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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 

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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.

 

This session’s major road funding bill cleared its first legislative hurdle as the House Roads Committee approved the measure, largely along party lines.

Around four dozen people – most of whom represented various stakeholder organizations – testified for more than four hours on the road funding bill.

Indiana Unemployment Rate Lowest In 15 Years

Jan 24, 2017

 

Indiana’s unemployment rate is at its lowest in more than 15 years.

The Indiana unemployment rate declined two-tenths of a percent in December, falling to 4 percent. That’s the third consecutive month the rate went down. It’s the largest three-month decline in nearly two years. And 4 percent is Indiana’s lowest rate since May 2001.

Yet the state’s private sector lost 6,000 jobs last month. Almost all of that – 5,900 jobs – came from the private education services sector. Only the manufacturing and construction industries added jobs in December.

Hundreds of anti-Trump protestors flooded the streets around the Porter Country court house in Valparaiso this weekend to make their feelings known. They say the liberal agenda has more support than the people in Washington realize and the over 500 protestors that  showed up is proof. Steven Lattimore was there and has the story.

The mood at the watch party on the Ivy Tech Community College Gary Campus for the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States is quieter than past inauguration parties, so says Campus President Marlon Mitchell.

Some students like Laiaja Donson  "looked like" they were attending the watch party but they were just lounging in the students' common area. Donson was waiting for her Psychology class to start.  

GOP Leaders Split On Tolling Existing Roads

Jan 20, 2017

 

A split is forming among Indiana Republican leaders over the use of tolling existing roadways as a solution for the state’s road funding needs.

After Gov. Eric Holcomb’s State of the State address, Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) expressed enthusiasm that Holcomb indicated that every road funding solution proposed by House Republicans was on the table, with one, in Bosma’s words, “minor exception.” That exception is tolling existing roadways.

Before leaving office, former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence denied an emergency declaration request from the city of East Chicago, Indiana. But East Chicago State Rep. Earl Harris, Jr. is hopeful new Gov. Eric Holcomb will still consider one.

The Calumet neighborhood of East Chicago has lead and arsenic contamination in its soil at 200 times the legal limit.

Harris says the request isn’t something the city asked for lightly.

“I didn’t know if there was a lack of understanding or what the situation was but really we need, needed, and still need more help,” Harris says.

At the Veterans Cafe and Grill in Merrilville, they measure success by not only the food served but the help that the owners offer to veterans -- in some cases, saving lives.  Lakeshore Public Radio's Steven Lattimore visited the eatery on Taft Street.

The United Fresh Start Foundation will be donating the equipment to provide salad bar to the East Chicago School system. Experts say fruits and vegetables can help with the absorption of lead into the body. Steven Lattimore has the story

  

The five priorities the ISDH focuses on include addressing the opioid epidemic, reducing infant mortality rates, reducing adult obesity rates, reducing adult smoking rates, ensuring preparedness for infectious disease and getting people enrolled in the Healthy Indiana Plan.

East Chicago Lawsuit

Jan 12, 2017

Seven residents of the lead and arsenic–polluted East Chicago, Indiana neighborhood want to join the Environmental Protection Agency’s lawsuit against the companies paying for the cleanup. The residents argue neither party represents their interests, and they want more say. David Chizewer is one of their attorneys—he says its an uncommon tactic, but an important step.

“So that they can have a voice in any changes that need to be made to the clean up process, because, as it’s gone forward so far, it’s been inadequate.”

The state board of education released district A-F grades Wednesday for the 2015-2016 school year. More than 150 schools saw their rating dip, with 90 percent of Indiana schools receiving a B or C rating.

Only 23 school corporations received an A rating. Gary Community Schools in northwest Indiana received the state’s single F rating.

President Obama's Farewell Speech

Jan 11, 2017
Sharon Jackson / Lakeshore Public Media

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