Political news

Barbara Harrington / http://indianapublicmedia.org/news/author/bjharrin/

More than two weeks after the first meeting of  Governor Mike Pence’s drug abuse task force, the governor is ordering state agencies to begin implementing some of the group’s initial recommendations.  

One of the drug task force’s initial recommendations urged the state to seek broader Medicaid coverage for drug treatment.  Governor Mike Pence is now directing the Family and Social Services Administration to determine the feasibility of that recommendation. 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chicago District / https://www.flickr.com/photos/usacechicago/

As Suicide Prevention Month comes to a close, Senator Joe Donnelly says America’s military still has work to do to help prevent servicemember suicides.

Servicemember suicides are on pace this year to decline for the second consecutive year.  Yet for three straight years more members of the military have taken their own lives than have died in combat.

Indiana House Republicans

Indiana House Majority Floor Leader Jud McMillin – a rising star in the GOP caucus – abruptly resigned Tuesday.  

McMillin was chosen last year by fellow House Republicans to become floor leader, one of the top ranking positions in the caucus.  In a statement, the Brookville Republican says he decided the time was right to pass the torch after five years in the General Assembly.  McMillin, an attorney and former Ohio deputy prosecutor, says he wants to focus all his attention on, in his words, “making his family’s world a better place.” 

Noah Coffey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/noahwesley/

Indiana Senate Democrats Monday unveiled policy initiatives aimed at helping the state’s undocumented immigrants, including a potential measure that would provide them with drivers permits.

The Pew Research Center estimates that about 110,000 undocumented immigrants live in Indiana.  Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane says there are common sense changes the state can make to help not just that population, but all Hoosiers.  That includes providing limited drivers permits to undocumented immigrants if they show proof of insurance – which Lanane calls a public safety measure:

Indiana Senate Republicans / https://www.flickr.com/photos/insenategop/9667357984

Next year’s Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Dan Coats will remain at three challengers after State Senator Mike Delph Tuesday opted against a bid. 

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

 A legislative committee responsible for studying issues within the state’s criminal justice system has a particularly crowded agenda this year, and some lawmakers are questioning whether some of those topics – including Indiana’s sexual assault crisis – will get the attention they need.

The Corrections and Criminal Code committee was assigned 20 different topics to study this summer.  No other committee has more than ten items on its agenda; most have around five.  Topics include offender job programs, elder abuse, human trafficking, and the underreporting of sexual assault. 

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

Indiana Attorney General and congressional candidate Greg Zoeller is worried about potential reverberations among America’s allies in the wake of the United States’ nuclear deal with Iran.

Senate Democrats blocked a resolution to reject the deal Thursday afternoon, solidifying the agreement between the U.S. and the Middle Eastern country.

Zoeller, who has not read the agreement in its entirety, says he knows members of Congress have access to information the general public doesn’t, and so declined on making a definitive statement on how he would have voted on the deal. 

Office of the Governor

Governor Mike Pence, along with 14 other governors, has sent a letter to President Obama expressing opposition to the nation’s proposed nuclear deal with Iran, adding he won’t lift state sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation in support of the agreement.


A bill to expand mental healthcare for veterans has cleared a first hurdle in the Senate, but Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) says there are multiple ways he can try to write the provisions into law.

The Armed Services Committee sent the mental-health bill to the floor last week as part of a national defense bill. But Donnelly says he'll also work through the Veterans Affairs Committee to add coverage for veterans as well.

Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Indiana will close the books today on the fiscal year that ended June 30. State Auditor Suzanne Crouch updates Hoosiers on how the state’s revenues performed. 

But Crouch’s Democratic opponent in this fall’s election is accusing the Pence administration of “cooking the books.”

Indiana tax collections struggled for much of the fiscal year, prompting Pence to cut state agency and university budgets and even sell one of the state planes. 

House Committee on Education and Workforce / https://www.flickr.com/photos/edlabordems/4579749374

An ethics committee investigating charges against former state school superintendent Tony Bennett is considering a settlement

The inspector general filed an ethics complaint against Bennett in November alleging he used government resources during his re-election campaign in 2012. 

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

Congressman Todd Rokita (R-4th) visited Lafayette Friday for the latest in his "Congress On Your Corner’"series of town hall meetings.

WBAA’s Stan Jastrzebski caught up with the congressman after the talk to ask about the tone of the discussion and about whether his likely re-election in November changes the way he speaks to constituents.

courtesy Dan Coats

Senator Dan Coats (R-IN) and several other conservative Republicans have penned a letter to President Obama accusing him of, in their words, exacerbating a humanitarian crisis that’s led to a flood of Central American migrants into the U.S.

Coats and fellow Senate Appropriations Committee Republicans Thad Cochran (R-MS), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) accuse the Obama Administration of not enforcing the nation’s immigration laws – despite the fact the number of deportations of illegal immigrants is up during Obama’s tenure.

courtesy Bionca Gambill

Indiana‘s newest state representative will be campaigning in November to win a career in the House chamber that lasts longer than one day.

Former township trustee Bionca Gambill (D-Terre Haute) replaces Kreg Battles (D-Vincennes), who resigned last month. She was sworn in in time to take part in a special one-day session to fix errors in two new laws, but the House won‘t reconvene until after the November general election.

File Photo

“Realistic” – that’s the word Indiana Democrats keep using when talking about November’s election.  Republicans hold six of eight statewide elected seats and control both houses of the General Assembly with supermajorities. 

State Democratic Party chair John Zody says the message he’s getting out is that putting Dems back in the majority isn’t going to happen overnight:

“It’s going to be multiple election cycles and that’s where we know we are and people are talking about that and realistic and they’re focused – and that’s exactly where we need to be,” Zody says.