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Senator Proposes Bill To Expand Welfare Eligibility

Feb 13, 2017

 

A state senator wants to expand the number of people who are eligible for welfare.

To be eligible for money from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, sometimes known as welfare, Indiana families can earn, at most, nearly $600 a month.

That dollar amount was set 20 years ago and was, at the time, about 50 percent of the federal poverty level. But it hasn’t been raised since, meaning that Hoosier families can now only earn about 35 percent of the federal poverty level.

Freeze On Travel Ban Brings Uneasy Hope For Those Affected

Feb 10, 2017

 

For Suzanne Kawamleh, it’s been a rollercoaster of a few weeks.

“I am Syrian-American. My family are refugees, it’s not something to be proud of and its not something I would ever wish on anybody,” Kawamleh says. “But it’s the truth.”

A federal appeals panel unanimously ruled Thursday to reject President Donald Trump’s bid to reinstate his immigration and travel ban. The ruling allows refugees and immigrants from seven countries to continue to travel to the U.S. for the foreseeable future.

Gov. Eric Holcomb is declaring a disaster in a lead-contaminated neighborhood of East Chicago, Indiana. The order, announced Thursday, fulfills a request that former Gov. Mike Pence denied before he left office.

In the declaration, Holcomb says he’ll ask for federal assistance to relocate residents still living in the affected area. And those families say they need all the assistance they can get.

The 30-day emergency declaration spans the city’s 322-acre Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site, which includes the Calumet neighborhood and around 3,000 residents.

House Votes To Override Pence Vetoes

Feb 9, 2017

 

The House voted to overrule Mike Pence’s last vetoes as governor.

Lawmakers last session approved a bill to delay any new state environmental regulations that are stricter than federal rules, except in emergencies. Pence vetoed that measure last year.

But now, House lawmakers voted 65 to 29 to override that veto.

 

House Republicans made a change to their road funding bill that would open a $600 million hole in the next state budget.

The House GOP roads plan, as introduced, would gradually shift all sales tax on fuel dollars from the General Fund to road funding over the next few years.

House Ways and Means chair, Rep. Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville), offered an amendment, approved by his committee, to make that shift immediate.

 

A new study from Purdue University on the effects of the state’s new method for taxing farmland shows what rural areas will take the biggest hit from the change.

Indiana taxes farmland mainly on the value of crops the soil can produce. But that calculation has lagged behind the current crop market.

It based farmland property assessments on 4-year-old crop prices, meaning taxes climbed even as farm revenues began to decline.

 

A panel of judges have decided to continue the suspension of President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration after a hearing on Feb. 8. On Feb. 3, a federal judge halted the travel restrictions to seven countries.

Trump responded to the news by tweeting, “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”

In the meantime, Indiana towns with large immigrant populations are already grappling with its impacts.

City of West Lafayette

In his state of the city speech Monday night, West Lafayette mayor John Dennis said the city sets a standard for quality of life.

He then reminded the council that in the face of a new presidential administration, the city’s philosophy of inclusion should be upheld.

Dennis says the city’s residents celebrate diversity. He says the best demonstration of that local feeling came with the recent women’s rally in downtown Lafayette, in which he participated.

Photo courtesy Lafayette Police Department

Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski’s says his city’s crime ebbed in 2016.

During his annual State of the City address Monday night, Roswarski said crime fell 11 percent, year-over-year. He says property crimes are down 9 percent and violent crimes are down 20 percent, despite an increasing number of robberies.

Roswarski says he’d like to see more addiction and mental health services to help address the city’s drug problem – that’s even though he has opposed hosting a needle exchange program at a storefront location in his city.

deepfruit / https://www.flickr.com/photos/slippek/

Tippecanoe County has received about one-fourth of the grant money it requested to fund a syringe exchange services program aimed at slowing the spread of Hepatitis C among I-V drug users.

Commissioner Tracy Brown says the county accepted an $8,500 grant from the Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis.

The county had asked for nearly $33,000.

But Brown insists that’s a good first step toward obtaining cash to buy supplies for the program that, under state law, cannot be funded with taxpayer dollars.

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