MAYOR PETE'S FOX TOWN HALL AT 7 TONIGHT: Fox News will host a town hall with South Bend, Ind., mayor and presidential hopeful, Pete Buttigieg. The event will air live from Claremont, N.H., from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET tonight. It will be moderated by Chris Wallace, host of "Fox News Sunday." Fox News and Fox Business president and executive editor, Jay Wallace, said of the event, “We look forward to hosting Mayor Buttigieg in New Hampshire and again showcasing our first-in-class journalism and election coverage.” Buttigieg condemned Fox News opinion hosts who "spread fear and lies" while explaining why he is appearing on the network for a town hall Sunday night (The Hill). "There’s been a lot of debate recently about whether Democratic presidential candidates should go on Fox News," the South Bend, Ind. mayor said in an email released by his campaign late Saturday. "First, let me be clear: I strongly condemn the voices on Fox and in the media that uncritically amplify hate and the divisive sort of politics that gave rise to this presidency."

DCS MAKING PROGRESS: After more than a year of intense focus, the Indiana Department of Child Services appears to have turned a corner (Kelly, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The number of cases of abused or neglected children is down more than 3,500. Caseworker loads have decreased. The number of children in foster care dropped 12%. Staff turnover is down. It's these metrics that led lawmakers to provide less funding than initially requested in the new state budget starting July 1. The department will receive $256 million instead of $286 million. “I know that our legislators worked very hard trying to figure out the best use of all the dollars,” DCS Director Terry Stigdon said. “At this point, I am grateful because we are moving in the right direction. We're going to keep working hard. I don't have a concern, because they were clear about their support for children.” It's a big turnaround for an agency that was spiraling in December 2017. Its director had just resigned, and a leaked copy of her resignation letter spelled out serious problems with the agency. According to DCS, caseloads have been falling. In January 2018, the agency was only 77% compliant with the limits statewide, and now that is up to 97%.

JOHNSTON REPLACING VINCENT AT OMB: Gov. Eric Holcomb announced that Office of Management and Budget Director Micah Vincent will depart from his position and Cris Johnston, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, will replace him. The change is effective June 30 (Howey Politics Indiana). “Micah has played key roles in some of our biggest initiatives and became a trusted advisor," Holcomb said. "I appreciate his creative ideas to solve issues and the thoughtful way he has approached maintaining the state’s solid fiscal footing. Cris is a veteran who will step seamlessly into the OMB role and assist with the financing of large infrastructure projects, such as the West Lake and South Shore rail expansions in northwest Indiana.” As previously announced, today is Jason Dudich’s last day as state budget director. Vincent will take over those responsibilities on an interim basis until a replacement is named. Vincent has accepted a position as vice president, strategy+M&A, with The Heritage Group, in Indianapolis. Among key successes, Vincent assisted with the development of the transportation infrastructure plan approved by the General Assembly in 2017 that fully funds roads and bridges projects for the next 20 years. He led efforts to create the governor’s Next Level Connections program that will bring $1 billion to infrastructure projects throughout the state, including highways, flights, broadband and trails. Under Vincent’s watch, the state has maintained its Triple-A credit rating from all three ratings agencies and the General Assembly recently approved the state’s eighth straight balanced budget.

MORE CRITICISM OF SCHOOL SAFETY MENTAL HEALTH FUNDING: Education leaders say they’re disappointed that proposals to make mental health services eligible for school safety funding fell short in the 2019 General Assembly (Loughlin, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). “I’m disappointed that we didn’t put any real money into dealing with mental health issues this session,” said state Rep. Tonya Pfaff, D-Terre Haute. “We continue to talk about school safety, but we can’t talk about it without talking about mental health and social-emotional wellness.” Early in the session, Pfaff — who teaches high school math — successfully introduced an amendment that would have allowed school corporations to use safety/security funding to provide school-based mental health services to students as part of a catch-all school safety bill (HB 1004). By the end of the legislative session, references to mental health were removed from that bill. Jennifer McCormick, state superintendent of public instruction, said funding for mental health services “didn’t get the traction or attention it deserved. We were disappointed to see how the legislation ended up,” she said. “However, I have faith in our local schools that they are going to do what is right for kids” and provide access to needed services. “We’re now trying to provide schools with support and guidance to do what they can given the resources that we are given,” McCormick said. Much of the school safety legislation focuses on improving building security and responding to threats, rather than prevention, said Terry Spradlin, executive director of the Indiana School Boards Association. “They really didn’t do an adequate job on the prevention side, addressing the social-emotional learning and mental health needs of students,” Spradlin said. “We’ve got more work to do in that area. ISBA will continue to be an advocate and bring forth some new ideas in future sessions to address those critical needs.”

TRUMP PASSES ON AUTO TARIFFS: Caught in a sprawling trade dispute with U.S. rival China, President Donald Trump decided against declaring commercial war on America's friends: The White House said Friday that he is delaying for six months any decision to slap import taxes on foreign cars, a move that would hit Europe and Japan especially hard (AP). Trump is hoping to use the threat of auto tariffs to pressure Japan and the European Union into making concessions in ongoing trade talks. "If agreements are not reached within 180 days, the president will determine whether and what further action needs to be taken," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.

WALORSKI LAUDS TRUMP REMOVAL OF METAL TARIFFS: U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), who has led the charge for relief from Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs and retaliatory measures, today released the following statement after the Trump administration announced an agreement with Canada and Mexico to remove the tariffs and retaliation (Howey Politics Indiana): “This is great news for American manufacturers, farmers, workers, and families. The agreement with Canada and Mexico to lift steel and aluminum tariffs and retaliation without quotas will allow the U.S. to better target China’s unfair trade practices and pave the way for the USMCA. “I’m grateful to President Trump and Ambassador Lighthizer for fulfilling their pledge to resolve this issue so we can move full steam ahead on a modernized trade agreement with two of our closest trading partners. I look forward to working together to finalize a great deal for the American people.”

SOYBEANS AT 10-YEAR LOW AS MARKETS MAY VANISH: Soybean prices plunged to a 10-year low last week after China announced a new round of tariffs in an escalating trade war, and the depressed prices have been taking a toll on Northwest Indiana's farmers (Pete & Laverty, NWI Times). "One area in which Northwest Indiana farmers, and the agricultural sector in general, is being severely affected by the trade war and tariffs is the soybean market," Indiana University Northwest assistant professor of economics Micah Pollak said. "Farmers have chosen to store as much of last year's soybean crop as possible, but this will only buy so much time. With no end to the trade war in immediate sight, farmers will likely be forced to sell much of last year’s crop at much lower than typical prices." Some farmers could face bankruptcy, and the United States runs the risk of losing the Chinese soybean market to competitors like Brazil, Pollak said. China is by far the biggest importer of U.S. soybeans in the world, and has been since about 2011, Purdue University Agricultural Economic Professor Wallace Tyner said. The United States exports about half its soybeans internationally, such as through the Cargill operations at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, and China consumes about 62% of U.S. soybeans. "They use it for oil and cooking and animal feed," Tyner said. "They only have so much land to grow crops, so they made the strategic decision to grow rice and corn and wheat. They import soybeans, which is mainly used as animal feed. They decided you can live without meat but you can't live without food." The possibility of a country like Brazil moving aggressively into the market poses a long-term threat. "If they make those investments, those markets are lost forever," Tyner said. "They have lower labor costs."

PENCE PLAYING BEHIND SCENES ROLE ON IMMIGRATION: As a member of Congress more than a decade ago, Mike Pence unveiled an immigration proposal offering a chance for legal status to people who had come to the country illegally. Hardline conservative activists were furious (Politico). Tom Tancredo, then a firebrand Republican congressman from Colorado, called the vice president’s proposal both “amnesty” and “an atrocity”: A political action committee he co-founded set up a running “Pence Watch” online. The populist pundit Pat Buchanan likened Pence’s call for “a principled consensus on immigration reform” to a betrayal from “The Godfather” and said it could mean “the end of Mike Pence as a rising star of the GOP.” Pence’s 2006 plan, which he insisted did not amount to amnesty for immigrants in the country illegally, died quietly and has been mostly forgotten in Washington. But not by those hawkish advocates, who suspect that Pence is quietly seeking to have a moderating influence over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, including what the president introduced as his new “pro-immigrant” plan on Thursday. Although Pence largely echoes Trump’s talking points and has given few public hints that he sees things any differently, his critics have noticed with growing alarm that he is playing a greater behind-the-scenes role in Trump’s immigration policy than has been previously understood, a fact confirmed by people close to Pence. Immigration hawks say Pence’s involvement is a warning sign that “establishment Republicans who are interested in more workers — and not more relief for American workers” — are making inroads into Trump’s policymaking, said Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies, who attended a meeting with Jared Kushner, the president’s senior adviser and son-in-law.

STANDING O FOR PENCE AT TAYLOR AS SOME WALK OUT: Mike Pence was welcomed to Taylor University with a standing ovation as the 48th and current vice president of the United States took center stage to give life advice to Taylor's graduating class (Ohlenkamp, Muncie Star Press). "The many Taylor grads I've worked with over the years are some of the smartest men and women I've ever known," Pence told the crowded auditorium. He touted that his own White House staff had a Taylor graduate among its ranks. He also relayed warm regards from Donald Trump, whom he spoke with on the phone prior to giving his commencement address. The vice president spoke to the student body about his journey as a Christian and how his faith developed through his college years. He recommended that students lean into their faith as they determine their futures. "Wherever life takes you... take a service attitude," Pence said. "Consider others as more important than yourselves." The vice president continually doubled back to matters of faith during his address. "Go show the world every day, that we can love God and love our neighbor at the same time," Pence said. Nearly 40 students and faculty walked out at the start of the ceremony as a form of protest against the university bringing Pence to speak to the graduates. It was unsurprising as the the university's faculty voted 61-49 to approve a motion of dissent against the commencement speaker, according to The Echo student newspaper. Most of Taylor's graduating class, however, received the vice president with a standing ovation after the planned walkout.

SCOTUS EYES TESTING INDIANA'S ABORTION LAW: Vice President Mike Pence's career goals has been to consign Roe v. Wade "to the ash heap of history." Three months before ascending to Donald Trump's national ticket, he signed HEA 1337 saying it would “ensure the dignified final treatment of the unborn and prohibits abortions that are based only on the unborn child’s sex, race, color, national origin, ancestry or disability, including Down syndrome” (Howey Politics Indiana). This week a wave of abortion restrictions  have passed in Alabama, Missouri and Louisiana, setting up speculation of a U.S. Supreme Court showdown. The Alabama law is seen by conservatives ranging from Rev. Pat Robertson to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as an overreach. It is the Indiana law that could ultimately challenge Roe v. Wade. When the 7th Circuit struck the law down, Judge Daniel Manion noted that in the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey ruling, which defined how far states could go in limiting abortion, “the purported right to have a pre-viability abortion is more ironclad even than the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Only a majority of the Supreme Court or a constitutional amendment can permit the States to place some limits on abortion.” Curt Smith of the Indiana Family Institute told WTHR-TV's  Kevin Rader, "The U.S. Supreme Court for many weeks now has been considering taking on Indiana's case that could be the beginning of the end for Roe v. Wade. We know today it was under review for a 14th time. Maybe unprecedented, but certainly quite rare in the history of the Supreme Court. There is some important reason the court continues to keep this case on the front burner."

CULTURAL WARS COULD USURP TRUMP'S ECONOMY IN 2020: The unemployment rate is at a 50-year low, companies are adding jobs and the gross domestic product grew by 3.2 percent in the first quarter, undercutting predictions of a coming recession (New York Times). Yet for all that political upside, Republicans demonstrated repeatedly last week that they were not positioning themselves to wage the 2020 election over the strength of the economy. President Trump and his top advisers sent mixed signals about a possible war with Iran. Mr. Trump outlined a hard-line immigration proposal that had little chance of passing, but refocused attention on the most incendiary issue of his presidency. His drumbeat about tariffs on China sent the stock market gyrating. And in Alabama, the Republican governor signed a bill that would effectively ban abortion, the most recent and far-reaching of new state restrictions and a step toward a possible Supreme Court showdown over abortion rights. Such divisive and destabilizing stands — driven by Mr. Trump’s political impulses and by emboldened conservatives — could end up alienating swing voters and could help Democrats who might otherwise be on the defensive over the nation’s relative prosperity, politicians and strategists in both parties said. And the longstanding verity that Americans vote with their pocketbooks may be tested in 2020 like never before.

GOP REP. AMASH SAYS TRUMP COMMITTED 'IMPEACHABLE OFFENSES': Michigan Rep. Justin Amash became the first Republican lawmaker to declare that President Donald Trump committed impeachable offenses and that Attorney General William Barr “deliberately misrepresented” special counsel Robert Mueller’s report (Politico). Amash, whose libertarian views often put him at odds with Trump and his fellow Republicans, posted a series of tweets Saturday afternoon outlining positions that even some Democrats have been unwilling to embrace — an extraordinary development that comes as Democratic leaders face increasing pressure from progressives to launch impeachment proceedings. “Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment,” Amash wrote, arguing that lawmakers have become too afraid of using impeachment to deter presidential misconduct. “Impeachment, which is a special form of indictment, does not even require probable cause that a crime (e.g., obstruction of justice) has been committed; it simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct,” Amash wrote.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: I'm concerned about the future of Steak N Shake, which appears to be in a fight for its life. Perhaps David Letterman can come to the rescue, and restore those milkshake cherries. - Brian A. Howey


YOUNG OPPOSES ROY MOORE SENATE CANDIDACY: Conservative lightning rod Roy Moore of Alabama, narrow loser of a turbulent special election for Senate in 2017, is considering a fresh run next year. National Republican leaders are signaling they’ll again try preventing their party from nominating the twice-removed state jurist whose campaign was battered by allegations of long-ago sexual harassment of teenagers (SFGate). Moore’s defeat for the same seat two years ago made him the first Republican in reliably red Alabama to lose a Senate race in a quarter century. National party leaders say a Moore nomination would endanger what they view as a strong shot at defeating Sen. Doug Jones, the Democrat and former federal prosecutor who upset Moore two years ago. “I’m still praying about it and talking to people, my family, my wife and I’m strongly considering it,” Moore, 72, told the Associated Press. Republicans control the Senate 53-47 and view defeating Jones as a top priority. Jones, 65, is considered the most endangered Democratic incumbent facing re-election in 2020, a year when several GOP senators are vulnerable and control of the chamber will be at stake. “The people of Alabama rejected Roy Moore not too long ago,” said Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., who leads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP’s campaign arm. “I don’t see that anything has changed in the state of Alabama since the last election.”

ST. JOE ABSENTEE BALLOT REJECTIONS DOWN: A day after a lawsuit was filed against the Indiana Secretary of State and St. Joseph County Election Board challenging laws that govern invalidation of absentee ballots, the county election board certified results for the 2019 primary (Bauer, South Bend Tribune). This year, 16 absentee ballots weren’t counted because of a litany of reasons. Among that group, seven ballots were invalidated because of signatures on the absentee application and envelope that election workers decided didn’t match. It’s a lower number than the 39 invalidated for signature discrepancies during last year’s General Election, though that election had substantially larger turnout. Election board members declined to comment on the lawsuit filed Thursday by Common Cause — they still haven’t been served with the complaint — but did speak about the policies surrounding rejection of mail-in absentee ballots because of signature discrepancies. “The mail-ins are usually where we have the problem,” said election board chairwoman Catherine Fanello. “When people walk in to (early) vote, everything is checked right there.”

Presidential 2020

DEMOCRATS CATCHING UP TO TRUMP IN DIGITAL SPENDING: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris both outspent President Trump's campaign on Google and Facebook this month, Axios' Sara Fischer reports. Why it matters: Trump's dominant ad spending on Google and Facebook was giving him an unprecedented early lead in drumming up grassroots support. But Dems, led by Biden, are catching up. Candidates are using ads to build lists and solicit small-dollar donations. The data ... Just two months ago, Trump outspent all Democrats combined, 2:1. Now, according to Advertising Analytics and Bully Pulpit Interactive: Democrats have spent nearly twice as much as Trump since January, $12.7 million to $7.9 million.

BIDEN CALLS FOR UNITY, REJECTS ANGER: His party may be enraged by Donald Trump’s presidency, but Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden insisted Saturday that Democrats will not defeat the Republican president if they pick an angry nominee (AP). Facing thousands of voters in his native Pennsylvania for the second time as a 2020 contender, the former vice president offered a call for bipartisan unity that seemed far more aimed at a general election audience than the fiery Democratic activists most active in the presidential primary process. He acknowledged, however, that some believe Democrats should nominate a candidate who can tap into their party’s anti-Trump anger. “That’s what they are saying you have to do to win the Democratic nomination. Well, I don’t believe it,” Biden declared. “I believe Democrats want to unify this nation. That’s what the party’s always been about. That’s what it’s always been about. Unity.”

TRUMP CAMPAIGN DOESN'T LIKE ALABAMA ABORTION LAW: President Trump’s 2020 campaign spokeswoman joined other Republicans in her disapproval of Alabama’s ban on almost all abortions, and suggested the president shared her view (Washington Post). During an appearance on MSNBC on Saturday, Kayleigh McEnany said she disagreed with Alabama’s decision not to allow exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape and incest. The law will permit abortions only if the mother’s life is at risk. “You know, I personally am for the exceptions,” McEnany said. “The president has been clear since the last campaign he’s for exceptions for rape and incest and life of the mother.” When asked if the president would openly criticize the law, McEnany said she didn’t know, but reiterated that “he’s said repeatedly he’s for those three exceptions.” President Donald Trump favors exceptions in abortion bans, he tweeted Saturday night (CNN). "As most people know, and for those who would like to know, I am strongly Pro-Life, with the three exceptions - Rape, Incest and protecting the Life of the mother - the same position taken by Ronald Reagan," Trump wrote.

Sunday Talk

MAYOR PETE SURPRISED BY HIS SURGE: Pete Buttigieg’s surge since mid-March from an extreme longshot for the Democratic presidential nomination to one of the leading contenders surprised a lot of people – including the candidate himself. “We were expecting at this stage of the game to still be introducing ourselves and even defending the idea that something this audacious was appropriate,” Buttigieg told Fox News. “Instead we find that we’ve bolted into the top tier.” It was just two months ago that Buttigieg was still explaining how to pronounce his name. That explanation is rarely needed anymore as the candidate prepares for a Fox News town hall Sunday evening in New Hampshire. He’s seen his poll numbers skyrocket, his fundraising flourish and his national media appearances – as well as the crowds at his campaign events – multiply.

ROMNEY SAYS AMASH CAN TO 'DIFFERENT CONCLUSION': Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said in a Sunday interview that Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) "reached a different conclusion than I did" on impeaching President Trump. "Justin Amash has reached a different conclusion than I have," Romney, a frequent critic of Trump, said on CNN's "State of the Union." “I respect him, I think it’s a courageous statement, but I believe that to make the case for obstruction of justice, you just don’t have the elements.” The former GOP presidential nominee said that he believes that there is not enough evidence to convict the president of obstruction of justice, and that those who support impeachment should consider  “practicality and politics.” “I don’t think there is the full element that you need to prove an obstruction of justice case,” he said.

KLOBACHAR CRITICAL OF TRUMP IMMIGRATION PLAN: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, on Sunday criticized President Trump's latest immigration plan, saying it does not deal with the issue comprehensively. “I feel like the president has carved out one niche here, instead of dealing with the overall comprehensive immigration issue," the senator said on "Fox News Sunday." “What bothers me about the president’s plan is the fact that he doesn’t deal with the Dreamers, he doesn’t deal with the millions of people who came here with no fault of their own, he doesn’t deal with the 10 million people that are here now, many of whom would like to see if they follow the law, learn English, they want to be on a path to citizenship," she added.  “A lot of our Republican colleagues, people like Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, they joined with Democrats to take this on."

GABBARD AGAINST IRAN WAR: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has made foreign policy an intricate part of her campaign and she has advocated strongly that the United States must not go to war with Iran. She reiterated her stance in her appearance Sunday on ABC's "This Week." Trump is "setting the stage for a war in Iran," Gabbard told George Stephanopoulos on "This Week." She continued, "Right now he is leading us down this dangerous path towards a war in Iran."

STAVRIDIS ALARMED OVER IRAN WAR TALK: Former Supreme Allied Commander at NATO James Stavridis said in an interview that aired Sunday that the U.S. is in a "dangerous place" with Iran, as tensions escalate.  "We’re in a kind of dangerous place right now, because of escalation on both sides. It starts with Iran, of course," he told radio host John Catsimatidis on AM 970 in New York, criticizing what he believes to be Iran's "bad behavior throughout the region." "Their escalation has now been matched by the United States," Stavridis added. "Let’s be hopeful that the Iranians will see this show of force, the way intends it, and will back down."

GIULIANI SAYS TRUMP RIGHT TO SNUB SUBPOENAS: President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said the president "is doing the right thing" by ignoring congressional subpoenas. "There are six different investigations...thousands of requests for documents, it's like they're falling all over themselves," Giuliani said of House Democrats who are probing the Trump administration.  "So the president is doing the right thing in resisting their subpoenas, not because he doesn't want to cooperate, he cooperated with the special counsel...we just don't want to do it over again," he added in an interview with radio host John Catsimatidis that aired Sunday on AM 970 in New York.


CARSON VOTED FOR EQUALITY ACT: Congressman André Carson issued the statement below following the House of Representatives’ passage of the Equality Act. This legislation extends anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ Americans with regard to employment, education, access to credit, jury service, federal funding, housing and public accommodations (Howey Politics Indiana). “Today, Congress made historic progress in the ongoing struggle to achieve liberty and justice for all Americans. The Equality Act is a major step in securing fundamental rights and protections that LGBTQ people need and deserve. As a longtime member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, I am proud to cosponsor this bill and even prouder to vote for it today. In a majority of states, members of this community don’t have these explicit protections, meaning they can legally be fired from their job, denied housing, and face a number of other injustices simply because of who they are or who they love. That’s unfair and un-American, plain and simple. The Equality Act helps right this wrong, while also respecting religious exemption laws already on the books."

BROOKS STATEMENT ON EQUALITY ACT: U.S. Rep. Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05) provided the following statement after voting in support of H.R.5, the Equality Act (Howey Politics Indiana): “Discrimination of any kind, towards anyone, is wrong and at this time in our nation’s history, we cannot turn a blind eye to the discrimination the LGBTQ community faces. In order to work towards eliminating discrimination throughout our country, whether in the workplace, when purchasing or renting a home, staying in a hotel, at schools, applying for credit or in jury service, we must expand civil rights protections to the LGBTQ community. Including sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination is a necessary step in order to make our country a safer place to live and work for all Americans. Because I’m aware of the discrimination members of the LGBTQ community face around the country when renting or buying a place to call home, I’ve authored legislation with Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL10) that has been included as a provision in the Equality Act. This provision ensures anyone, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, handicap, familial status and national origin is treated fairly and equally under the law as they buy or rent a home. I must acknowledge this bill is not perfectly drafted. I am pro-life and share the sentiment of my pro-life colleagues and constituents that conscience protections need to remain in place for medical providers with religious or moral objections so that they cannot be forced to perform abortions. However, these conscience protections under the Weldon and Hyde amendments in current law are not altered by this bill and will remain in place under current law. As the legislative process moves forward, I will advocate for clarification language that would improve this bill.”

General Assembly

BLACK CAUCUS TO FOCUS ON ADVOCACY: The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus will hold a series of town halls in communities across the state over the next few months (Indiana Public Media). The Black Caucus uses town halls each summer to update Hoosiers on the previous legislative session and get input for next year. Caucus Chair Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis) says this year, they’re bringing along state workers to help Hoosiers prepare for the upcoming census. And she says the caucus will also emphasize the importance of citizen advocacy. “I saw how vital it was for the people to be at the Statehouse and how vital it is for their voice to be heard,” Shackleford says. Shackleford says the caucus will focus on teaching people how to advocate during session – which she says many find intimidating. “A lot of people say, ‘Well, we don’t know how to go to committee hearings. We don’t know when committee hearings take place,’” Shackleford says. The first town hall is Saturday, in Indianapolis. Future stops include Fort Wayne, Jeffersonville, Evansville, South Bend, Terre Haute and Hammond.


GOVERNOR: 50 PROTEST HATE CRIME LAW IN TERRE HAUTE - Some 50 people packed the Vigo County Courthouse steps Saturday to protest Indiana’s new hate crimes law, a law the demonstrators say doesn’t explicitly protect the most vulnerable Hoosiers (Modisitt, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb on April 3, Senate Bill 198 allows judges handing down criminal sentences to consider bias due to victims’ real or perceived traits. They include but are not limited to a set of characteristics listed elsewhere in Indiana code — color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion and sexual orientation. And while the law does include a list of protected characteristics, a rub for social conservatives like Rep. Bruce Borders, among others, demonstrators at Saturday’s rally say the list isn’t comprehensive enough. “The hate crimes bill, and I use that term loosely, that was signed into law in April of this year by Gov. Holcomb not only excludes specific groups of our most vulnerable people, it excludes every woman and every elderly person that calls Indiana home,” said Jessica Meadows, member of the Interfaith Council of the Wabash Valley. “Even the groups that are listed are not truly protected in any way as the bill does not mandate anything, it simply states that if the judge feels inclined to try it as a hate crime they can make that choice.”

ECONOMY: INDIANA JOBLESS RATE AT 3.6% - Indiana's unemployment rate remained steady in April at 3.6 percent, unchanged from the rate in March (AP). The Indiana Department of Workforce Development released its latest unemployment report Friday. The state's unemployment rate matched the national rate for the month. Indiana’s labor force—which is composed of both employed and unemployed-but-willing-to-work residents—increased by 1,349 workers from March to April, to 3.41 million. Indiana’s labor-force participation rate—the percentage of the state’s population that is either employed or actively seeking work stayed at 65.3% in April. It remains ahead of the national rate of 62.8%. Private sector employment in Indiana fell by 3,600 in April over the previous month, but is up more than 36,700 over the last year, the state said.

JUSTICE: ACLU SAYS ABORTION LAWS UNCONSTITUTIONAL - Last week, Georgia joined three other states banning abortions at the first sign of a heartbeat (Connett, WIBC). One group in Indiana doesn't want that to happen in the Hoosier state. ACLU of Indiana says there are five active cases right now on abortion laws the state of Indiana has enacted. "We'll continue to make those fights," says Jane Henegar, Executive Director of ACLU of Indiana. "And we'll continue to fight across the country to make sure women are the ones that get to decide what to do with such an important and personal issue in their life." Henegar believes there's a specific reason why some lawmakers are pushing hard for different versions of anti-abortion laws.  "The advocates of these laws know they're unconstitutional," she says. "They're doing it as an attempt to, if not overturn Roe v. Wade, then erode it to the point where it's amenable protection for women." Last October, Indiana appealed a law signed by then-Governor Mike Pence that would allow the state, not a woman, to have the final say when it comes to abortion. The law would make it illegal to undergo an abortion for gender, race, and disability. Indiana's case has been under review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

EDUCATION: BSU ALUMNI DIRECTOR SHIPLEY DIES - The executive director, president, and chief executive officer of the Ball State University Alumni Association has died. President Geoffrey Mearns said Ed Shipley was “one of Ball State University’s greatest ambassadors” (Inside Indiana Business). Shipley spent 34 years working for the university, 31 of which were with the Alumni Association. He was also well-known in athletics department, for running statistics and his loyalty to the team. The Star Press reports Shipley had attended every home football game, 217 home games since 1977. Shipley was inducted into the Ball State Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016 and the Alumni Center’s library was named in his honor.

EDUCATION: HOWE MILITARY SCHOOL FOR SALE - A northeastern Indiana military school that's shutting down is now up for sale (AP). A real estate company has put a $4 million asking price on the 63-acre site of Howe Military Academy. The Zacher Co. lists the site with 26 buildings and a solar farm and suggests it could be used for education, a retirement facility, recreation, as a religious institution or rehabilitation center. Leaders cited declining enrollment for their decision in March to close the 135-year-old school in the town of Howe, about 50 miles north of Fort Wayne. Its final graduation ceremony is set for June 1.

CRIME: BSU SHOOTER WAS NOT A STUDENT - Ball State University released the following statement regarding the early-morning shooting in a neighborhood near campus (Muncie Star Press): At approximately 12:45 a.m. on May 18, the Muncie Police Department – along with assistance from the Ball State University police department — responded to an off-campus, private residence located in the 2400 block of West Euclid Avenue, which is located about five blocks from campus.  Seven people were reported to have been shot.  A shooter has been apprehended and the individual is not a Ball State student. Ball State University has confirmed that one of its students was among the seven people shot. This student has been treated and released from Ball Memorial Hospital.


WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP'S SANCTIONS HAMMERING HEZBOLLAH - The powerful Lebanese Hezbollah militia has thrived for decades on generous cash handouts from Iran, spending lavishly on benefits for its fighters, funding social services for its constituents and accumulating a formidable arsenal that has helped make the group a significant regional force, with troops in Syria and Iraq (Washington Post). But since President Trump introduced sweeping new restrictions on trade with Iran last year, raising tensions with Tehran that reached a crescendo in recent days, Iran’s ability to finance allies such as Hezbollah has been curtailed. Hezbollah, the best funded and most senior of Tehran’s proxies, has seen a sharp fall in its revenue and is being forced to make draconian cuts to its spending, according to Hezbollah officials, members and supporters. Fighters are being furloughed or assigned to the reserves, where they receive lower salaries or no pay at all, said a Hezbollah employee with one of the group’s administrative units.

WHITE HOUSE: PENCE HAD LEGAL DEFENSE FUND; HAS $25 - U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is the beneficiary of a legal defense fund set up to aid in expenses related to the 2016 election, according to disclosures the vice president made public on Thursday (Reuters). The fund has $25 in it, according to the disclosure. To donate to the fund, supporters will have to complete a series of certifications, including that Pence himself did not solicit the contribution, according to a White House official. Donors will also have to verify that they are American citizens, they are not a lobbyist and the money is from their personal wealth, not a corporation, the official said.

WHITE HOUSE: ROKITA REPEATEDLY VOTED AGAINS AMTRAK FUNDING - Former U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita last year was unsuccessful at riding the "Trump Train" to Indiana's Republican U.S. Senate nomination (Carden, NWI Times). But President Donald Trump is giving Rokita another ticket to ride by announcing that he intends to nominate Rokita to a seat on the Amtrak board of directors. If officially nominated and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Rokita will join the nine-member board that sets policy for the National Passenger Rail Corp., whose funding Rokita repeatedly sought to eliminate during his eight-year tenure in the U.S. House. In 2015, for example, Rokita voted in favor of an amendment to House Bill 749 that would have terminated all federal subsidies for Amtrak; a vote that won Rokita praise from numerous conservative interest groups. The underlying measure, providing $7.2 billion in federal funding for Amtrak through 2019, nevertheless passed the Republican-controlled House, 316-101. At the same time, Rokita tweeted favorably about a December 2017 ride with his son on Amtrak's three-day-a-week Cardinal service that passes through Indiana on its route between New York City and Washington, D.C. to Chicago. "Great to be cruising through Indiana on the Hoosier State Cardinal Line with Ryan. Busy night on the train with all 10 cars being sold out," Rokita said.

AGRICULTURE: BARGE TRAFFIC NON-EXISTENT ON MISSISSIPPI - Normally this time of year, huge barges can be seen chugging up the Mississippi River, carrying millions of tons of grain to market and bringing agriculture-related products to farmers in the Midwest for the new growing season. But there’s not much barge traffic this year (AP). That’s because historic spring flooding that swamped and tainted farmland, also left parts of the Mississippi closed for business. The river, which runs nearly 2,350 miles (3,782 kilometers) from Minnesota’s Lake Itasca to the Gulf of Mexico, is a main conduit of shipping everything from agriculture products and construction material to petroleum and coal. The troubles on the Mississippi also have affected shipping on the waterways that feed into it, including the Missouri River. The interruption is hitting an agriculture industry that’s already suffering from a plethora of ills, including the Trump administration’s trade disputes that have helped drive down commodity prices. “You’ve got a perfect storm here,” said Kenneth Hartman Jr., who grows corn, soybeans and wheat just south of Waterloo, Illinois. “It looks bad for us.”

ECONOMY: CAPITAL SPENDING FADING - Spending on factories, equipment and other capital goods slowed in the first quarter among a broad cross-section of large, U.S.-listed firms, highlighting investor concerns that a key driver of economic growth is fading (Wall Street Journal). Capital spending rose 3% from a year earlier in the first quarter at 356 S&P 500 companies that had disclosed figures in quarterly regulatory filings through midday May 8, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal of data supplied by Calcbench, a provider in New York and Cambridge, Mass. That is down from a 20% rise in the year-ago period for the same companies, the analysis shows.

ECONOMY: MEAT PRICES TO RISE DUE TO CHINESE HOG FEVER - A disease sweeping China’s hog farms is set to hit U.S. meat eaters’ pocketbooks (Wall Street Journal). The companies that sell Big Mac and Whopper burgers, Jimmy Dean sausages and Dunkin’ bacon sandwiches all expect meat prices to rise this year, as China imports more pork, beef and poultry to fill a shortfall in its huge hog market. African swine fever, harmless to humans but deadly to pigs, has decimated Chinese hog counts, constraining supplies in the world’s top market for pork. Up to 200 million Chinese hogs will be lost as the disease spreads and herds are culled to prevent it from spreading further, U.S. meat-industry officials estimate. Some expect the number to rise further. The number is much higher than the 125 million pigs slaughtered in the U.S. last year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, and represents a roughly 5% hole in the global meat market. China could import 33% more pork this year than in 2018 to meet its domestic demand, the USDA said. Estimates of China’s hog losses are inexact because U.S. meat officials consider Chinese government data incomplete.

SPORTS: NBA BANS PACERS' EVANS - The NBA has banned Indiana Pacers guard Tyreke Evans at least two years for violating the league’s anti-drug policy (AP). The league announced that Evans had been dismissed and disqualified on Friday. He can apply for reinstatement in 2021. Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard declined comment at the NBA draft combine in Chicago. The team said it in a statement it would reach out to Evans to offer our support.


CITIES: MAYOR MYERS SEES CUMMINGS IN GREENWOOD A GAME CHANGER - The mayor of Greenwood says a planned investment from Columbus-based Cummins Inc. for a new office in the Johnson County city will have a huge impact. The engine manufacturer announced Thursday it is investing $35 million to construct an digital and information technology hub near I-65 and County Line Road, which will house some 500 workers, with many earning six-figure salaries. In an interview with Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman, Mark Myers said this kind of project is something he's been trying to get during his entire tenure as mayor. "We've been promoting Greenwood. We've done a great job and now we've finally landed Cummins in Greenwood," said Myers. "It's just a really great package. It's an exciting time for us and it's opened up that I-65 and County Line Road piece of property that's not produced over the last 12 years, so we're opening it up now. We've got this coming and we're sure that this will bring many more things to come for that area."

COUNTIES: 2ND CLARK JUDGE HOME AFTER SHOOTINGS - Two southern Indiana judges who were wounded in a shooting this month in Indianapolis are both home from the hospital (Indiana Public Media). Larry Wilder, who is acting as a spokesman for both judges, says Clark County Circuit Court Judge Andrew Adams returned home Thursday after Clark County Circuit Court Judge Bradley Jacobs was reported being home earlier this week. They'd been in Indianapolis recovering from the shooting. Indianapolis prosecutors have said that more evidence is needed before they can decide whether to charge two men who were arrested in connection with the May 1 shooting. Police say an argument between the men and the judges, who were in Indianapolis for a conference, preceded the attack.