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Wednesday, February 21, 2018
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Wednesday, February 21, 2018 11:21 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. On the brink of Sunday sales

Here are your power cocktail hour talking points: Some Hoosiers have been waiting eight decades for this. With an 82-10 vote in House, complete with an expedited date of March 4, Hoosiers will be able to buy beer, wine and liquor everywhere from big box stores to the corner package store every day. This bill isn’t just on a fast track, it’s in a beer bongGov. Eric Holcomb  is expected to sign SB1. State Sen. Ron Alting, who sponsored the bill, said this morning, “Thanks to the hard work and leadership of the legislators in the Senate and House committees on Public Policy, this bill has moved through the General Assembly at record speed. Changing the effective date of this bill from July 1 to upon passage will provide Hoosiers with this convenience immediately. I look forward to concurring on this bill and sending it to the governor’s desk.”

House Public Policy Chairman Ben Smaltz  said moving up the kick-in date from July 1 to March 4 is a no-brainer. "Normally we allow some time for communities to learn about the new law and for people to understand the change," Smaltz said. "But I think everybody gets this one. This isn't something that's very complicated at all." Jon Sinder  of the Indiana Retail Beverage Association said, “Indiana’s small business package liquor storesare already preparing for this eventual conclusion  by updating work schedules and when necessary hiring, training, and licensing new employees that attain our strict safety standards per Indiana law. We are excited for Sunday sales  and will be ready to open our doors.” So are we.

2. Hathaway elected to RNC

Veteran operative Anne Hathaway  was elected to the Republican National Committee, replacing Marsha Coats. Hathaway said, “I thank Gov. Eric Holcomb  and Chairman Kyle Hupfer  for recommending me for the incredible honor  of representing Indiana on the Republican National Committee. I have known Gov. Holcomb for over 20 years, and in that time he has always been a people-focused leader committed to bettering the lives of Hoosiers, and that continues to show every day as our governor. I have also come to greatly respect Chairman Hupfer and his team for the work they are doing to lay the groundwork for historic victories for Indiana’s Party of Purpose in November.” Hupfer said, “As a trusted friend and adviser of Gov. Holcomb and proud supporter of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, I know she will be a valuable asset  to the committee for years to come.”

3. More teen gun threat arrests

Students in Columbus, Madison, Evansville and Loogoottee have been arrested for making school related gun and bomb threats  over the past day or so. Most were posted on social media, including a couple on Snapchat. One Loogootee student said he brought a bomb to school, prompting officials to close early and conduct a bomb search. That prompted a community meeting Monday to talk about the threat. Some Hoosier students are stepping up on the activist frontWTHR-TV reports that a movement called "March for Our Lives" made up of Indiana students will March from Monument Circle to the Statehouse at 11 a.m. March 24. It comes as a Quinnipiac Poll shows 66% support stricter gun laws, the highest level recorded by this poll since it started polling the issue after the Sandy Hook 2012 Sandy Hook ES massacre.

4. Trump evolving on gun issues

President Trump ordered the Justice Department to propose a bump stock ban. “We can do more to protect our children. We must do more to protect our children,” Trump said during the announcement at the White House. Axios reports that Trump is also pondering imposing a minimum age  for people to buy guns, quoting him as saying, "We have to do something. We've got kids dying." Trump and Vice President Pence will be meeting with students who has survived school massacres  this afternoon. As we said earlier this week, the Parkland massacre is yielding a different environment.
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    FORT WAYNE – The candidates for the hotly contested Indiana United States Senate seat were certified just hours after the budget passed Congress and was signed into law by the president. The vote clearly outlined the battle lines which had already been drawn. It is increasingly difficult to see how the Republicans will maintain even their razor-thin margin of 51-49 in the Senate without recapturing the Indiana seat. This is astounding, and depressing, given that 25 senators who caucus as Democrats and only eight Republicans are among the third of the Senate up for election in this cycle. This was the cycle to gain ground, because the next two will be playing defense. This is also the vice president’s home state and a state that went overwhelmingly for President Trump in 2016. To outside observers, this ads to the perception that if the Republicans can’t win here, where are they safe? 
    INDIANAPOLIS – In the tragic wake of the 18th American school shooting so far in 2018, with five resulting in injury and death, at this writing my email inbox had yet to receive one of those trite “thoughts and prayers” press release from the Indiana congressional delegation and Vice President Mike Pence. Progress comes in baby steps.  President Trump did fall into briefly into this trap, tweeting, “My prayers and condolences to the families of the victims of the terrible Florida shooting. No child, teacher or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.” At least he got the second sentence right. But in nationally-televised remarks Thursday morning, Trump said, “Our entire nation, with one heavy heart, is praying for victims and their families. To every parent, teacher and child who is hurting so badly, we are here for you whatever you need." Trump later said he plans to work with state and local leaders to “tackle the difficult issue of mental health.” But he made no reference to guns. Remember John F. Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage”? In 21st Century America, an inert Congress unable to lift a finger in the wake of domestic terror campaign for fear of attracting National Rifle Association campaign opposition funding, this is an on-going profile in cowardice.

    SOUTH BEND – Money isn’t everything. But it sure is something. I have often cited that political truism in analyzing campaign finance reports. Keep it in mind as we look today at money raised, spent and still on hand as reported by candidates for Congress in Indiana’s 2nd District. Most impressive in year-end reports to the Federal Election Commission is the fundraising of Mel Hall, former chief executive officer of South Bend-based Press Ganey. Hall did better in fundraising by far than the other two main candidates for the Democratic nomination. He even raised more in fourth-quarter contributions than Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, the Republican incumbent seeking a fourth term. The nationally influential Cook Political Report noted Hall’s successful fundraising Thursday in moving the 2nd District from “solid Republican” to “likely Republican” in its evaluation. It upgraded Democratic chances also in other districts where a Democratic challenger outraised a Republican incumbent. The other two main candidates in the race for the Democratic nomination are Yatish Joshi, owner of GTA Containers in South Bend, and South Bend attorney Pat Hackett.
    MERRILLVILLE – I suspect you can say it could only happen in Lake County. And, yes, we are talking about a heated Democratic sheriff’s primary that just got hotter. At first glance, the biggest loser is Sheriff Oscar Martinez, who has been in office since winning a precinct caucus last fall. The biggest winner is former Schererville Police Chief David Dowling, who finished second in the precinct caucus. And, at the heart of all the action is Betty Dominguez, whose husband Roy Dominguez was sheriff from 2003 to 2010 and likely would be running again this year if the sheriff wasn’t Hispanic. Betty Dominguez, who is a retired Lake County Court probation officer, entered the sheriff’s race on Monday. Her candidacy stirs Lake County’s diverse ethnic pot. Martinez hoped to be the lone Hispanic in the race and corner that vote. That no longer would appear to be possible. Betty Dominguez, who is almost as recognizable as her husband, would be expected to pull a substantial vote.  The other Hispanic in the race is county police officer Maria (Rosa) Trajkovich.
    INDIANAPOLIS – Once again, with the stock market tumbling as Lego blocks struck by a playful toddler, the inexplicable is explained by experts who declare, “The fundamentals are sound.” We recall the anxiety of the Great Recession which was built on these the facts:  The number of private sector jobs in the United States fell by 11.6 million between June 2007 and January 2010, a decline of 9.9%. Indiana’s experience was a job loss of 316,000 from June 2007 to February 2010; down by 12.2%. These private sector job losses result from market conditions which require divine explanation. Government jobs rise and fall with the political thought waves of elected and appointed deep thinkers.
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  • Horse Race: Contrasts emerge in first GOP Senate debate

    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

    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.” 

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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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