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Almond Dhukka / https://www.flickr.com/photos/almondbutterscotch/

Legislation Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) authored – and a companion bill sponsored by Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-5th) – would create a federal task force to combat drug abuse. 

Brooks says it would marshal the efforts of several federal agencies to help identify best practices -- including ways to reduce the over-prescribing of medication.

“80-percent of the heroin users in the country start out as prescription drug users,” Brooks says.

Indiana is one of only 13 states that prescribes more than 100 painkiller prescriptions per every hundred citizens. 

Lee Cannon / https://www.flickr.com/photos/leecannon/6962094774/

Governor Mike Pence wants federal aid for 19 counties affected by flooding that swept through Indiana earlier this summer. 

If granted, the governor’s request would provide FEMA grants to governments and some non-profit organizations in the 19 counties – most of which are in northeast and southeast parts of the state.

The grants would pay up to 75-percent of expenses to, for example, repair damage to roads, bridges and utilities.  It could also be used for debris removal and traffic control. 

Scott / https://www.flickr.com/photos/skippy/

The Indiana Supreme Court will consider the future of Indiana’s personalized license plates after the state and the ACLU each had their say over a lawsuit challenging the program.

Greenfield Police Officer Rodney Vawter, with approval from the Fraternal Order of Police, had a license plate that read “0INK.” 

The Bureau of Motor Vehicles revoked it, calling it inappropriate.  The ACLU of Indiana, on behalf of Vawter, sued the BMV, saying its policy violates free speech rights. 

OZinOH / https://www.flickr.com/photos/75905404@N00/5120258926/

Frankfort city and Clinton County officials have each set aside $13,000 to enter a regional planning organization. The group of counties would approve, then fund, projects using local contributions as seed money for grants.

Frankfort Mayor Chris McBarnes says his county needs to make itself seem bigger and more populous to potential investors.

Third Street Suites
Sarah Fentem / WBAA

 West Lafayette residents objected after the Tippecanoe Area Plan Commission last week recommended approval of an apartment complex aimed at students to be built northwest of campus. However, the university’s plan to increase enrollment could mean more such battles are on the horizon.

The Opus Group

Frankfort is looking to expand its population to fill industrial jobs Mayor Chris McBarnes is trying to lure to the city. The unemployment rate is around 4-percent, which means there are only about 700 unemployed people in the 16,000-person city – and not all of them are trained to be manufacturers.

McBarnes says if ConAgra, which finished its Frankfort distribution hub earlier this month, exercises its option to build a manufacturing center in the city, it’d require hundreds of workers – but McBarnes admits the city would need to import them.

McConnell Center / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mcconnellcenter/5036911914/

Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) – a longtime leader on nuclear disarmament – says he’s worried about the spread of nuclear weapons throughout the Middle East if Congress kills the nuclear agreement with Iran. 

Critics of the Iran nuclear agreement – including Indiana Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) – say the period it covers is too short. 

Joe Donnelly

Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) says he still has questions about Iran’s intentions in the nuclear agreement and cites a lack of action to cut off Iranian support for terrorism. 

But he says his chief concern is the potential future need for U.S. military intervention in the Middle Eastern nation. 

And in a statement, the Hoosier Democrat says he owes it to American servicemembers to ensure every other option of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon is exhausted. 

Thus, Donnelly says, he’s willing to give the nuclear agreement the opportunity to succeed. 

Columbus To Consider LGBT Protection Ordinance

Aug 19, 2015
WFIU Public Radio / https://www.flickr.com/photos/wfiupublicradio/5558630731/

The Columbus City Council is considering a request from that city's Human Rights Commission for a new ordinance aimed at making a pair of groups "protected classes.”

Human Rights Commission Director Aida Ramirez says these groups include members of the LGBT community and those ages 40 and older.

Ramirez says many members of the LGBT community have written and called the commission to discuss the way they have been made to feel by some segments of the Columbus community.

Indiana Drug Law Not Sure How To Label 'Gravel'

Aug 18, 2015
Chris Wieland / https://www.flickr.com/photos/telekon/6936276638/

Police and prosecutors are keeping a wary eye on Indiana's southern border for the latest variation on synthetic drugs.

Alpha-PVP, more commonly known as Flakka or gravel, has made its biggest impact in Florida, where it's been blamed for 29 deaths in the Fort Lauderdale area. It's been spotted in at least 10 other states, including Illinois and Ohio. There was also widespread use in rural Kentucky, about 100 miles from Lawrenceburg.

J. Stephen Conn / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jstephenconn/3051857316/

Crawfordsville has been named a Stellar Communities grant recipient, but it’s not certain how much money the city will receive.

Mayor Todd Barton says the city wants $18 million to invest in a slate of proposed projects, but he says that’s the best case scenario.

Barton says the Lieutenant Governor’s office will now review funding for the proposed projects, but there’s still work to do before money starts coming to the city.

Underage Drinking Law Gets Social Media Relaunch

Aug 17, 2015
Maria Elena / https://www.flickr.com/photos/melenita/9386166498/

Indiana’s Lifeline Law allows underage Hoosiers to call the police without fear of getting into trouble for drinking if they see someone that is the victim of a crime or needs medical attention.

The law’s author, State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis), is renewing a social media campaign that aims to teach students about the law. he says this is the first year that campaign will emphasize that the law also applies if students are trying to help a victim of sexual assault.

Charlotte Tuggle / WBAA News

Amid concerns about cost and effectiveness, the State Budget Committee tabled a vote Friday on adding new security measures to Indiana Statehouse entrances.

Some of the concern from Sen. Luke Kenley (R-Noblesville) comes from the definition of the “turnstiles” the state proposes adding at a cost of nearly $900,000.

Kenley wondered how such equipment would stop people from entering the statehouse unmonitored, as happens with the current keycard system.

Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

The Department of Child Services’ caseload is up a quarter over last year.  So the state is responding by hiring more than a hundred new caseworkers.

State law sets a standard for the average number of cases each DCS employee should be handling at one time.  The vast majority of the department’s regions have been out of compliance for years. 

The state responded earlier this year by hiring 100 new caseworkers and 17 supervisors -- but DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura says since then, there’s been a spike in demand.

House Republican Caucus

A Marion County judge says the House Republican caucus doesn’t have to make lawmaker emails public under Indiana’s open records law. 

Citizen advocacy groups and an energy institute filed a lawsuit against the House GOP caucus and Rep. Eric Koch (R-Bedford) in April after the caucus refused to hand over Koch’s emails involving a solar energy bill. 

House Republicans argue the state’s Access to Public Records Act, or APRA, doesn’t apply to them, while groups such as the Citizens Action Coalition say it should. 

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