TRUMP LIKES TO SEE MAYOR PETE, HUSBAND: In a break from some of his most conservative supporters, President Trump said that he thinks "it's great" to see Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg onstage with his husband, Chasten (CBS News). In an interview with Steve Hilton for "The Next Revolution" on Fox News, Mr. Trump, taking note of the fact that "some people" might object, the president said he thought it was a good thing to see the two together. "I think it's great. I think that's something that perhaps some people will have a problem with.  I have no problem with it whatsoever. I think it's good," Mr. Trump said, in response to a question about Buttigieg's candidacy as a symbol for the progress gay rights have made in the U.S. Some of Mr. Trump's most prominent surrogates are evangelical Christian leaders who vehemently oppose same-sex marriage, like Jerry Falwell Jr. and Franklin Graham. Graham voiced his objection to Buttigieg in a tweet last month, suggesting that he should repent for being gay. Mr. Trump has expressed tolerance towards gay people since his campaign. However, the Trump administration has faced criticism for its policies towards LGBT Americans, such as the ban on transgender soldiers from serving in the military.

RED STATES SEE THEIR MOMENT ON ABORTION: With red states passing a record wave of abortion restrictions, Planned Parenthood Federation of America today will announce a six-figure digital ad buy over the coming weeks urging women voters to contact their legislators (Allen, Axios). The first ads will run in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky and North Carolina. The message: "You deserve to know if the people who represent you in office support the Republican Party’s dangerous agenda to ban all abortion, or if they stand against it, and will stand up for your health and rights." What conservatives are thinking ... National Review's David French: "Two generations of pro-life activism, persuasion, and argument have yielded pro-life supermajorities in state houses across much of the South and Midwest, and they recognize the fact that we have reached a moment of legal possibility we may never attain again — perhaps not for generations. It is possible (maybe not likely, but possible) that the Supreme Court could overrule Roe v. Wade, and these legislatures have chosen to go for broke."

REPUBLICANS LINING UP AGAINST ALABAMA ABORTION LAW: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Thursday that he opposes a new Alabama law that outlaws virtually all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest, arguing that it “goes further than I believe” (Washington Post). “I believe in exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother, and that’s what I’ve voted on,” McCarthy said at his weekly news conference. The new antiabortion law in Alabama, the strictest in the country, has divided Republicans and put them on the defensive on the issue. Until this week, Republicans had been playing offense by casting Democrats as extreme due to a recent New York law expanding access to late-term abortion. In addition to not including exceptions for rape or incest, the law also allows a penalty of up to 99 years in prison for doctors who perform abortions. The other top Republican in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), also parted ways with Alabama lawmakers on the issue, although he did not specifically weigh in on the new law. McConnell is up for reelection in 2020.

WILL SCOTUS ACT ON ALABAMA LAW? The authors of Alabama's new law criminalizing abortion have left no doubt that they passed it to provoke the Supreme Court into overturning Roe v. Wade's protection of a woman's right to choose. But there's no guarantee that will happen (Williams, NBC News). Republican state Rep. Terri Collins, one of the law's sponsors, says it was intended to challenge Roe "and hopefully to let that decision go back to the states, so that states can make the laws that are most appropriate for their people." Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union have both said they intend to challenge the law. They will file their lawsuits in federal district court in Alabama, seeking to block enforcement before the law takes effect in six months. Because the lower courts are bound by Supreme Court precedent, judges have no choice but to declare the law unconstitutional. Alabama would then take the law to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, which would also be bound to reach the same conclusion. But the state's right to an automatic appeal ends there. It would have to ask the Supreme Court to take the case, and such a move would face long odds. The justices most often accept an issue for review when the lower courts are divided — when there's a split among the circuits. But because the spate of recent laws so clearly violate Roe and follow-on Supreme Court rulings, it's most likely that all the appeals courts will declare them unconstitutional, leaving no circuit split. A second reason Alabama faces a strong headwind is that the law is quite blunt in asking the Supreme Court to overturn 46 years of legal precedent, beginning with Roe in 1973 and reaffirmed repeatedly. But supporters of the state law are hoping that President Donald Trump's newest appointment to the court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, changed the court's fundamental arithmetic.

XI UPENDED TRADE DEAL WITH U.S.: China’s leader, Xi Jinping, seemed confident three weeks ago that a yearlong trade war with the United States could soon subside, handing him a potent political victory (New York Times). He even made a speech saying China would protect intellectual property, encourage foreign investment, and buy more goods and services from abroad — all changes the United States had been demanding as the countries tried to negotiate a deal. But just a week after that speech, Chinese negotiators sent the Americans a substantially rewritten draft agreement, prompting President Trump to accuse Beijing of reneging on terms that had been settled. That has left hopes for a historic breakthrough in tatters. In China’s top-down political system, where President Xi has amassed formidable power, it’s unlikely that anyone else would have had the authority — or, for that matter, the nerve — to fundamentally alter the emerging pact at this late date. Having apparently made that decision, it is clear that Mr. Xi misjudged Mr. Trump’s eagerness for a deal and how far he could push the American negotiators, according to more than a dozen people, including current and former officials, researchers, lawyers, and trade experts familiar with the deal and how it fell apart. Now Mr. Xi risks being backed into a corner, unable to compromise between his own positions and Mr. Trump’s.

CHAMBER WARNS OF TARIFF IMPACTS: The Indiana Chamber of Commerce says the recent increase of tariffs on Chinese goods, along with the subsequent retaliatory tariffs from China, could lead to "devastating effects" for Hoosier businesses. President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Brinegar says the effects would be felt by companies from a variety of industries (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). Last week, the Trump administration increased tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent. China responded on Monday saying it would impose a similar increase on $60 billion in U.S. goods. "We are hearing from a variety of members – from all kinds of manufacturers to agricultural companies – that this latest tariff war with China could have serious business implications for them and even throw some into a fight for survival," Brinegar said. "This is such a big, big deal for Indiana, which annually exports $1.1 billion of goods to China.” Brinegar says the chamber agrees with President Trump that China "has gotten off far too easy over the last few decades," but adds "there has got to be a better way than putting American businesses and jobs on the line."

RESOLUTION HONORS LUGAR'S ARMS LEGACY: A group of U.S. senators has introduced a resolution honoring the legacy of the late Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar (Gong, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Specifically, the resolution recognizes Lugar's commitment to nuclear nonproliferation and arms control and reaffirms U.S. commitment to reducing nuclear dangers. The resolution was sponsored by Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, Todd Young, R-Indiana and Rand Paul, R-Kentucky. "Today, as we honor the life of Sen. Richard Lugar, we also focus on carrying on his legacy with this resolution and our continued commitment to nuclear nonproliferation," Young said in a statement. "At a time when nuclear proliferation was civilization's greatest threat, Sen. Lugar helped save the world." The resolution calls for nonproliferation efforts by encouraging all parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to fully comply with the treaty, maintains support for the International Atomic Energy Agency and considers extending the New START Treaty, which will expire in February 2021. The resolution also condemns Russia's violation of the Intermediate-Range Forces Treaty. The resolution will be introduced in the U.S. House by Reps. Brad Sherman, D-California, Jim Banks, R-Indiana, Bill Foster, D-Illinois, Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nebraska, Ben Ray Luján, D-New Mexico and Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tennessee. “Senator Lugar was one of the greatest statesmen of our time. His leadership on the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program and the New START Treaty led to an era of denuclearization and peace," Banks said in a statement.

SALESFORCE SIGNS PLEDGE AS IVANKA TRUMP LOOKS ON: The chairman and co-chief executive officer of Salesforce  says signing the White House's Pledge to America's Workers is exciting for his company. Marc Benioff signed the pledge at an event this morning at Salesforce Tower in downtown Indianapolis, which was also attended by Ivanka Trump, advisor to President Donald Trump (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). Salesforce officially committed to help train 500,000 workers as part of the pledge, though Benioff said as he signed it that the company would increase that number to one million. "This is exactly what we need to transform all of our workforce throughout America," said Benioff. "We can't do this alone. We know that. We need to do it together in partnership not only with government, not only with industry, but with our community as well. I think that's our message." The Pledge to America's Workers was launched in July. Benioff and Salesforce were part of that launch and Trump says while more than 215 companies have taken the pledge since then, Salesforce is the first to take it a step further. "This was our way of getting our private sector to partner with us and say, 'You owe it to your community. You owe it to your workforce and by the way, it's good for you. This is a smart investment and there is a return on this investment and you'll see it the minute you offer somebody the opportunity, the minute you upskill somebody, the minute you give them a chance,' and the response has been incredible."

KHASHOGGI FIANCEE PLEADS FOR JUSTICE: Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancée Hatice Cengiz offered pointed criticisms of the Trump administration’s response to the slain Saudi journalist's brutal 2018 murder, pleading with the United States and other western governments to hold Saudi Arabia accountable through sanctions and an international investigation (Politico). “It has been more than six months since this horrible event, but there has been no truth, justice or accountability for those responsible for this terrible incident, to this stain on human rights and press freedom,” Cengiz said at a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing Thursday focusing on the heightened attacks on press freedom worldwide. “Every day, I have nightmares thinking of Jamal’s suffering,” she added. “Is it not natural for me then to demand that those responsible for his death are held accountable through the proper channels?”

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Throughout my 40-year journalism career, there was always the Lugar organization, or "Lugar World." Actually, it pre-dated my "pro" status when my dad informed me of a Lugarite, Lou Gehrig, who wasn't in Cooperstown. During this journey of civic stewardship, the staff of Sen. Richard Lugar was always accommodating, friendly, factual and adroit in their understanding of a complex world. The senator was accessible, despite his arduous schedule. The staff would always go the extra mile, to the point where Kenny Myers was prepared to stay with me in Yekaterinburg if my passport hadn't miraculously turned up. The Lugar ethic matriculated into this very publication, with Mark Schoeff Jr. and Cam Carter playing important roles. This past week, in the wake of the senator's passing, I witnessed what was, essentially, the last hurrah of Lugar's splendid staff, though most continue to make important contributions to our society. From Mark Lubbers to Bob and Ellen Whitt, Nick Weber, Andy Fisher, David Willkie and Emily Krueger, I watched these seasoned pros coordinate the final send-off for their beloved mentor, and it renewed in volumes my appreciation for the staffers who help make someone like Dick Lugar a truly great and generational public servant. Please accept, from the depth of my heart, this final tip of the hat.  - Brian A. Howey


COMMON CAUSE SUES OVER ST. JOE ABSENTEE BALLOTS - An Indiana watchdog group says dozens of St. Joseph County voters had their ballots rejected in the 2018 election — wrongly in most cases — and were never told their votes didn’t count, all because election workers decided the signatures on absentee ballots did not appear genuine (Sheckler & Bauer, South Bend Tribune). The nonpartisan group Common Cause Indiana filed a lawsuit Thursday asking a federal judge to strike down as unconstitutional the state law allowing election officials to reject ballots based on perceived mismatched signatures without allowing voters to prove the ballots are authentic. “Indiana’s ... signature-matching requirements violate due process,” the lawsuit said. “The voter is given no written or oral notice that his or her ballot has been rejected due to a signature mismatch and is thus given no opportunity to challenge the decision to reject their absentee ballot.” The lawsuit alleged the “process of determining whether a voter’s signature is ‘genuine’ is fraught with error and inconsistent application” because “ballot counters and members of county election boards are not experts in handwriting analysis and cannot make an accurate and reliable determination whether a voter’s signature is ‘genuine.’”

VOTE FRAUD CASE IN KOKOMO: Kokomo business owner Allen Wilson is facing financial ramifications after voter fraud allegations were leveled against him in the lead-up to Election Day. The latest development in Wilson’s situation was revealed Wednesday during a meeting of the Kokomo Board of Public Works and Safety, when Kokomo Police Department Maj. James Calabro read a memo from Chief Rob Baker requesting a suspension of his company from the call rotation within the city’s towing contract (Myers, Kokomo Tribune). Competition Towing & Recovery, located at 1101 S. Apperson Way, is owned by Wilson. Competition Auto Body is located at the same address, show online records. The memo cited the “voter fraud allegations” against Wilson and requested to the Board of Works a suspension of Competition Towing “while that investigation is pending.” The email alleged Wilson illegally changed his voter registration on April 2 to the Apperson Way address, inside city limits, in order to vote in this spring’s municipal primary election.

HANSCOM JOINING UNITED WAY: United Way of Central Indiana has named Peter Hanscom the organization’s vice president of marketing. This role will be critical in the leadership and development of marketing and communication strategies, increasing regional presence and enhancing the overall brand of United Way (Howey Politics Indiana). Hanscom joins United Way of Central Indiana with several years of experience in the political arena. As the current president of Left Done Right Consulting, LLC and former campaign manager for U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly, Hanscom has overseen various large-scale projects and budgets with progressive outcomes, including his role as initiative director for Indiana Competes, a business-led coalition partnered with the Indy Chamber that advocates for nondiscrimination protections for Hoosiers across the state.

Presidential 2020

SWALWELL TO DISCUSS GUN VIOLENCE IN INDY: Democratic presidential candidate Congressman Eric Swalwell will meet with Indianapolis community activists at the Kountry Kitchen Soul Food Place in Indianapolis at 8 this morning to discuss how best to end the gun violence plaguing America (Howey Politics Indiana). “I’m meeting with Indianapolis leaders to hear their thoughts, and share my plan, on how to save American lives,” Swalwell said. “I’ll be doing the same soon in Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Texas, and California – all Americans’ voices must be heard, and we all must work together, if we’re going to put a stop to gun violence and heal our communities.” Kountry Kitchen is at 1831 N College Ave. Swalwell also will hold a public Town Hall, co-sponsored by the Bartholomew County Democrats, at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Factory 12 Event Loft, 1235 Jackson St., Columbus, IN. Doors will open at 1:15 p.m.

BIDEN SURGES IN FOX POLL; SANDERS FADING; PETE AT 6%: Former Vice President Joe Biden leads the race for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, according to the latest Fox News Poll. Among Democratic primary voters, Biden’s 35 percent (up from 31 percent in March) leaves Bernie Sanders in a distant second place with 17 percent (down from 23 percent). Elizabeth Warren is next at 9 percent, Pete Buttigieg receives 6 percent, followed by Kamala Harris at 5 percent, Beto O’Rourke at 4 percent, Cory Booker at 3 percent, and Julian Castro and Amy Klobuchar at 2 percent apiece.  John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, Tim Ryan, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang each garner one percent. The highest priority of Democratic primary voters is defeating Donald Trump, as 73 percent feel that is “extremely” important.  Next, 71 percent say it’s extremely important their nominee has high ethical standards.

BIDEN UP 11% AGAINST TRUMP; PETE DOWN 1%: Joe Biden also performs best in hypothetical 2020 matchups in the Fox News Poll.  Among all registered voters, he leads President Trump by 11 points (49-38 percent), up from a 7-point advantage in March.  Biden’s is the only lead outside the margin of sampling error in the matchups tested -- and he is the only Democrat to push Trump’s support below 41 percent. Bernie Sanders tops Trump by 5 points (46-41 percent) and Elizabeth Warren is up by two (43-41 percent), while Kamala Harris ties Trump (41-41 percent) and Pete Buttigieg trails him by one (40-41 percent).

BUTTIGIEG SPEAKS OUT AGAINST ALABAMA ABORTION LAW: In a speech to the City Club of Chicago on Thursday, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg addressed the anti-abortion bill that was signed into law in Alabama, saying women can’t be free “if your reproductive health can be criminalized” (Howey Politics Indiana). “Now, I come from Indiana as a democrat. There are people I love, people I trust, people who support me politically who view this issue differently than I do," Buttigieg said. "But I must say that I don't think that you are free in this country if your reproductive health can be criminalized by government. This is not an easy choice for anybody to face and I would be loath to tell anybody facing that situation what the right thing to do is but that's exactly the point. I'm a government official. I don't view myself as belonging in that conversation. And to see in Alabama that if someone is raped and she seeks an abortion, the doctor who treats her will be penalized with a longer prison term than her rapist, makes me question whether the discussion about freedom in this country has gone off the rails.”

BUTTIGIEG UNVEILS RESOURCE PAGE: The Buttigieg presidential campaign unveiled a new resource page (Howey Politics Indiana). "Today we’re launching a resource page that explains Pete’s positions and grounds them in his values," the campaign explained. "We hope this page will be useful as you talk to your friends and family about what’s at stake this election, and why you believe in Pete’s bold vision for our future. As our campaign releases further policy ideas and initiatives, this page will continue to be a resource."

BUTTIGIEG GOT $75K BOOK ADVANCE: Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg has lots of student loan debt and received a $75,000 advance for his political memoir, according to a financial document he filed this week (Sikich, IndyStar). Those details were part of an annual personal financial disclosure form that candidates must submit within 30 days of filing a president candidacy, which Buttigieg officially announced April 14. IndyStar obtained the document through a records request Wednesday, the day after he filed the form. Buttigieg, of course, lists his occupation as mayor of South Bend. His annual income for running the state's fourth-largest city is $149,725, according to the document. That puts him among the highest-paid mayors in Indiana, likely the highest. While the state doesn't keep a list of mayoral salaries by city, IndyStar has reported Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard will make $148,786 in 2019; Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, $142,000; and Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness, $135,174. Buttigieg also plays the stock market. He, and his husband, Chasten, have invested as much as $50,000 in Apple, and up to $15,000 in Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google. Income on those was between $2,702 and $6,000.

De BLASIO BOTCHES ROLLOUT: Bill de Blasio found a way to stand out. The 23rd candidate to enter the Democratic presidential field found a slice of the limelight by botching his carefully planned announcement rollout. First a high schooler in Missouri scooped de Blasio by tweeting that the New York City mayor would visit the Truman Club in Sioux City, Iowa, for the first stop on his “Presidential announcement tour,” with the club initially misspelling the mayor’s name (Politico). Then protesters appeared outside the windows as de Blasio was on nationally watched “Good Morning America” this morning for his first campaign appearance. His announcement video quickly drew a mocking tweet from his would-be opponent President Donald Trump. The announcement came just days after de Blasio faced protesters so loud that they drowned him out when he tried to make an climate announcement at Trump Tower. All this was only after he equivocated for weeks about whether he should run as the 2020 field grew increasingly crowded.


BANKS ACCUSES PELOSI OF HOLDING UP USMCA: Trade has been a hot topic this week in DC, but not just trade with China. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday that a deal is close to remove the steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico. The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement has yet to be sent to the House as the White House is waiting for assurance from Speaker Nancy Pelosi that it has the votes to get through (Pfeiffer, Hoosier Ag Today). Northeast Indiana Congressman Jim Banks said that her concerns about passing the agreement are nothing but political. “Who would benefit the most? Donald J. Trump, the President of the United States of America, heading into an election year, and Nancy Pelosi can’t get beyond that. That’s what is holding up this deal. If and when this is ratified and passed and goes into effect, it could potentially be the biggest win that President Trump has had his entire administration. That will only help him moving into election day.” Banks said the deal is a good one for agriculture and manufacturing. He added the many moderate Democrats were calling on Pelosi to bring the deal to a vote, including House Ag Chairman Collin Peterson from Minnesota. Peterson had this to say on Wednesday.

BANKS STATEMENT ON EQUALITY ACT: U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), released the following statement regarding his opposition to H.R. 5, the Equality Act, which is scheduled for a vote in the House Friday (Howey Politics Indiana). Said Rep. Banks, “The Equality Act represents the absolute worst of the radical-left’s pro-infanticide, anti-conscience agenda. By amending the definition of ‘sex’ in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this legislation codifies a fundamental right to an abortion up until the moment of birth. It also ensures that American taxpayers foot the bill for these abortions by effectively eliminating Hyde protections – protections I recently pledged to uphold in a letter to Speaker Pelosi.” “Additionally, the so-called ‘Equality Act’ would undermine President Bill Clinton’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 by forcing health care providers to perform abortions and gender reassignment surgeries regardless of their religious or moral convictions. This egregious abuse of Americans’ First Amendment rights is why I will be voting no without hesitation.”

DISASTER AID BILL VOTE NEXT WEEK: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate will vote on disaster relief next week, right before the lawmakers leave town for Memorial Day. He’s hopeful that the Senate will vote on legislation that the president is willing to sign (Hoosier Ag Today). While the House passed a disaster bill last week, congressional leaders and the White House have been hard at work on a bipartisan bill that can get through both chambers easily. Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby says that senators are on the verge of an agreement. Politico says McConnell, Shelby, and Trump all have interests that have been holding up the deal. McConnell is a big supporter of the hemp industry and is looking to make sure crop insurance by 2020 for hemp producers is in the legislation. Shelby wants more money for harbor maintenance, while Trump is pushing for more funds to address border security. Negotiators say the biggest points of contention yet to work through are nearly settled.

CORRECTION: VISCLOSKY OPPOSED TALIBAN FUNDING - A headline in Thursday's Howey Politics Indiana's Ticker Tape section said that U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky and his House committee backed a plan to pay for Taliban travel during Afghanistan negotiations. Visclosky and the panel opposed the proposal from the Trump administration.

NTI BACKS LUGAR-TRAUSCHER ACT ACT ON START TREATY: Ernest J. Moniz, Nuclear Threat Initiative Co-Chair Sam Nunn, NTI Board Member and Admiral Michael Mullen (USN, ret.), NTI Emeritus Board Member former Secretary of Defense William Perry, and former Secretary of State George Shultz together expressed support for the bipartisan “Richard G. Lugar and Ellen Tauscher Act to Maintain Limits on Russia Nuclear Forces” (Howey Politics Indiana). The House bill, which would extend the New START arms-reduction treaty with Russia until 2026, is named to honor Lugar and Tauscher, NTI board members and giants in the field of global security who passed away last month. “Extension of New START will ensure that Russia and the United States maintain verifiable limits on their strategic nuclear weapons and delivery systems; exchange data about their strategic nuclear forces; and keep boots on the ground through on-site inspections,” the leaders said in a statement.

BANKS LIKES TRUMP IMMIGRATION PLAN: U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), released the following statement regarding today’s immigration announcement by President Donald J. Trump (Howey Politics Indiana). Said Rep. Banks, “I was honored to be in the Rose Garden today as President Trump outlined his plan to create a fair, modern and lawful immigration system.  Our current immigration laws are badly broken, do a disservice to American workers and jeopardize our national security.  The President’s plan is rooted in common sense principles that should be above the din of politics.  I urge Speaker Pelosi to stop playing political games and bring this important legislation up for a vote.”

BROOKS REFILES JAKE LAIRD ACT BILL: During National Police Week and Mental Health Awareness Month, U.S. Reps. Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05), Ted Deutch (D-FL22), Fred Upton (R-MI06) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI12) reintroduced the Jake Laird Act, a bipartisan bill named after an Indianapolis, Indiana, police officer who was shot and killed in 2004 in the line of duty by a man who struggled with mental illness (Howey Politics Indiana). This bill provides grants to encourage states to adopt laws, similar to Indiana’s 2005 Jake Laird Law, that enable local law enforcement, with probable cause, to temporarily remove and retain firearms from individuals who are determined to be an imminent danger to themselves or others. “Red flag laws save lives and are already working in states across the country, including Indiana and Florida, to prevent devastating losses of life,” said Brooks. “As our country continues to grapple with how to keep our communities safe, the Jake Laird Act of 2019 will provide local law enforcement officers the tools and training necessary to help prevent senseless acts of violence from claiming more innocent lives. I am proud to reintroduce this bipartisan gun violence reduction tool that will help us better avoid situations that could jeopardize the lives of our loved ones, friends, and neighbors while also protecting individual constitutional rights.”

YOUNG INTRODUCES EMPLOYEE FLEX ACT: U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) introduced the Employee Flexibility Act of 2019, which would change the definition of a “full-time employee” under the Affordable Care Act from someone who works an average of 30 hours per week to the traditional 40 hours per week (Howey Politics Indiana). Our nation has traditionally used the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) as the standard of defining full-time employment as 40 hours per week. However, in 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) enacted a full-time threshold for the purposes of requiring employers to offer their employees health coverage at 30 hours per week. This new threshold fundamentally changed workforce policy and business operations and resulted in employers cutting their workers’ hours. This change primarily hurt variable-hour and part-time workers who have lost the flexibility to add or trade shifts to make ends meet or earn extra money for such things as school tuition and credit card payments.

YOUNG JOINS SURPRISES MEDICAL BILL: U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Tom Carper (D-Del.), members of the Senate Bipartisan Working Group, today introduced the bipartisan STOP Surprise Medical Bills Act, legislation to protect patients from surprise medical bills. U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) are also cosponsoring the bill (Howey Politics Indiana). This legislation is a product of a nearly year-long effort revising proposals and requesting feedback on draft legislation released last September by Cassidy, Bennet, Young and Carper—and legislation introduced last Congress by Hassan. Examples of patients receiving surprise medical bills include a patient who received a bill of nearly $109,000 for care after a heart attack, and a patient who received a bill for $17,850 for a urine test. “Too many American families have been hit with costly surprise medical bills at their most dire time of need. This includes Hoosiers who have been caught off guard by huge unexpected medical costs despite doing their research in advance,” said Senator Young. “Our approach protects families from financial strain by establishing a process that keeps patients out of these billing disputes and enables them to focus on their health rather than unexpected medical bills.”

WALORSKI FILES EMPLOYEE FLEXIBILITY ACT: U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) today introduced the Employee Flexibility Act (H.R. 2782), bipartisan legislation would provide relief to middle-income families by restoring the traditional 40-hour work week under the Affordable Care Act. Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) (Howey Politics Indiana). “The redefinition of full-time employment under Obamacare is hurting workers who want to earn more money by picking up extra hours or trading shifts, and it’s placing unnecessary burdens on our Main Street job creators,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “The Employee Flexibility Act will bring relief to hardworking Hoosiers by ensuring they have flexibility in the hours they work each week. This bipartisan, commonsense bill will also give businesses the certainty they need to expand, invest in our communities, and create more jobs.”


GOVERNOR: STATE SEEKS HIP TRANSITION - The state is looking to ease the transition to commercial health insurance for Healthy Indiana Plan participants who obtain jobs with better wages after the HIP employment mandate fully goes into effect next year (Carden, NWI Times). The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) has requested federal approval to establish the HIP Workforce Bridge to assist individuals who lose HIP eligibility because they're earning higher incomes. Under the plan, HIP participants could use up to $1,000 from their program-funded health savings account to pay premiums, deductibles, co-payments and co-insurance associated with commercial health policies for up to one year after losing HIP eligibility. "When you take a step forward in your career you should also continue to take steps to be healthy," said Gov. Eric Holcomb. "We want Hoosiers to pursue meaningful employment while continuing to see their doctor, take their medicines and maintain their overall health."

CORRECTIONS: PUTNAMVILLE OFFICER CHARGED - A Putnamville Correctional Facility officer has been fired amid allegations he trafficked drugs into the state prison (WRTV). Michael Miller, of Brazil, is charged with official misconduct, trafficking with an inmate, dealing in a schedule III controlled substance, all felonies, as well as misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance. A spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Correction said Miller was dismissed from his position. “Putnamville Correctional Facility has a zero-tolerance policy for this type of misconduct,” Warden Brian Smith said. “Anyone found trafficking will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law; this will be no exception.”

GAMING: CAESARS COMING TO SOUTHERN INDIANA - As progress is made on Horseshoe Southern Indiana’s land-based casino, officials announced today it will open as Caesars Southern Indiana — part of the internationally-known Caesars gaming and entertainment brand (News & Tribune). With completely new gaming facilities, increased amenities and new restaurant offerings on the way, Caesars Southern Indiana will elevate the entertainment experience to a new level for the Kentuckiana region. The $85 million project creates a 100,000-square-foot integrated gaming and entertainment facility. The new project will allow Caesars to combine dining, retail, entertainment and all your favorite slot machines, table games, and poker in one space. “When guests visit our casino, it will be an entirely new experience,” said Horseshoe Southern Indiana Senior Vice President and General Manager Brad Seigel. “Enhancements to the guest experience will include many new sights and sounds, but what will be familiar to them is our friendly team members, always ready to make their visit memorable.”

EDUCATION: PURDUE FORT WAYNE RAISES TUITION -  Purdue University plans to increase tuition at the Fort Wayne campus in each of the next two years, and anyone wanting to comment on the hikes may soon have their say, the university announced Thursday (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). A public hearing is set for 11 a.m. May 29 on the West Lafayette campus, with videoconferencing available in Room 176 of the Science Building at Purdue University Fort Wayne. A 1.65% per year tuition increase is planned for Fort Wayne in 2019-20 and 2020-21, according to a news release. The proposed general undergraduate rate for residents is $8,589 for this fall and $8,730 in fall 2020. For nonresidents, the proposed rates are $20,622 and $20,961, respectively, according to Purdue.

MEDIA: VONNEGUT MUSEUM REACHES FUND GOAL - With hours to spare, the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library is closing in on a fundraising goal that will allow it to acquire and open a new home on Indiana Avenue in downtown Indianapolis (IBJ). KVML founder and CEO Julia Whitehead said late Wednesday morning that the not-for-profit museum was still about $75,000 short of its goal of $1.5 million. The remaining funds must be received or pledged before midnight, she said. The museum, which is currently homeless, signed a purchase agreement in February for a freestanding Italianate building at 543 Indiana Ave.

MEDIA: CSPAN BUS COMING TO FISHERS TODAY - C-SPAN’s award-winning state-of-the-art, 45-foot customized Bus will visit Fishers High School on Friday, May 24 to honor local winners Sophie Foley and Lauren Higginbotham for their winning entry in C-SPAN’s annual student video documentary competition, StudentCam (Howey In partnership with Comcast, C-SPAN will present a StudentCam certificate of merit and oversized check to the students during a school-wide ceremony of classmates, teachers, family members and elected officials. The winning video will also be viewed during the congratulatory event.

SPORTS: DAMON, BALE WILL BE INDY 500 STARTERS - Academy Award-winning actors Matt Damon and Christian Bale will wave the green flag as honorary starters for this year’s Indianapolis 500 (AP). The two are co-starring in the movie “Ford v Ferrari” — which profiles the corporate battles waged by American car designer Carroll Shelby and British driver Ken Miles. They teamed up to use a Ford car against Enzo Ferrari’s dominant team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. The movie is scheduled for a Nov. 15 release. Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles says the duo are used to performing under the bright lights and they should enjoy themselves.


WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP ROLLS OUT IMMIGRATION PLAN - President Trump on Thursday rolled out a new immigration plan that would move the U.S. toward a “merit-based” system favoring highly skilled workers over migrants with family members living here, saying it would make the nation “the envy of the world” (The Hill). But the president made it clear he views the plan, which has little chance of passing Congress, as a political cudgel against Democrats as much as a serious legislative proposal. “Today we are presenting a clear contrast,” Trump said during a speech in the Rose Garden of the White House. “Democrats are proposing open borders, lower wages and, frankly, lawless chaos. We are proposing an immigration plan that puts the jobs, wages and safety of American workers first.” The president said he would use his “common sense” plan to paint Democrats as unreasonable during the 2020 elections if they do not work with him to make it become law and predicted it could help propel him to a reelection victory.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP TAMPS DOWN IRAN WAR DRUMS - President Trump told a group of top aides including his acting defense chief that he doesn’t want tensions between the U.S. and Iran to lead to war, administration officials said (Wall Street Journal). During a meeting at the White House on Wednesday, Mr. Trump made the comments to acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan as part of a conversation, the officials said, though they added he didn’t issue a specific order. The comments came after Mr. Trump in recent days had told advisers that he is reluctant to start any kind of unilateral conflict with Iran, one administration official said. Instead, he has expressed his interest in a negotiated solution, even if that means speaking to the Iranians directly, this person said, a move that would be counter to the recommendation of some top advisers. Last week, Mr. Trump in remarks at the White House suggested Iran’s leaders also consider talks. “What I’d like to see with Iran, I’d like to see them call me,” he said then. Iranian officials have said they don’t see a reason to hold talks with Mr. Trump, who has pulled out of an international nuclear agreement with Iran and reimposed punitive economic sanctions. On Thursday, Mr. Trump again steered around talk of a confrontation. Asked at the White House if the U.S. would have a war with Iran, he replied: “I hope not.”

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SEEKS OFF-RAMP ON WAR TALK - President Trump has sought to put the brakes on a brewing confrontation with Iran in recent days, telling the acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, that he does not want to go to war with Iran, administration officials said, while his senior diplomats began searching for ways to defuse the tensions (New York Times). Mr. Trump’s statement, during a Wednesday morning meeting in the Situation Room, sent a message to his hawkish aides that he does not want the intensifying American pressure campaign against the Iranians to explode into open conflict. For now, an administration that had appeared to be girding for conflict seems more determined to find a diplomatic off-ramp. Mr. Bolton's independence has rankled the acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and has even prompted rumors that his job might be in jeopardy — something the White House denies. "But Mr. Trump has poked fun at Mr. Bolton's reputation for hawkishness, joking in meetings with him. 'If it was up to John, we'd be in four wars now,' one of the senior officials recalled Mr. Trump as saying."

WHITE HOUSE: KUDLOW EXIT? WEST WING WORRIES ABOUT FARMERS - According to sources, Larry Kudlow, a famous supply-side free-trader, is burned out by the job (Sherman, Vanity Fair). (In June 2018 he suffered a heart attack). Kudlow’s relationship with Trump has never been particularly close. “Any time the markets go down, Trump bothers Larry,” a person close to Kudlow told me. While Kudlow is telling friends he’s “having the time of his life,” he’s also eyeing an exit. According to sources, Kudlow wanted to leave the White House this summer, but Kudlow agreed to stay after Trump said he didn’t want Kudlow leaving until the China trade war was resolved. “I need you here for the markets. We need a united front,” Trump said, according to a source. (A White House official said Kudlow has no intention of leaving.) As the trade war drags on, daylight is appearing between the president and his G.O.P. stalwarts. “Trump is getting a lot of shit from Republican senators,” a Republican close to the White House said. Speaking with reporters this week, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley said “both countries are going to be hurt” if a deal isn’t reached soon. “People are getting nervous about the farmers,” a former West Wing official said. “Farmers are planting right now and farmers need to make sure customers are there when this is all over.”

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP PARDONS FORMER SUN-TIMES OWNER - They’d known each other for two decades, the New York real estate mogul and the Canadian-British owner of a transatlantic newspaper empire, working together as business partners on a Chicago skyscraper project (Washington Post). They showered praise on one another. Donald Trump was “a loyal friend in my late legal troubles,” Conrad Black once wrote. Trump returned the favor, at times. He once called Black “a tremendously strong man,” but in 2007, when Black was on trial for ripping off his own company, Trump was asked in a radio interview whether Black was his friend. “I just have to see,” Trump replied. On Wednesday, President Trump granted Black a pardon, wiping clean the fraud and obstruction of justice convictions for which the former owner of the Chicago Sun-Times served three years and two weeks in prison.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP MADE $434M LAST YEAR - President Donald Trump made at least $434 million in 2018, according to his annual financial disclosure released Thursday by the White House (CNN). That includes $40.8 million from his Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, just blocks from the White House. Trump reported that his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida generated $22.7 million in income, a slight drop from last year's reported $25.1 million. Overall, Trump's income appears to have gone down from last year, when he reported making at least $450 million. The disclosure forms include income ranges rather than exact totals for some categories. Since taking office, Trump has broken presidential precedent by maintaining his interest in the Trump Organization, which is run on a day-to-day basis by his adult sons Don Jr. and Eric. He's also the first president in decades not to release his personal tax returns, though he has submitted his required financial statements each year to the Office of Government Ethics.

WHITE HOUSE: JIMMY, ROSALYN CARTER RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL - Former President Jimmy Carter has been released from a Georgia hospital after hip replacement surgery (AP). A spokeswoman for Carter said former first lady Rosalynn Carter also was hospitalized Wednesday in Americus after feeling faint but was discharged Thursday along with her husband. The 94-year-old former president injured his hip earlier this week when he fell at his home before a planned turkey hunt. He and the 91-year-old former first lady will continue recuperating at home. The former president also will undergo physical therapy. Jimmy Carter plans to teach Sunday school this weekend at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains, Georgia.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - President trump will leave Trump Tower at 9:10 a.m. en route to Washington. He will arrive at the White House at 11:15 a.m. via the South Lawn. Trump will leave the White House at 1:30 p.m. en route to the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. He will deliver remarks at the National Association of Realtors legislative meeting and trade expo at 2 p.m. Afterward, he will return to the White House.

WHITE HOUSE: PENCE TO GIVE TAYLOR U. COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS SATURDAY -  Vice President Mike Pence will be the featured commencement speaker at Taylor University on Saturday, May 18, 2019, at 10:00 am, in the Kesler Student Activities Center (Howey Politics Indiana).

BUSINESS: ANTHEM 33RD ON FORTUNE 500 - Indianapolis-based Anthem was 33rd on the 2019 Fortune 500 list. It was the only Indiana company in the top 100.

MEDIA: GANNETT SHAREHOLDERS REJECT HEDGE CANDIDATES - Shareholders of the Gannett newspaper chain—the owner of The Indianapolis Star—backed all eight of the company's board candidates Thursday, turning away an attempt by New York hedge fund Alden Global Capital to populate the board with its own candidates (Washington Post). The vote, completed at Gannett's annual meeting in McLean, Virginia, amounted to a rejection—possibly the final one—of Alden's attempt to acquire Gannett through a hostile takeover launched in January by its Media News Group unit. Board chairman John Jeffry Louis pumped his fist after the vote to applause from the company's board members and employees in the company's auditorium. Gannett issued a statement afterward saying the outcome "demonstrates that Gannett shareholders recognize the continued progress we have made toward" transitioning its 100-plus newspapers, including USA Today, into predominantly digital businesses. MNG, formerly known as Digital First, initially proposed six board candidates, later narrowing it to three, including Heath Freeman, Alden's president. Alden owns 7.5 percent of Gannett's stock and controls more than 100 local newspapers.

MEDIA: SUNDAY TALK - "Fox News Sunday": Sen Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) Panel: Ben Domenech, Julie Pace, Katie Pavlich and Mo Elleithee. Power Player: Robert Caro (live from Claremont, N.H. ahead of a town hall with Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 7 p.m.). CNN "State of the Union": Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Montana Gov. Steve Bullock,  Panel: Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), Rick Santorum, Bakari Sellers and Mia Love. CBS "Face the Nation": Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). Political panel: Peter Baker, Kristen Soltis Anderson, Jamelle Bouie and Ed Wong. ABC "This Week": David Petraeus. Panel: Jonathan Karl, Chris Christie, Heidi Heitkamp and Yvette Simpson. NBC "Meet the Press": Panel: Rich Lowry, Janet Napolitano, Heidi Przybyla and Eugene Robinson. CNN's "Inside Politics": Maggie Haberman, Jonathan Martin, Seung Min Kim and Jeff Zeleny.

SPORTS: CUBS STAR DIVORCING WIFE - Chicago Cubs star Ben Zobrist reportedly filed for legal separation from his wife, Julianna, alleging she “has been guilty of inappropriate marital conduct” (Fox News). Zobrist, 37, filed for separation earlier this week in Tennessee and days after he announced he was taking a leave of absence from the team, the Tennessean reported Wednesday. Zobrist’s wife, Julianna, filed for divorce Monday in Cook County, Ill., the Chicago Sun-Times reported. Julianna reportedly cited “irreconcilable differences.”


CITIES: CUMMINS TO BUILD IN GREENWOOD - Cummins Inc. announced Thursday that it plans to spend more than $68 million to expand its operations in Columbus, Greenwood and Indianapolis as it grows its new Electrified Power Business segment (IBJ). Plans include constructing a $35 million, 100,000-square-foot office building at the southeast corner of Interstate 65 and County Line Road in Greenwood that will serve as the hub for 500 digital and information technology employees. These will not be new jobs—the employees will transfer from Cummins’ other facilities around the state, primarily from Indianapolis and Columbus. Columbus-based Cummins is not seeking a tax abatement for the Greenwood site, but the city is offering other incentives. Greenwood’s Redevelopment Commission has purchased 83.5 acres of property in the area, and it will sell 31 of those acres to Cummins for $10. The city says the true value of the land is about $5 million.

CITIES: MUNCIE BUYING RUSHVILLE AMBULANCES -  The fire chief for the city of Rushville says his department has a tentative agreement to sell two ambulances to the city of Muncie for $85,000 (Muncie Star Press). While little information has come from Muncie officials, Muncie Fire Deparment Chief Eddie Bell confirmed that they have been in talks with Rushville officials about buying the ambulances, but there was no formal contract to make a purchase. If a purchase takes place, it would be the latest step in the city's effort to start a fire-based EMS. Mayor Dennis Tyler and Bell have wanted to purchase three ambulances for use by MFD since early February, a scaled-back version of a total takeover of EMS duties that first came up in 2017. The Star Press filed public records requests with both Muncie and Rushville on May 15 seeking email correspondence and contracts between officials regarding ambulances for the Muncie Fire Department.

CITIES: CIB APPROVES VICTORY FIELD PROJECT - Plans for $8.3 million in upgrades to Victory Field are moving forward after getting approval from the city board that owns the stadium (IBJ). The Capital Improvement Board approved more than $6.5 million in contracts for changes to the 23-year-old baseball stadium that's home to the Indianapolis Indians. The upgrades include an expansion of the Indians' administrative offices and the creation of a 4,500-square-foot Home Plate Club, which will replace four suites behind home plate. The club will also require the relocation of the stadium's press box and radio and control rooms. The indoor-outdoor club is expected to include amenities like beverage rails, televisions, movable seating, and a full bar, along with outdoor seating on three levels, giving more than 200 fans per game a more social viewing experience than what’s generally offered with traditional seats.

CITIES: VALPO COUNCILWOMAN RESIGNS - Trista Hudson is resigning from the Valparaiso city Council after serving nearly 4 ½ years on the job, according to a city press release (NWI Times). Hudson is leaving to pursue "a new professional position," according to the release that did not elaborate on the move. "I enjoyed serving the city of Valparaiso and am proud to have provided fair representation to all," said Hudson, who intends to remain in the area following her resignation effective May 31. "Listening to all interested parties on each issue was a high priority for me."

CITIES: CENTURY CENTER RISKS BEING OBSOLETE - The Century Center could eventually slip into irrelevance if it doesn’t eventually receive a major makeover (Semmler, South Bend Tribune). That’s the opinion of Jeff Jarnecke, who oversees the Century Center and other sites as executive director of the city’s venues, and a study that concluded that as much as $85 million might have to be spent to keep the facility competitive with convention centers in other midsize cities. On Wednesday, the Century Center’s board of managers asked Jarnecke to continue advancing the proposal by identifying possible sources of financing, partners and even groups that would be interested in using the revamped and possibly expanded facility to determine what is possible and justifiable. “The way people design and use convention centers is very different than 45 years ago when the Century Center was first planned,” said Aaron Perri, executive director of the city’s department of Venues Parks & Arts. “It’s important that we’re keeping up with the needs and expectations of meeting planners.”

CITIES: HAMMOND SUPERINTENDENT TO CLOSE 3 SCHOOLS - Staring down a projected $10.2 million deficit, the superintendent of the School City of Hammond made recommendations this week to close three elementary buildings and cut more than 130 positions districtwide by the start of next school year (NWI Times). The Hammond School Board will vote on Superintendent Scott Miller’s recommendations in a public meeting next Tuesday. At a Wednesday night public work session, Miller recommended closing Columbia and Lafayette elementaries — serving kindergarten and pre-K programs through the fifth grade — and Miller School, offering Hammond’s Head Start and special education pre-K programs.

COUNTIES: LAKE COUNCILWOMAN ELSIE FRANKLIN REMEMBERED - Public service wasn’t just a promise to late Lake County Councilwoman Elsie Franklin, Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez told a crowd Thursday at the Genesis Convention Center (Dolan, NWI Times). He said she did it for living. Dominguez said he first met Franklin a quarter of a century ago when she worked for Gary Police as a radio dispatcher, answering calls for police, medical care and a myriad of other needs Gary residents had. He said she took that passion into local politics and county government where she oversaw the spending of public dollars for essential government services across the county. "She could interact with those in power and helped the poor and those who didn’t have a voice. We will miss her strong voice. She left Lake County better than she found it,” Dominguez said.

COUNTIES: HOWARD COURT MEDIATION FAILS - After a failed mediation session, a dispute over salary raises between the Howard County Council and Judge William Menges is headed to a special judge (Myers, Kokomo Tribune). Howard County Attorney Alan Wilson confirmed Wednesday “no resolution was reached” during mediation earlier this month but said he could provide no other details about the confidential process. The next step in the disagreement, which could lead to an expensive legal bill for Howard County taxpayers, is for the Indiana Supreme Court to appoint a special judge to preside over the case. The county has to pay the legal bills for both sides using taxpayer dollars, acknowledged Wilson. He said he cannot yet predict the total cost. “I would rather have been able to come to an agreement and end the process there. It just wasn’t in the cards, I guess,” said Howard County Council President Jim Papacek.