Government News

Underage Drinking Law Gets Social Media Relaunch

Aug 17, 2015
Maria Elena /

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. 

Indiana To Ban All Microbead Products By 2018

Aug 11, 2015
Melly Kay /

Indiana is one of at least seven states to ban a substance found in toothpaste, face soap and other personal items.

Plastic microbeads act as an abrasive to provide scrubbing action. But Tim Maloney with the Hoosier Environmental Council says their tiny size poses a risk to fish and wildlife after they go down the drain.

Donnelly Campaign

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly says he’s been studying the proposed Iran nuclear agreement closely -- but the Hoosier Democrat says he still doesn’t know whether he’ll support it.

Senator Dan Coats immediately expressed skepticism when the Iran agreement was unveiled last month, and that skepticism has since turned to outright opposition, with the Republican calling on Congress to reject the deal. 

Donnelly says he’s read through the agreement “a couple times” but still can’t say how he’ll vote.

Zoeller Opens State's Playbook For Anti-EPA Lawsuit

Aug 6, 2015
Alan Berning /

Indiana and the other 14 states planning to sue to stop implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s new clean air standards have already begun to gameplan how they’ll make their case.

The states sued once before to stop the regulation -- an appeals court ruled they had to wait till the rule was final.

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

Later this month, Crawfordsville leaders will learn if they’re the recipients of millions of dollars in state aid through the Stellar Communities program.

It’s the fourth time the city has applied and the second time it’s been named a finalist. But the application is only half the process.

WBAA’s Stan Jastrzebski went to Crawfordsville last week and tagged along as officials from the Lieutenant Governor’s office and the state’s Office of Community and Rural Affairs scouted the city.

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 /

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 /

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 /

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.