CROUCH SAYS TEACHER PAY MAY HAVE TO WAIT FOR 'VIABLE SOLUTION': The sea of red at the Indiana Statehouse Tuesday won’t last forever, but teachers hope the impact of Red for Ed Day will (Sullivan, Fox59). Some teacher concerns are likely to be addressed in the legislature this year. “The hold harmless for teachers for the testing, I think will be an issue that will be taken up this session,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch. 

BOSMA TO RETIRE AT END OF SESSION: House Speaker Brian Bosma told lawmakers in the House chamber the 2020 session will be his last (Schneider, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). His decision was only somewhat surprising, as rumors that Indiana’s longest-serving speaker of the House might be ready to hand over the gavel had floated for a while. 

SURPRISE VISIT TO IRAQ FOR PENCE: Vice President Mike Pence made an unannounced visit to Iraq on Saturday in the highest-level American trip since President Donald Trump ordered a pullback of U.S. forces in Syria two months ago (Miller, Associated Press). The visit was meant to reassure the U.S. allies in the fight against the Islamic State after Syrian Kurds suffered under a bloody Turkish assault last month following the Trump-ordered withdrawal. 

PENCE PULLED INTO IMPEACHMENT, BUT MAINTAINS POLTICIAL STANDING: After two weeks of public impeachment hearings in the House, there is now a distinct difference between Vice President Mike Pence and his two predecessors who most recently served alongside a president threatened with removal from office by Congress (Schoeff, Jr., Howey Politics Indiana). The testimony last week of Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, brought the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump to Pence’s doorstep.

NOT AN IMPEACHABLE OFFENSE, BRAUN SAYS: Democrats claim there is clear evidence that the president is guilty of wrongdoing and should be held accountable, but Senator Mike Braun (R-Ind.) disagrees (Caval, Yahoo News). “For most of us, on our side, this does not rise to an impeachable offense,” he told Yahoo Finance’s On the Move. 

ABSENT WITNESSES HOVER OVER IMPEACHMENT: They are the ghosts of the House impeachment hearings: Vice President Mike Pence. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Rudy Giuliani. And perhaps most tantalizingly, the mustachioed John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser (Associated Press). These principals closest to Trump have hovered over the House’s impeachment hearings, only the fourth such presidential inquiry in U.S. history.

REPORT: DEMOCRATS PLAN IMPEACHMENT HEARING ON MUELLER REPORT - Now that House Democrats have wrapped up public hearings on President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign to get Ukraine to launch politically advantageous investigations, there are plans to hold at least one public impeachment hearing on Trump’s misdeeds as alleged in the special counsel’s report (Politico). It’s a gathering that could fuel articles of impeachment beyond those tied to the Ukraine controversy.

A FRONT ROW SEAT TO IMPEACHMENT  (Note: Publisher Brian Howey asked us to publish this article written by his father, veteran journalist Jack Howey, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 93.) A helicopter dipped and hovered alongside the monorail tracks at Disney World at Orlando, Fla., when my wife and children, Brian and Sara, arrived there two weeks ago yesterday for a convention of the Associated Press Managing Editors Assn. (APME).

DEFENSE SECRETARY ASKS FOR RESIGNATION OF NAVY SECRETARY - Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper asked for the resignation of Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer on Sunday after losing confidence in him over his handling of the case of a Navy SEAL accused of war crimes in Iraq, the Pentagon said (Washington Post). President Trump announced Sunday that Kenneth Braithwaite, the current ambassador to Norway, would replace Spencer as the Secretary of the Navy shortly after Spencer's ouster (The Hill). 

SOUTH BEND'S DAVIS BACKS BIDEN OVER MAYOR PETE: An African-American official of South Bend, Ind., endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr. for president on Friday, snubbing the city’s mayor, Pete Buttigieg, in a close-to-home example of Mr. Buttigieg’s struggle to attract black support (Gabriel, New York Times). The official, Oliver Davis, is a longtime Democratic member of the Common Council

STORMS EXPECTED FOR MUCH OF U.S. OVER THANKSGIVING: Over the last week we've been warning on a disruptive storm system for holiday travel... and that remains very much in play (Ash, WTHR-TV). While we only get rain, wind, and possibly some snow showers on Wednesday with this feature... an area of moderate to heavy snowfall occurs from the Rockies through the upper Midwest and upper Great Lakes over the next 72 hours. 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: The family of Brian Howey shares their gratitude to the many friends and associates who have offered support after our publisher underwent craniotomy surgery last week following a recent fall. His doctors told the family Brian's recovery at this point is nothing short of remarkable. Here's hoping Howey's insightful and independent analysis will soon return to these pages. During the interim, the Daily Wire will publish and the Howey Politics Indiana website will be updated regularly. - Mark Curry


REARDON JOINS RACE TO REPLACE VISCLOSKY: State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon of Munster will leave the Legislature after six terms as she seeks the 2020 Democratic congressional nomination for the 1st Congressional District (Associated Press). Reardon became the first Hispanic woman elected to the Legislature when she first won in 2006. She and three female legislative staffers have sued Republican state Attorney General Curtis Hill on allegations he drunkenly groped them during a 2018 party. Other candidates already in the race include Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott and Valparaiso attorney Jim Harper, who was the 2018 Democratic Indiana secretary of state nominee.

ANDY JACOBS TO ANNOUNCE FOR 5TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: Republican Susan Brooks' decision to retire from Congress gave Republicans and Democrats alike the chance to seek the 5th District seat without having to run against an incumbent (Lange, IndyStar). The field of candidates for the 5th District is already deep, even with the 2020 primaries months away. Andy Jacobs, the son of former Congressman Andrew Jacobs, Jr. and a Democrat, already filed with the Federal Elections Commission but will officially announce his entrance into the race on Nov. 24. Jacobs, a deputy prosecutor in the Marion County Prosecutors Office, won't be accepting money from Political Action Committees and is limiting contributions to $1000. His father, who died in 2013, did the same when he ran for office. 

OTHER DEMOCRATS VIE FOR 5TH NOMINATION: Democrats are hopeful they can capitalize on changing demographics in the suburban portion of the district, as Democrats elsewhere in the country have (Lange, IndyStar). In addition to Jacobs, the Democrats seeking nomination include Jennifer Christie, who ran in the 2018 Democrat primary for the 5th District; Christina Hale, who was John Gregg's running mate during his 2016 gubernatorial campaign; and, Dee Thornton, a corporate consultant from Carmel who lost to Brooks in the 2018 midterm election. 

SEVERAL REPUBLICANS SEEK 5TH CD NOMINATION: Republicans see the district, which stretches from the northern portion of Indianapolis to the city of Marion and includes all of Hamilton County, as an easy win (Lange, IndyStar). They've long controlled the seat. Republicans seeking nomination include Kent Abernathy, a retired Army colonel who served as commissioner of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles for two years under former Gov. Mike Pence; Micah Beckwith, a student worship pastor at Northview Church, isn't as well known as some of the other candidates, but has the backing of some social conservatives; Chuck Dietzen, former chief of pediatric rehabilitation medicine at Riley Hospital for Children and the founder of Timmy Global Health; Beth Henderson, a farmer and former nurse who lives in the Hamilton County town of Atlanta; Kelly Mitchell, first elected state treasurer in 2014 and won reelection in 2018; and Danny Niederberger, operations analyst for Concise Capital Management.

WEINZAPFEL WEIGHS ENTERING ATTORNEY GENERAL RACE: Former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel wouldn’t talk about it, but the 54-year-old did by email confirm one of the city's worst-kept secrets: He's considering running for Indiana attorney general next year (Langhorne, Evansville Courier & Press). Northwest Indiana Sen. Karen Tallian, a potential rival of Weinzapfel's for the party's nomination, told the Courier & Press she saw him Wednesday at the Democratic Attorneys General Association's Winter Policy Conference in New Orleans. Weinzapfel said by text that he would answer questions only by email. In his email, he did not answer questions about the conference in New Orleans or his desire to be chief counsel for the Evansville City Council, but he did write: "Yes, I am exploring a possible run for Indiana Attorney General." He said he would address other questions if he runs.

FAILING GRADES FOR SCHOOL REFERENDUMS: In the November election, the pass rate for school referendums statewide was the lowest since November 2014, prompting one expert in Indiana tax policy to ponder whether it’s a blip or a new trend (Loughlin, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). On Nov. 5, 10 school districts had 13 referendums. Three districts had two referendums each. Seven referendums, or 54%, passed and six, or 46%, were defeated, said Larry DeBoer, a Purdue economist and expert in Indiana tax policy who has studied trends in school referendums. That was the third straight election with less than 70% of referendums passing — and that was after five elections in a row in which 80% or more passed.

VULNERABLE DEMOCRATS SPOOKED BY GOP IMPEACHMENT ADS: Vulnerable Democrats are watching in horror as GOP impeachment attacks deluge their districts back home (Politico). And they want a much stronger counteroffensive from their own party and its allies. Some of those Democrats raised their concerns with party leaders last week as they prepared to leave for Thanksgiving recess, fearing that voters will be bombarded by anti-impeachment ads as families gather around the TV for parades and football, according to multiple lawmakers and aides. 

INDEPENDENTS SOURING ON IMPEACHMENT: New public opinion polls are moving against Democrats on impeachment as independents sour on the House inquiry and increasingly express opposition to the hearings that have consumed Washington in recent weeks (The Hill). The new data comes as a surprise to Democrats, many of whom believe witnesses have offered damning testimony about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. According to the FiveThirtyEight average of national polls, support for impeachment has shrunk from 50.3 percent in mid-October to 46.3 percent presently, while opposition has risen from 43.8 percent to 45.6 percent. Among independents in the FiveThirtyEight average, support for impeachment topped out at 47.7 percent in late October but has sunk to 41 percent over the past three weeks

Presidential 2020

BLOOMBERG LAUNCHES DEMOCRATIC BID: Billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, one of the world’s richest men, has formally launched a Democratic bid for president (Associated Press). Ending weeks of speculation, the 77-year-old former Republican announced his candidacy Sunday in a written statement posted on a campaign website describing himself as uniquely positioned to defeat President Donald Trump. He will quickly follow with a massive advertising campaign blanketing airways in key primary states across the U.S. “I’m running for president to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America,” Bloomberg wrote.

UNCOMFORTABLE QUESTIONS FOR BUTTIGIEG: Mayor Pete Buttigieg returned to South Bend following Wednesday's debate leading in both Iowa and New Hampshire but still facing uncomfortable questions about his ability to reach voters of color (Sikich, IndyStar). Positioned to contend in the first two nominating contests, the early questions of whether he was launching a serious campaign are gone. Now, it's a matter of whether he can win beyond the first two mostly white states. His strategy over the next couple of weeks will go a long way toward providing answers, especially as he tries to overcome missteps his campaign has made in South Carolina, the first state with a primary electorate largely consisting of African Americans. He heads to Iowa to campaign Monday, but will be going to South Carolina the week after Thanksgiving.


SCHIFF SAYS MORE HEARINGS, WITNESSES POSSIBLE: Democratic House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Sunday he won’t foreclose the possibility of his committee undertaking more depositions and hearings in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump (Associated Press). Schiff said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that his committee continues to conduct investigative work, but he won’t let the Trump administration stall the inquiry. Schiff’s staff and others are compiling the panel’s findings to submit to the House Judiciary Committee, which is expected to open its own hearings to consider articles of impeachment and a formal recommendation of charges. He said his committee may need to file addendums to its report so that the Judiciary Committee can move ahead. The investigation isn’t going to end,” Schiff said.

CARSON 'HONORED' TO PARTICIPATE IN IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS: Congressman André Carson (D-IN), a senior member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, released the statement excerpted below as the Intelligence Committee concluded its scheduled open hearings in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump (Howey Politics Indiana). "“These hearings have been historic. Not only because this is just the fourth presidential impeachment inquiry in American history, but also because of the presidential behavior in question, which was vividly illustrated by the witnesses who have come before our committee and the American people. I thank all of them for providing their testimony, which further revealed the necessity of this process to hold our leaders accountable. One by one, they pieced together the story of a president so desperate to hold on to power that he used a phone call, a White House meeting, and hundreds of millions in U.S. aid as leverage to coerce the Ukrainian government to investigate his political rival. And he employed a circle of associates and cabinet members to carry out the scheme. Thankfully, a brave whistleblower sounded the alarm. But the damage to our national security, the harm to our relationship with Ukraine, and the betrayal of the President’s oath had already been done... I am honored to have participated in these hearings, and through hours of testimony, I gained a deeper appreciation of the many things that truly make America great: principled public servants who believe in the promise of America, and put duty and country above self; the strength of American diplomacy, and its ability to shape geopolitics for the better; and our country’s reputation as a beacon of stability and a leader on the world stage."

OVERSIGHT OF AFGHAN PEACE PROCESS TOPIC OF YOUNG BILL: U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the Ensuring a Durable Afghanistan Peace Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation that provides for congressional oversight of the comprehensive Afghanistan peace process, a news release stated (Howey Politics Indiana). The comprehensive legislation mandates congressional oversight requirement for U.S. diplomatic efforts to achieve a political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and any agreement that emerges from that process.  “Our mission in Afghanistan has stretched on for 18 years and is the longest military operation in United States history,” said Senator Young. “The costs of this war are significant with over 2,200 American service members giving their lives and more than 20,000 service members being wounded.”

YOUNG FAULTS UN FOR CHINA INFLUENCE: The U.S. may not be getting what it pays for in its membership to the United Nations, because countries that do not share our values are the heads of U.N. agencies, said Sen. Todd Young, in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing (Davis, WIBC). "Today Chinese nationals are at the helm of four U.N. agencies. Americans are the head of only three," said Young, in opening remarks of the subcommittee hearing. "One of the key issues we hope to explore is the implications for senior Communist Party members leading the United Nations in the agencies." Young said he questions what types of policies they will implement, who they will bring in and whether they will represent the interests of the U.N. and its members or the Communist Party of China.

YOUNG BILL ADDRESSES NON-COMPETE AGREEMENTS: A bipartisan bill aimed at generally banning non-compete agreements across the country has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) (National Law Review). The Workforce Mobility Act of 2019, which closely tracks the Democrat-led Workforce Mobility Act of 2018, is a stark contrast to the limited and more measured approaches that have predominated at the state level. 

VISCLOSKY ANNOUNCES $243K COPS GRANT FOR EAST CHICAGO: U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky announced that the Department of Justice has awarded a grant to the City of East Chicago under the COPS School Violence Prevention Program (Howey Politics Indiana). According to an official statement, the $234,323 grant award will be used by the East Chicago Police Department to implement an initiative called the Shout Out program, which aims to educate youth and provide resources to address various student and teen issues, including bullying, gang violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and mental health. 

BUCSHON BILL WAIVES COST-SHARING FOR SOME PROSTRATE CANCER SCREENINGS: U.S. Representatives Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) and Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) introduced H.R. 5200, the Prostate-Specific Antigen Screening for High-risk Insured Men (PSA Screening for HIM) Act, which would waive deductibles, copayments, and coinsurances for prostate cancer screenings for men who have a family history of prostate cancer or who are African-American (Howey Politics Indiana). “Modern medicine is providing Americans the chance to live longer and healthier lives, including men diagnosed with prostate cancer," Bucshon stated in a news release. "However, the key to successful treatment is early detection of the disease. The PSA Screening for HIM Act will help save lives by removing financial barriers that can prevent men who are most at risk – African-Americans and those with a first-degree family history of prostate cancer – from getting screened for prostate cancer and catching the disease in its early and treatable stage.” 

WALORSKI JOINS OTHERS TO RESTART SUBURBAN CAUCUS: A group of House Republicans announced their plan Wednesday to improve the quality of life for the bulk of the people they represent, those who live in suburban areas (ABC4). This group wants to take what’s working at the local and state levels and implement them at the federal level. Indiana Congresswoman Jackie Walorski is focusing on dangers at school and the bus stop. “It affects everybody. We hope it doesn’t affect anybody,” said Walorski. This work comes on the eve of an election year, with these Republicans admitting they feel pressure after the 2018 results. But the caucus insists a number of the bills will be bipartisan, with the first package arriving just before Christmas.

PENCE BILL ADDRESSES FEDERAL REAL ESTATE DEALINGS: Rep. Greg Pence, R-Ind., and Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, have introduced legislation to bring fair market practices into federal real estate (Columbus Republic). The two legislators said the bill could potentially save billions of taxpayer dollars. The bill, H.R. 5137, provides the General Services Association with the ability to negotiate a discounted or fixed price option on government leases moving forward, according to Pence. The bill seeks to transform how the government approaches federal real estate by giving the General Services Association the ability to leverage their bargaining power upfront, reducing government waste.

GREG PENCE TO VOLUNTEER AT SHELBYVILLE SOUP KITCHEN TODAY: U.S. Rep. Greg Pence, R-Ind., announced he and his team will volunteer at the Shelbyville Salvation Army Soup Kitchen today (Columbus Republic). Pence will be at the Shelbyville Salvation Army Soup Kitchen, 136 E. Washington St. on Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. “As Hoosiers gather around the dinner table to celebrate Thanksgiving and the bountiful blessings of faith and family, it is important to take time to give back to our communities and those among us who are less fortunate,” Pence said.

DOUBT GROWING ON USMCA PASSING IN 2019: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi appears doubtful that the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) will be passed this year (Hoosier Ag Today). After she met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and House Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal last week, there was no deal and not much time left on the legislative clock. “We’ve made progress,” she said after leaving the 90-minute meeting. “I think we’re narrowing our differences.” She said earlier in the day that they’ll still have several steps to take even after they finally reach an agreement. The clock is ticking. Last Thursday was the last day before the House takes its Thanksgiving break. The Trump Administration and some Democrats hoped to strike a deal before the week-long recess to give lawmakers time in December to take up the pact.

TOP DEM SAYS ETHICS INVESTIGATION LIKELY FOR NUNES: The top Democrat on the House armed services committee said Saturday that Republican Rep. Devin Nunes is likely to face an ethics investigation over allegations he met with an ex-Ukrainian prosecutor at the center of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump (Politico). “Quite likely, without question,” House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash) said when asked by MSNBC’s Joy Reid whether Nunes (R-Calif.), the House Intelligence Committee’s top Republican and a longtime Trump ally, could be investigated. 

SEN. GRAHAM REQUESTS BIDEN RECORDS FROM STATE DEPT.: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) requested records from the State Department on Thursday related to then-Vice President Joe Biden’s efforts to oust a Ukrainian prosecutor in 2016 (Politico). The letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo comes as Republicans seeks records related to phone calls that occurred in February and March 2016 between Biden and Ukraine’s then-president, Petro Poroshenko, regarding U.S. demands that the country fire its top prosecutor. The prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was unpopular with Western leaders, who viewed him as corrupt, and Biden was representing official U.S. policy and that of allied governments. At the time, Biden’s son Hunter held a lucrative board position with Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas company. Burisma, and its owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, had faced investigative scrutiny from Shokin’s office, presenting a potential conflict of interest for Biden. 

HOUSE INTEL PANEL POSSESSES VIDEO, AUDIO FROM GUILIANI ASSOCIATE: The House Intelligence Committee is in possession of audio and video recordings and photographs provided to the committee by Lev Parnas, an associate of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who reportedly played a key role in assisting him in his efforts to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and Ukraine, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell ABC News. The material submitted to the committee includes audio, video and photos that include Giuliani and Trump. It was unclear what the content depicts and the committees only began accessing the material last week.

General Assembly

SENATE DEMOCRATS BACK MARIJUANA DECRIMINALIZATION: Northwest Indiana next year will be bordered by two states, Illinois and Michigan, where recreational marijuana is legal for adults to use (Carden, NWI Times). Indiana's Senate Democrats plan to file legislation, when the General Assembly convenes in January, to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. "For simple possession of minor amounts of marijuana you will not go to jail," said Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson. "You will still be held accountable within the judicial system, but it will become an infraction and not a misdemeanor as it currently is." Lanane said under the Democrats' proposal, set to be sponsored by state Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, the process of being stopped by police for marijuana possession would be similar to getting a speeding ticket, rather than the potentially life-altering ordeal it now is.

BOSMA SUPPORTS RAISING SMOKING AGE TO 21: Indiana lawmakers are voicing support for raising the state’s legal age to buy tobacco and vaping products (Associated Press). Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma says he supports raising the age from 18 to 21, along with majority of the House Republican caucus. Bosma and others who previously blocked the move says people could serve in the military, vote and buy a gun at the age of 18. He also notes an increase in youth vaping and related deaths and illnesses. Bosma says he changed his mind because the armed services and veterans’ groups support the age change. Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray also supports the measures but says moves on tax increases likely won’t happen this session.

SMOKING AMONG PRIORITIES FOR CHAMBER: The state's leading business organization is calling on Hoosier lawmakers to restrict the smoking of both legal and illegal substances, as part of an effort to improve Indiana's workforce quality and workplace safety (Carden, NWI Times). Kevin Brinegar, CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, said last week it's a top priority for the influential interest group to reduce the state's smoking rate by having the General Assembly set 21, instead of 18, as the minimum age to use tobacco or vape. 

CHAMBER OPPOSES POT LEGALIZATION: Kevin Brinegar, CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber opposes any legalization of marijuana because he claimed it leads to increased employee absenteeism and workplace injuries, and marijuana is not recognized as a legitimate medical treatment by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (Carden, NWI Times). "It is the position of the board of the directors of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce that we oppose the legalization of recreational or medical marijuana," Brinegar said.

WOODY BURTON WON'T SEEK RE-ELECTION: A longtime Republican lawmaker who represents the Greenwood area won’t seek re-election next year (IBJ & Erdody, Indiana Lawyer). Whiteland Rep. Woody Burton, 74, announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of his current term in 2020. He has served in the Indiana House since 1988. Burton serves as the chair of the House Financial Institutions Committee and as a member of other committees, including the House Education Committee, House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Rules and Legislative Procedures. During his tenure at the Statehouse, Burton has helped push for property tax relief and supported legislation that allowed voters to permanently cap property taxes by passing a constitutional amendment. He’s also worked on legislation to establish bullying prevention programs in schools, increase accountability in the child welfare system and give Hoosiers the option to have an “In God We Trust” license plate with no extra cost.


STATEHOUSE: BMV WITHHOLDS LICENSE INFO FROM CENSUS BUREAU - The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles says it won’t turn over Hoosiers’ driver’s license information to the U.S. Census Bureau (Smith, WFYI). The Trump administration wants states to hand over that information after federal courts denied its push to add a citizenship question to the upcoming census. Nebraska recently became the first state to comply with the White House directive. The BMV said it received the Census Bureau’s request and “at this time” has declined to provide the driver’s license data.

STATEHOUSE: PROPOSAL TO CHANGE GENDER ID ON LICENSES - Proposed changes to the rules allowing Hoosiers to legally change their gender identification on their driver’s licenses creates a process that is cumbersome and bureaucratic, critics say (Barger, Statehouse File). The public will have a chance to be heard Monday when Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles holds a hearing on the proposed changes. One of the issues involves allowing people to change their ID to a neutral X rather than choosing male or female. Under the current process, which has been in effect since 2009, an individual can go to a BMV license branch and amend the existing credential, said Christine Meyer, the director of communications and public affair for the BMV. In order to change gender identity under the proposed new rules, a person would have to get a form from the Department of Health and then have their physician sign it, stating that the person “has been under my care and has received appropriate clinical treatment for transition.” They then have to mail the form back to the department with a photo ID. The department will mail back a confirmation that the individual will take to a BMV office to get the revised ID.

STATEHOUSE: McCORMICK OP-ED BACKS TEACHERS - "Teachers deliver messages: Kids deserve more" reads the headline on an op-ed penned by Indiana's Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick and published in the Seymour Tribune. "Kids deserve more," the article begins. "That was the message heard across the state of Indiana during Tuesday’s Red for Ed Day of Action, and the purpose behind 15,000 educators and other supportive Hoosiers filling the sacred halls of the Statehouse. This event purposefully coincided with the Indiana General Assembly’s Organization Day, dedicated to preparing for the 2020 legislative session. 'Politics as usual' at the Statehouse was eclipsed by a grassroots effort to advocate for kids."

ECONOMY: UNEMPLOYMENT STEADY; 5,200 JOBS LOST - Indiana’s unemployment rate remained at a nearly two-decade low in October (Smith, Indiana Public Media). Indiana hit 3.2 percent unemployment in September, then remained there in October. That’s the lowest rate since December 2000. And it’s now been seven months since the unemployment rate got worse. But the Hoosier State has lost about 5,200 total jobs this year. If that trend continues through the end of 2019, it would be the first time in seven years Indiana lost jobs overall in a calendar year. No sector has been hit harder this year than manufacturing, which has lost about 11,000 jobs through October.

DEVELOPMENT: MORE LOCALITIES JOIN 'MOVE TO INDIANA' EFFORT - Munster, Whiting and St. John have joined the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority's Move to Indiana campaign, which prods Illinois residents to move to Northwest Indiana through targeted digital ads (Pete, NWI Times). The SSCVA rolled out the Grass is Greener campaign and the website last year as part of an ongoing effort to stanch Northwest Indiana's population loss by selling it as a bedroom community to Chicago, a Region-wide initiative that includes the South Shore Line extension.

SAFETY: ISP TROOPER SHOT, WOUNDED DURING STANDOFF - Indiana State Police say a trooper has been shot and wounded during a standoff in Jefferson County (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Sgt. Stephen Wheeles says the trooper’s injuries in Saturday morning’s shooting are not believed to be life-threatening. Wheeles says a suspect, Wade R. Roark, 59, was taken into custody after the shooting, which occurred about 8 a.m. In a release Saturday evening the Indiana State Police said the ISP SWAT Team member, who is an 18-year veteran of ISP, was shot in the leg while he was positioned outside of the residence. A second trooper returned fire but Roark was not struck by the gunfire. Roark soon exited the residence and was taken into custody by law enforcement.

AIRPORTS: INDY, WARSAW COLLECT $10.M FED GRANTS - U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has announced the Department of Transportation will award $10.5 million in airport infrastructure grants to two airports in Indiana (McLaughlin, Inside Indiana Business). Indianapolis International Airport and Warsaw Municipal Airport will each receive funding for runway projects. The funding comes from a larger $485 million federal investment in America’s airports. Indianapolis International Airport will receive $4.2 million to rehabilitate a runway. Warsaw Municipal Airport will receive $6.3 million to extend a runway.

HEALTH: IU INVESTING $100M TO ADDRESS SOCIAL ISSUES - Indiana University Health is investing $100 million in a fund that will address social issues affecting health outcomes around the state (Fenwick, Indianapolis Recorder). The Community Impact Investment Fund will be administered by the Indiana University Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of IU Health. Funds will be distributed annually and go to initiatives in four main areas: healthy living, education, workforce development, and improving neighborhoods and alleviating poverty. Health outcome determinants can be broken down like this: 20% is dependent on the health care a person receives, 10% is determined by genetics, and the rest depends on social determinants, according to IU Health President and CEO Dennis Murphy.

ENVIRONMENT: EPA LOOKS TO SIMPLIFY WATER REGS - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency staffers have been told that the top issue in rewriting federal water regulations is to simplify rules initiated under the Obama administration, according to the current EPA administrator (Miley, CNHI). “I wanted property owners to be able to stand on their property and be able to tell for themselves what is the definition of a federal waterway, whether or not they have a federal waterway on their property, without having to hire an outside lawyer or consultant,” Administrator Andrew Wheeler told 175 people at the annual Indiana Environmental Conference last month. Wheeler said the Obama-era “Waters of the U.S.” rules, a key element of the 2015 Clean Water Act, were convoluted. “In fact, the definition was so far-reaching that they needed to clarify in the regulatory text that puddles were excluded,” he said.

LOTTERY: MORE SALES THAN EVER - Having celebrated its 30th birthday in October, the Hoosier Lottery is considered a “mature” product (Kelly, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Regardless of its age, it is racking up more sales than ever and sending more money than ever to state tax coffers. But are players getting their money's worth? Data shows the lottery paid about $859 million last year in prizes – up from $797 million the year before. Based on sales, that meant about 63.81% collected went back to players in fiscal year 2019. Hoosier Lottery Executive Director Sarah Taylor said that percentage has remained steady in recent years – meeting its goal.

GAMING: SPORTS BETTING NETS $127M FIRST TWO MONTHS - Including all of the sportsbook locations throughout the state, more than $126.9 million has been wagered in just two months, and the state already has taken in roughly $1.9 million in taxes for its general fund (Semmler, South Bend Tribune). Since it’s new to Indiana, casino officials aren’t exactly sure how brisk and how consistent the sportsbook business will be. In Las Vegas, for example, business peaks during football season and major events like college bowl season and March Madness but then drops off, Temple explained.

EDUCATION: DANIELS SAYS MISUNDERSTOOD OVER COMMENTS - As social media hashtags piled up and he was called out by faculty on the University Senate late last week for referring to a black scholar as “one of the rarest creatures in America” and the “rarest phenomenon,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said he felt his comments were being treated unfairly (Bangert, Lafayette Journal & Courier). “I’ve never felt so misunderstood before,” Daniels told the J&C, after comments he made in an impromptu conversation with students Wednesday night in Pfendler Hall spread across campus.

EDUCATION: IU WON'T FIRE PROF FOR CONTENTIOUS REMARKS - A professor at Indiana University who defended “racist, sexist, and homophobic” comments that he posted on his social media accounts will keep his job because his views are protected under the First Amendment, university officials announced after they were bombarded with demands to fire him (Associated Press). Eric Rasmusen, a professor of business economics and public policy at the university in Bloomington, tweeted this month a quote from an article that said, “geniuses are overwhelmingly male because they combine outlier IQ with moderately low Agreeableness and Moderately low Conscientiousness.” The article titled, “Are Women Destroying Academia? Probably” was published by The Unz Review, which describes itself as a publication that presents “controversial perspectives largely excluded from the American mainstream media.”

EDUCATION: 1,200 CONTRACTS FOR ‘BACK A BOILER’ - Purdue University is celebrating a milestone for its Back a Boiler income share agreement program (Mills, Inside Indiana Business). The program, which has been offered since the 2016-17 school year, has registered its 1,200 contracts during that time. It's an alternative way to pay for college and forgo relying on Federal Parent PLUS and private student loans. In using the equity-based option, a student agrees to pay to the foundation a certain percentage of their post-graduation income. Unlike a loan, there is no principal balance or interest, so its payments adjust with the student’s income over the life of the contract.

SPORTS: USA GYMNASTICS SELECTS INDY SITE FOR TRAINING - USA Gymnastics has chosen an Indianapolis facility to serve as its interim training center for the U.S. Women’s National Team and developmental programs (WISH-TV). The national governing body for the sport made the announcement Friday. The Gymnastics Company, 5646 Mutual Lane, is off Franklin Road and Edgewood Avenue on the city’s southeast side. The facility will be able to accommodate all the training camps for the women’s program under the same roof, USA Gymnastics said.


WHITE HOUSE: EMAILS SHOW EFFORT TO JUSTIFY BLOCKING AID - A confidential White House review of President Trump’s decision to place a hold on military aid to Ukraine has turned up hundreds of documents that reveal extensive efforts to generate an after-the-fact justification for the decision and a debate over whether the delay was legal, according to three people familiar with the records (Washington Post). The research by the White House Counsel’s Office, which was triggered by a congressional impeachment inquiry announced in September, includes early August email exchanges between acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and White House budget officials seeking to provide an explanation for withholding the funds after the president had already ordered a hold in mid-July on the nearly $400 million in security assistance, according to the three people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal White House deliberations.

TRADE: NO 'PHASE TWO' CHINA DEAL ON HORIZON, OFFICIALS SAY - An ambitious “phase two” trade deal between the United States and China is looking less likely as the two countries struggle to strike a preliminary “phase one” agreement, according to U.S. and Beijing officials, lawmakers and trade experts (Reuters). The November 2020 U.S. presidential election, the difficulties in getting the first-stage done, combined with the White House’s reluctance to work with other countries to pressure Beijing are dimming hopes for anything more ambitious in the near future, the sources said. 


PRO-DEMOCRACY CANDIDATES ADVANCE IN HONG KONG ELECTIONS: Pro-democracy candidates won nearly half of the seats in Hong Kong’s local elections, according to partial returns Monday, as voters sent a clear signal of support for the anti-government protests that rocked the Chinese territory for more than five months (Associated Press). A record 71% of the city’s 4.1 million registered voters cast ballots Sunday, well exceeding the 47% turnout in the same election four years ago, election officials said. Hong Kong’s largest pro-Beijing political party suffered the biggest setback, with at least 155 of its 182 candidates defeated. Among the losing incumbents was controversial lawmaker Junius Ho, who was stabbed with a knife while campaigning this month.

CHINA GETS TOUGHER TO PROTECT INTELLECTURAL PROPERTY - China issued new, tougher guidelines for protection of patents, copyrights and other intellectual property in a move that may be timed to help along halting progress in trade talks with the United States (Associated Press). The guidelines issued late Sunday by the State Council, or Cabinet, and by the powerful Central Committee of the ruling Communist Party order beefed up laws for protecting such intellectual property rights, increased compensation for infringements and stricter enforcement of existing laws. They also lower the threshold for criminal prosecution of IPR offenses.

LIBYAN CIVIL WAR OPENS DOOR TO ISIS: Eight suspected Islamic State members were captured in Sirte in recent weeks, Libyan commanders say (Washington Post). Militant sleeper cells, they say, lurk in some neighborhoods. Other militants have set up desert camps to the south, where the Islamic State reportedly hides fighters and weaponry, as Libyan militias that once worked closely with U.S. counterterrorism forces on the ground no longer patrol the area. These are signs of how the expanding civil war in Libya has created a potential opening for the Islamic State to revive itself in the country, according to Libyan commanders and Western officials.


CITIES: TOWING COMPANY GETS ALL POLICE WORK IN SOUTH BEND - In recent years, police towing has become an even bigger windfall for one firm, ASAP Towing & Recovery, thanks to an exclusive contract worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year (Sheckler, South Bend Tribune). Five companies shared towing work for South Bend police before the city’s Board of Public Works made ASAP the sole contractor in 2016. The decision was an instant controversy. The city awarded the contract under circumstances that raised questions and objections about the bidding process and whether all companies had a fair shot. The city has since extended the contract without seeking new bids, and despite a lack of oversight and information about the company’s billing and performance.

CITIES: CHARLESTOWN MAYORAL RACE NOW BEFORE JUDGE - The next phase of a recount in the Charlestown mayor’s race is now with a Clark County judge (Schmelz, News & Tribune). On Monday, Charlestown Mayor Bob Hall filed a petition for a recount of the general election results that showed he lost the election to Treva Hodges. Senior Judge Steven Fleece, pro tempore judge in Clark County Circuit Court No. 1, will preside over the case. Clark County Clerk Susan Popp said the court will select a three-person recount commission, with election challenger Hall, a Republican, and Mayor-elect Hodges, a Democrat, each getting to choose one representative. The third, she said, will be an election mechanic. According to Indiana law, the recount must be completed no later than Dec. 20. However, the appointed commission may issue an order to the court seeking the deadline be extended.

CITIES: SEYMOUR MAYOR-ELECT TO CLOSE SHOP - Matthew Nicholson knew he would have to close B2 Bikes and Boards if elected as mayor of Seymour, but he didn’t tell anyone the arrangements until the polls closed (Morey, Seymour Tribune). The Republican won the vote earlier this month, and now, after 16 years of business, Nicholson has announced the bike and skate shop will close Dec. 28. “I knew going in that it would have to be the next step if elected. I accepted it,” Nicholson said. 

CITIES: 140 JOBS LOST IN GREENFIELD - Connecticut-based Stanley Black & Decker Inc. has announced plans to lay off nearly 140 employees from its Greenfield facility (McLaughlin, Inside Indiana Business). In a notice filed with the state, the company says the cuts are an “attempt to strategically consolidate worldwide operations into few facilities.” The company says it plans to cut jobs in assembly and production, shipping and receiving, maintenance and facilities, quality, engineers, supply chain, human resources, IT and operations management. The layoffs are expected to take place between January 23 and February 7.

CITIES: INDY PLANT CLOSING LEAVES 150 WITHOUT WORK - Indianapolis-based apparel maker Motionwear has notified state officials that it plans to permanently close its production facilities early next year and eliminate almost 150 jobs (Associated Press). The company, which makes dance leotards, gymnastics apparel and cheer uniforms, hasn’t given a reason for the closing decision.

CITIES: CITY HALL GROUND BREAKING IN WEST LAFAYETTE - Renovations inside the Morton Center have been going on for months, but the West Lafayette hosted its official ground breaking ceremony Thursday for what will become a city hall named in honor of former Mayor Sonya Margerum (Wilkins, Lafayette Journal & Courier). It's the third re-purposing of the two-story brick building on Chauncey Avenue between North and Columbia streets. "Here we sit in a city that values one thing probably more than anything else. Recycling," West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis joked during the ground breaking ceremony.

CITIES: IPS CUTS TIES WITH CHARTER SCHOOLS USA - From the start, Indianapolis Public Schools partnership with Charter Schools USA was something of an arranged marriage (McCoy, Chalkbeat Indiana). The IPS board voted unanimously Thursday not to renew its innovation agreement with the network, known as CSUSA, after little discussion. “We gave it a chance,” said IPS board member Diane Arnold, who supported creating the partnership with CSUSA. “But I think it’s important for us to not let it go too far.” The IPS board decision comes just weeks before the Indiana Charter Schools Board is set to decide whether to grant charters to CSUSA to continue running Donnan and two other Indianapolis campuses — Howe and Manual high schools — that were also taken over by the state. The district’s last-minute play could hinder the charter network’s attempt to gain permanent control of all three campuses.

CITIES: UNDERWEAR JAM COSTLY FOR WASTEWATER PLANT - The Brownsburg Wastewater Treatment Plant is asking residents to be mindful of what they are flushing down the toilet (WTHR-TV). The plant's superintendent said a pair of underwear recently jammed a pump at the Lake Ridge Lift Station, costing labor and equipment to remove the item and get the pump back into operation. Superintendent Kathy Dillon said the items of highest concern at this time are wipes (baby, cleaning, personal hygiene), animal/vegetable oils and clothing such as bras and underwear.

COUNTIES: 5 YEARS FOR THREATENING TO BOMB COURTHOUSE - Michael Battering lived his life in and out of jails and prisons since the 1980s, and he's heading back to prison for five years for his courthouse bomb threat in April (Wilkins, Lafayette Journal & Courier). Special Judge Kurtis Fouts noted that Battering's criminal history in the presentence report started on page 4 and ended on page 15. Fouts cited Battering's lengthy criminal history and ordered him to serve five years in an Indiana prison.

COUNTIES: MIAMI APPEALS RULING TO REPAIR DAMS - Miami County commissioners are asking a judge to overturn a ruling that puts the county on the hook to repair six deteriorating dams located in a housing addition near Peru (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). The Indiana Natural Resources Commission determined last year that both the county and property owners in the Hidden Hills subdivision were partially responsible for repairing the dams after the Indiana Department Natural Resources in 2014 found significant deficiencies in the structures. But a Marion County judge in August overturned that ruling and determined the county is now fully responsible for repairs because all six dams have roads running over them, which were accepted into the county road system.

COUNTIES: HAMILTON RESIDENTS SEEK GEIST CONSERVANCY DISTRICT - Organizers from 40 neighborhoods around Geist Reservoir have submitted a petition in Hamilton County Superior Court that would establish the Geist Conservancy District (Bennett, WFYI). Brian Hall, with the Geist Lake Coalition, says the establishment of a conservancy district gives area neighborhoods and businesses a voice, funding, and resources to restore the 75-year-old reservoir, which has faced problems like shore erosion to invasive plants.