- Associated Press - Monday, June 22, 2015

South Bend Tribune. June 18, 2015.

Addressing an unspoken danger

The recent deaths of two teenage brothers in Granger is proof that prescription drug abuse is an issue that has no bounds; it can touch any family with tragic consequences.

Nineteen-year-old Nick Savage and his 18-year-old brother, Jack, were found dead Sunday morning after overdosing on a combination of drugs and alcohol at a late-night house party in the Knollwood area of Granger. Two other partygoers also were treated for overdoses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each day 44 people in the United States die from overdose of prescription painkillers. The drugs are often prescribed following a surgery or injury or for health conditions such as cancer. But in recent years there has been a significant increase in the acceptance and use of prescription opioids for the treatment of chronic health conditions such as back pain or osteoarthritis.

People can become addicted to prescription painkillers such as Hydrocodone and Oxycodone with just one prescription. On its website, the CDC says each day, almost 7,000 people are treated in emergency departments for abusing prescription drugs.

An editorial in the Herald Bulletin in Anderson last year said Indiana ranks in the top 10 for the number of prescriptions written by physicians. That statistic alone might imply that potent drugs are sneaking into the hands of addicts, the editorial went on to say.

There are measures that can be taken to help battle prescription drug abuse, such as more sensible prescribing guidelines. On a state level, there should be stronger regulations on pain clinics and efforts to identify fraudulent prescriptions. The CDC also recommends the use of drug monitoring programs to give health care providers information to improve patient safety and protect patients.

In battling prescription drug abuse communities must realize there are no boundaries to this public health issue. It is an issue that must be addressed using a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach, otherwise the cost in lives will only continue to grow.

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The Tribune Star (Terre Haute). June 18, 2015.

Indiana should revamp job-poaching technique

It is possible that a Connecticut corporation will actually buy into the politically motivated invitation from Indiana officials to pack up and move to the Hoosier state.

After all, Gov. Mike Pence’s administration has successfully coaxed some out-of-state corporations to relocate in Indiana. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. targets states with higher corporate taxes - primarily those with Democratic governors or legislative majorities - through ad campaigns, disparaging the rival state while trumpeting the “innovative,” ”business-friendly,” ”low-tax” strategies generated by the Hoosier leadership.

The targeted states call Indiana’s tactics “poaching.” ”We like to use the word ‘hunt,’” Victor Smith, Indiana commerce secretary, told USA Today last year.

Indiana took its corporate safari to Connecticut this week. The Hoosier state bought a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal, lampooning Connecticut for increasing its taxes on businesses’ data processing, limiting tax breaks and changing the requirements for reporting taxes, according to an Indiana Business Journal story. Indiana’s ad specifically mentioned a handful of corporations - General Electric, Aetna and Travelers - that have criticized the tax increases in the budget approved by the Connecticut General Assembly.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy is considering changes to the tax hikes, after a corporate backlash. Regardless, Indiana set its sights on the Constitution state.

“We offer our support in the wake of Connecticut’s looming tax increases,” the ad said, “because friends don’t let friends pay higher taxes.”

Pence also wrote to the companies’ top executives, pitching Indiana - “a state that works” - as a relocation site, the Business Journal reported.

Not coincidentally, Connecticut’s governor is a Democrat, the incoming head of the Democratic Governors Association, and the same guy who criticized the handling of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act this spring by Pence and fellow Republicans in the Indiana Legislature. Given the potential for political grudges and gamesmanship, it is hard to tell if Indiana’s business poaching is a one- or two-pronged mission to lure out-of-state employers but also to influence political change in those states. The latter should not be a state-sponsored project.

Let’s assume politics has nothing to do with Indiana’s approach, and one, or all, of the targeted Connecticut firms moves here. Will their workforce come along? If so, will those folks earn similar paychecks? The worker climate and business climate are different things. Connecticut leads the nation in per capita income at $37,892; Indiana ranks 38th at $24,635, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. If the relocated firms build staffs with Indiana residents, will they pay the Hoosiers less than an equivalent employee earned in Connecticut? If so, is that lower pay level part of the Indiana leadership’s sales pitch?

Indiana has plenty of virtues, apparent without bashing the shortcomings of other states. Indiana leaders need to follow a classier, less-obnoxious style of economic development. Hoosiers have a neighborly reputation, and arrogant business poaching clashes with that hard-earned image.

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The Herald Times (Bloomington). Jun 19, 2015.

Horror in Charleston must help to unite us against hate

People of various races and faiths gathered at the Bethel AME church in Bloomington Thursday to pray for those affected by the mass shooting inside a historic black church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. It was an example of this community’s solidarity against such acts, as well as what should be the world’s.

A white man stayed at the prayer meeting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston Wednesday for an hour before shooting six women and three men to death in a hate crime. A suspect, Dylann Storm Roof, was arrested Thursday afternoon.

Witnesses reported the man said before opening fire that he had to do it because “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go.”

This is a tragedy of monstrous proportions. The shooting happened in a house of worship, which should always be a safe haven, a place for people to go to seek peace and spiritual guidance. It’s one more example of the racial divide that still surfaces as hatred in our nation more than 50 years after the civil rights movement began. One of the victims was Clementa Pinckney, who bridged the racial divide with his dual roles: as the pastor of Emanuel AME and a South Carolina state senator.

Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. described the shooting correctly as “an unfathomable and unspeakable act by somebody filled with hate and with a deranged mind. … We are going to put our arms around that church and that church family.”

In Bloomington Thursday evening, a similar message was in the air.

We are all from Charleston today. And we all must fight what happened there.

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The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne). June 19, 2015.

Export-Import support

The U.S. Export-Import Bank, founded during the Depression to help U.S. companies compete internationally, is more important than ever in today’s global economy. That translates into jobs in Fort Wayne and across Indiana. New companies and ones with deep roots in this community have been able to thrive and grow with the bank’s help.

By extending credit to foreign purchasers of U.S. goods, the bank has supported the founding and growth of companies across America. Its loans enable those companies to expand by developing markets for their products overseas.

On top of that, the bank returns a profit for taxpayers: $6.9 billion in fees, premiums and interest over the last two decades, according to the New York Times.

Why, then, is this successful institution in danger? Tea party lawmakers and organizations seem to have decided arbitrarily that the bank extends risky loans and is an example of big government and big business warping the free-market system.

As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, has joined a bipartisan alliance of bank defenders that includes conservative Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Donnelly argues other nations now have their own export-import financing, and America would be ceding the advantage to those nations by letting the bank’s charter expire.

“If the Export-Import Bank no longer provides financing,” Donnelly wrote recently in TheHill.com, “foreign companies and countries will still buy goods and products. Instead of buying a product made in Muncie, Ind., however, they’ll purchase a product made in Russia or China. Congress should not allow this to happen.”

Big companies like GE and Boeing do receive help from the bank, but Donnelly notes that 90 percent of the bank’s customers are small businesses. Though the soundness of the bank’s lending hasn’t been an issue in the past, Donnelly and his coalition are sponsoring a reauthorization bill that will tighten bank oversight procedures and require even higher reserves against loan losses.

With those tweaks, the opposition has nothing to fall back on but ideological claptrap. Though observers believe the bank will eventually be reauthorized, it’s likely that its charter will be allowed to expire at the end of this month. That will cause some immediate harm, but perhaps more damaging will be the impression of uncertainty that even a short interruption of bank service will leave.

In a test vote, Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana, also supported reauthorization of the bank. Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, who has said he will vote against the bill, needs to give the matter more thought.______________

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