Countdown to Election Day: 49 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:

  • The House Returns to Washington

  •  Why New Coronavirus Stimulus is at a ‘Dead End’

  • Trump Administration to Introduce COVID-19 Vaccine Tracking System

  • McConnell: Democrats Would ‘Disfigure’ Senate by Nixing Filibuster

  • Chamber Bashes Trump’s Drug Pricing Executive Order

  • Six Months that Changed Everything

  • Indiana Chief Justice Rush Tests Positive for COVID-19

  • State Revenue Increases in August

  • Indiana Getting $27.5M From Feds for Highway Improvements

  • State Set to Begin LWA Unemployment Payments

  • HUD Awards Nearly $2 Billion in CARES Act Relief Funds to Communities with High Risk of Eviction

  • Indiana Task Force 1 Going to Louisiana Ahead of Tropical Storm Sally

  • Best Colleges in Indiana: Butler Tops the Midwest, See Where Others Rank in Annual Survey

  • Important Dates

  • Daily Numbers

    Let’s dive in.

 
 

The House Returns to Washington


Per Politico, the House returns to Washington today from its August recess, one week after the Senate came back to town. And with bipartisan coronavirus talks essentially dead right now — and Speaker Nancy Pelosi facing calls from moderate Democrats to vote on smaller relief measures — the pre-election sprint could get a little chaotic on Capitol Hill.

The pressure is only going to continue to mount on Democratic leadership to put targeted coronavirus bills on the House floor, since they last passed a package in May. So far, Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have rebuffed calls to vote on individual policies, arguing that their wait-it-out approach will work to pressure the GOP. But it’s unclear whether their position will last. Keep an eye on tensions within the Democratic caucus these next few weeks.

Then there’s the issue of government funding, which runs dry on Sept. 30. Congressional leaders and White House officials have tentatively agreed to a “clean” continuing resolution, which would keep funding at current levels and be free of extraneous policy provisions. But Democrats are still debating how long funding should last, while Republicans are pushing for a CR through December. 

And since the CR will be the last train leaving the station before November, your Huddle host wouldn’t be surprised if lawmakers and lobbyists try to make a last-minute push to attach some spending priorities and other anomalies.

What else is on Congress’ plate this month: The Senate, of course, will continue confirming judges. And the House is slated to vote on bills to decriminalize marijuana, boost clean energy development, ensure workers aren’t discriminated against, and condemn anti-Asian bias and bigotry stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

But the two chambers are not expected to finalize an annual defense policy bill before the election, which means lawmakers will essentially be punting a contentious fight — and showdown with President Donald Trump — over renaming military bases that honor Confederate leaders.

 
 

Why New Coronavirus Stimulus is at a ‘Dead End’


Senate Republicans last week tried and failed to pass a slimmed-down stimulus bill that would have included new money for small businesses, schools and $300 in additional weekly unemployment benefits.

  • Negotiations are now at "a dead-end street,” Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts said following the bill's failure, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said plainly "Congress is not going to pass another COVID relief bill before the election."

  • In fact, we're about two weeks away from a potential government shutdown.

Why it matters: Spending is decreasing, job gains are slowing and many small businesses warn that without more assistance from the government they will run out of cash before year-end and have to shut down for good.

How it happened: Not only has the stock market boomed, U.S. data have been improving notably since May. There have been millions of jobs added and V-shaped rebounds in manufacturing and services sector reports.

  • The Axios-Ipsos poll has shown little change among respondents' ability to pay their rent or mortgage and afford household goods in the past two months. 

  • And the percentage of reported layoffs, furloughs and permanent job losses at the end of August was the lowest since mid-March — though it's only one percentage point below recent levels.

What it means: "Right now there’s not a lot of evidence we need [another stimulus bill] imminently," Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group, tells Axios. 

  • "It’s not just the stock market, it’s the data coming out every day — ISM, industrial production, housing, take your pick."

  • "If the data rolls over they’ll pass that thing in a heartbeat."

Yes, but: Economists warn the improving data mask a lingering deterioration of the economy. Things are better than they were in March and April but still far from where they were in 2019 or the beginning of the year. 

  • The fact that more aid is not coming will be internalized by households that will pare their budgets and by state lawmakers who will begin laying off workers and cutting programs, Julia Coronado, president of MacroPolicy Perspectives, tells Axios. 

  • "There's a lagged effect. It could unfold over weeks to months. But it's pretty clear that it’s going to be hard for the economy." 

Between the lines: With new spending from Congress looking unlikely, there could be more pressure on the Fed to provide additional easing, and Wednesday's policy meeting becomes much more meaningful to the market. (Axios)

 
 

Trump Administration to Introduce COVID-19 Vaccine Tracking System


The Trump Administration is planning to launch a COVID-19 vaccine tracking system in an effort to assist public health officials in scheduling immunizations and managing vaccine supplies. The program, known as the Vaccine Administration Management System, is being developed by Deloitte and will use technology from Salesforce. The CDC expects an initial version of the software to be available next month. States are required to submit their vaccination plans to the CDC by next month, and the Administration has told states to prepare for vaccine distributions as early as November 1.

 
 

McConnell: Democrats Would ‘Disfigure’ Senate by Nixing Filibuster


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ripped Democrats on Monday over talk of nixing the legislative filibuster if they win back the majority even as they've used the procedural tactic to block recent GOP legislation.

"This threat to permanently disfigure, to disfigure the Senate, has been the latest growing drumbeat in the modern Democratic Party's war against our governing institutions," McConnell said from the Senate floor.

Progressive activists, backed by a growing number of Democratic senators, are calling to use the "nuclear option" to nix the 60-vote legislative filibuster if Democrats win back the Senate majority in November.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) hasn't ruled out doing so, but argued the focus, for now, should be on the election. It is unclear if they'll have the support to do so with several Democratic senators opposed to getting rid of it. 

McConnell argued that interest in getting rid of the higher procedural threshold is "the most shameless hypocrisy" and "Grade-A hypocrisy" after Democrats used the legislative filibuster in recent weeks to block GOP police reform and coronavirus relief legislation, both of which failed along party lines.

McConnell's warning about the potential that Democrats could nix the legislative filibuster comes as the GOP leader is fighting to hold onto his Senate majority. Republicans currently hold a 53-47 margin in the Senate, but are playing defense in several states.

McConnell has pledged that he and Senate Republicans will be a "firewall" if they hold onto the chamber, characterizing himself as the "Grim Reaper" against progressive policies.

On Monday, he warned that Democrats, if they control both the House and Senate and Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins the White House, would try to "hotwire" American democracy by reforming the Supreme Court or making Washington, D.C., a state. (The Hill)

 
 

Chamber Bashes Trump’s Drug Pricing Executive Order


Per Politico, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is weighing how to battle President Donald Trump’s new executive order on drug pricing, which Trump tweeted that he had signed on Sunday after talks with the pharmaceutical industry broke down. Trump “had signed a version of the directive more than a month ago but said he would hold it so the industry could come up with an alternative,” as POLITICO’s Sarah Owermohle reports. Neil Bradley, the Chamber’s chief policy officer, called price controls a “flawed and dangerous policy that will result in a substantial reduction in investment in new cures and drugs at the worst possible time.”

“We urge the administration to reconsider this approach, and the U.S. Chamber is assessing options to challenge this misguided policy,” Bradley said in a statement. “Rather than importing price controls, we encourage policymakers to focus on ensuring that other countries bear their fair share of the burden of the significant costs of drug research and development.”

 
 

Six Months that Changed Everything


This week marks six months since President Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus. If those six months feel like a blur, you’re not alone.

The big picture: The sheer scale of what the U.S. has been through since March can not only be hard to process, but even to keep track of, Sam Baker notes:  A death toll equivalent to 65 Sept. 11 attacks, millions out of work, everyday life upended, with roiling protests and a presidential election to top it all off.

Here, from the Axios Visuals team's Danielle Alberti, Sarah Grillo and Andrew Witherspoon, is a (partial) timeline to help make sense of these past six months, correlated to the rising death toll (orange). (Axios)

 
 

Indiana Chief Justice Rush Tests Positive for COVID-19


Indiana Chief Justice Loretta Rush is in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, the Indiana Supreme Court announced Monday.

Rush, 62, tested positive test on Sunday, the Office of Judicial Administration said. She is continuing to work remotely.

The chief justice has been self-isolating since a family member was diagnosed for the novel coronavirus and she was tested after learning of that diagnosis, the court said. She has not been to her Indiana Statehouse office in downtown Indianapolis since Sept. 1.

“Chief Justice Rush immediately notified her colleagues, staff, and other government officials. Her public schedule will be adjusted as needed,” according to the OJA. “The Indiana Supreme Court and Clerk’s Office remain open, with continued adjustments in place to protect the health and well-being of employees and the community.”

The statement from the Supreme Court did not provide information about Rush’s condition, including whether she is symptomatic or receiving treatment. (Indianapolis Business Journal)

 
 

State Revenue Increases in August


Indiana revenue exceeded the most recent projections in August. The Indiana State Budget Agency says General Fund revenues totaled more than $1.3 billion last month, nearly 10% higher than the December revenue forecast and more than 22% higher than the same month last year.

"Notably, an estimated $106 million of individual income tax payments, attributable to recent federal policy actions on unemployment insurance benefits not assumed in the December 2019 Forecast, were collected in August," the agency said. "About $80 million of those payments were due before August - $50 million of which was estimated to be due in FY 2020."

Individual income tax collections, sales tax collections, and corporate tax collections were each above the December forecast. Meanwhile, riverboat wagering collections and racing wagering collections remained below the monthly estimate in August as casinos continue to recover from the shutdown from the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can connect to the monthly revenue report by clicking here. (Inside Indiana Business)

 
 

Indiana Getting $27.5M From Feds for Highway Improvements


Indiana will receive a total of $27.5 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation for highway improvement projects in central Indiana. 

A $22.5 million grant will be used to make improvements to Interstate 70 in Hancock County east of Indianapolis, Indiana’s congressional delegation announced last week. They include adding a third lane in each direction and repairs to pavement.

In the western Indianapolis suburb of Avon, a $5 million grant will be used to upgrade U.S. 36 with an additional travel lane in each direction, install infrastructure for non-motorized travel and make other changes.

The congressional delegation also requested funding for improvements to U.S. 31 in Franklin, but that project wasn’t approved. (AP News)

 
 

State Set to Begin LWA Unemployment Payments


The Indiana Department of Workforce Development will begin making Lost Wages Assistance payments starting September 21. LWA is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide $300 per week to supplement unemployment benefits.

The DWD says the funds are for people who have an unemployment benefit amount of at least $100 and are out of work because of COVID-19.

The department says the funding will only cover the six-week period from the week ending August 1 to the week ending September 5. LWA funding will not be available to states beyond that time period.

For those claimants with issues holding payment, the DWD says it will make payments once eligibility is established, pending funding availability.

Since March, the department says it has paid $4.9 billion to nearly 670,000 Hoosiers. (Inside Indiana Business)

 
 

HUD Awards Nearly $2 Billion in CARES Act Relief Funds to Communities with High Risk of Eviction


The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded nearly $2 billion in CARES Act funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. The funds will be allocated to communities that face higher risks of eviction. Funds can be used to provide temporary financial assistance for rental payments for up to 6 months. Targeted communities include those that have high rates of unemployment, increased risks of transmission, and a high risk of eviction.

 More information is here.

 
 

Indiana Task Force 1 Going to Louisiana Ahead of Tropical Storm Sally


Indiana Task Force 1 is sending 35 urban search and rescue experts to Louisiana as the southeastern U.S. braces for Tropical Storm Sally to strengthen to a hurricane.

The team of area firefighters and other public safety specialists was scheduled to leave Indiana about 10:30 p.m. Sunday and arrive in Baton Rouge by noon Monday.

Tropical Storm Sally drenched parts of South Florida Sunday and was expected to gather strength and make landfall Monday night in the northern Gulf Coast, USA Today reported.

Forecasters say the storm will strengthen to a hurricane with winds up to 100 mph as it roars towards Louisiana and the Gulf Coast, according to USA Today. (Indy Star)

 
 

Best Colleges in Indiana: Butler Tops the Midwest, See Where Others Rank in Annual Survey


Butler University has been named best university in the Midwest for the third straight year in U.S. News and World Report’s annual ranking of the nation’s colleges and universities, released today.

Taylor University was named second-best Midwest college and ranked fourth in the Midwest for its focus on undergraduate students. It was also named the 11th "best value" among Midwest colleges.

In national rankings, the University of Notre Dame finished the highest of all Indiana schools. It was named the 19th best university in the country, a slight drop from last year’s tie for 15th. It was also named the 25th best in the nation for undergraduate teaching and the 26th "best value" in the country. Princeton, Harvard and Columbia universities topped the list of the nation’s best schools this year.

Purdue University—West Lafayette tied for 53rd in the nation and Indiana University – Bloomington tied for 76th place. Both schools also made the list for top public colleges in the country. Purdue tied for 17th best public school and IU placed 31st, holding steady with last year.

Ball State University fell in this year’s rankings, but the university said the placement isn’t accurate. In a news release, the university said the annual survey was sent to two people who were no longer working at Ball State. As a result, the school did not provide current figures for the data used to calculate the rankings and some data points are missing entirely. Last year, Ball State tied for 95th on the list of best public schools nationally. This year, it was 144th.

Marian University moved up in regional rankings this year, rising to tie for 28th among Midwest universities. It also tied for 3rd most innovative in the Midwest and was ranked as the 5th "best value" — both increases from last year's rankings.

Long recognized as an engineering powerhouse, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has been recognized as having the best undergraduate engineering program in the country for the 22nd straight year.

Several Indiana schools also made the list of best liberal arts colleges in the country. DePauw University tied for 47th, Wabash College placed in a tie at 54th, Earlham College tied for 84th this year and St. Mary’s College ranked in a tie for 96th. (Indy Star)

 
 

Important Dates


Tuesday, September 15 - 11:00 am - Corrections and Criminal Code Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

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

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: 755

Total cumulative cases reported Monday: 106,540

Total cumulative cases reported Sunday: 105,804

Increase in cumulative cases: 736

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: 2

Total deaths: 3,215

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: 8,690**

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

Total cumulative tested individuals reported Sunday: 1,238,984

Increase in cumulative tested individuals: 8,309

Cumulative positivity rate unique individuals: 8.5%

Seven-day positivity rate unique individuals: 6.9%***

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

**includes the addition of 818 tested individuals and 1,770 tests dating back to July 14 from an additional testing facility that has been newly onboarded into the health department’s electronic reporting system.

*** 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: 20,147 (increase of 82)

Marion County new deaths: 1

Marion County cumulative deaths: 755

Marion County 7-day positivity rate unique individuals: 5.9%

Hamilton County cumulative cases: 4,536

Hendricks County cumulative cases: 2,562

Johnson County cumulative cases: 2,208

Madison County cumulative cases: 1,497

Boone County cumulative cases: 932

Hancock County cumulative cases: 887

Morgan County cumulative cases: 665

Shelby County cumulative cases: 648

Indiana Intensive Care Unit Usage

Available ICU beds: 41.6%

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

Available ventilators: 80.8%

Ventilators in use for COVID-19: 2.6%

U.S. and Worldwide Numbers

As of Monday, from Johns Hopkins University:

U.S. cases: 6,526,143

U.S. deaths: 194,155

Global cases: 29,059,868

Global deaths: 925,084