EX-PENCE COVID STAFFER ENDORSES BIDEN: Olivia Troye, a former adviser to Vice President Mike Pence on homeland security who was his lead staffer on the coronavirus task force led by the vice president, is endorsing Democratic nominee Joe Biden for president (CBS News). In an advertisement recorded for Republican Voters Against Trump, Troye slammed President Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic. Troye, a lifelong Republican, said Mr. Trump's "biggest concern" was how the pandemic would affect the election. "It was shocking to see the president saying that the virus was a hoax, saying that everything's OK when we know that's not," Troye said. She added that Mr. Trump "actually doesn't care about anyone else but himself," and gave an example of a time when the president said during a task force meeting that "maybe this COVID thing is a good thing." In an interview with The Washington Post, Troye said Mr. Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic showed his "flat-out disregard for human life" because "his main concern was the economy and the election."

 

JOBLESS CLAIMS INCREASE: More than 13,000 Hoosiers filed first-time unemployment claims in the week ending on Sept. 12, the highest number since late July. The number of claims for the week ending Sept. 12 was 13,851, an increase from the previous week's adjusted total of 11,225 (McKinney, WRTV). The lowest number since the beginning of the pandemic in March was 10,624, which happened in the week ending Aug. 8. The number of claims in Indiana remained above 20,000 for 17 straight weeks from early March to mid-July. Another 860,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week on a seasonally adjusted basis, the Department of Labor reported Thursday (CNN). It was another week-on-week decline for jobless claims as the jobs recovery drags on, but the improvements have been slow and the jobs recovery is running out of steam. Weekly claims have improved since mid-August, when they briefly inched higher.

 

INDIANA TOP STATE IN INCREASING ADOPTIONS:  Indiana is the top state in the nation for increasing the number of children adopted from foster care, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Thursday along with U.S. Administration of Children and Families Assistant Secretary Lynn Johnson (Carden, NWI Times). "Every child deserves to have people who will love and support them forever, so we've set out to ensure each is a part of a permanent, loving family," Holcomb said in a news release. "With more than a thousand kids in Indiana who are still waiting to be adopted, we appreciate our federal partners' continued support as we pursue forever homes for each and every one," he said. In the state's 2019 fiscal year, 2,489 of Hoosier children were adopted through the Indiana Department of Child Services. Johnson awarded Indiana an adoption and legal guardianship incentive award of more than $4.7 million during a ceremony Thursday at the Indiana Statehouse.

 

HOLCOMB SAYS MASKS KEEP COVID NUMBERS DOWN: Touting the state’s rosier coronavirus statistics, Gov. Eric Holcomb attributed much of the improvement to a non-medical intervention many find onerous: Masks (South Bend Tribune). Throughout his weekly press briefing Wednesday, Holcomb repeatedly commented on the link between wearing masks, Indiana’s lower positivity rates and the state’s ability to have businesses open for the most part and some schools back in-person. “I don’t want that lost on anyone, that what we’re doing is working,” Holcomb said, referring to Indiana as one of the most open states in the country right now. “And it’s allowing us to not just stay open and continue to reopen but to continue to do it in a safe way.” Over the last couple of days, Indiana has one of the lowest spread rates in the nation, a metric that refers to the number of people one infected person infects. Indiana’s so-called R0 (R naught) rate is .94, one of the lowest in the country, state health officials said. The state’s seven-day positivity rate has dipped to 4.7% from a high of 17.1% in late April. When the state started to reopen at the end of May, the positivity rate was just under 7%.

 

BARR COMPARES COVID LOCKDOWNS TO SLAVERY: Attorney General William Barr drew sharp condemnation Thursday for comparing lockdown orders during the coronavirus pandemic to slavery (AP). In remarks Wednesday night at Hillsdale College in Michigan, Barr had called the lockdown orders the “greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history” since slavery. His comments came at an event where he also criticized his own prosecutors for behaving as “headhunters” in their pursuit of prominent targets and for using the weight of the criminal justice system to launch what he said were “ill-conceived” political probes. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the No. 3 House Democratic leader, told CNN that Barr’s remarks were “the most ridiculous, tone-deaf, God-awful things I’ve ever heard” because they wrongly equated human bondage with a measure aimed at saving lives. “Slavery was not about saving lives. It was about devaluing lives,” Clyburn said. “This pandemic is a threat to human life.”

 

TWISTED SISTER SINGER CALLS ANTI-MASKERS 'MORONIC': Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider took to social media to condemn anti-maskers who went into a Florida Target store blaring the group’s hit “We’re Not Gonna Take It” while ripping off their masks (AP). In a tweet Wednesday, Snider called the stunt “moronic,” and shared a video that was recorded by an upset customer inside the Target at Coral Ridge Mall in Fort Lauderdale. The video had more than 30 million views. Snider said the group doesn’t have his “permission or blessing to use my song for their moronic cause.”

 

TRUMP BLAMES BLUE STATES FOR PANDEMIC DEATHS: President Donald Trump is facing backlash after blaming blue states for the coronavirus death toll during a press briefing at the White House on Wednesday (ABC News). "So we’re down in this territory," Trump said, pointing to a graph that the White House first unveiled in the spring which showed two estimated ranges of possible death tolls depending on efforts to slow the spread of the virus. "And that’s despite the fact that the blue states had had tremendous death rates. If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anybody in the world would be at. We’re really at a very low level. But some of the states, they were blue states and blue state-managed." New York, California, and New Jersey – all led by Democrats– were among the states with highest number of deaths from coronavirus. However, both Texas and Florida, which are Republican led, are also in the top five states in terms of coronavirus deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.

 

COLLEGE CAMPUSES BECOME COVID HOTSPOTS: Just two weeks after students started returning to Ball State University last month, the surrounding county had become Indiana’s coronavirus epicenter. Out of nearly 600 students tested for the virus, more than half have been positive. Dozens of infections have been blamed on off-campus parties, prompting university officials to admonish students (AP). University President Geoffrey Mearns wrote that the cases apparently were tied not to classrooms or dormitories but to “poor personal choices some students are making, primarily off campus.” “The actions of these students are putting our planned on-campus instruction and activities at risk,” he said. Similar examples abound in other college towns across the nation. Among the 50 U.S. counties with the highest concentrations of students and overall populations of at least 50,000, 20 have consistently reported higher rates of new virus cases than their states have since Sept. 1, according to an Associated Press analysis. On average, infection rates in those 20 counties have been more than three times higher than their states’ overall rates.

 

CAPUTO'S MOVE TO HHS WAS A 'NIGHTMARE': After it became clear in mid-April that his administration’s response to Covid-19 was threatening his re-election, President Donald Trump considered a leadership shake-up within a health department whose rivalries and battles with the White House had hampered efforts to contain the virus (Politico). Instead, Trump made a different move: He personally intervened to place his campaign aide Michael Caputo — a confidant of disgraced operative Roger Stone who had himself come under scrutiny for his ties to top Russian officials — as assistant Health and Human Services secretary for public affairs. Trump — not HHS Secretary Alex Azar — approached Caputo about the job, and Caputo has repeatedly emphasized that he works for the president, health officials told POLITICO. HHS officials are left to assess the damage to their credibility at a time when they need the public to accept the safety and effectiveness of the coronavirus vaccine they choose as soon as next month. “It didn’t add, it didn’t subtract,” the official said of Caputo's effect on efforts to beat back the pandemic. “It just created a public relations nightmare.” "Azar had one foot on a banana peel and another on a sheet of ice" before Caputo joined HHS, said one former senior Trump administration official, who credited Caputo with taking much of the heat off him.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: It's a sad kind of funny that the lead singer of Twisted Sister conveys more common sense than Attorney General Bill Barr, who compared COVID stay-at-home orders to slavery. Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider was reacting to anti-maskers in Florida who demonstrated at a Target Store. The day before, Joe Biden said he couldn't trust President Trump on vaccines, and just hours later Trump contradicted CDC Director Robert Redfield on the effectiveness of masks and the timing of vaccines. This is a sad, sad spectacle. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

GOP LEGISLATIVE CANDIDATES AVOIDING FORUMS: Two Republican contenders for the seats occupied by state Reps. Sue Errington, D-Muncie, and Melanie Wright, D-Yorktown, are steering clear of a candidate forum, and aren't commenting on why (Slabaugh, Muncie Star Press). Elizabeth Rowray, a Yorktown Community School Board member challenging Wright, a Daleville Community Schools teacher, did not respond to Facebook, email or phone messages from The Star Press over the past six days seeking comment. Dale Basham, retired as a longtime Muncie educator, also didn't return messages. Shareen Wagley, one of his assistants, told the newspaper in an email on Sept. 10. "I have reached out to Dale, as I have not been part of the discussions about this!  I'm sure you'll hear something soon." The South Bend Tribune reported on Tuesday that Republicans in St. Joseph County legislative races were refusing to participate in forums.

 

5TH CD TOWN HALL NEXT TUESDAY: Indiana Town Halls--a fledgling non-partisan non-profit aims to restore informed civil dialogue to Indiana politics and wants to attract as many viewers as possible to watch the live broadcast on WFYI of the 5th CD at 7 PM on Tuesday, Sept 22. You can pose and prioritize candidate questions by clicking here.

 

ABSENTEE SIGNATURE MISTAKES CAN BE CORRECTED: Residents who fail to sign their mailed-in absentee ballot or commit some other signature mistake will have a chance to correct their mistake in order to ensure their vote is counted for the upcoming General Election on Nov. 3 (Juranovich, Kokomo Tribune). Based on guidance from Secretary of State Connie Lawson, Indiana’s chief election officer, the Howard County Election Board will send a letter to voters who make a signature mistake on the ballot, notifying them of the mistake and their ability to correct it so their vote is tabulated. Normally, any mistakes, signature or otherwise, made on mail-in absentee ballots means the ballot is thrown out and the vote is not counted. But now, Howard County Clerk Debbie Stewart said Thursday at a regular election board meeting, the state wants counties to treat absentee ballots with signature mistakes as provisional ballots.

 

McCORMICK'S ESTRANGEMENT FROM GOP NEARLY COMPLETE: Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick's break with her political party seems all but complete (Sikich, IndyStar). The increasingly estranged Republican has endorsed four Democrats in the Nov. 3 election in some of the most prominent races in the state, including for attorney general and against the Speaker of the Indiana House. She has not endorsed anyone from her own party. In an interview with IndyStar, McCormick insisted she's still a Republican and said she's supporting candidates who will champion public schools and teachers.  "I've been asked by some Republicans (for support)," she said, "but at this point I've chosen to endorse those candidates who I feel will support public education and not be owned by their donors."

 

WHERE HOLCOMB, MYERS DIFFER ON ISSUES: At a time when racial tensions are putting a focus on criminal justice reform, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has broken with some in his party to say "Black lives matter" (Martin, IndyStar). His Democratic opponent, Dr. Woody Myers, appreciates the sentiment, but thinks that’s no longer good enough. It's not as if either candidate has released detailed policy papers on how they would tackle the toughest challenges in Indiana's expansive criminal justice system. Yet even absent such proposals, both Holcomb and Myers have used speeches and interviews to cast their visions on race and policing as the Nov. 3 election approaches.

 

HALE PLANS TO REACH ACROSS AISLE: To win Indiana’s 5th District Congressional seat, Democrat Christina Hale knows she’s going to have to reach across the political aisle (Shambaugh, Carmel Current). The district has been represented by a Republican since its boundaries were formed in 2000, but this year it’s been labeled a “toss up” by nonpartisan The Cook Political Report and is expected to be one of the most competitive federal races in the state. Hale’s opponents in the Nov. 3 general election are Republican Victoria Spartz, a state senator from Noblesville, and Ken Tucker, a Libertarian from Westfield. Hale received 40.8 percent of the vote in the May primary to beat out four other Democrats for the nomination. The congressional seat is being vacated by retiring Republican Susan Brooks. Hale said her track record in the Indiana House of Representatives shows that she knows how to work with people outside her party. “It’s pretty easy if you are sincere, if you take the time to develop personal and professional trust with everybody,” she said. “Most issues are human issues, they’re not Republican issues or Democrat issues. I’ve done a lot of work to protect vulnerable populations, such as children from sexual violence, and everybody cares about that.”

 

SENATE LEADERSHIP FUND HAS $126M: The Senate Leadership Fund -- the Senate GOP super PAC -- raised $37.3 million in August (Politico Playbook). For a point of comparison: They raised $3 million in August 2018 -- that’s a 12x increase. They have $126 million on hand, which is more than 3x what they had on hand at this point in 2018 ($40.5 million).

 

Presidential 2020

 

TROYE'S SCORCHING VIDEO: When I spoke with Olivia Troye on Thursday afternoon, she sounded more than a little scared. She was about to go public with a scorching video, in which she would denounce President Donald Trump and his stewardship of the country during the coronavirus pandemic (Glasser, New Yorker). Troye, who served as Vice-President Mike Pence’s adviser for homeland security until late July, has witnessed the Administration’s response to the crisis, as Pence’s top aide on the White House coronavirus task force. She had seen Trump rant in private about Fox News coverage as his public-health advisers desperately tried to get him to focus on a disease that has now killed some two hundred thousand Americans. She had decided that Trump was lying to the American public about the disease, and that “words matter, especially when you’re the President of the United States,” and that it was time to speak out. She was nervous and scared and worried for her family and her career. But she plunged ahead anyway. In the video, Troye recounts when Trump, a noted germaphobe, met with the coronavirus task force, early on in the crisis, and told its members that perhaps the pandemic was a good thing because he would no longer have to shake hands with all the “disgusting people” at his rallies and other public events.

 

BIDEN BLASTS TRUMP'S 'CRIMINAL' PANDEMIC RESPONSE: Joe Biden on Thursday went after President Donald Trump again and again over his handling of COVID-19, calling Trump’s downplaying of the pandemic “criminal” and his administration “totally irresponsible” (AP). “You’ve got to level with the American people — shoot from the shoulder. There’s not been a time they’ve not been able to step up. The president should step down,” the Democratic presidential nominee said to applause from a CNN drive-in town hall crowd in Moosic, outside his hometown of Scranton. Speaking about Trump’s admission that he publicly played down the impact of the virus while aware of its severity, Biden declared: “He knew it and did nothing. It’s close to criminal.”

 

TRUMP CAMPAIGN RESPONDS TO BIDEN TOWN HALL: Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh (Howey Politics Indiana): “Virtually every question for Joe Biden was an invitation for him to attack President Trump, while moderator Anderson Cooper offered almost no pushback, giving Biden a total pass on his lies and misrepresentations. At no time did anyone question Biden about his economic record or his plan to raise taxes by $4 trillion while the economy is in rapid recovery. At no time did anyone ask Biden why he opposed President Trump’s travel restrictions on China at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, which experts say saved thousands of American lives. And at no time did Biden offer any examples of anything he would have done differently to combat the virus, despite six months of relentless criticism of the President’s response. He did, however, manage to lie by claiming he said in January it was a pandemic and that the President did not mention the threat of the coronavirus in his State of the Union speech. And he managed to obfuscate on fracking, by claiming he’d support the natural gas industry just long enough to kill it. This was classic Joe Biden: untethered to the facts, his own record, or reality.”

 

TRUMP IMPERILS HIMSELF, SENATE CANDIDATES NYT/SIENA POLLS FIND: President Trump’s mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic has imperiled both his own re-election and his party’s majority in the Senate, and Republican lawmakers in crucial states like Arizona, North Carolina and Maine have fallen behind their Democratic challengers amid broad disapproval of the president, according to a poll conducted by The New York Times and Siena College. Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. led Mr. Trump by wide margins in Arizona, where he was ahead by nine percentage points, and Maine, where he led by 17 points. The race was effectively tied in North Carolina, with Mr. Biden ahead by one point, 45 percent to 44 percent. In all three states, Democratic Senate candidates were leading Republican incumbents by five percentage points or more. Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a Republican seeking a fifth term, is in a difficult battle against Sara Gideon, trailing by five points as voters there delivered a damning verdict on Mr. Trump’s stewardship: By a 25-point margin, 60 percent to 35 percent, they said they trusted Mr. Biden over Mr. Trump on the issue of the pandemic.

 

GOP MEGADONORS BAILING OUT TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Republican Party megadonors are racing to bail out President Donald Trump’s cash-strapped reelection campaign, with a newly formed super PAC pouring a further$25 million into battleground states (Politico). Preserve America is set to begin running a trio of TV commercials savaging Democrat Joe Biden as Republicans express growing alarm over the president’s absence from the airwaves. Trump — who went dark for part of August and has since cancelled advertising in key states — is being outspent more than 2-to-1 by Biden this week, according to the media tracking firm Advertising Analytics. “If the Democrat message drowns out all the Republican message on TV that could make a huge difference,” said Club for Growth President David McIntosh, whose group has been running TV ads bolstering Trump. “You have to stay in the game at least.”

 

TRUMP SAYS BIDEN AD SPURRED HIM ON BIG TEN: President Donald Trump said Thursday that it was a television ad aired by his presidential election opponent that spurred his successful intervention in the Big Ten's decision to restart its college football season (Politico). With the National Anthem playing in the background, on-screen text reads "Trump put America on the sidelines" and "let's get back in the game." “I saw the ad and that’s actually what got me into gear,” Trump said, arguing that he felt the ad insinuated that he didn’t care about whether college football was played this fall.

 

BIDEN AD FEATURES FORMER TRUMP VOTER: Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign unveiled two new television ads on Thursday, including one that features a testimonial from a farmer from western Pennsylvania who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 but now calls that choice a "mistake" he won't make again (ABC News). "I voted for Trump in '16, and I'll be the first to tell you I made a mistake," Rick, a voter and third-generation farmer from Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, said in one of the new ads entitled "Totally Negligent," that the Biden campaign is rolling out. The ad will run in the battleground states of Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota and, of course, the Keystone State, according to the Biden campaign.

 

HARRIS SAYS BIDEN WILL DECRIMINALIZE MARIJUANA: Democratic vice presidential nominee and California Sen. Kamala Harris put marijuana policy on the agenda as an issue in the November presidential election, promising that she and former Vice President Joe Biden would decriminalize cannabis (WSBT-TV). Harris announced the position at an ABC virtual town hall Monday. "Under a Biden-Harris administration, we will decriminalize the use of marijuana and automatically expunge all marijuana-use convictions and end incarceration for drug use alone," Harris stated. "This is no time for half-steppin'. This is no time for incrementalism. We need to deal with the system and there needs to be significant change in the design of the system."

 

PENNSYLVANIA REJECTS GREEN CANDIDATE: Pennsylvania's highest court ruled on Thursday that the Green Party's presidential candidate can't be on the general election ballot because of a failure to closely follow nomination procedures (CBS News). It's a decision that could help Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the battleground state that President Trump won in 2016 and it comes just days after a similar decision in another key swing state, Wisconsin. With a 5-2 Democratic majority, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned a Republican Commonwealth Court judge's ruling that Howie Hawkins could stay on the ballot in the state. 

 

PENCE TO HEAD TO MN, WI: Vice President Mike Pence will return to Minnesota on Thursday, when he plans to hold a Cops for Trump listening session in Minneapolis (Minneapolis Star Tribune). The police gathering is “focusing on the Trump administration’s unwavering commitment to law enforcement,” the campaign announced. It comes as President Donald Trump has focused on a law-and-order message on the campaign trail, following civil unrest across the nation after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Before he heads to Minneapolis on Sept. 24, Pence will hold a manufacturing-focused event at Midwest Manufacturing in Eau Claire, Wis.

 

BIDEN/HARRIS SCHEDULE: Joe Biden will travel to Duluth, Minn. He will tour a union training center and deliver remarks. … Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) will speak at the CBC PAC’s “Turn Up and Turn Out the Vote Virtual Bus Tour.”



Congress

 

LAWMAKERS CLOSE TO FUNDING DEAL: Lawmakers are aiming to unveil Friday a bipartisan spending bill averting a government shutdown next month, but Democrats and Republicans remain at an impasse over another round of coronavirus relief despite President Trump’s renewed interest in a deal (Wall Street Journal). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed earlier this month to pass a short-term spending bill to keep the government running when its funding expires on Oct. 1. Lawmakers and aides said they were finishing up discussions Thursday on a bill they planned to introduce midday Friday that would keep the government funded likely into mid-December.

 

BRAUN BACKS POLICE ASSAULT BILL: U.S. Sen. Mike Braun has signed onto Senator Tom Tillis’ Protect and Serve Act which would make violence or attempted violence against police officers a federal crime (Howey Politics Indiana). “Criminals who target police officers should pay the highest penalty possible,” said Senator Braun. “Our brave men and women in law enforcement put their lives on the line every day so we can live in safety, and the cowards who seek to harm them need to be sent a clear message: Target police, and you will pay.” The bill, introduced today, follows a recent rise in violence toward police, including an attack over the weekend in which two Los Angeles law enforcement officers were ambushed and shot. The bill would apply to local, state, and federal law enforcement officers and is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, and the National Association of Police Organizations.

 

BRAUN INTRODUCES ANIMAL CRUELTY BILL: It could be easier for justice officials to prosecute federal animal cruelty crimes under a bill introduced by Sen. Mike Braun, R-Indiana (McKinney, WRTV). Braun and four other senators introduced the Animal Cruelty Enforcement Act, which creates a dedicated office for the enforcement of animal cruelty statutes within the Department of Justice. The bill also requires the Department of Justice to report annually on the enforcement of animal cruelty statutes.

 

BANKS AUTHORS 'COUNTERING CHINESE PROPAGANDA ACT': Republican Study Committee’s (RSC) Budget & Spending Task Force Chairman Jim Banks (IN- 03), RSC Chairman Mike Johnson (LA-04), and RSC National Security & Foreign Affairs Task Force Chairman Joe Wilson (SC-02) introduced the Countering Chinese Propaganda Act (Howey Politics Indiana). This legislation, based upon the recommendations from the Republican Study Committee (RSC)’s The RSC National Security Strategy  (click here to view the full report),authorizes sanctions against the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-  a hostile wing of the CCP that engages in political warfare campaigns to make supreme the ideology of communism and to spread discord among enemies of the party.

 

BANKS CALLS FOR 'CUTIES' PROSECUTION: U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) and 33 of his Republican colleagues sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr asking him to prosecute Netflix executives for distributing the film “Cuties”—which meets the legal definition of child pornography (Howey Politics Indiana). “Cuties is child porn and Netflix should be prosecuted for distributing it. The vast majority of Americans agree with me, which is why Netflix’s cancellation rate has skyrocketed,” said Rep Banks. “Americans are shocked to see this foisted on our children, and so are my 33 Republican colleagues who’ve signed this letter. But no Democrats. They seem more inclined to defend Cuties than criticize it. That raises some alarm bells.”

 

General Assembly

 

BOHACEK BILL WOULD PREVENT CITIES FROM DEFUNDING POLICE: "Defund the Police" has been a rallying cry for Black Lives Matter and social justice activists across the country for the last several months, but one Indiana Senator said he does not want to see that happen in Indiana (ABC57). Senator Mike Bohacek, a Republican representing La Porte County, announced Wednesday that he will be introducing legislation to the Indiana General Assembly that prohibits municipal governments from defunding the police. "We'll certainly send a pretty clear message as to what the desire is of the state," Senator Bohacek said. "The bottom line is we do not want public safety to be used as a political bargaining chip." His opponent, Democrat Gary Davis, said he does not support defunding the police but felt the bill is not necessary. 'I don't think it's necessary because I've talked to a number of state senators and state senate candidates and to also local LaPorte County Democrats," Davis said. "Nobody supports defunding the police, at least not in the Democratic Party. I haven't heard anyone say that.'"

 

MELTON RESPONDS TO GARY SCHOOL IMPROVEMENTS: On Thursday, the Distressed Unit Appeal Board held a meeting to discuss the Gary Community School Corporation’s updates as it relates to the Viable Deficit Reduction Plan and the School Improvement Fund Plan (Howey Politics Indiana). During the meeting, the School Corporation outlined their plans for the demolition of the decaying school structures in the community. State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) released the following statement in response to the updates from the Gary School Corporation: “Last session, I fought hard to make sure the Gary School Corporation had the support it needed to begin addressing the blighted school infrastructures in our community,” Sen. Melton said. “I’m happy to see plans for the demolition and rehabilitation of old school buildings moving forward. Our students and communities deserve safe, clean learning environments, and I’m pleased that we are making real strides to provide that. I would also like to acknowledge the help lent by the Gary police and fire departments in getting this issue addressed."

 

CARBON OFFSET PROGRAM CONSIDERED: State lawmakers are considering creating a program that would allow landowners to sell carbon offsets. Carbon offsets are a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by allowing businesses and other entities that pollute to buy credits from people doing climate-friendly practices (Thiele, Indiana Public Media). State Sen. Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) said this is a way landowners who do things like plant trees or practice sustainable agriculture can generate income. “So you have Indiana businesses spending their money for carbon offsets in California, Alaska, and North Carolina, and I think Indiana businesses would be happy to spend that money here," he said.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: STATE PULLS OUT OF PORT LAND AGREEMENT - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb today announced the state will not move forward with plans to purchase land near Lawrenceburg that was under consideration as a potential site for a fourth port (Howey Politics Indiana). The Ports of Indiana entered into an agreement in September 2017 to reserve the option to purchase up to 725 acres of land that were formerly the American Electric Power plant. The Ports of Indiana engaged in an extensive evaluation of the site to determine its suitability as a port, including its environmental condition and plans for remediation. The Ports of Indiana concluded that the remediation work would take years to complete on a significant portion of the land, rendering the site economically unviable as a port facility at this time. “I have been eager to pursue the opportunity for a fourth port in Indiana well before holding this office and remain so today. While I’m disappointed this particular site is not feasible for this purpose, I am committed to working with the Ports of Indiana and all the dedicated business and local elected leaders in southeastern Indiana to explore other possible locations in the region,” Gov. Holcomb said.

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB COMMENTS ON VOTE-BY-MAIL - Voting by mail options have been expanded in many states across the country due to COVID-19 and some states are allowing anyone who wants to vote by mail to do so, In the state of Indiana, that's not the case (WLFI-TV). Governor Eric Holcomb addressed on Wednesday during his weekly COVID-19 update address why voting by mail will not be expanded. Holcomb said one reason for not expanding is we are not "shelter in place" like we were when the primary election took place. He also feels the polls will not be as crowded on election day since Hoosiers can begin voting in person starting October 6th. "You know the election commission and general assembly have a lot of say if you want to expand the definition of absentee voting so I respect that," said Holcomb.

 

GOVERNOR: CROUCH SEEKS HARVEST ROADWAY SAFETY - Crops across the state are looking bountiful and harvest is almost here. Farmers will soon be traveling in large slow-moving farm equipment on Indiana roads (Howey Politics Indiana). To increase roadway safety, we are encouraging motorists to exercise caution and patience when approaching large farm equipment over the next few months.“When traveling across rural Indiana this fall, we want to encourage motorists to prepare for extra travel time and slow down when approaching large farm equipment,” said Lt. Governor Crouch. “It is vital that all Hoosiers work together for a safe 2020 harvest season.”

 

GOVERNOR: RIGHT TO LIFE APPLAUDS ADOPTION INCREASES -  Indiana Right to Life applauds Thursday’s announcement that Indiana is the top state in the nation for the adoption of children from foster care (Howey Politics Indiana). In fiscal year 2019, 2,489 Hoosier children were adopted through the Indiana Department of Child Services. Thanks to Indiana’s record-breaking year, today the Trump Administration is awarding Indiana $4.7 million to continue enhancing Indiana’s child welfare system. “Today’s announcement underscores the commitment of both the Holcomb administration and the Trump administration to connect every child to a forever home through the loving act of adoption,” states Mike Fichter, President and CEO of Indiana Right to Life. “Governor Holcomb’s focus on expanding adoption is part of his ongoing pro-life commitment to making Indiana a better place for all children, born and unborn.”

 

ISDH: THURSDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health today announced that 850 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at the state laboratory, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and private laboratories. That brings to 108,646 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. A total of 3,253 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of six from the previous day. Another 225 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by the state and occurred over multiple days. To date, 1,269,650 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 1,261,892 on Wednesday. A total of 1,788,208 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.

 

SUPREME COURT: PERU DAM CASE TO BE HEARD - The Indiana Supreme Court is set to hear arguments to determine whether it will make a ruling on a case that puts residents in a housing addition near Peru on the hook to repair six deteriorating dams that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). The move comes after residents in the Hidden Hills housing addition petitioned the court to overturn a ruling by the Indiana Court of Appeals, which determined the homeowners are fully responsible for dam maintenance.

 

COVID: LILLY DETAILS PARTNERSHIP - Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. and Amgen Inc. in California are collaborating on the manufacturing of potential COVID-19 therapies. The companies say they will work to scale up production of antibody treatments for the disease upon receiving regulatory approval (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). Lilly says it is currently studying several antibodies that could be used for the prevention and/or treatment of COVID-19. "Based on our initial clinical studies, we believe that virus neutralizing antibodies, including LY-CoV-555, could play an important role in the fight against COVID-19," said Dr. Daniel Skovronsky, chief scientific officer for Lilly. "Increasing the manufacturing capacity for our neutralizing antibodies through this collaboration with Amgen is a crucial next step, and together we hope to be able to produce many millions of doses even next year."

 

INDOT: I-65 LANE CLOSURES SUNDAY IN BOONE COUNTY - The Indiana Department of Transportation announces I-65 will have two lanes closed in both directions south of State Road 267 on Sunday, September 20 beginning at 10 p.m. (Howey Politics Indiana). This is for the contractor to make repairs to the overhead dynamic message board located at the 131.9 mile marker. The lanes will reopen by 5 a.m. Monday, September 21.  For I-65 northbound the right and middle lanes will be closed and for southbound traffic the left and middle lanes will be closed. INDOT reminds motorists to follow the posted work zone speed limit, use caution and consider worker safety when traveling through a construction zone.

 

PURDUE: PROF RESIGNS COMMITTEE OVER BIG TEN FOOTBALL - Working with the University Senate’s Athletics Affairs committee since 2017, serving as a faculty sounding board for the well-being and competition schedules of Purdue’s student-athletes, history professor Stacy Holden said she had nothing but respect for the way athletic director Mike Bobinski and his staff worked so hard for those playing for the Boilermakers (Bangert, Lafayette Journal & Courier). That held true, Holden said, as the athletic department sorted through everything that went with Big Ten presidents and chancellors postponing football season in August. But how she learned Wednesday morning, from talking heads on ESPN, that Purdue President Mitch Daniels and other Big Ten leaders had reversed course and lined up an abbreviated season, starting Oct. 23, made her uncomfortable, she said. “By restarting the fall season, Purdue University has opened the door for approximately 600 Boilermakers to be excused from the social distancing protocols of the Purdue Pledge,” Holden said.

 

EDUCATION: FOOD PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY GUIDELINES ANNOUNCED - The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) announced today the 2020-2021 income eligibility guidelines for the Child and Adult Care Food Program (Howey Politics Indiana). Each year, based on federal poverty levels, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) updates income eligibility guidelines for meals served at day care facilities and adult day care centers (Howey Politics Indiana). Administered by IDOE, the mission of CACFP is to improve the diets of young children and older and impaired adults, and to increase the opportunity for people within these age groups to eat a variety of nutritious foods. The meals and snacks served meet nutritional standards set by the USDA. The income guidelines began July 1, 2020 and will remain in effect until June 30, 2021.

 

ECONOMY: IMA POLL SHOWS MANUFACTURERS OPTIMISM GROWING - The Indiana Manufacturers Association recently completed its August 2020 COVID-19 Indiana Manufacturing Survey in its continual effort to gauge the needs of the Indiana manufacturing community (Howey Politics Indiana). The August survey showed that most manufacturers are still optimistic about their future operations. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being most optimistic, 23% gauged their optimism at 10 compared to 14% in July. Fourteen percent (14%) ranked optimism at 9 as compared to 20% in last month's survey; and 27% ranked their optimism at 8 compared to 26% last month.

 

STEEL: PRODUCTION RISES, BUT STILL DOWN 20% - Great Lakes steel production jumped by 27,000 tons last week but remains depressed by more than a fifth so far this year, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute (Pete, NWI Times). Steel mills in the Great Lakes region, clustered mainly in Northwest Indiana, made 530,000 tons of metal in the week that ended Aug. 29, up from 503,000 tons the previous week, a 5.36% increase. Steel production, however, remains down by 20.1% for the year, while steel capacity utilization has fallen more than 11 percentage points year over year, largely as a result of the coronavirus pandemic that greatly gutted demand for steel.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP WON'T SPEAK AT U.N. - The United Nations General Assembly typically draws world leaders and philanthropists from all around the globe, packing New York City with their entourages. At the 75th edition of the annual event, however, there won't be a single one (Politico). White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows ended the “Will he? Won’t he?” intrigue surrounding President Donald Trump’s possible in-person appearance at the U.N., telling reporters aboard Air Force One Thursday night that the president will not go to New York next week to give his speech to the assembly.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE - President Trump receives his intel briefing at noon in the Oval Office. He will leave the White House at 3:45 p.m. to travel to Bemidji, Minn. The president will arrive at the Bemidji Regional Airport at 5:55 p.m CDT and give a campaign speech at 6 p.m. The president will depart at 7:25 p.m. and return to Washington. He will arrive at the White House at 11:15 p.m.

 

FBI: WRAY SAYS ANTIFA AN IDEOLOGY, NOT AN ORGANIZATION - FBI Director Chris Wray told lawmakers Thursday that antifa is an ideology, not an organization, testimony that puts him at odds with President Donald Trump, who has said he would designate it a terror group (ABC News). Wray did not dispute that antifa activists were a serious concern, saying that antifa was a “real thing” and that the FBI had undertaken “any number of properly predicated investigations into what we would describe as violent extremism,” including into individuals who identify with antifa.” But, he said, “It’s not a group or an organization. It’s a movement or an ideology.”

 

JUSTICE: BARR REBUKES OWN DEPARTMENT - In scathing remarks criticizing his own staff, Attorney General William Barr said Wednesday that the Justice Department has recently acted "more like a trade association for federal prosecutors than the administrator of a fair system of justice" and equated some prosecutors to preschoolers and "headhunters" (NBC News). Too much deference is given to career prosecutors, rather than to politically appointed leaders who can be held accountable at the ballot box, he said in remarks that are likely to further strain relations between Barr and some of the Justice Department's career prosecutors.

 

MEDIA: SUNDAY TALK - “Fox News Sunday”: Bill Gates, Tom Frieden. Panel: Karl Rove, Catherine Lucey and Mo Elleithee. NBC “Meet the Press”: Bob Woodward. Panel: Peter Alexander, Lanhee Chen and María Teresa Kumar. ABC “This Week”: Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Panel: Chris Christie, Rahm Emanuel, Rachel Scott and Julie Pace. CBS “Face the Nation”: National security adviser Robert O’Brien, Adam Schechter, Scott Gottlieb, Jeh Johnson and new battleground tracker.

 

NEW YORK: NYC DELAYS IN-PERSON LEARNING -  New York City’s ambitious attempt to be among the first big cities to bring students back into classrooms closed by the coronavirus suffered another setback Thursday, as the mayor announced he was delaying the start of in-person instruction for most students due to a shortage of staff and supplies (AP). Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new timeline that will keep most elementary school students out of physical classrooms until at least Sept. 29. Middle and high school students will learn remotely through at least Oct. 1. “We are doing this to make sure all of the standards we set can be achieved,” de Blasio said.

 

Local

 

BLOOMINGTON: COUNCIL REJECTS TAX HIKE - The Bloomington City Council struck down a proposal Wednesday night to increase the local income tax by 0.25% (Burks, Indiana Public Media). The tax hike was part of Mayor John Hamilton’s “Recover Forward” plan to help fund issues such as climate change, economic stability and social justice during the coronavirus pandemic. “I am disappointed that a majority of our City Council did not affirm the need for government to step up in this time of multiple crises to take care of our residents, and protect and advance the community for subsequent generations with additional revenue,” Mayor John Hamilton said in a press release. "My administration as a whole and I personally remain committed to these vital causes. I am very concerned that without these funds we will face serious challenges to navigate troubled waters ahead.”

 

INDIANAPOLIS: COUNCIL PASSES CARES ACT ALLOCATIONS -  The Indianapolis City Council has passed $76 million in federal CARES Act COVID-19 Relief allocations (AP). It's the third and final application of the funding and extends existing programs formed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Joe Hogsett’s office said Wednesday. It also funds the creation of several new initiatives. The allocations were introduced Wednesday by Hogsett at a special meeting. The package includes $7.5 million for the city’s rental assistance program, bringing total funding to $30 million for the program.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: BREBEUF CANCELS 2 FOOTBALL GAMES - Brebeuf Jesuit suspended football activities on Thursday due to “multiple” players on the football team testing positive for COVID-19 and will not resume until Sept. 29 (IndyStar). Brebeuf is 2-2 and ranked No. 6 in Class 3A. The Braves were scheduled to host Culver Academy on Friday and Roncalli on Sept. 25. Both games are now canceled. According to a message to Brebeuf football parents from school senior vice president Jamie Elkins, the next football game scheduled is at home against Terre Haute South on Oct. 3.

 

LOWELL: HOBART FOOTBALL GAME CANCELLED DUE TO COVID - Lowell and Hobart will not square off on the gridiron Friday (NWI Times). Red Devils athletic director Patti McCormack announced in a press release Thursday that her school's Week 5 Northwest Crossroads Conference game has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. "Late (Thursday), Lowell High School was informed of a positive case within the varsity football team," McCormack stated in the release. "Contact tracing resulted in 15 members of the team being quarantined effective (Thursday). Additionally five members were already in quarantine. A decision was made that Lowell could not safely field a varsity team for this week's game versus Hobart."

 

INDIANAPOLIS: COUNCIL GOP SEEKS TO REPEAL MASK MANDATE - The Republican Caucus of the Indianapolis City-County Council plans to introduce a resolution calling for the repeal of the Marion County Public Health Department’s pandemic mask mandate, it announced Thursday (Quinn, IBJ). The proposed resolution calls for advising the health department to repeal its mask mandate and refrain from closing a business or private school based on their mask policy. It would advise businesses and retailers that they can make their own mask policy and allow individuals to determine whether to wear a mask. “The Marion County Health Department has been free to operate without any checks or balances for far too long,” Councilor Josh Bain, a Republican recently elected by caucus to represent District 20, said in written comments. “The fact that an unelected county official can shut down a business, private school or create a fine with the simple stroke of a pen without any oversight should be alarming to anyone who cherishes personal freedom and responsibility.”

 

CARMEL: BRAINARD ASKS FOR $2.5M LESS IN BUDGET - Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard plans to ask for nearly $2.5 million less in 2021 than in the 2020 budget as cities prepare for any potential future drops in revenue due to COVID-19 economic fallout (IndyStar). The majority of departments would have less to spend as the general fund decreases from a budgeted $112.6 million for 2020 to a proposed $110 million in 2021. Part of that is because there is one fewer pay period in 2021 than in 2020. But income and property tax revenues could also decrease in future years.

 

FORT WAYNE: MAYOR HENRY UNVEILS BUDGET - Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry unveiled his proposed budget for 2021 that keeps COVID-19 in mind and a budget line item that would include 100 new body cameras for FWPD officers (WPTA-TV). Henry's office said creating a budget during a global pandemic was no easy feat. For example, income taxes are projected to decrease significantly in 2022, and the city says there were revenue reductions in gasoline taxes and vehicle excise taxes. The administration also noted they want to reduce costs by delaying non-critical projects and reducing operating costs through no travel and holding open certain employment positions longer. Back in July, City Council passed an ordinance that will have all uniform police officers equipped with body cameras by 2023.

 

COLUMBUS: RACIAL UNITY RALLY AT CITY HALL - Invoking the words of sages through the ages, ranging from Biblical prophets such as Amos and Jeremiah to modern-day warriors of justice such as Maya Angelou and John Lewis, a series of speakers issued a clarion call Thursday for racial unity in Bartholomew County and the nation (Blair, Columbus Republic). The pleas came at a racial unity rally before a lunchtime crowd of about 75 people at the Columbus City Hall steps with a theme of Hope Empowers Choices. The event follows on the heel of a similar June 4 rally that drew an estimated 700 to 1,000 people of various ages and races just after the death of George Floyd.

 

LOWELL: NATION'S 42ND BABY BOX INSTALLED — About four years ago, Elysia Laub was playing on her family's 3-acre property just west of U.S. 41 and Ind. 2 when she found a newborn abandoned on the land (Reilly, NWI Times). Elysia was 9 at the time. The baby survived thanks to the quick reaction by the family and the Tri-Creek Ambulance Service. “It's not something I thought could ever happen,” said West Creek Township Trustee Heidi Laub, Elysia's mother. It was emotional at times for Heidi Laub on Wednesday as she described those events as the nation's 42nd Safe Haven Baby Box went into service at the Lowell Volunteer Fire Department. “I'll never forget holding that baby. I wrapped it up in my daughter's blanket,” Heidi Laub said.

 

ALLEN COUNTY: COUNCIL BEGRUDGINGLY PAYS SHERIFF'S LEGAL FEES — Allen County Council has agreed to use taxpayer dollars to settle a lawsuit against Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux related to the apparent battery of a teen boy (WANE-TV). Four weeks after a settlement was reached in the lawsuit against Gladieux filed by the family of a 15-year-old boy pushed at the Three Rivers Festival in 2019, the Allen County Council voted 5-2 to pay the family $55,000 to settle the case. Tom Harris and Robert Armstrong were not in favor of using county money for the settlement. The original tort claim filed by the parents of the 15-year-old asked for $300,000 in damages for medical costs, emotional distress, and other damages, according to court documents.

 

ALLEN COUNTY: COMMISSIONERS EYE CIB TO SAVE ELECTRIC WORKS - The Allen County Commissioners are exploring a workaround solution that could restart the Electric Works project (WANE-TV). In a letter to the Capital Improvement Board dated Sept. 10, the Commissioners suggest the Allen County Capital Improvement Board financially support the project. The project was derailed more than a month ago when the city’s Redevelopment Commission canceled an agreement pledging public funds to the project. “The best path forward is a new Economic Development Agreement (EDA) between the Capital Improvement Board (CIB) and RTM Ventures,” the Commissioners’ letter reads. “We ask that the CIB accept this request from us to expeditiously enter into an EDA with the developers, recommit the CIB funds, and move this project immediately to closing.”

 

CASS COUNTY: GROUP SEES BACK DOOR DEALS — The Cass County Citizens' Coalition group asked all 5,000 of its members to pack the house Friday morning. Their goal was to confront county leaders on a negotiation they say was done secretly (WLFI-TV). The group said county leaders formed a "WSP incentive Resolution Committee" after the county ordered the group to negotiate with WSP. The Coalition is claiming that before negotiations with WSP could end properly the county voted behind its back. On Wednesday morning through a unanimous vote the commission passed resolution 2020-12. The coalition is also claiming the committee was created secretly to make recommendations to the redevelopment commission. Attorney John Schwarz representing the citizens said the county didn't give the group a proper amount of time to negotiate with WSP.