Political Notebook

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County ponders charging itself

Allen County will consider charging itself interest.

The county commissioners have asked the county’s fiscal body to consider charging interest or an administrative fee to county departments receiving loans from the rainy day fund.

All three commissioners signed a letter sent Wednesday to the County Council.

Commissioner Nelson Peters broached the subject two weeks ago after commissioners approved a no-interest, three-year loan to Community Corrections for $68,500 to buy computers and equipment. In 2011, the Highway Department borrowed $1.6 million to buy 10 dump trucks.

The commissioners support the inter-departmental loans, which are preferable to the private lending market, but there is a cost to the county in staff time and lost interest, Peters said.

The commissioners suggested considering an interest rate no higher that what the county earns – which is less than 1 percent.

The suggestion will be discussed at the council’s November meeting, and commissioners have been invited to attend, said County Council President Darren Vogt, R-3rd.

“In general, I’m against charging ourselves interest, especially since it’s taxpayer dollars,” Vogt said. “But maybe there are areas where it would make sense if the administrative (work) is not too costly.”

Gregg drops out

Democrat John Gregg announced last week he will not run for governor again in 2016.

He put up a tough fight against Republican Gov. Mike Pence in 2012, losing by just a few percentage points.

Gregg recently has been attending dozens of Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinners and labor meetings to keep visible for another run.

But a letter he posted to Facebook on Wednesday said life events are shifting his focus to family.

“Despite the overwhelming support and encouragement to make another run, I am announcing that, at this time, I am no longer actively seeking the Indiana Democratic Party’s nomination for Governor in 2016,” Gregg said.

He said he will stay involved and that it is possible to affect change without being on a ballot or holding public office.

“I hope you accept my decision and will support it. As you know, faith is very important to me and I am confident in knowing that whereas I may not know what the future holds for me, I know ‘Who’ holds the future,” Gregg said.

Seeking health data

Republican members of Indiana’s congressional delegation want to know how many Hoosiers seek medical insurance through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-2nd, has sent a letter, signed by the six other GOP representatives from the state and Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking for the number of applicants and enrollees in each of Indiana’s nine congressional districts.

“We have received numerous reports from Hoosiers who have been unable to enroll due to website malfunctions as well as complaints from Hoosiers who can no longer afford the new premium amounts,” Walorski wrote. “As we work to assist these constituents, it is important that we are able to provide them accurate data regarding the health insurance exchange.”

All of Indiana’s Republicans in Congress have supported eliminating or delaying the Affordable Care Act.

The White House figures about 500,000 people have applied for insurance and 19 million have visited HealthCare.gov since the insurance application site opened Oct. 1.

President Barack Obama said Monday at the White House that website glitches are frustrating him but will be fixed.

Indiana did not establish its own health insurance exchange. It is among 35 states where residents must apply for medical insurance through the federal exchange.

Faking it

Gov. Mike Pence rolled up his sleeve Thursday for his annual flu shot – and he didn’t even wince.

“Highly effective. Virtually painless,” the governor said after the shot. “It’s a very serious matter. The state of Indiana is seeking to lead by example.”

There were 72 flu-related deaths for the 2012-13 season, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

Pence sort of got the shot twice, actually.

An Indianapolis TV station showed up late to the event, and Pence offered to restage the shot to help get awareness out to Hoosiers and state employees about the importance of the flu vaccine. That video shows a pharmacist “faking” the shot, with a lid on and the needle plunger not moving.

But there is no conspiracy. Pence got the real shot first and even has the bandage to prove it.

Vivian Sade of The Journal Gazette contributed to this column.

To reach Political Notebook by e-mail, contact Brian Francisco at bfrancisco@jg.net or Niki Kelly at nkelly@jg.net. An expanded Political Notebook can also be found as a daily blog at www.journalgazette.net/politicalnotebook.

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