7/19 Weekly Legislative Update


Enacted into Law

H.R. 7440: Hong Kong Autonomy Act: “This bill imposes sanctions on foreign individuals and entities that materially contribute to China’s failure to preserve Hong Kong’s autonomy.” This bill was enacted after being signed by the President on July 14, 2020.

Passed House & Senate

S.4209: Protecting Nonprofits from Catastrophic Cash Flow Strain Act of 2020
A bill to amend title IX of the Social Security Act to improve emergency unemployment relief for governmental entities and nonprofit organizations.
Passed the Senate July 2; passed in the House July 9. The vote was without objection so no record of individual votes was made.
The bill was passed by both chambers in identical form. It goes to the President next who may sign or veto the bill.

Upcoming Legislation

H.R. 6395: William M. (Mac) Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2021 for military activities of the Department of Defense and for military construction, to prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, and for other purposes. GovTrak: “ This bill authorizes FY2021 appropriations and sets forth policies for Department of Defense (DOD) programs and activities, including military personnel strengths. It does not provide budget authority, which is provided in subsequent appropriations legislation.” Passed out of committee July 2; highlights: https://bacon.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=523. This bill has been added to the House’s schedule for the coming week, according to the House Majority Leader.

H.R. 7327: Child Care for Economic Recovery Act From GovTrak.us: “This bill provides additional funding in FY2020 for taxpayer services, social services block grants, and infrastructure grants to improve child care safety, including needs assessments.” Read the summary for more details.

H.R. 7027: Child Care Is Essential Act From GovTrak.us: “This bill establishes and provides $50 billion in appropriations for the Child Care Stabilization Fund to award grants to child care providers during and after the COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) public health emergency. ” Read the summary for more details.

H.R. 7608: Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2021 From GovTrak.us: “Making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021, and for other purposes.”

Legislation up for consideration in the full House or Senate this coming week:

H.R. 7667: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2021 Ordered reported July 16; sent by committee to the House as a whole for consideration. Includes language to prevent federal funds directed toward collecting drivers license and state ID data from states in order to identify citizenship status of every adult in the country, per executive order issued in July, 2019. So far four states have cooperated in releasing this information—South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and South Carolina. (Wang, Handi Lo. “Four States Are Sharing Driver’s License Info to Help Find Out Who’s a Citizen.” NPR. 14 July 2020:https://www.npr.org/2020/07/14/890798378/south-dakota-is-sharing-drivers-license-info-to-help-find-out-who-s-a-citizen)

H.R. 7573 To direct the Architect of the Capitol to replace the bust of Roger Brooke Taney in the Old Supreme Court Chamber of the United States Capitol with a bust of Thurgood Marshall to be obtained by the Joint Committee on the Library and to remove certain statues from areas of the United States Capitol which are accessible to the public, to remove all statues of individuals who voluntarily served the Confederate States of America from display in the United States Capitol, and for other purposes. The House of Representatives is set to take up legislation next week to remove statues from the Capitol depicting Confederates and other figures associated with promoting slavery or white supremacy. (“Bill to Remove Capitol’s Confederate Statues Up for a Vote Next Week – Should They Be Removed?” Countable.18 July 2020: https://www.countable.us/articles/45462-bill-remove-capitol-s-confederate-statues-vote-week-removed) GovTrak.us: “The House Majority Leader indicated on Jul 17, 2020 that this bill may be considered in the week ahead.”

H.R. 7609: Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2021 Passed through committee July 13 and will be considered by the House next week. Stipulations include blocking administration from using military construction funds on a border wall and limiting transfers between accounts to $1.9 billion. Included also are funds to change Confederate names at Army bases; Trump has promised to veto the bill because of this directive. (Johnson, Bridget. “House Appropriations Bills for DHS, DoD, VA Block Use of Funds for Border Wall.” Homeland Security Today. 16 July 2020: https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/border-security/house-appropriations-bills-for-dhs-dod-va-block-use-of-funds-for-border-wall/)


A coronavirus relief package is expected next week in the Senate.

To recap, two months ago on May 15 the House passed the HEROES Act (Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions). The HEROES Act includes a new round of stimulus checks, extends unemployment compensation, provides payments and other assistance to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, expands paid sick days, family and medical leave, provides funding and establishes requirements for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, among many other provisions. For a full summary, click above.

A related bill was introduced in the Senate May 21 by Michael Bennet (D-CO) and co-sponsored by Todd Young (D-IN) They are seeking to have this bill included in the next COVID-19 relief package. S 3814: RESTART Act (Reviving the Economy Sustainably Towards A Recovery in Twenty-Twenty Act) , A bill to establish a loan program for businesses affected by COVID-19 and to extend the loan forgiveness period for paycheck protection program loans made to the hardest hit businesses, and for other purposes. For more information about this bill: Newsbreak, https://www.newsbreak.com/colorado/boulder/news/0Pd34gNW/z2-entertainment-launches-recovery-fund-joins-calls-for-restart-social-media-day-of-action and Live for Live Music: https://liveforlivemusic.com/news/z2-entertainment-recovery-fund-restart-act/ The Senate’s proposal has been under lockdown with no outreach to Democrats, according to Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer. There are likely to be many areas of disagreements between the Democrats and Republicans, including liability protections opposed by Democrats who favor OHA protections, extension of the $600 unemployment enhancement Republicans want to eliminate, tying education funding to schools re-opening, adamantly opposed by Democrats.

Also at issue is allowing more flexibility to states in spending. Of the at least 1.25 billion allocated to each state, much of it remains unspent, even as states struggle with catatrophic budget shortfalls..Treasury Department guidelines issues stipulations for spending that money to specific coronavirus issues. (Mattingly, Phil and Lauren Fox. “A Stimulus Train Wreck Is Headed for Capitol Hill.” CNN Politics.16 July 2020: https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/16/politics/congress-covid-response-stimulus-deadline/index.html?utm_term=159498873866817976099e2aa&utm_source=Five+Things+for+Friday%2C+July+17%2C+2020&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=226406_1594988738670&bt_ee=iFSi%2BfnGAbb%2B4B761A%2FJnfQq0f2Hbz776T%2FQj7704F%2FwZqZf6PdYB4O1f7RENzYr&bt_ts=1594988738670 )

Specifically, expect the Senate proposal to offer a five year liability shield to institutions, healthcare workers, and businesses from lawsuits tied to coronavirus infections. Such entities would be legally liable if they didn’t make “reasonable efforts” to follow public health guidelines and “committed an act of gross negligence or intentional misconduct,” according to a draft summary obtained by The Hill. (Carney, Jordain. “Senate GOP Proposing Five-Year Shield from Coronavirus Lawsuits.” The Hill. 17 July 2020: https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/507836-senate-gop-proposing-five-year-shield-from-coronavirus-lawsuits)

Police Reform

H.R. 7120 George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 Introduced 6/8; passed the House 6/25; read in the Senate 7/2, Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under Read the First Time GovTrak.us: “This bill addresses a wide range of policies and issues regarding policing practices and law enforcement accountability.” Read the full summary here. This bill has stalled in the Senate. (Irish, Erica. “U.S. Rep. Carson and Other midwest Lawmakers Push for Police Reform.” The Statehouse File.com. 17 July 2020: http://thestatehousefile.com/u-s-rep-carson-and-other-midwest-lawmakers-push-for-police-reform/42397/

S.3985 – JUSTICE Act A bill to improve and reform policing practices, accountability, and transparency. This bill is provisionally dead due to a failed vote for cloture on June 24, 2020. Cloture is required to move past a Senate filibuster or the threat of a filibuster and takes a 3/5ths vote. In practice, most bills must pass cloture to move forward in the Senate.

State of Indiana

Indiana budget officials drew down the state surplus to be able to close Fiscal Year 2020’s books in the black.  (Journal Gazette) WIBC has reported that as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the state’s $2.3 billion dollar reserve fund has been reduced to $1,4 billion to end this fiscal year. Hakim-Shabba”zz, Abdul. Covid Politics Infects State Surplus.”Indy Politics. 16 July 2020: http://indypolitics.org/covid-19-infects-state-surplus/
Indiana Democrats are calling on the governor to provide assurances to educators as Indiana schools prepare for students’ return amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)
Indiana’s state-sponsored coronavirus testing program has not been meeting the levels of testing or the speed of results that were touted when it was started in May.  (IBJ)

 State investigators identified six potential crimes Thursday in an incident report concerning the reported assault on a Black man at a southern Indiana lake.  (AP Indiana)

Christi Bennett has decided to waive her initial court hearing scheduled for Friday, according to court records.  Bennett is the woman who drove her Toyota Camry through a line of protesters during last Monday’s rally against racism in downtown Bloomington.  (WFIU)

Indiana’s virus testing falling short on sites, results INDIANAPOLIS (AP)–Indiana’s state-sponsored coronavirus testing program has not…