HOLCOMB SIGNS LANDMARK GAMING BILL: Gov. Eric J. Holcomb signed the landmark gaming bill on Wednesday, which could allow a Gary casino to relocate to Terre Haute (Howey Politics Indiana). “Gaming is a highly regulated industry that once had little competition, but now does from surrounding states and new technology," Holcomb said late Wednesday afternoon. "By modernizing our laws, this legislation will spur positive economic growth for our state and for an industry that employs over 11,000 Hoosiers. Additionally, it will bring in new revenue and create hundreds of new jobs – both permanent and in construction. I will direct the Indiana Gaming Commission to monitor for potential effects of this bill so that we can make necessary changes in future legislative sessions.” HEA1015 also accelerates when racinos can introduce live dealing games from 20201 to next Jan. 1. The bill legalizes sports wagering beginning Sept. 1 and implements a 9.5% tax rate on those wagers. Wagers can only be made by people at age 21 or over. The bill passed House on a bipartisan 59-36 and the Senate 37-12. The legislation also provides subsidies for casino cities impacted by the Gary casino move that includes East Chicago, Hammond, Michigan City, Evansville and French Lick. Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett has espoused a casino’s potential economic benefits since early in the effort (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). He says the construction jobs, permanent casino jobs and tax revenue from the state could all be economic drivers for the area. “We’re looking at a minimum of 500 construction jobs for nearly two years, 18 to 20 months or so, 300 to 400 jobs with the casino itself, local companies that will supply goods and services to the casino that may have to hire staff and the tax money that’ll come with it,” Bennett said.

DANIELS SAYS SAAB WILL HAVE 'ENORMOUS' IMPACT AT PURDUE: Purdue University President Mitch Daniels says today's announcement that Sweden-based Saab will establish a $37 million facility at the Discovery Park District will have a major impact on the university and state. The company plans to build an advanced manufacturing facility that will be used for the production of part of the T-X jet trainer aircraft for the U.S. Air Force and create up to 300 jobs (Brown, Inside Indiana Business).  In an interview with Inside INdiana Business Reporter Mary-Rachel Redman, Daniels said the announcement is a huge step forward for the district. "It validates, I think, our innovation district concept that great companies would like to come and live on the border of a first-rate research university, that we can build a place that's really attractive for top talent to live," said Daniels. "This will help us attract faculty and students in the future that we might not otherwise have had. It certainly means that we're living up to what I think is our obligation to, in a science-based, knowledge-based world, your flagship university, your STEM-based university has a responsibility to create new jobs and open opportunity for people and this obviously is going to do exactly that."

DANIELS EYES 'ENERGY CORRIDOR' ON SOUTHERN BORDER: Purdue President Mitch Daniels proposed a "genuine big idea" for the U.S./Mexican border in his Washington Post column. "Thanks to some wildly imaginative researchers at a group of universities — including Texas A&M, Arizona State, Cal Tech and Purdue University, where I work — candidates have available for inspection a genuine Big Idea that just might transcend these dreary categories," Daniels wrote. "As reported in Scientific American and elsewhere, this consortium of more than two dozen scientists and engineers proposes an “energy-water corridor” along the nearly 2,000 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. It is that rarest of modern phenomena: an ecumenical concept with unifying potential; an idea that even sworn enemies can love. The scientists envision a chain of green-energy installations, powering seawater desalination that could make the desert bloom Israel-style, ease water-shortage concerns in several southwestern states and trigger enormous economic possibilities in both the United States and Mexico. And, oh yes, provide through its necessary, concomitant protective features a major new physical barrier to illegal immigration. A solar park with a width of just five one-meter panels — about 16 feet — running like a ribbon along the corridor’s entire length would produce some 16 gigawatt hours of electricity per day, on the same order of magnitude as all the hydropower along the U.S.-Canada border, or at a full-scale nuclear power plant."

TRUMP TAUNTS CHINESE AS TRADE TALKS TEETER: President Trump taunted China on Wednesday morning, saying in a pair of tweets that Chinese negotiators were attempting to drag out trade negotiations until a “very weak” Democrat was back in the White House and insisting he would be happy to keep tariffs on Chinese exports rather than make a deal (New York Times). Mr. Trump’s tweets came as Chinese negotiators are headed to the United States to try and salvage a trade agreement that has fallen apart, suggesting a long road may be ahead. His comments are likely to further inflame tensions as Chinese officials, including Vice Premier Liu He, one of China’s top economic officials and a close confidant of the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, join talks in Washington on Thursday. A quick resolution now seems unlikely. Significant gaps remain between the two sides, and Mr. Trump suggested he is ready to impose higher tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods on Friday morning.

CHINA PREPARES TO RETALIATE ON TARIFFS: The new hard line taken by China in trade talks—surprising the White House and threatening to derail negotiations—came after Beijing interpreted recent statements and actions by President Trump as a sign the U.S. was ready to make concessions, said people familiar with the thinking of the Chinese side (Wall Street Journal). High-level negotiations are scheduled to resume Thursday in Washington, but the expectations and the stakes have changed significantly. A week ago, the assumption was that negotiators would be closing the deal. Now, they are trying to keep it from collapsing. Adding to the pressure, the U.S. formally filed paperwork Wednesday to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25% from the current 10% at 12:01 a.m. Friday. Beijing’s Commerce Ministry responded by threatening to take unspecified countermeasures. At a campaign rally in Florida Wednesday night, Mr. Trump said Chinese leaders “broke the deal” in trade talks with the U.S.

WORST CASE SCENARIO UNFOLDING FOR INDIANA SOYBEAN FARMERS: In what could easily be described as “worst case” for America’s soybean growers, the Trump Administration has confirmed what the industry has feared for months: Heavier tariffs on Chinese goods are planned for Friday (Hoosier Ag Today). “This is a predicament for soy growers,” said Davie Stephens, a grower from Clinton, Ky., and president of the American Soybean Association (ASA). “We understand that Mr. Trump and his Administration have broad goals they want to achieve for our country, but farmers are in a desperate situation. We need a positive resolution of this ongoing tariff dispute, not further escalation of tensions.” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Monday he plans to move forward with President Trump’s threat on Sunday to increase the tariff rate from 10 to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, citing China’s back-pedaling on prior commitments during talks in Beijing last week. The market has fluctuated with each development during the negotiations, including Trump’s social media posts over the weekend. “After so many threats and missed deadlines for concluding negotiations, this ongoing uncertainty is unacceptable to U.S. farmers,” Stephens continued. “With depressed prices and unsold stocks forecast to double before the 2019 harvest begins in September, we need the China market reopened to U.S. soybean exports within weeks, not months or longer.” Stephens concluded, “Soybean farmers have demonstrated great patience as the Administration has sought to negotiate a better trading relationship with China. However, our patience is wearing thin as prices remain low and the tariff dispute drags on. The financial and emotional toll on U.S. soybean farmers cannot be ignored.”

PURDUE'S AG BAROMETER PLUMMETS: In April, agricultural producer sentiment plunged as the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer declined 18 points to a reading of 115, down from 133 in March. The barometer, a sentiment index, is based on a monthly survey of 400 agricultural producers across the U.S. This marks the fourth largest one-month drop since data collection began in October 2015 (Hoosier Ag Today). The barometer’s decline was driven by both worsening perceptions of both current economic conditions and weaker expectations for the future. The Index of Current Conditions fell 21 points to a reading of 99, and the Index of Future Expectations declined 16 points to a reading of 123. “Farmers are becoming increasingly anxious over their future financial performance,” said James Mintert, the barometer’s principal investigator and director of Purdue University’s Center for Commercial Agriculture. “Producers have taken stock of their financial position and prospects for 2019 as they head into planting season and are concerned about the uncertainty arising from the ongoing trade disputes with key ag trading partners. Right now it seems that producers are being cautious.”

WALORSKI WARNS TRUMP, KUDLOW ON IMPOSING AUTO TARIFFS: U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) today led a bipartisan group of 159 members of Congress in urging Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow and President Trump not to impose costly tariffs that could harm the auto industry (Howey Politics Indiana). “We are convinced that the products hard-working Americans in the auto sector design, build, sell, and service are not a threat to our national security. We strongly urge you to advise the President against imposing trade restrictions that could harm the auto sector and the American economy,” wrote the bipartisan coalition of lawmakers. “American auto manufacturers, parts suppliers and retailers, dealers, and vehicle service providers have not asked for and do not need protection. Tariffs on autos will raise prices for American consumers and lower demand, ultimately leading to decreased U.S. production, investment and employment.” We urge you to do everything you can to avoid trade restrictions that would negatively impact the U.S. auto sector and undermine our economic security,” the members concluded. Walorski has repeatedly urged the Trump administration not to put American jobs and economic growth at risk by imposing costly auto tariffs. The average price of a vehicle could go up $2,750 ($3,700 for imported cars and $1,900 for domestically built cars), according to the non-profit Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich (Axios).

NEXT WEEKLY HPI ON THURSDAY MAY 16: The next weekly edition of Howey Politics Indiana will be published around 9 a.m. Thursday May 16, with full coverage of memorial services for the late U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, and our first Horse Race preview of fall mayoral races.

TRUMP CITES 'EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE' TO DENY TESTIMONY: The White House is invoking executive privilege, reserving the right to block the full release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report on the Russia probe, escalating President Donald Trump's battle with Congress (AP). The administration's decision was announced just as the House Judiciary Committee was gaveling in to consider holding Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress over failure to release the report. Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York declared the action by Trump's Justice Department was a clear new sign of the president's "blanket defiance" of Congress' constitutional rights. "Every day we learn of new efforts by this administration to stonewall Congress," Nadler said. "This is unprecedented." White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the action was rather a response to the "blatant abuse of power" by Democratic Rep. Nadler. "Neither the White House nor Attorney General Barr will comply with Chairman Nadler's unlawful and reckless demands," she said.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Hoosier farmers believed that President Trump offered the best path to recalibrate trade with China, which has a long history of heisting intellectual property and state subsidizing industry. Many have been ardent supporters of Trump and hoped he had a long-term strategy to forge a new era of trade. Unfortunately, that scenario appears to be collapsing, and many of our farmers this planting season find themselves in a vise between the tariffs, bad weather and volatile markets. Indiana agriculture leaders told HPI it wasn't clear if Trump had a realistic grasp of what "victory" would look like. Many farmers gave Vice President Pence an earful in Boone County last month, but those concerns don't appear to have registered with the president, who now risks losing one of his most loyal components of his political base. - Brian A. Howey


MICHIGAN CITY MAYOR MEER FENDS OFF CHALLENGE: It wasn't an overwhelming victory, but Mayor Ron Meer will be seeking a third term in the fall after a defeating challenger Virginia Martin in Tuesday night's Democratic mayoral primary (Michigan City News-Dispatch). Meer finished the night with 1,746 votes, or 51.55 percent of the vote; beating out a tough challenge from former City Council member Martin, who finished with 1,581 votes, or 46.68 percent of the vote, according to final tallies from the La Porte County Clerk's office. Clifford Thatcher finished a distant third with 60 votes, or 1.77 percent.

HAMMOND COUNCILMAN MARKOVICH LOSES 9TH TERM: It came down to just four votes. That was the paper-thin margin by which Hammond At-Large Councilman Bob Markovich, D-at large, appeared to fall short in his bid to secure a ninth consecutive term. Markovich won 21.5% of the vote in the five-candidate Democratic primary for Hammond’s three at-large seats, according to unofficial Lake County results (Racke, NWI Times). But that was only good enough for fourth place — challenger Katrina Alexander squeaked by him with 21.6%. Alexander, a 35-year-old teacher at East Chicago Central High School, is a first-time candidate for city council. Illustrating the vast disparity in political experience between the candidates, she was still two years away from kindergarten when Markovich won his first city council race. If certified by the Lake County Board of Elections, Tuesday’s improbable result means Markovich won’t be on the general election ballot for the first time since 1987. He did not respond to multiple requests for comment by press time.

FORT WAYNE RACE LIKELY TO FIRE UP EARLY: Fort Wayne voters won't have to wait until Labor Day to start hearing from candidates running in the November city election (Gong, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). “I don't think we're going to have to wait very long to get a feeling for how the two sides will campaign,” said Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Purdue Fort Wayne. Until recently, Labor Day was regarded as the unofficial start to city election season. As he looks toward a race against three-term incumbent Mayor Tom Henry, MedPro Executive Tim Smith will have to determine whether his primary campaign strategy will work for the general election.

DEMS SAY INDY VOTING WAS UP FOR PARTY: The Indianapolis Democratic City-Wide Coordinated Campaign released an initial analysis of data from Tuesday's primary election. While final vote counts have yet to be certified, results indicate that there has been a surge in Democratic voter enthusiasm, with the number of Republican voters down significantly (Howey Politics Indiana). "For four years, Mayor Joe Hogsett and the Democratic majority of our City-County Council have been hard at work fighting to invest in public safety and public infrastructure for our neighborhoods," said Coordinated Campaign Manager Peter Luster. "And for four months our unprecedented coordinated field campaign has been hard at work spreading that message, with yesterday's results the latest indication that grassroots support is surging for Democratic candidates across Marion County." With nearly 99.64% of vote centers reporting, voter enthusiasm is clearly indicated by changes in the electorate since the 2015 municipal election cycle.

6 OF 10 SCHOOL REFERENDUMS PASS: Voters in two Indianapolis districts approved school-funding boosts Tuesday during a busy election for property-tax referendums in Indiana (Chalkbeat). The townships were among 10 school districts statewide that sought funding from voters to supplement the state and local money they already receive. With 96 percent of Marion County vote centers counted at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, the two tax measures easily passed. In Wayne Township, which is one of Indianapolis’ largest school districts, the referendum to increase school funding had received 63 percent of the vote. In neighboring Decatur Township, 65 percent of voters supported a tax measure. Across the state, voters also approved referendums for Duneland, Franklin, Frontier and River Forest schools. But four other referendums failed, with voters turning down tax measures for the Hanover, Elkhart, Plymouth and DeKalb school districts, according to news reports.

ZODY CALLS FOR HOLCOMB FLIGHT PROBE: Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody requested the four-member Indiana Election Commission launch an investigation into Governor Holcomb’s campaign activities as they relate to a pair of private jet flights in 2018 (Howey Politics Indiana). In a letter to the Commission delivered Wednesday, Zody argued the Commission must scrutinize nearly two dozen contributions received by Holcomb’s campaign and Team Holcomb – Holcomb’s joint fundraising agreement – around the dates of the trip. Any of the contributions, if received at the out-of-state meetings, would directly contradict the Holcomb campaign’s argument for not disclosing the flights. “No one is above the law,” said Zody. “Governor Holcomb doesn’t get to pick and choose which rules he follows. We’re calling on the commission to examine the evidence and ensure Governor Holcomb is within the rules. State government should not appear to be for sale to the highest bidder.”

Presidential 2020

MAYOR PETE BLINDSIDES HARRIS IN CALIFORNIA: California Democrats, especially those with ties to the influential LGBTQ and Hollywood communities, are finding themselves torn between a home-state senator they love, Kamala Harris, and an out-of-state suitor who has suddenly captured their attention, Pete Buttigieg (Politico). It’s a dynamic that’s unsettling the Democratic presidential primary in California — home to an early 2020 March contest that offers a mother lode of nearly 500 delegates. No two candidates are crowding each other quite so closely here, or elbowing each other quite so aggressively, in the pursuit of some of the party’s most generous and influential donors. Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., isn’t viewed as a direct threat to Harris. But his rapid rise, appeal to millennial voters and newfound popularity among Hollywood and Silicon Valley donors stands to hinder her ability to lock down her backyard. And it could enable the 37-year-old mayor to net a solid cache of delegates from Harris’ home state — perhaps even more than he can capture in early-voting states like Nevada or Iowa. Democratic strategist Garry South says the growing buzz about Buttigieg’s success in wedging his way into California’s lucrative fundraising base has shocked many longtime politics watchers in the state. “I think the amazing thing is that nobody is ceding California to Kamala Harris ... no one is abandoning California to the native daughter — which tells you something,’’ he says. “Why would he come out here and spend four days if he thought she had California locked up?“

BIDEN BELIEVES DEM FIELD WILL WINNOW QUICKLY: Joe Biden predicted Wednesday that the field of Democratic presidential candidates would be “winnowed out pretty quickly” next year, dismissing concerns that a lengthy and contentious primary could weaken the party’s nominee (Politico). “This field is going to be winnowed out pretty quickly,” Biden told reporters at a King Taco restaurant in Los Angeles. Noting the 15 percent threshold for Democratic candidates in Iowa, the first-in-the-nation caucus state, and California, which will award its delegates in early March, Biden said, “It’s going to work its way through relatively quickly for all of us.”

TRUMP CAMPAIGN WON'T COMMIT TO REVEALING FOREIGN CONTACTS: FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday that if any 2020 presidential campaign is contacted by a foreign agent, it’s “something the FBI would want to know about” (Politico). But would President Donald Trump’s campaign alert the feds if approached by a potential election meddler? It won’t say. The Trump campaign did not respond to numerous inquiries about whether it has implemented a policy about foreign interference — including the use of information stolen or hacked by a foreign power and whether aides must formally report outreach from foreigners. Several Democratic campaigns, by contrast, have announced policies on the subject.

TRUMP CAMPAIGN SETS MASSIVE FUND GOAL: President Donald Trump's outside political machine is setting a $300 million fundraising goal and is pitching major GOP donors on a plan to target six swing states that are likely to decide the 2020 election, according to people familiar with the group's blueprint (Politico). The pressure is high: America First Action super PAC and its allied non-profit, America First Policies, are part of a broader Trump political apparatus that Republican officials say will need to raise roughly $1 billion. Trump successfully raised money from small donors in 2016 but some major GOP givers remain wary of him. "America First Action President Brian Walsh said in an interview Wednesday that he's secured more than $40 million in pledges and that an array of major GOP givers have expressed interest. Many of them are deeply turned off by the Democratic field, he said.

HARRIS LEADS IN MINORITY FUNDING: U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris leads in fundraising in zip codes that are more tha 50% minority (Howey Politics Indiana). She has raised $1 million, according to NBC News. Beto O'Rourke and Sen. Bernie Sanders raised just over $400,000, Sen. Cory Booker just under $400,000 and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg posted $200,000 while U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren posted just under $200,000.


HOUSE PANEL HOLDS BARR IN CONTEMPT: The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt, escalating a feud between Capitol Hill and the Justice Department (The Hill). In a 24-16 vote along party lines, Democrats made a formal recommendation to the lower chamber to hold the president’s top law enforcement official in contempt for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena. Democrats have demanded that Barr turn over special counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted report, and their subpoena of the Justice Department official to do so received fierce pushback from Republicans and the DOJ alike.

HOUSE REPUBLICANS WANT MUELLER TO TESTIFY: House Republicans are in favor of asking special counsel Robert Mueller to testify about the findings of his investigation into links between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russia — despite objections from President Trump, who declared Sunday that "Mueller should not testify" (WIBC). Though Republicans have largely sided with Trump's claim that Mueller's 448-page report absolved the president of wrongdoing — despite laying out vivid details of Trump's repeated efforts to thwart Mueller's probe — the president's GOP House allies say they want to hear from the former FBI director. "I think Mueller should testify," Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said in an interview on Monday. "There was no collusion, no obstruction, and that's what Bob Mueller will tell everyone." Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), another member of the House Judiciary Committee, said he has "a lot of questions" for Mueller. "So I hope that happens."

SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE SUBPOENAS TRUMP JR.: The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee subpoenaed Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, to testify about previous answers he gave to congressional investigators as part of their Russia probe, according to people with knowledge of the matter, marking the first time a congressional panel has subpoenaed a member of President Trump’s family (Wall Street Journal). In December 2017, the younger Mr. Trump testified before that committee for more than nine hours. He also spoke to the Senate Judiciary Committee in September of that year. The Judiciary Committee has released a transcript of that interview, in which Mr. Trump was asked about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 election and about a June 2016 meeting he arranged at Trump Tower between top campaign aides and a Russian lawyer linked to the Kremlin.

DELEGATION LAUDS SAAB/PURDUE DEAL: U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.), and U.S. Representatives Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.-01), Jim Banks (R-Ind.-03), Jim Baird (R-Ind.-04), and André Carson (D-Ind.-07) today applauded the announcement that Swedish aerospace and defense manufacturer Saab will launch its new advanced manufacturing facility at Purdue University-affiliated Discovery Park District Aerospace in West Lafayette (Howey Politics Indiana). On January 23, 2019, members of the Indiana delegation led a letter to Saab urging the company to select Indiana for their new U.S. defense manufacturing facility which represents more than $37 million in planned Indiana investments in the coming years. The facility is expected to employ up to 300 Hoosiers in high-skilled manufacturing jobs beginning in 2020. Today’s announcement is a result of months of hard work and strong collaborations across the state led by Governor Eric Holcomb, Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger, the entire Indiana Economic Development Corporation team, Purdue University team, and officials of Tippecanoe County and the cities of Lafayette and West Lafayette. Saab’s decision is a testament of Indiana’s strong manufacturing background, diverse defense supply chain, and highly skilled Hoosier workforce. “I’m thrilled to welcome Saab to Indiana to manufacture this important defense asset,” said Senator Young. “Saab’s announcement is a testament to our state’s robust business environment and world-class workforce that enable companies of all sizes to succeed.” “Indiana is known around the world as a hotbed for manufacturing investment and innovation.  Saab’s decision to build in West Lafayette means over 200 great new jobs for Hoosiers and one more reason Indiana is America’s manufacturing powerhouse,” said Senator Braun.

BROOKS HERALDS BROADBAND BILL: U.S. Reps. Susan W. Brooks (R-IN05) and Paul Tonko (D-NY20) heralded passage of H.R. 1328, the ACCESS BROADBAND Act in the House today by a unanimous voice vote (Howey Politics Indiana). This bipartisan legislation would help expand broadband access in underserved areas and create a simpler process for small businesses and local economic developers to access federal broadband resources.

SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE ENDORSES SMOKING AGE BILL: The South Bend Tribune today published an editorial supporting U.S. Senator Todd Young’s (R-Ind.) Tobacco to 21 Act – bipartisan legislation to prohibit the sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to anyone under the age of 21. “In a state that has been devastated by the effects of tobacco, the Tobacco to 21 Act sounds like part of the solution,” the editorial states. “Young’s bill also targets what he calls the ‘alarming rate’ of teen-age use of vaping products,” the editorial continues. “Young noted in a recent phone interview that public health experts call the move an ‘incredibly impactful policy change.’”

YOUNG/BRAUN RESOLUTION ON IRAN: U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) along with Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) introduced a resolution to mark the anniversary of the United States’ withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran. The resolution highlights the shortcomings of the Iran nuclear agreement, reaffirms Congressional opposition to Iran ever acquiring a nuclear weapons capability, and rejects the reapplication of JCPOA sanctions relief (Howey Politics Indiana). “This resolution serves as a critical reminder of the deep flaws present in President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. From the beginning, this deal enabled the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism to have relief from sanctions without dismantling their nuclear program. On this one year anniversary of our decision to withdraw from the deal, Iran has once again reminded the world of their true intentions by threating to enrich its stockpile of uranium. Additionally, and despite Iran’s collapsing economy, the Iranian regime has also decided it would rather pursue nuclear weapons instead of selling their excess uranium and heavy water to help its own economy. We must stand firm on our maximum pressure campaign and never permit the Iranian regime to develop a nuclear weapon,” said Senator Young. "President Trump made a courageous decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, which builds off his success of rooting out ISIS and keeping our country safe from the threat of global terrorism,” said Senator Braun.

BANKS COMMENTS ON IRAN DEAL WITHDRAWAL: U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) released the following statement on the one-year anniversary of the United States’ withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Howey Politics Indiana). Said Rep. Banks, “One year ago today, President Trump boldly withdrew the U.S. from a sham nuclear arms agreement with the world’s largest state-sponsor of terrorism, the Islamic Republic of Iran. The dishonest brokers in Tehran conned the U.S. out of hundreds of millions of dollars in cash in exchange for weak rules and delays to their nuclear program.  This cash was funneled to their terror network, killing Americans and our allies.  Today, tough sanctions have again been imposed on Iran, to stifle their terrorism-funding economy and their military operations in the region.  We will not curb Iran’s deadly and destabilizing behavior through appeasement and sheepish diplomacy.  I am thankful that President Trump and Secretary Pompeo are returning to Reagan-era resilience and applaud their bold leadership one year ago today.”

WALORSKI SEEKS TO IMPROVE RURAL HOSPICE: U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today introduced bipartisan legislation to help ensure Hoosier seniors and their families have access to hospice care in rural communities. The Rural Access to Hospice Act would fix a technical glitch in Medicare law that prevents many patients in rural communities from receiving hospice care from their local primary care provider (Howey Politics Indiana). “For Americans in rural communities and other underserved areas, Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Centers play a critical role in providing access to affordable, quality health care,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “These patients shouldn’t lose the doctor they know and trust when they enter hospice care simply because of where they live. The bipartisan Rural Access to Hospice Act will fix a technical glitch to ensure seniors can access hospice care and choose their own doctor as the attending physician.”

General Assembly

REP. FRYE LAMENTS GAMING BILL:  It might have been considered a fairly successful 2019 legislative session for southeastern Indiana, if not for a last-minute change to a casino gaming and sports betting bill (Perleberg, Eagle Country). State Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) provided a review of the 2019 legislative session on Eagle Country 99.3 on Friday morning. Much of the discussion with morning show host Bubba Bo centered around House Enrolled Act 1015 and the manner in which it passed on the final day of the legislative session. Frye and other area lawmakers were stunned when the bill emerged from a final day conference committee – where House and Senate versions of bill are reconciled into a final bill – with significant changes. Some of those unanticipated changes may negatively impact southeastern Indiana casino host communities Lawrenceburg and Rising Sun. “Normally there is no new language that gets put into a bill (in conference committee). Normally the things that got put in get deleted out until you get an agreement. But in this case, our held harmless money – your listeners are aware held harmless is money (casino host communities) receive back from the state – it is an agreement we have had for years that provides local riverboat gaming revenue to our local communities. That hold harmless was cut and it was done without testimony. It was done in about two hours,” said Frye, adding, “those who wanted it” put items into the bill that other lawmakers wanted in order to get it passed. “That was the strategy,” Frye suspected. The predicted impact of HEA 1015 on Rising Sun, home of Rising Star Casino, is a decline of more than $600,000 in annual gaming revenue. That figure is nearly half of the city’s annual revenue from riverboat gaming. Lawrenceburg would take a lighter hit of about $500,000.

MELTON LAUDS HOLCOMB SIGNING GAMING BILL: Wednesday was the final day the governor had to sign House Enrolled Act 1015, the gaming bill that impacts economic development opportunities in Gary and Northwest Indiana, into law. State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) had the following comments on the governor’s signature of the bill (Howey Politics Indiana): “I am pleased that the governor chose to sign this monumental bill into law. The impact it will have on Gary, Northwest Indiana as well as the entire state is widespread, and I look forward to the historic changes that will take place. This is something our community has been working on for over a decade, and with this signature, hundreds of Hoosiers will find employment. Gary now has the opportunity to become an intermodal gateway for the United States.”


GOVERNOR: PRE-NATAL BILL SIGNED - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb offered the following statement after signing a Next Level Agenda bill that will implement two new initiatives that aim directly at reducing infant mortality: a navigator program to help guide high-risk pregnant women and a program to verbally screen all expecting mothers for substance-use disorder so those who need it will be connected to treatment (Howey Politics Indiana). “There are few — if any — things more important than protecting Hoosier babies and improving the lives and health of their mothers. I’ve set the goal of making Indiana the best state in the Midwest for infant mortality by 2024, and today we’re putting new tools in place to make sure more babies reach their first birthdays and more moms get connected to the treatment they need.”

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SIGNS AUTO DEALER BILL - Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill this week that loosens the rules under which car dealerships can charge consumers document fees, a practice that a flurry of recent class-action lawsuits have alleged is unfair (Colombo, IBJ). House Enrolled Act 1237 removes the standard that document preparation fees charged by car dealerships reflect real dealership expenses, as long as those fees are less than $200. Previously, charging document fees that exceeded the real cost for dealers to prepare those documents was considered an unfair sales practice under the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act. Holcomb declined a request for comment from IBJ through his spokesman about why he signed the bill. Despite the previous law, several dealerships charged seemingly-exorbitant document fees anyway, according to at least seven lawsuits making their way through Indiana courts against numerous local auto dealers. Those suits seek class action for customers who paid those fees.

GOVERNOR: CROUCH SCHEDULE - Below is Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch's public schedule for May 9 - 11, 2019. Thursday, May 9, Crouch visits Liberty Place,  Kaiser Home Support Services, 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m., ET, 2633 Grant Line Rd., New Albany, IN; What: Crouch speaks at Madison OCRA Regional Conference, Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, 11:45 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., with Crouch remarks at 12:30 p.m., ET, Clifty Inn, 1650 Clifty Hollow Rd., Madison, IN; Crouch visits Hinkle's Sandwich Shop, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m., ET, 204 W. Main St., Madison, IN; What: Crouch visits Mad Paddle Brewery for Visit Indiana Week, 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m., ET, 301 W. Main St., Madison; Crouch visits Indiana's Oldest Tavern, Historic Broadway Hotel & Tavern, 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m., ET, 313 Broadway St., Madison. Friday, May 10: Crouch visits Bliss Artisan Pizza & Ice Cream for Visit Indiana Week, Indiana Office of Tourism Development, 9:15 a.m. - 9:45 a.m., CT, 600 Humboldt St., Tell City, IN; Crouch visits Blue Heron Vineyard, 12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m., ET, 5330 Blue Heron Lane, Cannelton, IN; Crouch speaks at Girls Run the World 5K, Soroptimist Evansville, 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m., CT, with Crouch remarks at 8:15 a.m., CT, Garvin Park, 1600 N. Main St., Evansville, IN.

STATEHOUSE: HILL ANNOUNCES FUND RECOVERY - The State of Indiana has received a $159,349 payment from Sephora USA Inc. to settle a fraud lawsuit against the international retail chain, Attorney General Curtis Hill announced Wednesday (Howey Politics Indiana). The lawsuit alleged that Sephora, which specializes in cosmetics and other beauty products, violated the Indiana False Claims Act by making false statements in connection with its failure to collect gross retail taxes on shipping and handling charges for its internet sales to Indiana consumers. “My office works tirelessly on behalf of Hoosier taxpayers to root out fraud against the government and recover taxpayer monies,” Attorney General Hill said. “Settlements such as this one send a message to all business entities that we will hold them accountable for following the law and being truthful.”

EDUCATION: HIGHER ED COMMISSION RECOMMENDS 1.65% TUITION HIKE - The Indiana Commission for Higher Education is recommending raising public college tuition and fees by no more than 1.65 percent each year until 2021 (Atkinson, Indiana Public Media). The commission met earlier this week to set new targets for the increases. Commission member John Popp suggested adding a performance funding incentive for schools that don’t raise their tuition and fees. Performance funding is a formula the state uses to measure degree completion and progress statistics to determine how much state funding schools receive. "The more affordable our colleges are, the more chance we have of getting students, and that’s our goal," Popp says. Secretary Allan Hubbard echoed the suggestion. He asked Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers to look into it, adding that he wondered if universities would be more receptive to a monetary incentive than just a commission recommendation. "I think we oughta ask you and your staff to look at whether we could put some sort of financial incentive in to encourage universities to pay more attention to their increases," he says.

EDUCATION: INDIANA AWARDS 200 SCHOLARSHIPS TO FUTURE TEACHERS - The Indiana Commission for Higher Education has awarded 200 scholarships to its third class of Next Generation Hoosier Educators (IBJ). The recipients, selected through a competitive process based on academic achievement and other factors, will receive $7,500 annually—up to $30,000 total—for committing to teach in Indiana for at least five years after graduating college. The commission says 393 students applied for the 2019-20 scholarships, with applications coming from 212 high schools in 82 of the Indiana's 92 counties. Over 80% of applicants were Indiana high school seniors with the remainder comprised of current college students.

EDUCATION: IT'S NOW BETHEL UNIVERSITY - Bethel College has officially changed its name to Bethel University. The vote to change the name passed in April of last year, and the school’s social media accounts for athletic teams, academic departments and other campus groups are in the process of being updated to reflect the change (McLaughlin, Inside Indiana Business). Bethel says one reason for the update is that the institution hopes to expand graduate, online and doctoral programs. The name change is an effort to express the full scope of what Bethel has to offer, said officials.

AGRICULTURE: STATE CHEMIST PREDICTS 1K HEMP FARMS - SB 516, or the “Hemp Bill”, was signed into law last week by Governor Holcomb. Hemp will be commercialized for 2020 with license applications opening later this year, a requirement for all hemp growers (Hoosier Ag Today). “A lot of that is to separate legitimate hemp growing from potential marijuana growing. Marijuana growing in Indiana is illegal,” said Indiana State Chemist and Seed Commissioner Dr. Bob Waltz. He adds that we are still in research mode for 2019 as the amount of research licenses increased significantly from 6 people in 2018 to approximately 100 in 2019. That equates to a jump in acreage from 15 acres in 2018 to nearly 3,000 now.  Waltz said those who have research licenses for 2019 will be able to profit from this year’s crop. “We cannot, and will not, be issuing commercial licenses this year. So, if you’re wanting to get into it just simply to grow a good crop, and that’s a good reason to get in, but that’s a 2020 activity. Legally we cannot do that.”


WHITE HOUSE: NEW YORK SENATE PASSES TRUMP TAX RETURN BILL - The New York state Senate passed legislation Wednesday that would allow President Trump’s state tax returns to be turned over to congressional committees, a move that could pave the way for House Democrats to obtain the president’s closely guarded financial records (Washington Post). The bill must still be approved by the state Assembly and signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D-N.Y.), but Cuomo has expressed support for the measure and Democrats have a majority in the legislature’s lower chamber. The legislation comes after the New York Times published a report, based on 10 years of Trump’s federal tax returns, showing he took more than $1 billion in losses and lost more money than almost every other taxpayer in America from 1985 to 1994.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP DEFENDS HIS MASSIVE LOSSES - President Donald Trump on Wednesday acknowledged taking massive tax write offs for real estate losses topping $1 billion from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, calling it "sport" among developers like himself during that period (AP). Trump was reacting to a New York Times report Tuesday that his businesses lost more than $1 billion from 1985 to 1994. The newspaper said its reporting was based on printouts it acquired of Trump's official IRS tax transcripts, including figures from his federal tax form. Trump reported business losses of $46.1 million in 1985, and a total of $1.17 billion in losses for the 10-year period. The president appeared to defend his actions in a pair of tweets early Wednesday. "Real estate developers in the 1980's & 1990's, more than 30 years ago, were entitled to massive write offs and depreciation which would, if one was actively building, show losses and tax losses in almost all cases," Trump tweeted. He contended the reported losses were "non monetary."

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP APPOINTS ROKITA TO AMTRAK BOARD - Former U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, a Munster native, 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.

WHITE HOUSE: 100K BORDER CROSSINGS IN APRIL - The number of border-crossers taken into U.S. custody topped 100,000 for the second consecutive month in April, U.S. border officials said Wednesday, deepening the crisis that has derailed President Trump’s immigration agenda and has defied his myriad attempts to fix it (Washington Post). U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detained 109,144 migrants along the boundary with Mexico last month, a 6 percent increase from March, as monthly arrests reached their highest point since 2007. Unauthorized border crossings have more than doubled in the past year, and they are on pace to exceed 1 million on an annual basis, as Guatemalan and Honduran families continue streaming north in record numbers with the expectation they will be quickly processed and released from custody. “Our apprehension numbers are off the charts,” Carla Provost, chief of the Border Patrol, said in testimony to senators in Washington on Wednesday afternoon.

WHITE HOUSE: NORTH KOREA FIRES ANOTHER MISSILE - North Korea on Thursday fired at least one unidentified projectile from the country's western area, South Korea's military said, the North's second weapons launch in the last five days and a possible warning that nuclear disarmament talks with Washington could be in danger (AP). The launch comes as U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun visits South Korea, and hours after the North described its firing of rocket artillery and an apparent short-range ballistic missile on Saturday as a regular and defensive military exercise.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP ANGERED AT BOLTON OVER VENEZUELA - President Trump is questioning his administration's aggressive strategy in Venezuela following the failure of a U.S.-backed effort to oust President Nicolás Maduro, complaining he was misled about how easy it would be to replace the socialist strongman with a young opposition figure, according to administration officials and White House advisers (Washington Post). The president's dissatisfaction has crystallized around national security adviser John Bolton and what Trump has groused is an interventionist stance at odds with his view that the United States should stay out of foreign quagmires. Trump has said in recent days that Bolton wants to get him "into a war" — a comment that he has made in jest in the past but that now betrays his more serious concerns, one senior administration official said.

WHITE HOUSE: McMASTER SEES STAFF AS CONSTITUTIONAL THREAT - Former national security adviser H.R. McMaster accused some of his former White House colleagues on Wednesday of being 'a danger to the Constitution' because they are either trying to manipulate President Donald Trump to push their own agenda or see themselves as rescuing the country from what they view as the commander in chief's bad policy choices (Politico Playbook). "The second group of people, and I think this is true in any administration," he explained, are those "who are not there to give the president options — they're there to try to manipulate the situation based on their own agenda, not the president's agenda. The third group of Trump advisers are those who 'cast themselves in the role of saving the country, even the world, from the president,' McMaster told an event hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a hawkish think tank where he is now a scholar."

WHITE HOUSE: CONWAY POLLING FUELS ABORTION LAW - Kellyanne Conway was a Republican pollster when she appeared at a 2009 press conference, flanked by more than a dozen people in white doctors’ coats, to unveil surveys she conducted on religious freedom and medicine. Conway had been hired by the Christian Medical and Dental Associations to bolster the groups’ position that doctors and nurses shouldn’t be required to perform procedures, including abortions, to which they morally objected (Politico). “Who among us would want a medical professional to perform a technique or provide a service with which they were personally uncomfortable and to which they personally objected?” Conway asked during the press conference in a National Press Club conference room. Her data backed up that view: nearly nine out of 10 respondents said medical professionals have “almost an inalienable right” to such objections, she said. A decade later, Conway’s polling is getting results. Late last week, the Health and Human Services Department unveiled a regulation that empowers doctors and other health workers to decline care that violates their beliefs. The 440-page rule cites Conway’s years-old polling, including another she conducted in 2011, a dozen times. No other surveys are cited more frequently — and no other data is more central to the Trump administration’s arguments.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - President Trump will deliver remarks in the Roosevelt Room at 11:45 a.m. on ending surprise medical billing. He will participate in a photo-op with the Boston Red Sox team leadership at 3:30 p.m. in the Oval Office and welcome the Boston Red Sox on the South Lawn at 3:45 p.m.

PENTAGON: USS TRUMAN OFFICER RESIGNS AFTER PENCE COMMENT - Seven days after urging the crew of the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman to " clap like we're at a strip club" to welcome aboard Vice President Mike Pence, Command Master Chief Jonas Doyle Carter stepped down from his post (Business Insider). His bawdy reference ended up eclipsing the veep's visit as CNN and other news outlets seized on his gaffe. Pence had come aboard to announce the administration was abandoning cost-cutting efforts to decommission Truman and instead would mark the Nimitz-class carrier for a midlife Refueling Complex Overhaul in Norfolk. In the wake of his strip club quip, Truman's spokeswoman, Lt. Cmdr. Laura Stegherr, called Carter's words "inappropriate" and said the issue was "being addressed by Truman's leadership."

MEDIA: SALT LAKE TRIBUNE FILES FOR NFP STATUS - After years of heavy financial losses, The Salt Lake Tribune is pursuing federal approval to become a nonprofit operation sustained by donations large and small (Salt Lake Tribune). Owner Paul Huntsman, who bought Utah’s largest newspaper in 2016, confirmed his lawyers have approached the IRS about changing The Tribune from a privately owned business to a community asset. The wealthy businessman said he sees the transformation as the best way to sustain the Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper and maintain its independence.

COLORADO: DENVER LEGALIZES MAGIN MUSHROOMS - Voters narrowly made Denver the first U.S. city to decriminalize psilocybin, the psychoactive ingredient in magic mushrooms, per AP. Decriminalization led by a slim 51%, according to preliminary figures on Tuesday's election. Why it matters, from Denver Post: "While efforts are afoot to get psilocybin-related measures on the ballot in Oregon and California in 2020, Denver hosted the first-ever U.S. popular vote. Denver's Initiative 301 attracted no organized opposition.


CITIES: EVANSVILLE SCHOOLS TURN DOWN FREE LUNCH PROGRAM -  It dazzles the senses — free food for all students in high poverty schools, and even for some schools that aren't. And all without chasing down parents for unpaid balances, filing lawsuits to force payment or stigmatizing students who apply for a subsidy. It sounds too good to be true, though it's been available to the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation for five years now (Langhorne, Evansville Courier & Press). But the EVSC has consistently said no. Now EVSC officials say they're investigating the federal program — the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) —  that makes it all possible. "Our primary concern has always been that participating in CEP could have a negative impact on our Title I budget and all of the programs and the services we have that are funded through that," EVSC spokesman Jason Woebkenberg said.

CITIES: COMMISSION OKs INDY SPORTS DEVELOPMENT AREA - Efforts to secure future funding for the Capital Improvement Board advanced Wednesday, as a city commission approved changes to a mostly-downtown area used to capture tax revenue that helps fund the quasi-government agency (Shuey, IBJ). The Metropolitan Development Commission voted unanimously to approve a resolution expanding the city’s primary professional sports development area, or PSDA, to include nine additional downtown hotels. The PSDA, established in 1997, currently captures state income and sales taxes collected at Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Victory Field and four downtown hotels (the downtown Marriott, the JW Marriott, the Westin and the Hyatt Regency), as well as the Colts’ practice venue on the northwest side. From the sports facilities, the CIB receives up to $16 million per year in tax revenue, while the hotels generate up to $8 million annually for the agency. Additional tax revenue goes to the state.

CITIES: DALEVILLE FIREFIGHTERS INJURED IN CRASH - Two firefighters were injured Tuesday when their truck was involved in a crash in Delaware County (WTHR-TV). According to a press release from Salem Township/Daleville Emergency Services, it happened just after 3 p.m. Tuesday on County Road 300 West near Daleville. The engine was returning from a fire incident when it crashed, knocking down power lines. The firefighters were unable to be pulled from the truck until the power lines could be disconnected. Capt. Firefighter/EMT David Mowery, a 25-year veteran, was injured and was taken to IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie in serious condition. Firefighter Rickie Taylor suffered bumps and bruises and was treated and released from the hospital. Tayor has been with the department for six years.

CITIES: LaPORTE LANDS TOURISM GRANT - LaPorte has received a $220,000 grant from the Indiana Office of Tourism Development to make improvements to the Dunes Event Center (NWI Times). The center is located in NewPorte Landing, the former site of the city’s one-time largest industrial employer, Allis-Chalmers. "The Dunes Event Center brings families from all over the Midwest to a formerly neglected corner of our city, serving as a catalyst in the redevelopment of NewPorte Landing as a destination for recreation and healthy living," Beth Shrader, director of community development, said.