CHIEF JUSTICE RUSH HAS COVID: The leader of Indiana's judicial branch of government is working from home as she recovers from a confirmed case of COVID-19 (Carden, NWI Times). The Indiana Supreme Court announced Monday that Chief Justice Loretta Rush tested positive for the coronavirus Sunday. She is the highest-ranking state government official known to be infected with the virus that's been contracted by 106,540 Indiana residents since March, and killed 3,215 Hoosiers. Rush, who lived in Munster as a child, got tested for the virus after a family member tested positive, according to the state's high court. Since receiving her positive test result, the chief justice has been quarantining at home and continuing to work remotely. She has not been to the Statehouse since Sept. 1. According to the court, Rush notified the four other Supreme Court justices, court staff and other government officials of her positive COVID-19 test.

 

INDIANA DEVELOPING VACCINE ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Indiana health officials are developing the criteria they’ll use to decide who’s entitled to receive a coronavirus vaccine when one becomes available (AP). Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said last week she expects the supply of doses will be extremely limited once the federal government approves a vaccine for widespread human use. It might be just 10 million or 15 million doses for the 330 million people living in the United States. The (Northwest Indiana) Times reports that if the vaccine is distributed to each state based on its share of the U.S. population, Indiana might receive only 300,000 doses initially for its 6.7 million residents.

 

BARTHOLOMEW HEALTH OFFICIALS BRACE FOR 'CATASTROPHIC' SPIKE: As fall approaches, health officials around the country, including in Bartholomew County, are concerned about how the COVID-19 pandemic will evolve once flu season kicks into high gear (East, Columbus Republic). Both influenza and the novel coronavirus likely will circulate in Bartholomew County this fall and winter, and complicating matters further, symptoms of both illnesses — dry cough, fever and chills, fatigue — are difficult to distinguish without testing. Local officials worry that a wave of flu patients could overwhelm hospitals, doctor offices and laboratories that test for both illnesses and other resources that may already be in shorter supply if there is another rebound in COVID-19 patients. The end results, according to local health officials, could be “catastrophic”— particularly if people flout public health guidance aimed at reducing the spread of the coronavirus, including wearing masks, avoiding crowds and keeping their distance.

 

MORNING CONSULT FINDS 34% WOULD EAT IN RESTAURANT: Since the early weeks of Morning Consult’s consumer comfort level tracking, which began in early April, respondents have nearly always expressed the most safety in eating out at restaurants, reaching a high of 41 percent in late May. As of mid-September, 34 percent of adults said they feel comfortable eating at a restaurant, around the same share who said so through August, as New York City prepares to restart indoor dining at 25 percent capacity on Sept. 30. 34% of U.S. adults said they are comfortable dining out right now, including 51% of Republicans and 21% of Democrats. The share of Republicans and baby boomers who are currently comfortable going to movie theaters has dropped.

 

STATE PLANS TO BORROW FOR JOBLESS FUND: Due to a depleted trust fund used to fulfill unemployment claims, Indiana plans to start borrowing federal funding in the coming weeks. In the past, Indiana has relied on a state trust fund to pay for unemployment benefits, however that money is running out–and employers are the only funding mechanism to increase the trust fund (Brownlee, WANE-TV). At the beginning of 2020, Indiana’s trust fund had nearly a billion dollars. Now, after months of pandemic related unemployment claims, the fund is as low as $70 million and is expected to run out in the next two to three weeks. “There are a couple of different ways to look at it, but one key economic indicator is the number of initial claims for unemployment benefits,” said Josh Richardson, Department of Workforce’s chief of staff. “That is new people coming to us saying ‘hey, I just lost my job and I need your help going forward’.” On March 14, the state’s initial unemployment claims were 2,596. The state saw a massive increase after Governor Eric Holcomb announced the ‘stay at home order’ on March 23.Within one week, initial claims increased by nearly 57,000. The last week of March, claims peaked at 139,174. “We are down now to where that number is closer to 10,000 or 11,000 of initial claims,” Richardson said. “We expect for that and hope for that to continue to decline.”

 

BRAUN OPPOSES SUPPORT FOR INDIANA BUDGET: U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) says he’ll be “disappointed” if the federal government provides any financial support for state and local government budgets in future COVID-19 relief packages (Smith, Indiana Public Media). State budget officials project Indiana will have a $1 billion hole in its budget by the end of the current fiscal year, even with the state’s significant financial reserves. They’ve repeatedly asked for federal help, including by loosening restrictions on existing federal CARES Act funding. That’s in part why the state still hasn’t spent more than half of that money – although that’s not what Braun thinks. “I think we’re sitting on all the money that was given to us by the federal government because we have not had to use it,” Braun said. Braun was asked directly why he doesn’t support the kind of help Gov. Eric Holcomb and state officials have requested. “We will make it through it based upon how we’ve lived our life in a responsible way, as a state government,” Braun said.

 

BIG TEN FOOTBALL DECISION STILL PENDING: The Big Ten presidents were presented a comprehensive plan Sunday to conduct a fall football season, but a final decision is still to come (WLFI-TV). A person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that the full Council of Presidents and Chancellors heard from all the subcommittees of the conference's Return to Competition Task Force over 2 1/2 hours. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Big Ten was not making its return to competition plans public. The person said the meeting broke up without the presidents and chancellors voting and with no set plans for them to reconvene.

 

 

VIOLENT CRIME DROPPED 15% IN 2019: The rate of violent crime fell 15% in 2019 compared to the previous year, reversing a four-year increase, according to data released by the Justice Department on Monday (CBS News). The department's Bureau of Justice Statistics said 1.2 million people were victims of violent crime last year, excluding simple assaults, at a rate of 7.3 victims per 1,000 people over the age of 12. That rate is down from 8.6 victims per 1,000 people in 2018. For women, the decrease was even more significant, dropping 27% last year. Monday's report is based on the National Crime Victimization Survey's (NCVS), which is administered by the Census Bureau and based on a nationally representative sample of U.S. households. The findings include violent incidents reported to police, as well as those that went unreported, which the Bureau of Justice Statistics found constituted more than half of the incidents. The survey's definition of "violent crime" includes rape or sexual assault, robbery and assault, and excludes homicides, since it's based on interviews with victims. The report notes that the decrease in the violent crime rate "was driven partly by a decline in rape or sexual assault victimizations, which declined from 2.7 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older in 2018 to 1.7 per 1,000 in 2019." Researchers noted that the "total violent victimization" rate was essentially unchanged from 2018 to 2019 when simple assaults are included.

 

HHS SPOKESMAN WARNS OF SEDITION, INSURRECTION: The top communications official at the powerful cabinet department in charge of combating the coronavirus made outlandish and false claims on Sunday that career government scientists were engaging in “sedition” in their handling of the pandemic and warned that left-wing hit squads were preparing for armed insurrection after the election (New York Times). Michael Caputo, 58, the assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, said without evidence that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was harboring a “resistance unit” determined to undermine President Trump. Mr. Caputo, who has faced criticism for leading efforts to warp C.D.C. weekly bulletins to fit Mr. Trump’s pandemic narrative, suggested that he personally could be in danger. “You understand that they’re going to have to kill me, and unfortunately, I think that’s where this is going,” Mr. Caputo, a Trump loyalist installed by the White House in April, told followers in a video he hosted live on his personal Facebook page.  “And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” he said. “The drills that you’ve seen are nothing.” He added: “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get.” Mr. Caputo’s installation at the agency was a White House move to assert greater control over Alex M. Azar II, who has been Mr. Trump’s secretary of health and human services since 2018.The department said in a statement: “Mr. Caputo is a critical, integral part of the president’s coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic.”

 

TRUMP TELLS BURNING CALIFORNIA 'IT WILL GET COOLER':  With the smell of California wildfires in the air, President Donald Trump on Monday ignored the scientific consensus that climate change is playing a central role in historic West Coast infernos and renewed his unfounded claim that failure to rake forest floors and clear dead timber is mostly to blame (AP). His Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, in his own speech Monday said the destruction and mounting death toll across California, Oregon and Washington require stronger presidential leadership and labeled Trump a “climate arsonist.” Trump traveled to Northern California to be briefed by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state and federal officials. At one point, state Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot urged the president to “recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forests.” “If we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it’s all about vegetation management, we’re not going to succeed together protecting Californians,” Crowfoot added. Trump responded, “It will start getting cooler, just you watch.” Crowfoot politely pushed back that he wished the science agreed with the president. Trump countered, “I don’t think science knows, actually.”

 

LAW & ORDER TRUMP IGNORES LOCAL COVID RULES:  President Donald Trump is running as the “law and order” candidate. But that hasn’t stopped him and his campaign from openly defying state emergency orders and flouting his own administration’s coronavirus guidelines as he holds ever-growing rallies in battleground states (AP). Democratic governors and local leaders have urged the president to reconsider the events, warning that he’s putting lives at risk. But they have largely not tried to block the gatherings of thousands of people, which Trump and his team deem “peaceful protests” protected by the First Amendment. “If you can join tens of thousands of people protesting in the streets, gamble in a casino, or burn down small businesses in riots, you can gather peacefully under the 1st Amendment to hear from the President of the United States,” Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesperson, said in a statement. But images of thousands of maskless supporters standing shoulder to shoulder remain jarring in a country where sports are still played in empty arenas and concerts have been largely banned.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: President Trump installed Michael Caputo as a political commissar to keep an eye on HHS Sec. Alex Azar. Caputo is now melting down, suggesting he is an assassination target who is withstanding "sedition" while the nation bounds toward "insurrection" as he urged Americans to arm themselves. Whew. In burning California, President Trump simply said "It will start getting cooler" after decades of record high temperatures, adding, "I don't think the science knows." Where have we heard that before? - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

REP. WRIGHT BEGINS TV ADS: Democratic State Rep. Melanie Wright is up on the air with a TV ad this morning (Howey Politics Indiana). "I work for rural communities," Wright says in the ad. "I fight for our values, our communities and our people." Wright is being challenged by Republican Yorktown School Trustee Elizabeth Rowray. HPI rates this race as a "tossup."

 

SPARTZ CAMPAIGN FACT CHECKS HALE TV ADS: The Spartz for Congress released the following Fact Check responding to Christina Hale’s new “deceptive” ads. : FACT 1:  Christina Hale has voted against hundreds of millions in increased funding for K-12 education;  In April of 2013, Hale voted against a two-year state budget that included $190 million for K-12 education. In April 2015, Hale voted against a two-year state budget that increased K-12 funding by about $460 million, including $7.5 million more per year to the Department of Child Services to add more than 100 child welfare workers. FACT 2: Christina Hale voted to protect child predators in Indiana schools and voted against harsher punishments for sex offenders. In March 2016, Hale voted against a Pence-signed bill that strengthened background checks for teachers. House Bill 1005 requires schools to check child welfare records to determine if a teaching applicant has a verified case of child abuse or neglect against them. In March 2014, Hale was one of only 10 house members who voted against a Pence-signed criminal justice reform bill that strengthened punishments for sex offenders. FACT 3: Christina Hale voted against millions in school safety grants that help keep Indiana schools safe. In 2013, Hale voted against a Pence-signed state budget that created a $20 million program to provide secured school safety grants.

 

HALE CAMPAIGN REACTS: Democratic 5th CD nominee Christina Hale's campaign reacted to the Spartz campaign's "fact check" (Howey Politics Indiana). Campaign manager Joann Saridakis told HPI, "Once again, the Spartz campaign is trying to distort Christina's record and mislead voters. Here's the truth: Christina has dedicated her life to fighting for and empowering children, both here in Indiana and across the world. In the General Assembly, she fought hard to provide more funding to public schools and passed bipartisan legislation to protect children from exploitation and sexual assault. Meanwhile, Victoria Spartz authored legislation to deregulate schools and remove teacher training requirements for bullying and child abuse prevention. To make matters worse, she also opposed giving Medicaid reimbursements to Indiana's schools -- which would allow them to use federal funding to address mental health and substance abuse issues. And even after the tragic 2018 school shooting in Noblesville, Spartz voted against legislation that would prevent juveniles with felony records from purchasing firearms. When it comes to fighting for Indiana's schools and children, the contrast between these two candidates could not be more clear."

 

McCORMICK ENDORSES HD37'S COLE: Democrat Aimee Rivera Cole, who is challenging House Speaker Todd Huston, was endorsed by Supt. Jennifer McCormick (Howey Politics Indiana). “We need a champion for students at the Statehouse who will work in a bipartisanship manner and respect the educators’ voice," McCormick said on Monday. "Aimee Rivera Cole is that person. She will reach across the aisle to pursue what is best for our kids and educators.” Cole said, “Both Dr. McCormick and I ran for office to fight for students and public education. So I am honored to receive this endorsement. Dr. McCormick has remained first and foremost an educator, earning the respect of many teachers.”

 

WEINZAPFEL COMMENTS ON HILL ON ABSENTEE VOTING: Following the news that Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill is seeking to eliminate Indiana seniors’ ability to vote absentee, today, Jonathan Weinzapfel weighed in (Howey Politics Indiana). On Sept. 9, Hill filed a brief  with the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals arguing, in part, for an end to Indiana’s long-standing practice of allowing voters 65 years of age or older to automatically qualify to vote absentee. In Tully v. Okeson, plaintiffs argue that, in the midst of a global pandemic, all Hoosiers, regardless of age, should be entitled to vote absentee.  Attorney General Hill, representing Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson and the Republicans on the Indiana Elections Commission, is urging the court to totally eliminate the exemption for seniors, rather than extend the same opportunity to all Hoosiers. “What Curtis Hill is advocating for in this brief is short-sighted, purely political and dangerous,” said Weinzapfel. “In the middle of a global public health crisis, he would rather deny thousands of seniors their ability to vote safely and throw our entire election into chaos, than allow all Hoosiers to vote absentee. It’s unbelievable.” 

 

MACKEY TO HOST 4TH CD FORUM: Joe Mackey, the Democratic nominee for Indiana's 4th CD, will be hosting a Mental Health Forum, which will be conducted virtually, this Wednesday, September 16 at 7 p.m. (Howey Politics Indiana). This forum will highlight many important topics pertaining to mental health, including what resources are available for people right now who are struggling with mental health problems and tips for building and maintaining good mental health. It will also feature thoughts from future leaders about what they believe can be done to enhance and increase mental health awareness and to promote resources for those who need assistance. There will be several guests joining Joe for this forum. The confirmed panelists are Natalie Phillips, a social worker with extensive experience in public health, and Loretta Barnes, the Democratic nominee for the Indiana House of Representatives, District 13.

 

Presidential 2020

 

BIDEN CALLS TRUMP A 'CLIMATE ARSONIST': As the devastation from the wildfires raging across the western United States continues into its second week, former Vice President Joe Biden delivered a speech Monday in Wilmington, Delaware, centered around his plans to combat the growing threat of climate change and its contributions to worsening instances of extreme weather around the globe (ABC News). "If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze? If you give a climate denier four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is underwater?" Biden said in prepared remarks.

 

TRUMP CAMPAIGN RAMPS UP TV ADS: President Trump’s re-election campaign today announced it has increased its television advertising buy by nearly 50 percent, ramping up its presence in key states with early voting and expanding its national cable buy (Howey Politics Indiana). The ads in the eight-figure buy focus on the economy, which will be the defining issue of the race, and contrasts President Trump’s strong economic record with Joe Biden’s 47 years of failure. The ads airing on local television beginning Tuesday feature real people whose lives have been positively impacted by President Trump’s policies, with different people featured in different states. The ads will run on national cable, and local broadcast and cable in the following states: North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Nebraska (2nd Congressional District), and Maine (2nd Congressional District). The Trump campaign also announced it was expanding its existing urban radio buy to include Pennsylvania markets.

 

FLA LATINOS TARGETED WITH BIDEN MISINFORMATION: George Soros directs a “deep state” global conspiracy network. A Joe Biden win would put America in control of “Jews and Blacks.” The Democratic nominee has a pedophilia problem (Politico). Wild disinformation like this is inundating Spanish-speaking residents of South Florida ahead of Election Day, clogging their WhatsApp chats, Facebook feeds and even radio airwaves at a saturation level that threatens to shape the outcome in the nation’s biggest and most closely contested swing state. The sheer volume of conspiracy theories — including QAnon — and deceptive claims is already playing a role in stunting Biden’s growth with Latino voters, who make up about 17 percent of the state’s electorate. “The onslaught has had an effect,” said Eduardo Gamarra, a pollster and director of the Latino Public Opinion Forum at Florida International University.

 

BIDEN ASSEMBLES BIG LEGAL TEAM: Joe Biden's campaign has assembled an extensive legal team to focus on voting and election issues (CNN). The effort comes as the campaigns brace for voting amid a pandemic with legal battles already underway and as President Donald Trump makes baseless claims about fraud in order to cast doubt heading into the fall election. "We can and will be able to hold a free and fair election this November and we're putting in place an unprecedented voter protection effort with thousands of lawyers and volunteers around the country to ensure that voting goes smoothly," Dana Remus, the campaign's general counsel, said.

 

235 RETIRED MILITARY BACK TRUMP: A new letter bearing the names of 235 retired U.S. military leaders supports President Trump in what is described as arguably "the most important election since our country was founded" (Fox News). Retired Army and Air Force generals and Navy admirals were among those who signed the letter, which was released by the Trump campaign Monday. The former leaders warned against the dangers currently facing the nation, and claimed that President Trump is better equipped to handle them than his Democratic opponent. "As senior leaders of America's military, we took an oath to defend the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic," the letter says. "At present, our country is now confronted with enemies here and abroad, as well as a once-in-a-century pandemic. As retired military officers, we believe that Donald J. Trump has been tested as few other presidents have and is the proven leader to confront these dangers."

 

CROW TRIBE ENDORSES TRUMP: Vice President Mike Pence picked up the endorsement of the Crow Tribe in Belgrade, Montana, on Monday (Howey Politics Indiana). By addressing the grave issue of missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives, enhancing coordination between the Federal Government and tribal leaders, and reactivating the White House Council on Native American Affairs, President Trump has affirmed his commitment to our nation's indigenous peoples.

 

GARY COHN UNDECIDED: President Donald Trump’s former top economic adviser said Monday he had not yet decided who he will vote for in November’s presidential election (Politico). “You know, I honestly haven’t made up my mind,” Gary Cohn told CNBC in an interview. “I’m really eager to see an economic debate between the two of them. I actually vote on issues.” Trump tapped Cohn, the former president and chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs, to lead the White House’s National Economic Council at the outset of his administration in January 2017.

 

PENCE CAMPAIGNS IN WISCONSIN: Vice President Mike Pence is emphasizing President Donald Trump’s commitment to “law and order” during a campaign stop in swing state Wisconsin on Monday (Fox6). Pence spoke Monday at a hotel in Janesville, about 70 miles from Kenosha where sometimes violent protests erupted following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man. Pence credited President Trump with stopping the violence in Kenosha after he sent about 200 federal officers there. Those officers were dispatched after Gov. Tony Evers had activated the Wisconsin National Guard to quell protests after the Blake shooting.

 

PENCE PROMISES MORE TAX CUTS IN MONTANA: Vice President Mike Pence promised new tax cuts and continued crackdowns on the violent protests occurring elsewhere in the U.S. as he urged Montana voters on Monday to expand Republicans’ growing dominance in the state (Bozeman Daily Chronicle). Appearing before several hundred supporters at an outdoor venue near Belgrade, Pence also touted the administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic — even as the U.S. leads the globe in infections and deaths. “I know Montana’s going to say ‘Yes’ to four more years of President Donald Trump. The road to victory runs right through Big Sky Country,” Pence said from a stage flanked by farm equipment. In the background, the Bridger Mountains were shrouded in smoke from wildfires burning across the West.

 

PENCE TO CAMPAIGN IN OHIO: Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Zanesville, Ohio on Wednesday, September 16th to host "Workers for Trump" (Howey Politics Indiana). President Trump delivered a record-breaking economic expansion that benefited workers of all backgrounds before the artificial interruption of the coronavirus, and only he can do it again.

 

200 CARS IN PRO-TRUMP PARADE IN COLUMBUS: Hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence gathered at Mill Race Park on Saturday to celebrate the current presidential administration, while an estimated couple dozen of counter protesters turned up in opposition to the event (East, Columbus Republic). The event, called the “Trump Train Car Parade,” was organized by the Bartholomew County Republican Ladies League and was inspired by boat parades in support of the president and vice president, who is a Columbus native, said Mary Beth Clauss, league president. On Saturday, an estimated over 200 vehicles gathered at Mill Race Park for the procession, which wound its way through the city and ended near IUPUC, Clauss said.

 

BIDEN/HARRIS SCHEDULE: Joe Biden is in Florida today.  Sen. Kamala Harris will meet with emergency personnel for an assessment of the California wildfires in Fresno, Calif. She will travel to Las Vegas to attend a conversation about the impact of the coronavirus on the Latino community.



State

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB ANNOUNCES KNOX COUNTY JUDGE - Gov. Eric Holcomb has appointed a replacement for a Knox County judge who died in a plane crash in August (AP). Holcomb announced Brian M. Johnson as his appointment to the Knox County Superior Court. Johnson to succeed Judge Ryan Johanningsmeier. Johanningsmeier was flying alone from Sullivan County early on the morning of Aug. 29, 2020 and died when his plane crashed approximately 3 miles north of the Lawrence County, Illinois airport across the state line from Vincennes. Johnson graduated from Indiana University and the Valparaiso University Law School. He has been in private practice since 2010.

 

ISBH: DR. BOX URGES FLU SHOTS - State health officials are urging Hoosiers to get a flu shot this fall. The recommendation is an effort to keep flu numbers low during the coronavirus pandemic (Anguiano, Indiana Public Media). Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said wearing masks and the increased awareness of hand-washing may help keep the number of flu cases down this season, but immunization against the flu is critical to making sure hospitals aren’t overburdened with flu cases, alongside COVID-19. "Please get your influenza vaccine," Box said. "And we're going to make sure that we offer it in many more places to make it as easy as possible for Hoosiers to get those vaccines."

 

FSSA: MAKES APPEAL FOR HOOSIERS TO WORK FOOD BANKS - The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration is joining forces with Feeding Indiana’s Hungry to encourage Hoosiers to resume or start new volunteer service at one of Indiana’s food banks and other charitable food distribution sites (Howey Politics Indiana). Volunteers will be urgently needed as members of the Indiana National Guard will end their temporary, six-month deployment to aid Indiana’s food banks on Sept. 30, 2020. Since being deployed in early April, guardsmen served more than 36 million meals to more than four million Hoosiers. “We are so grateful to the Indiana National Guard members who filled a critical gap and provided the workforce needed to keep Indiana’s charitable food distribution network operating during the darkest days of the pandemic,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, executive director of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry. Hoosiers can volunteer by filling out a brief form at OperationFood.IN.gov.

 

CORRECTIONS: TRAINING SPACE ADDED TO MIAMI PRISON - Miami Correctional Facility in Bunker Hill has expanded its training space which allows it to increase the number of students it runs through educational programs for the Indiana Department of Correction (Inside Indiana Business). The facility, which is located near Grissom Air Reserve Base, serves as the hub for the North Central Training Region. It is used to train new and current staff at MCF and the Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility. The upgraded 5,000-square-foot space can now hold classes for more than 150 students at a time.

 

REVENUE: HOW TO RESOLVE A TAX ISSUE - The Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR) is starting to send tax bills that were delayed earlier this year due to tax filing and payment extensions related to COVID-19. Bills for individuals who owe taxes, will begin reaching mailboxes this week and continue to be sent through December 2020. (Howey Politics Indiana). “All DOR correspondence, including bills, should be opened and addressed as soon as it is received,” advised DOR Commissioner Bob Grennes. “Responding to or reaching out for help quickly is always the best action to avoid additional complexities and costs.”

 

DNR: PUBLIC LANDS DAY SEPT. 26 - National Public Lands Day is Saturday, Sept. 26, and during that weekend Hoosiers can celebrate by supporting their favorite DNR property by doing volunteer work or simply visiting.Volunteers (Howey Politics Indiana). National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort involving public lands. State park properties will have programs for visitors to volunteer as individuals or as part of many events across Indiana, but they can also choose to visit and just enjoy their favorite areas. Outdoor enthusiasts can also combine visiting and volunteering by grabbing a bucket and taking on the 5 gallon challenge.

 

ECONOMY: PANDEMIC HAMMERS INDIANA PORTS - Ports of Indiana CEO Vanta Coda III said all three ports accounted for an estimated 12.3 million tons of cargo in 2019, about 2 million less than in 2018 (Darling, WIBC). Indiana saw about 30-percent less cargo coming in as a direct result of the pandemic.

 

EDUCATION: NEW SCHOOL MEAL GUIDELINES RELEASE - The Indiana Department of Education today announced income eligibility guidelines, including household size, for the free and reduced-price school meals and milk programs. The National School Lunch, School Breakfast, and Special Milk programs were created to support students unable to pay the full price for meals or milk (Howey Politics Indiana). The following income criteria and household size will be used for determining eligibility. The guidelines are effective until June 30, 2021. Children from households that meet federal guidelines are eligible for free or reduced-price meals and milk.

 

EDUCATION: BUTLER, ND LEAD SCHOOL RANKINGS - Butler University has been rated the No. 1 regional university in the Midwest for the third year in a row by the U.S. News & World Report’s annual “Best Colleges Rankings” (IBJ). The Indianapolis-based university also finished first in its class for “Most Innovative School” and was tied for third for “Best Undergraduate Teaching” in the latest edition of the magazine’s influential rankings, released Monday. In the “National Universities” category, the highest-rated school in Indiana was the University of Notre Dame, listed at 19th. It also was ranked 26th among all schools for “Best Value.” Purdue University in West Lafayette finished tied-for-53rd in the national category, and Indiana University in Bloomington was tied for 76th. Purdue also was ranked fifth among “Most Innovative Schools.”

 

SPORTS: COLTS MACK OUT FOR SEASON - Colts running back Marlon Mack has torn his achilles, according to NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero. He is expected to be out for the rest of the season (WTHR-TV). Mack left Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second quarter after limping off the field. Tallying four carries for 26 yards, he had been the team's leading rusher in the game until that point. Mack is in his contract year, expected to become a free agent in 2021. Last season, he rushed for 1,091 yards.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP TO PRESIDE OVER ARAB/ISRAELI SIGNING - President Donald Trump is set to preside over the signing of historic diplomatic deals between Israel and two Gulf Arab nations that could herald a dramatic shift in Middle East power dynamics and give him a boost ahead of the November election (AP). In a White House ceremony aimed at showcasing presidential statesmanship, Trump will host more than 700 guests Tuesday on the South Lawn to witness the sealing of the agreements between Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Trump and his allies hope the occasion will burnish Trump’s credentials as a peacemaker at the height of his reelection campaign.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - President Trump will participate in the arrival of Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani at 10:30 a.m. in the West Wing lobby. The two will hold a bilateral meeting at 10:35 a.m. in the Oval Office. Trump will participate in the arrival of UAE minister of foreigh affairs and international cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan at 10:55 a.m. in the West Wing lobby. The two will participate in a bilateral meeting at 11 a.m. in the Oval Office. Trump and first lady Melania Trump will participate in the arrival of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife at 11:20 a.m. in the West Wing lobby. Trump and Netanyahu will participate in a bilateral meeting at 11:25 a.m. in the Oval Office. The president and the first lady will participate in the Abraham Accords signing ceremony at noon on the south lawn. The foreign leaders and Trump will participate in a working lunch in the state dining room at 12:45 p.m. The president will leave the White House at 3:25 p.m. en route to Philadelphia. He will travel to the National Constitution Center and participate in an ABC News town hall at 5:30 p.m. Trump will depart at 6:35 p.m. and return to Washington, arriving at the White House at 8:05 p.m.

 

JUSTICE: NEXT SHOE TO DROP IS DURHAM PROBE? What is the next shoe to drop in U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation? That's one of the big questions in Washington this month, even as lawmakers' attention is torn among coronavirus, school reopenings, economic uncertainty, wildfires, social unrest and the presidential election (Fox News). Speculation over the status of Durham's review into the origins of the Russia probe has only intensified amid the resignation of a top aide last week and comments from congressional Republicans suggesting developments could soon be announced. Nora Dannehy, a top aide to Durham, resigned Friday, after working closely with the U.S. attorney for Connecticut for years. Durham’s office confirmed her departure but did not elaborate on the backstory.

 

ILLINOIS: AMAZON HIRING 5,600 IN CHICAGOLAND - Amazon will hire another 100,000 people to keep up with a surge of online orders, including more than 5,600 in the Chicago area (Chicago Tribune). The company said it needs workers at the 100 new warehouses, package sorting centers and other facilities it’s opening across the U.S. this month.

 

Local

 

INDIANAPOLIS: RACING CONVENTION CANCELS - The Performance Racing Industry has canceled its December trade show at the Indiana Convention Center due to COVID-19 concerns (IndyStar). In a release Monday, PRI said it had been working with Visit Indy, the Indiana Convention Center and other officials to develop a safety plan for the show, but coronavirus uncertainty "would not be conducive to a productive trade show."

 

INDIANAPOLIS: COUNCIL OKs CONVENTION CENTER EXPANSION - The Indianapolis City-County Council on Monday night voted unanimously to issue up to $155 million in bonds to pay for an expansion of the Indiana Convention Center (Quinn, IBJ). Kite Realty Group Trust plans to construct a publicly-funded, 300,000-square-foot addition to the convention center, plus two privately-funded hotels with 1,400 rooms on the site of Pan Am Plaza. Kite acquired the 1,200-space parking garage beneath Pan Am Plaza for $30 million in March 2019 and plans to fully rebuild the structure while razing the remainder of the plaza for the convention and hotel project.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: COUNCIL IMPD REFORMS INTRODUCED - Following an afternoon press conference in which members of Faith in Indiana and the local community expressed support for a proposal that would create civilian oversight of IMPD’s general orders process, Indianapolis City-County Councillors Potts (District 2) and Carlino (District 6) formally introduced a proposed ordinance that would do just that (Howey Politics Indiana). Proposal 237 would replace IMPD’s current General Orders Committee, comprised of three law enforcement officers, to a General Orders Board that would incorporate four civilian appointees. If enacted, the Council and the Mayor’s Office would appoint two civilians each to the board. The newly formed General Orders Board will oversee all rules and policies that govern the use of police powers, including use of force, arrests, investigations, and other official police actions. Councillor Potts says the proposal is not only a reaction to the local and national conversation on law enforcement and community relations, but a natural progression of the Council’s February 2020 commitment to addressing “historical inequities of race, place and identity” throughout the City-County government. “Proposal 237 represents an unequivocal and unapologetic determination to prioritize the ‘public’ in our city’s ‘public safety’, and is a monumental next step toward a more equitable Indianapolis.”

 

EVANSVILLE: COUNCILMAN SEEKS TO MOVE POLICE MONEY - Evansville City Council President Alex Burton has filed an amendment to the proposed 2020 budget that would consider moving money from the police department to help pay for an affordable housing project (WFIE-TV). The amendment calls to reallocate $250,000 from the police department budget to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Evansville City Council to consider reallocating funds from police department Monday was the first reading of the amendment and no action was taken. It didn’t stop members of the council and Evansville residents from having strong opinions. “We are in a point of time where things are uncertain, we have to increase revenue, we have to find those things, right?So this was my idea,” said Burton.

 

PORTAGE: SCHOOLS ANNOUNCE HYBRID RETURN PLAN — Portage Township Schools' middle and high school students will return to school in a hybrid learning model with the start of the second quarter of the 2020-21 academic year (NWI Times). Elementary students will return in a five-day-a-week, in-person model due to the district's ability to cohort student groups, Superintendent Amanda Alaniz announced in a Monday night school board meeting. Portage Township Schools was among the first Northwest Indiana districts to announce a virtual learning restart to its 2020-21 year. Students will return to school buildings on Oct. 20, Alaniz said.

 

COLUMBIA CITY: ULTRA LANDS $24M MILITARY CONTRACT - The U.S. Department of Defense has awarded Columbia City-based Ultra Electronics USSI a more than $24 million military contract. The contract calls for the production and delivery of a specific sonobuoy system for the U.S. Navy (Inside Indiana Business). Ultra USSI, which makes sonobuoys as part of its ERAPSCO joint venture with Illinois-based Sparton Corp., says it will design, manufacture, test, inspect, package and deliver Extended Range - Directional Frequency Analysis and Recording, or ER-DIFAR, sonobuoys as part of the contract. The company says the new system will enhance the Navy's ability to detect underwater threats. “Ultra USSI is pleased to partner with the U.S. Navy for this important underwater warfare capability," Patrick Allison, vice president of business development for Ultra USSI, said in a news release.

 

HAMILTON COUNTY: A THOUSAND POLL WORKERS NEEDED — About 1,000 poll workers are needed to work the polls in Hamilton County on Election Day, the county said Monday on Twitter (WIBC). Poll workers will be required to work from 5:00 a.m. until approximately 7:00 p.m. when the votes are certified. The polls close at 6 p.m. To work the polls on Election Day, you must be at least 18 years old and a registered Hamilton County voter. Volunteers who are 16 or 17 may work the polls with the approval of the school principal and parent.

 

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: COVID CASES DECLINE - The number of active coronavirus cases in St. Joseph County is at its lowest point in nearly two months, part of a trend that a top health official called “encouraging” (South Bend Tribune). On Monday the county’s 556 active cases, meaning those diagnosed in the past 14 days, was its lowest since July 17. Also, the county’s 3.3% testing positivity rate was the lowest since the department started reporting that metric daily on Aug. 4. The county’s rolling 7-day average of new cases was 39.7, higher than it had been all last week but lower than it was in all of July and August.