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Bill to Protect Hoosier Children Online Passes House

One of State Sen. Randy Head’s (R-Logansport) bills to protect Hoosier children was approved by the House of Representatives today by a vote of 93-0. Senate Bill 347 now returns to the Senate for final legislative review. 
SB 347 makes it illegal for certain sex offenders whose victims were children to communicate with a minor under 16 years old using a social networking site. It also increases the penalty for child solicitation to a Class B felony if the person solicits a child online and then travels to meet him or her, or if the person is a repeat offender for child solicitation.
“This bill is a crucial step toward better protecting our children from online predators,” Head said. “As more young people use social media to communicate, criminals are using these websites to find and talk to potential victims. The legislation passed today will address this problem and send a message that Indiana will not tolerate those who seek to harm our children.”
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New Duke Study: Bullying Lasts a Lifetime

Those who think bullying is something kids "grow out of" may want to think again. A new study from Duke University found that bullying increases the risk of anxiety and depressive disorders for decades after the incidents. The researchers followed more than 1,000 children for up to 20 years and found victims of bullying and the bullies much more likely to wind up with severe problems as adults.
According to the lead author of the study, Dr. William Copeland, an associate professor of psychiatry at Duke, one group was particularly troubled: those who had reacted to being bullied by bullying others themselves.
"The males were at eighteen times higher risk of suicidality, the females were at 26 times higher risk of agoraphobia," the doctor said. "Males and females were at 14 times higher risk of having panic disorder."
Copeland said many of those who had been victims, and had not themselves turned to bullying, are now dealing with depression, anxiety, panic disorders, and that agoraphobic fear of being out in public.
Dr. Rochelle Harris, a child psychologist, said that some parents don't realize how much harm bullying can do to a child, and sometimes their response to that child is not helpful.
"I've heard all kinds of responses from the 'You don't have to take it; go back and punch them,' to the 'Just ignore, pretend it doesn't happen.' Ignoring is a really sophisticated skill that's difficult for everyone, much less a child," Harris declared.
She said bullying is not the victim's fault and that studies have shown that the whole-school approach is what works best.
"Rules about how children treat one another: have them posted all over the place," Harris suggested. "Teachers are trained to look for subtle aspects of bullying and to intervene."
Bullying doesn't only lead to problems for the victims. The study found that bullies who had not been victimized were much more likely to develop antisocial personality disorders as adults and had a high risk of suicide. Both Harris and Copeland recommend early intervention as a way to prevent problems later on in life.
The study appears in the on-line issue of JAMA Psychiatry, and is at: archpsyc.jamanetwork.com.
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U.S. Military Returns to American-Made Steel

Congressman Pete Visclosky applauded a decision of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) that restores a rule that stood for 35 years requiring certain types of steel purchased by the U.S. military to be 100% American-made. The rule required certain types of armor plate products to be both melted and finished in the United States.
“The Department’s decision represents a major victory for American steel workers and steel producers,” Congressman Visclosky said. “We have a responsibility to keep our fighting men and women safe on the field of battle and ensure that American-made steel is used to protect our troops.”
The decision revises the 2009 definition of “produced” steel to include the quenching and tempering of steel armor plate.  DoD regulations specify that materials procured for defense, like those used in the construction of tanks, armored vehicles, and other military equipment, must be produced in the United States.
As Vice-Chair of the Congressional Steel Caucus, Visclosky has been significantly involved with Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) in urging the DoD to use American-made steel. The two lawmakers joined Members from both parties over multiple years to urge DoD to use American-made steel in its procurements.
pete visclosky
Congressman Pete Visclosky
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Gov., Law Makers and Medical Experts Don’t Agree on Obamacare

Governor Mike Pence is against expanding Medicaid to help cover some 400,000 uninsured Hoosiers. He is banking on federal government approval of the expansion of the already existing Healthy Indiana Plan, known as HIP. Rep. Ed Clere (R-New Albany), chair of the Public Health Committee, has amended Senate Bill 551 to require the Pence Administration to negotiate with the federal government, not just leave it as an option.
Clere said some worry the federal government will back out of paying.
"If federal participation ever drops below the levels that have been promised, then our program would terminate, and per this language," he said. "That would have to be a pre-condition."
Clere's amendment and the bill passed the committee with bipartisan support. SB 551 now heads to the House Ways and Means Committee.
Dr. Rob Stone, the medical director of palliative care at IU Health Hospital, Bloomington, said the problem now is that uninsured people are using the emergency room as their doctor.
"When they get a chest pain, they don't go right away - it's more when the heart attack is fully blown. And of course, you can't get mammograms and pap smears and diabetes care in the emergency room - that just won't work. These people need real health care," he said.
Stone said expanding Medicaid is the easiest and fastest way for the state to expand health care.
At this point, HIP covers about 40,000 in the state, Stone said. It does not provide care for pregnancy and limits coverage for childless adults. Politicians need to stop fighting, expand Medicaid now and then work on improvements to HIP down the road, he added.
"We've really just gotta go with what's on the table right now, and then try to improve it as we go on. But we need to get 400,000 people covered in January. We just can't let that go by," he said.
Studies on the cost of expanding Medicaid differ. One done for the state suggests $2 billion through 2020, while another by the Indiana Hospital Association estimates $503 million.
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Portage Police Conduct Warrant Sweep

The Portage Police Department conducted a warrant sweep throughout the city on Wednesday to clear out a backlog of felony, misdemeanor and civil warrants.  About 120 warrants were attempted with 14 arrests being made.  The department, with assistance from the city's police reserves conducted the warrant sweeps in two waves.  The first wave was conducted in the morning from 7-11 am and the second wave occurred from 6-10pm.  While serving the warrants, Portage Police said they also arrested 2 subjects who had been smoking marijuana, possessed drug paraphernalia, possessing alcohol as a minor and had unprescribed pills in their possession.
The goal of the department was to arrest 30 people on warrants; however the department was only able to take half that number into custody.  Portage Police remind those who may currently have an active warrant to take care of it on their own before the police appear at their door and take them into custody at a time that may not be convenient.
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Emergency Rd. Work EB I-90 at Broadway

INDOT crews are performing an emergency joint sealing operationsand  that is affecting eastbound traffic on the Indiana Toll Road approaching mile marker 14.2.  INDOT tells the Region News team that oly the left lane will remain and that the work is expected to continue for the next couple of hours.  Drivers are urged to merge into the left lane eastbound on the Toll Road.  Drivers could consider exiting at Broadway.
Traffic-Alert
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Bill to Address Skills Gap Passes Indiana Senate

House Bill 1002, the Indiana Career Council (ICC), passed out of the Senate this week with a unanimous vote, continuing to receive unprecedented bipartisan support from each of the caucuses and their leadership. House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis) introduced the legislation in January to create an Indiana Career Council to coordinate the participants in the state’s educational, job skills and career training systems to address the “skills gap.”
The Speaker was joined in the House by Leader Scott Pelath (D-Michigan City) with Senate President Pro Tempore David Long (R-Fort Wayne) and Minority Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) serving as the Senate’s sponsor and co-sponsor, respectively.

“I’m encouraged by the bipartisan support regarding Indiana’s employment prospects in both chambers. Workforce development and job training remain the most critical challenges before this General Assembly as we work to spur continued private sector growth and economic development. Indiana is consistently ranked best in the Midwest for its job creation environment; however, our state’s unemployment rate hovers stubbornly above 8 percent,” said Speaker Bosma.

“The Indiana Career Council will unite a fragmented system, share data and coordinate all elements of the state’s workforce development system and work to address skills and opportunity gaps affecting many Hoosiers. We must make every effort to ensure Indiana has a highly educated workforce to keep our economy moving forward.”
Designed to improve coordination, communication and vision for Indiana’s workforce training and career preparation systems, the ICC is a panel that will bring the principal stakeholders in the state’s workforce development efforts to a single table to create a stronger plan to move Indiana forward.

More than 930,000 Hoosiers – nearly one-third of Indiana’s workforce – lack even the most basic skills to thrive in today’s economy.

Members of the ICC will be charged with aligning the education skills and training provided by Indiana’s educational, job skills and career training systems with the existing and projected needs of the state’s job market. The ICC will also be charged with submitting recommendations to the General Assembly on necessary improvements to Indiana’s job skills training system.

HB 1002 was amended in February to incorporate military and veterans organizations due to the high unemployment rate among returning servicemen and women. The Senate also included an amendment requiring input from the logistics industry and women and minority groups.
The bill will now head to a conference committee between House and Senate leaders before being submitted to the governor to become law. For more information regarding HB 1002, please visit www.in.gov/legislative.
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Police Continue to Investigate Death at Chcgo Hgts Plant

An invesitigation continues into the death of a 60-year old SOuth Holland man who's body was found at a Chicago heights metals plant this morning.  The Times is reporting emergency crews responding to a call at around 7:00 am found the man lying unresponsive in a bulk hopper at the Vesuvius metals plant in the 300 block of State Street.  Cruz was pronounced dead at the scene. 
According to the article, it is not known if the victim works at the plant and his body was taken to the Cook County medical Examiner in Chicago, where an autopsy will be performed.   The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is expected to conduct its own investigation.
Read more of this story at:  http://www.nwitimes.com
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Bar Fight Suspect Gave Police Fake Identity

Trenton Wilson
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
A man who allegedly attacked a patron at a bar at the Portage Mall early Wednesday morning, can now add identity deception to the list of new charges against him. The Times reports 20 year old Trenton Wilson lied to police after his arrest, informing them he was 24 year old Jeremy Macon, of Hammond. The real Jeremy Macon, who now resides in Cleveland, Ohio, reportedly contacted the Times and informed them of the identity deception, which was confirmed by Portage Police today.
The Times says Wilson originally faced a battery charge after punching a man who reportedly told him to stop insulting the female bar tender. According to the article, Macon had lost his wallet some years ago, and use to work with Wilson.
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Prescribed Fire Today in Mnoke Prairie

Spring 2013 Mnoke map for public
Mnoke Prairie 2012 mel 003
(Photos Courtesy of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore)
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore will be burning the 196 acre Mnoke Prairie in Porter Indiana today.
 Fire has played an important role in restoring this former farm land back into the prairie it used to be. 
Ignition is set to begin between 12 and 1pm, weather permitting. Smoke will be visible throughout the
 afternoon and into the early evening.
 
The prescribed fire program at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is conducted by trained and
experienced National Park Service fire personnel. Smoke dispersal is a primary concern and park
staff will do everything possible to limit smoke in the area by monitoring wind and atmospheric
conditions prior to ignitions. However, smoke drifting in and around park lands and roadways is
possible.
 
Clear management goals and objectives have been established for each burn unit. Before burning, a
designated set of conditions must exist including ideal air temperature, wind speed and direction, and
relative humidity. Weather conditions will be monitored throughout the duration of the burn to ensure
the fire is completed safely.
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