TECH ADVOCATES URGE HATE CRIME LAW PASSAGE: Members of the Indiana Technology & Innovation Association (ITIA) gathered at the Statehouse today to urge the Legislature to pass a clear, comprehensive and inclusive bias crimes law. ITIA, which launched in November, represents more than 100 technology companies across the state and Indiana’s fastest growing sector (Howey Politics Indiana). The Indiana General Assembly is considering bias crimes legislation this year, but the Indiana Senate recently stripped the bill of its enumerated list of characteristics, including race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, and age. ITIA today urged the House of Representatives to add the list back in and pass a true, enforceable bias crimes law this year. Gov. Eric Holcomb has also advocated for this change. “Passing a fully inclusive bias crimes statute demonstrates to our employees, our prospective employees and our community that Indiana is a safe and welcoming place for them to live and work,” said CEO of Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Chief Analytics Officer Bob Stutz who was represented today by ITIA Board Member and Salesforce Director of Midwest State and Local Government Affairs Amy Waggoner.

INDIANA JAIL CROWDING DUE TO LACK OF COORDINATION: Crowded jail conditions in Indiana are being affected by a lack of coordination among sheriffs, judges and treatment providers, state officials heard this week. There’s also been an increase in inmates sentenced as Level 6 offenders, the lowest level of felonies in Indiana. Judges are allowed to consider reducing Level 6 sentences to misdemeanors among other options (Miley, CNHI). “There is, I think, sometimes a disconnect between our prosecutors and our judges about how we sentence people,” Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding told an Indiana Senate committee on Tuesday. The inmate population at the Vanderburgh County Jail has been, on average, above its 558-inmate maximum, officials said. The jail serves numerous agencies including Indiana State Police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. In 2015, there were 204,778 criminal cases — including felonies and misdemeanors — filed in Indiana. The number rose to 224,041 in 2018, said David Powell, executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council. However, jail and state prison populations continue to increase, as do community corrections cases, he said. In 2014, the state changed criminal penalties and Level 6 crimes can be reduced to misdemeanors. The sentence is between six months and two and a half years.  Level 6 is the lowest level of felony crimes. Inmates are often assigned to county jails or in community corrections instead of a Indiana Department of Correction prison facility. The shift is due to more Level 6 charges being filed: 43,000 in 2015 and 57,942 last year.

TRUMP FACING BIGGEST SCANDAL IN HISTORY: Here’s how crazy — and perilous — the next 18 months will be for President Trump: Even without seeing Robert Mueller's report, or knowing what prosecutors with the Southern District of New York have unearthed, or what congressional investigators will find, we already have witnessed the biggest political scandal in American history (Allen, Axios). Mueller has already delivered one of the biggest counterintelligence cases in U.S. history, author Garrett Graff points out — up there with Aldrich Ames (a former CIA officer convicted in 1994 of being a KGB double agent), or Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (executed in 1953 for spying for the Soviets). Historians tell Jim VandeHei and me that the only two scandals that come close to Trump-Russia are Watergate, which led to President Richard Nixon's resignation in 1974, and the Teapot Dome scandal of the early 1920s, in which oil barons bribed a corrupt aide to President Warren Harding for petroleum leases. Watergate yielded more charges than Mueller has so far: A total of 69 people were charged in Watergate; 48 people and 20 corporations pleaded guilty. Mueller so far has indicted 27 people; seven have been convicted or pleaded guilty. But historians say that both Watergate and Teapot Dome were more limited because a foreign power wasn't a central player, and a much narrower band of potential offenses was under investigation. The "biggest" realization might strike Trump supporters as overblown or plain wrong.

WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW ABOUT TRUMP SCANDAL: Consider what we already know about actions of Trump and his associates (Axios): Scandal 1: Trump secretly paid hush money to two mistresses on the eve of his presidential victory, and lied about it. His longtime personal lawyer is going to prison after carrying out the scheme on his behalf. Scandal 2: During the presidential campaign, Trump confidantes continued negotiating for a tower in Moscow, potentially one of Trump's most lucrative deals ever. He hid this from the public and lied about it. His lawyer is going to prison for making false statements to Congress about the deal. Scandal 3: Russian officials had more than 100 contacts with Trump associates during the campaign and transition, including his son, his closest adviser, his lawyer, and his campaign manager. The Russians offered assistance in undermining Hillary Clinton. The FBI and other government authorities weren't alerted about this effort to subvert our election. Scandal 4: Michael Flynn was national security adviser at the same time U.S. intelligence officials believed he was compromised by the Kremlin. He pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts. Scandal 5: Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, and told NBC's Lester Holt it was at least in part because of the Russia investigation: "[T]his Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story." Scandal 6: Trump overruled the advice of his lawyers and intelligence experts, and granted his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a top-secret clearance. This so alarmed his White House chief of staff John Kelly that he recorded his opposition in a memo. Trump and his family repeatedly denied he had interfered.

NEXT WEEKLY HPI ON TUESDAY: The next weekly edition of Howey Politics Indiana will be published around 9 a.m. Tuesday, March 12.

BRAUN TAKES AIM AT HEALTH COSTS: U.S. Sen. Mike Braun spent his 2018 campaign talking about the escalating costs of health care and promised to use his "real world experiences" as CEO of Meyer Industries to do something about it. On Wednesday Braun introduced the Drug Price Transparency Act (S. 657), the Accelerated Drug Approval for Prescription Therapies Act and the Efficiency (S. 658), and Transparency in Petitions Act (S. 660) (Howey Politics Indiana). “Before being elected to the U.S. Senate last year, I spent 37 years building a business in my hometown, hiring hundreds of Americans and taking on the insurance industry to give my employees quality affordable healthcare while covering pre-existing conditions,” Braun explained. “I’m offering solutions to address rising healthcare prices  by adding transparency to our drug pricing, clearing the backlog on pending drug applications at the FDA, and providing oversight and accountability within the healthcare industry.” On the Drug Transparency Act, Braun explained, "The goal of the bill is to lower prescription drug prices and out-of-pocket costs for consumers  by encouraging pharmacy benefit managers to pass discounts from drug manufacturers directly on to consumers and bring transparency to prescription drug market. The intent of the rule is to lower out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy counter and add needed pricing transparency to the market." On the Accelerated Drug Approval bill, Braun said, "Under this bill, the FDA Commissioner or HHS Secretary would have authority to approve a drug if the FDA confirms 1) the drug is lawfully approved for sale in a developed country and 2) is not banned by any current FDA standards."

YOUNG PANS GREEN NEW DEAL: When the U.S. Senate votes on the "Green New Deal" resolution, it will be an opportunity for Republicans to stand up for working American families, said Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.), in a news conference in Washington (Davis, WIBC). Young, standing along side Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Young said he believes implementing the "Green New Deal", as proposed by some Democrats, is completely unaffordable. "The words unaffordable, unattainable, unrealistic come to mind, as I think of this 'Green New Deal' that's been proposed. Sixty-five thousand dollars per American household per year is what it's estimated to cost," said Young. The proposal is meant to ask Americans to cut down on fossil fuel consumption, and end carbon emissions by 2030 to 2050. The cost comes partly from a transition to solar and other types of energy for powering homes and vehicles. "Hoosiers would be interested that were this to be implemented, they would have to tear down their houses and rebuild their houses," said Young. "They may have to ride their bike to work because they can no longer take automobiles. "We're gonna give Democrats an opportunity to vote for this legislation, which I think is reflective of the broader shift to the left we see in the national agenda of the Democratic Party.""

TRUMP TRADE POLICIES BACKFIRING WITH TRADE, BUDGET DEFICITS: America’s trade deficit in goods with the rest of the world rose to its highest level in history last year as the United States imported a record number of products, including from China, widening the deficit to $891.3 billion and delivering a setback to President Trump’s goal of narrowing that gap (New York Times). The increase was driven by some factors outside Mr. Trump’s control, like a global economic slowdown and the relative strength of the United States dollar, both of which weakened overseas demand for American goods. But the widening gap was also exacerbated by Mr. Trump’s $1.5 trillion tax cut, which has been largely financed by government borrowing, and the trade war he escalated last year. It is a case of textbook economics catching up with some of Mr. Trump’s unorthodox economic policies. Economists have long warned that Mr. Trump’s tax cuts would ultimately exacerbate a trade deficit he has vowed to reduce, as Americans, flush with extra cash, bought more imported goods. His trade war with Beijing also widened the gap: Stiff tariffs on Chinese goods helped slow China’s economy, crimping American exports, which declined nearly 50 percent in December from the same month a year before. “All countries run trade deficits whenever they consume more than they produce,” said Kimberly Clausing, an economist at Reed College in Oregon. “And when we borrow to finance tax cuts, like we did with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, we make these imbalances worse.”

TRUMP REACTS TO NORTH KOREA NUKE SITE ACTIVATION: President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would be “very disappointed” if reports that North Korea is rebuilding a long-range rocket site were true, adding that it is too soon to know the intention of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un (Politico). “I would be very disappointed if that were happening,” the president told reporters in the Oval Office, adding that “it’s a very early report.” “I would be very, very disappointed in Chairman Kim. I don’t think I will be, but we’ll see what happens. We’ll take a look. It will ultimately get solved.” Trump said the relationship between the U.S. and North Korea was good but that he would continue looking into the reports. “It’s too early to see. But we have to solve a problem. We have a very nasty problem there,” Trump said.

TRUMP SAYS DEMS CAN'T DEFEAT HIM IN 2020 'LEGITIMATELY': Even as the 2020 race begins in earnest, President Donald Trump is already suggesting that Democrats cannot beat him fairly -- raising the specter that if he loses next November, he will suggest that the election was not legitimate (Cillizza, CNN). "The Democrats in Congress yesterday were vicious and totally showed their cards for everyone to see," Trump tweeted Tuesday, referring to House Democrats' launching of a broad-scale investigation into him. "When the Republicans had the Majority they never acted with such hatred and scorn! The Dems are trying to win an election in 2020 that they know they cannot legitimately win!" In each episode of his weekly YouTube show, Chris Cillizza will delve a little deeper into the surreal world of politics. Click to subscribe! Trump 2020 campaign press secretary Kayleigh McEnany echoed that sentiment in a statement on the Democratic investigations. "These desperate Democrats know they cannot beat President Trump in 2020, so instead they have embarked on a disgraceful witch hunt with one singular aim: topple the will of the American people and seize the power that they have zero chance at winning legitimately," she said.

INDYCAR RETURNING TO RELEVANCY: IndyCar is ready to go racing again after six long months spent solidifying the business side of the series as it executes a five-year plan aimed at continued growth (AP). Scott Dixon wrapped up his fifth IndyCar championship last September. The months since have seen IndyCar land new title sponsorship from Japanese communications giant NTT, the transition to a single steady television partner in NBC Sports and a continued push toward expanding the grid and making it easier for new teams to crack the series. “It feels good, like we have momentum again,” said Jay Frye, who was promoted to president of IndyCar in December. “There’s been a huge amount of work and it’s been an organized process that we believe is working.” The series opens Sunday in St. Petersburg, where Sebastien Bourdais will go for his third consecutive victory on the streets of the Florida city he calls home. The starting grid will consist of 19 veterans, five classified rookies and three drivers making their IndyCar debut. Among the newcomers are Felix Rosenqvist, the new teammate to Dixon at Chip Ganassi Racing, and Marcus Ericsson , who fills Robert Wickens’ seat at Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Santino Ferrucci (Dale Coyne Racing) and Colton Herta (Harding Steinbrenner Racing) are considered rookies but made at least one start last season.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: As I wrote last week, Michael Cohen is a liar who says he performed thuggish acts on behalf of Donald Trump numbering "500" in the 10 years of his employment (that's about one a week). But the one chilling thing he said last week before the House Oversight Committee was this: “Given my experience working for Mr Trump, I fear that if he loses the election in 2020 there will never be a peaceful transition of power.” On Wednesday, Trump said that Democrats "have zero chance at winning legitimately" in 2020. A candidate like Joe Biden can't win legitimately? Really? We've gone from campaigns talking about "rigged systems" to this, which is chilling, folks. - Brian A. Howey



Campaigns

BIDEN PREPARING RACE ENTRY IN APRIL: The pieces for a Joseph R. Biden Jr. presidential campaign are falling into place: His nucleus of advisers has begun offering campaign positions to seasoned Democratic strategists. They are eyeing a headquarters in Delaware or nearby Philadelphia and a launch date in the beginning of April. Mr. Biden’s family is on board — his wife, Jill, enthusiastically so (New York Times). Mr. Biden has also been privately reaching out to a range of influential Democrats, including party donors, members of Congress and allies in the early primary states, to gauge their support. A pillar of organized labor, the International Association of Fire Fighters, is prepared to support him in the Democratic primary. And in recent weeks, Mr. Biden’s strategist, Steve Ricchetti, has called a handful of would-be candidates and their aides to signal that the former vice president is likely to enter the race and of late has been telling Democrats that he’s 95 percent committed to running, according to officials directly familiar with the discussions.

DONNELLY PASSES ON ENDORSING BUTTIGIEG: Former U.S. Sen. Hoe Donnelly knows many of the Democrats now running for President. He knows one particularly well (Montgomery, WSBT-TV). "South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg -- do you support his run for President?" asked Montgomery. "There are so many good people right now who can fill that role,” replied Donnelly. “He certainly has done a good job as mayor of South Bend, and he's a friend of mine, and I've supported him in his efforts." That's as far as it goes, though. Donnelly would not endorse Buttigieg's possible candidacy for the Oval Office. He would not endorse anyone, at this point. Donnelly did, however, have glowing things to say about former colleague and former Vice President Joe Biden. Without hesitation, he said Biden will absolutely run.

BUTTIGIEG URGING HOST PARTIES: South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is urging supporters to host watch parties for his 9 p.m. Sunday CNN Town Hall (Howey Politics Indiana). "At the same time, supporters all across the country are hosting watch parties to begin building community around our bold vision for the future. Take a look to see if there's a watch party in your community: https://events.mobilizeamerica.io/peteforamerica. We have several goals for the weekend. I wanted to fill you in on them and provide concrete ways you can help. First: I want to make you proud. This one's on me, and it's sort of cheesy to say, but it's true. I want to make you proud. Whether you are on our Grassroots Fundraising Team, share things on social media, are a donor, have joined us in-person at an event in your community, or have told one person about our vision -- I am so grateful. I hope that I make you proud of the work you are doing, and that you'll continue to be an enthusiastic member of our community. Second: We need to expand our donor group. This one we need to do together. We've said this here before but, the DNC announced that in order to be invited to the first candidate debate in June, we'll need to have the support of 65,000 unique donors. We're not quite there yet, and there's no other way to say this: I need your help. Please make a $2 contribution and be one of our 65,000 donors."

MORNING CONSULT GIVES BUTTIGIEG 1% CHANCE FOR NOMINATION: In the polls: Morning Consult gives South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard each a 1 percent chance of winning the Democratic nominating contests (IndyStar). That's better odds than Rep. John Delaney, who registers at 0 percent. But then, former VP Joe Biden is listed as the most likely winner, with 31 percent - and he hasn't even declared whether he's running.

DEMS TARGETING BROOKS: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will announce today that they are hiring nearly five dozen field staffers in a few dozen battleground areas, including in Indiana, as part of a multimillion-dollar effort (IndyStar). Their investment is focused on unseating U.S. Rep Susan Brooks, who was on the DCCC's 2020 Republican Retirement Watch List and is one of its initial 2020 targets. Another group targets Brooks: Brooks made it on another list this past week. The abortion rights group EMILY's List put Brooks and 42 other House Republicans on its list of targets, which doesn't target any other Indiana legislators.

KNOX COUNTY MAY REVERT BACK TO PAPER BALLOTS: Election officials in a southwestern Indiana county are expected to consider whether to save money by not using voting machines during an upcoming primary vote. Knox County Clerk David Shelton says that going "old school" and using paper ballots would save nearly $1,500 that would typically be spent to program voting machines (AP). The single-race City Council primary with two Democratic candidates is May 7. Shelton is proposing that the county make ballots that include the names of the candidates running in Vincennes District 1 and voters "will just make their mark." Following the election, Shelton says the votes would be hand-counted. Shelton estimates about 75 voters will cast ballots. The Election Board meets Thursday to discuss the issue as well as the upcoming election.

DNC BARS FOX NEWS FROM HOSTING DEBATES: The Democratic National Committee has decided to exclude Fox News Channel from televising any of its candidate debates during the 2019-2020 cycle as a result of published revelations detailing the cable network’s close ties to the Trump administration (Washington Post). In a statement Wednesday, DNC Chairman Tom Perez cited a story in the New Yorker magazine this week that detailed how Fox has promoted President Trump’s agenda. The article, titled “The Making of the Fox News White House,” suggested that the news network had become a “propaganda” vehicle for Trump. “I believe that a key pathway to victory is to continue to expand our electorate and reach all voters,” said Perez in his statement to The Washington Post. “That is why I have made it a priority to talk to a broad array of potential media partners, including Fox News.

RASMUSSEN POLL SHOWS 54% FAVOR LEGALIZED MARIJUANA: A bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate that would legalize marijuana nationally, and most voters like the idea. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 54% of Likely U.S. Voters favor legalization of marijuana nationwide. Thirty-seven percent (37%) are opposed.

General Assembly

HOTELIERS OPPOSE CONVENTION CENTER HOTEL: Some of the biggest hotel operators in Indianapolis are opposing legislation that would pave the way for development of 1,400 Hilton-branded rooms downtown (Erdody, IBJ). The hoteliers, including well-known industry leaders White Lodging Services Corp. Chairman Bruce White and General Hotels Corp. CEO Jim Dora Jr., argue that the city would not be able to absorb the 800-room and 600-room hotels planned by Kite Realty Group Trust alongside the $120 million proposed expansion of the the Indiana Convention Center at Pan Am Plaza. Funding for the project is tied to a bill that's aimed at keeping the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis for at least another 25 years and gives the Capital Improvement Board an additional $15 million annually through various tax funds. The CIB says it needs the revenue in order to replace the $8 million in operating revenue that it plans to redirect to pay off bonds for the convention center expansion. Plus, it is looking ahead to future projects, such as renovating Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The bill passed the Indiana Senate and has moved to the House for consideration. The group of hoteliers sent a letter on Tuesday explaining their concerns to the four leaders of the Indiana General Assembly—Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma, Republican Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta and Democratic Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane—and is publishing a full-page ad in IBJ's next print edition, scheduled for Friday delivery. The letter is signed by executives from White Lodging Services Corp., General Hotels Corp., Summit Hotel Properties, HRC Hotels, Columbia Sussex Corp., Schahet Hotels, Host Indianapolis LP, Ashford, SWVP Indy LLC and REI Real Estate Services.

PUSH FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY: Eight organizations rallied at the statehouse Wednesday for policies that support renewable energy in Indiana (Thiele, Indiana Public Media). They’re backing a House Bill 1331 that prevents homeowners associations from banning solar installations, forcing property owners to remove them, or making unreasonable restrictions on them. Environmentalists also oppose House Bill 1470 that would allow utilities to more quickly recover the cost of certain projects from customer’s bills. They say it’s been the subject of state court battles where utilities got money for projects that weren’t part of their initial plans. Though some renewable energy legislation failed to advance this session, speakers at the rally told attendees not to give up hope. “We need to remember that we’ve been faced with very challenging situations in the past in this country and we’ve met them,” says Janet McCabe with Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute. McCabe cited how switching to unleaded gasoline quickly brought down children’s blood lead levels. Sen. J.D. Ford (D-Indianapolis) says he’s not ready to give up on a bill that would give people with solar panels more money for delivering excess energy to the grid. The bipartisan bill didn’t get a hearing in the Senate utilities committee. It’s chaired by Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) who passed the original law to phase down net metering. But Ford says he’s going to try to add the language of his bill into a House amendment. “I reject the General Assembly’s attempt and inability to accept legislation that will better support renewable energy,” he says.

BRYCE'S BILL ADVANCES: Another big step for Bryce's Battle! After testimony in the house, the Public Health committee passed Senate Bill 41, which adds Krabbe Disease to newborn screens, unanimously 13-0 (WTHR-TV). The Clausen family has been pushing for a change in Indiana law since the heartbreaking diagnosis of their young son, Bryce. Less than two weeks after the Clausens shared their story with Eyewitness News, lawmakers took action. Senator Mike Young (R - Indianapolis) authored the bill. "This is why we're here! This is why we're legislators is to be able to help our citizens when they need help! This is the most rewarding and the most powerful thing that we can do for the people we represent in our state," Young said.

SEN. BASSLER TO FOCUS ON BUDGET: With lawmakers back in Indianapolis, the Indiana General Assembly has begun the second half of the long session. Bills have come out of their house of origin and either were advanced to the other chamber or died. With the bills moving forward, that also means that for some lawmakers, the focus of the session changes (Grant, Washington Times-Herald). State Senator Eric Bassler,-R of Washington, says that with his position on the Senate Appropriations Committee, a lot of his focus will now go to the budget. "For the Appropriations Committee, this is where the real work begins," said Bassler. "We have a 200 page budget document that we need to go through and make decisions on." The budget includes $611 million new dollars for education. While the bill doesn't specifically tell school corporations how to spend the money, legislators have expressed a desire to see some of the money go to pay for teacher raises. "Having the legislature tell the school districts exactly what to pay teachers is problematic so we are trying to come up with other creative ways to help," Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said.

LEGISLATORS PACK MEALS FOR KIDS: The Indiana House of Representatives and the Indiana Division of The Salvation Army joined forces at the Statehouse Wednesday to fill backpacks with donated food items to help feed hungry kids across Indiana (Howey Politics Indiana). In January, House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis) and House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) selected The Salvation Army as their bipartisan philanthropy project for the 2019 legislative session to help raise awareness for childhood hunger. As part of this effort, House lawmakers launched a food and backpack donation drive collecting over 200 backpacks and more than 5,300 healthy snacks and kid-friendly food items. “Many children in need go without meals, especially over the weekend, when they don’t have access to school provided breakfast and lunch,” Bosma said. “By working together with the Salvation Army, we hope our actions encourage others to help fill the gap for those who need it most. Whether you donate to a local school’s backpack program, food bank or the Salvation Army, Hoosiers have the power to make a positive difference.”



Congress

BANKS DISCUSSES BUDGET DEFICIT, SPENDING WITH TRUMP: U.S. Rep. Jim Banks said he and other House Republicans met with President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday to discuss a federal budget proposal (Francisco, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Banks, R-3rd, is chairman of the Republican Study Committee Budget and Spending Task Force, which will recommend a fiscal 2020 spending plan to the Democratic House. “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," Banks said in a statement. Banks said the Republican Study Committee, a caucus of 140 conservative GOP House members, will propose a balanced budget for consideration by the entire House. The Treasury Department announced Tuesday that the federal budget deficit grew to $310 billion during the first quarter of fiscal 2019, a 77 percent jump from the same period a year earlier.

YOUNG, KAINE SEEK END TO IRAQ CAMPAIGNS: U.S. Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) introduced a bipartisan bill to repeal the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iraq (Howey Politics Indiana). The legislation will formally end the authorizations for the Gulf and Iraq wars – 28 and 17 years, respectively, after these AUMFs were first passed, reasserting Congress’ vital role in not only declaring wars, but in ending them. The repeal of these authorizations also recognizes the strong partnership the United States now has with a sovereign, democratic Iraq. “There is no obligation more sobering than considering an authorization for the use of military force, and it is critical that Congress exercise robust oversight once authorities have been granted. As a young high school student, I enlisted in the Navy mere weeks before the Gulf War began. Now, 28 years later, those war authorities are still active and still in law. This illustrates the level of Congressional failure to perform its Constitutionally mandated oversight role” said Senator Young. “Today, Senator Tim Kaine and I have introduced bipartisan legislation that repeals these outdated authorities, sending a strong message that Congress is finally taking back its Article One responsibility. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Foreign Relations Committee to advance this legislation and have this important debate.”

YOUNG, BRAUN CONGRATULATE YOUTH DELEGATES: U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) today congratulated Ishaan Modi from Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, and William Schrepferman from Zionsville Community High School in Zionsville, for being selected as Indiana’s delegates in the United States Senate Youth Program (Howey Politics Indiana). Ishaan and William traveled to Washington with high schoolers from across the country to participate in the 57th annual USSYP Washington Week. The two Hoosier students will also receive a $10,000 college scholarship for their undergraduate studies to further their interests in public service. “Every year, the United States Senate Youth Program selects students with a strong interest in public service to participate in the program’s Washington Week and receive a scholarship that will help open doors to more educational opportunities,” said Senator Young. “I’m very proud of Ishaan and William’s hard work and dedication to serving Hoosiers.” “Ishaan and William have displayed an excellence in leadership and academia, and we are proud to have such upstanding young individuals representing Indiana in the U.S. Senate Youth Program,” said Senator Braun. “These valuable young Hoosiers’ commitment to their communities and their desire to serve our country through public service is admirable.”  

BANKS, McCARTHY STATEMENTS ON APPOINTMENTS: U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) released the following statements regarding Rep. Banks’ selection to serve on both the U.S. Naval Academy’s Board of Visitors, as well as the United States Delegation to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Parliamentary Assembly. Said Rep. Banks, “Officers graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy are the future leaders that our country will rely upon for safety and security, and I’m grateful to play a role in ensuring they are well-equipped and prepared.  I could not be more honored that Speaker Pelosi selected me to serve on the USNA’s Board of Visitors to help contribute to this prestigious institution of higher learning and naval excellence.

WALORSKI EYES INFRASTRUCTURE: U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today in a Ways and Means Committee hearing called for a focus on boosting financing to revitalize our nation’s infrastructure and addressing burdensome regulations that hinder infrastructure projects (Howey Politics Indiana). “I have one of the largest manufacturing districts in the country,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “We need to stop using budget gimmicks to keep the Highway Trust Fund afloat. We need to focus our energies on financing infrastructure projects with a sustainable funding stream while also addressing burdensome regulations and permitting requirements that run up costs and delay projects.”

BUCSHON CONDEMNS DEMS ON INTERNET: U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D. (IN-08) released the following statement in response to Democrats introducing legislation to slow internet growth (Howey Politics Indiana): “In 2015, under the Obama Administration, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) abandoned the light-touch regulatory approach to internet governance that both parties had previously pursued for almost two decades. Instead of working toward 21st century solutions to moderate 21st century high tech companies, they opted for an antiquated regulatory scheme designed for the monopoly telephone carriers of the 1930s. This caused investment in internet services to fall by 5.6%, or $3.6 billion. “It is absolutely critical in a world and economy that is increasingly dependent on broadband internet access that we close the digital divide– especially for those who live in rural America. That is why in 2017, under Chairman Ajit Pai’s leadership, the FCC adopted a rule restoring the light-touch approach to internet regulation, clearing the way for further innovation and investment that ensures a vibrant and competitive marketplace exists.

DONNELLY SEES TOXIC ATMOSPHERE IN CONGRESS: Joe Donnelly represented northern Indiana in the House of Representatives for three terms before moving to the Senate for a six-year term. That's a dozen years in Washington for the Democrat, known for being a bipartisan voice (WSBT-TV). Now, Donnelly is on the outside watching what's happening inside the beltway as policy arguments and controversies grow. WSBT 22's Bob Montgomery sat down with the former politician who still calls the South Bend area home. You can watch the full interview below. "The viewers may not agree, but I saw my daughter last night, and she said, 'You look 10 years younger!’" said Donnelly with a chuckle. As the laughter quickly faded, Donnelly got serious: "That's something I wish I could change, so much of it is pointless." "Is it as bad now as you've seen it?" asked Montgomery. "Yes, because what happens is -- and it can come from leadership -- it's about the 'win' as opposed to what's right for the country," said Donnelly.

RUBIO CALLS MBS 'FULL GANGSTER': Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday accused Saudi Arabia’s powerful crown prince of going “full gangster” and urged the Trump administration’s nominee for ambassador to Riyadh to hold the country accountable for human rights abuses (Politico). The comments by Rubio (R-Fla.) drew agreement from others on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and underscored the ongoing bipartisan frustration among U.S. lawmakers with the oil-rich Arab kingdom. “He’s gone full gangster,” Rubio said of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who’s commonly called MBS. He further said the Saudi royal was “reckless, ruthless” and “increasingly willing to test the limits of what he can get away with.”

SEN. McSALLY WAS RAPED WHILE IN AIR FORCE: Sen. Martha McSally, a former fighter pilot, says she was raped while serving in the military (Washington Post). McSally revealed Wednesday that she was raped by a superior officer while serving in the Air Force, telling a Senate Armed Services subcommittee that she shares 'the disgust of the failures of the military system and many commanders who failed in their responsibilities.' McSally (R-Ariz.), the country's first female fighter pilot to fly in combat, made the revelation during a hearing on preventing sexual assault in the military. "Like you, I am also a military sexual assault survivor,' McSally said, addressing several witnesses set to testify at the hearing about their own assaults while serving in the military. 'But unlike so many brave survivors, I didn't report being sexually assaulted. Like so many women and men, I didn't trust the system at the time.' McSally told the panel that she blamed herself, was 'ashamed and confused,' and felt powerless about what happened to her."

OMAR CONTROVERSY CLIPS PELOSI: With the fallout over Rep. Ilhan Omar’s controversial comments paralyzing House Democrats, Speaker Nancy Pelosi found herself on the floor Wednesday afternoon asking some of her closest allies what exactly she should do (Politico). For 20 minutes, Pelosi huddled with senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus — House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina and Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, and Karen Bass and Barbara Lee of California — to try to determine what kind of resolution the CBC would back that rejected Omar’s remarks about Israel without unfairly singling her out. It’s a balance that Pelosi and her deputies initially failed to reach when a draft resolution began circulating Monday night. And it’s a surprising scenario for the veteran Democratic leader, who has long prided herself on an intrinsic understanding of her caucus but who now finds herself struggling to clean up the latest political mess created by a high-profile member of the freshman class.



State

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SAYS HOOSIERS ARE 'SKILLING UP' - Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb is attending his first meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board in Washington D.C. today, where he will announce that more Hoosiers are achieving education and training beyond high school (McLaughlin, Inside Indiana Business). Holcomb says the rise is, in part, due to his Next Level Jobs initiative (. According to data from Lumina Foundation, the number of Hoosiers with higher education reached 43.4 percent in 2018, bringing Indiana closer to its 60 percent attainment goal by 2025. Next Level Jobs provides tuition-free certificates in high-demand fields and funding for employers who hire, train and retain new employees. “Indiana’s greatest asset is our people, and my focus is on ensuring all Hoosiers have the tools they need to find meaningful work and careers,” Holcomb said in a news release. “I’m thrilled to see Indiana gaining ground. We will continue to support those seeking education and training, so that everyone has a pathway to success."

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB ON WORKFORCE BOARD - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb offered the following statement regarding the first meeting of the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board in Washington D.C. (Howey Politics Indiana): “Strengthening our workforce is one of the most important things we’ve undertaken. In Indiana, we are meeting today’s workforce needs while also preparing for tomorrow’s economy. It takes an all-in approach and I’m excited to work with the President’s administration and other leaders from around the country to ensure every Hoosier has access to the education and training they need to finding fulfilling careers.”

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB THANKS TRUMP - Gov. Eric Holcomb thanked President Donald Trump for granting Indiana a waiver to adapt its workforce development council (IndyStar). "I just want to express another debt of gratitude for trusting us," Holcomb said. "...As you continue to trust us, the states, to own it and to prove it, we will show America what works and what doesn't.  And that will take us to the next level."

GAMING: SPECTACLE EXPECTED TO GAIN GARY CASINOS FRIDAY - The Indiana Gaming Commission will consider casino ownership transfers related to plans for a gambling venue in Terre Haute when it meets Friday, according to the meeting’s agenda (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). At issue is a proposal for Spectacle Gaming LLC to acquire the licenses of the Majestic Star I and II casinos in Gary. Spectacle, lead by Terre Haute businessman Greg Gibson and Rod Ratcliff, former chief executive officer of Centaur Gaming, hope to relocate both casinos from Lake Michigan, with one going to an inland location in Gary and the other possibly to Terre Haute. But the Gaming Commission can act only on the transfer of ownership. Any relocation will require a change in state law. The commission is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m. in Suite 850 of the Indiana Chamber Conference Center South Tower at 115 W. Washington St. in Indianapolis. The ownership transfer is the final item listed on the agenda.

ISP: TROOPER'S SON DESCRIBED SHOOTING - We have new information tonight (Wednesday) about what lead up to a shooting of an Indiana State trooper, allegedly perpetrated by his son. WSBT 22 filed a public record request for court documents after his 11-year-old son was arrested. The boy told police he had been planning the shooting since school that day. The boy is now facing charges of attempted murder in juvenile court. Documents show how the boy got a hold of his father's gun to do it. That was the scene February 22 after police got a call that an 11-year-old boy allegedly shot his father, Indiana State Trooper Matthew Makowski. Court documents obtained by WSBT 22 state the boy was angry because his parents took his video games away.

He told police he had been thinking about shooting his father since school and devised a plan because "He was done with all of that" and "wanted it to end." Makowski told police that his son shot him and that "he must have retrieved his firearm from his parked vehicle outside of the home." That's exactly what the boy told police. He went to his dad's car three different times to look for the trooper's firearm. The boy says he went into his parent's bedroom with the gun and decided to wait "about 10 minutes" until his dad rolled over and was facing away from the door so that "he wouldn't see me shooting him." When Makowski began screaming, his wife went to look for her son and found her husband's duty weapon on the floor. She took the gun but saw her son walking up the stairs with a BB Gun and his dad's taser. That's when she locked the door and called police. Court documents say the boy told officers he wanted a Play Station, an XBox and a computer, and if he didn't get them, there would be a "part 2."

ISP: TROOPER WON'T FACE CHARGES IN SHOOTING - The wife of Glenn Rightsell, who was shot and killed by a state trooper back in December 2018, has learned that the trooper will not be charged in the case (WTHR-TV). According to a report from Montgomery County Prosecutor Joe Buser, he laid out a chronology of events relating to the shooting incident and was unable to find sufficient evidence to "disprove a claim of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt." Photos released by Rightsell's family showed at least three bullet holes in the broken-down Chevy Tahoe that he was working on the night of December 28 when Glenn was shot and killed by Trooper Daniel Organ along U.S. 231 south of Linden. During the investigation, Trooper Organ told authorities that he saw a holstered pistol on Rightsell's right hip and he fired his gun after Rightsell refused to comply with verbal commands and reached for a gun on his waist.

EDUCATION: VU TO OFFER COMPUTER SCIENCE DEGREE - Vincennes University will offer a new computer science degree program to fill a growing need for skilled computing positions. The new program will be offered at the Vincennes and Jasper campuses, and online through VU Distance Education (Inside Indiana Business). Code.org reports Indiana has nearly 5,000 open computing jobs, which is over three times the average demand rate in the state. The average salary for a computing job in Indiana is over $74,000, which is much higher than the state average of $42,940. “The CS degree program will open the door for students to earn a degree that will put them on the path to obtain a career in a high-demand, high-wage industry,” said Jaci Lederman, chair of VU’s Information Technology Department.

EDUCATION: SBOE APPROVES NAVRRE MS PLAN -  The Indiana State Board of Education voted Wednesday to approve a contentious proposal that would allow the South Bend Community Schools Corporation to try to improve one of its worst-performing schools (St. Martin, South Bend Tribune). The board’s approval means that South Bend officials have until April 15 to develop a detailed plan to create a so-called “transformation zone” to improve performance at Navarre Middle School. Without that plan, Navarre — which has received failing marks from the state for six consecutive years — could be subject to a takeover or closure by state education officials. South Bend school board President John Anella addressed the state board Wednesday, as did Todd Cummings, the district's deputy superintendent. Both said the district is committed to the "transformation" process, which would involve handing control of Navarre over to an outside management agency. Four other elementary schools — Coquillard, Harrison, Warren and Wilson — would also be part of the zone, although the district would retain control over those schools. The costs of establishing the "zone," which could begin next school year, are expected to paid for by federal school improvement grants.

EDUCATION: COUPLE GIVES NOTRE DAME $20M - South Bend native John Baumer and his wife, Mollie, have made a $20 million gift to the university for construction of Baumer Hall, a men’s residence hall that will open in August, the university announced Wednesday (South Bend Tribune). John Baumer is a 1990 Notre Dame graduate and Mollie Baumer is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College. They now live in California. John Baumer grew up in South Bend, where his father, Fred Baumer, worked as Notre Dame’s comptroller for 21 years. The younger Baumer earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Notre Dame and a master of business administration degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. He is a senior partner at Leonard Green & Partners of Los Angeles, a private equity firm.

CRIME: TIME RATES SPIERER DISAPPEARANCE TOP 5 MYSTERY - The disappearance of Indiana University student Lauren Spierer is getting attention from TIME magazine as one of the "5 Most Mysterious Unsolved Disappearances of All Time." Spierer was 20 years old when she went missing on June 3, 2011. She was last seen out with friends at a Bloomington bar, then captured on surveillance video leaving an apartment at 4:30 a.m. Police suspect foul play, but have never made any arrests. The rest of the TIME list is made up of some of the most high-profile disappearances in history, including pilot Amelia Earhart, notorious criminal D.B. Cooper, Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa and the vanishing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

Nation

WHITE HOUSE: FRIENDLY FIRE AT TRUMP FROM DOBBS, DRUDGE - Two of Trump's most reliable media allies — Fox Business host Lou Dobbs and Matt Drudge — called him out last night over the direction of his administration (Axios). Trump’s favorite TV host, Lou Dobbs, fired a warning shot at the president last evening after Trump hosted CEOs and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at the White House, Jonathan Swan writes. Trump can usually expect adoring coverage from Dobbs. Dobbs not only whacked Trump for cozying up to the business establishment, but urged viewers to call the White House to say how far the president has run off track. "I'd like to share a few thoughts," Dobbs said, about "what could very likely be a catastrophe for the working men and women, small business and entrepreneurs, our middle class, the American family." Matt Drudge used this banner over a WashPost story reporting that Trump's administration "has been on a pronounced losing streak over the past week."

WHITE HOUSE: COATS, HAPSEL PUSH BACK ON INTEL REPORTS - Two of America’s top intelligence officials issued a rare rebuke of some media reports about President Donald Trump’s intelligence briefings, saying they contained assertions that "are false, unproductive and harmful to our nation’s security" (ABC News). "Speculation, including that from former and unnamed intelligence officers, about what occurs in our Oval Office briefings is wrong," according to a joint statement from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and CIA Director Gina Haspel, which was provided to ABC News. "Simply put, these anonymous sources are not there as we deliver timely, unbiased intelligence and work alongside an engaged and knowledgeable President on the most complex national security issues." Spokespeople for both the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA declined to comment about the reports to which Coats and Haspel were referring, what was incorrect in those reports or what prompted the statement. In a statement to ABC News, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, "The President values his national security and intelligence teams and is proud of the accomplishments they have had in these first two years."

WHITE HOUSE: RUSSIAN STATE MEDIA CALLS TRUMP A 'CLOWN' - Russian state television had a field day following President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korea, hailing the meeting as a significant achievement for the Asian nation’s leader Kim Jong Un and a failure for the U.S. (Newsweek). Gleb Ivashentsev, Russia’s former ambassador to North Korea, shared high praise for Kim on Russia’s version of 60 Minutes. He hailed the 35-year-old leader as having achieved more than his father and grandfather before him “by forcing the head of the largest imperialist nation to negotiate with him as an equal,” The Daily Beast reported Tuesday. Konstantin Asmolov, an expert from the Center for Korean Studies, argued that Kim had little motivation to make an agreement with Trump, as he soon may not be in charge. “If Kim conceded anything, then Trump’s successor might say that everything that this clown [Trump] has signed was not in our [U.S.] national interests and then Kim would end up in [Muammar el-] Qaddafi’s position,” Asmolov told The Daily Beast, referring to the overthrown and killed former leader of Libya.

WHITE HOUSE: PENCE AT AEI - AEI is a holding its secretive Republican gathering at the luxury Sea Island resort in Georgia this week (Politico Playbook). Guest list is confidential, but I'm told VP Pence, Sec of State Mike Pompeo and Jared Kushner will be among the Trump admin leaders mingling with the VIP guests. Here are the other VIPs expected to attend, per a list: Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), GOP Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), John Cornyn (Texas), Tom Cotton (Ark.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah), Rob Portman (Ohio), Tim Scott (S.C.), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Martha McSally (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Cory Gardner (Colo.) and David Perdue (Ga.) and Republican Reps. Dan Crenshaw (Texas), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), Fred Upton (Mich.) and Will Hurd (Texas), Democratic Reps. Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Jimmy Panetta (Calif.), Tom Suozzi (N.Y.) and Jim Himes (Conn.), Colombian VP Marta Lucia, Kevin Hassett and former VP Dick Cheney.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - President Trump is meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at 11 a.m. in the Oval Office. He is having lunch with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at 12:30 p.m. in the private dining room. Trump and first lady Melania Trump will meet with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his wife at 1:55 p.m. in the Oval Office. At 2:15 p.m., Trump and Babiš will participate in an expanded bilateral meeting in the Cabinet Room. Trump will meet with acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan at 4 p.m. in the Oval Office. The president will participate in a photo op with the 2019 Senate Youth Program at 5 p.m. in the East Room.

AGRICULTURE: McKINNEY CALLS FOR TARIFF REMOVAL - USDA Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney is in Mexico this week for their largest food and drink trade show in Guadalajara. He is joining U.S. companies who made the trip in an effort to increase export sales. McKinney said that the trip was successful from that standpoint, and he received plenty of feedback regarding USMCA, the trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada to replace NAFTA (Pfeiffer, Hoosier Ag Today). “We heard a lot of people, not just our US friends but their customers, being very upbeat about USMCA. Both the likelihood of its passage down here and how the agreement came out in the end. That was uplifting to me.” McKinney echoed Secretary Perdue’s message from last week regarding the steel and aluminum tariffs levied against Mexico and Canada and the hope that they are removed quickly. He says many don’t understand that the tariffs were put in place because the steel and aluminum industry in the U.S. was on “life support”. “And that’s not good for a country like the U.S. But time has passed. Our understanding is that the health of those industries has been restored at some level. So, let’s just get them lifted, particularly on our USMCA partners, and see trade restored. Now there’s still been a lot of trade north of the border and south of the border, but the margins are almost nonexistent, and you can only do that for so long.”

MUELLER: COHEN PROVIDES NEW DOCUS ON TRUMP FALSE TESTIMONY - Michael D. Cohen on Wednesday provided new documents to the House Intelligence Committee that he said illustrated changes made at the request of President Trump’s lawyers to a knowingly false written statement that he delivered to Congress in 2017, according to three people familiar with the matter (Washington Post). Mr. Cohen, in what is expected to be his last visit to Capitol Hill, brought multiple drafts of his 2017 statement along with emails with Mr. Trump’s lawyers about its drafting, hoping to back up claims that he made last week at an open hearing before the House Oversight and Reform Committee. In that session, Mr. Cohen testified that there were “changes made, additions” to the original written statement, including about the length of negotiations over a proposed Trump Tower project in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign. It was not immediately clear how many changes were made by Mr. Trump’s lawyers, including Jay Sekulow, or how drastic those changes were. Two of the people familiar with the documents, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the closed-door session, said that at least some of the changes appeared to play down the knowledge of the president’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, about the project. At the very least, the exchange between Mr. Cohen and the president’s lawyers suggests that the lawyers had detailed knowledge of what he was going to tell Congress. Mr. Cohen said last week that though Mr. Trump did not explicitly direct him to lie, he “made clear to me” through his actions that “he wanted me to lie.”

Local

CITIES: WIFE OF SLAIN FIREFIGHTER IN COURT -  The wife of the Evansville firefighter shot to death last week made her first court appearance Wednesday morning (Fater, Evansville Courier & Press). Elizabeth Fox-Doerr, 47, of Evansville, was arrested Tuesday on a preliminary charge of obstruction of justice. Her bond was set at $3,000 cash during the Wednesday hearing. Doerr's initial hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday in Vanderburgh Superior Court. By that date, the Vanderburgh County Prosecutor’s Office will decide whether or not to file formal charges. 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. No one has been named as a suspect or person of interest in Robbie Doerr's death. Police are investigating the fatal shooting as a homicide.

CITIES: MUNCIE PD CHIEF SUIT V. TYLER SETTLED - Former Muncie Police Chief Steve Stewart’s federal lawsuit against Mayor Dennis Tyler and the city has been resolved through an out-of-court settlement, according to a court document (Walker, Muncie Star Press). In a Tuesday order in the U.S. District Court case, Magistrate Judge Tim A. Baker wrote the court had been “advised by counsel that a settlement has been reached in this action.” Attorneys were directed to file a “stipulation of dismissal within 28 days.” Stewart’s suit – filed in November 2017 – alleged Tyler and former Democratic Party chairman Phil Nichols tried to badger Stewart into ordering a Muncie police investigation of a city employee believed to be cooperating with a FBI probe of Tyler’s administration. The federal investigation led to the arrest – and ultimately the convictions, on counts of money laundering and wire fraud – of Nichols’ son, Craig, who was Tyler’s building commissioner.

CITIES: 22 INJURED IN AURORA SCHOOL BUS CRASH - A school bus collided with a garbage truck in Indiana on Wednesday, seriously injuring one student and leaving 22 other people hurt, authorities said (AP). Preliminary information indicates that 18 students, the bus driver and the driver of the garbage truck were injured in the crash, said Indiana State Police Sgt. Stephen Wheeles. Aerial photos from the scene show the front of the bus smashed into the back of the garbage truck. Wheeles said the crash occurred around 8 a.m. near Aurora, a city about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of Cincinnati. The bus driver and most of the students needed treatment for minor injuries and pain, he said.

CITIES: FORT WAYNE COPS IN ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING - Fort Wayne Police Department has named the two veteran officers involved in an accidental shooting at the Public Safety Academy (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Scott "Kerry" Haywood, an officer since 1994, was the officer who accidentally discharged his weapon Tuesday around 4 p.m. at the conclusion of a training seminar, according to Michael Joyner, the police department's public information officer. Haywood had surgery to his left hand after he was transported to a local hospital. The bullet grazed the leg of officer Kurt Franceus, who was also transported to a hospital. The bullet did not penetrate his leg, Joyner said.

COUNTIES: LAKE COMMISSIONERS TO MAKE FAIRGROUND IMPROVEMENTS -  The Lake County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday moved forward with plans to improve power and building infrastructure at the county fairgrounds ahead of this year’s fair (Racke, NWI Times). Commissioners awarded a contract to Highland-based James F. Giannini & Associates to draw up specifications for burying power lines that are currently suspended on utility poles along one of the entrances to the property. Many of the poles are rotted and unstable, creating a danger to fairgoers, according to Commissioner Jerry Tippy, R-Schererville. "The whole thing could fall down," he told The Times, noting that some of the utility poles swayed noticeably when pushed.