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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.

Dillon Beach / https://www.flickr.com/photos/momboleum/2247313447

Only 13-percent of registered Indiana voters went to the polls for May’s primary election. 

The 2014 primary election was atypical for Indiana – there were no statewide races on the ballot, the first time that’s happened since 2002.  Only three statewide officers are up for election in November – Secretary of State, Treasurer and Auditor – and those candidates are chosen at the state party conventions. 

Speaker of the House John Boehner's office / https://www.flickr.com/photos/speakerboehner/13607898585

The first member of Congress to call for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki's resignation says Shinseki's exit needs to be the start of reform efforts, not the end.

Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-2nd) says the lengthy wait times at VA hospitals and cooked books to conceal them should lead to criminal charges against those directly responsible, and a fresh set of eyes at the top to order a comprehensive review.

LuAnn Snawder / https://www.flickr.com/photos/luann_snawder_photography/8289166535

The mold keeping West Lafayette leaders out of city hall may pose unexpected problems as the city considers upgrading from a third class municipality to a second class one.

That’s because the newly-created clerk’s office will likely need a considerable amount of space, according to one clerk who recently made a similar transition.

Clerk Vicki Conlin says Jeffersonville city leaders didn’t realize how much real estate she and her employees would need when, in 2012, that city made the switch.

Terry Ross / https://www.flickr.com/photos/qnr/3336138633

Sens. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Dan Coats (R-IN) aren’t yet joining the ranks of those calling on Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. 

Controversy has swirled around the Veterans Affairs head for weeks amid allegations that VA hospitals around the country manipulated wait lists, leading to treatment delays and even patient deaths. 

Kim Davies / https://www.flickr.com/photos/kjd/2502535352

Delegates gather in Indianapolis next month to lay the groundwork for a constitutional convention.   Indiana is one of more than 20 states to call for a convention to consider amending the Constitution.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) has backed the effort, in hopes of drafting an amendment to realign the balance between state and federal power, and, in his words, bring the national debt under control.

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

Allowing same-sex couples to marry could provide a $39 million boost to Indiana’s economy in the next three years.  That’s according to a recent report from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. 

The study indicates that if same-sex marriage was legalized millions of dollars would be spent on wedding expenses, guest travel and tourism, and sales taxes. 

Ball State University economics professor Michael Hicks says even though the study finds some 550 new jobs could be created as a result of the new industry, the conclusions are a conservative estimate. 

IU-Kokomo Professor To Help Monitor Ukraine Elections

May 14, 2014
IU-Kokomo

An Indiana professor will be among 900 volunteers in Ukraine to help monitor the country‘s upcoming presidential election.

IU- Kokomo Professor Kathy Parkison, an economics professor and the interim Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, will be one of the observers keeping watch at the polling places for signs of voter intimidation or voter fraud.

“You watch the closing, you watch the count. You verify that if they had 35 votes for this and 50 votes for that, or whatever the number is, that they write down 35 and 50,” Parkison says.

Brandon Smith / Indiana Public Broadcasting

Governor Pence made the rounds with business leaders in New York City Tuesday to recruit investment to Indiana. But many believe he was also recruiting opinions as to whether to make a run for the presidency.

Throughout the morning, the governor‘s official Twitter account and that of Katelyn Hancock from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation tweeted pictures and videos from the trip. But IPFW political scientist Andy Downs says the governor’s message has political undertones.

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