Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has renewed the state's public health emergency order through Oct. 31. Among other things, that means public bodies like the Bloomington Council and Monroe County Commissioners can continue holding their meetings via Zoom.
Another executive order, in effect Oct. 1, extends certain pandemic-related provisions previously in place, including registration requirements for some healthcare workers and the implementation of Indiana Medicaid.
A local mask mandate, put in place by the Monroe County Commissioners, was also extended through Oct. 31.
Indiana University Bloomington and Ivy Tech Community College have reached a new transfer agreement that will allow students who have enrolled in courses after June 1, 2021 to transfer credits, upon completion of an associate's degree, to one of nine baccalaureate programs at IU Bloomington as juniors.
The agreement will cover five main subject areas, including:
If you are an Ivy Tech student and you are interested in learning more about how credits from your associate degree can transfer to IU or other schools throughout Indiana, visit here. For more information on the guaranteed transfer agreement, go to Ivy Tech's page to read official remarks and learn about requirements.
The $270 million Indiana Connectivity Program was launched this week to connect residents and businesses that lack access to broadband internet service with service providers and to assist in the cost of extending broadband to those locations. It is offered by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.
To be eligible for the program, a location must either have no access to internet, or access to download speeds less then 25 Mbps and upload speeds less than 3 Mbps. Homeowners and business owners looking to participate in the program can go to the Next Level Connections portal and enter their address and information. They can also call the Indiana Broadband Connect Center during business hours at 833-639-8522.
Click here for more information about the Connectivity Program.
The City of Bloomington Planning and Transportation Department will release their preliminary design plans for their upcoming Neighborhood Greenway projects at two public input meetings at the beginning of October. Those who are interested in providing feedback or learning more about these projects are encouraged to attend these meetings at the following outdoor locations:
For more information on these Neighborhood Greenway projects, please follow this link to the project's webpage. Staff members will attend both meetings to answer any questions from the public.
At its Sept. 22 meeting, the Monroe County Board of Health unanimously voted to extend the county's mask mandate until Oct. 31. The county Board of Commissioners is expected to authorize the health order at its Sept. 29 meeting.
A provision in the health order would end the mandate earlier if Monroe County’s community spread decreases. Watched the Sept. 22 Board of Health meeting here.
In a 5-hour meeting on Sept. 22, the Bloomington Council approved annexation of most areas proposed by the city administration, but did not move forward with Area 7, covering Bloomington's northern corridor.
The votes to annex were all 6-3, with opposition from Dave Rollo, Susan Sandberg and Ron Smith.
Residents in the proposed annexed areas now have 90 days to file remonstrances, which are objections to annexation. Several speakers during public commentary on Sept. 22 who opposed annexation – including Monroe County Commissioner Julie Thomas and Margaret Clements, chair of the Monroe County Plan Commission – vowed to help residents with the remonstration process.
If remonstrances are signed by 65 percent of the affected landowners in a proposed annexation area, or owners of 80 percent of the assessed property value there, then the annexation is automatically stopped. If more than 50 percent but less than 65 percent of affected landowners remonstrate, an appeal to the circuit court can be made.
Read more about the city's annexation process here.
Indiana Senate Democrats have scheduled three in-person input sessions this month, including one in Bloomington, to get feedback on proposed maps for Indiana House, Senate and Congressional districts. The Bloomington session is on Monday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Monroe County Public Library, 303 E. Kirkwood Ave.
The Republican-controlled legislature released State House of Representatives Districts and Congressional Districts earlier this week. Proposed Senate maps are now available here.
The House has already held public hearings. The Senate hearings for its plans will be held on Sept. 27, Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Residents can also submit written testimony for the Senate Elections Committee hearing on Sept. 27 by contacting State Sen. John Ford (R-Terre Haute) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At the Sept. 21 meeting of the Monroe County Convention Visitors Commission, the group got positive news about the hospitality sector and discussed the possible restart of the convention center expansion project.
Mike McAfee, executive director of Visit Bloomington, reported that hotel occupancy reached 70% in August 2021, on par with the industry's pre-pandemic rate in 2019. Short-term rentals, such as Airbnb, are also growing significantly.
McAfee also asked whether it's time to start talking again about the convention center expansion, a project that was halted when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Kate Wiltz, a Monroe County Council member who serves on the CVC, said she supported restarting the conversation. She noted that the county continues to collect the Food & Beverage Tax, which is intended to help fund the project.
Watch the Sept. 21 CVC meeting here. The issue of the convention center expansion was also raised as part of the Monroe County Council budget presentations on Sept. 15. Watch that discussion here.
The Indiana House of Representatives released drafts redistricting maps on Sept. 14 and held public hearings the following two days. An amend-and-vote-only meeting was held on Sept. 20 for committee members with a 9-4 outcome in favor of amending House Bill 1851. Second and third hearings are expected to take place on Sept. 22 and 23.
The State House of Representatives Districts and Congressional Districts maps are available online, along with previous versions of those districts.
The Senate will follow a similar process, with the Elections Committee providing the public with drafts of its new maps on Sept. 21. Hearings for these plans will be held on Sept. 27 and another amend-and-vote meeting will take place on Sept. 28. Second and third hearings will follow on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, respectively. UPDATE: Proposed Senate maps are now available here.
To make your voice heard and submit a written testimony for the Senate Elections Committee hearing on Sept. 27, contact the State Sen. John Ford (R-Terre Haute) at email@example.com.
For more information on the Indiana General Assembly's redistricting process and timeline, click here.
Monroe County Health Department will open a testing site next week for drive-thru testing of COVID-19. The site will be open weekly from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at 500 Profile Parkway, on property owned by Cook Medical.
Penny Caudill, Monroe County's health administrator, made the announcement at the Sept. 17 Chamber Health & Business Conference.
More information is available on the Monroe County Health Department website here.