TANGLED GOP LEGAL SHOWDOWN AT STATEHOUSE: The conservative pushback over Indiana’s COVID-19 restrictions is turning into a tangled legal standoff among Republicans who dominate the Statehouse. Gov. Eric Holcomb is arguing that the GOP-controlled General Assembly is violating the state constitution with a new law giving itself the power to call a special legislative session during emergencies and wants the courts to decide who is correct (Davies, AP). Some legal experts question legal arguments that Attorney General Todd Rokita — a past Holcomb political rival — filed with a Marion County court on Friday asking a judge to throw out the governor’s lawsuit because state law gives him alone the authority to determine whether the governor can even go to court. While Rokita maintains the law is constitutional, long-standing legal precedents are that such disagreements between the governor and the Legislature should be decided by the courts, said former state Supreme Court Justice Frank Sullivan, who spent 19 years on the court after serving as a top official in Democratic Gov. Evan Bayh’s administration. “I think that the attorney general is simply not correct in holding himself up as the arbiter of what the Indiana Constitution means,” Sullivan said. “That’s the job of the judicial branch.” The attorney general’s office said Monday that Rokita wasn’t available for an interview about the dispute. Holcomb’s attorneys at the Indianapolis law firm Lewis Wagner didn’t reply to requests for comment Monday about the attorney general’s filing. The governor’s office said last week it went ahead without Rokita’s consent because “we believe under the unique circumstance of this situation, that his approval is not necessary.” Indiana University law professor Joel Schumm said Rokita faces an ethical conflict presenting himself as the lawyer for both sides of the dispute and the attorney general position “is not a superhero with godlike powers” under state constitutional law. “I certainly hope (this case) doesn’t make law that the attorney general can decide if there’s a dispute between branches of government that he can resolve it himself and keep courts from being involved,” Schumm said.

 

CHENEY DENOUNCES TRUMP FOR PERPETRATING 'BIG LIE': Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) on Monday shot back at former President Trump over his claims that the 2020 election was stolen, accusing those who spread the claim of “poisoning our democratic system” (The Hill). “The 2020 presidential election was not stolen,” Cheney tweeted. “Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.” Cheney's tweet came in response to a statement earlier Monday morning from Trump, who called President Biden's victory in the November 2020 election "the big lie." "The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!" Trump said in the statement. The tweet from Cheney was noteworthy nonetheless given the scrutiny she is under within the House Republican Conference, which she chairs, over her criticisms of Trump.

 

BANKS RUNNING SHADOW MESSAGING OPPS: Jim Banks is the head of the House GOP’s biggest caucus. He’s also earning another unofficial title: shadow chair of the House GOP Conference. The Indiana Republican, who's made no secret of his future leadership ambitions, has used his new platform as chief of the Republican Study Committee to build a messaging operation to compete with that of Rep. Liz Cheney, the House GOP’s current — and embattled — conference chair (Politico). Banks’ effort to assemble a rival messaging machine is widely viewed by his colleagues as an audition for Cheney’s job, which governs both communications and member services. That position may be available sooner than he expected: Tensions over Cheney’s outspoken criticism of former President Donald Trump are once again at a boiling point inside the GOP conference, with some senior Republicans predicting she’ll be pushed out of leadership before month’s end. Banks, a veteran of the Afghanistan war who has aligned himself closely with Trump, has raised his own profile since taking the reins of the conservative caucus earlier this year. And the media-savvy 41-year-old is making clear that he views his RSC’s communications shop as superior to the conference’s formal, Cheney-led hub. Banks described it as "filling a void." “We’re in the minority, and this is a messaging battle as much as a policy battle,” Banks told POLITICO in an interview. “RSC is providing that framework better than anyone else on Capitol Hill.” “If there’s a role to play, where I can continue to do what I’m doing as RSC chairman, I want to do it,” Banks said, when asked whether he’d run for leadership. “The most natural comparison to RSC chair is conference chair … And that’s something I think I would really enjoy, because it’s what I’m doing now.”

 

WALORSKI ENTERS GOP LEADERSHIP CONVERSATION: House Republicans are moving closer to ousting Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) from leadership, and are already considering replacements — including Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), congressional aides tell (Axios). Most members recognize Cheney can't be succeeded by a white man, given their top two leaders — House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) — fill that demographic. Selling such a team in a midterm year would compound the GOP's challenges with suburban women. Walorski also has served in the House since 2013 and is the top Republican on the House Ethics Committee. She serves on the powerful Ways and Means Committee. Walorski is well-liked within the party and is seen as someone who wouldn't cause waves in leadership. None of these women voted to impeach Trump this year or in 2019. Stefanik and Walorski objected to the Jan. 6 Electoral College certification of the presidential election.

 

FACEBOOK OVERSIGHT BOARD TO ANNOUNCE TRUMP REINSTATEMENT DECISION: The Facebook Oversight Board will announce its long-anticipated decision on the fate of former President Trump's Facebook account at 9 a.m. ET on Wednesday, it announced Monday morning (CNN). The Board said last month that it had received 9,000+ public responses concerning Trump's indefinite suspension from Facebook and Instagram. Facebook (FB) suspended Trump's account following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots and later referred that decision to the court-like Oversight Board, an independent body which has the power to reverse Facebook content decisions and set precedent for the company. Trump was suspended "indefinitely" from Facebook and Instagram on Jan. 7, a day after his supporters stormed the Capitol in a bid to overturn the 2020 election results. Twitter and YouTube took similar steps, citing an ongoing risk of violence and incitement.

 

HOLCOMB EXPECTS $2B IN READI INVESTMENTS: Gov. Eric Holcomb has launched an effort designed to accelerate the state's economic growth. The $500 million Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative, or READI, will allow cities, towns, and counties to partner on projects to "retain talent today and attract the workforce of tomorrow" (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). The Indiana Economic Development Corp. says READI is expected to attract at least $2 billion local public, private and philanthropic match funding to fuel investment in quality of place efforts. The IEDC says READI builds on the previous Regional Cities Initiative and the 21st Century Talent Initiative, which encouraged communities to team up to improve their economic development efforts. As part of the new program, up to $50 million will be awarded to each identified region to accelerate the implementation of their regional development plans. “Indiana is uniquely positioned to make transformational investments in our communities that will catalyze economic and population growth for years to come,” Holcomb said in a news release. “READI will lead the nation in encouraging regional collaboration, and it will equip Indiana regions with the tools and resources needed to implement strategic investments in quality of place and innovation, creating a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform our state for residents and for future generations of Hoosiers.”

 

PLANNED PARENTHOOD TO FILE SUIT V. 'ABORTION REVERSAL' BILL: The state's leading abortion provider is planning a legal challenge to a new Indiana statute mandating doctors tell patients pill-induced abortions possibly can be "reversed" — despite no reputable medical evidence backing that claim. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb last week signed into law House Enrolled Act 1577 after it was approved on a nearly party-line vote by the Republican-controlled General Assembly (Carden, NWI Times). In addition to requiring abortion doctors tell patients about the possibility of abortion "reversal," it mandates patients be provided an ultrasound photograph of their fetus prior to an abortion, obligates minors to have their parent’s consent to an abortion notarized, and prevents telehealth appointments for obtaining abortion-inducing drugs. LaKimba DeSadier, Indiana state director for Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, said it's "disgraceful" for state government to force health care professionals to lie to their patients about abortion "reversal" or risk facing criminal charges. "Gov. Holcomb showed his cowardice by failing to veto an ideologically driven bill that peddles junk science and harms the people of Indiana," DeSadier said. "It is unconstitutional, and the people of Indiana won’t forget, which is why we intend to take legal action."

 

HALF OF ALL HOOSIERS TESTED FOR COVID: Half of all Hoosiers now have at least one thing in common — they’ve all had their nose swabbed at least once to look for COVID-19 (Garbacz, KPC News). As of Monday, a total of 3,394,981 unique Hoosiers have been tested for COVID-19, surpassing the 50% based on Indiana’s brand-new 2020 U.S. Census population numbers of 6,785,528 people. About 1-in-5 people tested for COVID-19 have tested positive for it at some point, with slightly over 723,000 cases diagnosed all time in Indiana. Although about 3.4 million unique individuals have tested, the total number of tests is significantly higher at 9.86 million, meaning that, on average, Hoosiers who have been tested have been tested about three times since the start of the pandemic.

 

REGION GOP OFFICIALS EXPLAIN VAX RELUCTANCE: Lake County Republican Party Chairman Dan Dernulc said he is not against the vaccine, but that he won’t get vaccinated because he is concerned he will have a negative reaction because of his allergies (Chicago Tribune). “I’m reluctant to do it,” Dernulc said. “I’m not against vaccines. If people get it, that’s great, but if people don’t get it I don’t begrudge them.” Dernulc said he would change his mind if in the next few months more studies are done to show the vaccine’s impact on those with allergies. “(The vaccine) is a good thing for most people, I’m just concerned about me,” Dernulc said. Porter County Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North, said he won’t get vaccinated because he has antibodies after having COVID-19, which he caught shortly after Thanksgiving and required hospitalization. Biggs said people have told him they are reluctant to get the vaccine because it was created quickly compared to other vaccines. “A lot of people that I have spoken to that’s their first criticism,” Biggs said. Biggs, who believes in the herd immunity approach, said it’s been challenging for government officials to navigate the pandemic. “We have to allow science to dictate to a great degree what we’re doing even if it looks like it’s attacking our liberties,” Biggs said. “I think the vaccine, for the vast majority who get it, it won’t harm them, just like the vast majority of people who get the virus won’t be harmed.”

 

McKINNEY SAYS THERE'S NO 'FREE TRADE': “If you wondered whether trade out there is free, fair, and reciprocal, the answer is unequivocally not. The answer is no. Maybe even hell no.” That from Ted McKinney, former Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, reflecting on his time in the position during a recent Purdue Ag Econ lecture, the James C. Snyder Memorial Event (Pfeiffer, Hoosier Ag Today). “And so, the thing I’m pleased with is that I was given permission to be strong, to have a spine. Never to be unfair and that’s very important to me. I worked very hard to make a win-win for the other party, mostly governments and their industries, as I was trying to bring back some sense of fairness to our farmers and ranchers.”

 

BOBBY UNSER DIES AT AGE 87: As "Month of May" activities begin at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the racing world is remembering a legend. Bobby Unser, one of 10 three-time winners of the Indianapolis 500, has died at the age of 87 (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). Unser took the checkered flag and got his likeness on the famed Borg Warner Trophy in 1968, 1975 and 1981. He is also one of just two drivers to win the race in three different decades, along with four-time winner Rick Mears. IMS Chairman Roger Penske issued a statement following the news of Unser's death: “There simply was no one quite like Bobby Unser. Bobby was a ferocious competitor on the track, and his larger-than-life personality made him one of the most beloved and unique racers we have ever seen."

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Indiana and the U.S. are experiencing an inability to fill jobs. There are a range of reasons, from dropping fertility rates, declining life expectancy, impacts of marijuana prohibition, and the 1.5 million women who have left the workforce due to the pandemic. These are all reasons why the immigration "crisis" needs to be fixed. Immigration has historically filled our employment needs. President Trump blocked most immigration and now President Biden has capped it at 62,000 annually, which wouldn't even fill Indiana's unfilled jobs. It's why the White House and Congress need to raise their fortitude in this non-election year, and deal with the problem. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

SPARTZ ANNOUNCES REELECTION: Freshman U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz announced her intention to seek a second term in 2022 on Monday (Howey Politics Indiana). "Unfortunately, after just four months in Congress, I can reconfirm to you that our House of Representatives is badly broken: full of political posturing and ever-increasing powers of the Speaker," Spartz said in an email to supporters. "It’s easy to see why people who want to make good policies and deliver results don’t seek federal office. I had to think long and hard, but after much deliberation I have decided to run for another term representing Indiana’s 5th District. There is a lot at stake for our country and I believe I can be valuable to my constituents and fight for good policy solutions badly needed for our nation."

 

INDEMS REACT TO SPARTZ REELECTION ANNOUNCEMENT: the Indiana Democratic Party released the following statement in response to U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz's reelection announcement (Howey Politics Indiana): "Congresswoman Victoria Spartz voted against the American Rescue Plan, which delivered $1,400 checks to Hoosiers and millions to her district's counties and towns. We are ready to hold her accountable for putting her extreme partisanship ahead of Hoosier Common Sense."

 

INDEMS CALL ON INGOP TO DENOUNCE RACISM: The Indiana Democratic Party on Monday called on elected officials and party leadership within the Indiana Republican Party to condemn a dangerous precedent that’s bubbling up across the state, one that’s risking the safety of communities like Brown and Lake Counties (Howey Politics Indiana). The Brown County Republican Party received bipartisan backlash last week for posting content rooted in racism and white supremacy. In fact, it appeared the county chairman was directly tied to publishing the article itself. And over the weekend, Republican voters from Southern Indiana were so upset Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott asked a constituent to abide by the city’s ordinance on obscenity that a caravan drove across the state in an attempt to intimidate the Mayor and protest a so-called “infringement” of their rights. The Indiana Republican Party has yet to issue a statement on either matter.  "This silence by the INGOP -- coupled with their extreme partisan agenda at all levels of government -- allows racism and threatening behavior to fester unchecked," said Democratic spokesman Drew Anderson. "What’s worse, the Indiana Republican Party’s partisanship has become too irrational, and it’s hurting the state and its families in the process. Our nation saw what happened on January 6th of this year. We cannot allow racism and intimidation to become commonplace in our politics or public service."

 

INDEMS' HOOSIER WOMEN FORWARD PROGRAM ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS:  Indiana’s successful Hoosier Women Forward (HWF) initiative is seeking applicants for its 4th class. Democratic women across the state are encouraged to apply for this established leadership development program right now (Howey Politics Indiana). By the end of this month, 66 women will have completed the HWF program. Since its launch, 12 alumnae have run for office and 5 have been elected. “Clearly, many of our talented and compassionate women are already making a positive impact in their communities,” said HWF Executive Director Amy Levander. “We couldn’t be more proud, and we’re looking forward to building on their success with the next HWF class.” The deadline to apply for the HWF Class of 2021 is June 23.

 

DONNELLY MEET & GREET IN LOGANSPORT MAY 8: Former senator Joe Donnelly is scheduled for a meet and greet with from 5-7 p.m. May 8 at Riverside Park in Logansport (Howey Politics Indiana). He will be pitching the American Rescue Plan.

 

TRUMP SPEAKS AT MAR-A-LAGO WEDDING PARTY: Former president Trump said over the weekend at a wedding party at Mar-a-Lago (Howey Politics Indiana): “Watch Arizona, some very interesting things are happening in Arizona, and we just had a great ruling, or actually the Senate, the State Senate of Arizona. Let’s see what they find, I wouldn’t be surprised if they found thousands and thousands and thousands of votes. So we’re going to watch that very close to the end after that we’ll watch Pennsylvania and you watch Georgia and you’re going to watch Michigan and Wisconsin and you’re watching New Hampshire, they found a lot of votes up in New Hampshire, a lot of votes up in New Hampshire just now, you saw that? Because this was a rigged election, everybody knows it and we’re going to be watching it very closely but start off by you just take a look, it’s on closed circuit…”

 

Polls

 

CNN POLL ON VOTING RIGHTS: Amid a flurry of changes to voting rules and regulations across the country, the American public is divided over whether the bigger problem with elections in America is that it is too hard to vote or that it is too easy to cheat, according to a new CNN Poll conducted by SSRS. The debate over how elections should be carried out in this country is happening while about 3 in 10 Americans express doubts that President Joe Biden was elected legitimately, despite the lack of evidence of fraud or wrongdoing in last year's presidential election. The poll finds 46% of Americans feel the bigger problem in elections is that the rules are not strict enough to prevent illegal votes from being cast, while 45% say the bigger issue is that the rules make it too difficult for eligible citizens who want to vote to cast a ballot. That marks an increase in concern about it being too hard to vote compared with a CNN poll in March, when 39% felt that way.

 

AP POLL SHOWS SUPPORT FOR HOME HEALTH CARE: A majority of Americans agree that government should help people fulfill a widely held aspiration to age in their own homes, not institutional settings, a new poll finds (AP). There’s a surprising level of bipartisan agreement on some proposals that could help make that happen, according to the late March survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Still, Republicans lag Democrats in support of some policies, including the most far-reaching idea: Only 42% of Republicans favor a government long-term care insurance program for all Americans, compared with 78% of Democrats. Overall, 60% of the public supports that approach.

 

Congress

 

BANKS SAYS HE HOPES TO 'AVOID' CHENEY OUSTER: If U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney were to be ousted, it's unknown who would replace her. There are several Republicans viewed as potential candidates for the No. 3 job, including Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York and Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana (WPTA-TV). Banks, who chairs the influential Republican Study Committee, told CNN he hopes "we can avoid" a vote to oust Cheney. But he made clear his displeasure with her. "I would like to see my friend Liz join the focus and share the mission to regain the majority," said Banks. "She seems very, very focused on the past and tearing down other Republicans like myself," Banks added, referring in part to her criticism of a memo he authored to take back the House majority.

 

WALORSKI'S NAME FLOATED AS CHENEY REPLACEMENT: The question of who can — or would — replace GOP conference Chair Liz Cheney is a conundrum that vexed her critics last time around (Politico). Besides U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, two other Republicans considered serious contenders for the role are Rep. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), who won over the MAGA crowd defending Trump during his first impeachment, and Rep. Mike Johnson (La.), a former RSC chairman who now serves as vice conference chair. Other names floated to replace Cheney include Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) and Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.).

 

PELOSI ESTIMATES CONGRESSIONAL VAX RATE AROUND 75%: Lawmakers, like the rest of the country, are all eligible for the coronavirus vaccine. But President Biden's speech to Congress last week looked like he was addressing a group that hadn't gotten a single shot (The Hill). With a crowd a fraction of its usual size — and those present all socially distancing and wearing masks — the speech underscored how life on Capitol Hill has been slow to return to normal and how difficult it is to persuade holdouts to get immunized. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) estimated a day after the address that about 75 percent of House members have been vaccinated, a figure unchanged since March. Until more members get vaccinated, Pelosi said, the House won't return to pre-pandemic operations.

 

YOUNG REINTRODUCES REAUTHORIZATION OF TITLE VI ACT: U.S. Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) announced they have reintroduced a bipartisan bill to reauthorize Title VI of the Higher Education Act (Howey Politics Indiana). The Advancing International and Foreign Language Education Act will ensure that American students have access to quality international and foreign language education programs that meet the needs of our nation and help our students remain globally competitive. “In order to remain globally competitive in the 21st century economy, it’s important that students in Indiana and across America are equipped with the international skills that are in demand. We must ensure that our higher education institutions can successfully prepare students to contribute to our economic competitiveness. This bill will equip universities across the country with resources to help develop innovative international programs and ensure our students are prepared to excel on the national stage,” said Senator Young.

 

BRAUN CALLS OUT BIDEN 'SMOKESCREEN':  President Biden is on the road across the U.S. again this week in order to try and sell two bill he would like to see become law to the American people (Darling, WIBC). Combined, the American Jobs Act and the American Families Plan would cost roughly $4 trillion, with Biden proposing that taxes be raised on wealthier Americans and larger businesses in order to pay for it. “This idea of paying for it with taxes, that’s a smokescreen,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) to Fox News.

 

THE HOUSE will meet at 10 a.m. A.G. Merrick Garland will testify before an Appropriations subcommittee at 10 a.m. But no votes. THE SENATE is out.

 

General Assembly

 

TARGETED INDY ENDED UP WITH MORE WINS: Indianapolis once again found itself the target of legislation curbing its authority this legislative session. But this time, the unprecedented events of 2020 added a different angle to the usual divide between Democrat-controlled Indianapolis and the Republican-controlled General Assembly (Pak-Harvey, IndyStar). After a flurry of bills were filed targeting Indianapolis, business leaders called out legislators at the beginning of this session in an unprecedented public letter expressing concern with the number of bills impacting the state capital. One bill would have jeopardized the city’s rapid transit rollout and another would have created a state oversight board of the city police department. “Sometimes when you’re playing defense, it doesn’t necessarily feel like winning,” said Mark Fisher, chief policy officer of the Indy Chamber, which was part of the effort to bring businesses together to support the city’s autonomy. “But from where we started at the beginning of the legislative session and where we ended up, I’d be hard pressed to say that this was anything but (a successful) session.”

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: REGION TO GET $11M IN NEXT LEVEL ROAD FUNDS - Plenty more orange barrels soon will be popping up on highways and streets across Northwest Indiana (Carden, NWI Times). State officials last week announced localities in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper counties are receiving approximately $11.1 million of the $100 million in state funds awarded to county and municipal road projects in the latest round of Community Crossings grants. Gov. Eric Holcomb and Joe McGuinness, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation, announced the awards that pay 50% of the project cost in larger communities, and 75% in smaller ones.

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB STATEMENT ON DEATH OF BOBBY UNSER - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb offered the following statement regarding the passing of Bobby Unser (Howey Politics Indiana). “The Unser name is synonymous with racing, and Bobby Unser carried that legacy proudly. Indiana loved watching him race and be a part of the largest single-day sporting event. He gave us some special moments at the Indianapolis 500. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Unser family today as they grieve the loss of an incredible man.”

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SCHEDULE - Below find Gov. Eric J. Holcomb’s public schedule for May 4, 2021. Ceremonial Signing of Class III Gaming Compact with Pokagon Band of Potawatomi. Gov. Holcomb, Matthew Wesaw, Tribal Council Chairman, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians of Michigan and Indiana, and Sara Gonso Tait, Executive Director, Indiana Gaming Commission. The governor will deliver remarks and complete a ceremonial signing of the Class III Gaming Compact between Indiana and the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, 2:00 p.m. EDT, Howard Park, 219 S. St. Louis Blvd., South Bend.

 

ISDH: 35% OF HOOSIERS FULLY VACCINATED - Indiana on Monday reported 812 new COVID-19 cases and a single death. More than 1.9 million Indiana residents 16 and older, or more than 35% of the eligible population, are now fully vaccinated (IndyStar). Black and Latino Hoosiers remain less likely to be vaccinated than those who identify as white. While Black Hoosiers make up 9.4% of the population, they represent just under 6% of people who have been vaccinated, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard. Latino residents comprise 6.2% of the population and 3.5% of those vaccinated. However, the statistics shift when only the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine is considered. Black people received 7.6% of those vaccines and Latino people 5.9%. White people made up just under 78% of those receiving this vaccine and comprise 86% of the state’s population.

 

ISDH: MONDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health announced Monday that 812 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 723,443 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. To date, 12,938 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of one from the previous day. Another 412 probable deaths have been reported to date based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. A total of 3,394,981 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 3,392,361 on Sunday. A total of 9,857,803 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26, 2020.

 

FSSA: PRE-K GRANT APPLICATIONS AVAILABLE - Indiana’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning is now accepting applications from families statewide who may be eligible for grants for their children to receive free, high-quality, pre-kindergarten education through the On My Way Pre-K program for the 2021-2022 school year. Information about the program and the link to apply can be found at OnMyWayPreK.org (Howey Politics Indiana). For the 2021-2022 school year, a child is eligible for an On My Way Pre-K voucher if they will be 4 years old by Aug. 1, 2021, and plan to start kindergarten in the 2022-2023 school year. An eligible child must live in a household with income below 127% of the federal poverty level and have parents or guardians who are working, going to school, attending job training or searching for employment.

 

FSSA: SULLIVAN ANNOUNCES SCHOLARSHIP INITIATIVE - The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration announced the Build, Learn, Grow initiative, which is making 50,000 scholarships available to help connect Hoosier children from working families to high-quality early education and out-of-school-time programs (Howey Politics Indiana). The scholarships will be funded by more than $101 million provided to Indiana by the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, or CRRSA. Through the Build, Learn, Grow scholarship fund, Hoosier families working in essential industries with qualifying incomes can receive scholarships for each child age 12 and younger toward their early care and education, summer learning or out-of-school care. Scholarships run from May through October 2021 and will cover 80% of the early care and education program’s tuition. Information is available at www.BuildLearnGrow.org. “Access to high-quality early care and education is essential to Hoosier families and children,” said Jennifer Sullivan, M.D., M.P.H., FSSA secretary. “These scholarships will help connect hard-working Hoosier families and their children to programs that prepare them for success in school, help reverse learning loss and provide additional support to the families who kept us going during the pandemic.”

 

IDEM: 3 SCHOLARSHIPS AWARDED - Northwest Indiana Partners for Clean Air honored the Region’s top air quality leaders and winners of three college scholarships at the organization’s 2021 Virtual Awards Ceremony last Friday (Howey Politics Indiana).  “These award recipients have made great strides in ensuring that air quality in Northwest Indiana continues to improve,” said IDEM Commissioner Bruno Pigott. “Their efforts set the bar across the state for organizations and individuals to help make our air cleaner for all Hoosiers.” Four awards were presented for voluntary actions taken to improve air quality during 2021. The winners were selected from among nominations submitted to the Partners for Clean Air Steering Committee earlier this year.

 

HOMELAND SECURITY: SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE - Indiana college students who volunteer with a public safety organization can now apply for the FY 2022 round of the Indiana Homeland Security Foundation scholarship (Howey Politics Indiana). The Indiana Homeland Security Foundation scholarship offers higher education financial assistance for Indiana students who wish to pursue a degree. A full-time student with at least 12 credit hours per semester is eligible for a $2,000 scholarship and a part-time student with at least six hours per semester is eligible for a $1,000 scholarship.  The scholarship must be used during the awarded school year, and the funds are intended solely to reimburse eligible student educational expenses.

 

DNR: VETERANS WRITING SEMINAR AT TURKEY RUN - A series of veterans-only writing workshops collectively called “Writing in Peace” is being held at Turkey Run State Park in partnership with The Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library (Howey Politics Indiana). The workshops are led by award-winning writer Bonnie Maurer at Turkey Run Inn every month through October. The workshops are free and can host up to 20 veterans per month. Attendees will need to provide their own transportation and food. This program is open only to military veterans. Sign up by emailing info@vonnegutlibrary.org, indicating which date/dates you would like to attend. Dates and more-detailed information is at vonnegutlibrary.org/arts-in-the-park-veterans-workshop.

 

TREASURER: MITCHELL ANNOUNCES 529 CONTEST - Treasurer of State Kelly Mitchell is announcing the CollegeChoice Faces of 529 Day Contest to celebrate National College Savings Plan Day on May 29. CollegeChoice 529 will award one winner with a $529 CollegeChoice account contribution for sharing a photo of who they are saving for during the month of May (Howey Politics Indiana). To enter the Faces of 529 Day Contest, a participant must upload a photo of their beneficiary with a caption and complete the Faces of 529 Day Contest form at www.collegechoicedirect.com/529day by 11:59 p.m. on May 29. One individual will be randomly selected from all eligible entries to win a $529 CollegeChoice 529 account deposit.

 

CHAMBER: 57TH HR CONFERENCE IN JUNE -  The Indiana Chamber of Commerce’s 57th Annual Indiana HR Conference and Expo will offer a variety of lessons and activities for human resources professionals. A new twist on the 2021 program is that it will be presented virtual and in-person to cater to the preferences of attendees (Howey Politics Indiana). The conference will include more than 30 educational sessions and workshops, an expo featuring top services and products, continuing education credits and access to industry leading and expert speakers. “The hybrid format of this year’s HR Conference and Expo continues to keep the safety and convenience of our attendees front and center,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “The conference still will feature the same high-level HR content and professional instruction for which this event is known.”

 

AUTOS: STELLANTIS FURLOUGHS EXTENDED ANOTHER WEEK - The furloughs of around around 1,000 Stellantis workers who build 9-speed transmissions has been extended another two weeks, and union officials say the company may be considering furloughs on the 8-speed line as well due to a global microchip shortage (Kokomo Tribune). Employees on the 9-speed lines started furloughs at the beginning of April due to the ripple affects of the semiconductor chip shortage. The company initially planned to bring back workers Monday.

 

AGRICULTURE: DRY TO DROUGHT CONDITIONS IN INDIANA - A recent lack of rain made for nice spring picnicking weather in Indiana, but it’s left most of the state unusually dry or facing drought conditions (AP). Thursday’s update of the U.S. Drought Monitor shows that 84% of Indiana is either abnormally dry or in the midst of a moderate drought. That’s up from 29% of the state that had faced those conditions the week before. About 9% of Indiana is listed as currently experiencing a moderate drought, up from about 2.3% the week before.

 

NBA: PACERS TO HOST CELEBRATION LIFE FOR SLICK LEONARD MAY 12 - The Indiana Pacers will honor longtime coach and broadcaster Slick Leonard with a “celebration of life.” The public event will be next Wednesday, May 12 (Connett, WIBC). Only 1,500 people will be able to attend at Bankers Life Fieldhouse due to COVID restrictions. Tickets will go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m., and will cost $5.29 each, in honor of the 529 games Leonard won as the Pacers head coach. The event will also be streamed on the team’s website. “While we continue to mourn his passing and miss his always colorful presence, we look forward to offering a public farewell to one of the most impactful figures in our state’s basketball history,” said Pacers Sports & Entertainment President Rick Fuson. “We also want to offer up one last ‘Boom Baby’ in Slick’s honor.” The radio voice of the Pacers, Mark Boyle, will serve as Master of Ceremonies. Leonard died on April 13 at the age of 88.

 

NBA: WIZARDS BLAST PACERS - While Russell Westbrook continues to chase down one of the NBA’s toughest records, his longtime coach Scott Brooks moved him up one spot on an unscientific list (AP). His own. Westbrook had the third game in NBA history with 20-plus rebounds and 20-plus assists — he and Wilt Chamberlain have the other two — and the surging Washington Wizards moved closer to Indiana in the Eastern Conference playoff standings by outgunning the Pacers 154-141 on Monday night.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN RAISES REFUGEE CAP TO 62K - President Joe Biden said Monday that he wants to raise the maximum number of refugees allowed into the United States this fiscal year to 62,500 (ABC News). The announcement comes after his administration had first said in February it wanted the cap at that number but before Biden backtracked in April and decided to leave a Trump-era cap of 15,000 in place. Last month, when the president said he was going to leave the historically low cap in place, he faced fierce criticism from Democratic allies on Capitol Hill.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN SEEKING GOP INFRASTRUCTURE SUPPORT -  As President Joe Biden doubles down on seeking Republican cooperation for an infrastructure package, some Democratic allies say he should be prepared to go it alone if a deal doesn't materialize quickly (NBC News). The White House wants to see counteroffers to Biden's $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan by the middle of this month, and if progress isn't being made by Memorial Day, officials will reassess their strategy of trying to build bipartisan support, said a person familiar with the negotiations. Republicans, who have floated a slimmer $568 billion package, say they wonder whether the White House is willing to limit a bill to narrower measures, like roads and bridges, while cutting out pieces they oppose, like elder care subsidies.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN, HARRIS SCHEDULES - President Biden will receive the President’s Daily Brief at 10:15 a.m. He’ll deliver remarks at 2:30 p.m. about the pandemic response and vaccination campaign. VP Harris will speak to the Washington Conference on the Americas at 9:35 a.m. She’ll leave at 10:55 a.m. for Milwaukee, where she’ll see clean energy labs at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee at 1 p.m. Central time. At 1:50 p.m., she’ll take part in a roundtable discussion of the American Jobs Plan and R&D investments. She’ll leave for Washington at 4:50 p.m. Central time. Press secretary Jen Psaki will brief at 12:30 p.m.

 

JUSTICE: GIULIANI SAYS FEDS SEEK TO 'FRAME' HIM - Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani denied allegations that he violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, telling Fox News on Monday that federal investigators are "trying to frame" him (Fox News). Federal investigators seized electronic devices from Giuliani's New York City apartment last week after executing a search warrant as part of a federal probe into whether he violated the law by lobbying the Trump administration on behalf of Ukrainian officials in 2019. Giuliani has served as former President Trump's personal attorney on a number of high-profile matters. In an exclusive interview with Fox News, Giuliani described the raid on his apartment as "out of control." "At about 6 a.m., there was a banging on my door-- a very loud banging, and outside there was a group of an endless number of FBI agents," Giuliani told Fox News. "Usually a person who has been a former assistant U.S. attorney, a U.S. attorney, a mayor, the associate attorney general, usually they receive a subpoena -- not have their home raided," Giuliani said.

 

HOMELAND SECURITY: FAMILIES TO BE REUNITED - Four families separated under the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy in 2017 will be reunited this week, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced on Monday (ABC News). One mother fled from Honduras with her children, another came from Mexico prior to their separations. The two other families were from Guatemala. They will now be allowed to reunite with their children in the U.S. The government only released limited details about the families due to privacy concerns. It marks the first time the Biden administration’s Family Reunification Task Force has announced a concrete product of its work since it was established at the beginning of his term in January.

 

FINANCE: BILL, MELINDA GATES DIVORCING - Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and his wife of 27 years Melinda Gates said in a statement on Monday that they intended to end their marriage (Fox News). "After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage," the pair said in a statement. "We ask for space and privacy for our family as we begin to navigate this new life." The pair have run the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation together for more than 20 years and have three children together.

 

COVID: STADIUMS SEEKING VACCINATION PROOF TO ENTER - Top officials at the NBA and MLB hope the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is behind them as teams start to welcome fans back into stadiums. But to watch the game live, a growing number of venues are asking visitors to prove they've gotten their shots by displaying what's called a "vaccine passport" (CBS News) Oracle Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, and Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, are among a longer list of sports spaces that now require digital vaccine verifications. Those teams and others have been using an app called Health Pass from technology company Clear for COVID-19 screening. In some cases, showing your status on Health Pass could be the difference between watching a game in person or at home. "Guests holding valid game tickets who cannot present proof of either a negative COVID-19 test within the required timeframes or proof of a COVID-19 full vaccination will not be allowed inside Yankee Stadium," the New York Yankees said in a statement posted on the team website Friday.

 

FLORIDA: DeSANTIS INVALIDATES ALL LOCAL COVID RESTRICTIONS - Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is taking executive action to suspend all local COVID-19 emergency mandates immediately and is issuing an executive order to outlaw all local COVID-19 emergency mandates in the state effective July 1 (CBS News). DeSantis cited the ample availability of vaccines in the Sunshine State and said supply has now eclipsed demand. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, 20.9 million doses have been distributed to the state, and 15.5 million shots have been administered in a state with a population of roughly 21.5 million people. DeSantis made the announcement as he signed a bill that bans entities, including private businesses, from requiring so-called "vaccine passports" and that amends the state's Emergency Management Act by placing limits on local emergency powers. "What I'm going to do is sign the bill, it's effective July 1," DeSantis said at the bill signing Monday in St. Petersburg.

 

MLB: CHISOX ROBERT COULD MISS REST OF SEASON - White Sox center fielder Luis Robert could miss the remainder of the season because of a torn right hip flexor, another major blow for a team eyeing a deep playoff run (AP). General manager Rick Hahn said tests Monday confirmed the injury. There will be more consultations with specialists in the next few days before they determine whether Robert needs surgery. Either way, Hahn said Robert won't resume baseball activities for three to four months. It's not clear if he will play again this year. The White Sox were already without slugging outfielder Eloy Jiménez, who is expected to miss most of the season after rupturing his left pectoral tendon in spring training.

 

Local

 

CARMEL: COUNCIL OKs $25M IN BONDS - The Carmel City Council slightly modified, then approved a $25 million bond Monday for undisclosed land acquisition, a new water tower light show, roundabout art and more (Christian, IBJ). Members of the Carmel City Council held eleven public meetings between last December and Monday night to evaluate and discuss the city administration’s request to use $25 million in tax increment financing bonds for various projects. All but one of council member Tim Hannon’s attempts at amending the bond to eliminate or alternatively fund some of the projects failed by way of split vote. The overall bond’s issuance was ultimately approved 5-3, with council members Tony Green, Laura Campbell and Hannon voting against and Bruce Kimball absent.

 

SOUTH BEND: CUBS HAVE BIG PLANS FOR STADIUM - After losing an entire minor league baseball season to the COVID-19 pandemic, South Bend Cubs owner Andrew Berlin isn’t shying away from the future. In fact, he’s doubling down on it (Wanbaugh, South Bend Tribune). “We have some bigger plans for (Four Winds Field),” Berlin said prior to Tuesday’s home opener, the Cubs’ first game since winning the Midwest League championship back in September 2019. “We’re starting to draw up plans for a second level and putting in more kitchens and more elevators, more suites and more seats. We’re building a stadium that’s probably going to rival some of the Double A stadiums and even Triple A stadiums.”

 

EVANSVILLE: CITY SHIFTING WATER CHEMICAL - Twice a year, in the spring and summer, the Evansville Water and Sewer Utility temporarily changes the disinfectant used in the water treatment process (WFIE-TV). Officials say this scheduled change in disinfectant is a standard water treatment practice to keep water mains clean and free of potentially harmful bacteria throughout the year. Beginning Monday, May 10, and continuing through Monday, June 28, 2021, EWSU will be using free chlorine rather than the regularly used disinfectant (chloramine).

 

GOSPORT: TOWN ENDS FLUORIDE TO WATER — Joanna Thompson was surprised by the message typed on her $59.18 Gosport Municipal Utilities water bill for March (Bloomington Herald-Times). “TOWN HAS STOPPED ADDING FLUORIDE TO THE WATER”

 

BLOOMINGTON: COUNTY WORRIES ABOUT LOST REVENUE TO ANNEXATION - Monroe County officials have voiced some serious concerns about Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton’s annexation plan, with one commissioner calling a recent news release from the mayor’s office “misleading” (Ladwig, Bloomington Herald-Times). While a fiscal analysis for the current annexation proposal is not yet available, the analysis of a similar proposal from 2017 indicated the city stood to gain more than $9 million in the first year alone, primarily through new property taxes.

 

WHITING: PIEROGI FEST TO RETURN THIS SUMMER - Get ready to polish off a ton of pierogi in downtown Whiting again this summer (Pete, NWI Times). The festival where everyone is at least honorarily Polish is coming back. Mr. Pierogi, Miss Paczki, the wise-cracking buscias and the whole eccentric cast of characters are returning to 119th Street in July after a year's hiatus to celebrate Pierogi Fest, the Region's largest and probably best-known summer festival considering the amount of national press it has gotten.