Jim Shella’s Political Blog

Murder of policeman prompts new calls for assault weapons ban

July 7th, 2014 at 4:38 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

There are new calls for a ban on assault weapons as a result of the murder of Officer Perry Renn, but it’s still a tough sell in Indiana.

The President has called for a ban on assault weapons but even Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly is unwilling to support a ban.  In a statement sent to 24 Hour News 8, Donnelly said he prefers tougher background checks and a crackdown on gun trafficking.

Congressman André Carson sees it differently.  “I support second amendment rights to bear arms.  I’m a former police officer,” he said.  “But I believe assault weapons should only be in the hands of military personnel and police officers.”

The man accused of shooting Perry Renn used an assault weapon and it sparked calls for change made outside the hospital shortly after the officer’s death.

“We’ll just say that (suspect) Major Davis had and assault weapon,” said Police Chief Rick Hite. “That, in and of itself, says that’s a major problem.”

“Gun violence is a public health problem,” said Dr. Thomas Hayward, “and a social problem that we need to address.”

Monday public safety officials didn’t back off.  “This is not the first time he’s had an assault weapon,” said Chief Hite of Davis. “The question is why?”

“This is not a second amendment debate,” said Public Safety Director Troy Riggs. “This is an issue about enforcing and using those laws that are on the books and strengthening those.”

Among those who want tougher laws, including an assault weapons ban, is state Representative Ed DeLaney, who intends to run for mayor.

“This just drives it home.  It’s just a danger to the police.” he said.  “The police say they’re under threat.  Are we going to protect them or not?”

There is a consensus that something needs to be done.

“The level and the generation and the growing disrespect and contempt for authority that we’re seeing,” said Rep. Carson, “must be put to an end.”

The hope held by public safety officials is that a policeman’s murder will help others focus on what that something is.

Chief Hite also wants tougher sentencing for gun crimes and more community support for troubled kids.  He is calling on the public to get involved and he’s also asking reporters to put pressure on elected officials.

Jim Brainard seeks re-election as Carmel Mayor

July 4th, 2014 at 2:47 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard is running for re-election.

The 2015 Election is still more than a year away but Brainard is making no secret of his plans to seek a record sixth term.

“I’d like to see the development and the good things that have happened here continue,” he said, “and we’ve got a lot of people in Carmel that like the direction the city’s headed in.”

Just last month Brainard was the subject of a feature in the Huffington Post that spelled out his work to improve the environment, work that includes the creation of 50 roundabouts in Carmel.

This week he’s in the New York Times, cited for creating a community with a European feel.

Brainard explained his approach at a jobs announcement earlier this week.  “It’s about creating cities that people want to be in,” he said, “cities that people want to work in, cities that people want to raise their families in.”

And, a city where the governor shows up on the 4th of July.

“And the success here in Carmel and the leadership that Mayor Brainard has provided I think have really set the pace,” said Governor Mike Pence, “for communities like this around the country.”

But could Brainard wear out his welcome?  The state GOP Chairman doesn’t think so.  “Certainly election results the past few times have not shown that,” said Tim Berry.

For Brainard it’s all about making Carmel different.  “We have one of the highest percents of college educated folks anywhere in the United States,” he said.  “I think we’re fourth or fifth.”

And if he creates enough change, the voters just may decide to stay with the same mayor one more time.


July 4th, 2014 at 12:54 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Indiana Week in Review is on at a special time on TV20 tonight due to 4th of July coverage.  You can see it at 7:30pm.  All of the regulars will be there discuss the following:

  • The governor’s decision on whether to recognize gay marriages
  • The charge that the Division of Child Services is a “deadbeat parent”
  • 2 members of Congress tour the Indianapolis VA hospital
  • Connie Lawson establishes new crowdfunding rules
  • World Cup fever in Indy

Attorney General defends his gay marriage stance

July 3rd, 2014 at 3:44 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Attorney General Greg Zoeller is defending his role in the gay marriage battle now underway in the federal courts.  He is making his feelings known in an opinion piece sent to Indiana newspapers.

Zoeller’s appeal of the ruling that struck down Indiana’s gay marriage ban and his request for a stay of that ruling are no surprise.  He previewed his actions in a March 18th news conference at the Statehouse.

“The current rule of law,” he said at the time, “supports the state’s authority to set the licensing for marriage and we’ll continue to defend that until the Supreme Court tells us differently.”

Now he’s the target of protests and petitions, “Urging the attorney general to stop wasting taxpayer money,” said gay activist Kyle Megrath last week.

And so Zoeller authored an op-ed piece in which he writes, “Not to have requested a stay would have been a dereliction of duty.”

On Indiana Week in Review it was pointed out that he could let the judge’s ruling stand.  “He is not duty bound,” said John Ketzenberger of the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute. “I will object to that because he had a choice to make.”

“He chose to take the intolerant position,” said Democrat Ann DeLaney, “and he should be aware of that and he should own up to it.”

In the op-ed piece Zoeller wrote that “some view me as being on the ‘wrong side of history or even bigoted, homophobic or uncaring.”

“None of that,” he wrote, “is accurate.”

“He is duty bound to protect the laws that the legislature passed,” said Republican Mike McDaniel, “and that’s the way he sees it and that’s what he’s doing.”

But Zoeller understands.  He wrote that being an elected official means being subjected to criticism.

He also made the point that this is an issue that is “impossible to address in a way that the public would accept as being fair to all concerned.”

Governor Pence applies for HIP expansion

July 2nd, 2014 at 4:25 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

The state of Indiana sent a formal request to the Obama Administration Wednesday to expand the Healthy Indiana Plan to as many as 350,000 people.

It’s a medicaid expansion under another name and the governor continued his sales pitch for it with a visit to a primary care clinic at St. Vincent Hospital to help drive home the importance of health insurance.  40% of the patients there have none.

“They go to the emergency department and our emergency department knows that they don’t have insurance,” a doctor told the governor, “and so they send them here.”

The governor met with hospital executives who would like to see HIP 2.0, the expansion of the Healthy Indiana Plan, in place at the first of the year.

“HIP 2.0 is just an injection,” said St. Vincent President Jonathan Nalli, “to support our mission of caring for the poor, the vulnerable, and the marginalized.”

“We’re laying the groundwork for that to be ready,” said Pence, “the very moment federal officials and the state of Indiana reach an agreement to move forward.”

There was fanfare when the governor rolled out his plan in May and since then there has been bi-partisan support.  Hospitals have agreed to pay new fees to help make it happen, in part, because a HIP expansion could also create thousands of new hospital jobs.

But when he met with reporters at the end of his visit to St. Vincent the governor made it clear again that there is no guarantee that the federal government will accept his plan.

“Frankly, it’s very difficult,” he said, “for us to estimate how long that deliberation by federal officials and how long our negotiations may take.”

It’s why he is still out building public support for a plan that is different from what other states have done because it calls for recipients to contribute through co-payments or health savings accounts.

The governor says that if the federal government rejects or waters down those elements of the plan, he will reconsider the decision to expand health insurance in Indiana.

2 members of Congress tour the Roudabush VA Medical Center

July 1st, 2014 at 5:44 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

WISH-TV news was the only television outlet invited to take part in a tour of the Roudebush VA Medical Center Tuesday.  The invitation came from two members of Congress who are concerned about the level of care at Roudebush and other VA facilites.

Rep. Jackie Walorski and Rep. Susan Brooks teamed up for a guided tour of the Roudebush VA Medical Center.  Walorski is on the Congressional committee that oversees the Veterans Administration and had never been here before.

She came because Roudebush is one of 122 VA medical facilities flagged in a report by the Inspector General citing problems with wait times for appointments other issues.

“I wanted to come here and meet the people face to face,” she said, “meet the administrators face to face, the staff, more importantly talk to the veterans.”

One of the veterans she and Brooks met is retired Air Force pilot Ron Schaeffer of Westfield.  He provided them with a testimonial based on three surgeries and other hospital visits.

“So, I’ve spent a lot of time here,” he said.  “I’ve gotten good care here at the Roudebush Medical Center.”

Even so, Hospital Director Tom Mattice knows there is a problem with public perception.  “There is an image problem out there,” he said. “We are certainly trying to address it in anyway we can locally.”

Brooks and Walorski met privately with hospital officials and part of the tour was conducted without the media.

“We all wanna work on behalf of veterans, make sure we’ve got the best health system possible,” said Rep. Brooks.  “There’s still some issues.”

“I’m concerned about the level of care all over the state of Indiana,” said Rep. Walorski, “which is why I’m making these visits.”

Representative Waloski left the hospital with questions and, she said, a need to do more research.

She said that eventually she will issue a report on what she found out, but she also concluded by saying,”We’re going to turn this around.”

Connie Lawson spells out crowdfunding rules

July 1st, 2014 at 11:33 am by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

There are new rules in place for business owners in Indiana who hope to use Internet crowdfunding to raise money from investors.

Secretary of State Connie Lawson spelled out the rules Tuesday morning at the Speak Easy in Broad Ripple.  That’s a community center for entrepreneurs where members share ideas and strategies.

The crowdfunding rules allow a registered company to raise up to $2 million.  It’s intended to help out start-ups as well as existing companies.

“Now anyone can invest up to $5,000 in an Indiana-based offer,” said Lawson.  “Previously, only relative wealthy people who qualified as an accredited investor could buy shares of companies not listed on a public stock exchange.”

Indiana is one of just five states that regulate crowdfunding.  A new law that takes effect today made the new rules necessary.

Governor Pence must decide whether to recognize gay marriages

June 30th, 2014 at 5:27 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

What happens to the hundreds of gay marriages that took place in Indiana last week?

Because a federal appeals court has placed a judicial stay on legalized gay marriage there is confusion.

The federal government will recognize the same sex marriages conducted in Indiana, but it’s up to the governor to decide if state government will also recognize them.

It’s a decision that can affect tax filing, job benefits, hospital visitation, and more.

Governor Mike Pence is researching what to do.  “We’re obtaining counsel from our general counsel’s office as well as the Attorney General,” he said, “to determine the right way forward for the state of Indiana and the programs in the state of Indiana, so I’ll be making that decision and making that public in the days ahead.”

Pence’s support of traditional marriage is well known but he said that’s not part of his calculation.

“How I feel about the issue is really secondary to what the law requires,” he said.

High Tech jobs coming to Kokomo

June 30th, 2014 at 4:35 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Hundreds of new jobs are coming to Kokomo and Carmel and they’re not just any jobs.

They are high paying, high tech jobs created by a company called Systems in Motion, a firm based in the Silicon Valley of California

For Kokomo, in particular, it’s a watershed moment.  Consider that Kokomo is a city that depends on the auto industry and not too many years ago it was considered a dying town.

Monday’s announcement points Kokomo in a new direction.  The 240 new jobs are the kind that will expand the middle class and diversify the economy.

“Kokomo’s future’s never looked brighter,” said Mayor Greg Goodnight (D-Kokomo,) “and Systems in Motion is a part of that future.”

Systems in Motion builds computer software and that’s the sort of thing that is usually done elsewhere.

“For years and years these jobs have been moving overseas,” said company spokeswoman Stephanie Moore, “and there’s absolutely no reason for that to happen.”

Both state and local incentives are a factor in the deal and Governor Mike Pence came to take some credit for Indiana’s tax climate and education system.

“That’s a combination that is winning jobs across the spectrum,” said Pence, “but it’s winning in the high tech area as well.”

But for Kokomo this is a story of survival in a city that was hit hard by the recession.

“We actually have more jobs than we did pre-recession,” said Mayor Goodnight, “but we’re always trying to.. I joke around that I’m a little bit greedy.  I want as many people to live here, work here as much as possible.”

All of the jobs from Monday’s announcement will be in place by 2017.  Hiring begins next month.

Systems in Motion will also create another 160 jobs in Carmel for a total of 400.  It will invest $5.4 million in the two communities.


June 27th, 2014 at 2:59 pm by under Jim Shella's Political Blog

Lesley Weidenbener is in for Jon Schwantes as the Indiana Week in Review panel takes on these topics:

  • Gay marriage is legal
  • The ongoing appeals of the marriage ruling
  • The governor’s tax summit
  • Jackie Walorski takes on the VA
  • Mitch Daniels talks about a man on Mars
  • Grand Park