The latest job numbers are incredibly mixed for Flyover states. Lawmakers explore different plans raising the minimum wage. And serious problems in Illinois schools come to light as Indiana teachers demand more funding.
We can work it out: Job growth figures backslid this year in several Flyover states, including job losses in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio, cleveland.com’s Rich Exner reports. Michigan was hit the hardest with a 0.4% decrease, followed by Indiana and Wisconsin at 0.3% and Ohio at 0.2%. It’s the first year for negative job growth in multiple Flyover states since 2009. Pennsylvania (0.4%), Illinois (0.3%) and Iowa (0.2%) all saw increases.
Here’s the deal: The Pennsylvania Legislature is back in session and wheeling and dealing with Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat. Wolf and the Republican-controlled Senate struck a bargain to increase the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2022, with business groups jumping on board in exchange for Wolf pulling a proposal that would make salaried workers making up to $45,000 eligible for overtime. The GOP-controlled House of Representatives has not taken a stance just yet.
At a minimum: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democrat, is pushing a minimum wage bill of her own that would raise the floor to $15-an-hour by 2021. The Chicago Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman reports Lightfoot reached her own deal Tuesday, with the head of the Illinois Restaurant Association jumping aboard after an agreement to pay tipped workers less.
Red for Ed: More than 15,000 teachers descended on the Capitol in Indiana today, protesting for a pay increase and more classroom resources, the Indianapolis Star’s Arika Herron and MJ Slaby report. Republicans in the statehouse said the teachers shouldn’t expect anything to happen, per the Northwest Indiana Times’ Dan Carden.
No padding it: The Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois are out with a lengthy investigation about how teachers in the state are essentially using a form of solitary confinement against school kids, many of them with developmental disabilities. State law permits using seclusion as a punishment – like a “time out” - when there are safety concerns, but in more than 4,000 cases from the 2017-2018 school year through December 2018, teachers gave no documented safety reasons for their decisions.
Probationary hearing: Wolf urged Pennsylvania state lawmakers to adopt some form of probation reform, a realistic possibility that is gaining bipartisan support, PennLive’s Ron Southwick reports. More than 180,000 people are on probation in the state and advocates for reform say too many people are sent back to prison on technical violations, most notably Philly rapper Meek Mill.
Crystal clear: The Environmental Protection Agency announced $3.6 million in grant funding for Lake Erie on Tuesday, cleveland.com’s Laura Johnston reports. Funding will go to updating infrastructure, reducing phosphorous runoff and containing invasive species.
Pipe dreams: Michigan Democrats can’t agree on the controversial Enbridge Line 5 pipeline underneath the Straits of Mackinac, dividing the party as it heads into the contentious 2020 elections, the Detroit News’ Craig Mauger reports. Labor unions have threatened to pull support from Democrats who oppose the pipeline for environmental reasons. That divide is becoming a more common scenario all over Flyover states, with Democrats struggling to balance the wing worried about the environmental impact of certain projects and unions – some of the largest monetary and organizational backers of the Democratic Party – demanding support for union-job construction.
Feeling the heat: Republicans in Pennsylvania made it clear they are going to fight tooth and nail to prevent Gov. Wolf from entering the state into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multi-state compact looking to combat climate change, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Laura Legere reports. Legislative Republicans said they will pass a bill requiring Wolf to get legislative approval before joining the RGGI, with plans to sue as well.
King Corn: Thus far, the battle between farmers and Republican President Donald Trump over waivers for ethanol blending in commercial gasoline has mostly played out in Iowa, but Wisconsin state Republican lawmakers are also joining the fray, the Wisconsin State Journal’s Chris Hubbuch reports. The lawmakers penned a letter stating the increased waivers from the Trump administration were hurting Wisconsin farmers – though, as with other Republicans, the letter attacked the EPA instead of the president.
Planting a seed: Poet, the nation’s largest ethanol producer, will stop producing ethanol from corn-based products at its Emmetsburg, Iowa, plant, the Des Moines Register’s Donnelle Eller reports (hard paywall). About 30 people will lose their jobs at the plant, which the company and Royal DSM of the Netherlands received more than $120 million in taxpayer funds for research and development at the site – which will continue. The culprit according to Poet? The Trump administration’s waivers for renewable fuel standards.
Commission accomplished: The Michigan secretary of state’s office sent applications to 250,000 random voters for the independent redistricting commission enacted by ballot initiative in 2018, MLive’s Emily Lawler reports. By law, the state must send 10,000 applications to random voters for the board – which will include four Republicans, four Democrats and five independents. Republicans are suing over limitations to who can serve on the board, such as barring current party officials, lobbyists, lawmakers and their relatives.
License to chill: Michigan marijuana regulators issued the first recreational business licenses in the state on Tuesday, per MLive’s Gus Burns. The program is expected to start Dec. 1. Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency Director Andrew Bisbo wore socks with pigs flying to celebrate the occasion.
Vice President Mike Pence will be in Indianapolis on Wednesday, per the Indianapolis Star.
Former Rep. John Delaney of Maryland will be in Burlington, Iowa, on Wednesday, per the campaign.
Author Marianne Williamson will be in Washington, Fairfield and Des Moines, Iowa, on Wednesday, per the campaign.
Delaney will be in Des Moines, West Des Moines and Estherville, Iowa, on Thursday, per the campaign.
Williamson will be in Des Moines on Thursday, per the campaign.
Longtime Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma will retire at the end of the 2020 session, per the Indianapolis Star.
Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio was on actor Jim Carey’s drawing board, per Carey’s Twitter.
United Auto Workers leadership, including President Gary Jones, met with the feds over reaching a pre-indictment solution into a federal corruption investigation, per the Detroit News.
This Is Your Captain Speaking
“Every day, my office is under attack: from a president who uses our city as a punching bag, the NRA hellbent on letting guns flood our streets and the FOP clinging to the old ways. They’ll do anything to undercut progress, including attacking me personally over the Jussie Smollett case. Truth is, I didn’t handle it well. I own that.”
-Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx in a re-election campaign ad admitting to screwing up the case of actor Jussie Smollett. Foxx dropped felony charges against Smollett for a high-profile case in which Smollett allegedly faked a hate crime.