Statewide News


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.

Legislation Would Give Schools 'Freedom' To Spend State Funds How They Want, Lawmakers Say

Jan 25, 2017

Some Indiana lawmakers and school representatives are supporting a new bill that aims to simplify how schools are funded.

Currently, funding streams for traditional public schools are divided into a handful of areas -- including facilities, replacing buses, transportation costs and “general” expenses that include teacher salaries and class instruction.

Photo courtesy Lafayette Police Department

A new bill offered in the Indiana legislature would levy harsher penalties for crimes against public safety officials. It also strengthens penalties for crimes against their relatives.

All Indiana teachers would have to undergo a criminal background check every five years under a legislative proposal gaining momentum at the Statehouse.

On Tuesday, the House Education Committee unanimously approved House Bill 1079 which tightens policies on background checks.

Rep. Jeffrey Thompson (R-Lizton) sponsored the bill.

Members of Indiana’s agricultural sector were big supporters of the now-officially defunct Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now, they’re looking for ways to salvage some of the trade opportunities it offered.

Indiana Farm Bureau lobbyist Bob White says TTP and its counterpart T-TIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, would have been a boon in a time when farm profits are shrinking.

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.

Bill Would Require Online Sellers To Collect Sales Tax

Jan 24, 2017


A Senate committee approved a bill that would require online retailers to collect sales tax for Indiana even if they have no physical connection to the state.

Online retailers are only required to collect sales tax for a state if they have a physical connection to that state. Otherwise, customers must pay the sales tax on their own –which rarely happens in part because many people don’t know that.

U.S. Department of Agriculture /

A Senate committee on Monday approved a bill that would extend Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits — also known as SNAP or food stamps — to former offenders convicted of certain drug-related offenses.

Senate lawmakers want to give statewide officeholders, including the governor, a pay raise.

The salaries for governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, attorney general and state superintendent are set by the General Assembly. Those positions have received small increases in the last few years as state employee pay rose.

Senator Randy Head (R-Logansport) wants to give them a significant boost.

“I think the salaries are so low at this point that we drive away talent, from both parties,” Head says.

Thousands Gather At Indianapolis Women's March

Jan 21, 2017

Around 7,000 people gathered near the Indiana Statehouse Saturday to rally for women’s rights and protest the elections of Donald Trump and former Indiana Governor Mike Pence as President and Vice President.


More Than 100 Celebrate Inclusion As Trump Is Sworn In

Jan 20, 2017


Leaders from different faiths, the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and Indiana Youth Group organized a public diversity celebration that coincided with President Donald Trump’s Inauguration on Friday.

Jane Henegar, the executive director of the ACLU of Indiana welcomed the more than 100 in attendance on Monument Circle in Indianapolis to take the same oath President Donald Trump took on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.

Indiana’s $11 billion farming sector is hoping to benefit under President Donald Trump.

The new commander-in-chief has threatened some trade deals that agriculture relies on. But many in the industry hope his nominee to lead the Department of Agriculture will have a different take.

Sonny Perdue is a former Georgia governor and commercial farming veteran. His home state is known for cotton, peanuts and livestock, not corn and soybeans.

But Jane Ade Stevens, Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Soybean Alliance CEO, says Perdue still has a background in cash crops.

Hoosier women across the state participated in a national initiative that’s part of the Women’s March on D.C., scheduled for the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration. The Pussyhat Project is a way for people to participate without even marching.

The Women’s March on Washington is expected to attract tens of thousands of people, and affiliated marches are taking place in more than 600 cities on all seven continents.

Purdue Study To Investigate Drinking Water Safety

Jan 20, 2017

A Purdue University professor is investigating drinking water safety with a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Andrew Whelton, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Ecological Engineering, says drinking water safety, despite what many people might think, is not well understood.

“A lot of the declarations about drinking water safety are not actually based on science,” Whelton says. “They’re based on hope.”

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.


Gov. Eric Holcomb delivered his first State of the State address, controversy erupted over a bill aimed at protesters who block traffic, and a Senate committee approved a balanced budget amendment.

More Cities May Get Control Of Property Through Land Banks

Jan 20, 2017
Brad Perkins /

Small Indiana cities struggling to fight back against blight and deadbeat landlords may get another tool this legislative session.

Last year, lawmakers allowed the use of so-called “land banks” for medium-size, or Class II, cities. But smaller Class III cities were not afforded the same right. A similar bill this year would change that.

A Dramatic Decline In 2016 Indiana Meth Labs

Jan 20, 2017

A meth hazard sign. Photo by Leigh DeNoon.

The number of meth lab busts by the Indiana State Police decreased more than a third – down from 1452 in 2015 to 943 in 2016. But ISP Sgt. Mike Toles says there’s still a high demand for the illegal stimulant. 

“The quality of methamphetamine that’s being provided in the crystal form or the imported form for roughly the same (dollar) amount and you don’t have to go through the chances of manufacturing. We believe that’s had a large impact. We’ve also seen an increase in heroin use,” Toles says.

Background Check Proposal To Prevent Sex Crimes In Schools

Jan 19, 2017

As Indiana lawmakers consider measures to strengthen the state’s background check laws, the Indiana Department of Education is investigating 85 cases of alleged educator misconduct, according to department officials.

Of the 85 licensed educators currently under investigation approximately 40 involve at least an allegation, if not charges, of sexual or inappropriate contact with a student.

“Teachers and employees at public schools, and other schools for that matter, are having wrongful relationships with the students,” says Sen. Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn).

Environmentalists are concerned with Gov. Eric Holcomb’s nod to “clean coal” in his State of the State address earlier this week.

In a roughly 26 minute speech, Governor Holcomb’s comment on energy policy was brief— about 30 seconds. He says coal is necessary to keep Hoosiers employed and factories running.

“Let’s apply technology and innovation to find new ways to unleash this abundant source of power by burning coal cleanly,” Holcomb said.


During a Senate grilling of Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Tom Price at the Georgia Representative’s confirmation hearing this week, Indiana Senator Todd Young expressed support for a lesser-known part of the Affordable Care Act.

Justice Rucker To Leave Supreme Court

Jan 19, 2017


Indiana Supreme Court Justice Robert Rucker says he looks forward to spending more time with family as he prepares to step down from the court.

Rucker says he almost retired in 2012, when he turned 65 and was up for a retention vote.

The Gary native and 26-year veteran of the bench is the only current justice appointed by a Democratic governor. But he says he doesn’t expect the court to become more conservative because, in Indiana, a partially independent panel chooses the three nominees for the gubernatorial appointment.

Indiana’s new governor, Eric Holcomb, vowed to tackle the state’s drug addiction epidemic in his first State of the State address on Tuesday. But he has also said he supports Congress’s plans to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Anthem-Cigna Merger Deadline Extended Three Months

Jan 19, 2017
Matthew Hurst /

In light of the ongoing antitrust trial playing out in Washington, Indianapolis-based health insurer Anthem has extended the deadline to complete a merger with Connecticut-based Cigna until April 30th, according to a form filed this week to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Senate Local Government Committee will wait to vote on a bill that would require law enforcement to clear protesters from roadways by “any means necessary.”

The proposal raised alarm with lawmakers and members of the public Wednesday at its first hearing.

The bill, from state Sen. James Tomes (R-Wadesville), would require a mayor or other public official to dispatch all available law enforcement within 15 minutes of a report of a mass traffic obstruction.

Chief Justice Focuses On Justice Partners In Address

Jan 18, 2017

Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush wants more attention paid to so-called “partners in justice” – people who work in, and with, the state’s court system. The message came during her annual State of the Judiciary address.

State Approves Three New Nature Preserves

Jan 18, 2017

Indiana’s Natural Resources Commission, an autonomous board under the Department of Natural Resources, approved nature preserve status for three new Indiana sites Wednesday.

With the addition of the three properties, the Hoosier state now has 277 state-designated sites protected by the Nature Preserves Act of 1967, which established permanent protection for significant natural areas throughout Indiana.

A federal judge says a farm labor recruiter must pay $56,631 in back wages to a group of visa workers who came from Mexico to Indiana in 2014.

The 26 Mexican workers got H-2A visas through Tejas Workforce Connection of Texas, which recruits temporary agricultural workers for companies including Beck’s Hybrids in Hamilton County.

Balanced Budget Amendment Clears Senate Committee

Jan 17, 2017


A Senate committee approved language that would amend Indiana’s constitution to require the General Assembly to pass a balanced budget.

Former Gov. Mike Pence first pushed the balanced budget amendment in 2015.

It easily passed the General Assembly that year. If it passes again, this session or next, it will go to voters for their approval in the 2018 general election.


Here is the full audio of Governor Eric Holcomb's 2017 State of the State.