School Lunches Go Local

There are lots of Indiana schools working hard to make school meals healthier for Hoosier children.  But a handful are going one step further, and striving to put food on kids’ plates that is sustainable too.  In this final report in our food sustainability series, Marianne Holland explores what those schools are doing and how it’s impacting those schools and their communities.  Hear the Story

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Urban Farming On the Rise

Across Indianapolis, urban farming projects seem to be sprouting up faster than the crops they grow. They come it different forms – sponsored by churches, a few neighbors banding together, or nonprofits growing food for feeding the hungry. Scott Leadingham highlights one.  Hear the Story

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Cancer Group Wants Lilly to Stop Making Milk Hormone Drug

A breast cancer advocacy group is targeting Indiana’s largest pharmaceutical company, calling on Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Company to stop producing a hormone given to cows to produce more milk.  The California-based Breast Cancer Action group is targeting Lilly as the sole manufacturer of Posilac, a manufactured hormone designed to mimic naturally-occurring hormones in cows.  The group, which credits its recent success getting Yoplait to remove hormones from its yogurt, plans to purchase billboard space in Indianapolis, pressuring Lilly on the matter.  Spokesperson Kim Irish says independent research shows a link between the drug and breast and prostate cancers, and claims Lilly is profiting unfairly.

“Eli Lilly we see as a pink-washer because they are contributing to breast cancer through their selling of rBGH and then they also manufacturer breast cancer treatment drugs and a drug they claim prevents breast cancer so they’re really profiting…there’s a full cycle of profits here that seems really unfair to us.”

But Lilly spokespeople say the research they’ve done after buying the drug from the world’s largest seed company, Monsanto, shows the drug is safe.  They assert there’s no difference between milk sold from cows given the hormone and those that are not.  Dennis Erpelding says drug effects were tested in order to gain FDA approval.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviewed the data.  International organizations, such as the World Health Organizations, the FAO, their scientific expert bodies, have reviewed the data, and all these scientific organizations have established that the compound can be and is used safely for dairy cow milk production.

The hormone is banned in Europe, Japan and Canada.  Companies including Wal-Mart and Kroger have also pledged that their store brands will stop buying from suppliers that use the drug.

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Is it Really Local? Navigating Indiana’s Farmers Markets

Farmers markets are an increasingly popular complement to the grocery store. The U-S Department of Agriculture counts more than 120 farmers markets in Indiana. Many consumers like the idea of getting fresh local produce straight from farmers, but as Micah Schweizer reports, shopping a farmers market isn’t always that straightforward. Hear the Story

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Steven David Named Next Supreme Court Judge

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has announced who he’s chosen as the state’s next Supreme Court judge:  53 year old Boone County Circuit Court Judge Steven David, who will fill the vacancy left by Justice Theodore Boehm, who steps down September 30th.  David used the announcement as a time to credit the process by which he was selected.

“It’s been a rigorous, busy and public transparent process and I want to express my gratitude for the efforts, the hard work, the commitment that the judicial qualifications commission, each one of those members, put forward.”

David was one of three finalists for the job.  There were speculations Governor Daniels would select a woman, since none currently sit on the state’s highest court.  Daniels said that may have been a consideration in a tie breaker, but he felt Judge David was clearly the best nominee.  Daniels pointed particularly to his military service and time spend working in the business sector, as an attorney for Mayflower Transit Corporation, as traits that distinguished David as his final selection.

Constitutional Property Tax Cap Supporters Begin Final Push for Passage

Governor Mitch Daniels with about 50 supporters of constitutional property tax caps, in Beech Grove, IN

About 50 supporters rallying for a yes vote on the property tax cap referendum that will appear on the November election ballot were on the south side of Indianapolis today making their case for why those caps should be placed in the state constitution. 

Question one on the November ballot will ask voters whether they want to put current property tax caps in the state constitution. 

Those caps don’t completely set in stone the dollar amount a property owner pays on his or her taxes, since property assessments used to calculate the tax bills can rise and fall.  Also, lawmakers allowed for referendums that let local governments and schools go above the caps. 

But Governor Mitch Daniels says the key is that they’ll need voters approval.

“When local spending units want to raise more money, they have to get the people’s permission to do it.  It’s no longer the case that they can simply raise it at their own discretion and that’s the way it should be.”

The property tax caps became law in 2008, despite opposition from groups that said it would limit funding flexibility for government programs.  Now opponents, most notably the Indiana Farm Bureau and state Chamber of Commerce say they won’t actively campaign against the measure. 

Fiscal Report Shows Tough Decisions for Next General Assembly

-Marianne Holland, Statehouse Bureau Chief

A report released today by the non-partisan Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute shows major challenges for the next budget session of the Indiana General Assembly. 

After examining the state’s year end financial closeout, there’s at least one thing Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute director John Ketzenburger says is clear: tough choices lie ahead for the General Assembly as they put together the next biennial budget. 

Indiana’s tax revenue fell six point nine percent over the last two fiscal years, putting the state’s revenue collections at about the same level as they were in 2005. 

 The institute report shows the state at a structural deficit going into the 2012-2013 budget, but credits Governor Mitch Daniel’s spending cuts for mitigating the problem for this year. 

It also shows Indiana’s recent property tax changes have meant less funding flexibility during the recession and calls federal stimulus money a bridge across the worst of the revenue losses.