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Republican Caucus Releases GOP Focus Of Upcoming Legislative Session

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The Republican Party caucus in the state assembly has released its legislative agenda for the upcoming 2015 session. The statement lists what the GOP describes as four major issue categories that it wants to address: budget, education, ethics, and public safety. With regard to the budget, the party aims for a balanced budget with no increase in taxes or borrowing. However, recently, revenues have fallen below earlier expectations.

Rep. Mayfield explains how her colleagues plan to deal with this potential shortfall.

“We want to maintain the surplus and reserve because those revenues could come in shy of expectations,” Mayfield says. “And that has happened before, especially during the recession.”

For education, the caucus promises to increase funding and fix the funding formula.

Rep. Mayfield said that specific expenditure requests would have to await final state income receipt figures. Under Indiana’s public school funding formula, lower income districts receive more than higher income districts in order to pay for special services such as subsidized meals and supplemental teaching.

“There’s a huge disparity in the formula,” Mayfield says. “Carmel receives the lowest funding while East Chicago receives the highest. Prior to last year the disparity was even greater and they’re closing the gap. I think what we need to look at is the foundation of that forumula.”

The most recent ethics scandal was around Republican Representative Eric Turner’s behind-the-scenes-effort to kill a bill which may have negatively affected his family’s private business interests. He was exonerated of any wrongdoing by his colleagues.

Since then, numerous other examples of Republican legislators with obvious conflicts of interest not recusing themselves from debates have come light.

“This week we will be meeting with national ethics experts on best practices,” Mayfield says. “I think this will be good in continuing the public confidence in our elected leaders. It also helps elected officials understand a more clearer definition of the line you cannot cross.”

The focus of the Republican’s public safety agenda is domestic violence. No mention is made of changes in the law around this issue, rather the GOP promises to invest funds in and work with the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

“I think by focusing efforts on current programs and not trying to put new, state-level programs in place we can help more people,” Mayfield says.

The republican caucus agenda did not directly address Indiana’s economic issues such growing income polarization, wage stagnation among workers, and rising youth poverty levels.

The environmental protection agency has tasked states with reducing their reliance on coal burning, citing it’s direct impact on global warming. Indiana’s primary electricity source is coal, and jobs related to coal use are the main industry in certain parts of the state.

“80 percent of our electricity comes from coal and that’s not an insignificant figure,” Mayfield says.

A major issue during the 2014 legislative session was marriage equality in Indiana. This fall the Supreme Court declined to reexamine the issue, letting stand lower court rulings in several states, including Indiana, thereby legalizing same-sex marriage.

Shortly after taking office in 2013, Representative Mayfield stated that she would remain open on the issue of same-sex marriage until either voters or the court made a final decision. Representative Mayfield won her seat two years ago, switching the long time district seat from democrat to republican after redistricting in 2011. Her democratic challenger for the November 4th election is Daymon Brodhacker.

Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO of the NAACP spoke in Bloomington over the weekend

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The Indiana State NAACP State Convention Conference was held in Bloomington this weekend, and included workshops on health, veterans affairs, environmental climate and justice and an awards banquet. The keynote speaker of the conference was Cornell William Brooks, the president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. WFHB Correspondent William Hosea spoke with Brooks about racial tensions in America and, in light of next week’s election, voter suppression, for today’s community report.

Business and Government Mingle at I-69 Summit

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This week the convention center downtown played host to hundreds of politicians, businesspeople and government workers interested in the new I-69, both in Indiana and beyond. WFHB Assistant News Director Joe Crawford was on hand for the I-69 Summit and he brings us this report. 

Work continues on sections 4 and 5 of I-69 in Indiana. Those portions will take the Interstate into Monroe County, through Bloomington and almost to Martinsville.

Citizens Object to Lethal Control of Deer Population

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A group of citizens continues to work to delay a measure adopted by the Bloomington City Council to thin out the deer population at Griffy Lake – this week’s council meeting here, in today’s community report.

The city of Bloomington website has a dedicated section to the deer task force report.

Bloomingfoods Market and Deli Cooperative Holds Annual Meeting

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Bloomingfoods Market and Deli Cooperative held its annual meeting of the membership last week. The General Manager and Board president both addressed the crowd of more than 300 attendees, focusing their summaries on the recent efforts of Bloomingfoods workers to join a union. There were also break out discussions focused on the unionization efforts, management/employee relations, and board communications. WFHB correspondent David Murphy attended the meeting, and spoke with Bloomingfoods President Tim Clougher. Their discussion, here, in today’s community report.

Bloomingfoods employees and co-op members rally during annual meeting in support of unionization

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WFHB Correspondent David Murphy attended Bloomingfood’s annual meeting last week and an accompanying rally by those who support a recent effort by workers to form a union. Today we hear comments from the rally for our Daily Local News community report.

The Indiana University School of Public Health Holds Panel Discussion on Ebola Outbreak

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On Monday, the Indiana University School of Public Health held a panel discussion in response to the current outbreak of the Ebola Virus. Panalists Joshua Mugele, associate professor of clinical emergency medicine at the IU School of Medicine., Chad Priest, assistant dean for operations and community partnerships at the IU School of Nursing., Charles Reafsnyder, IU retired associate vice president for international affairs and Ruth Stone, the Laura Bolton professor of folklore and ethnomusicology at IU Bloomington and a scholar of Liberian music, culture and performance Panelists will discuss medical, public health and physiological aspects of the Ebola virus. The also took audience questions, Moderated by Michael Reece, associate dean of the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington. We hear what the audience members were concerned abou, as well as panelists response here, in today’s community report.

The Indiana University School of Public Health is a recipient of financial support from the U.S. Agency for International Development, and is working to improve medical education and public-health workforce training in collaboration with the University of Liberia and its Dogliotti School of Medicine and the Tubman National Institute of Medical Arts.

Three Hopefuls for Indiana’s 9th Congressional Seat Speak at Informational Session

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Last night the three hopefuls for Indiana’s 9th congressional seat this election met at Franklin college, and spoke for 90 minutes about their personal political platforms as well as fielding questions from the audience. John Krull, director of the college’s Pulliam School of Journalism was the moderator, and Franklin College students helped with the event by created video introductions of the candidates and hosting an informational session before the forum began. We hear Kroll ask several questions from the audience for today’s community report.

New Mental Heath Court and Pilot Project takes flight in Monroe County

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On Friday, local criminal justice and community partner agencies announced Monroe County’s selection as one of just 12 communities in the state to be awarded funding for the creation of a new Mental Health Pilot Project and Mental Health Court from the state legislature. WFHB News Director Alycin Bektesh was on hand at the press conference and brings us today’s community report.

Group of developers make case for new downtown Bloomington hotel; would be part of a series of developments

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Major changes are in the works for a stretch of Kirkwood Avenue downtown. Assistant News Director Joe Crawford has that story for today’s WFHB community report.

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