9/20 Weekly Legislative Update


The life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg should be remembered, celebrated, and serve as an inspiration to all of us. Instead, we must focus on the dire prospect of yet another far right conservative being appointed to the Supreme Court. Now more than ever we must be involved. Contact your senators and don’t let up. Our voices must be heard again and again. The American people must have a say in this appointment. That means that if a Democratic President can’t make an appointment to the Court nearly a year before an election, then certainly a Republican President can’t do that mere weeks before one. Write and call your Senators and don’t stop. We must be heard.
Find your senator: https://www.senate.gov/

In Indiana contact:
Braun, Mike 
374 Russell Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4814
Contact: www.braun.senate.gov/contact-mike
Young, Todd
185 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-5623
Contact: www.young.senate.gov/contact

For what each Republican senator said in 2016 about voting on a justice nomination after Antonin Scalia died, see this list from PBS Newshour. (Desjardins, Lisa. “What Every Republican Senator has said about filling a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year.” PBS Newshour. 19 September 2020: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/what-every-republican-senator-has-said-
Neither of Indiana’s current senators had been elected to the Senate in 2016 and so are not quoted in the above story. Two stories from that time do make Todd Young’s position clear:
In an article during the days of discussion about the Merrick Garland nomination, Senator Young, who had not yet been elected to the Senate, voiced support for the decision to wait until the election of the new President “U.S. Rep. Todd Young, R-Bloomington, who won the Republican nomination to succeed Coats on Tuesday, agrees a new justice should only be seated after the election.”(Carden, Dan. “Coats OK with Trump nominating Supreme Court justice.” 04 May 2016: https://www.nwitimes.com/news/
From Todd Young in March, 2016, “Given that this lifetime appointment could reshape the Supreme Court for generations I would prefer that the American people be offered an opportunity to weigh in this fall, and I share Vice President Joe Biden’s reservations about the Senate holding confirmation hearings during a Presidential election year; it’s about principle and process, not the person.” (Blasko, Erin. “Senators, Senate candidates weigh in on nomination.” South Bend Tribune. 17 March 2016: https://cutt.ly/xfJh0ww.) (The reference to Biden is from 1992 and was hypothetical; there was not a Supreme Court vacancy at that time.)

For a good synopsis of the life of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, see the Associated Press. Click through on other articles by the AP for the political implications of her death, both for the election and also for the Supreme Court. (Sherman, Mark. “Ginsburg, a feminist icon memorialized as the Notorious RBG.” Associated Press.. 19 September 2020: https://https://cutt.ly/QfJi2Rh)

H.R. 2639: Strength in Diversity Act of 2019
GovTrack.us: “This bill directs the Department of Education (ED) to award grants to specified educational agencies (e.g., local educational agencies) to develop or implement plans to improve diversity and reduce or eliminate racial or socioeconomic isolation in publicly funded early childhood education programs, public elementary schools, or public secondary schools.”
This bill passed in the House on September 15, 2020 and goes to the Senate next for consideration.
See your congressman’s vote.
For an in-depth summary of this bill and it’s companion bill in the Senate, S.1418, see “What is House Bill H.R. 2639?” by Lorelei Yang, Causes.com: https://cutt.ly/hfSmI0e.

H.R. 3659: Danny’s Law
GovTrack.us: “To establish an Anti-Bullying Roundtable to study bullying in elementary and secondary schools in the United States, and for other purposes.”

H.R. 8162: 21st Century Community Learning Centers Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020
GovTrack.us: “To allow eligible entities under part B of title IV of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to use subgrant funds for certain activities carried out by community learning centers, regardless of whether such activities are conducted during nonschool hours or periods when school is not in session, and for other purposes.”
The bill was passed in a vote in the House. It goes to the Senate next. The vote was by voice vote so no record of individual votes was made.

H.R. 4979: Rural STEM Education Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support research regarding STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, including computer science) education in rural schools.”
The bill was passed in a vote in the House. It goes to the Senate next. The vote was by voice vote so no record of individual votes was made. 

H.R. 4990: Election Technology Research Act of 2020
GovTrack.us: “To direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Science Foundation to carry out research and other activities to promote the security and modernization of voting systems, and for other purposes.”
The vote was by voice vote so no record of individual votes was made.

H.R. 7909: Ensuring Children and Child Care Workers Are Safe Act of 2020
GovTrack.us: “To facilitate access to child care services safely and securely during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
See how your Representative voted.

H.R. 2574: Equity and Inclusion Enforcement Act of 2019
GovTrack.us: “To amend title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to restore the right to individual civil actions in cases involving disparate impact, and for other purposes.”
See how your Representative voted.

Passed House with Changes (back to Senate)
S. 2683: Child Care Protection Improvement Act of 2020
Last Action: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote.
Explanation: This bill passed in the Senate and the House, but the House made changes and sent it back to the Senate on September 16, 2020.

S. 881: PROSWIFT Act
GovTrack.us: “A bill to improve understanding and forecasting of space weather events, and for other purposes.”
The bill was passed by both chambers in identical form. It goes to the President next who may sign or veto the bill. The vote was by voice vote so no record of individual votes was made.

S. 924: Jenna Quinn Law
: “A bill to amend the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to require training and education to teachers and other school employees, students, and the community about how to prevent, recognize, respond to, and report child sexual abuse in primary and secondary education.”
The vote was by Unanimous Consent so no record of individual votes was made.

S. 1160: Supporting Family Mental Health in CAPTA Act
: “A bill to amend the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to increase support for mental health.”
The vote was by Unanimous Consent so no record of individual votes was made.

The following bills are on the House calendar for the coming days:
H.R. 1688: Native American Indian Education Act
GovTrack.us: “To help provide relief to State education budgets during a recovering economy, to help fulfill the Federal mandate to provide higher educational opportunities for Native American Indians, and for other purposes.”

H.R. 6210: Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act
: Ensuring that goods made with forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China do not enter the United States market, and for other purposes.

H.R. 4447: Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy Act of 2019
: “To establish an energy storage and microgrid grant and technical assistance program.”

H.R. 6270: Uyghur Forced Labor Disclosure Act of 2020
: “To amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to require issuers to make certain disclosures relating to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and for other purposes.”
Lawmakers in Congress will continue to work on a short-term funding package to prevent a partial government shutdown at the end of September.

The Senate will vote to approve several federal judges. They may also begin the process of confirming Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

In the House committees will hold hearings on updates to the federal COVID-19 pandemic responseU.S. policy in a changing Middle East, and confirmation hearings for Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to serve in that role in a permanent capacity.

In the Senate committees will hold hearings on updates to the federal COVID-19 pandemic responseU.S. policy in a changing Middle East, and confirmation hearings for Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to serve in that role in a permanent capacity.

For more details about these and other upcoming legislation and issues, see Causes.com. (Revell, Eric. “What’s Happening in Congress?” Causes.com. 19 September 2020: 

To find and contact your Members of Congress: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

In Other News

The Courts:

“A split federal appeals court panel said the Trump administration can terminate humanitarian protections for 300,000 immigrants from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti and El Salvador.” (Alvarez, Priscilla. “Court rules that Trump can end humanitarian protections for 300,000 immigrants.” CNN. 14 September 2020: https://cutt.ly/FfSQcjL.)

A federal judge has ruled that Chad Wolf was appointed as acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security through an unlawful act of succession. Trump said he would officially nominated Wolf for the position and his name was formally sent to the Senate. (Ly, Laura and Paul LeBlanc. “Judge rules Chad Wolf likely unlawfully serving as Homeland Security secretary and temporarily blocks some asylum restrictions” CNN. 15 September 2020: https://cutt.ly/xfSEPB1.)

Two court cases allowed for the continued limitation of voting rights in Florida and Texas. Despite voters passing a constitutional amendment to allow convicted felons the right to vote, Florida lawmakers have won their court case to keep most of them from voting. They will need to pay any fines and fees owed before they can vote. These fees are nearly impossible to pay, however, because clear records have not been kept and no one knows how much each owes or what has to be paid. Of 85,000 pending registrations exactly zero have been processed. The Texas case ruled against no excuse mail in ballots.(Millhiser, Ian. “Last week was a disaster for voting rights in the courts.” Vox. 15 September 2020: https://cutt.ly/yfKey1a)

And more…

Attorney General Barr stirred up yet more controversy with remarks he made comparing cornavirus prevention measures to to the civil liberties violations of slavery. (Herman, Josh. “AG Barr: Coronavirus Lockdowns ‘Greatest Intrusion on Civil Liberties’ Since Slavery.” Causes.com. 17 September 2020: https://www.causes.com/articles/46135-ag-barr-coronavirus-lockdowns-greatest-intrusion-civil-liberties-slavery)

A whistleblower complaint has brought to light massive medical neglect, including many unwanted hysterectomies, among detained immigrants. House Democrats are calling for an investigation. (Klarr, Rebecca. “Democratic lawmakers call for an investigation into allegations of medical neglect at Georgia ICE facility” The Hill. 15 September 2020: https://thehill.com/homenews/house/516567-democratic-lawmakers-call-for-an-investigation-into-allegations-of-medical.)

To find and contact your Members of Congress: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials


As of Thursday Indiana was one of four states not allowing all voters to cast a mail-in ballot. (Kukulka, Alexandra. “Indiana voting organizations, with in-person events limited by the pandemic, shift strategy to reach voters.” Chicago Tribune. 17 September 2020: https://cutt.ly/afJkRdW.)

Hoosier unemployed who receive at least $100 in unemployment benefits will receive a one-time lump-sum payment covering a six-week period from July 26-Sept. 5. The program, created by the president to continue unemployment supplemental assistance, was quickly depleted of funds. States were supposed to kick in another $100, but Indiana isn’t doing that due to tax revenue uncertainties because of the pandemic. (Carden, Dan. “Indiana using one-time payment to distribute Trump’s $300 a week in unemployment relief.” NWI Times. 14 September 2020: https://cutt.ly/FfP4IBp)

Reporting covid 19 cases among Indiana school districts is piecemeal at best. Some schools report cases, many do not, despite guidance for reporting given by the state in March. Now the Indiana State Department of Health is developing a dashboard to help track these cases. The dashboard may go live later this month. It will not name students, nor will it report schools with fewer than five cases. (Lanich, Carley. “COVID in schools: How much can and should schools share as districts report their first cases?” NWI Times. 14 September 2020: https://cutt.ly/yfP6Ra6)

IDEM announced it will no longer protect ephemeral streams. “[Indiana Department of Environmental Management Commissioner Bruno] Pigott said he and the agency recognize that ephemeral streams provide many upstream and downstream benefits, but must abide by the EPA’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which specifically excludes the streams from being recognized as a “water of the United States” and thus is forfeited Clean Water Act protections.” (Saenz, Enrique. “IDEM Closes Door on Emphernal Stream Protection.” Indiana Environmental Reporter. 17 September 2020: https://indianaenvironmentalreporter.org/posts/idem-closes-door-on-ephemeral-stream-protection)

Indiana is running out of money to cover unemployment benefits and is asking for a federal bailout loan to cover them. At least two dozen other states are running out of money also. (Burris, Alexandria. “Indiana asks for $300M in federal money to cover unemployment benefits.” South Bend Tribune. 17 September 2020:https://www.southbendtribune.com/news/local/indiana-asks-for-300m-in-federal-money-to-cover-unemployment-benefits/article_236bf550-f8e6-11ea-b093-8778f529e021.html)

Indiana has $1.3 billion to spend from the CARES Act, but is waiting for federal guidance before using the funds. (Sullivan, Kayla. “Indiana waiting on federal guidance to spend $1.3 billion.” Fox 59. 16 September 2020:https://fox59.com/news/indiana-waiting-on-federal-guidance-to-spend-1-3-billion/)

Lawmakers presumably scrapped the use of student test scores toward teacher evaluations. The regulation, however, is misleading and many teachers will still be held accountable to test scores.(Washington, Aaricka. “Indiana lawmakers promised teachers wouldn’t be judged by test scores. But they still are.” Chalkbeat Indiana. 17 September 2020: https://in.chalkbeat.org/2020/9/17/21444176/indiana-lawmakers-promised-teachers-wouldnt-be-judged-by-test-scores-but-they-still-are.)

Indiana Voter Registration Deadline Fast Approaching 
Eagle 99.3 FM WSCH – The voter registration deadline is approaching in Indiana. The last day to register for the November 3 General Election is Monday, October 5. Hoosiers …