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Thursday, November 14, 2019 11:58 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS  — South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has joined former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at the top of the leaderboard in the third Monmouth University Poll of the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses. Buttigieg’s gains since the summer have been across the board, with increasing support coming from nearly every demographic group.  Regardless, less than one-third of likely caucusgoers say that they are firmly set on their choice of candidate and most would not be too disappointed if they had to switch their support.  
  • HPI Analysis: Congress shrinks from Jan. 6 commission as questions remain
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – In the past year, the United States has been hit by two viruses: The COVID-19 pandemic, and a political insurrection that reintroduced violence into the broad American body politic. Capitol Hill Republicans are calling for the Biden Administration to probe the origins of COVID-19 and speculation that it was man-made and escaped a Wuhan, China, laboratory. But they slammed the door shut on a Sept. 11-style bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection that resulted in the deaths of five people, the injuries of 140 Capitol and DC Metro cops, the subsequent suicides of two others, and the need for a $1.8 billion hardening of its security. More than 550 insurrectionists are being investigated by the FBI or have been charged with sedition-related crimes. The backdrop to the Jan. 6 commission is that former president Donald Trump continues to push the notion that the 2020 election was “stolen.” He is agitating for more swing state vote “audits” like the controversial one underway in Arizona despite the fact that recounts in a number of cases and courts with Trump-appointed judges had found there was no evidence of widespread fraud.
  • Horse Race: Rokita aggressively setting up 2024 INGov race
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – There is only one Republican officially looking at the 2024 Indiana gubernatorial race (former IEDC president Eric Doden). There are two from Holcomb World (Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer) on most short lists. There’s a doughnut mayor touring the plains of Northern Indiana (Fishers’s Scott Fadness). There are members of Congress (Sen. Mike Braun and Rep. Trey Hollingsworth) who can buy the seat. There’s U.S. Rep. Jim Banks who appears to be on a congressional leadership track. There’s a Statehouse power player (Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray). And then there’s Attorney General Todd Rokita, who was off and running just minutes after taking his oath of office in front of Gov. Eric Holcomb and Lt. Gov. Crouch. Rokita has been hyper active on the Lincoln dinner circuit. He is picking a fight with the Biden administration over the concept of “critical race theory.” And he’s been locking legal horns with the governor over the right to Statehouse counsel on two pandemic-related laws Holcomb had vetoed.
  • HPI Analysis: Young's landmark Endless Frontier Act passes Senate 68-32
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – In and around Indiana, brand new Ford and Chevrolet pickup trucks and Subaru crossovers have been filling up parking lots in Fort Wayne, Hegewisch, Louisville and Lafayette. A portable semiconductor chip is inserted, the truck is driven off the assembly line to a parking lot, where it joins thousands of others. The chip is then pulled out and used to restation the next truck. The U.S. accounts for a mere 12% of microchip production, with the other 88% manufactured in China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Rich LeTourneau, union bargaining chairman for Local 2209, told WANE-TV that the trucks are built but they cannot be sold just yet. “We’ve probably got 12,000 to 13,000 trucks waiting on those semiconductors. The trucks are built, they’re done, they’re ready to roll, but we can’t ship them until we get the semiconductor installed. It’s that simple.” It is within this pandemic-era curveball that U.S. Sen. Todd Young watched the Endless Frontier Act, which he has co-sponsored with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, pass the Senate Tuesday by a vote of 68-32.
  • Atomic! Pence speaks of Jan. 6, Trump; 17 Capitol cops still out; INDems tout rescue; Long calls for Rokita recusal
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Pence & Trump

    Mike Pence
     was in New Hampshire Thursday night and talked about Jan. 6, the day President Trump goaded his horde of MAGA supporters to "hang Mike Pence" during an insurrection. The former veep said: “As I said that day, Jan. 6 was a dark day in history of the United States Capitol. But thanks to the swift action of the Capitol Police and federal law enforcement, violence was quelled. The Capitol was secured. And that same day, we reconvened the Congress and did our duty under the Constitution and the laws of the United States. You know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office. And I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye to eye on that day, but I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years.” Swift action? It took more than four hours for the Capitol to be secured. Pence then said: "I will not allow Democrats or their allies in the media to use one tragic day to discredit the aspirations of millions of Americans. Or allow Democrats or their allies in the media to distract our attention from a new administration intent on dividing our country to advance their radical agenda. My fellow Republicans, for our country, for our future, for our children and our grandchildren, we must move forward, united." He then turned his attention to President Biden, citing "a COVID bill to fund massive expansion of the welfare state" and the "so-called infrastructure bill" that was really a "thinly disguised climate change bill." Pence added: "I just say enough is enough. We're going to stand strong for freedom." HPI Takeaways: This is the second early presidential primary state Pence has spoken. He is clearly laying the groundwork for a 2024 run. Pence said that he and Trump have spoken a number of times since Jan. 6. He is running a distant second to Trump in a number of polls. "We did our duty" is his mild retort to Trump, who had pressured Pence to scuttle the 2020 election before turning the MAGA mob on his veep. Pence is attempting to thread the GOP needle. Despite the Jan. 6 insurrection, the Republican Party remains enthralled with . . . Donald Trump at this point. Pence may not have the party juice to "not allow" anything.

  • Sen. Grooms to retire; endorses Boehnlein

    Howey Politics Indiana

    JEFFERSONVILLE - State Sen. Ron Grooms announced he will not run for reelection in 2022 and has endorsed Kevin Boehnlein for the Republican nomination. “During my tenure in the state Senate I have worked on a variety of legislation of which I am proud," Grooms said. "In particular legislation creating the Clark Regional Airport Authority, cracking down on so-called ‘pill mills’ that were distributing large quantities of opioids, and was a key supporter of the construction of the Lewis and Clark and Lincoln Bridges and the rebuilding of the Kennedy Bridge.” He is endorsing Greenville Republican Kevin Boehnlein to succeed him. Boehnlein, a financial advisor for Edward Jones and long-time Republican party activist, recently announced his candidacy for the District 46 seat. “I endorse him without reservation. He has my full support,” Grooms said, who has held the seat since 2010. He is a former Jeffersonville City councilman.

  • Atomic! Biden on Tulsa 'massacre'; Jan. 6 stain; McRobbie modifies IU vax policy; Trump world nuttiness
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Biden frames the Tulsa 'massacre': The subtlety of the Tulsa story is that until about two years ago, it had evaded the history books, despite the deaths of 300 Americans, the destruction of 1,200 homes, and the only aerial bombing of an American city in history. I never heard about it, and I majored in history at Indiana University. So did a number of national pundits. Joe Biden became the first American president to go to Tulsa and he said, “For much too long, the history of what took place here was told in silence. While darkness can hide much, it erases nothing. My fellow Americans, this was not a riot. This was a massacre.” One of the most poignant stories emerging came from one of the survivors. Her mother had washed doll clothes and hung them up on a backyard clothes line. The memory of what had been a child: The mob descended on this backyard, and she watched them burn the doll clothes. President Biden: “We do ourselves no favors by pretending none of this ever happened. We should know the good, the bad, everything. That’s what great nations do: They come to terms with their dark sides.”
  • Atomic! INDems hitting the road; Gov won't issue exec order on IU vax; Biden in Tulsa; Michael Flynn's coup
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. INDems hitting the road

    Late last month Indiana Democratic Chairman Mike Schmuhl promised that Democrats would take their messaging - particularly when it comes to President Biden's American Rescue Plan - on the road to the 85 Hoosier red counties. The party announced this morning that former senator Joe Donnelly, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta will kick off this advocacy at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Allen County Courthouse. “The Indiana Democratic Party is delivering for Indiana and for Hoosiers in every one of the state’s 92 counties, regardless of voting history or current political persuasion. We’re showing up and getting to work on behalf of every family and community because solutions matter so much more than tired partisan games,” said Chairman Mike Schmuhl. “President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan is helping Indiana and its families rebuild from COVID-19, and Democrats are ready to push back against Republican misinformation and detail why the right partnerships between our federal and state governments can deliver major successes for Indiana’s future. This is what the American Rescue Plan is doing for the Hoosier State.”
  • Atomic! Indiana senators' historic shrivel on Jan. 6 commission; Braun fails to vote
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Fancy Gap, Va.

    1. No courage

    In the wake of the deaths of two Hoosier Senate lions - U.S. Sens. Richard Lugar and Birch Bayh - Howey Politics Indiana  published in May 2019 "Hoosiers in their profiles in courage." These ranged from Lugar teaming up with Sam Nunn to confront loose Soviet nukes and microbes, to Deputy Attorney General Bill Ruckelshaus's role in the Saturday night massacre, to U.S. Rep. Frank McCloskey saving tens of thousands of lives during Bosnian genocide. There was Wil Remy's prosecution of KKK Grand Dragon D.C. Stephenson, and U.S. Rep. John Hostettler's vote against the 2003 Iraq War. On Friday, Indiana's two U.S. Sens. Mike Braun and Todd Young shriveled in history. Young voted to block the creation of an independent bipartisan congressional commission to investigate the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection. It failed by a 54-35 vote, six votes short of the 60-vote threshold, with his office stating: “Two Senate committees are conducting a joint bipartisan investigation of the events of January 6 with a final report coming in a matter of weeks. Sen. Young believes we should let the existing process reach a conclusion.”  Sen. Braun failed to vote on the matter. He said in a statement, "Those who breached the Capitol and committed horrific acts of violence on January 6 must be prosecuted, and all steps must be taken to prevent future security breaches and protect the men and women who protect the Capitol. To those ends, America’s most respected investigation entity – the FBI – is leading a world-class probe resulting in over 450 arrests so far and bringing a great deal of information about those who broke the law that day to light, and my Appropriations Subcommittee is digging deep into what the Capitol Police need to do their jobs safely and the Architect of the Capitol needs to prevent future attacks. I do not support the creation of a partisan commission that seeks to exploit this tragedy for political gain.”
  • Atomic! Vaccine traction; Senators oppose 1/6 commission; Blogger Trump's nosedive; Banks' inflation memo; Dixon on 500 pole
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Onancock, Va.

    1. The vaccine is working: Is the COVID-19 vaccine working? NBC’s Meet The Press Daily  reports that back in January, the United States was seeing, on average, about 200,000 new daily COVID cases and 3,000 Covid-related deaths per day. By April, those numbers had dropped to about 70,000 new cases and some 700 fatalities per day. Now as we approach Memorial Day, tt’s down to an average of approximately 30,000 cases and 500 deaths a day – the lowest numbers here since last summer. It’s pretty clear proof that the vaccine is working. But the pandemic political divide continues. The New York Times reports that colleges and universities mandating the vaccine for fall semester are following partisan lines, with about 8% of schools in red states opting for the mandate. Indiana University and Notre Dame are requiring students and staff to vaccinate here in the Hoosier State, but Purdue, Ball State, Ivy Tech and Vincennes are not. Indiana State and the University of Southern Indiana haven’t decided, with the Times reporting that USI President Ronald S. Rochon is on the fence with only 38% in the Evansville area vaccinated. “I have not ruled it out, and I have not ruled it in,” Rochon said,

  • HPI Analysis: Schmuhl's INDem retool

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Last year, Mike Schmuhl managed a $100 million presidential bid and helped Pete Buttigieg win the Iowa caucus. Two months ago, he took the helm of the woebegone Indiana Democratic Party. Which will be the bigger challenge? That question won’t be answered until November 2022, or perhaps two years beyond that, but Chairman Schmuhl has been building a new foundation. Last week, he announced a new red state program with the Democratic National Committee bringing a four-year fundraising agreement that includes direct investments and grants for states that meet the following criteria: No Democratic senator or governor, less than 25% of the congressional delegation are Democrats, and a super majority of Republicans in their state legislature.  Earlier this week, Schmuhl added five deputy chairs: Bloomington Clerk Nicole Bolden, liaison for cities and towns; 2016 lieutenant governor nominee Christina Hale, candidate recruitment; Sen. Eddie Melton, equity and engagement; Kent Yeager, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, rural communities; and former Indianapolis associate corporation counsel Destiny Wells, coalitions and expansion.

  • HPI Interview: GOP Chairman Hupfer on Holcomb's 'triple slam dunk' session
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer began his fifth year at the helm with Statehouse Republicans embroiled in constitutional battles, his governor hitting a policy trifecta with an historic budget, a delayed reapportionment process that won’t yield new maps until Thanksgiving, and questions on whether President Biden’s 2020 election was legitimate. The potential 2024 gubernatorial candidate, however, insisted he is “laser focused” on 2022 and the reelection of U.S. Sen. Todd Young as well as retaking congressional majorities. Hupfer described Gov. Eric Holcomb as having achieved a “triple slam dunk” in the General Assembly. “The long-term take-away for the state, and I think this will shine a light over the next three years on the governor as well, is how fiscally sound we were going into the pandemic, how well it was managed during the pandemic to maintain our economy, and how much foresight the governor had on key issues that he was already working on in advance of the pandemic,” Hupfer said.

  • Atomic! Gov responds to Rokita; INDems gear up; McCarthy nixes 1/6 commission; Pence buys IN house
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Holcomb responds to Rokita: Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer told Howey Politics Indiana that Gov. Eric Holcomb and Attorney General Todd Rokita have had a dialogue over the past several months, despite the fact that the two Statehouse Republicans have locked horns in a legal battle. Rokita contested the governor's right to have independent counsel to contest the constitutionality of HEA1123, which Holcomb vetoed and the General Assembly overrode. “They talk,” Hupfer explained, “I don’t think it came as a surprise. There had been dialogue before. I think it’s a very complex issue." Rokita contested the governor’s legal action with a late 5 p.m. Friday bad news dump-style press release on April 23. “Under Indiana law, only the attorney general may determine and advocate the legal position of all of state government,” Rokita said. “And that exclusive authority exists for good reason – so that Indiana speaks in court with a single legal voice.” On Monday in a 31-page response to Rokita in a court filing, counsel for Gov. Holcomb said, "Contrary to the assertion of Attorney General Rokita, this is not a case of a governor suing the legislature ‘over laws he doesn’t like.' Notably, Attorney General Rokita does not seek to intervene in this lawsuit to represent the Governor or pursue his claims. Rather, he takes the remarkable position that he, as Attorney General, has the sole right and power to determine whether HEA 1123 is constitutional. If, in his judgment, he determines it is constitutional, then, in his view, he has the authority to block the Governor from obtaining legal representation and redress.”
  • Atomic! Mask liberation! Hupfer on redistricting timeline; Stefanik replaces Cheney; Buttigieg on cyber 'wake-up call'; Nunn seminar
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Mask liberation day: It was on April 17, 2020 that President Trump issued his controversial "liberate Michigan!" tweets when U.S. pandemic deaths had yet to hit 100,000, which didn't happen until late May. It was his way of trying to force Democratic governors to reopen their states from COVID restrictions. The real "liberation" date may be seen as Thursday, May 13, 2021, when the CDC advised that those who have been vaccinated don't have to wear facemasks as the documented death tolled reached 584,000. "I think it’s a great milestone, a great day," President Biden said. "It’s been made possible by the extraordinary success we’ve had in vaccinating so many Americans so quickly." Trump issued a statement this morning: "Without the vaccines, this world would have been in for another 1917 (sic) Spanish Flu, where up to 100 million people died. Because of the vaccines we pushed and developed in record time, nothing like that will be even close to happening. Just a mention please! The Biden Administration had zero to do with it. All they did was continue our plan of distribution, which was working well right from the beginning!"

  • HPI Analysis: How police reforms passed in the George Floyd era without dissent
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    DANVILLE, Ind. – “Unbelievable.” State Rep. Greg Steuerwald had to search for his words in describing House and Senate final floor votes on HEA1006, poised to be the most impactful law enforcement law since a Minneapolis cop spent nine minutes kneeing the life out of George Floyd. “I’m not sure what word to use,” Steuerwald said in his law office last week to describe HEA1006’s 96-0 passage in the House and 49-0 in the Senate on its way to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s signature. “I think it went through every committee, Senate Appropriations, on the floor in the Senate, House Criminal Code, Ways & Means and the floor without a single negative vote. “That’s unbelievable,” the Avon Republican repeated. “I also think it’s a testament to Indiana, to members of the General Assembly, to (State Rep.) Robin Shackleford and the Black Legislative Caucus. While Steuerwald hadn’t watched the entire nine-minute video of the George Floyd murder on Memorial Day 2020, he was well aware of the social impacts, which included civil disturbances in downtown Indianapolis and Fort Wayne. He began reaching out to law enforcement groups and Rep. Shackleford and State Sen. Eddie Melton last summer.
     
  • HPI Interview: Rep. Spartz won't say how she'll vote on Cheney; opaque on 2020 election legitimacy
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    CARMEL – U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz’s first week in Congress was unlike any other in American history. A few days after taking the oath of office, the Jan. 6 insurrection changed many things we had taken for granted, like the peaceful transfer of power and the sanctity of this citadel for democracy. Spartz found what she describes as a highly “dysfunctional” system in the House that she originally likened to “high school” before steadily downgrading it past “middle school” and, finally, pre-K. HPI conducted this interview with Rep. Spartz a day after meeting with State Rep. Greg Steuerwald to discuss how HEA1006, a sprawling police reform bill, passed the General Assembly without a dissenting vote. After hearing Spartz tell her initial thoughts about Congress, it is hard to fathom how anything as complicated as immigration reform or President Biden’s multi-trillion dollar infrastructure bill will ever get done.
  • Legislature overrides another Holcomb veto as Democrats defend governor
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – To the surprise of no one, the Indiana General Assembly Republican super majorities overrode Gov. Eric Holcomb’s veto of SEA5. The House voted 59-30 Monday afternoon while the Senate voted 36-10. State Sen. Chris Garten, the bill’s author said, “It is the local elected officials, who have been chosen by the people, from a particular community, who understand that community, have a seat at the table to determine policies that are so far reaching that they can have unforeseen consequences. Some of these include bankruptcies, which we have seen, and business closures ... and even suicides. “This bill is a check and balance,” Garten (pictured) concluded. “There must be a check and balance in place. There have been weaknesses revealed by this pandemic. SEA5 addresses those head-on.”
     
  • Atomic: Campaign sprouts; Pence's Trump dilemma; Vax proponents include Indycar drivers, mayors; Needles & water
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Carmel

    1. Campaign sprouts

    This is the quadrennial non-election year in Indiana, but this past week has been full of campaign futures. Freshman U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz kicked off this week by announcing she would be seeking a second term in the still undrawn new 5th CD. Then came the first gubernatorial explorer from former Greater Fort Wayne CEO Eric Doden, who also served on Gov. Mike Pence’s IEDC. Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry says he is considering running for a record fifth term. Fort Wayne Councilman Tom Didier is expected to launch his Republican mayoral bid today. And Sen. Todd Young, who will be seeking a second term in 2022, has been making the rounds of Hoosier police and sheriff departments, perhaps an attempt to inoculate himself from the U.S. Capitol insurrection that left 130 cops injured while resulting in three deaths (Officer Brian Sicknick due to a stroke, two others to suicide). Doden may be the first in a crowded 2024 GOP gubernatorial field that will almost certainly include Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch (who was in Kokomo lauded the state’s new official snack, popcorn), Attorney General Todd Rokita, GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer, and former state senator Jim Merritt. Others who may enter the race are “self funders” that include U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, and U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth who has self-term limited himself.  As for Mayor Henry, he appeared to have ruled out a fifth term, but told WPTA-TV, "The City of Fort Wayne has achieved several major successes in recent months. As your Mayor, and with the bipartisan support of many, we are poised to continue that unprecedented momentum. I am well aware that no person has served five terms as Mayor of the City of Fort Wayne. While it would be an honor to serve a fifth term as Mayor, no decisions have been made and all options remain open as to my political future." 
  • Atomic! Cheney, Trump on 'Big Lie'; Banks, Walorski speculation; Facebook ban decision; Spartz announces reelect
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Parsing the 'big lie': Let’s talk about the “big lie.” U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney tweeted on Monday, “The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.” Such candor has brought Cheney to the brink of losing her No. 3 job in the GOP House conference, with Politico  and Axios  speculating that U.S. Reps. Jim Banks and Jackie Walorski are possible replacements. Former president Donald Trump said in a statement, "The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!" Trump had been warning his supporters throughout 2020 that the election was going to be "rigged" and riddled with fraud. In the Sept. 20, 2020 edition of Howey Politics Indiana, we asked Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson if she had confidence in the state and national election process. Lawson said there was "no evidence" of any widespread voting fraud, here or anywhere. She added, “My colleagues and I across the nation know just how important it is for Americans to have faith in the electoral process. We know there may be some uncertainty on Election Night as we wait for results. We will work together to reassure America that the delay is the result of a change in process and the outcome will reflect the will of American voters.” And former Indiana senator and director of national intelligence Dan Coats wrote in a New York Times  op-ed, “The most urgent task American leaders face is to ensure that the election’s results are accepted as legitimate. Electoral legitimacy is the essential linchpin of our entire political culture.” Just after Trump's impeachment acquittal, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, "There's no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day" ... Jan. 6. Since the 2020 election and the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection, neither Lawson or Coats have uttered a word that suggests the results were tainted. Much of the Republican Party (beyond Liz Cheney) is now doing just the opposite, fanning the flames that President Biden's election was illegitimate, and endangering the cornerstone of the American experiment, which is the peaceful and orderly transfer of power. On Friday, Banks told Axios of Cheney, "This idea that you just disregard President Trump is not where we are, and, frankly, he has a lot to offer still.”
  • HPI Analysis: National, Indiana Republicans grapple with siege, race
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – After Memorial Day last year, a nation watched a Minneapolis cop squeeze the life out of George Floyd with a knee on the neck in a video that lasted more than nine minutes. The initial police report prior to the video surfacing described Floyd’s death as a “medical event.” On Jan. 6, Americans witnessed for more than five hours an unprecedented siege of the U.S. Capitol that killed five people and injured 130 police officers, while supporters of President Trump called for the execution of Vice President Mike Pence. But seeing is no longer believing with a significant part of the Republican rank and file. A CBS/YouGov Poll last weekend revealed that just 46% of Republicans view the conviction of former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin as the right verdict, contrasting with 90% of Democrats and 75% of independents who thought it was the right call.

  • Atomic! Gov signs wetlands, abortion 'reversal' bills; Pence returns; Hammond MAGA showdown Saturday
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

    1. Gov signs wetlands bill: When Eric Holcomb was deputy chief of staff to Gov. Mitch Daniels, he took part in what was "Healthy Rivers Initiative," launched in 2010. It expanded the protection of 70,000 acres of Hoosier wetlands. On Thursday with one signature on SEA389, Gov. Holcomb wiped out protections for up to 600,000 of the state's 800,000 acres of wetlands. “I felt compelled to carefully and deliberately weigh the bill’s intent to protect property rights against its new limitations on land protections,” Holcomb said in a statement Thursday. “Under this new regulatory scheme, I believe Hoosier farmers and landowners will continue to be careful stewards of the land.” The bill passed by wide margins in the House and Senate, and a veto could have been overridden by a simple majority. AP: Retroactive as of Jan. 1, it eliminates a 2003 law that requires the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to issue permits for construction and development in state-regulated wetlands and end enforcement proceedings against landowners accused of violating current law. Holcomb’s signature followed his own reservations earlier in the Legislative session, when he said that the wetlands repeal was a cause for “concern.” He further allowed staff at the DNR and IDEM to oppose the bill in hearings in January, where state regulatory officials argued that the wetlands must be protected because they purify water, provide habitat for wildlife and reduce flood risks. 

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  • Mayor McDermott eyes challenge to Sen. Young
    "To me, when we are attacked, our nation's capital is attacked — it was — and the Republican Party is refusing to even open an investigation into it, it's a disgrace. It's about loyalty to our country, and I think that's missing right now in America. I'm troubled by where we are in America. I think that people like Todd Young should have been pulling people together and trying to work across the aisle, and I don't really see that. And Sen. Young knows better. He knows what the right thing to do about the Jan. 6 insurrection is. He knows what the right thing to do is, he knows what the political thing to do is, and he chose political. And it's not a patriotic vote." - Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr., on his "Left of Center" podcast saying he is considering a challenge to U.S. Sen. Todd Young in 2022 McDermott is a five-term mayor and also a former Lake County Democratic chairman. He lost a 1st CD primary race to U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan in 2020.
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