STATE INVESTIGAT0R: DEATH REPORT MANIPULATED TO LURE AMAZON HQ2 - When an Amazon worker was killed by a forklift in a Plainfield warehouse in 2017, the state of Indiana’s investigator found the company was at fault (Evans, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting). The state cited Amazon for four major safety violations and fined it $28,000. The investigator on the case, John Stallone, had arrived at the warehouse a day after 59-year-old Phillip Lee Terry was crushed to death. He was so troubled by the pushback he was getting from higher-ups that he secretly recorded his boss, Indiana OSHA Director Julie Alexander, as she counseled the company on how to lessen the fine. “It’s like being at a card table and having a dealer teach you how to count cards,” Stallone said. He said pressure to back off came from as high up as the governor’s mansion.

GOVERNOR SAYS ALLEGATIONS ‘HEINOUS LIES': Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on Monday issued a strongly worded statement disputing previously published allegations that he was involved in a state effort to absolve Amazon of responsibility in the death of a worker at one of its fulfillment centers (IndyStar). The statement comes after a lengthy story from Reveal for The Center for Investigative Reporting found that Amazon's relentless push to deliver packages with speed and efficiency is coming at the expense of worker safety. A spokeswoman for Holcomb denied any such meeting took place or that the governor was involved in any way. The Indiana Labor Department, which oversees the state workplace safety agency, called the inspector’s allegations “absolutely false.” Holcomb again reiterated on Monday that he was not involved in the Amazon labor issue. "Let me be as clear as I possibly can be, I have never been involved in a Department of Labor case," Holcomb said through his press secretary, Rachel Hoffmeyer. "Furthermore, I have never had a meeting with Commissioner Ruble and an IOSHA employee. "My office told 'Reveal' that this information was false and yet they still published the fabricated allegations. The reporting is both irresponsible and deliberately misleading.  We are exploring any possible recourse to remove these heinous lies.”

BUTTIGIEG LEADS BY 9 POINTS IN IOWA POLL: The latest Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll showed Buttigieg leading U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the second-place candidate and previous leader in the poll, by 9 percentage points (Des Moines Register). Buttigieg’s 25% support from respondents put him 10 points above former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who are tied for 3rd in the poll. Buttigieg’s swing through southwest Iowa Monday, the start of a two-day swing, is his first to the state since the poll’s release. “We’ve felt for some time that the momentum was building,” Buttigieg said in an interview with the Register. “And it’s encouraging that the numbers have started to reflect that. But what I feel is similar to what we felt on the last trip — which is that our message is connecting. And folks are asking that fundamental question of every election, which is, 'how is my life going to be different if you’re president instead of the others?' And as long as we have the right answers to that question I think it’s going to continue to build our support and bring us to a win.”

VISCLOSKY ENDORSES MAYOR PETE FOR PRESIDENT: Northwest Indiana's congressman has endorsed South Bend's mayor for the presidency of the United States (NWI Times). U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Gary, announced his endorsement of Pete Buttigieg on Monday, citing the mayor's support for organized labor and "an economy that works for everyone." “For decades, I’ve worked alongside the labor community to ensure that Hoosier families could get a fair shake," Visclosky said. "With labor rights under assault across the country, we need a leader who views fair wages and safe working conditions as key to the economic success of this nation. I’ve known Mayor Pete Buttigieg for nearly a decade. I’ve seen him stand with organized labor and have admired his successful record of creating economic opportunities for working families against great odds." Visclosky alluded to Buttigieg's military service, including deployment to Afghanistan in 2014, in his endorsement.

U.S. ATTORNEY SAYS MUNCIE INVESTIGATION 'ONGOING AND CONTINUES': Asked Friday by The Muncie Star Press about the status of the federal government’s investigation – which last week gained an official name, Operation Public Trust – U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler responded with a prepared statement. “I was appointed U.S. attorney in 2014,” Minkler said. “Since 2015, the U.S. attorney’s office has led an investigation into federal violations of the public’s trust in Muncie, Ind. To date, Operation Public Trust has resulted in the indictment of seven defendants – including Mayor Dennis Tyler. The federal investigation is ongoing and continues today.” The 76-year-old Tyler was arrested by FBI agents at his home last Monday, a few days after he had been indicted by a federal court grand jury on a count of theft of public funds.

HAMILTON COUNTY JUDGE SUPPORTS CITIES IN RFRA LAWSUIT: A Hamilton County Superior Court 1 judge has ruled in favor of four Indiana cities, including Columbus, in a lawsuit challenging Indiana’s fix to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the cities’ protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents (Thomas, Columbus Republic). Judge Michael Casati granted motions for summary judgment Thursday to Carmel, Columbus, Indianapolis/Marion County, Bloomington and the State of Indiana in a lawsuit, filed by the Terre Haute-based Bopp Law Firm, that has been pending since 2015. The law firm filed the complaint on behalf of plaintiffs the Indiana Family Institute, Indiana Family Action and the American Family Association of Indiana, which contend the versions of the ordinances that protect the LGBT community from discrimination means the government could compel them to provide services to gay couples that go against the organization’s religious beliefs.

LAWSUIT AFTER GOSHEN HOSPITAL MAY HAVE EXPOSED 1,000 TO HIV OR HEPATITIS: A Northern Indiana hospital is facing legal action after it potentially exposed more than a thousand patients to blood-borne viruses such as HIV and hepatitis by failing to properly sterilize surgical equipment (Rudavsky, IndyStar). A lawsuit filed Friday in Elkhart County Superior Court and brought on behalf of a single patient aims to become a class action against Goshen Health. Earlier this month the hospital sent letters to what officials termed a “small portion of surgical patients” who could have been exposed to blood-borne viruses through the unclean instruments from April to September. The problem dates to April, when one of seven sterilization technicians working at the hospital failed to complete one step in a multistep cleaning process of surgical equipment, according to a statement from the hospital posted last week.

DEMOCRATS AIM TO SWAY PUBLIC OPINION ON IMPEACHMENT: The witnesses have spoken, the politics are largely settled. Now impeachment investigators will make the case for public opinion (Associated Press). On Monday, hundreds of pages from Democratic Chairman Adam Schiff’s intelligence committee were being compiled into an exhaustive report that will begin to outline whether President Donald Trump engaged in “treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors” by withholding $400 million in aid as he pushed Ukraine to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden. The report may come as soon as next week. Sending the case on to the Judiciary Committee, which is ready to start its own round of hearings in December, provides yet another chance to sway public opinion before a House vote expected by Christmas and a Senate trial in 2020.

PREDICTED HIGH WINDS MAY GROUND MACY'S BALLOONS: The large, high-flying balloons at the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade may be on the ground this year due to high wind (USA Today). While temperatures are expected to be in the 50s, Tim Morrin, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, said strong wind is in the forecast. “It will be noticeably breezy," Morrin said. “From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., winds will be up to 34 to 37 mph during the entire day. There will be sunshine but the winds will be noticeable.” Under New York City regulations, winds over 23 mph and gusts over 34 mph call for the balloons to be grounded. In a statement, Macy's spokesman Orlando Veras said it's too early to make a decision regarding the balloons.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Senators Young and Braun propose naming a post office in Dana after a true Hoosier hero who grew up near there, journalist Ernie Pyle. Ernie was the sort of fellow who looked out for the average Joe, and earned a Pulitzer for his reporting on the "dogface" soldiers in both the European and Pacific theaters of WWII. Following Pyle's death during the battle for Okinawa, President Harry S Truman wrote, "More than any other man he became the spokesman of the ordinary American in arms doing so many extraordinary things. It was his genius that the mass and power of our military and naval forces never obscured the men who made them. He wrote about a people in arms as people still, but a people moving in a determination which did not need pretensions as a part of power." -- Mark Curry


MAPLES ANNOUNCES FOR CLARK COUNTY SHERIFF: A Jeffersonville City Council member and longtime employee of the Clark County Sheriff's Office has announced his bid to run for sheriff in 2022 (Rickert, News & Tribune). Scottie Maples, Republican councilman representing Jeffersonville's district 4, and colonel with the sheriff's office, announced the decision early Monday of his intention to run following current Sheriff Jamey Noel, who was re-elected to his second term in 2018 and is term-limited.

Presidential 2020

ROBERT DENIRO ENDORSES BUTTIGIEG: While Robert De Niro was definitely not going to endorse President Trump, his latest rant included an endorsement of the South Bend, Indiana, mayor as “the best for what we need” to beat Mr. Trump, in part because of his homosexuality (Washington Times). “Buttigieg I like a lot. He’s got all the credentials — Rhodes Scholar, Afghanistan veteran — even though he’s young, and if he could get a chance it could be something special, I think,” said Mr. De Niro. The actor also cited the mayor’s being gay as a reason people would rally around him — though polling data suggests black Democrats are not rallying around him. “As a gay person, he’s someone who comes from a marginalized community, so people from other ethnic groups can identify with him, even if they’re not gay, because they know what it’s like. I think he’s the best for what we need now,” Mr. De Niro said.

REPORTING BURIES POLICIES WHILE CHASING CONTROVERSIES: It’s a paradox of examining political coverage. Are news media just reporting what the political candidates are talking about? Or does political journalism really set the agenda by selecting stories around specific news items, scandals and issues du jour? (Storybench) Our topic analysis of ~10,000 news articles on the 2020 Democratic candidates, published between March and October in an ideological diverse range of 28 news outlets, reveals that political coverage, at least this cycle, tracks with the ebbs and flows of scandals, viral moments and news items, from accusations of Joe Biden’s inappropriate behavior towards women to President Trump’s phone call with Ukraine. This tendency, in turn, allows important issues such as health care, climate change and reproductive rights to fall off the agenda every time a Trump-driven media cycle emerges from some new outrage or a flavor-of-the-day controversy pops up.


YOUNG, BRAUN BILL TO RENAME DANA POST OFFICE AFTER ERNIE PYLE: U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) announced in a news release that they introduced legislation to rename the post office in Dana after Ernest ‘Ernie’ T. Pyle, the celebrated war correspondent and Hoosier journalist who was born near Dana (Howey Politics Indiana). On April 18, 1945, Pyle was reporting on the U.S. Army’s 305th Infantry Regiment when he was killed. After studying journalism at Indiana University, Ernie Pyle served as a beloved correspondent in Indiana and later overseas during World War II. Congressman Larry Bucshon, M.D. (IN-08) led the introduction of similar legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

USCMA DEAL 'WITHIN RANGE,' PELOSI SAYS: U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Monday that a version of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement that House Democrats could back was “within range” but that they needed to conduct a final review (Reuters). President Donald Trump’s administration has been pushing for the congressional passage of USMCA, which would replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. Trump has repeatedly accused Democrats of stalling a vote on the accord to avoid granting him a political win. “We are within range of a substantially improved agreement for America’s workers. Now, we need to see our progress in writing from the Trade Representative for final review,” Pelosi said in a statement. 

VOTERS REMAIN DIVIDED AFTER PUBLIC IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS: Despite three days of explosive testimony in House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump last week, none of the revelations appear to have moved the needle much when it comes to swaying voters, according to the latest POLITICO/Morning Consult poll out today (Politico). In the survey, one of the first to measure public support for the inquiry following the conclusion of public hearings last week, voters backed the investigation by a 5-point margin, 48 percent to 43 percent, compared with a 3-point margin the week before. While the percentage of voters who supported the inquiry remained unchanged, opposition to the inquiry dipped by 2 points. While it’s surely good news for Democrats that they still have the backing of a plurality of voters for their inquiry, voters remain divided, and the poll shows no groundswell of new support despite a rash of damaging revelations. And though the survey found that public impeachment hearings seemingly failed to generate a crush of new support for the inquiry, its findings are a far cry from the president’s claim on Monday that support for impeachment “is dropping like a rock, down into the 20’s in some Polls.” 

JUDGE RULES McGAHN MUST COMPLY WITH HOUSE SUBPOENA: Former Trump White House counsel Donald McGahn must comply with a House subpoena, a federal court ruled Monday, finding that “no one is above the law” and that top presidential advisers cannot ignore congressional demands for information (Washington Post). The ruling raises the possibility that McGahn could be forced to testify as part of the impeachment inquiry. U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of Washington, found no basis for a White House claim that the former counsel is “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony,” likely setting the stage for a historic separation-of-powers confrontation between the government’s executive and legislative branches.

SCOTUS BLOCKS HOUSE REVIEW OF PRESIDENT'S FINANCIAL RECORDS: The Supreme Court on Monday blocked a House committee from immediately reviewing President Trump’s financial records, after the president’s lawyers agreed to an expedited review of a lower-court ruling granting access (Washington Post). The court’s action signals that, even as Congress considers impeaching Trump, the court will undertake a more complete consideration of the legal powers of Congress and state prosecutors to investigate the president while he is in office. The court instructed Trump’s lawyers to file a petition by Dec. 5 stating why the court should accept the case for full briefing and oral argument. If the petition is eventually denied, the lower-court ruling will go into effect. If accepted, the case probably will be heard this term, with a decision before the court adjourns at the end of June.

PARNAS CLAIMS NUNES AIDES HID URKRAINE MEETINGS: The lawyer for an indicted business associate of Rudy Giuliani said his client is prepared to testify under oath that aides to Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, scrapped a trip to Ukraine this year when they realized it would mean notifying Democratic Chairman Adam Schiff (CNBC). Lev Parnas would tell Congress that the purpose of the planned trip was to interview two Ukrainian prosecutors who claimed to have evidence that could help President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign, Parnas’ attorney, Joseph Bondy, told CNBC. Nunes is one of Trump’s most outspoken defenders in Congress. But when Nunes’ staff realized that going to Ukraine themselves would mean alerting Schiff to their plans, they instead asked Parnas to set up the meetings for them over phone and Skype, which he did, according to Bondy.

General Assembly

FARM BUREAU LAYS OUT 2020 AGENDA: The Indiana Farm Bureau laid out its legislative priorities for 2020 when it met last week with legislators at the Indiana Statehouse (Mills, Inside Indiana Business). Farm Bureau President Randy Kron and Vice President Kendell Culp, along with the organization’s public policy team, identified key issues the farm advocacy group will focus on when the Indiana General Assembly convenes in January. “This year, the General Assembly will be reviewing healthcare costs and at Farm Bureau we have been doing the same” says Katrina Hall, Indiana Farm Bureau director of public policy. Another issue the Indiana Farm Bureau is pushing is the expansion of rural broadband.


GOVERNOR: APPOINTMENTS TO BOARDS, COMMISSION - A press release noted that Governor Eric J. Holcomb made several new appointments and reappointments to various state boards and commissions:

Fire Prevention & Building Safety Commission - James Greeson (Indianapolis), former Indiana State Fire Marshal, newly-appointed to serve until Aug. 31, 2022.

Governor’s Commission on Minority & Women's Business Enterprises - Two reappointments to serve until Sept. 30, 2023: Remo Mezzetta (Indianapolis), director of business development for Mezzetta, Inc.; and, Frances Vega-Steele (Portage), retired associate vice-chancellor of student affairs with Ivy Tech Community College. Also, three new appointments will serve until Sept. 30, 2023: Ellen Dunnigan (Carmel), founder and president of Accent on Business, LLC; Rebecca Kubacki (Syracuse), former Indiana state representative; and, Litany Pyle (Covington), attorney with Elizabeth A. Justice, Attorney at Law.

Healthy Hoosiers Foundation Board of Directors - The governor made four reappointments to the board, who will serve until Oct. 31, 2022: Daniel Evans, Jr. (Indianapolis), former CEO of Indiana University Health; Dr. Paul Halverson (Indianapolis), founding dean and professor at the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health; Dr. Maria Del Rio Hoover (Evansville), medical director of the St. Vincent Center for Children; and, Amy McConkey Robbins (Indianapolis), private practice speech-language pathologist. Also made two new appointments to the board, who will serve until Oct. 31, 2022: Mark Andersen (Zionsville), CFO of Indiana Biosciences Research Institute; and, Dr. Kristina Box (Indianapolis), State Health Commissioner.

Indiana Arts Commission - The governor made three reappointments to the commission, who will serve until Nov. 30, 2023: Libby Chiu (Ogden Dunes), adjunct professor at Goucher College; Ruth Ann Cowling (Jeffersonville), longtime art educator; and, Yolanda Stemer (Chesterton), director of special events with Brian Atwood Designs. Also, three new appointments to the commission: Greg Hull (Indianapolis), the Valerie Eickmeier professor in sculpture and fine arts department chair at the Herron School of Art + Design, who will serve until June 30, 2020; Walter Knabe (Indianapolis), renowned Hoosier artist, who will serve until June 30, 2021; and, Jake Oakman (Indianapolis), communications professional and former special assistant to Gov. Holcomb, who will serve until Nov. 30, 2023.

Indiana Land Resources Council - The governor made one new appointment to the council, who will serve until Nov. 30, 2023: Richard Beck (Fort Wayne), Allen County Commissioner.

Indiana Schools for the Deaf and the Blind or Visually Impaired Task Force & Advisory Committee - The governor made four appointments to the new task force, who will serve until Dec. 31, 2020: Greg Gantt (Indianapolis), representing alumni of the Indiana School for the Deaf; James Michaels (Brownsburg), representing alumni of the Indiana School for the Blind or Visually Impaired; and, Arin Sparger (Avon), representing parents Joyce Wade (Indianapolis), representing parents. The governor also made four appointments to the task force advisory committee, who will serve until Dec. 31, 2020: Kymberly Gaff (Fort Wayne), representing parents; Melissa Keyes (Carmel), representing Indiana Disability Rights; and, Joshua Smith (Indianapolis), business development professional at Butler, Fairman and Seufert, Inc.; and, MaryBeth Staub (Westfield), representing parents.

Indiana Standardbred Advisory Board - The governor made five reappointments to the board, who will serve until Nov. 30, 2022: Pam Cross (Middlebury), nurse with Elkhart Regional Hospital; Tim Graber (Goshen), general manager of Forest River, Inc.; Byron Hooley (Fort Wayne), retired; Faron Parr (Portland), president of Faron D. Parr Enterprises, Inc.; and, Dwayne Rhule (Pendleton), retired.

Judicial Nominating Commission - The governor made one new appointment to the commission, who will serve until Dec. 31, 2022: Katie Glick (Columbus), agribusiness strategy manager at Ice Miller.

Manufactured Home Installer Licensing Board - The governor made one reappointment to the board, who will serve until Nov. 30, 2023: Evor Johns (Goshen), president of Progressive Engineering, Inc.

Mental Health Medicaid Quality Advisory Committee - The governor made one new appointment to the committee, who will serve until Oct. 31, 2023: Wendi Powell (West Lafayette), director of clinical pharmacy for MDwise.

Quarter Horse Breed Development Advisory Committee - The governor made three reappointments to the committee, who will serve until Nov. 30, 2023: Chris Duke (Whiteland), owner of Duke Racing; Lance Finlinson (Greenwood), owner of The Apparel Company and Finlinson Racing Stables; and, Randy Thompson (Brazil), retired.

State Employee Appeals Commission - The governor made one new appointment to the commission, who will serve until June 30, 2020: Tom Hanahan (Indianapolis), partner at Wooden McLaughlin, LLP.

Statewide Child Fatality Review Committee - The governor made four new appointments to the committee, who will serve at the pleasure of the governor: Jenny Durica (Indianapolis), director of Maternal & Child Health with the Indiana State Department of Health; Dr. Roland Kohr (Terre Haute), forensic pathologist at Terre Haute Regional Hospital; Nick Miller (North Vernon), general manager of Ireland Home Based Services; and, Paul Miller (Crawfordsville), EMS division chief with the Crawfordsville Fire Department. Also, two new appointments to the committee, who will represent state agencies and serve at the pleasure of the Governor: Jason Marer, school safety and wellness specialist representing the Indiana Department of Education; and, Terry Stigdon, director of the Department of Child Services

Thoroughbred Breed Development Advisory Committee - The governor made two new appointments to the committee, who will serve until Nov. 30, 2023: Blaine Davidson (Terre Haute), retired; and, Tianna Richardville (Shelbyville), owner of Thirstyacres Racing, LLC.

Vincennes University Board of Trustees - The governor made one new appointment to the board, who will serve until Oct. 4, 2020: Don Villwock (Edwardsport), former president of the Indiana Farm Bureau.

GOVERNOR: CROUCH ACCEPTS 100-TON POULTRY DONATION FOR FOOD BANKS - On Monday, Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch accepted more than 100 tons, or 200,000 pounds, of poultry products on behalf of the state as part of the 72nd annual poultry donation (Hoosier Ag Today). Lt. Governor Crouch, the Indiana State Poultry Association (ISPA), the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana came together to provide poultry products to families in need ahead of the holiday season. “It is an honor to recognize our Hoosier poultry farmers with this tradition, which goes back 72 years,” said Lt. Governor Crouch, Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “The products donated, not only today, but throughout the year, will go a long way in ensuring our Hoosiers in need have fresh and nutritious food to consume.”

BMV: OPPOSITION DURING HEARING ON GENDER-CHANGE RULE - Hoosiers on Monday spoke out against a proposed gender-change rule moving through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles process (Kelly, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). BMV Commissioner Peter Lacy attended to hear reactions to the proposed rule. It is rare for an agency head to be present at a rule-making hearing. He declined to comment. If the BMV adopts the final rule with no changes, it would go to the attorney general and governor for review in December. The final rule would still have to be published, making the anticipated effective date March 5. Hundreds of comments have also been filed electronically with the BMV. Virtually all of them oppose the rule.

IDEM: U.S. STEEL REPORTS ANOTHER RELEASE - The same night the government filed a motion asking a federal judge to approve its revised proposed consent decree with U.S. Steel, the company reported yet another release into the Burns Waterway (Reese, NWI Times). U.S. Steel Midwest reported a release of "iron flock/solids" about 11:30 p.m. Nov. 20, initiated cleanup efforts, notified downstream users and increased monitoring frequencies, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management said Monday. The discharged has stopped, and there were no observed impacts to wildlife, IDEM said.

DNR: FREE ADMISSION AT STATE PARKS ON BLACK FRIDAY - If you think you might need a break from the chaos and credit card pain of Black Friday shopping, you can find some peace and quiet — for free — at any of Indiana's state parks, reservoirs or state forest recreation areas (Carden, NWI Times). The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is waiving gate admission fees Friday as part of an effort to remind Hoosiers there's more to life than fighting for a parking space at a crowded shopping mall.

ECONOMY: CENTRAL INDIANA HOME SALES CLIMB - The number of home sales in central Indiana was on a continued upswing for October (McLaughlin, Inside Indiana Business). F.C. Tucker Co. says pended home sales rose 8.7% last month, compared to the same period last year. The average year-to-date home price increased to $225,006. “Buyer demand continues to exceed available inventory in central Indiana, resulting in a continued increase in home sales and prices for October,” said Jim Litten, chief executive officer of F.C. Tucker Co. “While we may see a slight decrease around the holidays, we anticipate this strong seller’s market to continue through the new year.”

ECONOMY: RV SHIPMENTS SEE OCTOBER DECLINE - RV shipments were down 10.5% in October compared to the same month in 2018, according to the RV Industry Association (Jorgensen, Elkhart Truth). The industry ended the month with 38,972 wholesale shipments. In October 2018, the total was 43,568. This comes after September was the first time in 13 months that shipments were better than the same month in the previous year. September 2018 had the lowest number of shipments of that year, and more units were shipped in October 2019 than in September 2019.

ECONOMY: CUMMINS TO CUT 2,000 JOBS - Columbus-based Cummins Inc. has confirmed to Inside INdiana Business its plans to layoff approximately 2,000 salaried workers from its global workforce of about 62,000 (Mills, Inside Indiana Business). The powertrain manufacturer said Monday afternoon that demand has deteriorated faster than expected and it needs to reduce costs. Cummins did not specify how many, if any, Indiana jobs would be affected by the move. However, the company said the layoffs involve exempt employees, meaning salaried positions and not union jobs. The cuts are expected to take place during the first quarter of 2020.

ECONOMY: EMPLOYER HEALTH INSURANCE COSTS CONTINUE CLIMB - More than half of Hoosiers get health insurance from their employer and that coverage is growing more expensive (Sheridan, Indiana Public Media). The report from the Commonwealth Fund looks at all states and finds Indiana is in line with a nationwide increase in costs.  From 2008 to 2018 the annual Hoosier employee contribution rose from 3.8 percent of a person’s income to 5.7 percent. Sarah Collins, a vice president with the Commonwealth Fund, led the study. "Even though premiums costs take up a large share of people’s income, many people are not getting insurance that offers them good cost protection," says Collins. "This is because for many, deductibles are also high."


WHITE HOUSE: PRESIDENT SIGNS ANIMAL CRUELTY LAW - President Trump signed a bill into law Monday establishing animal cruelty as a federal crime after the measure passed with bipartisan support through Congress (The Hill). A statement from the White House press office Monday evening announced that the president had signed the bill, which specifically codifies so-called "animal crushing" as a federal offense punishable with a fine and up to seven years in prison. The Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) law defines the term as any act where an animal "is purposely crushed, burned, drowned, suffocated, impaled, or otherwise subjected to serious bodily injury."

WHITE HOUSE: ENERGY, NATO FOCUS OF TRUMP MEETING WITH BORISSOV - President Donald Trump and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov on Monday discussed energy issues facing the central European nation, which is heavily dependent on Russian energy (Associated Press). In a joint statement, the U.S. said it welcomes Bulgaria’s aspirations to become a regional natural gas hub. Bulgaria, Moscow’s closest ally during the Cold War, later joined NATO and the European Union but remains reliant on Russia to power the nation.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SAID TO BE RETREATING ON DRUG PRICES - President Trump is backing off his 2016 campaign pledge to negotiate drug prices for Medicare with pharmaceutical companies, drawing fire from Democrats after months of talks on the issue with Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) (The Hill). Pelosi’s staff spent months over the course of this year trying to get White House support for her measure to allow the government to negotiate prices for up to 250 drugs per year, with tough financial penalties for companies that refused to come to the table. But after months of holding his fire, Trump is now publicly bashing Pelosi’s bill. And while Trump still talks about the need to lower drug prices in general, he has not proposed an alternative drug price negotiation plan of his own. 

WHITE HOUSE: COMMANDER IN CHIEF ORDERED NAVY TO RETAIN GALLAGHER - President Trump ordered the Pentagon not to remove a Navy SEAL at the center of a high-profile war crimes case from the elite commando unit, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said Monday (New York Times). Mr. Esper’s confirmation of the order from Mr. Trump is the latest turn in an extraordinary series of events that pitted the president against his senior military leadership over the fate of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher, the SEAL who was convicted of posing for photographs with the body of a teenage Islamic State captive in American custody.

TRADE: CHINA SAYS ENVOYS AGREE TO CONTINUE TALKS - Top Chinese and U.S. trade negotiators agreed to continue to work toward a preliminary agreement for resolving their tariff war, the Chinese Commerce Ministry said Tuesday (Associated Press). In a brief notice, the ministry said that Vice Premier Liu He and other senior officials spoke by phone with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The announcement was not immediately confirmed by the U.S. side. 

PENTAGON: RESUMES LARGE-SCALE OPERATIONS AGAINST ISIS IN SYRIA - United States troops have resumed large-scale counterterrorism missions against the Islamic State in northern Syria, military officials say, nearly two months after President Trump’s abrupt order to withdraw American troops opened the way for a bloody Turkish cross-border offensive (New York Times). “Over the next days and weeks, the pace will pick back up against remnants of ISIS,” Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the commander of the military’s Central Command, told reporters on the sidelines of the Manama Dialogue security conference in Bahrain on Saturday.

PENTAGON: FIRED NAVY SECRETARY BELIEVES ORDER VIOLATED OATH - In a letter acknowledging his termination on Sunday, Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer said that he regarded good order and discipline throughout the Navy’s ranks to be “deadly serious business.” (New York Times) "The lives of our sailors, Marines and civilian teammates quite literally depend on the professional execution of our many missions, and they also depend on the ongoing faith and support of the people we serve and the allies we serve alongside,” the letter said. He added: “Unfortunately, it has become apparent that in this respect, I no longer share the same understanding with the commander in chief who appointed me, in regards to the key principle of good order and discipline. I cannot in good conscience obey an order that I believe violates the sacred oath I took.”

ECONOMY: POWELL SAYS TAME INFLATION ALLOWS LOW RATES - Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is sketching an optimistic view of the economy but signaling that continued low inflation means higher interest rates won’t likely be necessary anytime soon (Associated Press). Powell says that even with unemployment near a 50-year low of 3.6%, there’s still “plenty of room” for wages to rise and for more Americans to join the workforce. He notes that annual inflation remains below the Fed’s 2% target level.

ECONOMY: STOCKS JUMP TO RECORD HIGHS - A flurry of buyout deals and rising optimism about U.S.-China trade talks sent stocks back to record heights Monday, the latest bit of fuel for a market that’s been climbing since early last month (Associated Press). Technology stocks and smaller companies led the way after China issued new guidelines for the protection of patents and copyrights. Theft of such intellectual property has been a big sticking point in the trade war between the world’s largest economies, and markets saw China’s move as an encouraging sign for negotiations on the first phase of a deal.

SCOTUS: CLIMATE LAWSUIT ALLOWED TO PROCEED - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday allowed a prominent climate scientist to pursue a defamation lawsuit against a conservative magazine and a think tank that compared him to a convicted child molester (Yahoo News). The justices declined to hear appeals filed by National Review magazine and the Competitive Enterprise Institute seeking to overturn a lower court's ruling that allowed the lawsuit filed by scientist Michael Mann to go forward. One justice, conservative Samuel Alito, dissented, writing that the case raised questions "that go to the very heart of the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech and freedom of the press."

JUSTICE: FEDS SCRUTINIZE GUILIANI FIRM AS PART OF BROAD PROBE - The federal investigation into two associates of Rudolph W. Giuliani is exploring a wide range of potential crimes — including wire fraud and failure to register as a foreign agent — as prosecutors dig into the pair’s interactions with the president’s personal lawyer and the main pro-Trump super PAC, according to people familiar with the investigation (Washington Post). Giuliani’s dealings with the two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, are being investigated by federal prosecutors at the U.S. attorney’s office of the Southern District of New York. According to people familiar with the ongoing case, investigators are scrutinizing Giuliani’s consulting business and eyeing donations made to America First Action, the main pro-Trump super PAC set up by his advisers and allies after his election, as well as its affiliated nonprofit group.


IRANIAN COMMANDER THREATENS TO DESTROY USA, ALLIES: Iran's head of the Revolutionary Guard on Monday threatened to destroy the United States and its allies, accusing the nations during a televised speech of instigating violent protests that erupted earlier this month after the announcement of massive fuel hikes (Fox News). Speaking to tens of thousands of people holding signs with anti-U.S. slogans in Tehran's Revolution Square, Gen. Hossein Salami accused the U.S., Britain, Saudi Arabia and Israel of fueling the deadly unrest. The protests against a massive rise in fuel prices and a slash in government subsidies have further divided many Iranians and their religious regime. At least 143 people have been killed since Nov. 15, according to Amnesty International. The human-rights group accused Iranian security forces of using firearms against unarmed protesters from rooftops and helicopters.


CITIES: MUNCIE MAYOR-ELECT FLOODED WITH JOB APPLICATIONS - Things with Mayor-elect Dan Ridenour's transition are heating up just more than a month before the changeover (Ohlenkamp, Muncie Star Press). According to a press release, Ridnenour's team is now up to 16 people in order to handle the large number of employment applications received, as well as serve in an advisory role for the admin's policy plans. “As of November 21st we have received 74 applications for the full-time appointed positions and have conducted initial interviews with 19 of those applicants,” Nancy Larson, a transition team member, said in the release. 

CITIES: FOOD, BEVERAGE TAX ON TABLE IN GREENWOOD - The Greenwood City Council is considering a new food and beverage tax to bolster staffing levels at city departments, specifically the police and fire departments (Myers, Fox59). The plan for a 1% food and beverage tax was made possible earlier this year when state lawmakers passed a bill that authorizes Greenwood and several other communities to impose such a tax. Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers and other city leaders hope the money raised by the tax will ultimately help increase the number of police officers and firefighters working throughout the city.

CITIES: HOME PRICES SOAR 30% IN GREENWOOD - Greenwood officials unveiled a plan earlier this year for a nearly 20-acre mixed-use development in the city's center (DePompei, IndyStar). Old City Park is undergoing a massive overhaul to rival the nation's best playscapes. And work is expected to begin on a new fieldhouse next year. As Greenwood's star rises, so do its property values. Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers points to one striking figure: since 2015, median single-family home values in Greenwood have increased by more than 30 percent, according to data from Zillow. 

CITIES: GREENCASTLE HOME TO STATE'S FIRST TRANSGENDERED ELECTED OFFICIAL - Indiana’s first transgender elected official will take her seat in January on the Greencastle City Council, representing Ward 3 (Winfrey, WISH-TV). Many may find a place like Greencastle too small to be progressive enough to elect a transgender city councilor, but for the last 15 years, Veronica Pejril said the community has accepted her. They showed that support by heading to the polls. “This is my first foray into public life, and I’m really excited about that,” she said.

CITIES: CAMS CREDITED FOR CRIME DECREASE IN INDY PUBLIC HOUSING - After more than a year of double-digit increases at some of its largest properties, the Indianapolis Housing Agency (IHA) is reporting consistent and dramatic double-digit decreases in crime in public housing (McQuaid, WTTV). Compared to November of 2018, crime has decreased from 8%-25% at four of IHA’s largest public housing properties. IHA Executive Director John Hall said since he came on board in early March, he’s made a priority of enhancing the agency’s surveillance camera system and linking it up with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD).

COUNTIES: STONEBRAKER LEAVING TIPPECANOE COUNCIL - Ilana Stonebraker, one of two Democrats elected to the Tippecanoe County Council in 2018, will resign by the end of 2019 (Bangert, Lafayette Journal & Courier). Stonebraker, a Purdue faculty member and librarian, said she is leaving Lafayette to take a job as head of the Business/School of Public and Environmental Affairs Library at Indiana University. Heather Maddox, Tippecanoe County Democratic Party chairwoman, said the precinct committee members from the county council’s District 1 – which includes much of Lafayette – will select Stonebraker’s replacement in January. That date hasn’t been set, Maddox said.

COUNTIES: MUCH INTEREST IN HOWARD COMMISSIONER SEAT - Howard County Republican Party Chairwoman Jamie Bolser says “several people” have reached out with interest in the soon-to-be vacant commissioner seat now held by Kokomo Mayor-elect Tyler Moore (Myers, Kokomo Tribune). Moore, who currently represents the 2nd District of the Howard County Board of Commissioners, was elected Kokomo’s next mayor earlier this month. He has said he will serve out his term as commissioner until the end of the year. Bolser, in an email to the Tribune, said that once Moore provides his official resignation she will within 10 days give written notice of a Republican Party caucus. The caucus will be scheduled within 30 days of the vacancy occurring, she explained.

COUNTIES: METH MAKES COMEBACK IN TIPPECANOE - Meth is making a comeback (Hackler, WLFI-TV). The comeback isn't only happening here in Tippecanoe county but across the state. One reason police say meth is becoming more prevalent is because of a surplus of it on the street. According to the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's office, there have been 401 Meth related arrests so far in 2019. Which they say is a 25% increase since 2017. "Speaking with my partners over at the drug task force it is clear that there is a surplus of methamphetamines on the market due to current prices on the streets,” said Sergeant Mike Brown with the Lafayette Police Department.

COUNTIES: BARTHOLOMEW SHERIFF HIRES ADDICTION TREATMENT COORDINATOR - Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department has completed a lengthy search for a qualified addiction treatment coordinator, hiring an Indianapolis-area drug treatment specialist for the job (Columbus Republic). Bartholomew County Jail officials said Theresa Patton, from the Indianapolis area, has accepted a job offer and has begun working at the jail. Last summer, both city and county officials agreed to jointly fund the salary and fringe benefits for the coordinator, who will develop the jail addiction treatment program curriculum.