FED COURT STOPS 10-DAY BALLOT EXTENSION: Absentee ballots cast in Indiana must arrive by noon on Election Day to be counted, a federal appeals court said Tuesday, throwing out a 10-day extension ordered by a judge (AP). In ordering the extension in a decision announced Sept. 30, Southern Indiana District Court Senior Judge Sarah Evans Barker cited slow mail delivery because of the coronavirus as a reason for extending the count if ballots were postmarked by Nov. 3. But the appeals court, in a 3-0 opinion, overturned the decision and said Indiana’s noon rule still stands. The “pandemic has caused great loss but is not a good reason for the federal judiciary to assume tasks that belong to politically responsible officials,” said Judge Frank Easterbrook of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. “It is rational to require absentee votes to be received by Election Day, just as in-person voting ends on Election Day. … Counting the votes, and announcing the results, as soon as possible after the polls close serves a civic interest,” Easterbrook wrote.

 

368,000 VOTE EARLY IN INDIANA: More than 368,000 votes have already been cast in Indiana for the Nov. 3 election (McKinney, WRTV). As of the end of the day on Monday, 257,854 absentee ballots have been returned and 110,509 in-person votes have been cast early for a total of 368,863. The data is from the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office, via the U.S. Election Project at the University of Florida. The current total of votes is 13.4% of total votes cast in the 2016 presidential race in Indiana.

 

HOLCOMB EXPECTED TO ADDRESS MASK MANDATE TODAY: Indiana’s COVID-19 hospitalizations and rates of new infections continued sharp increases in statistics released Tuesday as the governor faces a deadline on whether to extend the statewide face mask order. The jumps have come since Gov. Eric Holcomb decided three weeks ago to lift nearly all of Indiana’s restrictions on businesses and crowd sizes, a decision his Democratic election challenger has called on Holcomb to reverse in hopes of slowing the coronavirus spread (AP). Holcomb told WANE-TV in Fort Wayne that he would announce a decision Wednesday on the mask mandate that he first issued in July. It is currently set to expire Saturday. “We need to underscore the point that our actions and our inactions have consequences, whether they’re good or bad,” he said. The 1,288 COVID-19 hospitalizations in Indiana as of Monday marked the ninth straight day topping 1,000 after not reaching that high since the end of May, the Indiana State Department of Health reported.

 

WHITE HOUSE EMBRACES HERD IMMUNITY DECLARATION: The White House has embraced a declaration by a group of scientists arguing that authorities should allow the coronavirus to spread among young healthy people while protecting the elderly and the vulnerable — an approach that would rely on arriving at “herd immunity” through infections rather than a vaccine (New York Times). Many experts say “herd immunity” — the point at which a disease stops spreading because nearly everyone in a population has contracted it — is still very far-off. Leading experts have concluded, using different scientific methods, that about 85 to 90 percent of the American population is still susceptible to the coronavirus. On a call convened Monday by the White House, two senior administration officials, both speaking anonymously because they were not authorized to give their names, cited an October 4 petition titled The Great Barrington Declaration, which argues against lockdowns and calls for a reopening of businesses and schools. “Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health,” the declaration states, adding, “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.”

 

AUTUMN COVID SURGE HAS ARRIVED: As predicted, the US is now grappling with a new Covid-19 surge -- one that could overwhelm hospitals, kill thousands of Americans a day by January and leave even young survivors with long-term complications (CNN). "We went down to the lowest point lately in early September, around 30,000-35,000 new cases a day. Now we're back up to (about) 50,000 new cases a day. And it's going to continue to rise," Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, said Tuesday. "This is the fall/winter surge that everyone was worried about. And now it's happening. And it's happening especially in the northern Midwest, and the Northern states are getting hit very hard -- Wisconsin, Montana, the Dakotas. But it's going to be nationally soon enough." Across the country, more than 30 states have reported more Covid-19 cases this past week than they reported the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

 

LILLY PAUSES COVID ANTIBODY STUDY: Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. on Tuesday said enrollment of participants in a clinical trial of its antibody treatment for COVID-19 has been paused because of a potential safety concern (IBJ). Lilly said it made the decision on recommendation of the Data and Safety Monitoring Board. “Out of an abundance of caution, the ACTIV-3 independent data safety monitoring board (DSMB) has recommended a pause in enrollment,” Lilly spokeswoman Molly McCully said in emailed statement to Reuters. “Lilly is supportive of the decision by the independent DSMB to cautiously ensure the safety of the patients participating in this study.” The company didn’t provide say what caused the data panel to recommend the pause. Temporary stoppages of large medical studies are relatively common. Shares in Lilly dropped 3.5% in afternoon trading, to $148.96 each. Lilly said on Oct. 7 that it asked the government to allow emergency use of its experimental antibody therapy, based on positive early results from a study that suggested the drug reduced symptoms, the amount of virus, hospitalizations and ER visits for patients with mild or moderate COVID-19.

 

ACB SIDESTEPS ABORTION QUESTION; ISN'T HOSTILE TO ACA: Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett told senators Tuesday she wouldn’t impose her personal views on the law, as she sidestepped questions about abortion rights and said she isn’t hostile to the Affordable Care Act and gun control (Wall Street Journal). Judge Barrett, President Trump’s choice to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, faced senators in an all-day hearing three weeks before Election Day and four weeks before the court is to hear a case challenging the Obama-era ACA. The nominee, like others in recent years, chose her answers carefully and avoided making specific commitments about how she might rule on hot-button legal issues. She also declined to share her views on whether past Supreme Court rulings, including on abortion rights, were correctly decided. “If I express a view on a precedent one way or another, whether I say I love it or I hate it, it signals to litigants that I might tilt one way or another in a pending case,” Judge Barrett said in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. The judge, 48 years old, a longtime Notre Dame law professor who has served for three years on a Chicago-based federal appeals court, voiced support for originalism, the method of legal interpretation that favors interpreting the Constitution according to its perceived original meaning.

 

NOTRE DAME PRESIDENT ENDS QUARANTINE: University of Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins has ended his quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus less than a week following his attendance at a White House event without wearing a mask (AP). Jenkins “is symptom-free and looks forward to resuming his normal activities,” the university announced Monday. He began his self-isolation period on Sept. 28, two days after he attended the Rose Garden nomination ceremony of Notre Dame law professor Judge Amy Coney Barrett for Supreme Court justice.

 

CHICAGO ADDS INDIANA TO ITS COVID TRAVEL ORDER: The city of Chicago has added Indiana to its emergency travel order due to the surging number of COVID-19 cases in the Hoosier State, making quick trips in or out of the city potentially a huge hassle for all but regular commuter workers and students (Carden, NWI Times). Beginning Friday, most Hoosiers going to Chicago, and most Chicago residents who visit Indiana, are required to quarantine in Chicago for at least 14 days following their arrival or return before going out in public. Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago's public health commissioner, announced Tuesday she added Indiana to the 24 other states on the city's quarantine order, including every state that borders Illinois, because Indiana now is reporting more than 15 daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. "All around us there is trouble. Wisconsin has a very poorly controlled outbreak. Indiana has a badly controlled outbreak," Arwady said. "Right now is the time to double down on what we know works."

 

INDIANA RENEWS RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM: Hoosiers facing eviction and in need of help paying their rent can once again get assistance from the state. The state, using federal COVID-19 relief dollars, reopened its rental assistance program Tuesday (Smith, Indiana Public Media). The state’s latest rental assistance program provides some money for six months for Hoosiers who’ve lost income during the pandemic. There are several criteria people must meet to be eligible. For instance, you can’t be getting rental help from another source. Your landlord must agree to participate in the program. You also have to be making less than a certain amount of income depending on where you live – anywhere from about $33,000-43,000 a year for a family of four. The state will prioritize money for people who’ve had a notice to vacate or notice of eviction filed against them. Hoosiers can apply at IndianaHousingNow.org.

 

BANKS TOP TRUMP DEFENDER IN INDIANA: Axios published its study of congressional "defenders" of President Trump and U.S. Rep. Jim Banks led the Indiana delegation with 84 on the "Trump loyalty index," and 94% in voting with Trump on issues. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth rated 71 on the index, with 88% support; Rep. Jackie Walorski rated 70, with 95% support; Sen. Todd Young 62, with 86%; Rep. Susan Brooks 58, 95%; Rep. Greg Pence 83, 100%; Rep. Jim Baird 77, 96%; and Sen. Mike Braun 76%, 95%.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: It appears President Trump is moving toward attaining "herd immunity" as the administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most epidemiologists say adopting this strategy will result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans, if not millions. This comes as Trump told a packed, mostly unmasked MAGA rally that the U.S. has "turned the corner" on the pandemic while he has achieved "immunity." These are surreal and deeply troubling developments. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

RAINWATER RAN DUE TO CIG TAX, COVID MANDATES: Navy veteran Donald Rainwater began to turn away from the Republican Party four years ago when state lawmakers considered raising taxes on cigarettes (Sikich, IndyStar).  Rainwater thought the GOP supermajorities should stand for limited government. The idea to charge $1 per pack ultimately failed, but Rainwater had had enough of a GOP he thought was increasingly expanding government. He turned to the Libertarian Party and began the first of four runs for office.  "I decided it was time for me to stop being aggravated and to get up and do something," Rainwater said. "I felt like the Libertarian Party most closely mirrored the majority of my principles."  He rose to prominence within the party during his last race, gaining nearly 40% of the vote for Westfield mayor by criticizing city spending on several projects. Now, his gubernatorial run is capturing the imagination of right-wing voters who are upset with Gov. Holcomb's decision to mandate masks and shut down businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

 

HOLCOMB, MYERS IN EQUITY FORUM: The major party candidates for Indiana governor participated Monday evening in an online forum about racial inequities, including in education, criminal justice and housing (Sikich, IndyStar). Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and his Democratic challenger, Dr. Woody Myers, each answered questions separately for about 30 minutes each. Here's what they had to say: Holcomb said a commission is examining options to increase school funding for the long term. He noted the General Assembly increased funding for public education when it passed the state's two-year budget earlier this year. He said that budget expanded pre-kindergarten and increased funding for school safety. "That just reflects our commitment now and as I said going forward to fund the foundation," Holcomb said, "and that is our children's education and training." Myers likened the recent budget increase for education to giving slices of bread to a starving person. Myers said Indiana needs to listen to its teachers, noting he was among the thousands of people who flooded the Indiana Statehouse last November at a Red for Ed rally. He said he would increase funding for public education to ensure that teachers got raises. "Their job is to teach," Myers said. "That's what it says in their contract. But really what they are doing is they are creating the future for the state of Indiana, and we desperately want them to be successful."

 

DCCC UNVEILS NEW AD VS. SPARTZ: Health care is top of mind for voters across the country, and Hoosiers are no different. “Fix,” the DCCC’s new TV ad, shines a spotlight on Victoria Spartz’s repeated votes against the best interest of Hoosiers (Howey Politics Indiana). The ad begins airing today on broadcast in the Indianapolis media market. Less than five months ago, Victoria Spartz bragged about fighting the Affordable Care Act, which would gut protections for thousands of Hoosiers with pre-existing conditions. But now that she’s in a highly competitive campaign, Spartz is trying to rewrite history. But no matter how many times she changes her position in campaign commercials, Spartz can’t hide from her votes to let insurance companies deny coverage for kids fighting certain chronic illnesses or her vote against an amendment that ensured coverage for those with pre-existing conditions on short-term insurance plans. “Victoria Spartz can’t hide from her disastrous record of attempting to gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions – and even bragging about it in the middle of a pandemic. Hoosiers know they can’t trust Victoria Spartz with their health care.” said DCCC Spokesperson Courtney Rice. “Fix” is the DCCC’s fourth TV ad in IN-05. Previously on air were “More Secrets,” which highlighted Spartz’s fellow Republicans warning that she can’t be trusted and “Caught” and “Typical,” which exposes Spartz for using her office to potentially enrich herself at the expense of Hoosier families.

 

HOLLINGSWORTH MAKES REELECTION PITCH: This November, incumbent Republican Rep. Trey Hollingsworth of Jeffersonville will face two challengers for the 9th District Congressional seat: Bloomington native Democrat Andy Ruff and Libertarian Tonya Millis of Bedford. In his discussion with Indiana Public Media, Hollingsworth pointed to low unemployment and wage growth in the Hoosier state before the pandemic as two of his proudest contributions in office. "The question is, how fast can we get back to that?" Hollingsworth said. "And that's exactly why I'm running again, to make sure that the economic opportunity that we were able to achieve, that that will be something that we preserve going forward by getting back to that economy as quickly as possible." Hollingsworth stressed the importance of representing the varied interests of 9th District residents, saying, "Right here in Bloomington, many Hoosiers feel very differently than they do five miles away in Ellettsville, right? It's really important to make sure that, remember, we have a very diverse district."

 

RUFF PRESENTS HIMSELF AS 'EVERYMAN': Former five-term Bloomington City Councilmember Andy Ruff beat out four Democratic challengers in this year's primary. Ruff portrays himself as the "everyman" of the race. "We need a Hoosier representing the Hoosiers, the ordinary folks of the 9th District," he said in a June interview. Ruff told Indiana Public Media that he is "done with the ugly divisiveness of the country," which spurred him to run for Congress. He said his campaign plans were somewhat derailed by the pandemic, leading him to turn to phone calls and social media over appearances with his guitar at county fairs. Ruff put his musical talents and campaigning skills together in the production of a political music video titled "The Ballad of 'Tennessee Trey' (Hollingsworth)," which had more than 7,700 YouTube views at the time of publication. "So I've been trying to run a campaign without relying on any of those money sources and just relying on grassroots contributions from ordinary folks," he said. "And that's been taking a lot of work. Because, you know, if I can get 50 contributions of $25 from ordinary folks, to me, that is worth a lot more than [a] maximum multi-thousand-dollar contribution from a wealthy donor or super PAC acting in my behalf."

 

REP. SWALWELL ENDORSES MACKEY: Joe Mackey, the Democratic nominee for Indiana's 4th CD, has received the endorsement of Rep. Eric Swalwell (Howey Politics Indiana). "I am excited to endorse Joe Mackey in his bid for Indiana's 4th Congressional District. As someone originally from the Midwest myself, I see the kind of blue-collar mentality in Joe that will serve Hoosiers extremely well in Washington," Swalwell said. "He is committed to improving our public education systems, increasing access to affordable healthcare for every American, and bringing good-paying, clean-energy jobs to the Heartland. Joe is a fighter, and he is ready to get to work for his constituents. I urge all voters in Indiana's 4th District to support Joe Mackey in this election."

 

CUNNINGHAM LEADS NC SENATE POLL: Democrat Cal Cunningham continues to hold a lead in the North Carolina Senate race this week and has not dropped in public polling after recent revelations of an extramarital affair (Politico). Cunningham led GOP Sen. Thom Tillis, 48 percent to 44 percent, among registered voters, according to a new survey from Monmouth University released Tuesday, maintaining an edge despite high awareness of his affair, with few voters viewing his indiscretion as disqualifying for him to serve.

 

COOK MAKES SENATE RACE RATING CHANGES: Cook Political Report changed its rating for Alaska’s Senate race from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican.” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) is seeking reelection against Al Gross, an independent candidate backed by the state Democratic Party (The Hill). Sullivan led by 4 points in the most recent survey, conducted Sept. 25-Oct. 4 by Alaska Survey Research, but the state has one of the least-polled Senate races. In Texas, Cook also shifted the race from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican.” There, Sen. John Cornyn (R) faces Air Force veteran and former congressional candidate M.J. Hegar. Cornyn leads the race by an average of 7.6 points, according to the RealClearPolitics (RCP) average. Cook also shifted Georgia’s Senate special election from “lean Republican” to “toss-up.” Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) is defending her seat in a race that includes Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Democratic candidates Raphael Warnock and Matt Lieberman. If no one reaches more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two will face a runoff on Jan. 5.

 

Presidential 2020

 

TRUMP TOWN HALL ON NBC THURSDAY NIGHT: President Donald Trump will take part in an NBC News town hall event in Miami on Thursday, the network announced on Wednesday. The town hall, moderated by "TODAY" anchor Savannah Guthrie, will take place on the same evening that Joe Biden is doing his own town hall in Philadelphia on ABC News. Trump and Biden were supposed to hold their second debate on Thursday night but it will instead take place on Oct. 22. During the one-hour town hall, Guthrie will moderate a conversation between Trump and a group of Florida voters. It will take place outdoors at the Pérez Art Museum in accordance with guidelines set forth by health officials and consistent with all government regulations.

 

TRUMP NO LONGER INFECTIOUS SAYS NIH DIRECTOR: NBC News said it has received a statement by Dr. Clifford Lane, Clinical Director at the National Institutes of Health, indicating that he and Dr. Anthony Fauci have reviewed Trump's recent medical data, including a PCR test collected and analyzed by NIH on Tuesday, and have concluded "with a high degree of confidence" that the president is "not shedding infectious virus."

 

BIDEN IN FLA ASKING 'HAVE YOU HUGGED YOUR GRANDKIDS?'  Joseph R. Biden Jr. turned his attention on Tuesday to older Americans, making a case in South Florida that seniors were paying the price for the president’s poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic asking: "How many of you have been unable to hug your grandkids in the last seven months?" (New York Times).  “The only senior that Donald Trump cares about — the only senior — is senior Donald Trump,” Mr. Biden said in a speech at a community center in Pembroke Pines, a city in the vote-rich Democratic stronghold of Broward County.

 

TRUMP STUMPS IN PA: With just three weeks until Election Day, and President Trump on the defensive in every major battleground state, the president’s top aides know they must change the trajectory of the race (New York Times). So as Mr. Trump returns to the campaign trail this week for the first time since he was hospitalized for his coronavirus infection, his advisers are sending him out with a teleprompter in hopes he’ll drive a more coherent message against his Democratic opponent. Attempting to revive his 2016 coalition in a part of Pennsylvania where he needs to run up his margins, the president scorned Mr. Biden as “a servant of the radical globalists” who “shipped away your jobs, shut down your factories, and, you know it because you really suffered right in this area, threw open your borders, and ravaged our cities.” Trump added, “So can I ask you to do me a favor, suburban women, will you please like me? Please. Please. I saved your damn neighborhood, OK?”

 

OBAMA TO CAMPAIGN FOR BIDEN 'SOON': Former President Barack Obama is expected to hit the campaign trail "soon" for Joe Biden, his former vice president -- a move that could help animate Democrats as the presidential race enters its pivotal final weeks (ABC News). "President Obama plans to hit the trail soon, in addition to all the other activities he’s undertaken all year in support of electing VP Biden – as he’s said, we all have to do everything we can to win on November 3," an aide to the former president told ABC News.

 

ACB HOLDING GOP TOGETHER: Just about the only thing holding the Republican Party together right now is Amy Coney Barrett. President Donald Trump’s sinking poll numbers are putting once-safe Senate seats in play and threatening deeper losses in the House. Republicans are unenthusiastic about defending Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic or commenting on his latest string of Twitter rants (Politico). Fear of Trump remains high in GOP circles, and Republicans know their fate is inexorably tied to the president’s own results. Yet at the moment, it’s not clear Trump has the juice within his party to cut a big spending deal with Democrats. Meanwhile, there is near unanimous support for Barrett, the type of Supreme Court nominee that Senate Republicans would have confirmed for a President Rubio or a President Cruz. “The reason [Barrett’s nomination is ] so exciting to Republicans is the uncertainty about what’s going to happen on Nov. 3. Here there is certainty that … we can get this across the finish line,” said Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), who introduced Barrett at her confirmation hearing on Monday. “There’s so much uncertainty politically, not only associated with the election, and also what can we agree on” for stimulus. Braun said the Barrett confirmation would be a cornerstone of Trump’s legacy in his first term. Some of his colleagues are increasingly worried there won’t be a second term, and that Trump's trajectory threatens their majority as well.

 

PENCE SCHEDULE: Vice President Mike Pence will host a 'Make America Great Again!' event in Miami, Florida on Thursday, October 15th at 12:30 PM EDT, a 'Faith in America' event in Miami, Florida on Thursday, October 15th at 2:30 PM EDT, a 'Make America Great Again!' event in Selma, North Carolina on Friday, October 16th at 1:30 PM EDT, and a 'Make America Great Again!' event in Reading, Pennsylvania on Saturday, October 17th at 12:30 PM EDT.



Congress

 

McCONNELL TO TAKE UP NARROW COVID RELIEF BILL: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced on Tuesday that the Senate will take up a narrow economic relief bill when it comes back in session next week (Washington Post). President Trump immediately undermined the move, writing on Twitter: “STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!” The clashing messages were a stark display of GOP disunity just three weeks before the November election, as Senate Republicans balk at a $1.8 trillion relief package Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has offered to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Trump, though, has suggested Republicans should agree to an even bigger deal than what Democrats have offered. Pelosi has already rejected Mnuchin’s offer as completely inadequate, criticism she repeated Tuesday in a letter to House Democrats where she wrote, “Tragically, the Trump proposal falls significantly short of what this pandemic and deep recession demand.”

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: ACCESS INDIANA REACHES 125K CONSUMERS -  A Gov. Eric J. Holcomb Next Level agenda item has passed a major milestone. Access Indiana, the state’s single sign-on portal for Hoosiers to use digital access_indiana_logogovernment services, recently exceeded 125,000 users (Howey Politics Indiana). Gov. Holcomb had instructed the Office of Technology to implement a service that connected online applications across state government with a single user name and password to make accessing government services easier. “Transitioning to this simple sign-in process now makes it easier for Hoosiers to do business with the state,” Indiana Chief Information Officer Tracy Barnes said. “Hoosiers can have one username and one password to easily and securely login into multiple online services. This is a great example of Indiana delivering great government service. I look forward to expanding the number of services available through Access Indiana.”

 

ISDH: TUESDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health today announced that 1,569 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 138,104 the total number of Indiana residents known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. A total of 3,595 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 27 from the previous day. Another 227 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by the state and occurred over multiple days. To date, 1,503,923 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 1,495,852 on Monday. A total of 2,376,462 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.

 

CORRECTIONS: COVID INVADES WOMEN'S PRISON - After several weeks over the summer without a reported case, new coronavirus infections are turning up at the Indiana Women’s Prison, and some employees want more testing to protect those inside (Harper, Indiana Public Media). The Indiana Department of Correction’s COVID-19 statistics showed on Friday the women’s prison had identified 16 new cases since late September. Internal emails show that the day before, 20 women were being housed in the gym, the designated location for those who test positive, according to two employees who spoke with Side Effects. “Most of the units now have a case or two,” said one of the employees on Friday. They both asked to remain anonymous because they didn’t have permission to speak with the media. “We're by no means slowing down. We had four new positive cases today.” They later said more cases came in over the weekend.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: HILL APPLAUDS FED INJUNCTION ON VOTE DEADLINE - Attorney General Curtis Hill today applauded a federal appellate court’s summary decision reversing a district court injunction that would have required Indiana election officials to count mailed absentee ballots received after the statutory deadline (Howey Politics Indiana). Indiana law says officials may count only those absentee ballots received by noon on Election Day. “People who worry that mail will be delayed during the pandemic can protect themselves by using early in-person voting or posting their ballots early,” the court wrote in its ruling.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: HILL HONORED BY NORTHEAST RTL - Attorney General Curtis Hill on Monday was presented with the Daniel Award at Right to Life of Northeast Indiana’s fall banquet. The annual award recognizes public servants who make extraordinary efforts to stand for the lives of unborn children (Howey Politics Indiana). “When a pregnancy is terminated, it means the life of a precious baby was ended before it ever had a chance to begin,” Attorney General Hill said. “Every single child deserves an opportunity to live a life full of love, meaning and happiness. I am honored and humbled to receive this award from Right to Life of Northeast Indiana, and I will never stop working to protect our children.”

 

INDOT: HEARING ON CLEAR PATH 465 PROJECT - The Indiana Department of Transportation will host a public hearing about the I-465/I-69 Interchange Modification and Added Travel Lanes project, or the Clear Path 465 project (Howey Politics Indiana). The hearing will allow the public to comment on preliminary design plans and environmental documents. The public is invited to attend the hearing on Wednesday, October 14 at 4 p.m. It will take place at the Fort Harrison Conference Center (6002 N Post Rd, Indianapolis, IN 46216). There will be formal presentations at 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Project team members will be available for questions. The Clear Path 465 project includes added travel lanes on I-465 from the White River Bridge to Fall Creek Road on the Northeast side of Indianapolis. Also part of the project is the reconfiguration of the I-465/I-69 interchange. This is proposed to include some reconstruction of Binford Blvd to accommodate the reconfigured interchange.

 

ECONOMY: CENTRAL INDIANA HOME SALES, PRICES EXPLODE - Sales of existing single-family homes made an eye-popping jump in central Indiana in September despite soaring prices for houses. Meanwhile, the number of new listings made a significant jump (IBJ). Completed sales in the 16-county area increased 17.1% in September on a year-over-year basis, according to the latest data from the MIBOR Realtor Association. Buyers closed on 3,650 homes during the month, compared with 3,116 in September 2019. The monthly sales increase was the third in a row after a three-month streak of declining sales in the market brought on by the pandemic. Area sales had been on the rise in six of the previous seven months before April. On a year-to-date basis, area sales are up 1.5%, to 27,367, compared with sales of 26,975 through the first nine months of 2019. The median home price in the area reached $225,000, up 18.5% from a year ago.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP MOCKS DR. FAUCI - President Donald Trump's long-fraught relationship with Anthony S. Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease specialist, ruptured again this week in an ugly public dispute just as U.S. coronavirus cases have ticked past 50,000 per day and with three weeks left in a presidential campaign dominated by the government's response to the pandemic (Washington Post). Trump on Tuesday responded to Fauci's warnings that the president's decision to resume campaign rallies this week was "very troublesome" by mocking him in a tweet that unfavorably compared his medical guidance to his errant ceremonial first pitch at a Washington Nationals' game in July. "Actually, Tony's pitching arm is far more accurate than his prognostications," Trump wrote, erroneously suggesting that Fauci's advice in the early days of the pandemic that the public need not wear face masks meant that the doctor was playing down the virus.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP ASKS SCOTUS TO BLOCK TAX RETURNS - President Trump has filed an emergency request with the Supreme Court to block the release of his tax returns. The request comes as the Senate is holding confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the president's nominee to the Supreme Court (CBS News). Last week, a federal appeals court ruled Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance can enforce a subpoena for Mr. Trump's business records and tax returns, a blow to the president as he tries to keep those returns from a grand jury. The president's attorneys are asking the Supreme Court to grant a stay, to hear the case and overturn the lower court's decision. "The president should have a fair chance to develop his serious overbreadth and bad-faith claims before his records are disclosed," the president's attorneys write. "The court should preserve the status quo in order to afford the president that opportunity."

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - President Trump will deliver remarks to the Economic Clubs of New York, Florida, Washington, Chicago, Florida and Sheboygan in the Rose Garden at 11 a.m. He will leave the White House at 4:05 p.m. for Des Moines. Trump will arrive at Des Moines International Airport at 5:50 p.m. CDT. He will deliver a campaign speech and then return to Washington at 7:30 p.m. He will arrive at the White House at 10:45 p.m.

 

HHS: AZAR LISTENS TO HERD IMMUNITY - Maverick scientists who call for allowing the coronavirus to spread freely at “natural” rates among healthy young people while keeping most aspects of the economy up and running have found an audience inside the White House and at least one state capitol (Washington Post). The scientists met last week with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist who has emerged as an influential adviser to President Trump on the pandemic. When asked for comment, HHS referred a reporter to Azar’s subsequent Twitter statement about the meeting: “We heard strong reinforcement of the Trump Administration’s strategy of aggressively protecting the vulnerable while opening schools and the workplace.”

 

SCOTUS: RULES CENSUS CAN BE CUT SHORT - The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Trump administration to shut down the census count ahead of schedule, a move that could allow the Census Bureau to submit tabulations excluding unauthorized immigrants by the end of the year (New York Times). The court’s brief, unsigned order gave no reasons, which is typical when the court acts on emergency applications. It said the count could stop while appeals moved forward. Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, saying that “the harms associated with an inaccurate census are avoidable and intolerable.”

 

COVID: J&J HOPES VACCINE TRIAL WILL RESTART SHORTLY - Johnson & Johnson JNJ -2.29% hopes to know within days whether it can resume testing its Covid-19 vaccine, as the health-products company battles the virus on several fronts (Wall Street Journal). An independent committee is investigating the unexplained illness of a study volunteer that prompted a pause in clinical trials of the company’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine, J&J Chief Financial Officer Joseph Wolk said in an interview Tuesday. The illness is “still under investigation and we’re going to let that process play out,” Mr. Wolk said. The company is hopeful that the pause will only last a few days, he said.

 

MICHIGAN: CONSPIRACISTS DISCUSSED KIDNAPPING GOV. NORTHAM - The men charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan’s governor also discussed abducting Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, an FBI agent testified at a court hearing Tuesday (Wall Street Journal). Six men were arrested and charged federally last week with plotting to kidnap Michigan’s governor as part of a plan to overthrow elements of the government and attack law-enforcement personnel. FBI special agent Richard Trask, who was involved in the investigation into the group, testified during a preliminary hearing held in Grand Rapids, Mich., for five of the men who are Michigan residents. A sixth is from Delaware. Seven other men involved in the plot are part of a self-styled militia known as the Wolverine Watchmen, and were charged under Michigan’s antiterrorism act.

 

OHIO: DeWINE WARNS RESIDENTS ON COVID SPIKE - Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on Tuesday cautioned Ohio residents that unless they take action, significant numbers of COVID-19 cases are likely this winter (WANE-TV). In the last seven days, Ohio has averaged 1,475 COVID-19 cases per day as compared to an average of approximately 1,000 cases per day only two weeks ago. Ohio’s current positivity rate is 4.1 percent as compared to 2.7 percent on September 23 and 24. A total of 51 counties are considered high incidence and/or Alert Level 3 on Ohio’s Public Health Advisory System. “Although a vaccine is on the way in the future, we can’t control the timetable of the development of a vaccine – but we can control how much this flares up until then,” said DeWine. “We have avoided the large outbreaks that other countries and other states have seen, and so far, the combined efforts of Ohioans have kept the virus in check. We can’t let our guards down now. We need to continue taking basic safety measures of wearing masks, keeping distance, and avoiding large gatherings.”

 

Local

 

EVANSVILLE: COUNCIL PASSES BUDGET -  Evansville City Council approves the 2021 budget in a 6-3 vote Monday. This comes only days after Council President Alex Burton announced a withdraw of his proposed amendment to the budget that would consider moving money from the police department. In the process, a push to reduce city funding given to affordable housing failed (WFIE-TV). The pushing of the horn was an effort to persuade council members not to cut funding from the affording housing trust fund. Several cars circled the building ahead of the meeting with signs on their vehicles. Council members Jonathan Weaver and Justin Elpers sponsored what would have scaled down the allocation in half; from $500,000 to $250,000. “Everybody keeps saying ‘put money in this account, put money in this account’ but what is the plan?” questioned Missy Mosby. About half a dozen people showed up to the meeting to share their concerns if the funding were to be slashed. Just under a quarter-million dollars remains in the affording house fund now, according to Metropolitan Development Director Kelley Coures, Elpers pointed out the city is expecting about a 28% decrease from Casino revenue, which adds up to more than $3 million, because of the changes the business has had to make during the pandemic. Therefore, numerous city departments, such as police, fire, METS and the Mesker Zoo will be given fewer dollars.

 

SOUTH BEND: POLICE REFORMS PROGRESS - With the July adoption of an officer discipline matrix and last week’s enactment of a common council bill creating a community police review board, the Mayor James Mueller administration will next focus on finalizing a new use-of-force policy, increasing de-escalation training for officers and establishing better mental health support for officers who undergo especially difficult situations on duty, Mueller’s chief of staff told council members Monday afternoon (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). Kacey Gergely gave the council’s Public Safety Committee an update on the administration’s progress in implementing recommendations from Chicago-based policing consultant 21st Century Policing, or “21CP.” Mueller’s predecessor, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, hired the high-profile firm in August 2019, two months after former officer Sgt. Ryan O’Neill fatally shot Eric Logan in a downtown parking lot as Logan allegedly was burglarizing cars and came at O’Neill with a knife.

 

JASPER: POLICE GET DEFIBRILLATORS - The Jasper Police Department says they have received a grant for $27,600 from a partnership of donors to provide all police cars with Automatic Defibrillators (WFIE-TV). They say the partnership will put life saving devices all over this community. They will be in neighborhoods, at sporting events, stores, and many other places where officers take their vehicles during normal patrols. Police thank The Dubois County Community Foundation; Fund for Dubois County and Bill Fleck Legacy Endowment ($27,600.00), James and Patricia Thyen ($10,000.00), and Victory Assembly of God ($1,500.00).

 

COLUMBUS: CITY BUDGETS FOR HIGHER HEALTH CARE COSTS - Columbus is budgeting for higher employee health care costs in 2021 and will be passing some of that cost on to its employees (Columbus Republic). The city’s 2021 budget includes a $350,000 increase in the cost insurance benefits funding due to rising health care costs. The city council passed the budget on its first reading on Oct. 6 with second reading set for Oct. 20. Health insurance premiums for city employees will increase by 6.2%, according to calculations provided by Johnson and Associates, a benefits consulting firm advising the city on insurance matters. “To maintain proper funding, Johnson and Associates has recommended a 6.2% increase, and so that’s what we’ve budgeted for on the city side, as well as for employees on their share of the premiums,” City Finance Director Jamie Brinegar said.

 

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: COUNCIL DEFEATS MASK FINES 5-4 - A nearly six-hour meeting ended with a narrow vote to hold off on a plan to allow fines for violations of the county’s face mask order (Spaulding, South Bend Tribune). St. Joseph County Council members voted 5-4 Tuesday night to table the proposed ordinance for a month pending a deeper dive into questions opponents raised and the possibility of an advisory opinion from the state on the measure’s constitutionality. County Health Officer Dr. Robert Einterz first proposed the ordinance in July to give the health department a way to compel businesses to adhere to a local public health order for residents to wear face coverings to curb spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The department would be able to issue fines of between $50 and $250 to businesses not enforcing the mask order among employees.

 

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: OFFICIALS SEEKS STOP IN IN-PERSON CHURCH SERVICES - St. Joseph County health officers are asking faith centers to end in-person worship and move to virtual services through March as COVID-19 cases continue to rise (South Bend Tribune). In a letter sent to churches and other houses of worship Tuesday, the county’s top public health leaders, Robert Einterz and Mark Fox, said avoiding large gatherings as people move indoors during the flu season will help lessen the spread of the coronavirus. “With the arrival of cooler weather and the traditional influenza season looming on the horizon, we write this letter to urge all faith communities in St. Joseph County to pivot to online or virtual worship formats from now through March 2021,” the letter said. In an interview, Fox said contact tracing conducted by the Indiana Department of Health on people who have tested positive for COVID-19 revealed five clusters of cases among those who had attended services in St. Joseph County.

 

LaPORTE COUNTY: CSX TO CONNECT TO INDUSTRIAL PARK - Kingsbury Industrial Park will finally be served by a major rail line (Maddux, NWI Times). Efforts lasting more than a decade paid off last week when the LaPorte County Commissioners approved a contract for connecting the park to the CSX railroad. Eventually, the plan is to connect the park to another major trunk line owned by Canadian National railroad. The hope is two Class 1 railroads serving both ends of the park will attract major industries. “It’s been a long, long haul. We’re glad to see it at this stage,” said LaPorte County Commission president Sheila Matias. The work is being assisted by a $1 million grant from the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

 

DELAWARE COUNTY: COVID SPIKE CONCERNS OFFICIALS – Health officials in Delaware County say they’re concerned over an increase in local hospitalizations due to COVID-19 (McKinny, WRTV). Delaware County Health Department Administrator Jammie Bane said the caseload and severity of illnesses in east central Indiana were manageable, but that’s started to change. "We’re seeing some changes to this now, with single digit hospitalization numbers in the past to numbers approaching 50 at some points now,” she said.

 

LAKE COUNTY: $225M BUDGET APPROVED BY COUNCIL - The Lake County Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to adopt a $255 million spending plan for 2021 (Carden, NWI Times). County spending is slated to increase approximately 2% next year compared to this year, and most county employees in 2021 will receive a 3% pay raise, according to Scott Schmal, the council's finance director. At the same time, the budget is balanced by spending slightly less money than the county expects to collect in income taxes, property taxes, fees and other revenue, Schmal said. Aside from pay raises, there are few large spending items included in the new budget after the Democratic-controlled council generally discouraged county departments from seeking any significant new appropriations for next year. That strategy is intended to minimize the chances spending cuts will be needed in the 2022 budget due to the delayed county income tax revenue impact from this year's COVID-19 shutdowns, which won't be fully known until Lake County residents file their 2020 income tax returns starting in January.

 

ALLEN COUNTY: VOTER TURNOUT RECORD - Allen County election leaders say records are already being broken compared to four years ago (WPTA-TV). One week after early voting began, 1600 people a day are voting at the Memorial Colisem, the pandemic-prompted temporary home of the Allen County Election Board. "We're estimating at this point if this kind of turnout continues, we'll probably see somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 people who will take advantage of early voting," election director Beth Dlug said.