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Vegas Thornton / https://www.flickr.com/photos/vegast/395958569

The Indiana House easily approved legislation repealing the state’s common construction wage, and the bill’s support in the Senate looks strong.  So pushing the issue to summer study committee could be opponents’ best remaining hope.

Set by local boards, the common construction wage is a sort of minimum wage for public construction projects. 

Pete Rimsans is the executive director of the Indiana State Building and Construction Trades Council, a workers group leading the charge to keep the common wage. 

El Rodeo Owners To Serve House Arrest For Tax Scheme

Mar 2, 2015
Dave Dugdale / https://www.flickr.com/photos/davedugdale/

A Marion County Criminal Court Judge has sentenced the owners of the El Rodeo restaurant chain following their plea deals on theft charges.

Judge Stanley Kroh sentenced Francisco Salgado and Jose Melendez to 10 years with eight suspended and Abel Bustos to two years including one year probation Monday. The trio will serve the bulk of their time on home detention.

Still, their lawyer, Sean Hessler, says he’d hoped for slightly better sentences.

Senate Passes Ron Alting's Beer-tripling Allowance

Feb 26, 2015
Bernt Rostad / https://www.flickr.com/photos/brostad/5053316697

The Indiana Senate Tuesday passed a bill that would allow Indiana microbreweries to manufacture more alcohol per year.

Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette) says the amended legislation is the result of a compromise between alcohol wholesalers and microbreweries.

The bill allows small breweries to increase their annual production limit from 30,000 barrels per year to 90,000.

The other half of the bill requires breweries distribute that alcohol through a wholesaler if their production exceeds 30,000 barrels.

Lisa Brewster / https://www.flickr.com/photos/sophistechate/2670946312

Legislation aimed at helping Indiana’s struggling gaming industry easily cleared the House Wednesday.  But its path to final approval may be more difficult.

The gaming bill would allow riverboats to move on land, give casinos a ten percent tax credit for new construction, and allow racetrack casinos to replace some of their electronic table games with table games that have live dealers. 

The bill’s outcome became less certain this week when Governor Mike Pence objected to the live dealers as an unwanted expansion of gaming. 

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

There was a brief moment at the ribbon-cutting for the new Amazon pickup location that spoke to the debate surrounding it.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels, who’d been handed one of those oversized pairs of scissors used only for such an occasion, found that though the space behind him was cutting edge, his scissors were not – he tried repeatedly to slice the ribbon, was met with little success and almost gave up.

“Ok, it’s off…seemed like a good idea,” Daniels joked to the crowd.

Chris J / Flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisjones/5993842164

Controversial changes to Indiana’s gaming tax made in a House committee were taken out of a bill on the House floor Tuesday.

An amendment in the Ways and Means committee to gaming legislation last week eliminated the state’s admissions tax, changed the wagering tax and forced communities with casinos to renegotiate local agreements with those gaming facilities. 

Those changes could have cost local communities tens of millions of dollars. 

John Wardell / https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnwardell/80125882

Rising Star Casino Resort, located in the Southeastern corner of the state, was the first Indiana riverboat in the region. At its peak, the casino earned $160 million dollars per year.

But CEO Dan Lee says those days are gone.  Last year the casino only took in $60 million.

“This was built here as the first casino in the tristate area," Lee says. "It made a lot of money in those days. We’re sitting here now with it, trying to cover the payroll.”

Chris J / Flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisjones/5993842164

Local communities with casinos could face significant financial losses under changes made Thursday in the House Ways and Means Committee to gaming industry legislation. 

Communities where casinos are located currently get four pots of money because of those facilities: dollars from the admittance tax and the wagering tax, money from the state to supplement previous losses in the admittance tax, and money from what are called local development agreements, or L-D-As – essentially, side contracts with the casinos themselves. 

Mike / https://www.flickr.com/photos/anotherpintplease/

Sun King and other small Indiana breweries are a step closer to being allowed to make more beer.

The House Public Policy Committee passed a bill from Rep. Ed Clere (R-New Albany) that would allow craft beer brewers to triple the amount of beer they can make and sell within the state each year.   

Right now, the limit is 30,000 barrels - if a brewery makes more, it has to obtain a different permit and is no longer allowed to distribute its own beer.

John Wardell / https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnwardell/80125882

Legislation aimed at helping Indiana’s gaming industry stem a sharp decline in revenues passed its first test in the General Assembly when a House committee approved the bill Thursday.

Rep. Tom Dermody’s (R-LaPorte) bill allows Indiana’s riverboats to move inland onto their existing footprint.  And the state’s two racetrack casinos can add table games with live dealers. 

The live table games are capped at half of the number of existing electronic table games.  And for every live table game the racinos add, they must eliminate one of the electronic ones. 

Wayan Vota / https://www.flickr.com/photos/dcmetroblogger/535670898

Indiana liquor stores, once the biggest opponents of legislation legalizing Sunday alcohol sales, are now backing the bill after a House committee made a major change Wednesday.

The original bill simply legalized Sunday alcohol sales.  The amended bill does that too, while creating significant new regulations for non-liquor stores that sell alcohol. 

The measure would require clerks at grocery and convenience stores to undergo the same training that liquor store employees do. 

Nicholas Eckhart / https://www.flickr.com/photos/fanofretail/14644044735

As the Senate gets ready to discuss reinforcing the Indiana Constitution‘s religious conscience clause, Governor Pence is lending his support to the effort.

Pence made a surprise appearance at a rally for what supporters call the "religious freedom restoration act." 19 states have passed similar laws, requiring the state to show a "compelling interest" for any action that would burden religious belief.

Matthew Hurst / https://www.flickr.com/photos/skewgee/2463077387

The Indiana Department of Insurance says health insurance giant Anthem is doing everything it can to mitigate the effects of a recent data breach.

Anthem announced late Wednesday night it had been the target of a cyber attack that left client and employee information at risk. 

Though the insurer says no medical information or credit card data had been stolen, hackers did gain access to personal information including names, birth dates, addresses, and social security numbers. 

courtesy GE

In a speech that was touted as one which would show Purdue as a leader in the country’s new manufacturing economy, the President of the National Association of Manufacturers Tuesday focused instead on blasting the Obama Administration.

In a speech kicking off a nationwide tour, Jay Timmons spent a single paragraph on technology such as "3-D printing, nanoscale chemistry" and new medicines, but spent several minutes explaining why he feels the White House is working at cross-purposes with business interests.

NOAA / https://www.flickr.com/photos/noaamarinedebris/12822245515

A House committee has unanimously passed a bill that would make Indiana one of the first states in the nation to ban the use of tiny plastic particles known as microbeads in personal care products. 

Microbeads are found in a wide variety of beauty and personal products, including soaps, lotions and even toothpaste. 

The problem, say researchers, is that those microbeads are showing up in the water system. 

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