Category Archives: State and National

Dillon encourages students to serve as pages

(STATEHOUSE) Dec. 1, 2009 – Sen. Gary Dillon (R-Columbia City) today invited area middle and high school students to make the Indiana Statehouse their “classroom for a day” by serving as Senate pages during the 2010 Indiana General Assembly.
During the legislative session, pages spend one day at the Statehouse working with their senator and Senate staff.  According to Dillon, student pages start the day in orientation before touring the historic Statehouse. Throughout the day, pages spend time in the Senate Chamber observing the introduction of bills, listening to debates and delivering important messages among senators and staff.
“Indiana’s legislative process is perhaps best understood through observation and participation,” Dillon said. “Through this valuable program, students interact firsthand with legislators and meet other students from across Indiana. It’s an experience that brings state government to life.”
Interested students should submit page requests in a letter or e-mail. The student’s name – as it would appear on a certificate – address, home telephone number, age and school affiliation should be included with the request. Friends wanting to page on the same day should send requests together. Specific date requests will be considered, but may not be possible. The Senate’s page office will confirm the scheduled date after processing incoming requests.
This will be a short session of the legislature – running from Tuesday, January 5 to Sunday, March 14 – so days to serve as a page will be limited. Students are urged to send their requests as soon as possible. To be a page for Sen. Dillon, e-mail requests to Senator.Dillon@iga.in.gov or send by U.S. Mail to: Sen. Gary Dillon, Indiana Senate. 200 W. Washington St.. Indianapolis, IN 46204
Participating as a page is an excused absence from school. Pages must arrive at the Statehouse by 8:30 a.m. Parents are responsible for transportation and student pages are responsible for their own lunches, which can be  economically priced at the Government Center Cafeteria, Circle Centre Mall or one of the many downtown restaurants.
For additional information, call 1-800-382-9467.

(STATEHOUSE) – Sen. Gary Dillon (R-Columbia City) invites area middle and high school students to make the Indiana Statehouse their “classroom for a day” by serving as Senate pages during the 2010 Indiana General Assembly.

Health bills fail to block illegals from coverage

HEALTH BILLS FAIL TO BLOCK ILLEGALS FROM COVERAGE
Washington, DC – Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants could receive health care coverage from their employers under the bills winding their way through Congress, despite President Obama’s explicit pledge that illegal immigrants would not benefit.
The House bill mandates, and the Senate bill strongly encourages, businesses to extend health care coverage to all employees. But the bills do not have exemptions to screen out illegal immigrants, who usually obtain jobs by using false identities and are indistinguishable from legal workers.
A rough estimate by the Center for Immigration Studies suggests that the practical effect of the mandates would be that about one million illegal immigrants could obtain health insurance coverage through their employers.
Democrats who wrote the House bill said that employer coverage for illegal immigrants is not intentional, but rather the outcome of people breaking the law.
“It’s possible an employee could deceive an employer with a fraudulent document, just as under current law, to gain employment, just as it’s possible for all sorts of criminal activity to occur, and why we have law enforcement,” said Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, who wrote the final House bill.
Republicans said that loopholes in the bill could allow coverage to just about any illegal immigrant who wants to cheat the system.
“This is a complete cover-all-the-gaps federal health insurance for illegals, whether it be under Medicaid, the refundable tax credit or whether it be under their employers who would not be able to verify their employers unless we fix E-Verify,” said Rep. Steve King of Iowa, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee’s immigration subcommittee.
How to deal with immigrants, both legal and illegal, remains one of the thorniest issues in the health care debate. In his address to a joint session of Congress in September, Mr. Obama specifically challenged Republicans who said his plans would extend coverage to illegal immigrants.
“This, too, is false — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally,” Mr. Obama said.
That statement elicited an outburst of “You lie” from Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican.
Most of the focus has been on whether the bills in the House and Senate go far enough to screen out illegal immigrants applying for public benefits. The Senate bill is generally considered to have stronger provisions than the House version to exclude participation by illegal immigrants.
The employer mandate could play a major role in coverage for illegal immigrants, but the effect has not been widely understood.
Steven A. Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies, said about 6.5 million illegal immigrants work in the United States, though nearly half do so off the books and wouldn’t be counted for purposes of employer-sponsored health insurance.
Of those who work on the books, about 2.3 million already have insurance through their employers. That leaves at least one million who would need insurance and could obtain it from an employer under the proposed mandates.
“It’s definitely significant,” Mr. Camarota said.
Democrats said their bill doesn’t change eligibility for benefits for illegal immigrants but it does change laws on who must provide insurance. Any employer with a payroll higher than $500,000 would be required to provide insurance for employees.
The House bill offers tax credits for two years to help small businesses provide insurance, including businesses that hire illegal immigrants.
But Mr. Elshami said businesses are already prohibited from hiring of illegal immigrants.
The Senate bill is more complex. It would urge companies to provide insurance, then penalize them for each employee who applies for credits for the health care exchange.
Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said the bill includes a screening process to keep illegal immigrants from getting credits in the health care exchange. But even illegal immigrants would be counted in the penalty against employers, so companies would be paying for having hired them.
“In this scenario, an employer would have to provide a responsibility payment for an undocumented worker. But that undocumented worker wouldn’t be getting coverage through the exchange,” Mr. Manley said.
Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, called the debate “an absolute charade” because Mr. Obama and Democratic leaders have signaled their intent to try to pass a bill legalizing illegal immigrants next year.
Once their legal status is secured, Congress would have to decide their eligibility for public benefits. Democrats have been pushing for broad inclusion, and their health care proposals give equal treatment to legal immigrants and citizens.
Republicans say the government should do more to push for a legal work force in the first place.
“If it was not bad enough that illegal immigrants take jobs that rightfully belong to citizens and legal immigrants, now they will get health care benefits that should go to Americans,” said Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. “If they were not in the country, we wouldn’t have to worry about emergency room or health insurance costs at all. And Americans would have these jobs.”
A Congressional Research Service report notes that the House Democrats’ bill does not expressly prohibit illegal immigrants from getting health insurance and, in fact, would mandate that they obtain insurance if they meet the “substantial presence test.”
That test calculates U.S. residency based on the number of days per year a person is in the country.

WASHINGTON, DC – Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants could receive health care coverage from their employers under the bills winding their way through Congress, despite President Obama’s explicit pledge that illegal immigrants would not benefit.

Red Cross launches new holiday giving campaign

American Red Cross Launches New Holiday Giving Campaign
Featuring ‘Gifts that Save the Day’ Online Catalog
This holiday season, when economic conditions are tough and people really want their gifts to matter, the American Red Cross of Northeast Indiana is kicking off a new holiday campaign that offers a way to give a gift that has real impact.
‘Gifts that Save the Day’ is a new holiday giving campaign that inspires people to make a gift that can save the day for those in need. Through the online catalog at www.redcross.org/gifts, people can make a donation that could provide food and shelter for a disaster victim for a day; a military comfort kit with a robe, phone card and other supplies for a wounded warrior; or a month of basic necessities for a family in another country who lost everything in a disaster.
“We know that these are difficult times for many families and businesses in northeast Indiana, but the Red Cross has seen that when Americans are in need, America always responds,” said Kay Ostrum, Executive Director. “The holiday season is traditionally a time of hope and generosity, and this campaign gives us all a chance to make a difference in someone’s life.”
The holiday giving campaign is being launched at a time when a new national survey for the American Red Cross finds that support for charitable giving remains strong even as many people are tightening their belts on gift-buying and other activities. The Red Cross survey found that 29 percent are cutting back on money spent on holiday gifts, 31 percent are planning to spend less for parties this year, 40 percent are cutting back on spending for holiday decorations, and 44 percent are reducing their travel costs. However, only 20 percent planned cuts in their donations to charity, with 17 percent planning to spend more and 62 percent planning to spend the same.
The survey, conducted November 5-8, shows that nearly one in four (23%) had their salary or hours reduced this year, with 14 percent saying they had been laid off from their job and 41 percent losing money in the stock market. However, 67 percent say that because of the economy, it is more important this year to give something to charity.
Although retail sales are projected to remain flat this holiday season, online holiday gift-giving is expected to grow by four percent. Following this trend, people buying gifts online this holiday season can make an online donation to the Red Cross in the name of someone special.
Gifts made through the catalog are contributions towards a Red Cross program area, not a donation to a specific project or item. The donations will be used to provide assistance where it is needed most within the program area; remaining money is put to use where it is needed most.
“These have been turbulent economic times for the Red Cross and other non-profits, with more and more people seeking help,” said Kay. “The Red Cross is working very hard to raise money now so the organization can be there tomorrow with help and hope when people need it most—when the next disaster strikes, when a neighbor’s house burns down or when someone needs life-saving blood.”

Featuring ‘Gifts that Save the Day’ Online Catalog

This holiday season, when economic conditions are tough and people really want their gifts to matter, the American Red Cross of Northeast Indiana is kicking off a new holiday campaign that offers a way to give a gift that has real impact.

New federal unemployment extension filing begins

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New Federal Unemployment Extension Filing Begins Tomorrow
INDIANAPOLIS  – Hoosiers who have previously exhausted their unemployment benefits and remain unemployed may file online for the new federal unemployment extension which began Monday, November 23. The federal government enacted the up to 20 week extension of benefits on November 6.
Any Hoosier who has previously exhausted either of the first two federal extensions of unemployment or state extended benefits and remains unemployed may be eligible to receive this new federal extension. Hoosiers currently collecting unemployment will be directed to this new extension automatically.
Hoosiers who have previously exhausted their unemployment can file for this extension as follows:
• Beginning Monday, November 23 – reopen unemployment claim through Uplink, Indiana’s online benefits system
• Beginning Tuesday, November 24 – return to Uplink to complete two weekly vouchers, covering the time since the extension became law on November 6.
• Beginning Wednesday, November 25 – deposits for eligible vouchers will be posted to individual debit cards
• Each subsequent week – file your weekly voucher online similar to other unemployment programs
Uplink and answers to “Frequently Asked Questions” about this extension can be accessed through www.in.gov/dwd. Hoosiers without internet access can also apply online through their local WorkOne Center.
The Department of Workforce Development estimates that approximately 50,000 Hoosiers may qualify for this extension between now and the end of the year.

INDIANAPOLIS  – Hoosiers who have previously exhausted their unemployment benefits and remain unemployed may file online for the new federal unemployment extension which began Monday, November 23. The federal government enacted the up to 20 week extension of benefits on November 6.

Governor announces more actions to reduce state spending

INDIANAPOLIS  – Governor Mitch Daniels has initiated state agency spending reductions following the fourth straight month of lower than forecast state revenues for Fiscal Year 2010.
For October, revenue collections were again below the May 2009 forecast. Total tax collections were $46 million below the forecast amount for the month. For the first four months of the fiscal year, general fund revenues are $309 million or 7.4 percent below forecast.
Reductions ordered by the governor are expected to save the state about $300 million to $400 million over the biennium.
Budget actions taken:
* State agencies will reduce spending by at least 10 percent from the as-passed budget. The governor had already ordered a five percent spending reduction in July.
* The lieutenant governor, auditor, treasurer, secretary of state, and superintendent of public instruction have committed to 10 percent spending reductions in their own office budgets.
* Reimbursements to some Medicaid providers will be reduced.
* State employees will not receive a pay increase in 2010, the same action as 2009. The last time there were back-to-back years with no pay raises was in 2002 and 2003.
* Governor Daniels will not accept his full pay in 2010, the same action he took for 2009 when his salary was due to increase from $95,000 to $107,882.
* State agencies will offer voluntary unpaid leave for the remainder of the current fiscal year.
* State agency capital projects will be deferred. This includes new buildings or structures, infrastructure and system upgrades, and site improvements.
* Some dedicated funds will be transferred to the general fund. Amounts will vary and will not disrupt the long-term viability of the program supported by the dedicated funds.
The state ended Fiscal Year 2009 with $1.3 billion in reserves. If the current revenue trend continues and the governor had not ordered spending cuts, state budget agency officials estimate the state’s reserves would be depleted by August 2010.
“We agreed to dip into reserves $300 million over two years, and now it’s gone in four months.  If we keep dipping, it will all be gone next August,” said Daniels.

INDIANAPOLIS  – Governor Mitch Daniels has initiated state agency spending reductions following the fourth straight month of lower than forecast state revenues for Fiscal Year 2010. For October, revenue collections were again below the May 2009 forecast. Total tax collections were $46 million below the forecast amount for the month. For the first four months of the fiscal year, general fund revenues are $309 million or 7.4 percent below forecast.

Gene Stratton-Porter Holiday Walk this Saturday

Rome City, Ind. — Visit the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site when it is all decked out for the holidays!
A Dream of Beauty Holiday Walk is scheduled for Saturday, November 21 from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Mrs. Porter’s Cabin at Wildflower Woods, nestled in 125 acres of fields, woods and formal gardens along the shores of Sylvan Lake, will be open and decorated in accordance with the traditions of a 1917 Christmas. The site is the former home of Gene Stratton-Porter, one Indiana’s most widely read authors and one of the world’s first nature photographers.
Entertainment, holiday goodies, crafts and activities are sponsored by the Gene Stratton-Porter Memorial Society, Inc. Another special activity will be wagon rides given by the Noble County Draft Horse Association. Visitors will be able to ride a horse-drawn wagon from the parking area to the Cabin in Wildflower Woods.
Cost is $3 per person or free with a Rome City Holiday Town Walk ticket. Please call (260) 854-3790 or visit indianamuseum .org/stratton-porter for more information.

ROME CITY — Visit the Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site when it is all decked out for the holidays! A Dream of Beauty Holiday Walk is scheduled for Saturday, November 21 from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Governor Daniels declares November 15-21 Winter Weather Preparedness Week

Governor Mitch Daniels declares November 15-21 Winter Weather Preparedness Week
Review tips that may save a life
FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and Governor Mitch Daniels urge motorists to use next week to prepare vehicles for inclement weather.
* ACCELERATE GRADUALLY on ice or snow to avoid slipping and sliding.
* DRIVE SLOWLY and carefully to avoid rear-end collisions and sliding on curves.
* FOLLOW THE CAR AHEAD at a greater distance; it takes more time to stop on snow and ice.
* BRAKE EARLY, break slowly, never slam on the brakes; if you have anti-lock brakes, press the pedal down firmly and hold it; if you don’t, gently pump the pedal.
* NO CRUISE CONTROL, avoid abrupt steering maneuvers.
* GIVE SNOWPLOWS ROOM to operate; don’t tailgate or try to pass.
A winter survivor kit in the car can be a life saver. The kit could contain: a blanket, rain gear, extra mittens, gloves, hat, bright colored cloth used to flag for help, cat litter or sand for traction and a small shovel, flashlight with extra batteries, bottled water, snack food and newspapers, which can be used as insulation.
Eleven of 17 winter weather-related deaths occur in motor vehicles. With proper precaution, many could be avoided. INDOT advises drivers:
1. Before leaving home, find out about driving conditions.
2. Clear snow and ice from your vehicle’s windows, lights, and brake lights.
3. Inspect the vehicle’s tires, belts and hoses.
4. Plan to take sufficient time to reach your destination.
5. Watch out for “black ice” approaching intersections, at off-ramps, bridges and along shaded roadways.
6. Don’t count on 4-wheel drive to stop you faster—it won’t.
For additional winter driving tips, please visit www.winterdrivingsafety.in.gov.

Review tips that may save a life

FORT WAYNE – The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and Governor Mitch Daniels urge motorists to use next week to prepare vehicles for inclement weather. 

* ACCELERATE GRADUALLY on ice or snow to avoid slipping and sliding.

Unemployment benefits extended by Congress

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Congress Passes 20-Week Extension of Unemployment Benefits
INDIANAPOLIS – The federal government last week enacted another extension of unemployment benefits. The legislation will provide up to 20 weeks of additional benefits to the unemployed in Indiana. This extension will result in eligible Hoosiers being able to claim up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits.
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is waiting to receive the specific rules governing this extension, including eligibility requirements, from the U.S. Department of Labor. However, DWD anticipates providing these benefits to eligible Hoosiers beginning the week of November 23.
“Indiana was among the first states in the nation last spring to implement the federal government’s $25 increase in weekly benefits and DWD expects being among the first in the nation to begin providing this extension,” said Teresa Voors, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
Hoosiers who have previously exhausted their unemployment benefits, but remain unemployed, will be able to apply for this extension beginning November 23, through Uplink, the state’s online unemployment benefits system.  Updated information will also be posted at www.in.gov/dwd.

INDIANAPOLIS – The federal government last week enacted another extension of unemployment benefits. The legislation will provide up to 20 weeks of additional benefits to the unemployed in Indiana. This extension will result in eligible Hoosiers being able to claim up to 99 weeks of unemployment benefits.

Dr. Douglas Sheets to lead Medical society

cn  11-11-09
Dr. Douglas Sheets to lead Medical Society
Dr. Douglas Sheets, former resident of Churubusco, has delivered 3,883 babies into the world. After 31 years as an obstetrician, Sheets has been named the 156th President of the North Carolina Medical Society.
Mr. Sheets started off pre-dental in school, entered private practice with Rutherford OB-GYN Associates and joined the staff at Rutherford Hospital.
Sheets is the son of Lester and Doris Sheets of Churubusco, previous owners and operators of Sheets Funeral Home. His father was the local mortician and also ambulance driver.  Sheets said going with his father on calls may have led to his interest in medicine.
His siblings all graduated from Churubusco High School, including Diane Bair of Churubusco; Paul Miller of Fort Wayne; Terry Sheets of Milan; Deb Davis of Columbia City and Tim Sheets of Murfreesboro, TN.

Dr. Douglas Sheets, former resident of Churubusco, has delivered 3,883 babies into the world. After 31 years as an obstetrician, Sheets has been named the 156th President of the North Carolina Medical Society.

Indiana hunters to take aim at healthy deer population

Indiana’s annual firearms season for white-tailed deer opens November 14. During the 16-day season, which ends Nov. 29, hunters are expected to kill an estimated 86,000 deer.
“In 2008, hunters killed 86,454 deer during firearms season. I expect the numbers from 2009 to reflect a similar total,” said Chad Stewart, Indiana DNR deer biologist.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of Indiana DNR’s Division of Fish and Wildlife white-tailed deer reintroduction project. The opportunity to hunt white-tailed deer in Indiana represents a major success in wildlife restoration.
Indiana’s ’08 antlered deer harvest (50,845) was a 3 percent increase over 49,375 harvested in ’07. The antlerless harvest of ’08 (78,903) also increased over the 76,052 in ’07.
Deer hunters harvested 129,748 Indiana deer during the ’08 season, over 5,000 more than the 124,427 deer harvested during the ’07 season. Although the overall deer harvest for the last three years has averaged around 126,500, Stewart said, “2009 may mark the first year hunters kill more than 130,000 deer in Indiana. It’s only 252 more deer than last season.”
The combined ’08 archery seasons yielded 26,921 deer. Muzzleloader rifle season hunters killed 15,154 deer. Firearms hunters killed 86,454 deer, 66.6 percent of the entire ’08 harvest.
Hunters killed 17,418 deer on opening day of firearms season in ’08 and 13,746 on the second day. Opening weekend accounted for 36 percent of the total deer killed during firearms season. According to DNR wildlife chief, Wayne Bivans, this year’s opening weekend should be just as successful.
“Indiana’s deer haven’t experienced any serious threats this year. The weather has been fine, and we haven’t seen much disease. The overall deer population is healthy and thriving. I believe there is every reason to expect hunters to experience a successful opening weekend,” Bivans said.
The number of deer harvested in individual counties last year ranged from a low of 130 deer in Tipton County to 3,672 deer in Steuben County. Harvest exceeded 1,000 deer in 61 counties; exceeded 2,000 deer in 16 of those counties; and exceeded 3,000 deer in four of those counties.

Indiana’s annual firearms season for white-tailed deer opens November 14. During the 16-day season, which ends Nov. 29, hunters are expected to kill an estimated 86,000 deer. “In 2008, hunters killed 86,454 deer during firearms season. I expect the numbers from 2009 to reflect a similar total,” said Chad Stewart, Indiana DNR deer biologist.