JUDGE ISSUES PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION ON SEA1: An Owen County judge issued a preliminary injunction Thursday in a lawsuit that seeks to strike down Indiana’s near-total abortion ban — halting the state’s new abortion law that officially took effect Sept. 15 (Smith, Capital Chronicle). Judge Kelsey Blake Hanlon, a Republican, said in her ruling that the ban “materially burdens the bodily autonomy of Indiana’s women and girls by significantly and arbitrarily limiting their access to care.” She added that the “public interest will be disserved” without the injunction. “The public will continue to be subject to the previous abortion regulation regime that was significantly influenced by the United States Supreme Court juris prudence that identified and expressly reaffirmed privacy right that included abortion for nearly 50 years,” Hanlon wrote in her motion, adding that a temporary pause on enforcement of the ban will last “long enough for the court to address the issue on the merits.” The court challenge up for debate was filed in Monroe County Circuit Court last month by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana on behalf of health care providers and a pregnancy resource center. Indiana Right to Life CEO Mike Fichter reacted, saying, “Today’s blockage of Indiana’s new law means over 161 unborn children will continue to lose their lives to abortion every week this injunction stays in effect. We are encouraged by the judge’s acknowledgement of the state’s legitimate interest in protecting unborn babies and are hopeful the blockage will be brief."

 

PLANNED PARENTHOOD REACTS TO SEA1 INJUNCTION: An Indiana circuit court granted a request from abortion providers and a pregnancy resource center to temporarily block abortion ban SEA1, immediately restoring abortion access in the state (Howey Politics Indiana). Joint statement from leaders from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Planned Parenthood Great Northwest, Hawai‘i, Alaska, Indiana, Kentucky, ACLU of Indiana, Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, All-Options, the Lawyering Project, and Women’s Med: “We knew this ban would cause irreparable harm to Hoosiers, and in just a single week, it has done just that. We are grateful that the court granted much needed relief for patients, clients, and providers but this fight is far from over. Indiana lawmakers have made it abundantly clear that this harm, this cruelty, is exactly the reality they had in mind when they passed S.B. 1. There are 1.5 million people of reproductive age in the state of Indiana, and every single one of them deserve the right to make their own decisions about their bodies, families, and futures.”

 

INDIANA RTL RESPONDS TO INJUNCTION: Indiana Right to Life CEO Mike Fichter issued this statement in response to the injunction against Indiana's new abortion law (Howey Politics Indiana): “Today’s blockage of Indiana’s new law means over 161 unborn children will continue to lose their lives to abortion every week this injunction stays in effect. We are encouraged by the judge’s acknowledgement of the state’s legitimate interest in protecting unborn babies and are hopeful the blockage will be brief."

 

INDIANA CLINICS REOPEN: After an Indiana judge on Thursday blocked the state’s abortion ban from being enforced, phones starting ringing across Indiana abortion clinics, which are preparing to resume the procedure a week after the ban had gone into effect (Rodgers, AP). “People are getting the word that abortion is now legal again, and people are ready to get their health care that they deserve and that they desire,” Dr. Katie McHugh, an abortion provider at Women’s Med in Indianapolis, told The Associated Press. Owen County Judge Kelsey Hanlon issued a preliminary injunction against the ban, putting the new law on hold as abortion clinic operators argue in a lawsuit that it violates the state constitution. Indiana’s seven abortion clinics were to lose their state licenses under the ban — which only permits abortions within its narrow exceptions to take place in hospitals or outpatient surgical centers.

 

MORE FEMALES REGISTER TO VOTE IN INDIANA: More female than male Hoosiers registered to vote or updated their voting information in Indiana following the leak of the Dobbs’ decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in May (Downard, Capital Chronicle). Data from the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office showed that of the 278,216 voters who registered or updated their voter information between January and the first half of September, 52% of those voters were women and 48% were men. Indiana’s population is nearly evenly split between those genders. In August, new female registrations surpassed males for the only time so far this year at 6,251 to 6,203 (Indiana Public Media). More females than males have been updating their registration. This year, more than 103,000 females updated their registration, compared to about 86,000 men. “Women are updating their voter registrations because they want to hold the Indiana Republican Party accountable for conducting the worst form of government overreach in recent memory. Only a woman and her doctor should make personal health care decisions – not politicians,” said Lauren Ganapini, the executive director for the Indiana Democratic Party. However, the Indiana Republican Party seemed to believe the new voters would vote for their candidates. “We reject the premise that women automatically vote with the Democrat Party — especially here in Indiana — where we have long been a party of strong female leaders and currently hold supermajorities in the general assembly, seven — soon to be eight — congressional seats, every statewide office, and 88% of all countywide elected offices,” said Luke Thomas, the spokesperson for the GOP said. “As we travel the state, we are seeing intensity and excitement everywhere we go. Hoosiers are fired up to send a strong message that Indiana values life…”  

 

U.S. SENDING MOSCOW WARNINGS ON USING NUKES: The United States for several months has been sending private communications to Moscow warning Russia’s leadership of the grave consequences that would follow the use of a nuclear weapon, according to U.S. officials, who said the messages underscore what President Biden and his aides have articulated publicly (Washington Post). The Biden administration generally has decided to keep warnings about the consequences of a nuclear strike deliberately vague, so the Kremlin worries about how Washington might respond, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive deliberations. The attempt by the White House to cultivate what’s known in the nuclear deterrence world as “strategic ambiguity” comes as Russia continues to escalate its rhetoric about possible nuclear weapons use amid a domestic mobilization aimed at stanching Russian military losses in eastern Ukraine. The State Department has been involved in the private communications with Moscow, but officials would not say who delivered the messages or the scope of their content. It was not clear whether the United States had sent any new private messages in the hours since Russian President Vladimir Putin issued his latest veiled nuclear threat during a speech announcing a partial mobilization early Wednesday, but a senior U.S. official said the communication has been happening consistently over recent months.

 

RUSS FURY MOUNTS IN WAKE OF MOBILIZATION: Russian families bade tearful farewells on Thursday to thousands of sons and husbands abruptly summoned for military duty as part of President Vladimir Putin’s new mobilization, while pro-war Russian nationalists raged over the release of Ukrainian commanders in a secretive prisoner exchange (Washington Post). As women hugged their husbands and young men boarded buses to leave for 15 days of training before potentially being deployed to Russia’s stumbling war effort in Ukraine, there were signs of mounting public anger. More than 1,300 people were arrested at anti-mobilization protests in cities and towns across Russia on Wednesday and Thursday, in the largest public protests since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed reports of booked-out flights and queues to leave Russia as “false.” “The information about a certain feverish situation in airports is very much exaggerated,” Peskov insisted during his daily conference call with reporters on Thursday.

 

WARRICK COUNTY BILLBOARDS STRESS FENTANYL DANGER: On Wednesday, fentanyl awareness billboards were set up along State Road 62 near Boonville. They were paid for by Hope for Warrick County, a group started by Jean Carter (WFIE-TV). Carter has been working hard to spread the word about addiction and fentanyl since she lost her grandson. “Someone dies every 11 minutes,” she said. “Most of the time it’s fentanyl poisoning.” In July, Carter hosted an event to spread awareness and raise funds. Just that evening, she raised enough to put up billboards. They finally went up on Wednesday. “The more the groups are active, the more we get out the more we talk, the more lives are saved,” she said.

 

MONSTER HURRICANE COULD HIT U.S. NEXT WEEK: A tropical rainstorm that has been skirting along the northern coast of South America could eventually shift from the Caribbean into the Gulf of Mexico, where it may undergo rapid strengthening into a major hurricane before threatening the United States, AccuWeather meteorologists warn. AccuWeather's tropical forecast team, which began cautioning about the looming threat earlier this week, is growing increasingly concerned about the potential for a damaging strike from a hurricane in what has so far been a largely uneventful hurricane season for the U.S.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Jean Carter's decision to seek funding for billboards warning about the deadly impacts of fentanyl is laudable and should be emulated across the state. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

McNAMARA, RYBAK DEBATE: On Thursday, the United Neighborhoods of Evansville hosted a candidates forum for local political candidates in contested races. Each candidate was given two minutes to speak, then addressed questions from the crowd (Williams, WFIE-TV). The first race represented was the race for the 76th District of Indiana’s House of Representatives. Incumbent Republican Wendy McNamara discussed her record in office, while her opponent Democrat Katherine Rybak discussed wanting to soften the blow against debtors and fight against recently passed legislation. “We have $50 million in ready grants that came to our community because of legislature I supported,” McNamara said. “We have road projects going left and right because of legislation that I support.” “I am the only candidate in this race that will defend the right to reproductive rights and the ability of doctors to take care of their patients and the right to women to have access to medical care,” Rybak said.

 

MORALES FIRST LATINO REPUBLICAN TO RUN STATEWIDE: The Republican nominee for secretary of state was born in Guatemala. Not knowing any English, he emigrated to the U.S. when he was in high school and graduated from Silver Creek High in Sellersburg before attending Indiana and Purdue universities. Now, Morales is likely the first Latino GOP candidate to run for a statewide office, and the first person of color on the ballot for Indiana’s highest election position (Gerber, CNHI). Just a decade ago, it would have been hard to imagine a Latino running as a Republican in Indiana, which has had only elected a handful of Hispanic legislators, all Democrats. Currently, state Reps. Mike Andrade and Earl Harris Jr. are the only Latino legislators in the House. Sen. Rodney Pol Jr. became the first Hispanic to serve in the Senate in 2021 after he was elected by the Democratic caucus. The three Latinos represent just 2% of Indiana lawmakers. Oscar Alvarez, secretary of Indiana’s chapter of the National Republican Hispanic Assembly, said Morales’ nomination marks a major shift in the Indiana GOP, and one that could lead more Latinos to engage in the political process. “This is the first time a Hispanic has been nominated for secretary of state, so this is big,” he said. “It’s huge. And we’re behind him all the way.” The move comes as the state’s Latino population has grown to more than 475,000, according to the 2020 U.S. Census. That’s up about 20% from 2010. The number of Hispanics comprising the state’s total population has grown in the past decade from 6% to 8.2%.

 

INDEMS RESPOND TO SEA1 INJUNCTION: The Indiana Democratic Party issued this statement in response to the SEA1 injunction order (Howey Politics Indiana): "The Monroe County Circuit Court's decision for a preliminary injunction on the abortion ban today underscores what we all know: every Hoosier has a fundamental right to privacy. Only a woman and her doctor should make personal health care decisions, not politicians, and it's reassuring to see the decision show Hoosiers that the Indiana Republican Party's effort to ban a legal and safe abortion has crossed the line. But the loser today continues to be taxpayers who at minimum have spent $240,000 to carry out the GOP's extremist agenda. Enough is enough: A vote for Democrats is a vote to repeal the dangerous abortion ban and we urge all Hoosiers to support pro-choice candidates up and down the ballot this November." - Lauren Ganapini, executive director for the Indiana Democratic Party.

 

BRAUN HASN'T MADE '24 DECISION: “Braun to Run for Governor,” by Indy Politics’ Abdul Hakim-Shabazz: “Senator Mike Braun plans to run for Governor next year. … Braun has been contacting Republican chairman across the state, informing them of his plans. Braun reportedly will announce sometime after the election.” Braun today, per Politico: “Where’d you hear that? I’ll make my mind up here down the road. … I’ll make a formal announcement somewhere probably late November, early December.”

 

PENCE RAISES $150K FOR YAKYM: Former VP Mike Pence held a fundraiser for congressional candidate Rudy Yakym, who will represent the Indiana GOP this fall in elections to replace the late Rep. Jackie Walorski  in the 2nd Congressional District (Politico Playbook). The fundraiser, held at the home of Greg Hubler, netted Yakym over $150,000.

 

SEN. TIM SCOTT TO KEYNOTE GOP FALL DINNER: U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina is coming to Indiana to headline our annual fall dinner on November 3, 2022 (Howey Politics Indiana). Here's what Chairman Kyle Hupfer had to say about the announcement: "A champion of the American Dream and an unbridled optimist, Sen. Tim Scott has spent his entire career working to create more opportunities for others to succeed. We're excited to welcome him to the great state of Indiana at such an exciting time and to hear his perspective on how we can overcome the challenges our nation currently faces and build a brighter future for all Americans."

 

HOUSE GOP TO ROLL OUT AGENDA TODAY: House Republicans will roll out a four-part "Commitment to America" today — to the delight of Democrats, who see plenty to campaign against (Axios). The four parts are: "An economy that's strong ... A nation that's safe ... A future that's free ... A government that's accountable." This is vaguer and smaller than the GOP's aggressive "Contract with America" of 1994. This plan aims to give Republicans a unified message for the final stretch to Nov. 8.

 

PENCE TO HEADLINE IOWA EVENT: Former VP Mike Pence will headline the Kaufmann Family Harvest Dinner in Wilton, Iowa, next week (Fox News).

 

ROKITA TO SPEAK AT IU'S BUCKLEY SOCIETY TODAY: Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is coming to the Whittenberger Auditorium at IU Memorial Union Friday (Indiana Public Media). Rokita polarized many IU faculty, students and staff in July when he threatened to investigate an IU School of Medicine physician who provided an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim. A protest and teach-in is already scheduled by the College Democrats at Indiana University. Rokita was invited to speak by the ISI Buckley Society, which previously hosted controversial conservative pundit Anne Coulter. On its Eventbrite page, the ISI Buckley Society at IU says Rokita will “speak to the pernicious effects of the postmodern and neo-marxist tendencies now taking hold in public universities.”

 

Polls

 

MARQUETTE POLL SHOWS 67% BELIEVE TRUMP HAD DOCS: A new Marquette Law School national survey finds that 33% of adults say they do not believe Donald Trump had “top secret and other classified material” at his Mar-a-Lago estate this summer, while 67% believe he did have such documents. Sixty-one percent of Republicans say he did not have such secret documents, while 39% say he did. In contrast, large majorities of independents and Democrats think Trump had classified material at his Florida home. Among all adults, 34% have a favorable opinion of Trump, while 64% have an unfavorable view. This is essentially unchanged since before the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago on Aug. 8: In the July national Marquette Law School Poll, 34% had a favorable opinion of Trump, while 62% had an unfavorable view. Trump retains a heavily favorable rating among Republicans, while majorities of independents and Democrats view him unfavorably.

 

BIDEN LEADS TRUMP, DeSANTIS IN MARQUETTE POLL: In a hypothetical match between President Joe Biden and Trump in a 2024 election in the Marquette Law School Poll, Biden receives 40% and Trump 36%, while 19% say they would vote for someone else and 6% say they would not vote. Biden has held a slim margin in polls over the last year on this question, but the margin has tightened over time. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis fares similarly in a hypothetical 2024 election against Biden, with Biden receiving 40% and DeSantis  35%, with 16% preferring someone else and 9% saying they would not vote.

 

COLORADO: Democratic Sen. MICHAEL BENNET leads JOE O’DEA 46% to 36%, per Emerson/The Hill. And Democratic Gov. JARED POLIS has a 53% to 36% advantage over HEIDI GANAHL.

 

WASHINGTON: Democratic Sen. PATTY MURRAY is ahead of TIFFANY SMILEY 50% to 37%, per Crosscut/Elway. Murray and Bennet’s leads indicate that the Senate GOP’s “stretch” targets remain a stretch.

 

MICHIGAN: Democratic Gov. GRETCHEN WHITMER is extending her lead over TUDOR DIXON to a 55%-39% rout, per the Detroit Free Press/EPIC-MRA.

 

ALASKA: Forget ranked-choice: Democratic Rep. MARY PELTOLA is hitting 50% in the first round of voting, per Dittman Research.

 

UTAH: Republican Sen. MIKE LEE leads independent EVAN McMULLIN, 36% to 34%, in a new Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll. “Another 16% don’t know who they would vote for, while 13% would mark the ballot, which includes two third-party candidates, for someone else.”

 

NEVADA: Republican ADAM LAXALT leads Cortez Masto, 47% to 43%, according to the Republican Trafalgar Group. But the Dem-aligned Data for Progress has the race a little closer, with Laxalt up, 47% to 46%. In the gubernatorial race, Republican JOE LOMBARDO is ahead of Dem Gov. STEVE SISOLAK, 48% to 45%, per Trafalgar, while Data for Progress has them tied at 45%.

 

GEORGIA: Democratic Sen. RAPHAEL WARNOCK and Republican HERSCHEL WALKER are tied at 46%, per Data for Progress. And Republican Gov. BRIAN KEMP leads Democrat STACEY ABRAMS, 51% to 44%.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SCHEDULE - Gov. Holcomb Public Schedule for Sept. 23 & 24 Friday, Sept. 23: Gov. Holcomb will honor Bill and Gloria Gaither during naming ceremony, Gov. Holcomb will join local officials and the community to celebrate Bill and Gloria Gaither and their endless contributions to the City of Alexandria and the State of Indiana, 10:30 a.m. EDT, Gaither Complex, 1705 S. Park Ave., Alexandria. Saturday, Sept. 24: Gov. Holcomb to attend Morgan County Bicentennial Opening Ceremony, 10 a.m. EDT, Saturday, Sept. 24, Old Town Waverly Park, 8425 Main St. Martinsville.

 

BMV: TO CLOSE NAPPANEE BRANCH - Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Joe B. Hoage announced his approval of the proposal to close the Nappanee branch on Thursday (WNDU-TV). The last day of operation for the Nappanee branch is Oct. 28. The BMV says it is committed to providing options for residents to complete transactions and is actively engaged with city officials to identify a location to install a BMV Connect kiosk in the city that would make it the first standalone kiosk located outside of a branch, government building, or grocery store. The service would provide Nappanee residents access to complete more than a dozen of the most common transactions. There are six branches are located within a 27-mile radius of Nappanee, including Elkhart, Goshen, Mishawaka, Plymouth, South Bend, and Warsaw. In addition to in-branch services, the locations in Elkhart, Goshen, Mishawaka, and South Bend also offer services through kiosks.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: ROKITA REACTS TO SEA1 INJUNCTION - Attorney General Todd Rokita today issued the following statement (Howey Politics Indiana): "We plan to appeal and continue to make the case for life in Indiana. Our office remains determined to fight for the lives of the unborn, and this law provides a reasonable way to begin doing that."

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: ROKITA REACTS TO HEAD START VAX INJUNCTION - Attorney General Todd Rokita took another punch at the Biden administration this week to fight an unlawful vaccine and mask mandate placed upon Hoosiers (Howey Politics Indiana). “No one should be forced to take the COVID-19 vaccine out of fear of losing their job, and our children should not be forced to wear a mask,” Attorney General Rokita said. A federal judge blocked the vaccine and mask mandate for the Head Start program in 24 states, including Indiana with a permanent injunction. The judge initially issued a temporary injunction in January, but today's ruling resulted in a more permanent victory for Hoosiers.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: ROKITA WINS ROBOCALL CASE - On the same day he notched a major court victory in one robocalling case, Attorney General Todd Rokita took new actions to bring such scammers to justice in another legal battle (Howey Politics Indiana). “We are going to stay on the attack against these robocallers who victimize Hoosiers and other Americans across the country,” Attorney General said. “Many of these scammers know how to hide in the technological shadows and avoid prosecution, but we will not waver in our commitment to search them out and hold them accountable.” The significant win came Sept. 9 when a U.S. district court denied a motion to dismiss Attorney General Rokita's lawsuit against VoIP Essential Inc. and several other defendants that allegedly assisted and facilitated robocalls to Hoosiers from India, the Philippines, and Singapore. That case began when Attorney General Rokita filed suit in October 2021 against Startel Communication LLC, an Indiana company, and several other defendants for allegedly assisting and facilitating the robocalls coming from overseas.

 

ISP: MAN BREAKS INTO TROOPER'S HOME - Indiana State Police (ISP) says a 25-year-old Angola man is facing several charges after he attempted to break into a state trooper’s home Wednesday evening (WPTA-TV). ISP says around 8 p.m., officers were called to the 4600 block of West Nevada Mills Road in Fremont on reports of a disturbance at a home there. A caller said an off-duty state trooper got into a fight with a person who allegedly tried to break into the trooper’s home. Police say they arrived and found off-duty Trooper George Youpel with a man who was restrained in handcuffs. They say the suspect, 25-year-old Joshua Ray Enos, broke out several bedroom windows in the home. A neighbor who saw the attempted break-in tried to speak with Enos, saying he became aggressive.

 

COURTS: APPELLATE RULES V. PULASKI COUNTY SOLAR FARM - Aplan to construct in Northwest Indiana one of the largest commercial solar energy systems in the world is likely to remain at least partially unrealized for the near future (Carden, NWI Times). On Wednesday, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the Aug. 24, 2021, Pulaski Superior Court ruling that halted the portion of the Mammoth Solar project that aims to deploy solar panels across 4,511 acres of Pulaski County farmland. In a 3-0 decision, the appellate court said Special Judge Kim Hall, who normally presides in neighboring Starke County, got it right when he concluded Mammoth Solar failed to submit a complete application for zoning approval, and the Pulaski County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) erred by nevertheless consenting to the Mammoth Solar deployment plan.

 

IU: HUBER LEAVING CHAMBER TO BECOME VP - Indy Chamber CEO and President Michael Huber will step down after nine years heading the local business organization to join Indiana University as vice president for university relations (Howey Politics Indiana). Huber, who previous served as then Mayor Greg Ballard's deputy mayor for economic development, will join IU on Oct. 17.

 

PURDUE: SETS ENROLLMENT RECORD - According to a release from Purdue University, they set an all-time student enrollment record in West Lafayette, with 50,884 students enrolled this fall (WISH-TV). The release says this tops last year’s record of 49,639. That number includes 17,964 Indiana students. A Purdue spokesperson said nearly every Indiana resident who completed an application received an enrollment offer somewhere in the Purdue system, and over 75% were offered a place in West Lafayette. The release says Purdue also hired 213 new faculty members for this school year. In spite of those record numbers, Purdue is also expecting some other changes. Purdue’s president, Mitch Daniels, is expected to retire at the end of 2022. News 8 spoke with Daniels Thursday morning about what’s driving these enrollment numbers, as well as his plans after stepping down from his role as president. “I’d like to think that it’s simply the fact that people have decided this is one of the best values in higher education, and that’s what we set out to do here. We like to know that that’s in our state of Indiana,” Daniels said.

 

PURDUE: UNIVERSITY LEADING MARS ROVER PROJECT - Did you know about the strong connection between Purdue University and the Mars Rover project? The rover has been tracked to the Jezero Crater on Mars to help research the possibility of ancient life on Mars (WLFI-TV). So far, scientists believe they found evidence of past habitable environments in the volcanic rocks of Jezero Crater. Briony Horgan is an associate professor of planetary science at Purdue. She says that the Perseverance Rover discovered lava rock on the crater floor, which showed signs that water had once flowed through them. This finding tells scientists that life could have existed in a variety of environments on Mars. "One of the things we are exciting by looking at Mars is to get a better understanding of life on Earth. One of the problems we have is to have a record of life on Earth," Horgan said.

 

ISU: CURTIS ADDRESSES PANDEMIC WAKE - In her fall address Wednesday, Indiana State University President Deborah Curtis pointed to new initiatives that show promising signs of the university responding to enrollment challenges (Loughlin, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). The freshmen class this fall is up 7%, and there has been a large increase of freshmen admitted into the Honors College. Also, academic advising efforts have lead to improved freshmen retention rates, which went from 60% in fall 2021 to 64% in fall 2022. Speaking at University Hall in the Bayh College of Education, Curtis focused on the “Be So Bold” theme, which is the title of the $100 million fundraising campaign announced last week. She reviewed the university’s accomplishments and its future, and she also provided context on the extent of the challenges ahead. “This is a period of rapid change for higher education that will require all of us to work together as we adapt to address the evolving landscape,” she told the audience.

 

BSU: ENDS MIDDLETOWN CONTRACT - Embattled MiddleTown Properties will have to find a new name for its BSU Rentals division if Ball State University gets its way (Penticuff, Muncie Star Press). In a statement to The Star Press, a university spokesman said: "BSU Rentals is a non-registered business name being used by MiddleTown Property Group, a company that is not affiliated with or endorsed by Ball State University. Ball State recently sent a cease and desist order to MiddleTown demanding that the company cease using the 'BSU' trademark and any other Ball State university trademarks in any manner whatsoever." The university also said it had dropped a "contractual relationship" with MiddleTown for property management services for properties off campus that were not associated with any complaints from tenants.

 

Congress

 

YOUNG ON ISLAND DIPLOMACY: The stakes of U.S. efforts to successfully reengage with Pacific Island countries have implications far beyond the South Pacific (Politico China Watcher). U.S. willingness and ability to reestablish itself as a credible alternative to China’s enticements in the region will affect perceptions of U.S. resolve worldwide. “If the U.S. is not present, then other countries in far flung regions around the world will conclude that the United States is retrenching and retreating at the very time that China is expanding aggressively,” said Sen. TODD YOUNG (R-Ind.). “So, if we don’t provide reassurance in the Pacific, then it could very well undermine our interests in other parts of the world.”

 

BRAUN SEEKS LOWER DRUG PRICES: U.S. Sens. Mike Braun and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced bipartisan legislation today to lower prescription drug costs by removing barriers that prevent some medications, including generic drugs, from entering the market. Generic medications generally cost less than name-brand drugs, and when generics enter the market, it increases competition and brings down overall prescription drug costs (Howey Politics Indiana). “For far too long, politicians and pharmaceutical companies have sparred over drug pricing, all the while patients and their families bear the costs of expensive inaction and endless bureaucratic red tape. We need to shake up this dysfunctional system, and more generic drug competition in the pharmaceutical industry would give patients the upper hand. This is why I am proud to co-introduce the Increasing Prescription Drug Competition Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that will open the door for more generic drugs to enter the market, ultimately driving consumer-friendly price competition. This bill will help patients in every state get drugs they need for less,” said Braun.

 

BUCSHON QUESTIONS ADDITIONAL COVID FUNDS: The total price tag for the American Rescue Plan was $1.9 trillion and the White House has been pressuring Congress to approve another $22.5 billion in additional COVID relief (Darling, WIBC). That push has top Republicans and even some Democrats telling the executive branch to pump the brakes, given the president’s assertion in a “60 Minutes” interview that “the pandemic is over.” President Biden has since walked back those comments somewhat. Indiana Congressman Larry Bucshon (R-IN-8th) is requesting more information from the White House on just why more COVID relief is needed. “I wish to know how the administration has spent the funds made available by the American Rescue Plan,” Bucshon said in a House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing. “And what data, and analysis, it is using to justify additional requests for COVID funding.”

 

REP. PENCE CONCERNED ABOUT FUEL TRANSITION: California has been diving headlong into efforts to eliminate the use of fossil fuels for energy. One of your lawmakers in Washington is urging Congress not to get too carried away with using California as an example of effective clean energy use (WIBC). “Recently (Energy) Secretary (Jennifer) Grandholm pointed to California as the poster child of a clean energy future,” said Rep. Greg Pence (R-IN-6th) in a House hearing. “But, I can tell you Hoosiers in my district in southern Indiana don’t want to hear about higher gas prices, regular blackouts, and fuel shortages as an energy future.” “California really is leaning in,” Granholm said earlier this month. “And, of course, the federal government has a goal of — that the president has announced — by 2030, that half of the vehicles in the U.S., the new ones sold, would be electric.”

 

MRVAN TESTIFIES ON STEEL: U.S. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan testified before the International Trade Commission (ITC) during their hearing on Oil Country Tubular Good steel products from Argentina, Mexico, Russia, and South Korea (Howey Politics Indiana). Last week, Congressman Mrvan testified before the ITC during their hearing on hot-rolled steel flat products from several countries.  This is the eighth time during the 117th Congress that Congressman Mrvan has provided testimony in support of the domestic steel and manufacturing industry during ITC proceedings. "For today’s case, as you are well aware, OCTG products are necessary to promote the strength of our nation’s energy infrastructure and national security, as they are primarily used in the energy sector to extract and transport oil and gas throughout the United States," Mrvan said. "Northwest Indiana is home to an incredible steel and manufacturing base, and the dedicated workforce and members of the United Steelworkers provide the material and hot-rolled steel that is used to make OCTG products." 

 

THE SENATE and HOUSE are out.

 

General Assembly

 

AGENCIES MUM AS PANEL SEEKS TO RESHAPE POWERS: Multiple industry groups testified Thursday before an interim Indiana legislative study committee laying the groundwork to curb state agencies’ rulemaking powers — but just one agency showed up (Capital Chronicle). “I can’t require them to come in,” said Administrative Rules Review Task Force Chair Rep. Steve Bartels, R-Eckerty. “I’ve asked several to come in,” he added. “… I don’t know why they didn’t. Maybe they were told not to, or they’re waiting to see what happens, I guess. I don’t know.” The 10-member committee plans to recommend that lawmakers in January write legislation upgrading a public records website and requiring agencies to post proposed policy changes there. In addition there could be a bill limiting so-called emergency rules.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN SCHEDULE - President Biden's schedule - 8 a.m.: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief. 12:25 p.m.: Biden will depart the White House en route to a DNC event at the National Education Association Headquarters, where he will deliver remarks at 1 p.m. 1:50 p.m.: Biden will return to the White House. 8 p.m.: The president and first lady Jill Biden will host and deliver remarks at a musical performance by Elton John. VP Harris: 12:50 p.m.: The VP will meet with NAACP young leaders. Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will brief at 2:30 p.m.

 

JUSTICE: DEARIE PRESSES TRUMP LAWYERS - The Mar-a-Lago special master on Thursday ordered Donald Trump’s lawyers to state in a court filing whether they believe FBI agents lied about documents seized from the former president’s Florida residence in a court-authorized search last month, or claimed to have taken items that were not actually in Trump’s possession (Washington Post). In a Thursday afternoon filing, U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie — the special master — told Trump’s legal team to state by Sept. 30 whether they believe any of the seized items were incorrectly described in the Justice Department’s 11-page inventory list, which said some of the documents were highly classified. Dearie also told them to say whether they are claiming that any items on the inventory list were not in fact taken from the premises.

 

LABOR: $45B IN COVID FUNDS STOLEN - An estimated $45.6 billion in pandemic unemployment benefits was likely stolen by fraudsters who used the Social Security numbers of dead people and prisoners to claim the aid, a government watchdog said Wednesday in a report (CBS News). The report, issued by the Labor Department's inspector general, said the loss total was revised upward from a June 2021 assessment that about $16 billion had been stolen by fraudulent claims. "Hundreds of billions in pandemic funds attracted fraudsters seeking to exploit the [unemployment insurance] program, resulting in historic levels of fraud and other improper payments," Labor Department Inspector General Larry Turner said in a statement.

 

DC: BLOOMINGTON MAN DEFACES WASHINGTON MONUMENT - A Bloomington resident has been charged with defacing a national monument (Indiana Public Media). Shaun Ray Deaton, 44, is also a Shelbyville native and 2010 IU graduate. He was arrested Tuesday night for allegedly pouring red paint on the Washington Monument in D.C. Officers said they found Deaton around 7:30 p.m. at the monument with a paintbrush in hand. Scrawled on the monument was “have you been f****d by this? Gov says tough s**t.” Police say Deaton also spilled paint to the left of his message. Deaton told reporters in D.C. that he suffers from chronic pain and homelessness, and that his vandalism wasn’t meant as a political statement. “If you're poor and a nobody, your only possible chance is rolling the dice and getting some attention toward yourself, good or bad," Deaton told NBC.

 

JUSTICE: OHIO MAN WHO TESTIFIED GETS PROBATION FOR JAN. 6 -  Stephen Ayres, an Ohio man who was part of the mob that entered the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, and later appeared before the House select committee probing the attack, was sentenced to probation by a federal judge Thursday and will avoid incarceration (CBS News). U.S. District Judge John Bates ordered Ayres to serve 24 months probation, complete 100 hours of community service and pay $500 in restitution, telling federal prosecutors and Ayres he believed the sentence is sufficient "to result in some deterrence and an appropriate degree of deterrence."

 

JUSTICE: NAZI SYMPATHIZER SENTENCED TO 4 YEARS - A Jan. 6 rioter who has dressed up as Adolf Hitler and held a security clearance was sentenced to four years in federal prison Thursday (NBC News). Timothy Hale-Cusanelli, 32, of New Jersey, who was an Army reservist when he stormed the U.S. Capitol in January 2021, was convicted in May after he failed to convince jurors that he didn’t know that Congress met at the Capitol, a claim he made on the stand to avoid a conviction for obstruction of Congress. “I know this sounds idiotic, but I’m from New Jersey,” Hale-Cusanelli told jurors when he said he didn't know Congress met at the Capitol. “I feel like an idiot, it sounds idiotic, and it is.”

 

MISSISSIPPI: FARVE WELFARE/VOLLEYBALL SCANDAL MUSHROOMS - As he became further enmeshed in a scheme that diverted federal welfare money to build a volleyball stadium that cost more than $5 million at the University of Southern Mississippi, the former football star Brett Favre texted a question to the head of a nonprofit doling out funds meant to go to welfare recipients in the nation’s poorest state (New York Times). “If you were to pay me,” he wrote in 2017 of a $1.1 million proposal for promotional efforts that would actually be funneled toward building the stadium, “is there any way the media could find out where it came from and how much?” Several years of text messages about the project came to light when they were filed in court last week and were first published by Mississippi Today, the small nonprofit news site that has consistently led reporting on the story. Far more than that payment has been exposed in a billowing scandal that has stretched considerably beyond Mr. Favre. A motley assortment of political appointees, former football stars, onetime professional wrestlers, business figures and various friends of the state’s former Republican governor all stand accused of pocketing or misusing money earmarked for needy families.

 

MEDIA: SUNDAY TALK - ABC “This Week”: Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). Panel: Chris Christie, Donna Brazile, Rachel Scott and Julie Pace. “Fox News Sunday”: Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), retired Gen. Jack Keane. Panel: Katie Pavlich, Howard Kurtz, Jeff Mason and Harold Ford Jr. NBC “Meet the Press”: Panel: Sara Fagen, Mike Memoli, Amna Nawaz and Jen Psaki. CNN “Inside Politics”: Panel: Jonathan Martin, Molly Ball, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Melanie Zanona. MSNBC “The Sunday Show”: Michael Cohen, Daniel Goldman, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Cheri Beasley, Reginald Hudlin, Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), José Andrés, Rob Reiner, Christina Bellatoni.

 

Local

 

TERRE HAUTE: VA CLINIC NOW OPERATIONAL - The Terre Haute VA Clinic opened in December of 2021. The new building can serve up to 10,000 veterans, and it has treated nearly 4,000 veterans since January (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). New services at the new building include audiology, optometry, radiology, home-based primary care, social work and a dietician and pharmacy. The VA also has expanded the physical therapy and blood draw services. Optometry and audiology, for glasses and hearing aids, have been popular services so far. Specialty clinics that come to Terre Haute from Indianapolis to provide care include prosthetics, cardiology, and the women’s clinic.

 

KOKOMO: JAILER SENTENCED FOR DRIVING INTO PEOPLE — A former Indiana jail officer accused of driving into a group of people in 2020 as they were protesting the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police has been sentenced to probation (AP). A Howard County judge sentenced Christa Redman, 34, on Wednesday to six months of supervised probation. The Kokomo woman originally faced a felony criminal recklessness count and other charges. She pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and reckless driving, the Kokomo Tribune reported.

 

MERRILLVILLE: PD CHIEF TO RETIRE — After nearly 30 years with the Merrillville Police Department, Chief Wiley Luther Cuttino is ready to retire (Reilly, NWI Times). He announced he will serve his last day with the department Jan. 2. He will remain on the town payroll through March 3 because of accrued time off. “It’s truly been an honor and a privilege to serve the residents of Merrillville for the past 28 years,” Cuttino said. “I’m extremely appreciative that the Merrillville Police Department gave me the opportunity to make my dreams of becoming a police officer come true.”