Local News

Gary-Chicago International Airport

The Gary-Chicago International Airport is planning for the future -- at least, the next ten years or so -- and the first of a series of public workshops will be held tonight (Monday, Feb 13) at 6:00 p.m. at the Airport Terminal offices for a presentation of the work done so far on a Master Plan Update.

The chairman of the Airport Authority, Stephen Mays, was on "Regionally Speaking" on Monday to talk about the need for a Master Plan Update, the company conducting the workshops and the impact that an updated plan will have on northwest Indiana.  Here's the conversation.

Indiana Economic Digest

Today:   The Indiana Gaming Commission says monthly revenue at Indiana casinos decreased in January.  "Indiana Gaming Insight" newsletter editor Ed Feigenbaum takes a look at why the northwest Indiana casinos didn't bring in as much. He also talks about a bill sponsored by State Rep. Todd Huston that -- if it passes and enacted into law -- would amend current law to eliminate the $3 floor admission tax.  That will mean a big hit in casino revenues to local governments.

Zukas

Peter Aglinskas talks with "Eye on the Arts" host John Cain about the upcoming Thursday Night Noir at the Brauer Museum of Art at Valparaiso University.

Lakeshore Public Media

Today:  Mark Swiderski, Lake County's E-911 Director, joins us to talk about a new tool that his department is offering police and fire departments to give them more information about the kinds of calls their crews handle, based on the information that dispatchers receive.  He also tells us about the number of calls taken in 2016 -- you'll be surprised to learn how many.  He also says their new reporting software says their busiest hours last year were: 9 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on the Fourth of July.

Gov. Eric Holcomb is declaring a disaster in a lead-contaminated neighborhood of East Chicago, Indiana. The order, announced Thursday, fulfills a request that former Gov. Mike Pence denied before he left office.

In the declaration, Holcomb says he’ll ask for federal assistance to relocate residents still living in the affected area. And those families say they need all the assistance they can get.

The 30-day emergency declaration spans the city’s 322-acre Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site, which includes the Calumet neighborhood and around 3,000 residents.

IPB News

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb on Thursday issued a 30-day emergency declaration for the East Chicago Superfund Site -- the 322 acres of land that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proclaimed was contaminated by lead pollution.  The declaration comes after former Governor, now Vice President, Mike Pence denied a similar request before he left office.

The declaration is aimed at helping relocate nearly 100 people who live in the Calumet Neighborhood housing project and engaging agency leader in the new federal administration.

Marine Link

The Port of Indiana - Burns Harbor handled nearly 2.6 million tons of cargo in 2016, down from 2.8 million tons the previous year. But - despite the volume decrease - The Ports of Indiana says last year's tonnage brought the port to its highest three-year total in history.

More than 8.6 million tons of cargo have been handled at Burns Harbor since 2014.

The Ports of Indiana says grain shipments in 2016 were up 57 percent over the previous year while mineral and oil shipments increased 19 percent. Coal was up 11 percent as well.

East Chicago, Indiana, city leaders have two different lead problems – lead in the soil of its Calumet neighborhood and lead in water pipes leading to some homes. They don’t know how many yet.

Now, officials are grappling to measure the extent of that lead in water pipes leading into homes. So, when they came to testify on a bill at the Statehouse that would help them cleanup the soil, they also talked about the water.

A bill to aid toxic cleanup efforts in the city of East Chicago, Indiana, passed unanimously out of a House committee on Wednesday, Feb. 8.

Rep. Earl Harris, Jr. (D-East Chicago), who authored the bill, says the city will need long term assistance to combat its lead contamination crisis.

“There’s a lot of support that’s come on the national level, on the state level, and I want to make sure that this continues,” Harris says. “This is not a short term problem.”

Mark Hurt campaign

Today:  A conversation with central Indiana attorney and former Dan Coats aide Mark Hurt, who is -- for now -- the only Republican running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Joe Donnelly.  Hurt announced his candidacy last week. He stopped by northwest Indiana today.  I talked with him one-on-one and then sat in on a question-and-answer session that Hurt held with Marc Chase, Bill Dolan and Doug Ross of The Times of Northwest Indiana.  

Lawmakers Debate Series Of Gun Bills

Feb 7, 2017

 

The House Public Policy Committee debated a series of firearm regulations, including one to allow people protected by restraining orders to carry a handgun without a license.

Rep. Sean Eberhart’s (R-Shelbyville) bill would allow people protected by a restraining order to carry a handgun without a license for up to 60 days. Eberhart says he wants to make sure people can protect themselves while they go through the application process.

0e3ff700-ce53-46b8-ad4d-1c35ddb97e2a
Chris Morisse Vizza / WBAA News

Though leaders of Rensselaer’s Saint Joseph’s College continue to talk about the school’s closure as a one-year exercise, the loss of a tuition-paying, 900-student body may mean the end of the Catholic school’s 128-year history.

My Fearless Kitchen.com

A bill introduced by State Rep. Michael Aylesworth (R-11), who represents portions of Lake and Porter Counties, will come up for a House Environment Committee hearing on Wednesday in Indianapolis.

His measure would, if passed and enacted into law, eliminate some important state permit requirements for CAFOs in Indiana -- also known as "factory farms."  The Hoosier Environmental Council is concerned about the impact of these permit changes on Hoosiers who live near the facilities.

Joshua Claybourn - Vimeo

Today:  Josh Claybourn, an Indiana attorney, Republican and contributor to Howey Politics Indiana joins us to talk about his recent commentary about the first weeks of the Trump administration and its impact on the GOP.  He called it "a great fork in the road."

The Lake County Government Center is closed and all civilian personal have been evacuated until further notice as of Tuesday.  Mark Back, Director of Public Relations for the Lake County Sheriff's Department says that at about 12 p.m., Sheriff John Buncich was notified that the Lake County Prosecutor's Office received a phone call in which an unidentified person made a threat concerning the Lake County Government Center.

 

A House committee approved a bill to provide immunity to anyone who breaks into a vehicle to rescue an animal from a hot car.

Two years ago, lawmakers provided civil immunity to anyone who breaks into a hot car to rescue a child. Now, legislators want to provide the same immunity for those rescuing animals trapped in hot vehicles.

Amy Jo Sites is the Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control director. She says her department received more than 250 calls for animals in hot cars last summer alone.

 

A bill that would remove Indiana’s top education official as an elected position is progressing through the Statehouse. The bill, authored by Sen. Jim Buck (R-Kokomo) would allow the governor to appoint the superintendent of public instruction starting in 2021.

It passed out of committee Monday on a 5-to-3 vote.

“Ultimately it’s the governor that’s responsible for education,” Buck says. “This just puts all of that responsibility on him or her.”

Tesla Bill Appears Headed For Compromise

Feb 1, 2017

Legislation barring auto manufacturers from selling directly to customers appears headed for compromise after hours of testimony in a House committee.

Electric car manufacturer Tesla sells directly to customers, without using dealerships. Proposed legislation would ban that practice within the next three years, for any company. Proponents say it’s about ensuring consumer protection.

Tesla customers like Mitch Rolsky see it as something else.

Town Council Cancels Town Theatre Renovations

Jan 31, 2017

The Highland Town Council Monday night voted against a proposal to renovate the long vacant Town Theatre.  The goal of the project was to create an arts and culture district in Highland, with hopes the renovated theatre would spur economic development in the area. The town council rejected the plans because of the high cost of the project.  Director of Redevelopment Cecile Petro says there are now only two options left. The first is for a private contractor to purchase the theatre.

The work to clean up the homes around the West Calumet Housing Complex continues in East Chicago. The EPA says there are things you can do protect your families from the high lead  levels. Steven Lattimore has the story 

75d56d26-8ae4-4178-a21a-a713f5194a22
Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

Indiana Department of Transportation officials say an unreasonable request led to Iowa Pacific Holdings removing itself from a deal to run the Hoosier State passenger train.

But Iowa Pacific’s CEO says a quirk in the contracts between his company, INDOT and Amtrak doomed the partnership.

Ed Ellis says his firm’s compensation from the deal decreased each time on-time performance improved.

“The way the contracts worked, we ended up getting less money as the train ran more on time,” Ellis says.

A Senate lawmaker wants the Hoosier Lottery to create a new scratch-off game to benefit homeless veterans.

Sen. Ron Alting’s (R-Lafayette) bill would allow the Hoosier Lottery to create a new scratch-off game. Money from the game would go into a Veterans Homelessness Assistance Fund, created by the bill.

Alting says those dollars would flow, via grants, to organizations that help homeless veterans.

“It goes for temporary housing and yes it goes for clothing and yes it can go for hygiene and yes it can go for medical expense and so forth,” Alting says.

Million’s of refugees are hoping that they can find saftey from the bombings at home in places like the United States. But President Trump wants to stop all Muslim immigration amid fears of bringing terrorists in to the country. Steven Latimore talked  to a local group that is trying to help.

 

Lawmakers Confident In Hoosier State Rail Line Funding

Jan 27, 2017

 

As lawmakers grapple with funding the state’s roads and bridges, many communities don’t want them to forget another mode of transportation: rail. And Republican leaders say the Hoosier State Rail Line’s future in the next two-year state budget should be secure.

Lawmakers provided $6 million in the last two-year budget for the Hoosier State Line from Indianapolis to Chicago. The money came from a one-time source, the state’s tax amnesty program.

Indiana Black Caucus Lays Out 2017 Agenda

Jan 26, 2017

 

The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus’ agenda for the 2017 session is nearly as much about bills they want to halt as measures they hope to pass.

The caucus’ agenda includes bias crimes legislation, a measure to ban private prisons, a healthy food initiative and a bill to improve student discipline and behavior.

And while Rep. Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis) acknowledges the difficulty in getting many of those bills passed, he says the caucus constantly seeks common ground.

Joe Flintham
https://www.flickr.com/photos/joeflintham/

A governor-approved bill that would give Indiana counties and municipalities the ability to set up their own syringe exchanges passed its first hurtle, clearing the House Committee on Public Health Wednesday afternoon.

Senator Backs Off Proposal To Raise Officeholder Pay

Jan 25, 2017

 

A Republican state senator is backing off a proposed bill to significantly increase pay for statewide elected officials.

Sen. Randy Head’s (R-Logansport) legislation – heard in committee this week – would raise the governor’s salary up to $141,000 a year, a 16 percent increase. Other statewide officials, including attorney general and auditor, would make about $120,000, increases of anywhere between 26 to 52 percent.

Donnelly Will Oppose DeVos for Education Secretary

Jan 25, 2017

Indiana U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly said he will oppose Betsy DeVos President Trump’s pick for education secretary.

In a video posted Wednesday, Donnelly described DeVos as having a lack of commitment to public education.

"I am concerned she will not prioritize efforts that are important to Hoosier families such as: expanding access to early childhood education, improving our public schools, and empowering student borrowers and reducing federal student loan debt," he said.

Pages