INDIANA AFL-CIO PRESIDENT
New AFL-CIO prez aims to educate, mobilize locally
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The new president of the Indiana AFL-CIO says the state labor movement needs to revitalize itself at the community level and get more labor-friendly candidates elected to office.
Brett Voorhies says revitalizing unions in Indiana will take time and patience.
He told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that the AFL-CIO needs to educate and mobilize its members on issues. It also is recruiting worker-friendly candidates for the General Assembly after its unsuccessful campaign to block passage of the state's right-to-work law.
Delegates voted during the group's state convention in Terre Haute Tuesday to elect Voorhies as the new president of the 300,000-member organization over incumbent Nancy Guyott (GUY'-aht). Voorhies has been president of the Central Indiana Labor Council since 2011 and a political coordinator for the United Steelworkers.
Mediator: Progress between Ritz, board members
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A national mediator called into help with the state's ongoing education battle says she sees progress between the two sides.
Kris Amundson guided the members of the State Board of Education through a three-hour discussion of their roles. Amundson runs the National Association of State Boards of Education.
She was called in to help with an ongoing fight between Democratic schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz and board members who've been appointed by Republican governors.
Ritz stormed out of a board meeting last month after a member pushed a measure Ritz said would shift power from her. She previously sued board members alleging violation of Indiana's public access laws.
Ritz chairs the education board, but the other 10 members have been appointed by either Gov. Mike Pence or former Gov. Mitch Daniels.
Ritz: Power grab outlined in Pence document
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Democratic Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz says an internal document obtained by her office shows Republican Gov. Mike Pence's new education agency is trying to strip her of power.
Ritz's staff has released a policy document from the Center for Education and Career Innovation discussing ways to limit her power as chair of the State Board of Education. The new agency is at the center of the ongoing power struggle between Ritz and Pence for control of education policy.
But a Pence spokeswoman said the governor had already "squashed" the idea in October and accused Ritz of playing games.
In the memo, Pence's staff discusses altering how the education board is governed. It was sent between two Pence staffers on Oct. 3, according to an email released Wednesday by Ritz's office.
COLLEGE GRAD GOAL
Initiative aims to boost US college graduate ranks
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Twenty U.S. communities have been chosen as the first partners in a national initiative aimed at increasing the ranks of college graduates.
The Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation on Wednesday promised as much as $200,000 to the communities over three years. The foundation's goal is to raise the percentage of Americans with college degrees from 38 percent to 60 percent by 2025.
In several communities, the Lumina support will boost existing efforts like Louisville, Ky.'s 55,000 Degrees program and Say Yes in Syracuse and Buffalo.
Also chosen were Albuquerque, N.M.; Boston; Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio; Columbus and Fort Wayne, Ind.; Greensboro, N.C.; Houston and San Antonio, Texas; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Memphis, Tenn.; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pa.; Providence, R.I.; Quad Cities, Iowa/Ill.; Santa Ana, Calif. and South Seattle, Wash.
INDIANA-TORNADO AID REQUEST
Federal aid sought for tornado-hit C. Ind. county
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - State officials are seeking a federal major disaster declaration for central Indiana's Howard County because of damage during last month's wave of tornadoes and severe storms.
The governor's office says Gov. Mike Pence is asking that the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved grants and low-interest loans to help homeowners and business in and around Kokomo recover from the Nov. 17 storm.
The request says 191 homes in Howard County were destroyed or have major damage, with about 800 more with less-severe damage. The National Weather Service found that two tornadoes with winds of at least 120 mph hit Kokomo that day.
Pence's request says damage assessments are continuing and aid might be sought for more counties hit by the storm, including Daviess, Fountain and Grant counties.
NATURAL GAS STATION
1st liquefied natural gas station opens in Ind.
SELLERSBURG, Ind. (AP) - The opening of Indiana's first liquefied natural gas refueling station has officials touting the use of the alternative fuel.
A ceremony was held Tuesday marking the opening of the station just off Interstate 65 in Sellersburg, a few miles north of Louisville, Ky.
Greater Indiana Clean Cities Coalition director Kellie Walsh says the state started 2013 with six natural-gas stations, all of which sold compressed natural gas.
Walsh tells the News and Tribune that the Sellersburg site is Indiana Indiana's 15th natural-gas station and the first with the super-cold liquefied gas.
State Rep. Randy Frye of Greensburg says the state is encouraging trucking companies to convert semis to natural gas with $15,000 tax credits.
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