Countdown to Election Day: 48 days

Important Indiana Election Dates:

October 5 - 2020 Voter Registration Ends

October 22 - Deadline to Request Mail-In Ballot

November 3 -  General Election Day

November 14 - Military/Overseas Ballots Must be Received (must be postmarked by November 3)

Local, state, and federal highlights in today’s memo include:

  • Capitol Hill Update: “Problem Solvers Caucus” Unveils COVID-19 Relief Proposal; Pelosi to Keep House in DC Until a Deal is Reached

  • Federal Reserve to Meet After Sharp Changes to its Outlook

  • DOL Revises Regulations to Clarify Paid Leave Requirements Under Families First Coronavirus Response Act

  • Distrusting Big Pharma and the FDA

  • Trump Administration Can End Humanitarian Protection for Some Immigrants, Appeals Court Rules

  • Ivy Tech Details New Campus

  • Important Dates

  • Daily Numbers

    Let’s dive in.

 
 

Capitol Hill Update: “Problem Solvers Caucus” Unveils COVID-19 Relief Proposal; Pelosi to Keep House in DC Until a Deal is Reached


What’s new: The House Problem Solvers Caucus has unveiled a bipartisan relief package for COVID-19. The proposal, led by caucus co-heads Reps. Reed (R-NY) and Gottheimer (D-NJ), is intended to serve as a short-term measure to shore up existing programs and provide new funding that would last through January 2021. Specifically, the package calls for $1.5 trillion in new spending, with $100 billion directed to health care programs, with $25 billion to be used for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing. State and local governments would receive an additional $500 billion under the plan, and schools would receive $145 billion. The United States Postal Service would receive $15 billion in additional money and another round of funding would be allocated for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Finally, another round of $1,200 direct economic income assistance payments would be provided, and the federal eviction moratorium would be extended and rental assistance would be provided for up to $25 billion.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday announced that the House will remain in session until the parties have an agreement on another round of emergency coronavirus relief. 

In a conference call with the House Democratic Caucus — the first since the chamber returned from a long summer recess — Pelosi indicated she isn't willing to accept a "skinny" legislative package, but told her troops the chamber's calendar will be extended until an agreement is sealed, according to sources on the call. 

“We have to stay here until we have a bill,” Pelosi told lawmakers.

The surprise development reflects both the severity of the public health and economic crises caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the growing pressure Pelosi is facing from the moderate wing of her party, which is clamoring for leadership to vote on another aid package before Congress leaves town again for the elections.

The practical effects of the announcement, however, will likely be slight.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) acknowledged that most lawmakers will likely return to their districts when the scheduled session ends on Oct. 2, leaving party leaders seeking to hash out an agreement with the White House. If such a deal emerges, then members would be called back to Washington. In that sense, the dynamics would look very similar to those surrounding the long August recess, when the Capitol was all but empty. (The Hill)

 
 

Federal Reserve to Meet After Sharp Changes to its Outlook


Federal Reserve policymakers will meet this week for the first time since they significantly revised the Fed’s operating framework in ways that will likely keep short-term interest rates near zero for years to come.

As a result, analysts expect the Fed will keep its benchmark rate unchanged after the two-day meeting that ends Wednesday. It has been pegged at nearly zero since March after the pandemic and the measures taken to contain it essentially shut down the economy.

But the statement that Fed policymakers released Wednesday is expected to contain revisions that reflect the sweeping changes that Fed Chair Jerome Powell announced late last month in how the central bank operates. The Fed will also issue its quarterly economic projections, which will for the first time include estimates for growth, unemployment and the Fed’s benchmark interest rate for 2023.

Those projections may underscore how long the Fed expects to keep rates low. Analysts expect they will show that the Fed foresees keeping its benchmark rate at nearly zero through 2023.

Powell issued the Fed’s new framework at a virtual meeting of economists and central bankers last month. The changes are significant, though some analysts have complained that details of how the changes will be implemented are lacking.

In one key shift, the Fed will no longer follow its longtime practice of raising its benchmark interest rate simply because the unemployment rate has fallen to a low level that could spur inflation. Instead, it will wait for actual evidence that prices are rising. That reflects a view among some high-ranking Fed officials that economic models it has used in the past no longer accurately reflect how the economy works.

Instead, low unemployment and even rising wages no longer necessarily push up inflation, Fed officials believe. With most consumers and businesses accustomed to mild price increases, they have adjusted their behavior in ways that act to keep inflation low. Businesses, for example, facing increased global competition, are less likely to pass on higher labor costs to customers.

The Fed also made a critical change to its 2% inflation target, which it formally set in 2012. The central bank now seeks inflation that averages 2% over a period of time, rather than a static target of 2% that ignores previous shortfalls. (Indianapolis Business Journal)

 
 

DOL Revises Regulations to Clarify Paid Leave Requirements Under Families First Coronavirus Response Act


The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has updated revisions to regulations that implemented the paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The updated revisions clarify workers’ rights and employers’ responsibilities under the law’s paid leave provisions.

Specifically, the revisions reaffirm the requirement that employees make take FFCRA leave only if work would otherwise be available, and reaffirm the requirement that an employee must have employer approval to take FFCRA leave intermittently. The revisions also clarify that employees must provide required documentation supporting their need to take FFCRA leave and changes the definition of healthcare provider to include only employees who meet the definition of that term under the Family and Medical Leave Act. 

 All information is here.

 
 

Distrusting Big Pharma and the FDA


Axios' Margaret Talev writes: Fewer than one in 10 Americans have a great deal of trust in the Food and Drug Administration or pharmaceutical companies to look out for their interests, in the latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Why it matters: This two-headed credibility crisis — over the medicine that's supposed to keep us safe and the regulators tasked with ensuring it does — shows how difficult it may be to get Americans to converge around a vaccine when the time comes.

  • This also underscores the dangers of politicizing government agencies tasked with administering science and protecting the public.

What they're saying: "It’s going to be hard for the authorities to communicate what people should be doing and how to be doing it," said pollster Chris Jackson, SVP for Ipsos Public Affairs.

  • "There’s going to be a huge organizational challenge in how do we get people pulling in the same direction — because nobody’s really trusted."

Between the lines: While both have their doubters, the FDA is the more trusted of the two for now.

  • 57% of Americans have some degree of trust in the FDA, though only 8% of those categorized it as a great deal of trust while the balance said they have a fair amount of trust.

  • Another 42% said they had either not very much trust in the FDA or none at all.

  • For pharmaceutical companies, the attitudes were flipped: 42% had some trust in the industry, though only 6% said they had a great deal of trust. Meanwhile, 57% said they had not very much or none at all.

  • Hispanic respondents have the most trust in both institutions; white respondents have the least.

By the numbers: More than half of respondents age 65 or older — but only one-third of adults under 30 — say they trust pharmaceutical companies.

  • Proximity to cities is a better predictor of skepticism about the FDA or pharmaceutical companies than party ID.

60% of urban respondents and 57% in suburbs, but only 49% in rural areas, express trust in the FDA. When it comes to pharmaceutical companies, only one-third of rural residents express trust, 10 percentage points lower than for suburban or urban areas. (Axios)

 
 

Trump Administration Can End Humanitarian Protection for Some Immigrants, Appeals Court Rules


The Trump administration can wind down humanitarian protections for hundreds of thousands of immigrants from at least four countries, a federal appeals court in California ruled on Monday.

In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, reversed a 2018 lower court ruling that blocked the administration from phasing out Temporary Protected Status, known as TPS, for immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan.

TPS gives the secretary of Homeland Security the authority to provide legal protections and work permits to immigrants from countries deemed too dangerous to return to, typically because of war or natural disaster. The Trump administration during 2017 and 2018 terminated TPS for the four countries as well as Honduras and Nepal.

TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Sudan and their children sued the administration, saying the decisions were unlawful. Monday’s ruling is also likely to affect TPS holders from Honduras and Nepal who in February 2019 filed a separate lawsuit that was put on hold the following month pending the outcome of the case decided Monday. The ruling is likely to eventually be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Together, about 300,000 immigrants from the six countries stand to be impacted, according to the Congressional Research Service.

The Bush and Obama administrations routinely renewed the six countries’ TPS every six to 18 months.

The Trump administration has said that conditions in the six countries have since improved, and that previous administrations treated TPS, which was created in 1990, as a de facto permanent status. (Wall Street Journal)

 
 

Ivy Tech Details New Campus


Ivy Tech Community College says a site in Noblesville will become its 19th official campus. The site will be rebranded as the Ivy Tech Hamilton County campus and the college plans to conduct a national search to recruit a chancellor. Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann says part of the transition over the next several months will include the addition of a full slate of programs that are matched to the employers of Hamilton County.

"And as we've grown, that site is now the size of a campus," said Ellspermann. "We now have about 1,200 students on that campus; we think that number could double, triple, quadruple in the coming years if we're serving Hamilton County, the employers, the students, our K-12 partners in a way that we know we can."

Ivy Tech began offering classes at the former Noblesville High School building in 2014, but has held classes in Hamilton County since 1995. 

Ellspermann says the site still has a lot of space and room to grow. She says the transition to an official campus on July 1, 2021 will change the structure of the site.

"It'll have a chancellor of its own and cabinet. That means it will control it's own destiny," she says. "It's been a child, if you will, of the Indianapolis campus until this time. Now it's grown up."

The Noblesville site currently has a few full programs of its own, but Ellspermann says the campus will now have a full portfolio of programs that will be run by its own leadership team. (Inside Indiana Business)

 
 

Important Dates


Wednesday, September 16 - 10:00 am - Agriculture and Natural Resources Interim Study Committee - Senate Chamber

Wednesday, September 16 - 10:00 am - Public Safety and Military Affairs Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Thursday, September 17 - 10:00 am - 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force - Senate Chamber

Thursday, September 17 - 10:00 am - Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Human Services Interim Study Committee - House Chamber - CANCELLED

Monday, September 21 - 10:00 am - Employment and Labor Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Monday, September 21 - 10:00 am - Indiana Standards and Accommodation Task Force - Senate Chamber

Tuesday, September 22 - 11:00 am - Corrections and Criminal Code Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Wednesday, September 23 - 10:00 am                                                                 Pension Management Oversight Study Committee - Room 404

Thursday, September 24 - 10:00 am - Public Safety and Military Affairs Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Thursday, September 24 - 10:00 am - Roads and Transportation Interim Study Committee - Senate Chamber

Monday, September 28 - 10:00 am - Code Revision Commission - House Chamber

Tuesday, September 29 - 10:00 am - Financial Institutions and Insurance Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Wednesday, September 30 - 10:00 am - Probate Code Study Commission - House Chamber

Wednesday, September 30 - 1:00 pm - Interim Study Committee on Courts and the Judiciary - House Chamber

Thursday, October 1 - 9:00 am - Legislative Continuity Committee - Room 233

Thursday, October 1 - 10:00 am - 21st Century Energy Policy Development Policy Task Force - House Chamber

Monday, October 5 - 10:00 am - Indiana Standards and Assessment Task Force, House Chamber 

Tuesday, October 6 - 11:00 am - Corrections and Criminal Code Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Wednesday, October 7 - 10:00 am - Probate Study Commission - Senate Chamber

Thursday, October 8 -  10:00 am - Fiscal Policy Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Thursday, October 8 - 10:00 am - Roads and Transportation Interim Study Committee - Room 233

Wednesday, October 14 - 10:00 am - Pension Management Oversight Study Committee - Room 404

Thursday, October 15 - 10:00 am - 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force - House Chamber

Wednesday, October 21 - 10:00 am - Probate Code Study Commission - Senate Chamber

Thursday, November 12 - 10:00 am - 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force - House Chamber

Thursday, November 19 - 10:00 am - 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force - House Chamber

 
 

By The Numbers …


COVID-19 Cases

*New cases: 758

Total cumulative cases reported Tuesday: 107,229

Total cumulative cases reported Monday: 106,540

Increase in cumulative cases: 689

Increase in cases reported Aug. 1-Sept. 1: 27,769

Increase in cases reported July 1-Aug. 1: 21,170

Increase in cases reported June 1-July 1: 11,122

Increase in cases reported May 1-June. 1: 16,065

COVID-19 Deaths

New deaths: 20

Total deaths: 3,235

Increase in deaths reported Aug. 1-Sept. 1: 322

Increase in deaths reported July 1-Aug. 1: 315

Increase in deaths reported June 1-July 1: 480

Increase in deaths reported May 1-June. 1: 914

Increase in deaths reported April 1-May 1: 997

COVID-19 Testing

New tested individuals: 7,644

Total cumulative tested individuals reported Tuesday: 1,254,731

Total cumulative tested individuals reported Monday: 1,247,293

Increase in cumulative tested individuals: 7,438

Cumulative positivity rate unique individuals: 8.5%

Seven-day positivity rate unique individuals: 7%**

Cumulative positivity rate all tests: 6.2%

Seven-day positivity rate all tests: 5.1%**

Increase in unique tested individuals reported Aug. 1-Sept. 1: 325,159

Increase in unique tested individuals reported July 1-Aug. 1: 268,890

Increase in unique tested individuals reported June 1-July 1: 223,820

Increase in unique tested individuals reported May 1-June 1: 166,257

Increase in unique tested individuals reported April 1-May 1: 85,264

** The health department reports the 7-day positivity rates with a six-day lag to allow time for more comprehensive results.

County Numbers

Marion County cumulative cases: 20,196 (increase of 49)

Marion County new deaths: 1

Marion County cumulative deaths: 756

Marion County 7-day positivity rate unique individuals: 5.8%

Hamilton County cumulative cases: 4,546

Hendricks County cumulative cases: 2,572

Johnson County cumulative cases: 2,218

Madison County cumulative cases: 1,503

Boone County cumulative cases: 936

Hancock County cumulative cases: 881

Morgan County cumulative cases: 667

Shelby County cumulative cases: 649

Indiana Intensive Care Unit Usage

Available ICU beds: 41.3%

ICU beds in use by COVID-19 patients: 10.1%

Available ventilators: 81.4%

Ventilators in use for COVID-19: 2.3%

U.S. and Worldwide Numbers

As of Tuesday, from Johns Hopkins University:

U.S. cases: 6,557,802

U.S. deaths: 194,674

Global cases: 29,323,247

Global deaths: 929,444