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Buttigieg decision on police chief shadows presidential run

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Lingering criticism over Pete Buttigieg’s demotion of a popular black police chief when Buttigieg was mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has raised questions about whether the presidential candidate can attract the support of African Americans. Buttigieg has said he was saving the chief from possible federal criminal charges. But interviews and documents paint a more complicated picture that's not as flattering to Buttigieg. While some say they believe the then-30-year-old Buttigieg was trying to do the right thing, others tell The Associated Press his lack of experience led him to take actions that weren't well thought out and that damaged his standing in the black community.


Republicans vote down another Indiana teacher pay boost plan

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A Democratic proposal to immediately boost Indiana teacher pay by $100 million a year by stretching out payments to a teacher pension fund has been rejected by a Republican-controlled committee. The Indiana Senate Appropriations Committee voted 8-4 along party lines Thursday against the Democratic plan. That extra $100 million then would have boosted funding for the state’s Teacher Appreciation Grant bonus program by 267% this year. Estimates show the average bonus to a teacher in a northern Indiana district could have increased from about $700 to nearly $1,900. Holcomb and legislative Republicans maintain major spending actions should wait until next year, when a new state budget is written.


Indiana returning 4 state takeover schools to local control

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana State Board of Education is returning three Indianapolis schools and a Gary school to local control, ending state takeovers prompted by students’ poor academic performance. WFYI-FM reports that the State Board of Education voted 6-2 Wednesday to allow Indianapolis Public Schools to regain control this summer of Emma Donnan Middle School and Thomas Carr Howe and Emmerich Manual high schools. Florida-based Charter Schools USA has operated the schools since 2012. The board also voted unanimously to immediately return Gary's Theodore Roosevelt College & Career Academy to the control of the Gary Community School Corporation. Florida-based Edison Learning had operated that school since mid-2012.


IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox plans to retire in August

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana High School Athletic Association Commissioner Bobby Cox says he will retire in August. The 63-year-old Cox has served in his current role since replacing Blake Ress in February 2011. Cox helped the governing body bring in more corporate sponsors and better technology while promoting better sportsmanship and stronger health initiatives for athletes. He also embraced the Champions Together program, which worked with Special Olympics of Indiana to establish state tournaments for students with intellectual disabilities. The IHSAA says it will begin the search for Cox's replacement following next month's executive committee meeting.


2 women charged in man's killing amid child custody dispute

PORTLAND, Ind. (AP) — Two Indiana women who are softball coaches at an Ohio high school face murder charges in the fatal shooting of a man that allegedly arose from a child custody dispute. Twenty-nine-year-old Esther J. Stephen and 18-year-old Shelby N. Hiestand, both from the eastern Indiana city of Portland, were charged Wednesday in the killing of 31-year-old Shea Michael Briar. The Portland man died Sunday after he was shot in the head. A probable cause affidavit alleges Stephen was angry at Briar for initiating a child custody case over a child they shared and that she and Hiestand conspired to kill Briar.


Lawyers: Immigration court system is 'red tape gone crazy'

CHICAGO (AP) — One of the nation's largest legal advocacy groups for immigrants runs a free legal help desk from a windowless room inside Chicago's immigration court. Most days, there's a line outside the door, with complex cases taking years to resolve. The attorneys have no printer and make copies by hand. They rarely take breaks, even to use the bathroom.  A snapshot of the operation _ just one of five nationwide _ illustrates the growing burden on attorneys in the immigration courts system, where there's no right to appointed counsel, a crushing backlog and ever-shifting Trump administration policies that have created unprecedented turmoil.


Indiana Gov. Holcomb keeps padding huge campaign cash lead

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has continued adding to his already huge campaign cash advantage over his potential Democratic rivals. New state campaign finance reports filed Wednesday show the Republican governor raised nearly $2 million in the last six months of 2019, leaving him with about $7.25 million in the bank for his 2020 reelection bid. The governor’s fundraising dwarfs that of the two Democratic candidates, health care business executive Woody Myers and tech business executive Josh Owens. Myers reported raising $180,000, while Owens raised $84,000. Both candidates say they are starting more aggressive fundraising.


Indiana panel backs higher fines for underaged tobacco sales

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The push to toughen Indiana’s penalties on stores for selling tobacco products to underage customers is facing some questions over whether the proposed fines are too steep. Members of state Senate’s health committee voted 11-0 on Wednesday to endorse the bill that includes raising the minimum age for smoking and vaping from 18 to 21 to conform with the new federal law.  The Senate proposal would triple possible retailer fines to between $600 and $3,000 based on number of violations in a six-month period.