GOP SET TO FLEX MAP MUSCLE ON TUESDAY:  Indiana Republicans will show next week just how far they’ll go in pushing their political control over redrawing the state’s congressional districts. The big question is whether they will focus on shoring up the suburban Indianapolis district that U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz narrowly kept in Republican hands last year to maintain their 7-2 control of Indiana’s U.S. House delegation (Davies, AP). A more aggressive approach could see them try to carve up the northwestern Indiana district now held by U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan with the aim of ending Democrats’ decadeslong dominance there and gaining another GOP seat as Republicans look to regain U.S. House control in the 2022 midterm elections. But there will be plenty of reshuffling of Indiana’s district maps as more than half of the state’s 92 counties lost residents over the past decade, and Indianapolis and its surrounding counties saw about three-quarters of Indiana’s population growth. Those shifts mean Spartz’s district must shed about 51,000 people while Democratic Rep. Andre Carson’s Indianapolis district has 33,000 people too many. On the other end of the equation, the southwestern Indiana district of Republican Rep. Larry Bucshon needs to pick up 39,000 people and GOP Rep. Greg Pence’s eastern Indiana district is 30,000 people short. A possible scenario is shifting the northern tier of Marion County from Spartz’s district to Carson to boost her reelection prospects as Democratic candidate Christina Hale won 63% of that area’s vote in last year’s election. Spartz, however, received 55% of the vote in the rest of the district that includes fast-growing Hamilton County to win the election by an overall 50%-46% margin over Hale.

 

APPEALS COURT RESTORES INDIANA'S ABORTION RESTRICTIONS:  Indiana’s ban on telemedicine consultations between doctors and women seeking abortions and several other abortion restrictions are back in force after a federal appeals court set aside a judge’s ruling that they were unconstitutional (Davies, AP). The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals panel issued a 2-1 ruling Wednesday that allows Indiana to continue enforcing those laws while the court considers a full appeal of the case. It said District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker’s ruling last month was inconsistent with previous Supreme Court decisions and reinstated Indiana’s telemedicine ban, along with state laws requiring in-person examinations by a doctor before medication-induced abortions can be performed and a prohibition on second-trimester abortions outside of hospitals or surgery centers. “Plaintiffs contend, and the district court found, that developments in videoconferencing make it possible to dispense with in-person meetings, that improvements in medicine make the use of hospitals or surgical centers unnecessary, and that nurses are competent to approve and monitor medication-induced abortions,” the ruling said. “The district court concluded that these findings permit it to depart from the holdings of earlier cases. Yet the Supreme Court insists that it alone has the authority to modify its precedents.”

 

HOLCOMB, ROKITA TO SQUARE OFF IN COURT TODAY: Gov. Eric Holcomb, Attorney General Todd Rokita and the General Assembly will square off in court again Friday, the latest hearing in an ongoing lawsuit over a new emergency powers law (Smith, Indiana Public Media). Republican lawmakers felt like they didn’t have enough of a voice in policymaking last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. And, frankly, they didn’t like some of the governor’s actions – notably, the mask mandate. So, they passed a new law – HEA 1123 – allowing them to call themselves into session during a public emergency. Holcomb objected. He argues the Indiana Constitution gives the power to call a special session solely to the governor. And he sued to get an answer to that dispute. The attorney general, who sides with the legislature on this issue, tried to intervene and stop the lawsuit. He argued the governor can’t sue anyone without the attorney general’s say-so. But the courts disagreed.

 

BIDEN LAYS OUT VAX MANDATES AS 'PATIENCE GROWS THIN': All employers with 100 or more employees would have to require that their workers be vaccinated or undergo at least weekly Covid-19 testing under a new plan announced by President Biden to curb the spread of the pandemic (Wall Street Journal). The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the coming weeks plans to issue an emergency temporary standard implementing the new requirement, which will cover 80 million private-sector workers. Businesses that don’t comply can face fines of up to $14,000 per violation. The employers will also have to give workers paid time off to get vaccinated or to recover from any side effects of getting vaccinated. “My message to unvaccinated Americans is this, what more is there to wait for? What more do you need to see?” Mr. Biden said. “We’ve made vaccinations free, safe and convenient. The vaccine is FDA-approved. Over 200 million Americans have gotten at least one shot. We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin.” The new requirement, announced by Mr. Biden in a speech Thursday, is part of a six-point initiative to boost vaccinations, improve access to testing and make Covid-19 treatments more widely available.

 

REPUBLICANS 'APPALLED' BY BIDEN MANDATES: Republican members of Congress and state governors were appalled by news Thursday that President Joe Biden will force employers with more than 100 workers to require coronavirus vaccinations or test employees weekly, vowing to block the new policy and terming it unconstitutional (Fox News). The mandate, which is expected to affect as many as 100 million Americans in an array of jobs, including health care, directly impacts the private sector. "This is absolutely unconstitutional," Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky, wrote in a tweet, attaching a link to the news. "Mandates are not the answer," Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Fla., said in response. "Getting the vaccine should be up to you and your doctor — not the federal government." "All 9 million federal employees should consult with their doctor and make a personal, informed decision about taking the vaccine," wrote Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo. "Instead, Sleepy Joe says take it or else… You don’t lead by coercion. Biden has failed as a leader in every way." Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey vowed to "push back" against Biden. "This is exactly the kind of big government overreach we have tried so hard to prevent in Arizona — now the Biden-Harris administration is hammering down on private businesses and individual freedoms in an unprecedented and dangerous way," Ducey wrote. "This will never stand up in court."

 

WAYNE COUNTY HEALTH OFFICER SAYS COVID CASES 'SO PREVENTABLE': "This is so preventable." That's what Christine Stinson, executive director of the Wayne County Health Department, told Wayne County's commissioners Wednesday while updating them about the local surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths. She said she's at a loss about how to convince more Wayne County residents to become vaccinated (Emery, Richmond Palladium-Item). "Our community needs more people vaccinated, or we will have more people die," Stinson said. "We all have to come together and help get through this crisis, and this is a crisis." Stinson had just told commissioners that the health department learned Wednesday morning of four more Wayne County residents dying from COVID-19 complications, including the youngest resident yet. One day after Stinson reported the death of a resident in the 40s, she said a resident in the 30s had died, along with one in the 50s and two in the 60s.

 

BIDEN SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER FOR FED EMPLOYEES TO VAX: President Joe Biden on Thursday is toughening COVID-19 vaccine requirements for federal workers and contractors as he aims to boost vaccinations and curb the surging delta variant that is killing thousands each week and jeopardizing the nation's economic recovery (AP). Just weeks after he mandated federal workers get a shot or face rigorous testing and masking protocols, Biden will sign a new executive order to require vaccination for employees of the executive branch and contractors who do business with the federal government, according to a person familiar with the matter. The word comes ahead of the president's speech Thursday afternoon outlining a six-pronged plan to address the latest rise in coronavirus cases and the stagnating pace of COVID-19 shots. It wasn't immediately clear if Biden's order includes exceptions for workers or contractors seeking religious or medical exemptions from vaccination. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Biden's plans before they were publicly released.

 

30K KIDS HOSPITALIZED WITH COVID IN AUGUST: Just as millions of families around the United States navigate sending their children back to school at an uncertain moment in the pandemic, the number of children admitted to the hospital with Covid-19 has risen to the highest levels reported to date. Nearly 30,000 of them entered hospitals in August (New York Times). Pediatric hospitalizations, driven by a record rise in coronavirus infections among children, have swelled across the country, overwhelming children’s hospitals and intensive care units in states like Louisiana and Texas. “It should concern us all that hospitalizations — indicators of severe illness — are rising in the pediatric population, when there are a lot of steps we could take to prevent many of these hospitalizations,” said Jason L. Salemi, an epidemiologist at the University of South Florida, who tracks Covid-19 hospitalization data.

 

PISTOLE IMMEDIATELY KNEW ON 9/11 'THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING': As the East Coast was coming out of its slumber the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, John Pistole had already conducted an inspection and audit of an FBI office in Syracuse, New York, and was on his way to a meeting with a federal judge (Bibbs, Anderson Herald Bulletin). Shortly after 8:45 a.m., he received word a plane had struck the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. Even though a previous attempt had been made by Osama bin Laden, leader of the militant pan-Islamic al-Qaida organization, the first plane didn’t set off alarms for Pistole. “Every once in a while, you hear about a near miss, a small plane,” he explained. But when Pistole arrived at the courthouse and learned a second Boeing 767 had struck the south tower near the 60th floor, he knew it wasn’t just an accident. That event 20 years ago changed the priorities of Pistole’s employer, the FBI, and set much of the trajectory for the remainder of his career with the agency. “My first thought that came to mind is, ‘This changes everything.’ The mission of the FBI was going to change, but I had no idea how dramatically,” said Pistole, who would serve as FBI deputy director from 2004 to 2010.

 

COLTS URGENCY ON WINNING THE OPENER: Jim Irsay delivered a succinct message when the Indianapolis Colts reported to training camp. Win the opener (AP). Six weeks later, Irsay’s goal still resonates with the players and coaches preparing for Sunday’s season opener against Seattle. “We all know the opener is a big deal, especially when it’s a home opener, especially when your owner is letting you know it’s a big deal,” coach Frank Reich said. “I think we’ve all gotten that message. I would like to deliver him one of these here before too long.” It’s a strange twist for a franchise that used to rely on fast starts during the Peyton Manning era. Since Manning’s release in March 2012, though, opening day has been filled primarily with frowns. There was the 20-point rout at Chicago in Andrew Luck’s debut, a loss to Manning in Denver in 2014, another blowout to the Rams in 2017 when Luck was injured and a loss to the Chargers in 2019 — both in Los Angeles. Last year began with a loss at Jacksonville — the Jaguars’ only win of the season. Now they’re trying to snap a seven-game Week 1 losing streak against the defending NFC West champs.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Many of us – Republicans, Democrats and independents - who have vaccinated ourselves to protect our families, friends, co-workers and communities are appalled at how this preventable fourth COVID surge threatens to return society into shutdown mode. Republicans threatening to counter President Biden over the mandates he announced on Thursday risk a significant voter backlash at the polls in 2022. I mean, we trail Cambodia in vaccination rate. Cambodia. Cambodia. Cambodia. Cambodia. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

BUSINESSMAN TO CHALLENGE REP. CLERE IN GOP PRIMARY: A local businessman announced Thursday he will seek the Republican nomination for the Indiana District 72 State Representative seat, potentially setting up a 2022 primary race against incumbent Ed Clere (Suddeath, News & Tribune). Tom Jones is a former president and CEO of Community Bank and is now an independent financial adviser with AssuredPartners in Jeffersonville. The District 72 seat he's seeking encompasses most of Floyd County. “I've spent the bulk of my life in Floyd County, growing up here, working for and managing various financial enterprises, serving and leading a number of civic organizations; raising two wonderful and accomplished daughters with my wife,” Jones said in a statement. “And over the past several months, I've had a growing realization that I may have something additional to offer my community.” “I've watched a lot of great ideas crumble and potential lost for our community because state leadership wasn't on the same page as our local leaders,” Jones said. "I’ve spent my entire adult life in service to Southern Indiana, working with others to build a better community. Community is about all of us, not just one of us. It’s about working together for the common good and moving us all forward.”

 

PENCE POSTS FIRST PODCAST: Mike Pence will release the first episode of his new podcast, “American Freedom,” on Friday, the latest volley in the former vice president’s effort to recapture conservative audiences ahead of a potential presidential run in 2024. The podcast, shared first with POLITICO, promises a buffet of red meat. Though the first episode is devoted to the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Pence tells listeners he plans in future episodes to discuss the “failed leadership of the Biden administration, a crisis on our Southern border, a crime wave in our cities,” efforts to “preserve our freedom” amid the coronavirus pandemic and “the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.”

 

PENCE ON FOX & FRIENDS THIS MORNING: Mike Pence will sit down for an interview on “Fox & Friends” on Friday morning, which Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser notes is his first national TV appearance in nearly a year.

 

INDEMS SAY HOLCOMB MORE INVOLVED IN CALIFORNIA: The Indiana Democratic Party criticized the Indiana Republican Party for prioritizing a California recall election that has absolutely nothing to do with Indiana and Hoosier families (Howey Politics Indiana). This week, the INGOP sent a call-to-action email asking Hoosiers to help defeat California Governor Gavin Newsom in the upcoming recall elections. Indiana has no part in that special election on the West Coast and comes at a time when the state entered its “darkest time” against the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, Indiana is “on fire” with COVID-19 as it’s become clear the pandemic is currently “winning” across the state. COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are reaching levels not seen since the end of 2020. Indiana schools are experiencing record amounts of outbreaks in classrooms. And what’s worse, the state’s fight against the pandemic has been largely conducted without Governor Eric Holcomb, who has refused to hold a media briefing in more than 163 days.

 

CHENEY SAYS 'BRING IT': Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., on Thursday told former President Donald Trump to "bring it" after he announced his support for her Republican primary challenger (NBC News). Cheney has been the most prominent Republican to criticize Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and vote to impeach him. In response, Trump has vowed to work to get her voted out of office. Trump said in a statement Thursday that he is endorsing Harriet Hageman, who is running against Cheney, calling the incumbent a “warmonger and a disloyal Republican." "Unlike RINO Liz Cheney, Harriet is all in for America First,” Trump said, adding that Hageman has his endorsement in “replacing the Democrats number one provider of sound bites, Liz Cheney.”

 

BIDEN TO CAMPAIGN FOR NEWSOM ON MONDAY: President Biden will travel to California on Monday to campaign for Gov. Gavin Newsom, adding yet another volley of national Democratic firepower to the governor’s effort to beat back a Republican-led effort to recall him (New York Times). The president will appear with Mr. Newsom in Long Beach for a final rally as the recall winds down to a Sept. 14 voting deadline. Vice President Kamala Harris appeared with the governor in Oakland on Wednesday and former President Barack Obama recorded a campaign advertisement released this week.

 

TRUMP SAYS CA RECALL 'PROBABLY RIGGED': Donald Trump opened his presidency by falsely claiming massive voter fraud in California. Now he’s returned to the subject, raising the prospect that the outcome of next week’s recall election could follow the same divisive path as last year’s presidential election (Politico). Trump, who told Newsmax this week that the election to recall Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is “probably rigged,” is the most prominent in a string of conservatives who have cast evidence-free aspersions on the upcoming vote.

 

Polls

 

NEWSOM LEADS IN RECALL: Momentum has turned strongly against the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom with just days to go before voting ends, a change that comes after a deluge of political ads and support from leading Democrats who have slammed the effort as a Republican power grab (Yahoo News). According to a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll cosponsored by the Los Angeles Times released Friday, 60.1% of likely voters surveyed oppose recalling Newsom compared with 38.5% in favor of ousting the governor. Fewer than 2% of likely voters remained undecided or declined to answer, suggesting the issue is largely settled in the minds of California voters.

 

Congress

 

YOUNG STATEMENT ON SEPT. 11: U.S. Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) today issued the following statement regarding the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks (Howey Politics Indiana): “It is difficult to believe that 20 years have passed since September 11, 2001. No matter the distance, it remains equally difficult to revisit the images and emotions of that day. The shock, grief, and anger. The Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and the field in Shanksville, PA.  “Though we carried on with our lives over the past two decades, we have never forgotten the terrorists’ attack on our way of life and their taking of thousands of innocent lives. Threats to our national security remain. That life returned to normal after 9/11 is proof how tirelessly we fight them. We must not ever relent. This is a somber anniversary. We can celebrate, though, that at its worst hour, the world saw America at its best."

 

BRAUN STATEMENT ON BIDEN MANDATES: U.S. Sen. Mike Braun’s statement on President Biden's vaccine mandate announcement (Howey Politics Indiana): “President Biden is reeling from his failures in Afghanistan, the border, and our economic recovery by desperately overstepping his authority with vaccine mandates for private businesses that violate the individual liberty this country was built on.”

 

BRAUN STATEMENT ON CHIPMAN: U.S. Sen. Mike Braun issued this statement on withdrawal of David Chipman's nomination to lead ATF (Howey Politics Indiana). "David Chipman would have used the ATF to chip away at our right to defend ourselves and our families. I was proud to stand up against his nomination, and President Biden backing down on this nomination is a victory for our 2nd Amendment and law-abiding citizens who made their voice heard."

 

WALORSKI STATEMENT ON BIDEN VAX MANDATES: U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) released the following statement on President Joe Biden’s announcement that his administration plans to require private employers with more than 100 employees to require COVID-19 vaccination or weekly testing (Howey Politics Indiana). “President Biden’s unprecedented plan to impose a vaccine mandate on private employers is an alarming overreach into Americans’ individual rights and private enterprise,” said Congresswoman Jackie Walorski. “As our nation faces a ‘help wanted’ crisis from shore to shore, President Biden’s mandate will continue to weaken our workforce and stunt our economic recovery. Like many Hoosiers, I am concerned by the Biden Administration’s obsession with big-government intervention and will continue to oppose all federal mandates.”

 

McCARTHY ASKS SCOTUS TO END PROXY VOTING: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is asking the Supreme Court to overturn the proxy voting rules that the House implemented because of the pandemic, a tool that Republican lawmakers have taken advantage of themselves (NBC News). McCarthy, R-Calif., said in a statement that he wants the court to reverse House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “perpetual proxy voting power grab.” “Although the Constitution allows Congress to write its own rules, those rules cannot violate the Constitution itself, including the requirement to actually assemble in person,” McCarthy said. “Since its adoption 14 months ago, proxy voting has shattered 231 years of legislative precedent and shielded the majority from substantive policy debates and questions, effectively silencing the voices of millions of Americans.”

 

OFFICER FANONE RETURNS TO DUTY: Michael Fanone, the D.C. police officer who was dragged into a frenzied pro-Trump mob and beaten while fighting insurrectionists at the Capitol on Jan. 6, returned to work this week after eight months recovering from physical injuries and emotional trauma (Washington Post). The 20-year veteran, one of the most outspoken and recognizable officers among hundreds who defended the Capitol, was assigned to the Technical and Analytical Services Bureau, which compiles and analyzes statistics used to develop crime-fighting strategies.

 

The HOUSE is out. The House Agriculture and Ways and Means committees will have markups on reconciliation. The SENATE is out.

 

General Assembly

 

YOUTH CLIMATE AGENDA EVENT SEPT. 24:  Youth-led statewide campaign Confront the Climate Crisis will host a climate strike event followed by a press conference on Friday, September 24. Organized and made possible by students across Indiana, the strike will begin with high school activists leading their peers in a march from West Lafayette Jr./Sr. High School to John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge in a climate strike (Howey Politics Indiana). Once gathered at the bridge, attendees can enjoy live music, speeches, and food trucks. A press conference will be held to announce the campaign’s plans for the 2022 Indiana legislative session regarding monumental climate justice initiatives. Senator Ron Alting is expected to be at the conference to address his role in this movement. After a long summer of building momentum and gaining support and feedback from government officials, the campaign is proud to introduce their powerful upcoming legislative objectives.

 

CHAMBER HONORS MESSMER: State Sen. Mark Messmer of Jasper has been selected as the 2021 Birch Bayh-Richard Lugar Government Leader of the Year by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce for his leadership in defending the state’s economy and providing business relief (Howey Politics Indiana). Messmer authored the successful legislation (Senate Enrolled Act 1), which protects businesses that follow accepted COVID-19 safety guidelines from unwarranted lawsuits. “Senator Messmer’s leadership on this issue was especially noteworthy as it provides peace of mind for businesses of all sizes and types,” says Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “The law came as a great relief to businesses – particularly smaller businesses – across the state. That’s the reason this was our top legislative priority this session.” Messmer also championed House Enrolled Act 1004, which funds the small business restart grant. Brinegar notes, “That program has gone a long way in supporting the businesses that have suffered most during the pandemic with the bridge funding necessary to make it to today.” Messmer said, “I’m very grateful to be honored by the Indiana Chamber as the Bayh-Lugar Government Leader of the Year. It’s very humbling to even be considered for this recognition.”

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB VISITS AFGHAN REFUGEES - Nearly one week after Afghan evacuees began arriving at Camp Atterbury in Edinburgh, Governor Eric Holcomb went down for a visit (WTHR-TV). Holcomb joined the Indiana National Guard Adjutant General, Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles, on Wednesday to visit with some of the evacuees. "I'm so proud to see the work being done by the Indiana National Guard and our federal partners in such a short time to help these evacuees," Holcomb said. "There has been an outpouring of kindness from Hoosiers to welcome those who aided and protected us." Active duty and Indiana National Guard service members are stationed at Camp Atterbury as part of a federal mission to help provide housing, medical care and transportation to the Afghans. They are also helping with logistics planning.

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SCHEDULE - Gov. Holcomb Public Schedule for Sept. 10, Chief Executive Smart Manufacturing Summit, Gov. Holcomb and Dan Bigman, editor & chief content officer, Chief Executive Group. The governor will participate in a Q & A. 9:15 a.m. ET, Friday, JW Marriott (White Ballroom A-D), 10 S. West St., Indianapolis.

 

ISDH: THURSDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health announced Thursday that 5,240 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 894,516 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. To date, 14,308 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, which includes 50 newly reported deaths. Another 451 probable deaths have been reported to date based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. A total of 4,013,398 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 4,001,012 on Wednesday. A total of 12,685,438 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26, 2020.

 

CORRECTIONS: MIAMI INMATE STABBED, BLED TO DEATH - The death of a Miami Correctional Facility inmate found deceased in his prison cell has been ruled a homicide, Indiana State Police said Thursday (AP). An autopsy conducted Tuesday determined 42-yeasr-old Matthew Koch of Vanderburgh County died from blood loss from multiple stabbings, police said. Prison officers found Koch u nresponsive in his cell Sunday morning. Koch was sentenced to 45 years in prison after he abducted a former girlfriend, shot her in the ankle and drove her as far as New Mexico. He was ultimately arrested in Oklahoma City.

 

DWD: JOBS FAIR FOR MORGAN, HENDRICKS COUNTIES - The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and WorkOne Central are hosting a virtual job fair highlighting dozens of job openings in Hendricks and Morgan counties. The virtual job fair is scheduled to run from 2 to 3 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021 (Howey Politics Indiana). Participating employers will include Campbell’s Snacks, Deckers Brands, GXO, HomeGoods D.C. and TOA (USA). A variety of positions are available at each company. Presenters from each will discuss job opportunities in detail, along with benefits and how to apply. “Recruiting continues to be a high priority for local employers as the economy continues to recover. Many openings exist and the Region 5 Workforce Board, in partnership with DWD, is working to assist employers with filling these openings,” said Lance Ratliff, Executive Director of Region 5 Workforce Board. “The virtual hiring fair provides an opportunity for employers to showcase their companies, career opportunities and benefits to a large number of interested job seekers in one setting. Questions can be answered in real time including how to apply for employment. We encourage all those seeking work to attend the hiring event to learn more about the many opportunities for employment.”

 

SUPREME COURT: WRESTLES WITH DUI SENTENCING ERROR - The Indiana Supreme Court on Thursday seemed poised to reduce the sentence of a drunken driver who killed a former Noble County coach in 2019. But the question is how to get there (Kelly, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The five justices heard arguments in the case of Ryan Gravit, who pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident during or after committing operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated causing death. Gravit was driving a U-Haul truck when he hit and killed Chuck Schlemmer, who was on a bicycle. He was sentenced to 16 years for the Level 3 felony. He also pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing death, a Level 4 felony and lesser-included offense, and being a habitual offender. But Noble County Judge Michael Kramer didn't vacate the lower-level offense – instead giving Gravit 12 years on that charge as well as 20 years for being a habitual offender.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: ROKITA VOWS TO FIGHT BIDEN MANDATES - Attorney General Todd Rokita releases statement on Biden vaccine mandates (Howey Politics Indiana): “My team and I, along with other like-minded attorneys general, are reviewing all legal action on how to stand against these authoritarian actions by the Biden administration. “We will be prepared to file suit if Biden seeks illegal actions restricting Hoosiers' liberties.”

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: ROKITA ANNOUNCES ABORTION RULING - A federal appeals court has ruled that Indiana may continue enforcing several abortion laws being contested by an abortion provider in the case Whole Woman’s Health v. Rokita. By ruling as it did, the appeals court rejected a district court’s ruling permanently prohibiting enforcement of those laws pending the outcome of the appeal (Howey Politics Indiana). Attorney General Todd Rokita said, “The appellate court’s decision in our favor at this juncture signifies the overall strength of our legal position. We would expect our commonsense laws to be upheld as the appeal continues. Protecting the culture of life is the top priority of my office, and we will continue fighting for every life alongside our legislative partners.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit granted Attorney General Rokita’s stay request on all points, including enabling Indiana to continue enforcing requirements 1) that only physicians may perform chemical abortions, 2) that only hospitals or ambulatory surgical centers may provide second-trimester abortions, 3) that patients receive in-person counseling before undergoing abortions, 4) that patients receive in-person physical examinations before undergoing abortions and 5) that medical staff provide abortion services in person rather than via telemedicine. “All of the contested provisions have been in force for years,” the court stated in its majority opinion, “so a stay would preserve the status quo pending appellate resolution. And Indiana has made the ‘strong showing’ on the merits necessary to receive a stay.”

 

UTILITIES: HOOSIER ENERGY ANNOUNCES PURCHASE - Hoosier Energy and Clenera are pleased to announce a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between Hoosier Energy and Clenera’s affiliate, Rustic Hills Solar LLC. The Rustic Hills Solar PPA has a 20-year contract term and is Hoosier Energy’s first PPA with Clenera, a developer of large-scale solar and storage projects, and a subsidiary of Enlight Renewable Energy LTD (TASE: ENLT) (Howey Politics Indiana). Hoosier Energy, a not-for-profit generation and transmission cooperative, provides electric power and services to 18 not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative owners throughout central and southern Indiana and southeastern Illinois. The 18 cooperative members serve more than 760,000 consumers.“This collaboration continues our transition of Hoosier Energy’s resource portfolio to a much higher percentage of renewable sources,” said President and CEO Donna Walker. “The solar energy developed at Rustic Hills will serve thousands of Hoosiers while continuing to reduce our carbon footprint, benefiting the environment, Hoosier Energy members and all of their member-consumers.”

 

NATIONAL FORESTS: CAMPING FEE INCREASE PROPOSED - The Hoosier National Forest is proposing charging a fee for camping at many campgrounds that used to be free and increasing rates at some others (Indiana Public Media). The $10 per night fee would be used for small improvements and maintenance at some of the forests’ campgrounds — like new picnic tables, fire rings, and more defined campsites and parking. Stacy Duke is the forest’s program manager for the Brownstown and Tell City ranger districts. She said, don’t worry, the more primitive campsites wouldn’t get more developed — you’re not going to see electric hookups and full-scale bathrooms there any time soon.

 

AUTOS: GM TO RESTART PRODUCTION AT FORT WAYNE - The most recent pause in production at the General Motors Fort Wayne Assembly ends on Monday. A company spokesman tells ABC21 it will resume full operations again after its lines were "briefly impacted by the global semiconductor shortage this past week." Full operation will also resume at its truck assembly in Silao, Mexico, meaning all of GM's full-size truck and SUV sites will be in full production mode next week. GM continues to stockpile mostly complete Silverado and Sierra pickups on lots in Indiana, where they await final components needed before delivery.

 

IHSAA: WARNS OF LIVESTREAMING SCAMS -  Livestreaming high school sports used to be a premium for some schools around Indiana (WANE-TV). Now several schools livestream their athletic events in response to the pandemic. With fan attendance being limited due to COVID-19 restrictions last year, many schools livestreamed their games to make sure communities could still tune in. With more schools livestreaming their games, there is also a rise in fraudulent streams attempting to scam consumers. Heath Shanahan, the director of broadcasting and executive producer for the Indiana High School Athletics Association (IHSAA), has been monitoring this issue over the last several months. “It’s just another way for scammers to take advantage of the situation because they know people are looking for these livestreams, they know people want to support their local community high school,” Shanahan said.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN CALLS XI -  President Joe Biden spoke with China’s Xi Jinping on Thursday amid growing frustration on the American side that high-level engagement between the two leaders’ top advisers has been largely unfruitful in the early going of the Biden presidency (AP). Biden initiated the call with Xi, the second between the two leaders since Biden took office. It comes at a moment when there is no shortage of thorny issues between the two nations, including cybersecurity breaches originating from China, Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and what the White House has labeled as “coercive and unfair” trade practices by the Chinese.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN PULLS ATF NOMINATION - President Biden withdrew the nomination of David Chipman to serve as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) on Thursday amid bipartisan concerns about his past gun control advocacy (CBS News). Mr. Biden tapped Chipman in April to lead the agency, which has not had a Senate-approved director since 2015. It's unclear when the president will name a new nominee. Mr. Biden praised Chipman in a statement on the withdrawal of his nomination, saying he would have been "an exemplary director of the ATF and would have redoubled its efforts to crack down on illegal firearms traffickers and help keep our communities safe from gun violence."

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN BOOTS TRUMP APPOINTEES TO MILITARY ACADEMY BOARDS - The Biden Administration ousted 18 members of the military academies’ advisory boards, all of whom were appointed by former President Donald Trump. Board members were asked to submit their resignations by 6 p.m. Wednesday or be fired from the posts (Sinclair Broadcasting). Most refused to resign. The White House said it wanted “qualified” employees. U.S. Military Academy Advisory Board: H.R. McMaster, former national security adviser; Gen. Jack Keane, former Army vice chief; David Urban, West Point grad Guy Swan III, former U.S. Army North commander; Ret. Col. Douglas Macgregor, former Pentagon senior adviser; Ret. Army Capt. Meaghan Mobbs. U.S. Naval Academy Advisory Board: Sean Spicer, former White House press secretary; John Coale, lawyer; Russel Vought, former White House budget director; Jonathan Hiler, employee of former Vice President Mike Pence; Anthony Parker, former Naval officer; Ret. Rear Adm. Joseph Walsh. U.S. Air Force Academy Advisory Board: Michael Wynne, former Secretary of the Air Force; Kellyanne Conway, former senior counselor to the president; Heidi Stirrup, former White House liaison to the Justice Department; Doug Lengenfelder, Ret. Air Force lieutenant colonel; Robert Gleason, businessman and Air Force veteran; and Lt. Col. Wesley Spurlock, Air Force veteran

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN/HARRIS SCHEDULES - President Bush's schedule today 9 a.m.: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief. 9:30 a.m.: Biden, first lady JILL BIDEN and Education Secretary Cardona will visit a local D.C.-area school. 10:20 a.m.: The president and first lady will deliver remarks on the administration’s efforts to keep children safe in school. 7:55 p.m.: The Bidens will depart the White House en route to Queens, N.Y.,, where they are scheduled to arrive at 9:10 p.m. VP Harris schedule: — 10 a.m.: The vice president will travel to Hampton, Va. 11:30 a.m.: Harris will tour the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at Hampton University. 12:05 p.m.: Harris will hold a roundtable discussion with STEM students at Hampton University. 2:20 p.m.: The vice president will return to D.C. The White House Covid-19 Response Team and public health officials will brief at 11:30 a.m. Press secretary JEN PSAKI will brief at 1 p.m.

 

JUSTICE: GARLAND ANNOUNCES ENFORCEMENT ACTION V. TEXAS - The Justice Department on Thursday filed suit against the state of Texas over its controversial law that bans abortion after about six weeks of pregnancy, taking action days after Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged to explore "all options" to challenge the measure and protect access to the procedure (CBS News). The suit from the Justice Department, filed in the U.S. District Court in Austin, sets up a showdown between the federal government and the Republican-led state as the Supreme Court prepares to hear a blockbuster dispute over a Mississippi abortion ban in the coming months, which could pave the way for further limits on the procedure by states.

 

MEDIA: SUNDAY TALK - “Fox News Sunday”: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Panel: Karl Rove, Susan Page and Charles Lane. ABC “This Week”: Panel: Chris Christie, Yvette Simpson, Sarah Isgur and Roland Martin. NBC “Meet the Press”: Panel: Doris Kearns Goodwin, Hallie Jackson, Kimberly Atkins Stohr and George Will. CNN “Inside Politics”: Panel: Asma Khalid, Jeff Zeleny, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Melanie Zanona. MSNBC “The Sunday Show”: Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), Bishop William Barber, Stephen Smith, Alphonso David.

 

MLB: A's TOP CHISOX 3-1 - Sean Manaea struck out nine in seven dominant innings, and the Oakland Athletics beat the Chicago White Sox 3-1 on Thursday (ESPN). Manaea (9-9) allowed one run and five hits in his first win since July 28. The left-hander went 0-3 with an 8.00 ERA in his previous six starts. Tony Kemp and Matt Chapman each drove in a run for Oakland, which took two of three games in the series.

 

Local

 

EVANSVILLE: MAN ARRESTED FOR THREATENING MAYOR WINNECKE - Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke is receiving extra police protection after a man was arrested Wednesday for reportedly making threats against him. David James Hippensteel, 62, has been charged with criminal trespassing and an attempt to commit battery. Both charges are misdemeanors. He appeared in Vanderburgh Superior Court Thursday morning (Martin, Evansville Courier & Press). Hippensteel has repeatedly demanded that Winnecke direct Evansville Police Chief Billy Bolin to open a special investigation into Hippensteel’s 2016 felony conviction for resisting law enforcement.

 

LOGANSPORT: MAYOR MARTIN HAS COVID - Logansport Mayor Chris Martin is in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. He took the test after learning he had come into contact over the weekend with someone who tested positive. Martin posted news of his condition on his Facebook page about 6 p.m. on Tuesday (Logansport Pharos-Tribune). “In the spirit of transparency, I wanted to make a statement so that the public was aware of what’s going on, and so that those who had meetings with me which were canceled, understand why,” he stated on his page. According to the post, he had learned of his positive status Monday afternoon and will be quarantined for 14 days, as recommended. “Everyone that I’ve come in contact with has been notified,” he added. He had begun experiencing flu-like symptoms in the days before he posted about his illness and wrote about “full body aches, with a fever and chills.”

 

CARMEL: BRAINARD HALTS DEMOLITION OF ROTARY AMPHITHEATER - Mayor Jim Brainard has decided not to demolish Rotary Centennial Amphitheater at the Carmel's Farmer's Market and instructed construction crews to cease work. The mayor issued the following statement (IndyStar): “After much thought and a careful review of all the details regarding the planning for a new stage at Carter Green, I have decided to keep the Rotary Amphitheater in place. Over the past few days, it has become apparent that key stakeholders in this project were not brought into the conversation early in the project planning. “I take full responsibility for this lack of communication. I should have been more personally involved in confirming project details with those from the Township and the City who were in charge of this process."

 

MUNCIE: MAYOR RIDENOUR SAYS MPD UNDERSTAFFED — The mayor of Muncie says he’s concerned about understaffing at the Muncie Police Department and is working to improve the problem (Kenney, WRTV). More than 65,000 people live in the Delaware County community of Muncie. The city can have 110 police officers, but currently only 86 police officers are on the road, according to Mayor Dan Ridenour. “We are understaffed, there’s no doubt,” Ridenour said. The City of Muncie’s contract with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #87 says the city should have a minimum of 10 regular patrol officers for a 12-hour shift. But sometimes, the city isn’t meeting that minimum.

 

SOUTH BEND: REYNOLDS RESIGNS FROM PD REVIEW - The man at the center of controversy with South Bend's Community Police Review Board is out. Joshua Reynolds resigned from the position (WSBT-TV). The mayor was planning to fire Reynolds once he has the legal authority to hire a replacement. The Common Council essentially removed Reynolds as Review Board Director last month by switching oversight of his position from the clerk's office to the mayor's office. Next week the Council is scheduled to shift the money for that executive director's salary to the mayor's office.

 

HAMMOND: SCHOOLS HAVE 80 COVID CASES — Since starting the school year with a mask requirement, the School City of Hammond has seen fewer than 100 COVID-19 cases among students (Hilton, NWI Times). Across 18 schools and over 12,000 students, 80 positive cases have been reported in a spreadsheet posted on the district’s website. The data breaks down the cases per week at each school.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: BROAD RIPPLE AVENUE GETTING $6M FACELIFT - Broad Ripple Avenue, the center of night life and commerce in Midtown, is getting an estimated $6 million facelift next year (IndyStar). The Indianapolis Department of Public Works shared the first glimpses Tuesday of what the revamped avenue may look like: wider sidewalks, less flooding, more lights and greenery, and a new 12-foot-wide multi-use trail connecting the Monon Trail and Primrose Avenue. In consultation with Lochmueller Group, DPW hopes to complete the design of the project in October, begin construction next spring and wrap it up by fall 2022.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: MORE NON-STOP FLIGHTS ADDED — Travelers looking to head west will have new options beginning today as Indianapolis International Airport has added more nonstop flights. American Airlines has added a nonstop to Austin, Texas and United Airlines has brought back a nonstop flight to San Francisco (WISH-TV). Indianapolis Airport Authority Executive Director Mario Rodriguez says the American nonstop will offer a daily flight to Austin, which will expand to twice a day on October 2. The United nonstop to San Francisco will be a daily flight.“Austin, San Francisco, and Indy sit central in top high-tech industry regions, and these flights make it easier for Hoosiers to access these partner cities. And much like Indy, they also offer great cultural and leisure attractions that Hoosiers enjoy, like art, music, and food,”said Rodriguez.

 

ELKHART: COVID SHUTS DOWN RV OPEN HOUSE — For the second year in a row, the pandemic has resulted in the cancelation of the what’s turned into Elkhart County’s biggest party (South Bend Tribune). Forest River, which came up with the idea of a Dealer Open House in Elkhart more than 10 years ago, and Thor Industries issued a joint press release this week announcing they were pulling out of the show. About the same time, Winnebago Industries said they also wouldn’t be participating in the event, which typically brings in top-name entertainment and thousands of RV dealers and manufacturers from across the country. “The companies’ top priority is the health and safety of valued industry partners, team members and the larger Elkhart community,” Forest River and Thor said in the joint release. “With local and national COVID cases rapidly increasing, safety mandates would be required to help mitigate risks, distracting from the positive experience industry partners expect.”

 

MICHIGAN CITY: SINGING SANDS TRAIL TO OPEN OCT. 2  — It took several years of planning and construction, but the city of Michigan City has announced the opening of the Singing Sands Trail (LaPorte Herald-Dispatch). The trail is Michigan City’s segment of the regional Marquette Greenway Trail that will connect Chicago area trails to trails in southwest Michigan.

 

DUBOIS COUNTY: HEALTH DEPT PREPARING FOR BOOSTER VACCINE - The Dubois County Health Department will be ready to handle the COVID-19 vaccine booster shots when the time comes (Neal, Dubois County Herald). The department’s COVID clerk position will be around for another year, as the Dubois County Commissioners approved the position for 2022. The department will need the help when the time comes for offering the boosters to the public, department Administrative Director Shawn Werner told the commissioners Tuesday. But it would be help if the clerk is able to work six days a week instead of five, he explained. The commissioners agreed to his request. The Dubois County Council agreed last week to the fund the position for 2022, so long as the commissioners approved the extension. “If we don’t need to use this funding, we won’t use it,” Werner said. “But more than likely we will.”

 

CASS COUNTY: LEWIS CASS SCHOOLS TO REQUIRE MASKS - In a vote of 2-1, the Lewis Cass Schools board passed a mask mandate at its meeting Wednesday. Elementary students began following the requirement Thursday, while sixth through 12th grade students will be required to do the same when they return to campus Monday (Logansport Pharos-Tribune). All students in kindergarten through 12th grade will be required to follow the Indiana State Department of Health's (IDOH) quarantine guidelines. That means any student masked or vaccinated would not have to quarantine if they came into contact with a person who tests positive for COVID-19.  Any student who remains unmasked or has not had a vaccine must quarantine if they come into contact with a person who tests positive for COVID-19.

 

WHITE COUNTY: LAKE FREEMAN WATER LEVELS DECLINE AGAIN -  It's the same song and dance for people living alongside Lake Freeman, one they are sick of, once again water levels on Lake Freeman are going down and creating problems (WFLI-TV). People rushed to get their boats out of the water at Tall Timbers Marina as lake levels are down nearly nine inches and show no sign of letting up. "What we went through last year kind of caught a lot of people off guard with the lake going down," said home and boat owner JT Coopman.  As news 18 previously reported Shafer Freeman Lakes Environmental Conservation Corporation or SFLECC blames part of low lake levels on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The wildlife service mandates water continue flowing towards Oakdale Dam to preserve an endangered species of mussels.

 

TIPPECANOE COUNTY: TOWNSHIP BOARD SHUT OUT - Going on nearly a year since they last met in person with Fairfield Township Trustee Taletha Coles, after she locked them out of the township offices, the three members of the Fairfield Township Board on Thursday contemplated the fact that they might never get answers to questions they now ask to an empty chair on a monthly basis (Bangert, Based in Lafayette). At least not until the 2022 elections. “And we, unfortunately, have a lot of questions,” board president Steve Snyder said. One of those: Would the three-member board get to see a proposed 2022 township budget – one of the few oversight obligations the board has? Or would Coles, as they openly feared Thursday, not submit one to the township or to the state and continue to tax and spend out of accounts the township board attempted to zero-out a year earlier to keep the trustee in check? “She’s done it before,” Rocky Hession, a board member, said.