No matter where you fall on the political spectrum it is of the utmost importance that you perform your civic duty and vote. For those in Indiana the chance to register to vote in the ever important primary election (to take place on May 8th, 2018) is fast approaching. If you want to register vote you only have until April 9th to do so, do not put this ever important task off: register to vote by going to the state government’s voter registration website to ensure you can make your voice heard.
If you are under 18 years of age currently but will turn 18 before the NOVEMBER election you are still allowed to register to vote in the primary. Many 17 year olds will shirk their responsibility to register because they think their nominal age in May rules them out, however you most definitely can still cast your vote if you will be turning 18 before the November midterms.
It truly goes without saying that voting is the backbone of our democracy yet every election millions of Americans sit out and do not cast their ballot. Luckily, there is still plenty of time to get educated on the candidates running for office in Indiana. However, the time to register to vote is running out very quickly. A duty of this importance should not be trusted to be done at the last minute, so do your civic job and get registered to vote before the April 9th deadline comes and goes.
The state highway located in Kokomo, Indiana, will be closed on a temporary basis. This will allow construction on a new pedestrian bridge to be completed that will expand the northern Indiana recreational trail over the highway. This bridge is something that legislators have been talking about for a very long time. However, they had a very hard time getting all of the financing together in order to pay for the construction of the bridge. The total cost is estimated to be in the neighborhood of $2 million.
The bridge project should be completed by Memorial Day. The total length of the trail is roughly 40 miles. The city will provide updates to residents about the status of the construction. This will let people know when the highway will be opened up again. Many people believe that the bridge should have been opened a long time ago. However, the contractors who will be building the bridge say that a project like this should not be rushed. It must be done right in order to ensure that it lasts for many years to come.
There were rumors that the bridge would be built five years ago. City planners had even started to talk to local contractors to get price estimates. However, the project fell through at that time because the money could not be raised. Residents are very happy that the bridge construction is finally underway. They believe this will be a huge upgrade for all of the local community to enjoy.
Late March has not brought an end to the bad weather that has plagued Indiana throughout the winter. In fact, the southern part of Indiana has received snow that has added up to more than eight inches. This has led to gridlock on many of the major freeways in the region. It was not just southern Indiana that has been hammered by snow. The eastern and central parts of the state have also experienced much heavier snowfall than they usually get at this time of the year.
As you might expect, the snow has caused many people to lose control of their cars while they were driving. Therefore, many accidents have occurred on the roads where the snowfall has been the heaviest. The most snow fell in Salem where more than eight inches was reported. The city of Floyds Knobs reported more than seven inches of snow. Fortunately, the road crews in Indiana have done a great job of clearing the snow and making the busiest roads passable. This is because they have been monitoring the national weather reports constantly. They knew that heavy snowfall was going to happen. Therefore, they were already on the roads laying down salt long before the storms arrived. This type of proactive approach has helped to make sure that many roads are kept open to traffic. Muncie had several inches of snow and so did Indianapolis. The good news is that the snow is expected to stop coming down within the next 24 hours.
While most of the state of Indiana is located within the Eastern Time Zone, there are currently twelve counties in the western half that use the Central Time Zone an hour behind. As one would imagine, this can make traveling around the state a bit of a hassle, causing some people to call for a standardization. Unfortunately, that likely won’t happen anytime soon.
A resolution introduced to the state government by Senator Greg Walker of Columbia was recently killed before it had the chance to get to a vote. Though it managed to pass the Senate Homeland Security and Transportation committee in a 5 to 1 vote, Senator Walker said there simply wasn’t enough support in the Senate itself to make a vote worth taking, though he will look into pursuing the issue again in the future.
The resolution, if passed, would not have actually caused a time change to begin with, only requiring state officials to begin research into the effects of a time zone standardization to Central Time and whether or not it could work. In fact, there would be no commitment to changing the time zone at all beyond the research itself, but it still could not find the support for a vote.
Prior to 1965, the entirety of Indiana actually was located within the Central Time Zone, but the Interstate Commerce Commission divided it into Central and Eastern for various reasons. Though it has been debated off and on since then, the closest thing to a resolution the issue has found so far is a 2005 decision for the state to begin observing Daylight Savings.
The Indiana Department of Correction has launched a program in which soon-to-be-released prison female inmates were taught how to weld. Many people in Indiana lack the education to find themselves a good-paying job. Most prisoners return after being released due to the lack of a proper job to keep them out of the criminal world. With the new program, women inmates have a real chance of having a good start-up when returning back to freedom.
Ten inmates were the first ones to take up the program. They were taught all they need to know about welding. Those inmates have now graduated from the program with a renewed sense of hope about their future.
Inmates share that the welding was overwhelming for them at first. The women were able to learn eventually thanks to Ivy Tech, a school that partners with the Indiana Department of Correction.
After an 80-hour welding course, there was a graduation ceremony in which the inmates delivered speeches of hope and gratefulness for the given chance. Some of those women were in jail for dealing drugs for money. Now they are glad that they will be able to provide themselves and their families with a stable salary to cover their bills.
“I just want them to see that people make mistakes and that it shouldn’t define them, and that they can be a better person, and that I love them and do anything I can for them,” said Brackett, one of the graduates whose children attender her graduation ceremony.
The Indiana State Sycamores are one of the few college basketball programs that can claim they have won a national championship, but the team has really struggled the past few years. The 2017-18 season has not been very rewarding for the Sycamores, but the team refuses to quit on their coach. The tenacity of this team was shown when they pulled off an impressive win over the Evansville Purple Aces on Wednesday, February 21.
Neither Evansville or Indiana State have a great offense, but both teams really struggled shooting the basketball in the first half. Both teams were running their offenses efficiently, but they just could not find a way to hit an open hot. The lack of scoring created an ugly half that ended with the game tied 21-21.
The halftime break worked wonders for both teams. The easy shots that were clanging off the rim in the first half were starting to go in the hoop in the second half. Indiana State took a five-point lead after only playing for two minutes, but the Purple Aces quickly mounted a comeback. The game remained extremely close until the Sycamores went on a big scoring run over the final eight minutes of the game. Evansville kept the game from becoming a blowout, but they still fell to Indiana State 58-53.
Indiana State has no shot at a postseason tournament berth thanks to their 12-17 record. They will play their final game of the regular season against the Bradley Braves on Saturday, February 24.
One of the state of Indiana’s oldest and most outdated laws will soon be history. It has been illegal to sell alcohol on Sundays in Indiana since the Prohibition days almost 90 years ago. However, the Indiana senate has voted to do away with that law. Governor Holcomb will soon sign a bill into law that will allow stores to sell alcohol from 12pm to 8pm on Sundays. This is a big step forward for a state that has many laws that citizens feel should no longer be on the books. Stores that sell alcohol were very happy that their long battle to do away with that law is finally over.
However, Indiana still has several laws related to the sale of alcohol that many people are also against. One of which involves the sale of cold beer. Convenience stores can only sell beer that is room temperature. They want to have the ability to sell cold beer to their customers. However, there is no current legislation under review for the legalization of cold beer sales in the state of Indiana. Governor Holcomb would not say one way or another if he was in favor of such legislation.
One of the reasons the Sunday ban on alcohol sales was able to be done away with is because the liquor store lobbyists donated a lot of money to the campaign funds of many top Indiana politicians. Therefore, the issue of getting the Sunday ban lifted became very important to the politicians who received donations.
On Thursday, February 22, 2018, the Indiana State Senate passed a bill to permit sales of alcohol on Sundays. Sales will be permitted as soon as Governor Eric Holcomb the following week. Boozers are expected to be able to purchase a six-pack on their way home from church as early as March 4. The new law will apply to liquor stores, pharmacies, groceries and convenience stores.
Selling alcohol on Sunday has been against the law in Indiana since William Henry Harrison was President of the United States. The 1945 ban triggered thirsty crowds into flipping police cars. According to Title 7.1, Article 1 of Indiana Code 2017, it is illegal to sell alcohol from 3 am on Sundays until 7 am on Mondays.
The ban was enacted during the Prohibition era, when religious groups put pressure on lawmakers to keep Sunday set aside for worship. For years, the law persisted due to economic reasons; religion had little to do with it. Paradoxically, it was the liquor store lobby that labored to keep the ban in place. They objected to the potential for competition from big box stores and pharmacies. Booze-only shops were loathe to pay staff to work on Sundays. Anti-alcohol organizations also kept up the pressure to keep at least one day of the week alcohol-free.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for sacrificial weed to become legalized, though. Based on the length of time it has taken state legislators to overturn the 1945 ban, marijuana may not become legal until the year 2243.
The Carrier plant in Indianapolis laid off 215 of its employees Thursday in a cost-cutting move. The Indiana-based heating and air-conditioning plant’s latest round of lay-offs comes after already sending 600 jobs from the Indianapolis plant to Carrier’s facilities in Monterrey Mexico this past year.
The job cuts come one year after a highly publicized visit by then president-elect Donald Trump claiming to have negotiated a deal between Carrier’s parent company United Technologies, and the state of Indiana to save the plant from closing. The deal included 7 million dollars in tax incentives for the company to remain in business in Indiana.
Addressing a crowd of supporters and employees at the Carrier plant last December Trump promised, “Companies are not going to be leaving the United States any more without consequences. Not going to happen.” The President even made the claim of adding jobs to the plant, “And by the way, that number is going to go up substantially as they expand this area, this plant. So the 1,100 is going to be a minimum number”.
Last November the Rexnord Corporation, members of the same labor union as Carrier, closed down its nearby Indianapolis plant costing 300 workers their jobs. This year United Technologies also has plans to close their UTEC facility in Huntington Indiana, costing the state another 700 jobs. Around 60 former Carrier employees have enrolled in a company sponsored educational reimbursement program to earn a academic degree.
The state of Indiana is finding itself in the cross hairs of a lawsuit filed by a former inmate, Keith Cooper. The lawsuit is for the time he spent in prison, and he has a good chance considering he is the first person in Indiana’s history who has ever been pardoned for being innocent.
Cooper was convicted of armed robbery which caused him to spend a decade in prison. Cooper is now fifty years old, and living as a free man. His case came into the spotlight when Vice President Mike Pence, who was then serving as the governor of Indiana, received Coopers file with unanimous recommendations from the state parole board for exoneration and still declined to issue a pardon for Cooper.
Following Trumps win and Pence’s move to the White House, his predecessor, Eric Holcomb, quickly granted Cooper’s pardon which made him the very first man in the history of the state of Indiana to be pardoned for innocents. Cooper invested a lot of time in this pardon, six years of waiting for the pardon from the parole board followed by three years of waiting for the governor’s office to act on said pardon.
Now that Cooper is a free man, he has filed a complaint against the City of Elkhart, Indiana as well as the local police department stating that they manufactured and create evidence against him to create his guilt. Cooper was convicted of a 1996 robbery where one man was shot. Twelve years after the incident, in 2008, two key witnesses in the original trial, Michael Kershner and his mother Nona Canell, both gave statements that were recorded stating they had misidentified Cooper in the crime. Canell even stated that during the investigation she had even requested to see a suspect lineup but the Steve Rezutka, the lead detective on the case, told her there was no need because they had the right man. In 2006 DNA evidence even put another man at the scene, and the state court judge who had originally sentence Cooper offered him a deal for resentencing him for time served. Cooper was freed at that time but was still a convicted felon.
Five years later, Cooper filed a petition to have the crime he did not commit expunged from his record. After three years, the state parole board finally voted unanimously that Cooper be pardoned and sent the recommendation to Governor Mike Pence. Pence then did not act on the pardon for two years. In the summer of 2016, while Pence was campaigning with Trump for the Presidency, he had a letter sent to Cooper stating that to his knowledge, Cooper had not filed a petition with the Elkhart County court to determine weather post-conviction relief was available, the letter also stated that Pence would not be acting on the pardon.
Cooper spent years fighting to regain his good name, and it was well worth the effort because he has now restored his reputation. His lawsuit is pending, and while it does not name the governor in it, it does specifically name Rezutko, the investigator in the robbery, for maliciously prosecuting Cooper with false evidence. Cooper states that due to all this, he now suffers from depression as well as PTSD. If you would like to have a more detailed run down of the case, head to Buzzfeed.