ALABAMA JAIL GUARD KILLS HERSELF IN EVANSVILLE: A former Alabama jail official on the run with a murder suspect she was accused of helping escape shot and killed herself Monday as authorities caught up with the pair after more than a week of searching, officials said. The man she fled with surrendered (AP). The death of Vicky White, 56, only deepened the mystery of why a respected jail official would leave everything to help free Casey White, 38, a hulking inmate with a violent and frightening history. The two fugitives were caught — following a manhunt through three states — in Evansville, Indiana, when U.S. Marshals chasing them crashed into their vehicle, authorities said. Casey White gave himself up and Vicky White shot herself and was taken to a hospital, authorities said. Vanderburgh County Coroner Steve Lockyear said she died from her injuries. Before Vicky White’s death, authorities celebrated the fugitives’ apprehension. “We got a dangerous man off the street today. He is never going to see the light of day again. That is a good thing, for not just our community. That’s a good thing for our country,” Lauderdale County Sheriff Rick Singleton of Alabama said.

 

LACY RESIGNED AFTER BMV MELTDOWN: Former BMV Commissioner Peter Lacy's sudden resignation last month came one day after he appeared intoxicated during an executive meeting, slurring his words, acting confused and making an off-color comment (Cook & Lange, IndyStar). Current and former staffers told IndyStar it was just the latest in a long list of inappropriate behavior that created a toxic environment for employees at the BMV's central office, especially women. Lacy made crude sexual references that left employees feeling uncomfortable, staffers said. He berated staff over minor issues and easily became irate, screaming and sometimes throwing objects in a fit of anger. Peter Lacy, who headed the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, resigned suddenly April 27, a month before the departure date Gov. Eric Holcomb had previously announced. The resignation came a day after Lacy appeared intoxicated at a BMV leadership meeting. The problems persisted for years, even though the the governor's office knew of concerns about Lacy's drinking and employees said they reported his anger issues and vulgar comments. Despite the well-documented history, Lacy was never suspended or terminated. Rather, Gov. Eric Holcomb allowed him to resign after the latest indiscretion, ensuring any disciplinary issues or complaints in Lacy's personnel file remain sealed from the public. Current and former employees told IndyStar they believe the governor's office and state human resources officers failed to hold Lacy accountable because of his powerful family, whose members have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Republican candidates and political committees. Anyone else, they said, would have been fired or suspended long ago.  Holcomb declined to answer IndyStar's questions about why Lacy's inappropriate behavior was allowed to persist, what actions he took to address it and why Lacy was allowed to resign.  Instead, his spokeswoman responded with a brief statement. "Gov. Holcomb accepted Commissioner Lacy’s resignation and Peter left the agency," she said. "The governor will not and does not discuss specific personnel matters."

 

MICHIANA FENTANYL SPIKE FINDS LETHAL DRUG IN MARIJUANA: America’s war on drugs continues as the CDC recently announced more than 100,000 drug overdose deaths in the US over the past year, the most ever recorded. A huge contributor to that number – fentanyl (Karsten, WNDU-TV). “We definitely have a problem with fentanyl in Michiana,” responds Alicia Wells, Director of Public Relations for Allendale Treatment and Ft. Wayne Recovery. She is also the co-founder of Recover Michiana Fest. A synthetic opioid, that is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, is being added into drugs already infiltrating our community. “It is in pretty much everything on the street and people who have no tolerance to it, if they take any of it, even 2 mg can be fatal,” explains Nate Moellering. Moellering is the Community Outreach Director for Allendale Treatment and Ft. Wayne Recovery. “I’ve had a patient in the last month that overdosed thinking they were using marijuana and there was fentanyl in it,” adds Dr. Brandon Zabukovic with Primary Care Partners of South Bend. “Fentanyl is killing individuals at a faster speed than any other substance has,” says Wells.

 

PLAINFIELD COPS FIND 6.5 POUNDS OF FENTANYL DURING TRAFFIC STOP: Plainfield Police announced a substantial fentanyl drug bust Monday and issued a warning, calling it a "very serious, addictive and deadly drug" that the police department has seen firsthand destroy families and communities (WTHR-TV). The Plainfield Police Department said Officer Michael Murray was near the intersection of Perry Road and State Road 267, which is just north of Interstate 70, early in the morning on Wednesday, May 4.  When officers searched the car, they found 6.5 pounds of suspected fentanyl pills, two guns and what police described as "a large amount" of money.

 

HOLCOMB UNDECIDED ON POST-ROE ACTION: Prior to speaking Monday at the annual induction ceremony for The Northwest Indiana Business and Industry Hall of Fame, sponsored by The Times Media Co., Gov. Eric Holcomb chatted exclusively with The Times about a variety of topics, including (Carden, NWI Times): Abortion: The Republican governor has not decided whether to fulfill the request of 100 Republican state lawmakers and immediately call the Indiana General Assembly into special session if the U.S. Supreme Court gives the go-ahead for states to further restrict or outright ban access to abortion. Holcomb said it’s “to be determined” whether he’ll call a special legislative session sometime this summer to address abortion. “I’m waiting to see what the court submits in their final decision," he said.

 

HOUSING PRICE SURGE CREATING PROPERTY TAX SPIKE: Many Hoosiers are getting their property tax assessments and are not liking what they are seeing (WIBC). On average, property taxes across Indiana are up significantly compared to previous tax rates. Experts say it’s due to the wild housing market that is showing no signs of slowing down. “We’ve seen this year alone a low amount of inventory on the market, which seems to be driving the sales price up,” said Marion County assessor Joe O’Connor on WISH-TV. “Obviously we have certain areas that are urban renewal or gentrification.” Michael McMann lives in Fishers where he says his property tax assessment is up by 20-percent compared to his previous rate. That’s around a $60,000 bump for McMann who is a disabled veteran on a fixed income. “The feeling was shock, but also assumed this was going to happen because of the crazy market,” McMann said. “We have a second income with my wife. It’s not going to cause us to lose our house or change the way we eat, things like that.” Home valuations in Marion County jumped by about 8-percent over the last year.

BIDEN SIGNS UKRAINE LEND LEASE; SPARTZ ATTENDS: President Joe Biden on Monday signed a bill into law aimed at streamlining the process for getting military assistance to Ukraine as Russia continues its invasion (CNN). In an Oval Office signing ceremony for the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act on Monday afternoon, Biden said, "The atrocities that the Russians are engaging in are just beyond the pale." "I'm signing a bill that provides another important tool in our efforts to support the government of Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in their fight to defend their country and their democracy against (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's brutal war -- and it is brutal," Biden said while flanked alongside Vice President Kamala Harris and the bill's sponsors, Indiana Republican Rep. Victoria Spartz, Michigan Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin and Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin.

BIDEN SUSPENDS UKRAINE STEEL TARIFFS:  Following in Europe's footsteps, the U.S. is suspending its 25% tariffs on Ukrainian steel imports, the Commerce Department announced Monday. The suspension will last for one year (CBS News). The move, while it may be partly symbolic for now, is the latest effort to bolster Ukraine's economy amid Russian President Vladimir Putin's assault on the country. Steel is a key sector of Ukraine's economy, representing 18% of the country's total exports in 2018, according to a 2019 report from the Commerce Department. At the end of April, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said there was an "ongoing consideration and process of reviewing a range of steps" the administration can take to provide relief to Ukrainians, including a review of tariffs. The European Union said last month that it was suspending all tariffs on Ukrainian imports for one year.

 

HACKERS TARGETING RUSSIANS: For more than a decade, U.S. cybersecurity experts have warned about Russian hacking that increasingly uses the labor power of financially motivated criminal gangs to achieve political goals, such as strategically leaking campaign emails (Washington Post). Prolific ransomware groups in the last year and a half have shut down pandemic-battered hospitals, the key fuel conduit Colonial Pipeline and schools; published sensitive documents from corporate victims; and, in one case, pledged to step up attacks on American infrastructure if Russian technology was hobbled in retribution for the invasion of Ukraine. Yet the third month of war finds Russia, not the United States, struggling under an unprecedented hacking wave that entwines government activity, political voluntarism and criminal action. Digital assailants have plundered the country’s personal financial data, defaced websites and handed decades of government emails to anti-secrecy activists abroad. One recent survey showed more passwords and other sensitive data from Russia were dumped onto the open Web in March than information from any other country.  In its first in-depth interview, the group told The Washington Post via encrypted chat that it gets no direction or assistance from government officials in Ukraine or elsewhere. “We pay for our own infrastructure and dedicate our time outside of jobs and familial obligations to this,” an unnamed spokesperson said in English. “We ask nothing in return. It’s just the right thing to do.”

 

WHY 100M AMERICANS MAY FACE COVID INFECTION IN FALL: The Biden administration's stark warning last week that as many as 100 million Americans could be infected during a COVID-19 wave in the fall and winter came as a shock to many in the country (ABC News). After all, 70.5% of the eligible U.S. population aged 5 and older are fully vaccinated and 47.8% of those aged 12 and older are boosted, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What's more, a recent CDC analysis estimated at least three out of every five Americans have antibodies that indicate being previously infected with COVID-19, meaning most people in the U.S. have natural immunity. So with such high levels of protection, why would up to 30% of the population be infected during a potential new wave? Scientists and public health experts said the 100 million estimate -- based on mathematical models -- does not surprise them and that as immunity wanes and people move indoors due to cold weather, cases will inevitably rise. "Certainly we're capable of sustaining 100 million infections this winter," Dr. Shira Doron, an infectious disease physician and hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, told ABC News. "The model doesn't mean that there will be 100 million cases, but there is the potential for a lot of infections. It doesn't mean everyone should panic."

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: There's a reason that Michigan and Illinois marijuana dispensaries parking lots are routinely filled Hoosiers: Safety. With the fentanyl spike finding the drug infused in everything imaginable, people are now concerned about its impact on black market marijuana. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

INDEMS TOWN HALL TONIGHT IN GREENFIELD: At 6:30 p.m. tonight at Greenfield Central HS, Destiny Wells (Candidate for Indiana Secretary of State), Cinde Wirth (Candidate for Indiana Sixth Congressional District), Donna Griffin (Candidate for Indiana House District 88), Nan Polk (Candidate for Indiana House District 54), James Sceniak (Libertarian Candidate for U.S. Senate), and Jeffrey Maurer (Libertarian Candidate for Secretary of State) will formally launch the “2022 Town Hall Series”, an effort by the Indiana Democratic Party to hear from all voters about the top issues facing Hoosier families ahead of the 2022 state and federal elections.

 

GOP SPLIT ON POST-ROE STRATEGY: Republicans are deeply split on their abortion strategy, with top officials pushing restraint, even silence, while activist GOP candidates demand an all-out campaign for a national ban and harsher penalties (Axios). Republicans' confidence in landslide victories this fall was shaken by the leaked abortion ruling — in part, because they know the topic invigorates their base, while rattling many swing voters. A top adviser to House Republican leaders tells me their polling shows that in races that matter, voters aren't "hip to this kind of seismic change." The adviser said lawmakers are asking for guidance on how to talk about issues like abortion in cases of rape or incest — knowing a hardline view is wildly unpopular. The GOP establishment's initial marching orders, in an NRSC memo leaked to Axios' Alayna Treene, counseled caution and even silence. But activist candidates and voters couldn't care less what the establishment wants — and see this as the moment to fulfill their lifelong dream of strict abortion bans, with few exceptions, and penalties for those carrying out abortions.

 

TRUMP DENIES HE OWNS 4 CELL PHONES SUBPOENAED: Former President Donald Trump said he no longer has four cell phones identified by the New York attorney general’s investigation into the Trump Organization’s finances but has turned over his personal phone to be searched as he tries to convince a state judge to lift a civil contempt ruling that so far has cost him $140,000 (CNN). In an affidavit filed with the court Friday, Trump said he doesn’t currently have any phones, computers or electronic devices issued to him by the Trump Organization and that he has authorized his attorneys to search his homes in Bedminster, New Jersey, his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, and his personal residence in Trump Tower for any documents sought by New York Attorney General Letitia James’ subpoena. Trump’s filing is his latest effort to try to end a $10,000 per day penalty that has accrued to $140,000.

 

SCHMIDT SAYS McCAIN LIED ABOUT AFFAIR: After a weekend of angry tweeting, Steve Schmidt launched a new Substack yesterday by asserting that the late Sen. John McCain lied to him, to The New York Times and to America about his longtime relationship with a female lobbyist (Axios). Schmidt, the top strategist on McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, wrote: "John McCain told me the truth backstage at an event in Ohio ... Understandably, he was very concerned about this potentially campaign-ending issue. He kept saying, 'The campaign is over.' Earlier, Schmidt writes, McCain denied it "dozens of times to my face."

 

Polls

 

30% FEAR IMMIGRANTS WILL INFLUENCE AMERICAN ELECTIONS: With anti-immigrant rhetoric bubbling over in the leadup to this year’s critical midterm elections, about 1 in 3 U.S. adults believes an effort is underway to replace native-born Americans with immigrants for electoral gains. About 3 in 10 also worry that more immigration is causing native-born Americans to lose their economic, political and cultural influence, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Republicans are more likely than Democrats to fear a loss of influence because of immigration, 36% to 27%. Those views mirror swelling anti-immigrant sentiment espoused on social media and cable TV, with conservative commentators like Tucker Carlson exploiting fears that new arrivals could undermine native-born citizens.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB DOESN'T EXPECT MANY UKRAINE REFUGEES - More than 7,000 Afghan refugees were evacuated to Indiana last fall. Don’t expect a similar influx of people from Ukraine (Berman, WIBC). Governor Holcomb says Indiana has been in contact with Ukraine’s leaders, including a meeting last month with the country’s ambassador to the U.S., to let them know the “welcome mat is out” for Ukrainians to take temporary or permanent refuge from what he calls a “genocidal” assault from Russia. Purdue has welcomed 11 Ukrainian professors and doctoral students to spend a year in West Lafayette under a visiting-scholar program created after the Russian invasion. The university is reviewing applications for an expected nine more available slots. But Holcomb says those relocations may be the exception, not the rule. He says there are two sides to Ukraine’s evacuation coin. Unlike Afghanistan, where evacuees fled a victorious Taliban, Ukraine’s goal is to rebuild the country after Russian troops are driven out. Holcomb says leaders there are understandably concerned about a “brain drain” if people leave their homeland behind.

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB EYES FRIDAY REVENUE REPORT - Gov. Eric Holcomb anticipates the April state revenue results due to be released Friday will “continue the strong trend” of Indiana tax collections significantly exceeding the monthly forecast (Carden, NWI Times). All adult Hoosiers are in the process of receiving a $125 automatic taxpayer refund because the state’s budget reserve was well beyond the usual sum at the June 30, 2021, close of the previous budget year. Earlier this year, state lawmakers repealed the utility receipts tax effective July 1 and reduced the state income tax rate to 3.15% from 3.23%, beginning Jan. 1, 2023. Data show the cost of those tax cuts already is more than covered with excess state revenue from just February and March. Holcomb said additional tax cuts, taxpayer refunds, and other plans for the money are being prepared for the Legislature to consider when it returns to the Statehouse for the 2023 session in January. “We’ll talk about where we are and what investments, or other costs, could eat into those unprecedented revenue levels," Holcomb said. The governor said he’s primarily focused on using the money to further reduce the state’s pension obligations, and then on investing in people and places where it will make a difference.

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB ON PARDON FOR LAKE SHERIFF - A quirk in Indiana’s new law eliminating the requirement for adult Hoosiers to obtain a state permit to carry a handgun in public will disarm Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr. on July 1 because of his felony indictment for resisting law enforcement (Carden, NWI Times). Previously, sheriffs and other law enforcement personnel were exempt from the handgun permit requirement. With permitless carry the standard for everyone, the law enforcement exemption was struck from Indiana's statutes, and Martinez, like any Hoosier indicted on a felony charge, will be banned from carrying a handgun until his trial is over. Holcomb said he’s not in any way considering a preemptive pardon for the sheriff even if it means Martinez is unable to carry a handgun in public, both on- and off-duty. “I never put the cart before the horse," Holcomb said. "This is a local matter, and the only way that I would characterize it is unfortunate from almost every perspective.”

 

GOVERNOR: CROUCH SCHEDULE -  Below is Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch's public schedule for May 10 and 11. Events and the schedule are subject to change. 6 P.M. Tuesday, May 10, Culinary Crossroads, Highland Golf and Country Club, 1050 2nd St., Indianapolis. 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, Crouch announces IHCDA CreatINg Places campaign launch, George W. Julian School 57, 5435 Washington St, Indianapolis.

 

EDUCATION: CIVICS CURRICULUM DISCUSSION TODAY - Proposed civics education standardsfor Indiana middle school students will be discussed at a public a meeting Tuesday. Lawmakers and education leaders from across the state will meet to review a draft of the standards. Beginning in 2023, middle school students will be required to take one semester of civics before starting high school (Gabriel, Indiana Public Media). The proposed standards are based on three indicators: the foundations and function of government, and role of citizens. The curriculum aims to help students better understand how government works and to increase their engagement in local, state and national issues. Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a law in 2021 to require civics education. The legislation came out of theCivics Education Task Force, chaired by Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, that sought to find ways to improve civic education. All public, charter and state accredited private schools must offer a civics course to students starting in the 2023-2024 academic year. Students may take the course at any time between sixth and eighth grade.

 

STATE: SULLIVAN TALKS OF DOUBLING VOTE AUDITS - As election security continues to be a hotly debated topic two years after the 2020 election, Indiana’s secretary of state says a plan to double the number of post-election audits this year is another step toward assuring voters that the state’s election results are accurate (Ketterer, IBJ). Indiana in 2020 launched a pilot program to conduct post-election audits in five randomly selected counties, after the Legislature passed a law in 2019 allowing the “risk-limiting audit” pilot. Last month, Secretary of State Holli Sullivan announced that the state would conduct post-election audits in 10 counties after the general election in November, along with four after this week’s primary. “I think the most important part of my responsibility now is to ensure all Hoosiers know that their votes are accurately counted and that the proper election procedures are followed,” Sullivan told IBJ.

 

ISP: COURT DOCS DESCRIBE TROOPER BATTERY OF CO-WORKER - The Indiana State Police (ISP) Trooper who was arrested on Thursday for battery allegedly grabbed a fellow ISP employee and pulled her head into his groin while making a crude statement, court documents say (WPTA-TV). ISP said on May 5 that 43-year-old Master Trooper Michael Meiser was booked into the Miami County Jail to face a misdemeanor charge of battery and has since posted bond. Probable cause documents say the victim, who had been with ISP for eight years, was attending firearms training on March 30. She said earlier in the session, she was inside the range shed with Meiser when he came up very close behind her and sniffed her. She said it made her very uncomfortable and was “creeped out” by it. Later, she said she saw Meiser drop some money so she reached down to pick it up. As she reached for it, documents say he grabbed her by the back of her head and pulled her towards his groin, thrusting it towards her head. She said as he did this, he said “here’s a way for you to earn the money.”

 

DNR: JOHNSON RECEIVES OSBORN AWARD: Scott Johnson, a DNR wildlife science supervisor, has received the Chase S. Osborn Award for Wildlife Conservation from Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources (Howey Politics Indiana). The award is given to an individual who has made significant contributions to wildlife conservation in the state of Indiana. Johnson has worked at DNR for 35 years. In his earlier years, he was the nongame mammalogist for the state, working on conservation projects for Franklin’s ground squirrels, Indiana bats, Allegheny woodrats, river otters, and bobcats.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: ROKITA BACKS TRUMP ERA MEXICO POLICY - Attorney General Todd Rokita today led an 18-state coalition in his latest action aimed at preserving the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy, which successfully stemmed the tide of illegal immigrants pouring into the United States until the Biden administration illegally suspended it in January 2021 (Howey Politics Indiana). “We’re going to keep fighting for the rule of law because the safety and well-being of Hoosiers depend on it,” Attorney General Rokita said. “Illegal aliens crossing the U.S.-Mexico border can show up in Indiana within 48 hours, and we have Hoosier communities overwhelmed by fentanyl, drug trafficking, and human trafficking brought here by the cartels.” In April, Attorney General Rokita led a 19-state coalition in an initial amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to sustain the “Remain in Mexico” policy — formally titled the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).

 

ACLU: SUING STATE OVER DEFENSE OF INCOMPETENT - Indiana is being sued over allegations it’s letting people who need mental health treatment sit in jail rather than get court-ordered services (Indiana Public Media). A lawsuit was brought by the ACLU of Indiana and the Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services Commission. When a person is found to be incompetent to stand trial, the state is required to provide what are known as "competency restoration services." Those are often provided at state psychiatric hospitals. A new lawsuit argues that the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction has “grossly inefficient capacity” to get people the services they need. That means those defendants must sit in county jails without access to necessary treatment, sometimes for months.

 

DESTINATION: $5K ART GRANTS MADE TO 49 PROJECTS - Indiana Destination Development Corporation (IDDC) announced more than $242,000 in 34 counties for funding of 49 public art projects across Indiana (Howey Politics Indiana). "It’s amazing to see so many cities, towns, destination marketing organizations, private businesses and others apply for this public art grant and want to enhance their communities through art," Crouch said. "These pieces can tell a community’s unique story that engages with first-time visitors and builds pride with long-time residents." The following organizations were awarded a non-matching grant of up to $5,000 to fund a public art project in their community: A Touch of Heaven, Washington; A&B Farmhouse, Brazil; Avon Waterpark; Bluffton NOW; Brown County Visitors Center, Nashville; Calumet College of St. Joseph, Whiting; Carnegie Heritage and Art Center, Linton; City of Boonville; City of Franklin; City of Sullivan; Develop Culver; Downtown Evansville; Elkhart County Visitors Center, Elkhart; Franklin Dept. Public Art, Franklin; Gibson County Economic Development, Princeton; Grand Park Diamonds, Westfield; Grand Park Events Center, Westfield; Grand Park Field Sports, Westfield; Greater Kokomo Downtown Association; Greater Life Chapel, Gary; Greater Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce; Hard Truth Distillery, Nashville; Harrison County Arts, Corydon; Heart of Jasper; Historic Warren Main Street; Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus; Hopwood Cellars, Zionsville; Hotel Tango, Indianapolis; Huntington City-Township Public Library; Indiana Dunes Tourism, Chesterton; Jennings County Historical Society, Vernon; Keep Noblesville Beautiful; Kendallville Main Street; Loogootee Eye Center; Madam Walker Legacy Center, Indianapolis; Main Street Centerville; Main Street LaGrange; Main Street Vineyard Church, Plainfield; Marion Arts Commission; Mulberry Cottage, Nashville; Munster Civic Foundation; Quaff On Brewery, Nashville; Saint Mary of the Woods College, Terre Haute; Santa Claus Museum & Village, Santa Claus; Shelby County Tourism Bureau; Tipton County Chamber of Commerce; Town of Brookville; Town of Churubusco; and Word Works Ministry, Gary.

 

AGRICULTURE: 11% OF CORN, 7% OF SOY CROPS PLANTED - So far in Indiana, 11 percent of the expected corn crop has been planted according to the USDA’s Weekly Crop Progress Report for the week ending Sunday, May 8, 2022.  This compares with 4 percent last year and 39 percent as an average over the past five years (Hoosier Ag Today). Of the corn crop planted, only one percent has emerged compared with 17 percent last year. The USDA also shows that seven percent of the expected soybean crop has been planted at this time compared with 34 percent in 2021 and 24 percent over the past five-year average. The report shows that there were 2.1 suitable days for fieldwork this past week compared to 3.6 suitable days the week before.

 

MEDIA: NEW JOBS FOR ERDODY, KELLY - Former Fort Wayne Journal Gazette Statehouse reporter Niki Kelly is now working for News from the States, a not-for-profit news organization that brings together strong daily reporting and commentary from States Newsroom’s affiliates, legacy partners and independent nonprofit content partners. Constantly updated, with curated featured stories and highlighted trends, it illuminates state government across the U.S. like never before. Former IBJ reporter Lindsey Erdody is now reporting for Axios, which is starting a network of local newsletters, though it has not announced one for Indianapolis yet.

 

ECONOMY: CVS CLOSES STORES IN GARY, WHITING, GRIFFITH, EC & MC - CVS has closed pharmacies in downtown Whiting, downtown Michigan City, Griffith, Gary, East Chicago and Valparaiso as part of nationwide cutbacks (Pete, NWI Times). The Rhode Island-based pharmacy chain, the nation's largest, is shuttering more than 900 stores nationwide over the next few years. It's shifting its business model to offer more primary care, minute-clinic services and prescription delivery. It has closed pharmacies at 1301 119th St. in Whiting, 1195 E. Ridge Road in Griffith, 3612 Village Court in Gary, 710 Franklin St. in Michigan City and 3400 N. Calumet Ave. in Valparaiso. All of them were former Fagen Pharmacy locations CVS acquired in 2017 when Fagen Pharmacy owner Gerald Fagen retired, selling the 45-year-old family business that once had 20 locations across Northwest Indiana.

 

JUSTICE: 2 FOGEL ASSOCIATES SENTENCED TO LENGTHY TERMS - Two associates of Jared Fogle have received federal prison sentences. After an investigation dating back to 2014, Russell Taylor and Angela Baldwin were sentenced in the case on Monday. Taylor and Baldwin were formally married. Taylor received a sentence of 27 years. Baldwin received a sentence of 400 months, which is just over 33 years (WISH-TV). Taylor and Fogle were arrested, charged and convicted in 2015. Taylor’s conviction was vacated in 2020 after an appeal. Baldwin was connected to the case during the re-investigation into Taylor. Fogle was a nationally-known pitchman for Subway up until his arrest. Investigators said the couple had hidden cameras in their house to record underage children nude or engaging in sexual activity. The couple sent child porn videos and images to Fogle and others, according to investigators. “The Taylors have finally been held accountable for their years of heinous sexual exploitation of children,” U.S. Attorney Zachary A. Myers said in a statement. “Child sexual abusers must be held accountable for the lifelong impact of these crimes on survivors and their families. Taylor pled guilty in June 2021 for multiple crimes including 24 counts of producing child sexual abuse material. Baldwin was convicted by a jury in October 2021 for two counts of production of child sexual abuse material, one count of conspiracy to produce child sexual abuse material, and one count of possession of child sexual abuse material.

 

Congress

 

YOUNG FRETS THAT CHINA BY-PASSING U.S. TECHNOLOGY: There’s a concern among many lawmakers in Washington, including Sen. Todd Young (R-IN), that China may be outpacing the U.S. when it comes to developing new technology and scientific innovation. That’s why he says he helped co-sponsor the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act so the U.S. remains competitive with China (Miller, Hoosier Ag Today). That legislation would provide additional federal funding at research facilities, including those in Indiana. “This would provide major investment in a number of areas of scientific inquiry,” said Young. “Investments in things like next generation technology, artificial intelligence [and] quantum computing.” During an appearance at the Purdue Ag Alumni Fish Fry at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, Sen. Young says that the federal funds for research into new products and technologies would benefit Indiana farmers and the ag industry. “Some of these investments will have direct impacts on the way we farm and the way our rural communities adapt to global changes,” according to Sen. Young.

 

THE SENATE will meet at 10 a.m. to take up Ann Phillips' nomination to lead the Maritime Administration, with a vote at 11:45 a.m. along with a cloture vote on Asmeret Asefaw Berhe’s nomination as director of the Energy Department’s Office of Science. After a recess from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. for weekly conference meetings, the chamber will vote on Berhe’s nomination at 2:30 p.m. DNI Avril Haines and Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, will testify before the Armed Services Committee at 9:30 a.m. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will testify before the Banking Committee at 9:45 a.m. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will testify before an Appropriations subcommittee at 10 a.m. The Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing at 2:30 p.m. on nominations, including Bridget Brink as ambassador to Ukraine.

 

THE HOUSE will meet at 2 p.m. to take up many bills, including several focused on Ukraine/Russia, with votes postponed until 6:30 p.m. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg will testify before an Appropriations subcommittee at 1 p.m.

 

LINDSAY JANCEK GETTING MARRIED: Lindsay Jancek, principal at Locust Street Group, and Cory James, manager at AGCo, got engaged in Baltimore on Saturday (Politico Playbook). They’re both Hoosier natives who went to the same college, knew the same groups of people and even lived in the same house in Indianapolis four years apart, but never met until they matched online and went on their first date in D.C. last fall

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN ANNOUNCES PROGRAM FOR DISCOUNTED BROADBAND - President Joe Biden announced Monday that 20 internet companies have agreed to provide discounted service to people with low incomes, a program that could effectively make tens of millions of households eligible for free service through an already existing federal subsidy (AP). “High speed internet is not a luxury any longer. It’s a necessity,” Biden said at a sun-drenched rose garden event with representatives from participating companies, as well as members of Congress. The $1 trillion infrastructure package passed by Congress last year included $14.2 billion funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides $30 monthly subsidies ($75 in tribal areas) on internet service for millions of lower-income households. With the new commitment from the internet providers, some 48 million households will be eligible for $30 monthly plans for 100 megabits per second, or higher speed, service — making internet service fully paid for with government assistance if they sign up with one of the providers participating in the program. Biden noted that families of four earning about $55,000 annually — or those including someone eligible for Medicaid — will get a $30 monthly credit, meaning about 40 percent of Americans will qualify.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN SCHEDULE - President Biden's schedule — 9:30 a.m.: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief. — 11:30 a.m.: Biden will deliver remarks about fighting inflation. — 2 p.m.: Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with Italian PM Mario Draghi in the Oval Office. Press secretary Jen Psaki will brief at 2:30 p.m.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN URGES PEACEFUL PROTESTS - The homes of Supreme Court justices are the newest site for protests over abortion access in the United States. Activists gathered Saturday in the rain outside the Maryland residences of Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh to protest a leaked draft opinion reportedly supported by the court's conservative majority (ABC News). The document, reported by Politico last week, showed the panel is poised to repeal Roe v. Wade. The court confirmed the draft's authenticity but reminded Americans it is not the final ruling. A decision in the case, which centers on a Mississippi abortion restriction, is expected by the end of June or early July. Protesters held signs that read, "Never Again" and "Don't Tread on My Choice." The demonstrations sparked a response Monday from the White House that justices shouldn't have to worry about their "personal safety." "[President Joe Biden] strongly believes in the Constitutional right to protest," press secretary Jen Psaki said in a Twitter post. "But that should never include violence, threats, or vandalism. Judges perform an incredibly important function in our society, and they must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety."

 

TECHNOLOGY: MUSK CRYPTIC TWEET ALARMS SOME - Tesla CEO Elon Musk ignited a firestorm on social media by suggesting that he might die "under mysterious circumstances." While some on Twitter rushed to the conclusion that he might fear the Clintons, it seems the CEO may have been referencing a potential threat from Russia (Fox News). "If I die under mysterious circumstances, it’s been nice knowin ya," Musk, who is also the CEO of SpaceX and who recently acquired Twitter, posted on the social media platform. When Musk's mother Maye Musk responded, "That's not funny," her son replied, "Sorry! I will do my best to stay alive."

 

NATO: SWEDEN, FINLAND EYE JOINING -  To join or not to join? The NATO question is coming to a head this week in Finland and Sweden where Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shattered the long-held belief that remaining outside the military alliance was the best way to avoid trouble with their giant neighbor (AP). If Finland’s president and the governing Social Democrats in both countries come out in favor of accession in the next few days, NATO could soon add two members right on Russia’s doorstep. That would be a historic development for the two Nordic countries: Sweden has avoided military alliances for more than 200 years, while Finland adopted neutrality after being defeated by the Soviet Union in World War II.

 

MEDIA: WASHINGTON POST WINS PULITZER FOR JAN. 6 COVERAGE - The Washington Post was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service on Monday for its coverage of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and its aftermath (Washington Post). The prize, considered American journalism’s highest honor, recognizes the work of more than 100 journalists across the Post’s newsroom, many of whom contributed reporting from the Capitol grounds that day as well as others who investigated the security failures that contributed to the crisis, the human costs of the attack and the larger ramifications for the nation. “This was a seminal event in American history and democracy,” Washington Post executive editor Sally Buzbee said. She called it the Post’s “mission and our absolute sacred trust” to not just cover the crisis thoroughly but to find ways to get its reporting and analysis out “to as broad an audience as possible.”

 

ILLINOIS: PRITZKER WORKING ROE OPTIONS - Gov. JB Pritzker is working on various fronts to push back at the U.S. Supreme Court’s potential plan to overturn Roe v. Wade, as reported last week by POLITICO. The billionaire governor will continue to look for ways to financially support efforts to protect abortion rights, according to a source close to his campaign. He’s also been in conversations with Democratic governors about how states might rally if access to abortion is taken away in red or purple states. And he’s identified suburban women voters as a key factor in the race for governor. Illinois expects to see people from Missouri, Kentucky, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Iowa come to Illinois for reproductive care if Roe is overturned, Pritzker told MSNBC over the weekend. All of those states “have already started to restrict women’s reproductive rights or they have trigger laws that revert them to becoming anti-choice states,” he said. “We’re a protective island for anyone who comes here.” Pritzker joined some 1,000 protesters in the Loop on Saturday for a rally supporting abortion rights.

 

MLB: REDS REACH 2-GAME STREAK WITH 10-5 WIN OVER BREWERS - Colin Moran homered in his third straight at-bat, Brandon Drury and Kyle Farmer each hit a three-run homer, and the Cincinnati Reds won two straight games for the first time this season, rallying past the Milwaukee Brewers 10-5 on Monday night (ESPN). "It was great to have a couple of wins in a row," Reds manager David Bell said. "The way it happened was beautiful." The Reds, baseball's worst team at 6-23, bounced back after being swept in three games at Milwaukee last week by a combined score of 34-12.

 

MLB: CLEVELAND STUNS CHISOX 12-9 - With three clutch swings in the last four innings, Josh Naylor rallied the Cleveland Guardians to a wild and unlikely win (ESPN). Naylor hit a tying grand slam with two outs in the ninth and a three-run homer in the 11th, powering a huge comeback that carried Cleveland past the Chicago White Sox 12-9 on Monday night. Naylor also had a run-scoring double in the eighth and finished with eight RBI for the Guardians, who stunned Chicago by erasing an 8-2 deficit in the ninth aided by two White Sox errors. Andrés Giménez led off the inning with a homer and then doubled home a run in the 10th as the Guardians snapped Chicago's six-game winning streak. They have won eight of 10 following a seven-game skid.

 

MLB: CUBS BLANK SAN DIEGO 6-0 - Kyle Hendricks went as far as manager David Ross would let him. His Chicago Cubs teammates were hoping for just a little more (ESPN). Hendricks came within one out of a three-hit shutout for the Cubs, who beat the listless San Diego Padres 6-0 Monday night to snap a season-high five-game losing streak. Manager David Ross came out to get Hendricks after he got Jurickson Profar to fly out to left on his 116th pitch. Hendricks struck out rookie José Azocar to open the ninth and walked Jake Cronenworth on six pitches before going to a full count against Profar. Scott Effros came on and retired Manny Machado. Going out for the ninth "is always great," said Hendricks, who didn't allow a baserunner into scoring position.

 

Local

 

FORT WAYNE: HENRY TO VISIT POLISH SISTER CITY - Mayor Tom Henry’s office announced on Monday that he will be traveling to sister city Plock, Poland, later this week (WPTA-TV). Henry will be traveling with University of Saint Francis President Father Eric Zimmer, Deputy Mayor Karl Bandemer, and City of Fort Wayne Head of Digital Engagement John Felts. They are set to arrive in Plock on Thursday and return to Fort Wayne on Sunday. Officials say Plock Mayor Andrzej Nowakowski invited Henry and a three-person delegation to travel to Plock, along with delegations from eight other partner cities, to attend the 23rd European Picnic. They say the trip is intended to “show solidarity with the Ukrainian nation and moral support to the refugees staying in Plock”.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: DPW BEGINS 50-HOUR WEEKS ON ROAD WORK -  With little to no significant precipitation expected this week, the Indianapolis Department of Public Works (Indy DPW) operations crews today begin the first of five 10-hour working days, continuing a focus on street maintenance and patching potholes (Howey Politics Indiana). At the direction of Mayor Joe Hogsett, and in coordination with union leadership from AFSCME Local 725, Indy DPW workers will undertake an extended 10-hours on each day as weather allows, to complete a maximum amount of street maintenance. "Our reporting shows us that even two extra working hours each day can raise by a third the output of patching our crews accomplish, given the time for mobilizing and demobilizing equipment," said Indy DPW Director Dan Parker. "That is why we have worked and will continue to work to take advantage of every dry day this season by adding working hours onto days with opportune weather for road maintenance." Indy DPW has previously authorized 12 days with overtime hours thus far this year. Since January 1, crews have used approximately 4,340 tons of asphalt to maintain streets, or the estimated equivalent of more than 203,000 potholes filled. This work has resolved more than 18,500 total pothole service requests from residents year-to-date.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: PROJECT ANNOUNCED ON SHAPIRO PROPERTY - Developers pitching a hotel project on South Meridian Street across from Shapiro's Delicatessen have expanded their plans to propose a mixed-use development that now includes apartments and rooftop dining (IndyStar). The amended pitch will come before the Regional Center Hearing Examiner on May 12. Developer Russ Louderback, founder of The Louderback Group LLC, said several factors led to the project changes. "We looked at the site; inflation; higher interest rates and the cost of land and decided to make the best use of land and reduce the cost per unit," Louderback said in a statement. "We feel that the brand we selected is the very best product for hotels overall and needed in this area. The site was able to accommodate more than an extended stay hotel which led us to add a multifamily component and the rooftop experience." Initially, the petitioners behind the project — including well-known restaurateur Brian Shapiro — pitched a six-story hotel at the site located on land the Shapiro family owns near Lucas Oil Stadium.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: COUNCIL WINS KRAUSS AWARD: The Indiana University Public Policy Institute presented the John L. Krauss Award for Public Policy Innovation to the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County Council on Monday night. The Krauss Award is given biennially to an individual or entity for applied research or activity that helps the state of Indiana and/or Indiana communities with real-world solutions. In 2019, the council engaged PPI to measure the council’s legislative efficacy. Researchers at PPI and IU’s O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs conducted public surveys, structured interviews, and reviewed administrative data.

 

WESTFIELD: EQUESTRIAN CENTER PROPOSED - A 69-acre equestrian exhibition center and high-end residential development have been proposed near Little Eagle Creek on the west side of Westfield (Bradley, IBJ). Chad Hughes, president of Westfield-based H&H Stables LLC, presented a plan at Monday night’s Westfield City Council meeting for the 120,000-square-foot equestrian facility on land south of U.S. 32 and north of East 166th Street. The residential component of the development would include about 25 custom home lots priced at $1.2 million and up. The development would include a main equestrian facility capable of housing up to 140 horses, four outdoor arenas and two horse pastures. “Westfield has an opportunity here to have a world-renowned facility that will complement the other facilities that we’re so well-known for, in a positive manner, and an economic engine that it’s going to provide and the notoriety,” Hughes told the council.

 

ALLEN COUNTY: FIRE CHIEFS SEEK PAGING UPGRADE - Outdated paging equipment is worrying county fire chiefs who’ve asked the Allen County Commissioners for $1.68 million to update the crucial equipment (WANE-TV). With the county accessing about $74 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds, Robert Boren, president of the Allen County Fire Chiefs Association, said he and other fire chiefs believe the money would be well spent improving communications, particularly because the Federal Communications Commission seems to be pushing for departments to get rid of VHF. Boren, Huntertown Fire Chief, appeared in front of the commissioners last week and asked for help to purchase 800 megahertz paging and alerting systems which would also require mobile data terminals and computers in front line rigs, trucks and other apparatus.