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A New Statewide Voter App Launches With National Voter Registration Day

Today is National Voter Registration Day and in celebration, Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson urges Hoosiers to use a new mobile registration app to confirm or register their vote.

As part of a 50-state effort to encourage civic participation, Secretary Lawson urges all Hoosiers to take advantage of the full-service application that will also look up their polling place, get driving directions to the site, see who is on their ballot, track their application and contact election officials.

Apple users can access the application via iTunes from a mobile device or tablet by searching “Indiana voters,” and Android users can access it via their mobile app store by searching “Indiana Voters.” A full list of events to be held in celebration of National Voter Registration Day, can by found here.

New Yard Structures for Local Attorney

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Also at the meeting, the Plan Commission approved a measure that allows local attorney Ken Nunn to build new structures his yard. Nunn asked the Commission to reduce a conservation easement on his property on Saddlebrook Lane, just southeast of Bloomington. Don Kacharik, from an engineering firm who inspected the site, said the measure would correct a surveying error made years ago.

The conservation easement prevents Nunn from building on a portion of his property. Commission member Scott Wells was the only opposition to the measure. Wells said Nunn’s subdivision was given lots of exemptions from the County’s rules when it was built in the 90s.

Nunn was once the attorney for the Plan Commission. Except for Wells’s opposition, he got a warm reception at the meeting. Nunn promised to consult his homeowners association before building new structures.

The Commission told Nunn his own personal injury law firm slogan, “It’s Just that Easy,” when giving him the O.K. to build his yard structures. The Commission voted 7 to 1 to reduce the conservation easement in his yard.

Indiana Politicians Resist New EPA Regulations Despite Rising Carbon Announcements

Though CO 2 emissions in the atmosphere continue to rise, Indiana’s senior politicians are working hard to resist any carbon restrictions by the environmental protection agency. Last week, the World Meteorological Organization released findings that the level of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose at a record-shattering pace last year. The scientists from this U.N. advisory body also expressed surprise at their findings and fear of the consequent acceleration of global warming and attendant climate change. The report went on to note that concentrations of nearly all the major greenhouse gases reached historic highs in 2013, reflecting ever-rising emissions from automobiles and smokestacks but also a diminishing ability of the world’s oceans and plant life to soak up the excess carbon put into the atmosphere by humans.

Also last week, Indiana Governor Pence released a letter that he signed, along with 14 other state governors, addressed to President Obama asking him to veto new green house gas regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. These measures would reduce the permitted amount of green-house gas emissions from power plants. They are specially focused on coal burning plants which produce more CO2 than any other fuels. In order to comply, most older coal plants would have to undergo major upgrades, switch to cleaner fuels, or shut down. Governor Pence also dispatched Tom Easterley, the Commissioner of Indiana’s Department of Environmental Management, to tell the Subcommittee on Energy and Power of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Energy and Commerce that the new EPA regulations would, qoute, cause significant harm to Hoosiers without providing any measurable offsetting benefits.

Meanwhile, Indiana’s Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly and Republican Senator Dan Coates, along with 50 other senators, published letters to similar affect. The Senators’ requested a 60-day extension of the public comment period on the EPA’s proposed rule. This extension would be on top of the current 120 day comment period. Senator Donnelly’s announcement states that this extension is, “critical to ensure that state regulatory agencies and other stakeholders have adequate time to fully analyze and comment on the proposal.” Senator Coates’ announcement is more direct, stating that the proposed rules will, “restructure our entire electricity sector, kill reliable coal power and raise energy prices.” In response to the bipartisan petitions the Obama administration added another 45 days of comment period. Meanwhile, global climate scientists think that the world’s oceans have reached their capacity to absorb carbon, which means that levels in the atmosphere will increase at an even faster pace.

Greg Zoeller Asks FCC To Increase Call-Blocking Usage

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller joined collegues in thirty-seven states urging the FCC to allow more extensive use of call blocking technologies.  Newer technologies such as NoMoRobo, Call Control, and Telemarketing Guard allow phone carriers to identify and block a much larger portion of telemarketing calls.  But phone companies are reluctant to use these technologies.  They fear they could be fined under a ruling made by the FCC in 1934.  This ruling says phone companies have a legal obligation to complete phone calls.  Much has changed since that ruling was handed down.  In recent years the number of robo-calls, as well as the number of consumer complaints about these calls, have increased drastically.  To protect consumers from unwanted calls, the Attorney General is asking the FCC to allow phone companies to use call-blocking filters if requested by consumers. For now consumers can cut down on unwanted calls by signing up for the Do Not Call list.  This can be done online at www.IndianaConsumer.com or by calling 1-888-834-9969.

Alzheimer’s Walk Raises Money and Awareness

The Alzheimer’s Association raised more than $55,000 this past Saturday in Monroe County with its Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Bryan Park.  Nearly 500 people participated in a one mile walk which not only raised money but also raised awareness of this disease and the latest research in the field.  Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease that affects older people.  The number of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s increases each year as the American population ages.  It is currently the sixth leading cause of death. Walk to End Alzheimer’s is the Alzheimer’s Association’s largest fundraiser. Walks are held in cites throughout the country.  The Indianapolis Walk to End Alzheimer’s is ranked 8th largest in the country.  It will be held on October 12th at Military Park.

Eli Lilly Teams Up With UK Pharmaceutical Company For New Alzheimer’s Drug

Eli Lilly yesterday announced a partnership with U. K. drug maker AstraZeneca to develop and commercialize a potential new drug for Alzheimer’s.  AstraZeneca will produce the drug, ASD3293, and Lilly will lead the clinical trials.  The drug is one of a class of drugs called BASE inhibitors.   BASE inhibitors inhibit an enzyme, beta-secretase, which is involved in forming the plaques in the brain, one of the characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease.  BASE inhibitors are believed to be a promising target for treatment of Alzheimer’s, but several trial drugs have been abandoned because of serious side-effects.  Last year Lilly stopped trials with a BASE inhibitor it had developed after the drug was shown to cause liver toxicity.  Merck also has a BASE inhibitor, MK8931, in clinical trials. Developers of drugs to fight Alzheimer’s have the prospect of big rewards, with an estimated 5 to 20 billion dollars in annual sales. There are also big risks.  A recent study in the Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy journal found a success rate of just 0.4% for drugs in this field that were developed between 2002 and 2012.

Duke Energy Helps County Move Forward In Energy Prize Contest

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Local schools and utilities are slowly becoming involved in the effort to win a nationwide energy conservation competition. This summer Monroe County passed the quarterfinals of the Georgetown University Energy Prize contest. Communities are competing to track energy use and making plans to conserve. Ian Yarbrough, a member of the County Environmental Quality and Sustainability Commission, told the Commission September 10th the local gas and electricity providers are mostly on board to help. Duke Energy has contributed to the contest by agreeing to track energy usage, while Vectren, a supposed partner initially, has backed out of its contribution.

These contributions from utility companies would aid in the contest by helping determine hot spots for energy use in the County. Those working on the competition are also in talks with schools, including the Monroe County Community School Corporation. The second round of the competition will be judged in January. The community that wins the national prize will get $5 million to put toward conservation efforts.

Corporate Office Amendment

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Upper-story corporate offices won’t have to comply with one of Bloomington’s newest rules. The City Council passed an amendment last week excluding those offices from its ordinance governing standardized businesses. The Council passed that ordinance in June. It allows the city to regulate the design of new chain restaurants and chain stores downtown. Tom Micuda, the city’s planning director, suggested changing the definition of standardized business to exempt the offices. The amendment comes at the urging of at least two prominent businesses downtown. Dave Harstad, the owner of Summit Realty and a member of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, was the first to raise the issue in June. And Micuda said he also heard from CFC Properties, which is part of the Cook Group.

The Bloomington Chamber of Commerce opposed the standardized business ordinance when it was first proposed earlier this year. At that time the proposed rule would have allowed city officials to refuse permits to chain businesses in order to prevent an over-concentration of chains downtown. But the Council stripped that provision. The final version only regulates design of the businesses. The Chamber now supports the ordinance. Larry Jacobs, a spokesman for the Chamber, thanked the Council for working with local businesspeople on the most recent amendment and the Council later voted unanimously to approve the exemption for upper-story offices.

Ellettsville Pawn Shops must Send Sales Data to Town Police

Pawn shops in Ellettsville now have to send their sales data to the Town police at the same time they provide it to a nationwide law enforcement database. The Town Council passed second-hand dealer regulations late last year. Afterwards, there was dispute about how quickly businesses must report certain information. Town attorney Darla Brown proposed an amendment to the new ordinance September 8th. Similar rules apply to stores that buy and sell valuable metals. Last December the Council passed a law forcing the shops to report their sales to a private company that shares information with police across the country. The goal is to help solve cases of theft. But some residents worry sharing the data could compromise the privacy of customers.

I-69 Construction continues to Damage Waterways

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More than fifteen months after the issue first surfaced, Interstate 69 construction is still damaging waterways in Monroe County. That’s according to members of the Bloomington/Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s policy committee. At a meeting September 12th, Committee member Scott Wells showed photos of brown tap water and streams contaminated with sediment. Wells said local officials need to keep pressure on the state Department of Transportation…

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