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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, November 12, 2017 1:00 am

Holcomb takes up students' firefly fight

NIKI KELLY and BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

It's all about the kids.

That's why Gov. Eric Holcomb added one key item to his governing agenda last week – making the Say's firefly the state insect.

“We're going to get this done,” he told a crowd gathered to hear his vision – a statement that drew spontaneous applause.

He told the group it is the initiative he is most excited to sign into law, and that he would be working with students from Cumberland Elementary in West Lafayette to make it happen.

Students there have spent several years writing letters and testifying before legislative committees in their campaign to win recognition for the bug. But lawmakers have resisted formalizing the state insect, passing a resolution instead of a law.

The Lafayette Journal & Courier reports the pupils have argued that the lightning bug best represents Indiana because of its agricultural benefits and place in American history. The Say's firefly was named by naturalist Thomas Say of southwestern Indiana's Posey County in the 1800s.

Well, duh!

Hoosiers continue to support allowing the sale of cold beer at supermarkets and convenience stores in Indiana, and they want to buy alcohol on Sunday, according to a new study from Ball State University.

The news comes as lawmakers study an overhaul of Indiana's antiquated retail alcohol laws.

The Old National Bank/Ball State University 2017 Hoosier Survey found that 61 percent of Hoosiers support the sale of cold beer in supermarkets and convenience stores while only 31 percent oppose it. Currently, cold beer may be purchased only in liquor stores.

“Cold beer is popular in Indiana. We find support for cold beer sales to be similar across partisan, demographic and geographic categories,” said Sean Hildebrand, a Ball State political science professor and survey analyst at the Bowen Center for Public Affairs, which conducts the annual public opinion telephone survey of 600 adult Hoosiers.

It isn't the first time the Hoosier Survey asked about support for the sale of cold beer in supermarkets and convenience stores. In 2014, support was also at 61 percent. At that time, 36 percent of Hoosiers opposed the measure. This indicates that while support has held steady, opposition has declined.

The Hoosier Survey also found that 58 percent of Hoosiers support Sunday sales of alcohol, while only 36 percent oppose it.

“Sundays are fun days too, and Hoosiers want to expand their ability to purchase alcohol in stores to seven days a week,” Hildebrand said. “We find similar support for Sunday sales of alcohol across partisan, demographic and geographic categories.”

In 2014, the Hoosier Survey found that 59 percent of respondents supported Sunday sales, with 39 percent opposed.

Policy leader dies

William Styring, a conservative economist who often has been called the architect of former Gov. Otis Bowen's 1973 tax restructuring plan, died Monday, according to media reports. The Carmel resident was 72.

Styring was chief of staff for the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee when he shaped legislation to halt fast-rising property taxes. The plan approved by the General Assembly set limits on county property tax rates and levies, doubled the state sales tax rate and allowed counties to enact local option income taxes.

The benefits were short-lived as legislators over the years approved many exemptions to property tax controls. The Indiana Supreme Court declared the state's property assessment methods unconstitutional in 1998, and Gov. Mitch Daniels signed legislation 10 years later that would place constitutionally protected caps on property tax rates.

Styring later was an economist for the Indiana Budget Agency, chairman of the Indiana Revenue Forecast Committee and a vice president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. He also worked for the Indiana Policy Review Foundation and the Hudson Institute, a think tank then based in Indianapolis.

“His public service and contributions to conservative economic thought will live on,” Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday in a statement about Styring, with whom he worked when Pence was president of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation in the early 1990s.

Staff switch

Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd, will have a new press secretary soon.

Banks has hired Andrea Palermo to replace Anna Swick on Nov. 17. Swick left Banks' staff Thursday to become communications director for Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo.

Palermo has been communications coordinator for Heritage Action for America, the lobbying arm of the Heritage Foundation, an influential conservative advocacy group.

She also was communications assistant for Florida's former chief financial officer. Palermo is a 2016 graduate of Florida State University, where she studied political science and public relations.

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