01/17 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

Read what’s next with Indivisible and how you can be involved: The Indivisible Guide to what’s next: https://indivisible.org/democracy-guide

Contact Senators and Representatives in Congress to urge them to pass a progressive agenda that will bring needed change to our country. Urge Senators to vote to convict Trump and assure he can never hold public office again. Click to read more and for a script along with Senators and Representatives to call and their contact information. 
We MUST make our voices heard

In order to unify the country, Republicans MUST speak up for truth. Constituents must strongly and repeatedly press their representatives and senators to speak truth now. (“Speak up now if you want to see change.” KPC News. 09 January 2021: https://www.kpcnews.com/opinions/article_bf915cc1-31bb-59a6-8f2d-b66a4dbd3e63.html.)
Contact Senator Braun:
Email: https://braun.senate.gov/contact-mike
Phone: 202-224-4814

Contact Senator Young:
Email: https://www.young.senate.gov/contact/email-todd
Phone: 202-224-5623

Contact other MOCs: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials

Contact Governor Holcomb:
Email: https://www.in.gov/gov/governor-holcomb/ask-eric/
Phone: 317-232-4567

Let’s do our part to help alleviate food insecurity, which is especially dire during these times.

Donate to or volunteer at Food Bank of NWI

For a list of local food pantries: https://www.foodpantries.org/st/indiana

Meals on Wheels, NWI: https://mownwi.org/


Sit back and bask in some of what we have accomplished. See events and a timeline for the inauguration on Wednesday from the inauguration committee and news sources.

A memorial to the nearly 400,00 who died from coronavirus will take place Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 4:30 central time (https://cutt.ly/JjUGmR4)

And an official playlist for your watch party. (https://cutt.ly/HjUGEfu)

The celebration on Wednesday will continue in primetime beginning at 7:30 central time, airing on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and MSNBC. The special, hosted by Tom Hanks, is set to air live. “It will feature performances from Jon Bon Jovi, who campaigned with Biden in Pennsylvania, Demi Lovato, Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons. The 90-minute program, titled, “Celebrating America,” will also feature remarks from the President-elect Joe Biden and the Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and will celebrate “American heroes” like frontline workers, teachers and health care workers, among others.” (Mucha, Sarah, Arlette Saenz and Kate Sullivan. “Biden team to produce prime-time inauguration television special.” CNN 13 January 2021: https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/13/politics/biden-inauguration-television-special/index.html.)

In Congress this past week:

H.Res. 24: Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for high crimes and misdemeanors.
Govtrack.us: “The House impeached President Trump for the second time, charging him with incitement of insurrection.”
View the vote.

Trump was impeached for an historic second time on Wednesday, January 13 in a vote of 232-197. (Mascaro, Lisa. “Trump impeached after Capitol riot in historic second charge.” AP News. 13 January 2021: https://cutt.ly/YjWhfDY.)
Trump is the first president to be impeached twice and the only president to have so many members of his own party vote against him.
The question now is whether or not Speaker Pelosi will hold onto the impeachment article and not deliver it to the Senate immediately. Legislative work cannot occur during an impeachment trial in the Senate without unanimous consent. Read more details of the process, including the team of House members who will prosecute the trial in the Senate and the article of impeachment itself. (Revell, Eric. “Should Democrats Delay Trump’s Impeachment Trial Until After Biden’s First 100 Days?” Causes. 13 January 2021: https://www.causes.com/articles/46770-democrats-delay-trump-s-impeachment-trial-biden-s-100-days.)

During the impeachment debate in the House many Republicans distorted the facts. Trump has lied about his response to the insurrection, including calling in the National Guard. (“AP Fact Check.” AP News. 13 January 2021: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-fact-check.)

Read the full transcript of Trump’s speech before the riot broke out. (“Transcript of Trump’s speech at rally before US Capitol riot.” AP News. 13 January 2021: https://cutt.ly/xjWg4kQ.)


H. Res. 25: Directing the Committee on Ethics to investigate, and issue a report on, whether any and all actions taken by Members of the 117th Congress who sought to overturn the 2020 Presidential election violated their oath of office to uphold the Constitution or the Rules of the House of Representatives, and should face sanction, including removal from the House of Representatives. Introduced in the House on Jan. 11.

Bills to watch and champion:

H.R. 1: For the People Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “To expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and implement other anti-corruption measures for the purpose of fortifying our democracy, and for other purposes.”
This bill is in the first stage of the legislative process. It was introduced into Congress on January 4, 2021.

H.R. 51: To provide for the admission of the State of Washington, D.C. into the Union.
This bill was introduced in the House on Jan. 4.

H.R. 4 (S 4263) John Lewis Voting Rights Act
John Lewis Voting Rights Act (HR 4), named for the civil rights icon and vital to ending voter suppression. This bill restores the Voting Rights Act, overturning voter ID laws and other suppressive laws that target communities of color. Introduced in the last session and will need to be introduced in this current one.

See GovTrack.us for bills that have been introduced during this current session and are trending.

The week ahead in Congress

The House may take up civilian control of the military and a waiver for Lloyd Austin to serve as Secretary of Defense.

The Senate will begin confirmation proceedings for Biden’s cabinet picks. Depending on when Speaker Pelosi transmits the article of impeachment to the Senate, the trial may begin. In that event, the Senate may try to structure a unanimous consent agreement that allows legislative and executive business to occur on the same day as proceedings in the trial. (Revell, Eric. “Senate to Hold Confirmation Hearings for Biden Cabinet Nominees, Potentially Begin Impeachment Trial.” Causes. 17 January 2021: https://www.causes.com/articles/46782-senate-hold-confirmation-hearings-biden-cabinet-nominees-potentially-begin-impeachment-trial.)

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

In other news:

Charges of insider help before and during the riots are being investigated. There are calls to investigate some members of Congress who may have helped plan and carry out the insurrection. (Cohen, Marshall. “Questions swirl around possible ‘insider’ help for Capitol attack.” CNN Politics. 13 January 2021: https://cutt.ly/HjWx85N.)

The Justice Department finally held a briefing describing the investigations of the riot last Wednesday at the Capital and the scope of the crimes. (LeBlanc, Paul. “Key takeaways from the stunning Justice Department news conference on the US Capitol breach.” CNN Politics. 12 January 2021: https://cutt.ly/tjmohV5.) (Heath, Brad and Sarah Lynch. “U.S. says Capitol rioters meant to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials – filing.” Reuters. 14 January 2021: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-capitol-arrests/u-s-says-capitol-rioters-meant-to-capture-and-assassinate-officials-filing-idUSKBN29K0K7.)

Republicans who voted against accepting the electoral college votes from states that voted for Biden are now facing a growing significant loss of donations. (“Large corporations cut off political donations after Capitol siege.” Axios. 12 January 2021: https://www.axios.com/business-donations-capitol-riot-0b4e26df-ee16-4d5c-9604-e9a3c1e3f284.html.)
(Gangitano, Alex. “Republicans scramble to contain fallout as donors distance themselves.” The Hill. 15 January 2021: https://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/534343-republicans-scramble-to-contain-fallout-as-donors-freeze-contributions?userid=295338.)
(Gangitano, Alex. “Here are the companies suspending political contributions following the Capitol riots.” The Hill. 12 January 2021: https://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/533795-here-are-the-companies-suspending-political-contributions-following-the.)

President-elect Biden announced his coronavirus relief plan. (Revell, Eric. “What’s in Biden’s $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 ‘Rescue’ Plan?” Causes. 15 January 2021: https://www.causes.com/articles/46779-s-biden-s-1-9-trillion-covid-19-rescue-plan)

After stays because of her significant mental illness, the Supreme Court ruled that the first execution of a woman in decades should continue. It was the first such execution in 67 years. (Tarm, Michael and Heather Hollingsworth. “US carries out its 1st execution of female inmate since 1953.” AP News. 13 January 2021: https://cutt.ly/hjmteG4.)

The final two federal executions were held, despite the fact that both men were suffering from coronavirus infections. Justice Sonya Sotomayor offered a scathing dissent as the Supreme Court declined to intervene. (Campbell, Barbara and Suzanne Nuyen. “U.S. Executes Dustin Higgs In 13th And Final Execution Under Trump Administration.” NPR. 16 January 2021: https://www.npr.org/2021/01/16/957559566/u-s-executes-dustin-higgs-in-13th-and-final-execution-under-trump-administration.)

Both U.S. senators from Indiana, Todd Young and Mike Braun, have joined other Republican senators in a letter urging the Small Business Administration to prevent Planned Parenthood affiliates from receiving Paycheck Protection Program loans.  (RTV 6)

The government has announced new coronavirus restrictions on passengers coming in from other countries. (Cohen, Elizabeth. “CDC to require all air travelers to US to show negative coronavirus test.” CNN. 12 January 2021: https://cutt.ly/Rjmo5kR.)

Stewart, Phil. “Exclusive: Long-withheld Pentagon survey shows widespread racial discrimination, harassment.” Reuters. 14 January 2021: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-military-civilrights-exclusive/exclusive-long-withheld-pentagon-survey-shows-widespread-racial-discrimination-harassment-idUSKBN29J1N1.)

Months after the New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA because of fraud to divert millions of donated funds to its executives, the organization announced it will relocate to Texas. (“NRA declares bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas.” Axios. 15 January 2021: https://www.axios.com/nra-bankruptcy-restructuring-texas-cf34b56b-cdd3-476d-bc8c-47fe9d2f1133.html.)


The Supreme Court has ruled that the Trump administration may enforce a rule that someone with a prescription for an abortion pill must pick up that prescription in person. (Hellmann, Jessie. “Supreme Court rules Trump administration can enforce rule requiring abortion pills be obtained in person.” The Hill. 12 January 2021: https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/533941-supreme-court-rules-trump-administration-can-enforce-rule-requiring.)


You can expect to see or hear about protests at the Indiana Statehouse, beginning this weekend. A source close to the Indianapolis Metro Police Department says the department has reason to expect at least two protests, one Sunday at noon and one on Inauguration Day, at noon.  (WIBC)

All legislative activity has been canceled next Tuesday and Wednesday due to the threat of violent activity in the wake of the D.C. riots on January 6. The governor will give the State of the State address virtually on Tuesday at 6pm central time.

Here’s how  Indiana’s representatives voted on impeaching the President.  (WTHR-TV)

See also some of Frank Mrvan’s speech from the House floor as he spoke in favor of impeachment. (Carden, Dan. “Indiana’s U.S. House delegation splits on party lines in Trump impeachment vote.” The Times NWI. 13 January 2021: https://cutt.ly/hjYrwCb.)

As most schools have returned for either in-person or online classes throughout the state after an extended break Christmas break to the news that a vaccine is now available, many teachers throughout the state feel they need to be given priority.  (WIBC)
Indiana union worries teachers too far down in Indiana vaccination plan WISHTV.com
When can Indiana teachers be vaccinated under the state’s new plan? WAVE 3
CLARK COUNTY, Ind. (WAVE) – Indiana teachers initially thought they’d be part of the next wave of Hoosiers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

In his end of year interview, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb talks with Indy Politics about a number of issues, including last week’s riot and civil disturbance in Washington. D.C., whether Donald Trump should be removed from office, COVID-19,  issues with getting unemployment checks to Hoosiers. and the state’s future relationship with the incoming Biden administration.  (Indy Politics)

The power of the governor and school funding issues highlighted Week 1 of the 2021 Indiana Legislative Session. Rob Kendall and Abdul-Hakim Shabazz take a look back at some of the key issues addressed and preview what’s to come on Statehouse Happenings!   (Statehouse Happenings, WIBC)

Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana Republican education leaders support protecting schools from repercussions from declining test scores. But they are committed to requiring schools to administer standardized exams this spring.  (Chalkbeat Indiana)

State Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, is leading an effort this year at the Statehouse to increase Indiana’s $7.25 per hour minimum wage for the first time in 12 years.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

Republican Todd Rokita is vowing to use his new position as Indiana attorney general to take on major technology companies, in part to vindicate GOP President Donald Trump and Trump supporters following the invasion of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday that led to five deaths, including two Capitol Police officers. He continues to throw all of his support behind Trump in the name of democracy. He compared the insurrection in Washington D.C. To BLM protests. (Times of Northwest Indiana)

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita announced Wednesday that he declined to join a group of 50 attorneys general from states and territories who signed a letter condemning last week’s pro-Trump riots at the U.S. Capitol. (Indy Star)

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb began his second term in office Monday with a hopeful speech looking beyond the coronavirus pandemic, saying the state is “steadily clawing” its way back.  (AP Indiana)

Indiana’s governor on Wednesday proposed a modest increase in school funding for the next two years and restores funding to state universities that was cut when tax revenues plunged early in the coronavirus pandemic.  (AP Indiana)

On Wednesday, Governor Holcomb unveiled his $35 billion, two-year budget which notably includes approximately $377 million more funding for education and maintains the state’s surplus. Detractors point out that it does not include any funds designated for increasing teacher pay. Indiana finished out the budget cycle with a $2.2 billion surplus and not surprisingly critics of the plan believe the “rainy day” is upon us and the surplus should be used now to provide Hoosiers with more relief during the pandemic.
What’s in Indiana Governor Holcomb’s proposed budget? Fox 59

Gov. Eric Holcomb’s new state budget proposal would spend $1.13 billion over the next two years on one-time initiatives. And almost none of that would be direct relief for Hoosiers struggling during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (WFYI PBS)

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is investigating the Indiana Department of Education over what it called, in a letter sent Tuesday to Education Secretary Katie Jenner, “disturbing reports” that the state denied students with disabilities equal access to education during the COVID-19 pandemic.  (South Bend Tribune)

Indiana’s first and newly appointed Secretary of Education was voted in as chair of the State Board of Education by its members Wednesday. Now, Secretary Katie Jenner, who also heads the Department of Education, faces a major policy challenge — crafting a new school accountability system  (WFIU)

At the end of the second week of the Indiana General Assembly, leaders were peppered with questions regarding the Governor’s budget, Statehouse security, and who is responsible for enforcing a mask mandate.  (Indy Politics)

Michiganders to reach Chicago quicker with upgrades to Indiana rail service  mlive.com
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Thursday that construction can begin now that the Federal Transit Administration has agreed to provide funds to …


Two bills that aim to provide liability protection against lawsuits related to coronavirus are moving forward:
HB 1002 as it was considered in the House Judiciary Committee. The House bill includes specific protections for health care providers in addition to coverage for other employers and to the manufacturers that switched processes to produce PPE or other COVID-related supplies
SB 1  includes similar concepts to those in HB 1002, and is further along in the process. Legislators
have indicated a desire to move this legislation through quickly. Both bills are expected to be brought to their respective chambers for a final vote next week.

At least 6 senate bills and 10 house bills are addressing reining in the governor’s executive powers.
HB 1123 requires that the legislature would need to be in Session (no action necessarily required) to extend an emergency declaration more than 60 days.

SB 74, heard in Senate Pensions & Labor Committee on Wednesday, prohibits an employer from requiring, as a condition of employment, an employee or prospective employee to receive any immunization.
The hearing on this bill drew a crowd of mostly maskless people who ignored social distancing rules and spoke in favor of the bill. The governor and legislative leaders are discussing greater enforcement of COVID-related rules.
Indiana lawmakers and capitol police look to enforce mask wearing  (Indiana lawmakers and capitol police look to enforce mask wearing. Fox 59)

Also on a fast track are the bills designed to ensure full funding of students regardless of the amount of virtual instruction required during the pandemic:
SB 2 passed out of Senate Education this week and must now be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee due to the fiscal impact.
In a unanimous vote, a Senate committee decided to fully fund schools teaching students online during the COVID-19 pandemic.  (The Statehouse File)
HB 1003 has moved through the House Ways and Means Committee and is ready for full House consideration next week where it is expected to pass easily.

Other bills are addressing telehealth.
SB 3 puts new practices into statute and ensures sufficient guardrails are present going forward. They intend to consider amendments and vote the bill out of Committee in future weeks.

Two bills address environmental issues.
SB 373 establishes a carbon credit program in Indiana. It will be heard in the Senate Natural Resources committee.
SB 389 to repeals the state regulated wetlands law. It will be heard in the Senate Environmental Affairs committee.

Bills that are key to the House GOP agenda will be heard by the House Ways & Means Committee on Wednesday.
HB 1004 provides for a small business restart grant program.
HB 1008 provides a student learning recovery grant program.

Above summaries provided by Southwest Indiana Chamber. (“Indiana Legislative Update—A Different Type of Legislative Session. SWIN Chamber. 15 January 2021: https://swinchamber.com/indiana-legislative-update-a-different-type-of-legislative-session/.)

House Bill 1006 is a bipartisan bill aimed at increasing police accountability and enacting criminal justice reform that received early support from Indiana’s legislators, law enforcement leaders and community groups Tuesday, following calls for action from the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus. (AP Indiana)

Senate Bill 42 prohibits reductions in police budgets in response to the defund police rhetoric. 
(Smith, Brandon. “Senate Committee Debates Ban On ‘Defunding’ Police, Public Safety.” WFYI PBS. 07 January 2021: https://www.wfyi.org/news/articles/senate-committee-debates-ban-on-defunding-police-public-safety.)

SB 227 aims to crack down on farmers and others who deliberately misuse pesticides like dicamba while giving people with minor pesticide violations a break. The bill passed unanimously in a Senate committee on Monday.  (WFIU) 

SB 19
Indiana lawmakers move forward with teen suicide prevention bill Fox 59
INDIANAPOLIS — Data shows one in five Indiana teenagers have seriously considered taking their own life, according to the Indiana Center for .

SB 417 legalizes online gambling.
SB 267 authorizes waging on video gaming terminals.
Online casino bill introduced as Indiana sportsbook hits record  WISHTV.com
INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — Indiana’s gaming industry hit a new high as it closed out 2020, but it is also beginning 2021 with a new …

HB 1190 would accommodate more overweight trucks. (OOIDA: Indiana overweight truck bills ‘pick winners and losers’ Land Line Media)

SB 9 aims to modernize passenger rail service.
Proposed bill aims to establish intercity passenger rail service in Indiana and beyond WANE
Proposed bill brings passenger rail system back to Indiana  wpta21.com
The NIPRA created a draft, known as Senate Bill 9, that would help to promote and coordinate passenger rail service through Indiana.

SB 211 more strictly establishes the left lane driving rule.
Indiana, South Carolina bills address left lane use  Land Line Media
One Indiana bill would revise the state’s left lane driving rule for travel on rural interstates. The Hoosier State now requires drivers traveling on multilane …

For the full slate of bills that have been introduced this session see the Indiana General Assembly site, http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2021/bills/.

To find and contact your Indiana legislators: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/