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Slogan Signs Cost Taxpayers Almost $300,000

Jul 27, 2015
Indiana Public Media

It’s an often-heard phrase in the Statehouse: “Indiana’s a state that works.”

Governor Pence has made the catchphrase a cornerstone of his economic policies.

Now, that slogan is embedded on the Indiana Government Center North and the One North Capitol buildings that surround the Statehouse.

The materials and installation of the signs, which were added in 2014 and 2015, cost just shy of $300,000 . 

Indiana Democratic Party Spokesperson Drew Anderson calls it a waste of taxpayer funds.

Jim Grey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/

Significant tax relief for Hoosier employers could be on the horizon if the state’s revenues do well the next few months.

Indiana took out a more than $2 billion loan from the federal government at the height of the recession to pay unemployment benefits.  It’s been paying it back ever since. 

And as long as the state owes money on the loan, employers have to pay a penalty. 

This year, that penalty is $105 per employee; next year, it rises to $126. 

Pence Inks Pair Of Broadband Access Bills

Jul 23, 2015
Payne Horning / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Governor Mike Pence ceremonially signed two bills into law Wednesday that aim to expand broadband Internet access across the state. 

The new Broadband Ready Communities Development Center will team with local governments to encourage and approve communications projects that expand Internet access.

A related law prohibits local and state governments from imposing taxes on the use or access of Internet service. That ban will only go into effect if the federal law that currently prohibits access taxes expires later this year.

Governor Mike Pence has ordered enhanced security measures for Indiana’s National Guard in the wake of a shooting at a military installation in Chattanooga. 

Pence’s executive order directs the new head of the Indiana National Guard, Major General Courtney Carr, to work with the State Police, Homeland Security, and local law enforcement to beef up security at all National Guard facilities across the state, including recruiting storefronts. 

State of Indiana / http://www.in.gov/lg/

Lieutenant governors from around the country descended on Indiana this week for a national conference.  Indiana Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann says the National Lieutenant Governors Association was the first conference she attended after taking office. 

She says its annual meetings are an important opportunity to meet with a strong group of bipartisan colleagues, sharing ideas and promoting causes.

Pence Makes First Comments On PR Firm's Departure

Jul 9, 2015
Gretchen Frazee / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Governor Pence says the state bailed early on a public relations contract to rehab the state‘s image because it was no longer necessary.

In his first public comments on last week‘s abrupt termination of a contract with Washington-based Porter Novelli, Pence says he supported the May hiring of the firm to assess potential damage from the just-concluded battle over the new religious-freedom law. But he echoes a statement from economic development officials that near-record jobs numbers indicate the state is doing fine on its own.

Gretchen Frazee / http://indianapublicmedia.org/news/

Leaders of an LGBT Christian group holding its annual conference in Indianapolis despite the passage of RFRA earlier this year says they want the governor and lawmakers to hear from a Christian community supportive of gay, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people.

Several months ago, The Evangelical Network decided to move its conference from Nashville to Indianapolis.  And when the controversy over Indiana’s RFRA law erupted, organization president Todd Ferrell says there was lots of pressure – including from those planning to attend – to move the event out of Indiana.

Jim Grey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/

Wayne Townsend, the Democratic nominee for Indiana governor in 1984, has died at age 89.

Townsend was elected to the state Senate in 1976 and served two terms -- in his first year in the Senate, he cast the deciding vote to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

The Hartford City Democrat challenged Republican Governor Bob Orr in 1984 -- in the year of President Reagan‘s 49-state landslide, he lost by five points.

Porter Novelli

Just two-and-a-half months after hiring global public relations firm Porter Novelli to combat the negative impact of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation Thursday cancelled its contract with the company. 

The IEDC hired Porter Novelli in April in the wake of backlash over the RFRA controversy to “remind the world that Hoosiers welcome everyone.” 

Stats Indiana / www.stats.indiana.edu

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday upheld the constitutionality of an independent redistricting commission in Arizona, a system that keeps the redrawing of legislative maps out of the legislature’s hands.

That decision could have a major impact on Indiana as lawmakers prepare to examine ways to take some of the politics out of electoral redistricting.

Indiana legislative leaders – both Republican and Democrat – who’ve long supported redistricting reform overcame a major hurdle this year by gaining support for a redistricting study committee. 

Rich Renomeron / https://www.flickr.com/photos/rrenomeron/8597018772/

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality Friday morning. Same-sex couples already had the right to marry in Indiana, but now those marriages will be recognized in all 50 states.

Despite the good news, Pride Lafayette Vice President Nicki Anderson says Indiana can still enact more protections for its LGBTQ citizens.

"People can still get fired from their jobs, kicked out of apartments, kicked out of their housing because they’re gay," Anderson says.

Alex E. Proimos / https://www.flickr.com/photos/proimos/

Tens of thousands of Hoosiers can breathe a sigh of relief – the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday ruled they’ll get to keep their federal health insurance subsidies.  

About 160, 000 Hoosiers receive tax subsidies through the federal health care exchange, reducing the cost of their insurance by an average of $320 a month.  The Supreme Court’s ruling ensures they’ll continue to receive those subsidies, something Covering Kids and Families of Indiana spokesperson Caitlin Priest says is a huge relief to the families her organization serves.

Donnelly Campaign

Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) says the Export-Import Bank, which provides financing to help companies ship products overseas, is critical to the health of the U-S economy.  But he says he’s fearful a group of what he calls “ideologues” will prevent its reauthorization in Congress.

Opponents of the Export-Import Bank, including Tea Party Republicans and conservative groups such as Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity, decry it as corporate welfare.  They says it’s a gift of taxpayer dollars to bolster big companies. 

Brandon Smith / http://www.ipbs.org/

Governor Mike Pence’s fiscal leadership team is getting a shake-up as longtime advisor Chris Atkins leaves the administration for the private sector. 

Chris Atkins has been with the Pence team since the 2012 campaign, serving as a senior advisor for Pence’s gubernatorial run. 

He’s led the Office of Management and Budget since Pence took office and previously served at the agency under Governor Mitch Daniels. 

Indiana Department of Administration

Changes to Indiana’s ethics statutes passed by the legislature this year are prompting state agencies to officially adopt policies about employees using state property for personal use.  But very little will actually change.

The legislation approved by the General Assembly requires the State Ethics Commission to approve all state agencies’ policies barring employees from using state property for personal use.  But as Ethics Director Jen Cooper told the commission at its meeting Thursday, agencies already had those rules in place.

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