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Sunday, July 09, 2017 1:00 am

Hoosiers' patriotism rated among the worst

BRIAN FRANCISCO and NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

Indiana is among the least patriotic states in the nation, according to an analysis by WalletHub, a personal finance website.

The Hoosier State ranked 40th in a point system based on 13 “key indicators of patriotism,” which included military enlistments, veteran populations, voter turnout, jury participation and voluntarism.

WalletHub's three most patriotic states were, in order, Virginia, Alaska and Wyoming. New Jersey was the least patriotic state, followed by Illinois and Massachusetts.

WalletHub said Republican states on average are more patriotic than Democratic states. Alaska has the most veterans per 1,000 residents, Georgia has the most military enlistees per 1,000 residents, Maine had the highest voter turnout in the 2016 presidential election, and Utah has the highest volunteer rate.

WalletHub conducted a separate study rating Fourth of July celebrations in American's 100 largest cities. It scored cities on 18 criteria, including legality of fireworks, duration of fireworks shows, number of holiday festivals and performances, average prices for hamburger, beer, wine and hotels, access to public transportation, traffic congestion and weather forecasts.

Fort Wayne ranked 69th. The top three cities were, in order, Atlanta, San Francisco and Buffalo, New York. Other rankings included Toledo, 60th, and Indianapolis, 74th.

Area reps get assignments

Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma doled out summer study committee assignments last week.

“Many new laws get their start from ideas and discussions generated during our summer study committees, which conduct deep dives on our state's top policy issues,” Bosma said. “Lawmakers collaborate with members of the public and industry experts to identify and evaluate possible legislative solutions to be introduced next session.”

Here are the panels on which House members from northeast Indiana will serve:

• Rep. Martin Carbaugh, R-Fort Wayne – Interim Study Committee on Financial Institutions and Insurance; Interim Study Committee on Pension Management Oversight.

• Rep. Dave Heine, R-New Haven – Simplified State Sales Tax Administration Delegates.

• Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne – Alcohol Code Revision; Joint Committee on Judiciary and Public Policy; Interim Study Committee on Public Policy.

• Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne – Alcohol Code Revision; Interim Study Committee on Financial Institutions and Insurance; Joint Committee on Judiciary and Public Policy.

• Rep. Ben Smaltz, R-Auburn – Alcohol Code Revision; Joint Committee on Judiciary and Public Policy; Interim Study Committee on Public Policy.

• Rep. Chris Judy, R-Fort Wayne - Joint Committee on Judiciary and Public Policy; Interim Study Committee on Public Safety and Military Affairs.

• Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington - Native American Indian Affairs Commission.

• Rep. Bob Morris, R-Fort Wayne – Interim Study Committee on Commerce and Economic Development; Interim Study Committee on Employment and Labor.

• Rep. Curt Nisly, R-Goshen – Interstate Rail Passenger Advisory Council.

• Rep. Dave Ober, R-Albion – Interim Study Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications.

• Rep. Dave Wolkins, R-Warsaw – Interim Study Committee on Environmental Affairs.

• Rep. Dennis Zent, R-Angola – Interim Study Committee on Government; Interim Study Committee on Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Human Services.

The Senate has not released its assignments.

Donnelly endorsed for re-election

End Citizens United, which advocates for the prohibition of unlimited and undisclosed political spending, has endorsed Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.

Donnelly is widely considered among the most vulnerable Democratic senators facing re-election next year because Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump won Indiana by 19 percentage points in the 2016 election on his way to capturing the White House.

End Citizens United said it has more than 3 million members and raised $25 million in the 2016 election cycle, helping to elect Democratic Sens. Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire and Catherine Cortez-Masto in Nevada.

“Senator Donnelly has a proven record of putting problem-solving ahead of partisan politics to represent hard-working Hoosier families, not special interests,” Tiffany Muller, president and executive director of End Citizens United, said in a statement. “He understands that when Big Money is free to spend unlimited, undisclosed sums in politics it drowns out the voices of middle-class Americans.”

In the Citizens United case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that corporations and labor unions can spend unlimited amounts of money on political advertising independent from candidates' campaigns.

“I stand with End Citizens United in fighting for a fairer, more transparent government that works for all Americans, and I'm glad to have their endorsement,” Donnelly said in a statement.

Reps. Luke Messer, R-6th, and Todd Rokita, R-4th, are expected to announce this summer that they will seek the Republican nomination for Donnelly's seat. Three other Republicans – Terry Henderson, Mark Hurt and Andrew Takami – have announced their candidacies.

To reach Political Notebook by email, 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.