By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. Holcomb/Crouch obliterate money records

Welcome back, Indiana legislators. As the federal government remains partially shut down for a 13th day, our Hoosier lawmakers can show the nation how we govern here in Indiana. Gov. Eric Holcomb and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch are poised to obliterate gubernatorial fundraising records, with a combined $4.815 million cash on hand after a money surge in December. Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer told HPI  in early December that Eric Holcomb for Indiana would likely post $3.6 million and Crouch $750,000. Those numbers have ratcheted up to $4 million and $815,000. "When the full report comes out and you dig through who's giving, there are a lot of traditional funding sources like trade unions or individuals in there who have been Democratic donors," Hupfer told HPI Wednesday afternoon. "If you don't have your traditional base with you, it becomes impossible." 
With Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., opting for reelection in 2019 and other potential contenders like John Gregg and Christina Hale lying low, Holcomb and Hupfer are attempting create an aura of invincibility. "To pull in another half million in the last 30 days is pretty unbelievable. There is just tremendous support for the governor. By breaking this record, and eclipsing even our own projections, our supporters in every corner of the state are sending a strong message regarding their sustained support of Governor Holcomb.” In 2014, Mike Pence for Indiana reported $3.549 million, and in 2006, Mitch for Governor posted $2.594 million. “Good policy is good politics and Governor Holcomb is delivering on both accounts," Hupfer said. He also pointed to Holcomb's 65% approval in a recent Public Opinion Strategies Poll for the Indiana Realtors as evidence of the governor's historically strong standing. "That $4 million is going to set a signal to the state and country," Hupfer said. "Two years out at $4 million is a big message to anybody sitting around or being courted."
2. General Assembly gavels in at 1:30
The Indiana House and Senate gavel in at 1:30 this afternoon for the biennial budget session. Look for Gov. Holcomb’s priority to fund Department of Child Services and expand Medicaid to gobble up most of the available funds. He wants to maintain a healthy $1.8 billion reserve at 11% and make some short-term investments in education, with a longer strategy to increase teacher pay over future budgets. And he will push hate crimes legislation. We reported a Public Opinion Strategies Poll for Indiana Realtors showing 73% of Hoosiers want to see a hate crime law. A new POLITICO-Harvard poll gauging the public's priorities for Congress 2019 shows 75% want it to address hate crimes. "The top two issues were not top two issues in the election,” said Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, who helped design the poll with POLITICO. “So you've had a shift from what really drove voters to a somewhat different agenda.”
3. Trump torches Pence shutdown compromise

We reported that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was skeptical that Vice President Mike Pence was speaking for President Trump during December talks to reopen the government. With good reason. New York Times: “President Trump on Wednesday torched a compromise that his own vice president floated  with Democrats last month to stave off a government funding lapse, saying $2.5 billion in border security spending was insufficient as he renewed calls for $5 billion for his border wall amid a shutdown that has stretched into its 12th day. ‘No, not $2.5 billion, no – we’re asking for $5.6 billion,’ Trump said during a cabinet meeting, hours before he was scheduled to host Republican and Democratic congressional leaders for a border security briefing in the White House Situation Room.” 
4. Braun, Romney take oath today

Mike Braun and Mitt Romney become U.S. senators today along with eight others, with Vice President Pence swearing in the new Senate class at mid-day. Braun and Pence are mostly on the same page. But Romney’s Washington Post op-ed where he says President Trump hasn’t “risen to the mantle” of the presidency will make for awkward optics.  RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, Romney’s niece, blasted the Utah Republican. "POTUS is attacked and obstructed by the MSM media and Democrats 24/7," McDaniel wrote on Twitter. "For an incoming Republican freshman senator to attack @realdonaldtrump as their first act feeds into what the Democrats and media want and is disappointing and unproductive." In the House, Nancy Pelosi becomes the first speaker to return to that office since Sam Rayburn did it in 1955. There are 100 new House members.
5. Indiana abortion case on SCOTUS calendar
The U.S. Supreme Court has placed the Dignity for the Unborn law on its conference calendar for Friday. The justices will consider the petitions for hearing oral arguments in the case, Kristina Box, Commissioner, Indiana Department of Health et al v. Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky, Inc., et al. The Dignity for the Unborn law, signed in 2016 by then-Gov. Mike Pence, bars discriminatory abortions because of the child's sex, race, national origin or a potential disability like Down syndrome. "The abortion industry wants you to believe Roe v. Wade is settled, but the Dignity for the Unborn law has the potential to shake the foundations of legalized abortion," said Mike Fichter, President and CEO of Indiana Right to Life.
Thanks for reading, folks. It’s The Atomic!