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Judge denies stay in right-to-work law case

MUNSTER, Ind. (AP) - A northwest Indiana judge has rejected a request by the Indiana attorney general's office that he put on hold his order striking down the state's right-to-work law until the state Supreme Court rules on a similar case.

The Times of Munster reports Lake County Judge George Paras' order was posted on the court docket Wednesday after being issued last week.

Attorney General's Office spokesman Bryan Corbin told The Associated Press that it hasn't received the order but that it plans to file a new motion for a stay with the Indiana Supreme Court. Corbin says to avoid inconsistency the trial court should wait for the Supreme Court to rule.

Paras determined the law violates the state constitution by forcing unions to provide services to workers without payment.


Indiana appeals latest same-sex marriage ruling

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana is appealing a federal judge's ruling that the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Attorney General's office spokesman Bryan Corbin says the state filed an appeal Wednesday with the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

U.S. District Judge Richard Young, in his ruling Tuesday evening, granted the state's request for a stay, delaying it from taking effect until the appeals court rules on an earlier same-sex marriage decision. The appeals court will hear oral arguments in that case next week.

Corbin says the state's latest appeal likely will be litigated on a different timetable than the cases scheduled for arguments next week.


Mennonite pastor under review for gay wedding

GOSHEN, Ind. (AP) - Two Mennonite conferences plan to review the credentials of a Goshen pastor who presided over the marriage of a same-sex couple in violation of the religion's rules.

Assembly Mennonite Church Pastor Karl Shelly said he performed the service in May after determining he believes same-sex unions merit equal standing with heterosexual unions.

The Elkhart Truth reports Mennonite Church USA guidelines state pastors holding credentials "may not perform a same-sex covenant ceremony." His credentials will be reviewed by the Indiana-Michigan and Central District conferences that oversee the Assembly Mennonite Church.

Mennonite Church USA denominational minister Nancy Kauffmann says no pastor has lost a credential for performing a same-sex marriage. Central District Conference minister Lois Johns Kaufmann says it once before reviewed a pastor for performing a same-sex marriage ceremony.


Indy house blast suspect's trial now in South Bend

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The trial of one defendant in a deadly Indianapolis house explosion has been moved to South Bend because of the intense publicity given the case.

Marion Superior Court Judge Sheila Carlisle granted the change Wednesday for Mark Leonard, one of three defendants who face murder, arson and conspiracy charges in connection with the November 2012 blast that killed two people and destroyed or damaged dozens of houses on the city's south side.

A trial date hasn't been set yet.

Prosecutors allege Leonard, former girlfriend Monserrate Shirley and his brother, Bob Leonard, rigged the explosion in Shirley's home as part of a scheme to collect $300,000 in insurance. Each defendant will be being tried separately on identical charges. It's not clear yet where Shirley or Bob Leonard will be tried.


GOP lawmaker at center of $1.7M contract complaint

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A former top education official's role in the sale of $1.7 million of equipment to Indiana is raising new questions about the strength of the state's ethics laws.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press through public records requests show that state Rep. Todd Huston (HOO'-stun) worked closely with the state Department of Education and contractor Cisco from 2008-2012. Huston was involved in the $1.7 million sale of videoconferencing equipment from Cisco to DOE but says he made no money on the transaction.

A spokesman for Democratic Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz filed an ethics complaint in July alleging the sale violated state contracting rules.

A series of high-profile investigations has exposed loopholes in Indiana's ethics laws this year. Ethics watchdogs say the cases erode the public's trust in government.


New HUD secretary pledges clout to revitalize Gary

GARY, Ind. (AP) - New U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro is pledging to use federal clout to help revitalize the Indiana city of Gary.

Castro went to the beleaguered northwestern Indiana city on Wednesday and said its vacant downtown Sheraton Hotel has become a symbol of blight and must come down. The Post-Tribune reported he spoke as a yellow excavator moved debris at the site.

Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, took office last month and was ceremonially sworn in Monday by Vice President Joe Biden. His trip to Gary and to nearby Chicago later in the day marked his first official visits to cities that benefit from HUD money.

Castro says he sees HUD "making investments to create partnerships, create jobs and (being) a catalyst in the urban core."


Hoosier State passenger rail extended 4 months

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indiana Department of Transportation and seven local partners have agreed to continue funding Hoosier State passenger rail service between Indianapolis and Chicago through January 31st while the state negotiates with a private vendor to operate the line.

INDOT announced the four-month extension beginning October 1st in a deal with Amtrak and the communities of Indianapolis, Beech Grove, Crawfordsville, Rensselaer, Lafayette, West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County.

INDOT is also negotiating with Corridor Capital LLC to improve the rail service and its funding model by the end of the contract extension in January.

Indianapolis initially planned to pull out of the funding arrangement October 1st. But public works spokeswoman Stephanie Wilson says it will continue paying $25,000 per month to give Corridor Capital time to succeed.

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