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Gov., Law Makers and Medical Experts Don’t Agree on Obamacare

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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

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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 warrnat 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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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High Quality Feedback Given at Calumet Trail Open House

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About two-dozen people turned out Wednesday evening at the Dunes Visitor center for a public open house on the rehabilitation of the Calumet Trail. Porter County Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos says they received high-quality feedback from an engaged group about how to improve and redesign about two-miles of the trail, from Mineral Springs to Tremont Road. Lenckos says two more public open houses will be held, but a time and date has not yet been set, but says the hope is to have the planning process wrapped up and begin construction sometime in 2014.
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WB South Shore Train 14 Running 30-45 Minutes Late

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Traffic-Alert
9:38am- Westbound South Shore Train 14 is running 30-45 minutes late due to higher than normal passenger boarding. Passengers should be at departing stations at scheduled departure time in case delays are shorter than expected.
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West South Shore Train 14 Running 20-30 Minutes Late

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Traffic-Alert
9:10am- Westbound South Shore Train 14 is running 20-30 minutes late due to higher than normal passenger boarding. Passengers should be at departing stations at scheduled departure time in case delays are shorter than expected.
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National Public Health Week: Good Health Isn't Stationary

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indiana state department of health
INDIANAPOLIS—This week is National Public Health Week, an annual observance that highlights the contributions of public health systems and aims to educate the nation about what public health is and does. Today’s theme focuses on how public health efforts protect you while you're on the move.
“The increased use of seatbelts is a great example of a public health victory,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “For example, from 1981 to 2010, seatbelt use rose from 11 percent to about 85 percent and has saved thousands of lives.”
Having a comprehensive trauma care system is another way lives are saved. The number one killer of Hoosiers under the age of 45 is traumatic injury. More than 32,000 Hoosiers are hospitalized each year from injuries, which is the fifth most common killer of Hoosiers of all ages. The Indiana State Department of Health’s Trauma and Injury Prevention division is currently traveling around the state to provide guidance and education to the emergency medical service community about the importance of data collection and other aspects of trauma care. To learn more, visit www.StateHealth.in.gov.
So, what can you do to protect yourself while on the move? Follow these safety tips:
·         Don’t text and drive. Not only is it illegal in Indiana, it can be deadly. Learn more at www.distraction.gov/.
·         Always wear a helmet when on a motorcycle or bicycle.
·         Be an alert pedestrian and be mindful at intersections.
·         Find out the proper vehicle restraint systems for your child depending on his or her weight, height and age. For example, infants and toddlers through age 2 should be placed in rear-facing child safety seats, while children ages 2 to 4 should be placed in forward-facing child safety seats.
·         Get involved with efforts to promote safe biking and walking to school. Learn about the Indiana Safe Routes to School Partnership at www.healthbydesignonline.org/INSRTS.html
·         If possible, walk or bike to daily destinations, such as to work or the grocery store. Choosing biking or walking over driving is an easy way to incorporate physical activity into your life. States with the highest levels of biking and walking also have the lowest levels of chronic disease, such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.
·         Support complete streets policies. Complete streets are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users; pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and public transportation users of all ages and abilities are able to safely move along and across a complete street.
Where complete streets are in place, alternative modes of transportation such as walking and biking are more attractive and safety is improved for all users. Being physically active promotes a healthy lifestyle and can decrease chronic diseases and obesity.
Health by Design is a coalition of partners throughout Indiana working to ensure that communities around the state have neighborhoods, public spaces and transportation infrastructure that promote physical activity and healthy living.
“Complete Streets policies are an excellent tool for improving transportation safety, accessibility and health for all Hoosiers, regardless of if they typically travel by foot, bike, bus or car,” said Kim Irwin, who coordinates Health by Design. “We commend the 10 Indiana communities who have already adopted Complete Streets policies and are excited to be working with many other cities and towns who plan to do so in the year ahead.”
To learn more about National Public Health Week, visit www.nphw.org.
For more information about Health by Design, visit www.healthbydesignonline.org/.
For more information about the Indiana State Department of Health, visit www.StateHealth.in.gov.
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Huname Society Criticial of Bill to Legalize Captive Hunting

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On Monday the Humane Society of the United States criticized the Indiana House Natural Resources Committee for seeking to legalize captive hunting operations. An amendment attached to Senate Bill 487 would allow privately-owned facilities to stock captive deer, elk, moose, reindeer and caribou in fenced enclosures so trophy-seekers can pay to shoot the semi-tame animals for guaranteed kills. The practice threatens the health of native wildlife populations, potentially costing state taxpayers millions of dollars in disease eradication and lost hunting license revenue. Captive hunts have been directly linked to the spread of chronic wasting disease – a fatal, incurable disease that affects deer, elk and other cervids.
 
A new study out of the University of Wisconsin has shown that CWD prions in the soil are just as infectious as those prions directly passed from an infected animal, providing further documentation of the risk to wildlife from captive hunts, which stock animals at unnaturally high densities, greatly increasing the risk of spreading diseases such as CWD.
 
“We are extremely disappointed that the House Natural Resources Committee would allow these abhorrent operations to open in the Hoosier state,” said Erin Huang, Indiana state director for The HSUS. “Captive hunts are nothing more than drive-thru shooting operations where anyone can kill a guaranteed trophy for the right price. We urge the House of Representatives to oppose this bill and reject this backward step toward legalizing this inhumane and appalling practice that threatens our wild deer herds.”
 
In 2005, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources issued an emergency rule banning captive hunts, but a lawsuit filed by captive hunt operators has stalled enforcement of the ban. Although no new operations have been allowed in the state since 2005, Indiana is notorious for captive hunts, largely due to the high-profile case of captive hunt operator Russ Bellar. Customers who visited Bellar’s facility testified and accused Bellar of drugging animals to make them easier to shoot, allowing animals to be illegally shot over bait and stating that animals were unloaded off trailers directly into shooting pens for easy kills.
 
The HSUS joined hunting groups, such as the Indiana Deer Hunters Association, in testifying against this amendment.
 
Facts
  • A 2010 statewide survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, Inc. revealed that 80 percent of Indiana voters opposed captive hunts of large mammals such as deer and elk, and 81 percent supported a complete prohibition on captive hunts in the state.
  • Animals in captive hunts are stocked inside fenced enclosures, allowing ranches to often offer guaranteed trophies, “100 percent success” rates, and advertise "no kill, no pay" policies.
  • Captive hunts are generally reviled by the hunting community nationwide for violating the principle of fair chase. Hunting groups such as the Boone and Crockett Club and the Pope and Young Club, which maintain trophy records for big game hunting, will not consider animals shot at captive hunts for inclusion on their record lists.
  • In 2005, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources passed administrative rules outlawing captive hunts. Operators of the captive hunts later filed a lawsuit in response that is still pending. A handful of captive hunt facilities continue to operate in Indiana under an injunction.
  • A deer recently tested positive for chronic wasting disease on a farm in Pennsylvania, which has sold 10 animals to captive deer farms in Indiana over the past three years – including the Jackson County facility.
  • Chronic Wasting Disease has now been found in 22 states. In 13 of the states the disease has been found in captive populations. CWD can cost taxpayers millions of dollars in response efforts – the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources alone has spent over $35 million since 2002 fighting the disease.
  • Although no studies show humans to currently be susceptible to CWD, research has shown that CWD is able to adapt outside of the species barrier, potentially placing public health at risk. 
  • At more than 1,000 commercial captive hunt operations in the United States, trophy hunters pay to shoot native and exotic mammals – from zebra to endangered scimitar-horned Oryx – confined in fenced enclosures.
  • Many of the animals on these ranches have become accustomed to humans, making them easy targets for shooters.

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Bridge Work on I-94 Between US 20 SR 49

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PORTER COUNTY, Ind. – The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announces continued lane closures for both northbound and southbound I-94, between U.S. 20 and State Road 49, beginning Monday, April 8th. The shoulders of I-94 in this area will also be closed. Lane restrictions will continue until the completion of this bridge rehabilitation project in late fall 2013.
An alternative route has been posted for drivers wishing to avoid potential travel delays. Eastbound I-94 traffic may take the U.S. 20 exit and travel east to State Road 49, then south to eastbound I-94. Westbound I-94 traffic may take the State Road 49 exit and travel north to U.S. 20, then west to westbound I-94.
INDOT reminds drivers to use caution and consider worker safety when driving through a construction zone. For the latest road closures and project updates like us at www.Facebook.com/INDOTNorthwest and follow us at www.Twitter.com/INDOTNorthwest.
You can find traffic restriction information at www.trafficwise.IN.gov.  Contact the LaPorte District toll free at 1-855-GO-INDOT.
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Issue at Fire Scene Gets Lake Ridge FF Suspended

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Lake Ridge FF Suspended
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
An alleged incident between firefighters at a brush fire in Griffith Tuesday night has led to an internal investigation, and the suspension of one Lake Ridge firefighter. The Times reports Paul Channell walked from the scene, near Cline Avenue and Avenue H, back to the station, in the 35-hundred block of West 45th Avenue, almost over four-miles away, in full gear. According to published reports, Lake Ridge Fire Chief Pat Booth says Channell made a decision on his own to do something, and now it is under investigation, which will reportedly be conducted by the Assistant Chief.
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Dredging on IN Harbor and Ship Canal to Start This Week

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Dredging Map
Work on the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal Dredging and Disposal Project will begin again sometime this week, after work that began in November was halted after the canal froze over this winter. According to their website, almost 94-thousand cubic yards of sediment were removed adjacent to the Confined Disposal Facility, west of Indianapolis Boulevard, and along the west side of the Indiana Harbor turning basin in 2012. Published reports say about 300-thousand cubic yards are anticipated to be dredged this spring. The project is being done so the waterways can meet federal standards.  For more information visit http://indianaharbordredge.com.
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Indiana Leaders Call for Bipartisan Immigration Solutions

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Bibles Badges Business logo
INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosier faith, law enforcement and business leaders came together Wednesday to speak about the importance of immigrants to the state’s economy and the urgency of immigration reform for Indiana’s diverse communities — days after a federal court blocked key provisions of Indiana’s tough immigration law.
 
With members of Congress home for the Easter recess — and with the introduction of immigration reform legislation possible later this month — Indiana faith, law enforcement and business leaders highlighted the need for immigration solutions nationally and called on their representatives in Congress to pass commonsense immigration reform. They also spoke with attendees about the importance of mobilizing to push for a just and responsible immigration solution as the debate moves forward in Congress.
 
This event was one of many recess events nationwide organized by Bibles, Badges, and Business for Immigration Reform, a network that is bringing together faith, law enforcement and business leaders to advocate for broad, bipartisan reform in 2013.
 
The following quotes can be attributed to Wednesday’s event participants:
 
David Drury, Chief of Staff, The Wesleyan Church:
“In 2008, The Wesleyan Church voted to approve an extensive Immigration Position Statement, saying, ‘We oppose and condemn all unjust and harsh laws, policies and measures directed against immigrants among us ... We will act as advocates for just and humane policies for all people.’ This event was a practical part of that loving, biblical value of justice for the foreigner.”
 
Mike Murphy, Senior Vice President, Hirons and Company:
“The recent Federal Court decision striking down Indiana’s immigration law as unconstitutional reinforces that fact that we must Convince Congress to act swiftly to update and reform our country’s outdated immigration laws. Immigrants must once again be considered our nation’s strength, not a liability.”
 
Megan Ritter, Director of Public Policy, Indiana Farm Bureau:
“Immigration reform is critical for Hoosier farmers who rely on a non-domestic workforce to ensure our crops and livestock continue to be a pillar of Indiana’s economy.”
 
The Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ):
“Disciples, leaders and governing bodies have for years called upon our political leaders to move beyond an immigration system that demonizes our neighbors, divides us against one another, and devastates children by tearing apart their families. As Christians committed to the scriptural call to welcome the stranger and to promote the wholeness and well-being of families and communities, we welcome an opportunity to achieve immigration reform that is both just and compassionate.”
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Victim Found in Munster Ditch has Been Identified

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Lake County Coroner Merrilee D. Frey states that in less than twenty-four hours, the unidentified white male, with the varying tattoos has been successfully identified.  The family had been searching for their loved one, Fabian Castaneda, for an extended period of time.  Coroner Frey states, “It is our mission to always serve families with compassion.  Our Lake County Coroner’s office works diligently to bring closure to family members. We are extremely grateful to our local media for their assistance in this very sad situation.”  
The Coroner’s office responded to a call at the location of Hawthorn and Ridge Road in Munster, at the river bank where the victim was discovered, Sunday, March 31st.
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