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Sunday, April 11, 2021
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  • Atomic: Dem CD traction; Trump liefest; Marino withdraws
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Nashville, Ind.

    1. Democratic CD challengers raising cash: Here are your Tuesday power lunch talking points: Indiana Democratic congressional candidates are showing some traction on third quarter FEC reports. In the 3rd CD, Courtney Tritch raised $88,718 in one of the most Republican CDs in the nation. In the 9th CD, Liz Watson posted $200,229 with $169,000 cash on hand, and Daniel Canon posted $208,000 with $130,000 cash on hand. In the 8th CD, William Tanoos posted $80,036 with $57,000 cash on hand. The Republican incumbents are all flush, with Rep. Jim Banks reporting $321,813 raised and $268,000 cash; Rep. Larry Bucshon with $325,628 raised and $412,015 cash; and Rep. Trey Hollingsworth with a $574,762 haul and $249,428 cash. The incumbents will need to stay that waygiven President Trump’s unpopularity and a do-nothing Congress which is aggravating GOP donors and creating the atmospherics for a sizable if not historic mid-term wave.

  • Pence uses EPA stance to motivate his base


    INDIANAPOLIS – At a time when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent on the marriage case focused on  “this Court’s threat to American democracy,” U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz called on states to ignore the ruling, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told county clerks and magistrates they could opt out of issuing same sex marriage licenses, Gov. Mike Pence appeared to be joining forces of obstruction when he vowed “not to comply” with pending EPA Clean Power Plan rules last week. It became a moot point on Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Michigan et al. v. EPA, sidelining the rules, citing the potential costs to coal belt states such as Indiana. For Pence, “this is far from civil disobedience,” said spokeswoman Kara Brooks. “The governor said unless the federal EPA Clean Power Plan is demonstrably and significantly improved before being finalized Indiana will not comply, which means we won’t submit a state plan. This is much different from ignoring the law. No federal funding will be lost if we refuse to submit a state plan.”
    INDIANAPOLIS – Seated in Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma’s law offices overlooking Monument Circle, the first question posed during this interview was about the pending immigration bill facing Congress.
    “This is what’s on my mind,” Bosma interjected. “The contrast between Washington, D.C., and the state of Indiana. Let me wax philosophical.”
    Subsequently, the pundit recognized the Speaker from Indianapolis.
    Bosma then produced a prodigious stack of paper, which turned out to be the Indiana House agendas dating back to 2002 when he was minority leader. The stack was more than a half foot thick.
    “My frustration is with the way Washington handles issues because I had to talk recently, at one event, about the differences in Indiana 10 years ago and today,” Bosma said. “To do that, I keep copious electronic and paper files. I had a giant file in my desk drawer that said ‘prior agendas.’ And I pulled out our ‘New Direction’ agenda that our team put together in 2002. It said what we were going to do, it said why we needed to do it. And it told the story about what was really a dysfunctional state government, a dysfunctional economy, and dysfunctional fiscal house and it pledged to make a difference.”
    LaPORTE – C’mon Governor Pence, how ‘bout revenue-sharing for cash-strapped cities and counties?
    Please tell me that this governor has the ability to see that huge swaths of this state are mired in misery and mediocrity rather than deluding himself into thinking that all’s well in the Hoosier state.
    Last week’s press conference, where the governor and Auditor Tim Berry offered up self-congratulatory messages about the state’s surplus once again, seemed to miss the boat about what it took to reach those surpluses under former Gov. Mitch Daniels.
    KOKOMO – My mother told me time and time again as I was growing up, “There’s nothing you can do after 10 at night except get in trouble.”  I started fighting her on that point in my freshman year of high school all the way through college.  Part of the wisdom that comes with maturity is when you realize that your parents were right.  Mom was right!  There is nothing you can do after 10 at night except get in trouble. 
    Which begs the question: Where are the parents of the young people being gunned down in the street in the middle of the night?
    Of course, you could ask the same question phrased differently in a hundred different ways.  Where are the parents of the children who are failing in school?  Where are the parents of young girls and young boys who create new children before they are even teens?  Where are the parents of the children who begin abusing alcohol and drugs before puberty?  Where are the parents?
    CNHI News Bureau
    KOKOMO – If you have a child in an Indiana school, you may think the last thing we need is another standardized test, given the anxiety the state’s multiple assessment tests already create for students and the noisy political debate they generate in the Statehouse. But high school principal Jegga Rent thinks there may be some value to adding a new kind of assessment, one that measures a student’s grit.
    Rent heads the Monument Lighthouse College Prep Academy, a charter high school in Indianapolis that serves low-income students at high risk for failure. His big goal is to get those kids into college and out of poverty. Rent is an avid proponent of an arts-infused curriculum  –using music to help teach math, for example – which makes learning more fun and gratifying for students. But he also knows learning can be daunting and discouraging, especially for chronically low-performing students.
    This coming school year, in addition to taking their required academic assessment tests, the students at Monument will also be taking the Grit Scale test. It’s a 12-question test developed by Angela Lee Duckworth, a former math teacher and now charter school consultant who argues that educators and parents need to be as concerned about a student’s character development as their academic achievement.
    CNHI Statehouse Bureau
    INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana State Board of Education has voted to delay full implementation of a new law that requires high schools to provide remediation to students to who aren’t college-ready before they graduate.
    The law, House Enrolled Act 1005, would have required schools to start identifying 11th graders this coming school year who are at risk of failing their senior-year graduation exams or need remedial classes before beginning college work for credit. The law would have also required high schools to start providing extra help to those students in their senior year.
    But the board voted to narrow the scope of the law to a small group of students this coming school year to give the state Department of Education more time to come up with a plan to implement the law in full.
    CNHI Statehouse Bureau 
    INDIANAPOLIS – A new law targeting “pill mills” may change the way doctors throughout Indiana treat patients with chronic pain by putting new protocols in place for prescribing opiod-based drugs. 
    The state’s Medical Licensing Board is considering an emergency set of rules, triggered by the new law, that calls for drug testing of pain-medication patients and more screening and monitoring of patients by doctors to detect drug addiction and abuse.  
    If adopted, Indiana would be among the first in the nation to require doctors to follow certain protocols for prescribing and monitoring the opiod-based pain killers that experts say are both addictive and over-prescribed.
    SOUTH BEND – If Jackie Walorski runs with a free pass in 2014, she could run successfully for a long time, right on through the 2020 election.
    That’s why Democrats in the 2nd Congressional District want to find a strong challenger for Walorski, the Republican incumbent elected to a first term in Congress in a close race in 2012. There will of course be a challenger – some Democratic nominee – but formidable or sacrificial?
    District Democrats and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on the national level thought they had a strong challenger in Brendan Mullen, who lost to Walorski by just 1.4 percent of the vote last fall. But Mullen decided not to run.
    INDIANAPOLIS — Can baby boomers beat the clock and claim the presidency for their generation one last time? If history is any guide, probably not. Generational headwinds will soon face any boomer candidate in his — or, ahem, her — quest for the Oval Office.
    I’m talking, of course, about Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and presumed 2016 presidential favorite. She hasn’t declared her candidacy — yet. But here’s why Hillary might want to think long and hard before jumping in.
    Let me first be transparent here: I’m a Republican, and I’d like nothing more than to see Clinton go down in flames. And, as a recent front-page story in The New York Times noted, many in my party are already seeking to label the former first lady a “has-been” by virtue of her decades on the political stage.
    Their case is as follows: Clinton has been in the spotlight in one form or another since the late 1970s when her husband, Bill, first became attorney general in their home state of Arkansas at the age of 30. Ironically, as Times reporter Jonathan Martin pointed out, it was Bill’s youthfulness that propelled him to the Arkansas governorship and later the presidency. Now, it could be the inverse that puts the brakes on the Hillary freight train.
    INDIANAPOLIS — Several years ago, I asked the chancellor of Ivy Tech in Gary, “Why does your institution exist?”   The response was clear and definitive, “We are a second chance school where those who seek additional education experiences can turn after high school.”
    He did not say, “We are here to grant degrees and certificates.”
    Ivy Tech is Indiana’s legislative answer for the poor quality work done by our high schools. A significant portion of Ivy Tech’s resources are used for remediation in English and math. What was not learned in the primary or secondary grades is offered to young adults to enlarge their opportunities in life as well as in the job market.
    GARY – When it was first built in downtown Gary, it was a beacon of hope. It was to be the anchor for the future of downtown Gary. 
    Mayor Richard Gordon Hatcher in 1967 had just been elected one of the two first black mayors of a major U.S. city. Hatcher, who served five terms as mayor, just celebrated his 80th birthday.
    Those were difficult times for Gary. Before Hatcher was elected, the white flight had started. And some of the downtown businesses were closing.
  • Eric Bradner, Evansville Courier & Press: Underneath that humble, Harley-riding cloak that Mitch Daniels donned as Indiana’s two-term governor was a master manipulator who used all the leverage the state’s highest office afforded him to achieve his political goals. Relying on emails from Daniels’ time as governor, The Associated Press reported last week that the current Purdue University president learned in 2010 that liberal author Howard Zinn’s works were being used in college teacher preparation courses in the state and ordered an overhaul of teacher licensing programs at least in part because he’d discovered that. Much has already been made of those emails, but what was also disheartening and, many of Daniels’ long-time political foes said, was how he and Purdue’s board of trustees reacted.
  • OBAMACARE WILL BOOST WELLPOINT: Obamacare, long perceived as a huge threat to WellPoint Inc., is now being embraced inside the health insurer as a huge growth opportunity (Indianapolis Business Journal). WellPoint CEO Joe Swedish predicted Wednesday that the Indianapolis-based company’s operating revenue will soar nearly 27 percent over the next three years, to a whopping $90 billion, up from about $71 billion this year. “This potential for top-line growth far outpaces anything we have seen in recent years,” Swedish told Wall Street analysts during a conference call Wednesday morning after the company announced better-than-expected quarterly results.
    INDIANAPOLIS – There is no question about it, U.S. Sen. Dan Coats is an ardent proponent for the repeal of Obamacare.
    Indiana’s senior senator believes it is crimping the economy, costing jobs, and places undue burdens and taxes on employers and medical device makers. He also knows that many of his Democratic Senate colleagues are petrified of the political impact.
    On Wednesday, Coats joined 44 other GOP senators in asking President Obama to “permanently delay” the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. “While your action finally acknowledges some of the many burdens this law will place on job creators, we believe the rest of this law should be permanently delayed for everyone in order to avoid significant economic harm to American families,” they wrote. “We implore you to listen to the American people.” 
    The repeal is something U.S. Reps. Marlin Stutzman and Luke Messer see as a distinct possibility in the next year or so as Obamacare is implemented and public support in the polls plummets. This was fueled last week when the Obama administration made a Friday evening bad news dump on the U.S. Department of Treasury website that it was delaying implementation of the employer mandate until 2015, after the mid-term elections.
    So is Coats expecting a repeal?
    LaPORTE – There seem to be very few things that Republicans, Democrats, Independents and others can agree on, but across the country there is one resounding message from all political backgrounds: The political gridlock has to end. 
    Pundits, party leaders and everyone in between have offered differing suggestions on how to curb the gridlock, but most of these recommendations are ultimately based on supporting a particular ideology which only contributes to, rather than alleviates, the current problem. I would like to offer a radical solution to end political gridlock: Support candidates and elected officials who embrace the characteristics that generational scholars have held their noses about and assigned to the Millennial Generation.
    Joel Stein’s cover article of a May Time magazine issue detailed the downfalls of the Millennial Generation, characterizing us as “lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with our parents.”  He concludes the article by claiming “…they’ll save us all.”  As Stein indicates, there are numerous academic surveys to support the arguments made for assigning the characteristics to the Millennial Generation, but more convincing than any survey are the interactions that we have with those born from 1980 to 2000.
    ANGOLA, Ind. – These past few weeks, we’ve seen yet another example of sclerosis in Washington, this time with the farm bill. On a topic that begged for compromise, everyone dug in, and there was celebration in some quarters even as they were spitting the ashes out of their mouths.
    Next up comes the immigration package, with House Republicans overwhelmingly balking Wednesday at the Senate passed bill despite warnings from Speaker John Boehner about the political consequences.
    Later this year, we’ll get another debt limit faux crisis.
    It is a city of gangs who can’t shoot straight, of rhetoric akin to methane gas seeping out of a melting tundra. Gallup has congressional approval at 10 percent, yet another historic low.
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  • Holcomb vetoes emergency powers bill
    “I firmly believe a central part of this bill is unconstitutional. The legislation impermissibly attempts to give the General Assembly the ability to call itself into a special session, thereby usurping a power given exclusively to the governor. Avoidable legal challenges during a state of emergency will only serve to be disruptive to our state.” - Gov. Eric Holcomb, vetoing a bill that would have allowed the Indiana General Assembly to call itself into special session during a public emergency. The bill had passed by wide margins in the Republica super majority-controlled House and Senate earlier this week.  Legislators are expected to override Holcomb's veto with simple majorities in the House and Senate, before Indiana courts rule on the constitutionality of the bill.
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  • HPI Power 50: Crisis shapes 2021 list


    INDIANAPOLIS – After two decades of publishing Power 50 lists in the first week of January, this one comes in a true crisis atmosphere. As we watched in horror the U.S. Capitol being overrun by supporters of President Trump on Wednesday, the COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 8,000 Hoosiers and 350,000 Americans, shutting down our state and nation for nearly two months last spring. While vaccines are coming, there will be a distinct BC (Before COVID) and AC delineations as this epic story comes to a close. It gripped like a vise key figures, from Gov. Eric Holcomb to Vice President Pence. It delayed an election, closed schools and restaurants, reordered the way we do business and buy things, and will set in motion ramifications that we can’t truly understand (like the virus itself) at this point in time. There’s another crisis at hand. It’s our society’s civics deficit, fueled by apathy that transcends our schools and societal engagement, and allowed to fester by a news media in atrophy. That three members of the Indiana congressional delegation – U.S. Sen. Mike Braun and Reps. Jim Banks and Jackie Walorski – signed on to a protest this week, induced by losing President Donald Trump to “investigate” widespread vote fraud that doesn’t exist, is another indicator of the risks a polarized and undisciplined political spectrum brings to the fragile American democratic experience.

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