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Wednesday, February 21, 2018
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Thursday, October 15, 2015 9:20 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY
    
INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Mike Pence kicked off the infrastructure debate with a $1 billion proposal to repair state highways, interstates and bridges. Local government officials want the governor and General Assembly to take it several steps further, and provide what the Indiana Association of Cities & Towns calls a “sustainable” funding source. IACT President Matthew Greller told Howey Politics Indiana on Wednesday that the Pence plan is a good start. “The big thing is it’s good the administration is addressing infrastructure in a very serious way with a very serious proposal and a lot of money. But it includes no money for city and town streets and county roads. I’m disappointed because the vast majority of road miles in Indiana are maintained by local governments.”
  • Horse Race: Contrasts emerge in first GOP Senate debate
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - The three Republican U.S. Senate candidates departed from well worn scripts and engaged in real contrasts during their first debate of what will likely be a $100 million race by the time a nominee engages Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly. The trio had spikes out with U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita taking aim at businessman Mike Braun, who he has called “tax hike Mike.” He chided U.S. Rep. Luke Messer for voting for a budget bill that will supercharge the federal budget deficit to an estimated $1.5 trillion. “It’s the choice our commander-in-chief gave us,” Messer said of President Trump. “He could be no clearer.” Then pivoted back to Rokita, who portrayed himself as the lone Trump supporter from the beginning of his campaign. “You can’t run around and say you support the president and then not support him,” Messer said. 
  • Atomic! Students flunk civics; gun reform; Potholopolis Council
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Indiana’s students flunking civics: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: Across the nation, we’ve watched students jump into the post-school atrocity fray. They have known an America where mass shootings at schools, shopping malls and at concerts have become the norm. Many have had enough. The Wall Street Journal  Reports: “A nationwide walkout by teachers and students is planned for March 14, marches for March 24, and a day of protests on April 20, the anniversary of the deadly 1999 Columbine High School shootings in Colorado. Smaller events are popping up as well. Students at Douglas High School plan to visit politicians in Tallahassee, Florida’s capital, on Tuesday and Wednesday to urge them to tighten gun laws.” But not in Indiana. Hoosier students are making news from Evansville, to Muncie, to Bloomington, to Boonville, making alarming videos with ominous warnings  about shooting schools up.
  • Atomic! Florida students lash back; Hoosier panic; Trump tweets
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Terrorized students become activists: Here are your Monday morning talking points: We have become a jittery nation  with three of the worst massacres in U.S. history (Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Parkland) occurring since October. There’s something different  about the Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS atrocity that claimed 14 young lives and three teachers: The students are entering the political debate, taunting adults and U.S. leaders  on why school massacres continue to happen. This did not happen after Columbine, Sandy Hook or even Virginia Tech. In those massacres, parents and gun reform activists took the lead. After Vegas, some country music stars like Roseanne Cash  began pushing back at the NRA, but not young folks.

  • Atomic! Panic in Carmel HS; Trump and safety vows; Joe sold out
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. School panic comes to Carmel: Here are your final power lunch talking for the week: On Thursday morning, President Trump told a dazed nation in the wake of the Parkland massacre, the 18th time there has been a shooting at or near a school, with five resulting in death or injury: "Yesterday, a school filled with innocent children and caring teachers became the scene of terrible violence, hatred and evil. To every parent, teacher and child who is hurting so badly, we are here for you, whatever you need, whatever we can do to ease your pain.” Many found solace in the president’s remarks. He would go on to mention the need to confront mental health issues that will take tens of billions of dollars. But Trump never mentioned the word “guns.” And now we’re watching the school shooter contagion spread to Carmel, Ind
  • HPI Analysis: Long sets off a rare campaign for Senate succession
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – The timing of Senate President Pro Tempore David Long’s retirement announcement, coming in the middle of this session, was the big surprise on Tuesday. But those of us who read Statehouse tea leaves, the notion that Long would follow his wife, Melissa, into the sunset was a change of the guard realization that began to take shape with Long’s sine die speech last April. For just the third time since 1980, this sets up a succession dynamic that will be fascinating. Here are several key points to consider: 1. Long is taking a systemic approach to reshaping the Senate with the reality that after November, he, Luke Kenley and Brandt Hershman will no longer be there. Long has installed Sen. Ryan Mishler in Kenley’s appropriations chair, and Sen. Travis Holdman in Hershman’s tax and fiscal policy chair. Unlike former House minority leader Scott Pelath, who wouldn’t even vote on a successor, Long is likely to play a decisive role here. As one hallway veteran observed, “I think David will play a large and positive role in choosing his successor. That’s a good thing in my view. He is clear-eyed and knows fully what is required of anyone in that role. And ... he loves the Senate and wants a strong person to lead it.” 

  • Horse Race: Eyes on 4th, 9th CD primary races
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    NASHVILLE, Ind. – Indiana was once a vivid battleground for control of the U.S. House during wave years, with three seats shifting to Republicans in 1994 and three going to the Democrats in 2006. In 2010, while Republican Todd Young upset U.S. Rep. Baron Hill in the 90th CD, U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly barely staved off State Rep. Jackie Walorski in the 2nd by just 2,500 votes in that Tea Party election. If you believe the Cook Partisan Index, the closest congressional districts today are the Democratic 1st (+8) and the Republican 5th (+9). So Indiana’s traditional congressional competitiveness is a victim of shrewd Republican computer skills employed during the 2001 redistricting process. Yes, those maps nested and respected county and municipal boundaries. But with a self-sorting population, they were a Republican safety net. Since those maps took place, there hasn’t been an upset, or anything close to it. A wave induced by President Trump, whose tweeting, insults and constant badgering of friend and foe alike have prompted dozens of Hoosier women to enter General Assembly and congressional races, appears to be emerging.
  • Horse Race: 23 General Assembly incumbents face primary challenges
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    NASHVILLE, Ind. – As restive Hoosiers pass the first hurdle of the mid-terms, the filing for the May 8 primary last Friday, we find that 23 General Assembly incumbents are facing primary opponents. Five Indiana Senate incumbents (three Republican, two Dems) and 18 in the Indiana House (including 12 Republicans) are facing primary challenges. In 2016, five Senate incumbents had primary opponents along with a dozen House incumbents. Five of the current class of challengers are females challenging male incumbents.  In 2014, two Senate incumbents faced challengers, when Eric Bassler defeated Sen. John Waterman, and eight faced challengers in the House, with Christopher Judy defeating Rep. Kathy Heuer. These primaries take shape with the emergence of the “pink wave.” With a couple of gender neutral names in the mix, we count 42 women seeking Indiana House seats, 13 in the Indiana Senate, and a dozen for Congress.
  • Atomic! Who replaces Long? Coats warns of Russian meddling
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Who replaces President Pro Tem Long? Senate Republicans will have some nine months to sort out who replaces Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long, who announced he will retire in November. If you follow the current Majority Caucus pecking orderSen. Susan Glick is assistant president pro tempore, Sen. Jim Merrittis majority caucus chair, Sen. Chip Perfect the assistant caucus chair, Sen. Rod Bray is the newly installed majority floor leader, Sen. Randy Headis the assistant majority floor leader, Sen. Mark Messmer is the majority whip, and Sen. Erin Houchin is the assistant majority whip. With Sens. Ryan Mishler and Travis Holdman taking over the financial portfolio left behind by departed chairs Luke Kenley and Brandt Hershman, the assumption is they will stay on the fiscal track, meaning that the Long successor will likely come from the current caucus leadership

  • Atomic! Trump Indiana approval 43%; 23 legislators are primaried
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Trump approval at 43% in Indiana: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: Todd Rokita and Luke Messer will tell you that President Trump is as popular today in their districts as he was when he carried Indiana by 19% in 20167. That assessment is based on Republican primary voters they are trying to woo in their U.S. Senate showdown. But yet another poll, this one released today by Morning Consult, puts Trump’s Indiana approval at 43%, with 53% disapproving. That’s a -4% net drop in approval. And it is similar to other recent polls by Public Opinion Strategies and Rokita internals.

  • Atomic! Jeffers v. Speedy; Trump infrastructure; Rokita v. budget
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. The filing surprise: Jeffers v. Rep. Speedy: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: As we said before last Friday’s primary filing deadline, there is always a surprise  and this year’s version is Democrat Tim Jeffers filing to challenge Republican State Rep. Mike Speedy. Jeffers is a CSO Architect colleague of Commerce Sec. Jim Schellinger and was the Democratic nominee for secretary of state in 1994, famously calling for the abolishment of that office. Jeffers told HPI, “I figured it’s time to promote the need for independent redistricting process  in a tough Marion County district. I’m very concerned about our American system for obvious reasons. I think I can contribute to the public policy dialogue in the House District 90.” We’ve also been monitoring the “pink wave.” With a couple of gender neutral names in the mix, we count 42 women seeking Indiana House seats, 13 in the Indiana Senate, and a dozen for Congress. 
  • HPI Analysis: The fake news era will challenge all realities
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – In the summer of 2000, some weisenheimer sent me an official-looking email that said Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore and wife Tipper were to be feted in some type of kiss-a-thon fundraising event. So I excerpted the release in the HPI Daily Wire. The following day, I received a call from someone on the Democratic National Committee. I had been punked. The “story” was something lifted from The Onion. “How could you be so gullible?” the Dem flak asked. I responded, “Well, there was that long smooch between the vice president and Tipper at the Democratic National Convention. So this didn’t seem to be such a stretch.” “I see your point,” the flak conceded. Since we began publishing the HPI Daily Wire in 2000, and the Howey Political Report since 1994, it’s been rare that something from The Onion or some other cute or unsavory source has made it into our publications. I had been taught in journalism schools at Vincennes and IU to maintain a highly functioning BS-O-Meter. We’ve mostly kept out the fake news along with the gossip, rumor and innuendo.

  • Atomic! Filing deadline; pink wave grows; only 3 for INSen
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Filing deadline at noon today and the pink wave: Here are your final power lunch talking points for the week: With the filings of Speaker Brian Bosma, Rep. Robert Behning and Sens. Rick Niemeyer and James Merrittall General Assembly incumbents who haven't announced retirement or have sought other jobs or nominationsappear to have filed. Ditto for the Indiana congressional delegation. The filing deadline passed at noon today. There were no new filings for the General Assembly. Only three Republicans, Reps. Luke Messer and Todd Rokita and Mike Braun are listed on the U.S. Senate ballot, meaning Andrew Horning, Mark Hurt and Andrew Takami lacked signatures to qualify.

  • HPI Analysis: How SEA80 is crimping local meth production
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – The dreary reality for the transformation of the Crossroads of America to “Indiana: The Methamphetamine State!” reached its low point in February 2014 when a Washington Post headline stated: “Congrats Missouri, you’re no longer the nation’s meth-bust capital.” That dubious distinction belonged to Indiana where 1,808 clandestine meth labs had been busted. For every one discovered, another three or four existed in the shadows. Even more appalling were the 458 Hoosier kids found living in these toxic cesspools. It begged questions internally: How is it OK that Indiana continually leads the nation in clandestine meth labs? Why are hundreds of municipal and state employees being injured at meth labs as firefighters, cops and code enforcers? Why is it OK that in 2013, 458 Hoosier kids were found in contaminated meth labs?
  • Horse Race: Colt's death pivots Senate race to immigration
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – The immigration debate promises to rage through Indiana’s crucial U.S. Senate race. The death of Indianapolis Colt linebacker Edwin Jackson to a drunken illegal alien on Sunday was immediately politicized by Republican candidates Todd Rokita and Luke Messer, with President Trump and Vice President Pence also citing the tragedy to make points on immigration. And U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly faces a harrowing month leading into President Trump’s March 5 deadline for Dreamers to get an elusive deal. Donnelly voted to keep the federal government open last month, citing a promise by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to have the issue debated. But a deal proposed by Sen. John McCain and Chris Coons was quickly shot down by President Trump, who then vowed to perpetrate a government shutdown this week unless his immigration demands were met.
  • Horse Race: Trump, GOP see poll bounce, but then came Missouri
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – In the wake of President Trump’s State of the Union address and as the tax reforms begin to sink in and show up on paychecks this month, Republicans began heaving a sigh of relief. The polls were getting better. Monmouth put Trump’s approval at 44% approve, 48% disapprove; Reuters/Ipsos had it at 41/53%, Rasmussen had it 48/51% and Economist/YouGov had it 45/53%. Monmouth put the Congressional generic ballot at 47-45% in favor of Democrats, Reuters had Democrats leading 37-31% and Economist/YouGov put it at 43-37% for Democrats. All of these were significant improvements for Republicans from recent polling. “I just looked at some numbers, you’ve even done better than you thought,” President Trump told Republican lawmakers last week at a retreat in West Virginia. NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), added, “The numbers are pretty good and that’s one example of how things are getting better.”   Then came Tuesday, when a Missouri House seat where President Trump had won by 28% in 2016 flipped to Democrat Mike Revis, who won 52-48% over Republican David Linton.
  • Atomic! Session mid-point; Colt death politicized; Trump testify
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Half way point at the General Assembly: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: The General Assembly is at its session mid-point. It comes as a mid-term exodus is underway with some 20 members opting for retirement (or other jobs), creating an array of primaries in May. Widespread cold beer, hate crimes, township mergers and a raised smoking age are pretty much dead. Sunday alcohol sales, response to the heroin epidemic, baby steps on redistricting reform, workforce development consolidation and more rural school funding are alive and viableSpeaker Brian Bosma and Senate President David Long will have more to say when they meet the press later today. House MinorityLeader Terry Goodin said this morning, “What we are seeing here is a massive misuse of conducting short sessions … at least this short session. We are doing nothing except marking time until March 15. Ugh.” 

  • Atomic! Meth lab decline; McDaniels era coming; Page in a memo
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. The crimping of the meth lab era in Indiana: Here are your Monday power lunch talking points: In 2014, Howey Politics Indiana  and our top-notch reporter, Matt Butler, posed these questions internally: How is it OK that Indiana continually leads the nation  in clandestine meth labs? Why are hundreds of municipal and state employees being injured at meth labs as firefighters, cops and code enforcers? Why is it OK that in 2013, 458 Hoosier kids were found in contaminated meth labs? Why is it OK that cities and towns are having to mitigate hundreds of contaminated homes, cars and hotel rooms? Why, why, why? And are there solutions to be found in other states? It was our mission via HPI  and my column that runs in about 35 newspapers and WTHR-TV to shame lawmakers into doing something about it. In March 2016, then-Gov. Mike Pence signed SEA80, which restricts the sale of pseudoephedrine after heroic legislating by State Rep. Ben SmaltzSen. Randy Head and Speaker Brian BosmaLast week the Indiana State Police released statistics showing that meth lab incidents had fallen 74%  since 2015. There were 371 meth lab busts in 2017, down from 943 in 2016, 1,452 in 2015 and 1,808 in 2013. More importantly, the number of kids found in these toxic cesspools declined 83% between 2015 (291 kids) and 2017 (49 kids).
  • HPI Analysis: Trump's optics would have made the fellas proud
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS -– Hoosier Democrats can brood and stew all they want about the demise of the hate crimes bill in the General Assembly or the shelving of an independent redistricting commission. But the 2018 mid-term election is going to be about one main thing: President Donald J. Trump. There may be some other topical issues that will surface, but this will be a referendum election. On the face of it, the conventional wisdom is that Democrats have been dealt a pretty good hand, further evidenced by U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy becoming the ninth House chair to announce he won’t seek reelection. So much so that there is talk about a blue wave, or a pink wave. Predicting a wave had been a fairly reliable thing in the past. Howey Politics began publishing with the 1994 Republican wave. Since then, we’ve forecast correctly several others: Democrats in 2006 when they picked up three congressional seats here, and the Republican/Tea Party wave of 2010 that provided their super majority foundation.

  • Holcomb, Sec. Azar announce 3-year HIP2.0 extension

    Howey Politics Indiana

    INDIANAPOLIS - Health and Human Services Sec. Alex Azar announced with Gov. Eric Holcomb a federal waiver for the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 which will require some enrollees to pay small premiums. It comes at the Kaiser Family Health organization reported that 25,000 Hoosiers have left the program for either lack of payment or new jobs. “A decade after it launched, Indiana’s HIP program has become the national model for a state-led, consumer-driven healthcare program that meets citizens’ needs, provides choices and improves lives," Holcomb said Friday. "This approval continues coverage for hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers and unlocks funding to expand resources to help people struggling with addiction.”

  • Atomic! Azar & HIP2.0; INSen cash parity; Statehouse exodus
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Azar comes home as 25k kicked off HIP2.0: Here are your final, pre-Super Bowl power lunch talking points: Gov. Eric Holcomb hosts HHS Secretary Alex Azar for a round table discussion at Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis at 2:30 today, along with FSSA Sec. Jennifer Walthall. There is speculation that Azar will announce approval of Medicaid work requirements. Holcomb has also been talking a lot about a pending Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 waiver. They’ll talk as Axios  and Kaiser Health News reports this morning that Indiana kicked about 25,000 people out of its HIP 2.0  – the Medicaid expansion program approved under then-Gov. Mike Pence – for not paying their premiums. About half of those people got new health coverage in other ways, usually through a job. The HIP 2.0 program which requires enrollees to pay at least a little bit  was developed by current CMS Director Seema Verma, who Azar now oversees. But Axios  notes “the Indiana news could jump-start a debate  over whether low-income people can afford to pay for their coverage at all.”

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  • Rep. Walorski pays tribute to the late Rev. Billy Graham
    “Dean and I join millions of people around the world today celebrating the life of Reverend Billy Graham. I’ll never forget having the opportunity to sit at a Billy Graham Crusade with my family decades ago at Notre Dame. Thank God for an Evangelist who was never ashamed to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” - U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, on the death of Rev. Billy Graham. The North Carolina farmer’s son who preached to millions in stadium events he called "crusades" and became a pastor to presidents and the nation’s best-known Christian evangelist for more than 60 years, died on Wednesday at his home in Montreat, N.C. He was 99.
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  • The best and worst presidents
    It’s President’s Day, and the one big difference this year is that there’s a Honda ad featuring two of the three Hoosier presidents, William Henry Harrison and Abraham Lincoln. Of course, Lincoln is considered one of the greatest presidents and Harrison, who lasted only a month in office before dying, one of the worst, though he didn’t really have much of a change.

    My top 10 presidents: 1. Lincoln (he saved the union and solved its most glaring defect), 2. George Washington (set the standards), 3. Franklin Roosevelt (got us through the Great Depression, World War II), 4. Thomas Jefferson (propelled our manifest destiny), 5. Theodore Roosevelt (set the foundations for a super power, created national parks), 5. Dwight Eisenhower (kept us out of wars, created the Interstate system and NASA), 6. Ronald Reagan (set the stage for winning the Cold War), 7. Harry S Truman (ended World War II without an invasion of Japan), 8. George H.W. Bush (ushered in the post-Cold War era), 9. James K. Polk (achieved his agenda in one term), and 10. James Madison (steered us through War of 1812, then reorganized government and created the national bank).

    My 10 worst presidents: 1. James Buchanan (ineptly watched the Civil War gather), 2. Andrew Johnson (drunk, angry & impeached), 3. Warren G. Harding (scandalized), 4. U.S. Grant (scandalized), 5. Richard Nixon (paranoid, scandalized and would have been impeached), 6. Zachary Taylor (mediocre), 7. Millard Fillmore (more 19th Century mediocrity), 8. Bill Clinton (perverted & impeached), 9. George W. Bush (Iraq War disaster, economic collapse, first trillion dollar deficit), 10. William Howard Taft (cut off at the knees by Teddy). - Brian A. Howey, publisher 
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