.”

Local

CITIES: MARTINSVILLE PD CHIEF WAIVES HEARING - The initial hearing scheduled for March 15 for suspended Martinsville Police Chief Matthew Long has been canceled (Bloomington Herald-Times). His attorneys filed a motion Friday to waive the initial hearing and special Judge Valeri Haughton, from Monroe County, granted the request. No additional hearing dates have been scheduled.

CITIES: EAST CHICAGO MAYOR COPELAND CHANGES COURSE ON EPA SITE - East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland seems to have changed his mind about what should be done with the area where the former West Calumet Public Housing Complex once stood. But it’s unclear if that will change the Environmental Protection Agency’s cleanup plans for the site (Thiele, Indiana Public Media). Copeland originally said the site should be residential, but if a commercial or industrial company wanted to move in that the city would consider it. That led the EPA to add a contingency to its plan — which would have allowed the lead and arsenic-contaminated site to be cleaned to less stringent commercial/industrial standards. But in a recent letter, the mayor says he supports a residential cleanup and also sides with the majority of residents who want all of the contamination gone. In fact, he says he's advocated for a thorough cleanup all along. But Maritza Lopez, who is the president of the East Chicago Calumet Coalition Community Advisory Group (CAG), says the EPA still recommended cleaning soil only up to two feet deep at its most recent meeting. “I think they play games, I’ll be upfront — and I’m saying as a resident, not as the CAG president,” Lopez says.

CITIES: MORE CHEMICALS FOUND AT FRANKLIN - A new round of testing is looking at the extent of contamination in an Indianapolis suburb where cancer-causing chemicals have been found in groundwater and sewer vapors (Indiana Public Media). Over over the last week the nonprofit Edison Wetlands Association, which has been working with parent group If It Was Your Child, returned to Franklin to conduct sampling with a gas chromatography machine. Kari Rhinehart, a co-founder of If It Was Your Child , says "the focus is to widen the scope to see how much contamination exists and how it's impacting people." The newspaper says nearly three dozen homes were tested, particularly in an area near a site with a documented history of contamination that has migrated under residences. Tests earlier found high levels of trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene.

CITIES: GREENWOOD SETS UP ONLINE EXCHANGE ZONE AT FD STATION - People can now safely exchange items purchased online in Johnson County at the Greenwood Fire Station on East Main Street (WTHR-TV). The city has designated two parking spots that are monitored to keep people safe. There's also an emergency call box, just in case you have a problem. Similar efforts have been made elsewhere in Indiana. The Markleville Police Department, for example, recently set up an area that's monitored by cameras 24 hours a day. In Indianapolis, IMPD district headquarters offers safe spots for people to meet up for online sales. The Johnson County Sheriff's Department in Franklin also has two parking spaces as well, like the ones set up in Greenwood.

CITIES: HOGSETT ANNOUNCES NEIGHBORHOOD INVESTMENTS - Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett today announced the 10 projects that will be funded through the 2019 Indianapolis Neighborhood Infrastructure Partnership, a program of the Indianapolis Department of Public Works (Indy DPW). Speaking at Martin University, the site of one such project, Mayor Hogsett detailed the benefits of the partnership program, a matching grant which awards funds to local projects submitted by community-based organizations (Howey Politics Indiana). "The Indy Neighborhood Infrastructure Partnership touches all portions of our city – from Homecroft to Williams Creek," said Hogsett. "Today’s partnership highlights the work we’re doing on less-traveled – though still critical – neighborhood streets and sidewalks." In December 2018, Mayor Hogsett announced that DPW would accept proposals from community-based organizations for infrastructure projects under a matching fund award program. Funds are available for new projects, including roads, sidewalks, multi-use paths, and bridges. The project list below represents more than $5 million of investment in the neighborhoods of Indianapolis that have applied for the matching funds.

CITIES: HOGSETT TO ANNOUNCE TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE - Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett will join Public Safety Communications Chief Kevin Wethington on Wednesday to launch a new web-based public safety transparency tool. Part of the City’s $35 million in public safety technology investments announced last year, the website will replace SafeTown.com, allowing community members to access public safety data and interact in new ways with IMPD (Howey Politics Indiana). The $35 million in public safety infrastructure investments announced in 2018 include a new Computer-Aided Dispatch, radios, and radio network managed by the Public Safety Communications Division of the Office of Public Health and Safety, supporting public safety professionals in providing better service to the Indianapolis community.

COUNTIES: PILOT OF HOUSTON JET CRASH FROM JEFFERSON - Authorities in Texas have confirmed that the pilot of a cargo plane that crashed into the bay off Houston Feb. 23 was a resident of Jefferson County, Indiana, and his identity has been been verified from remains recovered over the weekend (Madison Courier). The Chambers County Sheriff’s Office said the remains recovered from Trinity Bay are those of Capt. Rick Blakely, 60, who is married to Katey Brichto, of Jefferson County. The Madison Courier was aware that Blakely was the pilot of plane, but at the time of the crash and at the wishes of the family, chose not to disclose his name until an official identification was made.

COUNTIES: JAY TOWNSHIP FUNDS PLUNGE - When Katina Miller took office as Bearcreek Township trustee on Jan. 1, 2015, the township's grand total cash balance was $144,125 (Muncie Star Press). When she left office this past Dec. 31, after losing re-election, the cash balance was down to $12,647, and the township's general fund was $63,192 in the red, according to the 2018 annual financial report filed last week by her successor, Trustee Crystal Laux. "It's astonishing how much money is gone," Laux told The Star Press on Monday. The new trustee has set up payment plans to pay creditors for accounting, legal and insurance expenses that the township currently has insufficient funds to cover. A compliance report filed last week by the State Board of Accounts (SBOA) reported that Miller repeatedly withheld records from state examiners auditing the township's accounts for the years 2014-17, a potential class B infraction.

COUNTIES: ELKHART SHERIFF CAPTAIN FACES CHARGE - An Elkhart County Sheriff's Department captain has resigned and prosecutors charged him Tuesday with three counts of false informing, alleging he concealed information about department employees who are accused of claiming pay for hours they didn’t work (South Bend Tribune). Former captain James Bradberry, who served as a spokesman for the sheriff’s department for several years, resigned Friday, Sheriff Jeff Siegel said in a news release. Bradberry had been on paid administrative leave since January, pending an investigation by the prosecutor’s office. In the news release, Siegel said he would have no further comment because of the ongoing criminal case. The Tribune was unable to reach a working phone number for Bradberry on Tuesday.

COUNTIES: OWEN FINALIZES BABY BOX - Owen County is working to become the latest Indiana community to install a baby box (Indiana Public Media). Local officials began the process months ago, and just received approval from the county commissioners to place a baby box at the county’s EMS offices. Owen County Prosecutor Donald VanDerMoere says the community needs to raise about $7,000 to finish paying for the project. "The Safe Haven Baby Box itself is just a safe resource for mothers to choose to anonymously abandon their child, and they wouldn’t fear any prosecution or repercussions from that decision," VanDerMoere says. VanDerMoere says the box is part of a larger project by Owen County’s Infant Mortality Task Force.

COUNTIES: BROWN WINE & ART AUCTION - Rotary Club of Brown County's 4th annual "Taste of Art  Wine, Shine & Beer" Art Auction will be held at the Seasons Conference Center on Saturday, March 23, 2019 and we are hoping that you will be able to join us there (Howey Politics Indiana). This year's live auction will be conducted professional auctioneer, Dennis Jackson,  and will include 30+ original works of art.  These include oil, water color, etching & acrylic paintings by well recognized contemporary BC artists Patricia Rhoden Bartels, Anabel Hopkins, Tom Robinson, Norene Mara, Tim Greatbatch, Kathy Blankenheim, James Tracy, Sandee Hazelbaker and others; Indiana artists, Ken Bucklew, C.W. Mundy  Wyatt LeGrande, and Gordon Fiscus; and vintage art by L.O Griffith, Dale Bessire, Frank Hohenberg, E.K. Williams and Frederick Rigley.  We will also be offering a variety of interesting art pieces in the silent auction during the Wine, Shine, & Tasting segment of the event. Taste of Art tickets are priced at $35/person in advance and may be purchased online, through me, or at the door ($40/ticket) at the Seasons Convention Center on the night of the event.