HOLCOMB STATEMENT ON PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY: Gov. Eric J. Holcomb offered the following statement (Howey Politics Indiana). “When extending the last state public health emergency for another 30 days, I asked my team to bring me a plan that would allow us to wind it down responsibly. They have presented me a plan that identifies three key items that must be preserved if I am to responsibly allow the state public health emergency to expire. To carry this out, I am working with Senator Bray and Speaker Huston to consider passing three key statutory changes to continue protecting Hoosiers by allowing for the continuation of enhanced federal matching funds for Medicaid expenditures, the continuation of the enhanced benefit for those receiving federal food assistance and extend the ability to efficiently vaccinate our 5- to 11-year-olds.” The Governor’s Public Health Commission will discuss public health funding issues during its next meeting on Thursday 1 to 3 p.m. in Room 211 of the Indiana State Library, 315 W. Ohio St., in Indianapolis. Proceedings will be livestreamed and available online at https://www.youtube.com/c/IndianaDepartmentofHealth.

 

LAWMAKERS PLOT END TO PANDEMIC: Hoosier lawmakers are working with Gov. Eric Holcomb to bring a swift end to Indiana's COVID-19 state of emergency that's persisted since the first case of the coronavirus was diagnosed in Indiana on March 6, 2020 (Carden, NWI Times). House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, hinted Tuesday during the ceremonial first meeting of the 2022 General Assembly that legislators may return to the Statehouse prior to the scheduled Jan. 4 start of daily House and Senate sessions to enact new laws continuing essential provisions of the governor's emergency orders in order to allow the remainder to expire. Huston declined during the brief convening of the House to consider a proposed resolution filed by contrarian state Rep. Curt Nisly, R-Milford, that would have immediately terminated the state's COVID-19 emergency, and ended the governor's emergency powers relating to the pandemic. House Concurrent Resolution 3 instead was assigned by Huston to the House Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedure, which typically is a burial ground for proposals the speaker has no interest in advancing. However, a similar House Resolution 2 has been filed by 31 Republicans, including state Rep. Hal Slager, R-Schererville, state Rep. Julie Olthoff, R-Crown Point, and several GOP committee chairmen, making the issue all but impossible for Huston to ignore. The speaker told The Times on Monday his intention is to collaborate with the governor to identify any statutory changes that might need to be made to ensure Indiana's COVID-19 response can continue absent an ongoing state of emergency proclamation.

 

BUTTIGIEG BIG OPPORTUNITY, PITFALLS: Pete Buttigieg's potentially legacy-making opportunity to help steer $550 billion in new infrastructure cash also offers Republicans their best opening yet to hobble his political future (Politico). His agency’s newly filled coffers will give Buttigieg the chance to blitz the airwaves and crisscross the country handing out money for bridges and roads, further adding to his already robust media presence. But such huge dollar signs also mean Buttigieg will face aggressive oversight for how the Department of Transportation spends the funds, and any hint of waste or abuse — even outside his direct control — could endanger his prospects in a potential presidential run. GOP critics of President Joe Biden’s "Build Back Better" agenda, which includes not just the infrastructure package signed into law on Monday but also a so-far-elusive $1.75 trillion package of social spending, will be watching closely for flaws to highlight to voters. “Most Republicans didn't vote for this bill,” said Democratic strategist and pollster Mark Mellman, whose clients have included dozens of members of Congress. “Some of those Republicans are going to be claiming credit anyway. Others will be looking for opportunities to rub somebody’s nose in bad results. Some will be doing both. But a lot of people will be looking for problems with how this money is spent.” Even in the best of circumstances, Buttigieg, whose previous political experience was running the city of South Bend, Ind., has his hands full. South Bend’s 2022 budget is $386 million. DOT’s annual budget is around $90 billion — and now that the infrastructure bill has been signed into law, it will swell to about $140 billion.

 

INFRASTRUCTURE LAW TO TOUCH MANY HOOSIERS:  President Joe Biden just signed the massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law. It will direct billions of dollars towards new construction on roads, bridges and airports, along with things like expanding broadband internet (Runevitch, WTHR-TV). Here's how the money will be put to work in Indiana: From the concrete highways we drive on to the information highways we surf on, the surge in federal funding will touch nearly every part of our lives. "It's one of the largest investments on the federal infrastructure side that we've seen in our country's history," said Brian Gould, executive director of the Build Indiana Council, which advocates for long-term transportation funding for Indiana. Ports and airports are getting cash, too. "$170 million dollars for airport development ranging from Kokomo and Peru and Huntington to Indianapolis International, there's going to be some airport money. So yeah, it really is going to touch every aspect of our lives," said Brian Howey of Howey Politics Indiana. "There's going to be $100 million designated to not only expand high-speed internet, but make sure it's high speed enough so you can use streaming service and that kind of thing," Howey said.

 

YOUNG SAYS PRESIDENT XI TRYING TO KILL BILL: A senator from Indiana said that Chinese President Xi Jinping is afraid of his new bill that would invest in U.S. technologies, citing Xi's fear as the reason China is lobbying against it (Fox News). Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., torched Xi as being "scared" of his new bill in a Monday press release, saying Xi’s fear is the reason behind reports of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) "pressuring American business leaders to oppose" the United States Innovation and Competition Act. The report also said that China threatened the market shares of companies if they didn’t sink Young’s bill. "Xi Jinping does not want this bill to become law," Young said in his press release. "He is scared — rightfully so — that the U.S. will once again surge ahead when USICA becomes law." "The Chinese Communist Party knows that when we invest in American ingenuity, there is no nation in the world that can out-innovate the United States," he continued.

 

LUBBERS STEPPING DOWN AS HIGHER ED COMMISSIONER: Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers plans to step down from her position at the end of the 2022 legislative session, ending a nearly 13-year run in the job, the governor’s office announced Tuesday morning (IBJ). Lubbers, 70, represented District 30 in the Indiana Senate for 17 years before resigning in 2009 to take over the 14-member Indiana Commission for Higher Education after being appointed by former Gov. Mitch Daniels. She will also leave her role as chair of the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, which she took in 2019 after being appointed by Gov. Eric Holcomb. The governor’s office said Lubbers was currently the nation’s longest serving state higher education executive officer. “Throughout my career, I have been blessed with opportunities for service that have enriched my life both personally and professionally,” Lubbers said in written remarks.

 

HOOSIER FARMERS URGED TO STICK WITH 2022 PLANS: In our final Beck’s Yield Check of the season, Beck’s agronomist Travis Burnett says farmers in northern Indiana are largely pleased with their corn yield this season. Soybean yield has been hit or miss depending on where rain fell and where it didn’t during grain fill (Pfeiffer, Hoosier Ag Today). As we get close to wrapping up the 2021 season, Burnett is looking ahead to 2022’s crop. Supply chain issues have farmers worried about product availability for next year. Burnett encourages them to stick to the plan for now. “The two biggest ones I’m hearing about right now that guys are most concerned about is the availability of Liberty and Roundup. I know that’s got a lot of guys trying to figure out what to do from a soybean side of things on what trait technology or what platform they want to use or things of that nature. So, still a lot of time between now and next year when we’re going to be needing those chemicals, so let’s stick with the platforms that we like and that we’re comfortable with, the genetics that we like, and see what happens. We’ve got options in all the platforms out there for other forms of weed control. Let’s just not get too hung up or too worried about that just yet. We’ve got time to see what shakes out.”

 

BIDEN, XI MAKE LITTLE HEADWAY: The virtual meeting between President Biden and China’s leader, Xi Jinping, produced no breakthroughs in a relationship that has spiraled dangerously downward. That was not the intent (New York Times). Instead, the two leaders sought to keep the many disputes between the two countries from escalating into a broader conflict. If they can translate their words into a kind of détente, it would count as a diplomatic success. “It seems clear to me we need to establish some common-sense guardrails,” Mr. Biden told Mr. Xi in opening remarks, speaking over what amounted to the equivalent of a Zoom call from the Roosevelt Room at the White House and the East Hall in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Mr. Xi, for his part, called Mr. Biden “my old friend” and used a nautical metaphor, comparing the two countries to ships that must together navigate the ocean’s wind and waves without colliding.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: In Thursday's weekly edition of Howey Politics Indiana, we'll offer the most comprehensive preview of the 2022 General Assembly session. We'll also look into the possibilities of two Hoosiers - Mike Pence and Pete Buttigieg - waging presidential campaigns in 2024. Look for it around 9 a.m. Thursday. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

INDEMs CALL ON HOLCOMB TO SUPPORT MARIJUANA REFORMS: The Indiana Democratic Party continued its call on Gov. Eric Holcomb to rescind his “big government” opposition to marijuana and join Democrats in the effort to legalize recreational cannabis across the state (Howey Politics Indiana). Waiting on the federal government to legalize cannabis does not only contradict the “local government” approach shared by both Indiana Democrats and Republicans, but it’ll set the state’s economic and manufacturing opportunities behind the rest of the nation once nationwide legalization does become reality. Michigan and Illinois have recreational marijuana. Ohio has medicinal use and Kentucky is strongly considering allowing medicinal use very soon.  “Hoosiers have seen the impact that recreational and medicinal cannabis use has made on the states around us, and not only are they contributing to neighboring states’ economies, Indiana is now on the verge of losing out altogether. Governor Eric Holcomb is losing his economic common sense if he does not join Democrats this session in making this opportunity a winner for the Hoosier State,” said Mike Schmuhl, Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party. “Marijuana is a really popular issue, and a large majority of Hoosiers want to see this get done. Democrats are ready to take the lead on this effort because it’s a win-win for Indiana, and it’ll fulfill the Party’s consistent promise of creating a better future for Hoosier families. It’s time to legalize recreational cannabis across Indiana.”

 

Polls

 

INCREASING DOUBTS ON BIDEN HEALTH: Voters have increasing doubts about the health and mental fitness of President Joe Biden, the oldest man ever sworn into the White House, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. Only 40 percent of voters surveyed agreed with the statement that Biden “is in good health,” while 50 percent disagreed. That 10-percentage-point gap — outside the poll’s margin of error — represents a massive 29-point shift since October 2020, when Morning Consult last surveyed the question and found voters believed Biden was in good health by a 19-point margin.

 

GOP HAS 13% GENERIC LEAD IN RASMUSSEN POLL: With the midterms elections now less than a year away, Republicans have a double-digit lead in their bid to recapture control of Congress. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that, if the elections for Congress were held today, 51% of Likely U.S. Voters would vote for the Republican candidate, while 38% would vote for the Democrat. Just three percent (3%) would vote for some other candidate, but another eight percent (8%) are not sure.

 

Congress

 

JARRING DIVISIONS FOR GOP ON GOSAR CENSURE: House Republicans are pushing to retaliate against 13 of their GOP colleagues who voted for a bill to fix roads and bridges. At the same time, they’re defending Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), a loyalist for former President Trump who tweeted an anime video depicting him killing a Democratic colleague (The Hill). That jarring contrast was on display during a bizarre closed-door GOP conference meeting on Tuesday that highlighted the deep divisions that continue to exist between the pro-Trump and anti-Trump factions of the party, 10 months after the deadly Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol. The divisions do not appear to be narrowing, either, pointing to the challenges the GOP could face in governing the House if they are successful in taking back the majority in next fall’s midterms. In the private meeting in the Capitol basement, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned his rank-and-file Republicans that they need to stick together and stay unified — not attack each other — as they focus on defeating Democrats, sources in the room said.

 

McCARTHY TRIES TO TAMP DOWN GOP CIVIL WAR: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy sought to navigate the delicate intraparty divisions over the new infrastructure law, making the case on Tuesday that Republicans should focus on criticizing Democrats instead of each other (NBC News). At a closed-door House Republican caucus meeting, McCarthy called on lawmakers to stay unified and not attack their GOP colleagues, two sources familiar with the meeting said. McCarthy suggested they should focus their fire on Democrats’ Build Back Better bill, one of the sources said. His plea comes as some far-right members who are closely aligned with former President Donald Trump have begun attacking fellow Republicans who voted for the $550 billion infrastructure package. Publicly, McCarthy has been one of Trump's loudest defenders, but he has struggled to hold together a caucus that has publicly feuded over the former president.

 

The HOUSE will meet at 10 a.m. to consider a measure to censure Rep. Gosar and a number of other bills, with first votes predicted between 1:15 p.m. and 2 p.m. and last votes predicted between 3:15 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.

 

The SENATE will meet at 9:30 a.m. to resume consideration of Brian Nelson's nomination to be Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes. At 10 a.m., the Senate will proceed to two roll-call votes on the motion to invoke cloture on Nelson’s nomination and a motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the NDAA.

 

General Assembly

 

BOEHNLEIN JOINS SENATE: As lawmakers gather for the ceremonial start of the 2022 legislative session, they’ll welcome a new member to their ranks – Kevin Boehnlein, a southeast Indiana Republican (Indiana Public Media). Sen. Ron Grooms (R-Jeffersonville) announced earlier this year that this term would be his last. And he endorsed Boehnlein to replace him in next year’s election. But then, state lawmakers redrew legislative district lines and eliminated Grooms’s district. Shortly thereafter, Grooms announced he would step down early, requiring a private Republican caucus to fill his seat. And that caucus chose Boehnlein to become Indiana’s newest state senator. Boehnlein, a financial advisor and former chief of staff to the mayor of New Albany, has already announced he plans to run for the state Senate next year. He’ll face off with another incumbent, Sen. Erin Houchin (R-Salem), in a primary. Boehnlein becomes the 15th state lawmaker to join the legislature via private caucus in the last four years.

 

3 NEW FRESHMAN JOIN GENERAL ASSEMBLY: There are three new freshmen for the new session. Salem Republican J. Davisson joins the House after the death of this father, Steve (WIBC). And caucuses selected Senators Rodney Pol (D-Chesterton) and Kevin Boehnlein (R-Greenville) to complete the terms of Senators Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) and Ron Grooms (R-Jeffersonville), who resigned.

 

INDEMS CALL FOR MARIJUANA REFORM: As Indiana House and Senate leaders convene for Organizational Day for the 2022 session on Tuesday, state Democrats are hoping legalizing marijuana is an issue at the forefront of the conversation (WANE-TV). “The General Assembly is organizing today for the session early next year, and we want them to take a look at this issue. We should talk about this issue. We should debate it,” said Mike Schmuhl, the Indiana Democratic Party Chairman. On Monday, the Indiana Democratic Party announced it will call for the legalization of recreational marijuana during the 2022 legislative session. “This week we came out strong in support of legalization of marijuana in the Hoosier state. We wanted to kind of put a stake in the ground and say, ‘We’re the party that is fully in support of this,'” said Schmuhl.

 

DeLANEY COMMENTS ON IPS PROPOSAL: State Representative Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) today reacted to the Indianapolis Public School plan that would share district funds with charter schools. Taxpayers voted on a 2018 operating referendum ($220 million over 8 years) proposal that did not include fund sharing with charter schools now being presented to the IPS Board of School Commissioners. The proposal will divert $5 million annually in funding to charter schools (Howey Politics Indiana). "Indiana Public School Administration's unilateral, and unlawful proposal to share referendum funds with charter schools has the effect of misleading taxpayers," DeLaney said. "There must be public confidence as well as integrity in our referendum processes to ensure continued adequate funding of our schools. The proposal posted to the IPS website has a section entitled 'The Gray Area' – we cannot entrust public funds to ill-defined planning. IPS will be opening themselves up to a lawsuit that will have a solid basis." The IPS Board of School Commissioners is expected to vote on the plan Nov. 18 during the Board Action Session.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB HEALTH COMMISSION TO MEET THURSDAY - The Governor’s Public Health Commission will discuss public health funding issues during its next meeting on Thursday (Howey Politics Indiana). The meeting will run from 1 to 3 p.m. in Room 211 of the Indiana State Library, 315 W. Ohio St., in Indianapolis. Proceedings will be livestreamed and available online at https://www.youtube.com/c/IndianaDepartmentofHealth. Governor Eric J. Holcomb established the 15-member commission in August to study Indiana’s public health infrastructure and make recommendations for improvements. The commission is co-chaired by former State Health Commissioner Dr. Judy Monroe, who now serves as president and CEO of the CDC Foundation, and former state Sen. Luke Kenley. Current State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG, serves as secretary, while former Congresswoman Susan Brooks serves as a non-voting citizen advisor.

 

ISDH: TUESDAY COVID STATS -  The Indiana Department of Health reported Tuesday that 42 more Hoosiers have died with COVID-19 and another 2,830 have tested positive. There have been 16,577 confirmed deaths and 1,058,379 positive cases since the pandemic began. An additional 570 probable COVID-19 deaths have also been reported. A total of 1,468 Hoosiers are in the hospital with COVID-19, an increase of 92 since Monday. It is the highest number of hospitalizations since Oct. 19.

 

GAMING: COMMISSION REJECTS LUCY LUCK CASINO OFFER - The Indiana Gaming Commission on Monday afternoon declined an offer from Greg Gibson's gaming company, Lucy Luck Gaming LCC, to resolve its appeal of the state's refusal this summer to renew Lucy Luck's license for a Vigo County casino (Fitton, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). However, it appears the commission will reach out to Lucy Luck with a counter offer. Lucy Luck, whose licensure appeal is set for a status hearing before an administrative law judge on Tuesday, made the following offer, according to the commission staff's presentation to commissioners at Monday's meeting: • The commission would renew Lucy Luck's license. • Lucy Luck would dilute Gibson's ownership and compensate any minority owners. • Lucy Luck would then sell its license or turn it over to Hard Rock International or a "similarly situated" gaming company. Upon questioning, the panel's staff informed commissioners that Lucy Luck was in no better position regarding corporate staffing nor, to the staff's knowledge, qualified financing, than it was when the license renewal was rejected in June.

 

EDUCATION: SEC. JENNER LAUDS LUBBERS - Following today’s announcement that Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers plans to leave her current role following the 2022 legislative session, Indiana Secretary of Education Dr. Katie Jenner released this statement (Howey Politics Indiana): “For three decades, Teresa Lubbers has been one of Indiana’s most visionary thought leaders in the space of education and workforce. Over decades of service, she has worked to empower greater opportunities for every Hoosier student through quality education, ensuring all students have access and resources to pursue their next steps after high school. Because of her committed service, more students have a credential of currency beyond their high school diploma and a ticket to a brighter future.”

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: ROKITA FILES 3RD SUIT V. MANDATES - Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita has filed a third lawsuit taking aim at COVID-19 vaccine mandates imposed by President Joe Biden's administration (IndyStar). The suit filed Monday targets a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rule requiring vaccination of all health care workers at facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid. “No pandemic gives President Biden the authority to ignore the Constitution and the rule of law,” Rokita said is a prepared statement issued Tuesday morning. “And my office will use every means at our disposal to protect Hoosiers’ liberties from this president’s gross executive overreach.”

 

PURDUE: MASK MANDATE TO END NEXT SEMESTER - Purdue President Mitch Daniels says the campus mask mandate will likely be dropped except in classrooms by Feb. 1 (WLFI-TV). President Daniels made the announcement at the Purdue University senate meeting Monday afternoon. He says the change will happen a little later in the semester. That way Protect Purdue officials have time to monitor the Universities' numbers and cases. According to the Protect Purdue dashboard, the University's vaccination rate is at 88 percent. Steve Beaudoin, the Chair of Purdue Senate, says it's something he is comfortable with as long as case numbers remain low. "I appreciate that everyone is required to wear one in the classroom," said Beaudoin. To keep the mandate in the classroom makes sense to me that is where we have the hardest time distancing. But for all the other optional activities as long as the rates stay low I think it's a sensible thing."

 

PURDUE: $75M TO DIVERSIFY FACULTY -  Purdue University announced Monday the launch of its largest hiring effort in the institution's history (WRTV). In a news release, Purdue said it is committing $75 million to hire 40 full-time faculty members in an effort to diversify the racial makeup of its current staff. Purdue's Equity Task Force Implementation Team was tasked with the hiring initiative by the Board of Trustees. The 10-member team will have five years to expand the university's staff across several disciplines. "Our goal is to further enrich and significantly diversify Purdue’s faculty, staff and student body – to maximize the success of all Boilermakers," John Gates, vice provost for Purdue's diversity and inclusion, stated in a release emailed to WRTV.

 

UTILITIES: NIPSCO WIND FARM TO POWER 80K HOMES - NIPSCO will draw electricity from a new wind farm in central Indiana capable of powering 80,000 homes a year (Pete, NWI Times). EDP Renewables and NIPSCO now have partnered on four Indiana renewable energy projects totaling more than 800 megawatts, or enough to light and heat about 200,000 houses in the Hoosier State. The Merrillville-based utility is transitioning away from climate-harming fossil fuels to more sustainable energy sources as part of a long-term plan. “The state of Indiana — and specifically, White County — is essential to EDP’s portfolio and is one of the most important sites worldwide for EDP Renewables’ ongoing renewable energy development and operations efforts,” said Miguel Stilwell, EDP and EDP Renewables CEO. “One thing is very clear: Hoosiers are ready for more renewable energy, and EDP Renewables is ready to deliver.”

 

BIG TEN: WILLIAMS LEADS PURDUE PAST WRIGHT STATE 96-52 - Purdue forward Trevion Williams used a milestone moment to show off all of his skills Tuesday night (AP). He delivered the usual highlight dunks, strong rebounds and jarring screens. He also made a nifty behind-the-back pass, took a defender off the dribble, showed he could hit some jumpers and even threw in a couple of dance moves as he celebrated. Williams finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds, helping the sixth-ranked Boilermakers blow out Wright State 96-52 on a night he became the 16th player in school history with 1,000 points and 650 rebounds.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN TO VISIT MICHIGAN AUTO PLANT - General Motors Co's (GM.N) "Factory Zero" in Detroit is on the front line of a battle for the U.S. electric vehicle market between ageing, unionized factories, and new, non-union plants run by young electric vehicle companies (Reuters). President Joe Biden's administration wants to give the older part of the American auto industry a boost. Biden's scheduled visit Wednesday to Factory Zero will put a spotlight on his administration's proposals to bring billions in federal aid to help older auto factories and the Midwestern communities that depend on them, as part of his "Build Back Better" spending bill. The Biden administration and fellow Democrats in Congress have proposed nearly $50 billion in tax breaks, incentives for government agencies to buy electric vehicles, loans for retooling factories and aid to automotive plant communities.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN, XI EYE NUKE TALKS - President Biden and President Xi Jinping of China have agreed to explore talks on arms control, a top White House official said, a day after the two used a virtual meeting to emphasize the need to avoid conflict on regional security and economic matters (Wall Street Journal). “The two leaders agreed that we would look to begin to carry forward discussions on strategic stability,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Tuesday. Mr. Sullivan made clear the discussion was tentative. “It is now incumbent on us to think about the most productive way to carry it forward from here,” he said in response to a question about China’s growing military prowess during an event at the Brookings Institution think tank.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN STUMPS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE LAW IN NH - Fighting sagging poll ratings, President Joe Biden set out Tuesday on a national tour to persuade everyday Americans of the benefits of his big, just-signed infrastructure plan. First stop: New Hampshire, a state that gave him no love in last year’s presidential primaries (AP). Biden left the state in February of 2020 before polls had even closed on his fifth-place primary finish. But he returned as president, eager to talk up the billions in investments in upgrading America’s roads, bridges and transit systems that he signed into law Monday. “This isn’t esoteric, this isn’t some gigantic bill — it is, but it’s about what happens to ordinary people,” he said. “Conversations around those kitchen tables that are both profound as they are ordinary: How do I cross the bridge in a snowstorm?”

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN TO SPEND $5B ON COVID TREATMENTS - The Biden administration is planning to pay more than five billion dollars for a stockpile of Pfizer’s new Covid-19 pill, enough for about 10 million courses of treatment, after the company gears up production next year, according to people familiar with the agreement (New York Times). Senior federal health officials describe the pill as a powerful new weapon against Covid. When given promptly to trial groups of high-risk unvaccinated people who developed symptoms of the disease, the drug sharply reduced the risk of hospitalization and death.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN/HARRIS SCHEDULE - President Biden's schedule — 10 a.m.: The president and VP Harris will receive the President’s Daily Brief. — 12:30 p.m.: Biden will depart the White House en route to Detroit, where he is scheduled to arrive at 2:15 p.m. — 3:05 p.m.: Biden will visit a General Motors factory, where he will deliver remarks at 4:30 p.m. — 5:40 p.m.: Biden will depart Detroit to return to the White House, where he is scheduled to arrive at 7:20 p.m. The White House Covid-19 response team and public health officials will brief at 11 a.m. White House deputy press secretary Chris Meagher will gaggle aboard Air Force One on the way to Detroit.

 

TREASURY: YELLEN EXTENDS DEBT CEILING - Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Congress on Tuesday that she believed she would run out of maneuvering room to avoid the nation’s first-ever default soon after Dec. 15 (AP). In a letter to congressional leaders, Yellen said that she believed Treasury could be left with insufficient resources to keep financing the government beyond Dec. 15. Yellen’s new date is 12 days later than the Dec. 3 date she provided in a letter to Congress on Oct. 18. That letter was based on the fact that Congress had just passed a $480 billion increase in the debt limit as a stop-gap measure.

 

IMMIGRATION: BORDER APPREHENSIONS DOWN FOR 3RD MONTH - The number of migrants taken into U.S. custody along the border with Mexico decreased for a third consecutive month in October after skyrocketing this summer, according to government data published on Monday (CBS News). U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recorded over 164,000 migrant apprehensions in October — a 23% percent drop from July, when border arrests reached a 21-year high. Roughly 57% of the migrants encountered by U.S. border agents in October were expelled to Mexico or their homelands under a Trump-era emergency policy known as Title 42 that the Biden administration has retained.

 

DC: MASK MANDATE TO BE RELAXED ON MONDAY - Washington’s local mask mandate, one of the strictest in the nation since late July, will relax greatly beginning Monday, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) announced Tuesday (Washington Post). The District had required residents to wear masks in most indoor settings since the delta variant caused coronavirus case counts to rise over the summer. On Tuesday, Bowser said that coronavirus vaccines are working: While case rates remain stubbornly above an average of 10 new cases per day for every 100,000 residents, vaccines are preventing most people who catch the virus from needing hospitalization.

 

MICHIGAN: LEADS NATION IN NEW COVID CASES -  For the second time this year, the state of Michigan is leading the nation in COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Fox News). According to the latest data, Michigan has over 50,311 new COVID-19 cases in the past week. That comes out to 503.8 cases per 100,000 and is the most in the nation. Minnesota is second with 490 cases and New Mexico has 462 cases per 100,000. The last time Michigan led the nation was in April when the state encountered the largest surge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Local

 

INDIANAPOLIS: FEDEX SHOOTING VICTIM FAMILIES SEEK $2M - Several members of the Sikh community who were injured or lost family members during the FedEx shooting are seeking compensation from the city over the failure to file a red flag case against the shooter (IndyStar). An Oct. 12 letter from the victims' lawyers to city attorneys shows Harpreet Singh, Lakhwinder Kaur and Gurinder Bains are each requesting $700,000 in damages from the city. IndyStar obtained the letter through a public records request. Lawyers representing the victims said the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Marion County Prosecutor's Office violated a requirement in Indiana's red flag law when they decided not to file a case with the courts to suspend the killer's gun rights in March 2020. The victims claim the law doesn't give authorities discretion, meaning they must file such cases with the courts.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: DIRECT FLIGHT TO LONDON COMING - British Airways is eyeing the launch of a new flight connecting London and Indianapolis in mid-2022 (AP). The United Kingdom’s largest airline operator hopes to start offering flights from London’s Heathrow Airport to Indianapolis International Airport next summer, according to information released by a company that helps coordinate capacity at airports. If the route becomes official, it would be the first trans-Atlantic flight from Indianapolis since Delta Air Lines discontinued its Paris flight in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The proposed British Airways route is included in a larger report published by Airport Coordination Limited, a global coordination service used by Heathrow to parse expansion and service plans for its partner airlines. British Airways has several open slots at Heathrow, which serves as the airline’s main hub.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: PIKE ABSENCES PROMPT ANOTHER ELEARNING DAY — Some students at MSD of Pike Township will have a remote learning day Wednesday due to staff absences, according to a social media post from the district and the district’s superintendent (CBS4). A Facebook post from the district said “Pike High School, Freshman campus and Pike Preparatory Academy will have a remote learning day due to staff absences.” Elementary and middle schools classes will be in person. Buses may be running late for them today.

 

FORT WAYNE: RED RIVER FAILS TO APPEAR BEFORE COUNCIL – Red River did not send CEO James A. Smith or a representative to Tuesday evening’s Fort Wayne City Council meeting at the request of council to discuss the future of the city’s contract with the company (WANE-TV). According to Council President Paul Ensley (District 1), an email was sent to Red River on Wednesday as well as an overnighted letter requesting that Smith come to Tuesday’s meeting. Council has not heard a response from the company. “It’s better to see that they are a no-show now than when the performance bond lapses at the end of the year,” said Councilman Russ Jehl (District 2).

 

LAFAYETTE: SNYDER JOINS CITY COUNCIL - Steve Snyder will move from Fairfield Township Board, a position he was elected to in 2018, to the Lafayette City Council, replacing Lon Heide, who is stepping down midway through his fifth term (Bangert, Based in Lafayette). Democratic precinct committee members in Lafayette selected Snyder over three other Democrats who applied after Heide announced he’d leave that at-large seat on the nine-member city council, as of Nov. 15. “It’s an honor to be given the opportunity to serve my community,” Snyder said after the selection Monday night at an IBEW hall on South 30th Street. “Mr. Heide’s almost two decades of community service is the standard in which I hope to serve.” Democrats selected Snyder over Grant Fischer, a social studies teacher at Lafayette Jefferson High School; Margaret Hass, a lecturer at Purdue and president of Greater Lafayette Immigrant Allies; and Derek Reuter, creative consultant and downtown Lafayette volunteer.

 

ELKHART: COUNCIL USING ARP FUNDS FOR WORKFORCE HOUSING — City officials are carving out $2.79 million from American Rescue Plan funds to fuel the development of “workforce housing” in the community (Elkhart Truth). Housing has long been identified as a critical issue in the community, as there are more jobs in Elkhart County than workers, leading to an influx of commuters and potentially hampering economic growth.

 

FISHERS: NEW PEDESTRIAN PATH COMING — Fishers government leaders and the Hamilton County commissioners are working on a new pedestrian path (WISH-TV). The first public hearing for the project was Tuesday night. The Geist Greenway Project would be 5 miles long, and stretch from 96th Street to 131st Street. Jason Taylor, director of engineering for the city of Fishers, said, “So after today, we’ll hear the public comments. We won’t respond to them tonight. We will go back, our consultant will compile them, then they’ll respond formally, which will then be posted on our website or at City Hall. The project would allow two pedestrian lanes to travel between neighborhoods near Hamilton Southeastern High School and Florida Road.

 

MUNCIE: CENTRAL HS GOES TO E-LEARNING DUE TO PROTEST — Muncie Central High School students will be attending classes virtually on Tuesday after a peaceful protest at school on Monday (WTHR-TV). In a statement, Muncie Community Schools said the situation stemmed from a class project in which students made posters about social issues that were displayed in a hallway. The display created a disagreement between a student and school resource officers, the district said, which that student and other observers found offensive. The teacher involved was asked to move the posters into their classroom, leading to some students organizing a peaceful protest, which was held in the school's student center at the beginning of classes on Monday.

 

MUNCIE: COP SEEKS SEPARATE TRIAL — A Muncie Police Department officer charged with false reporting is asking a federal court for a trial separate from three other officers facing charges (WRTV). Attorneys for Officer Corey Posey argue the court disregarded federal rules for criminal cases by including Posey's case in the superseding indictment, according to a brief filed Monday. "Even if Mr. Posey had been properly joined in the Superseding Indictment, he would nonetheless be deserving of a separate trial due to the overwhelming amount of prejudice he would undoubtedly suffer if he were required to stand trial with each of his co-Defendants," his attorneys, K. Michael Gaerte and Joshua Burress, wrote.

 

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: COMMISSIONERS PASS NEW MAPS - The St. Joseph County Commissioners voted 2 to 1 Tuesday morning to enact a controversial redistricting plan that makes two of their districts more Republican and the third overwhelmingly Democratic (Lazzaro, WVPE). But the new maps may soon end up in court. The plan creates a heavily minority and Democratic South Bend-based District 2. The new District 1 includes all of Granger and the rural western portions of the county and the new District 3 includes all of Mishawaka, the southernmost portion of South Bend and the rural areas directly south.

 

ELKHART COUNTY: NEW COURTS FACILITY PROJECT BEGINS - A year ago, the Elkhart County Council voted to move the county’s seven courts out of downtown Elkhart and Goshen and put them in a new building near the intersection of Reliance Road and U.S. 33 in Goshen (Dicarlo, WVPE). Tuesday afternoon, county officials were at that intersection to break ground on the new consolidated courts facility. County Board of Commissioners Vice President Frank Lucchese said it’s a project that’s been in the works since the 1990s. “The questions back then – they were the same as they are today,” he said. “How can we best serve the citizens of every city and town in Elkhart County? How can we make our judicial process more convenient, more efficient, and less expensive?” County officials have said the Reliance Road site is equidistant from downtown Elkhart and Goshen, and the new building will be more efficient and easier to secure than the downtown courthouses. However, both Elkhart Mayor Rod Roberson and Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman opposed the move last year, citing concerns about the economic impact of removing the courts from downtown and public transportation to the new facility.

 

TIPPECANOE COUNTY: UNCERTAINTY ENGULFS WABASH TWP FIRE — The Wabash Township advisory board meets Tuesday night as uncertainty engulfs the fire department (WLFI-TV). The meeting comes on the heels of a virtual town hall hosted by Trustee Jennifer Teising. She's been at odds for months with township board members about the long-term future of the fire department. But they seem one step closer to restoring the township's paid fire crew. "Our understanding is she's starting to come on board when it comes to that idea," Board President Angel Valentín says of an unconventional solution to save the department. "We've been talking about it since June. It hasn't happened." He's talking about efforts to negotiate a contract between the township and its firefighters, wresting some control from Teising.

 

VANDERBURGH COUNTY: SPIKE IN SYPHILIS CASES — Vanderburgh County Health officials are seeing an increase in syphilis cases and community members are encouraged to get tested (Evansville Courier & Press).  As of Oct. 31, there had been been 51 reported syphilis cases in Vanderburgh County. There were 41 cases in 2020, 42 cases in 2019, 40 cases in 2018 and 12 cases in 2017. An increase has also been seen in chlamydia and gonorrhea cases.  Syphilis, a bacterial infection spread through sexual contact, can be treated with antibiotics. The stage of infection will determine how long antibiotics should be taken.