01/31 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

Demand your representative support the Washington, D.C. statehood bill: https://indivisible.org/demand-your-representative-support-washington-dc-statehood-bill

Follow the link above to read why it’s so important and then scroll to the bottom to easily link to your Representative.

Washington D.C. is a city of more than 700,00 people, the population size of other states, and yet they have no voting representation in this country. They have no representation at all in the Senate. An overwhelming majority of residents voted to pursue statehood and all the steps have been completed in that effort. Now it is time for Congress to vote. Learn more. (“Why Statehood for DC.” Government of the District of Columbia. 2019: https://cutt.ly/zj4VJNc.)Thank you for joining Indivisible NWI in this action! Make your voices heard!

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.

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

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/


Rep. Joyce Beatty will reintroduce The Woman on the Twenty Act of 2021, which would require any $20 bill printed after 2024 to “prominently feature” a portrait of Tubman, moving Andrew Jackson to the reverse side. Trump nixed the effort, which would have taken effect last year, the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment giving women the right to the vote. (Herman, Josh. “Harriet Tubman: Biden Revives Plan To Put Abolitionist on $20 Bill.” Causes. 26 January 2021: https://www.causes.com/articles/46832-harriet-tubman-biden-revives-plan-put-abolitionist-20-bill.)

Eliminating the filibusterer in the Senate would ease passage of progressive legislation, but for many it would be a controversial move. (Revell, Eric. “Should Senate Democrats Eliminate the Legislative Filibuster?” Causes. 25 January 2021: https://www.causes.com/articles/46826-senate-democrats-eliminate-legislative-filibuster.)

Although the President wants his coronavirus legislation to pass with bipartisan support, he won’t wait long for that, opting instead to agree to passing it through budget reconciliation which will take only a majority to pass. (Liasson, Mara. “Despite Setting A New Tone, Biden Faces Tough Decision On Dealing With Congress.” 30 January 2021: https://cutt.ly/lkto3Uc.)

Republicans in the Senate, including Senators Young and Braun, are pressing for a constitutional amendment imposing term limits on members of Congress. (Dorman, Sam. “Republicans press constitutional amendment term-limiting members of Congress.” Fox 10. 27 January 2021: https://www.fox10phoenix.com/news/republicans-press-constitutional-amendment-term-limiting-members-of-congress.)

In the House a vote is expected on H.R. 447: National Apprenticeship Act of 2021. Other actions in the House will likely be consideration of a budget resolution for FY2021 with reconciliation directives along with committee meetings and hearing.

Senate will work on Democrats’ budget resolution for FY2021, which will direct committees to draft a coronavirus (COVID-19) relief package using the budget reconciliation process. The Senate is expected to vote Monday on the confirmation of Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s nominee to be Secretary of Homeland Security, followed by a Tuesday vote on the nomination of Pete Buttigieg to be Secretary of Transportation. Committees will hold hearings on President Biden’s cabinet picks and also on climate change.

Follow the link for more on the week ahead. (Revell, Eric. “Congress to Consider Democrats’ Budget Resolution, Biden Cabinet Picks.” Causes. 31 January 2021: https://www.causes.com/articles/46851-congress-consider-democrats-budget-resolution-biden-cabinet-picks.)

See GovTrack for a list of bills that may be coming up and a link to all 836 bills that have been introduced in this session so far.

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

In other news:

See facts, figures and charts behinds President Biden’s legislative agenda. (“Here are the priorities for the Biden administration’s first 100 days.” USA Facts. 20 January 2021: https://usafacts.org/articles/here-are-the-priorities-for-the-biden-administrations-first-100-days/,)

President Biden has signed sweeping orders to address climate change across all federal agencies. (Saenz, Enrique. “Biden Launches Government-wide Effort to Fight Climate Change.” Indiana Environmental Reporter. 29 January 2021: https://www.indianaenvironmentalreporter.org/posts/biden-launches-government-wide-effort-to-fight-climate-change.)

President Biden has signed executive orders that address climate change, health policy, COVID 19, the environment, the economy, equity, immigration and more. (LeBlanc, Paul. “Biden has signed 42 executive actions since taking office. Here’s what each does.” CNN Politics. 29 January 2021: https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/29/politics/biden-executive-orders-climate-health-care-coronavirus-immigration/index.html.)

President Biden’s 100 day moratorium on deportations has been blocked by a Texas federal judge. (Walsh, Joe. “Judge Blocks Biden’s 100-Day Deportation Moratorium.” Forbes 30 January 2021: https://cutt.ly/0kuelLW.)

The CDC issued a mandatory face mask requirement for all travelers on all forms of public transportation. It takes effect on Monday. (“CDC requires wearing of face masks while on public transportation and at transportation hubs.” CDC. 30 January 2021: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p0130-requires-face-masks.html,)

Four cabinet officials have been confirmed so far and others have been voted favorably out of committee. (Buble, Courtney. “Biden Administration Has Four Nominees Confirmed So Far.” Government Executive. 26 January 2021: https://www.govexec.com/management/2021/01/biden-administration-has-four-nominees-confirmed-so-far/171646/.)


SB 369 would allow virtual meetings of local governing bodies, such as city or town councils, during times of emergency and creates a framework for governing bodies to allow electronic participation even during normal times, with certain guardrails. To use electronic meetings, a policy must be adopted locally.

SB 95 would remove the ability of municipalities to complete annexations without at least 51% of the property owners in the proposed annexation territory (or owners of 75% of the AV) signing a petition agreeing to be annexed. Only voluntary and super-voluntary annexations would be allowed were SB 95 to pass into law. It will be voted on by the full Senate next week.

SB 336 would allow the business personal property tax exemption to be calculated using the assessed value of the property (instead of its acquisition value). This would result in an estimated 52,000 more businesses qualifying and costing local governments $12M in revenue, $5M of which will come from cities and towns. After some changes the bill still represents a “chipping away” at the BPPT without an identified state revenue replacement plan.

Above bills synopses are from AIM Legislative Summary

Progress continued on the 2 bills designed to provide full state funding to the “brick and mortar” schools that went virtual during the pandemic.  On Tuesday, HB 1003 passed, almost unanimously, out of the House 93-2. SB 2 was amended to require reports of data from each school corporation about money saved or spent differently due to the pandemic and student learning loss and passed out of Senate Appropriations Committee 9-2. The full Senate will consider it next week.

On Wednesday, HB 1004 and HB 1008 both advanced unanimously out of Ways and Means Committee (23-0). The Small Business Restart Grant Program, HB 1004, provides grants of up to $10,000 per month with a maximum amount of $50,000 for businesses impacted by the pandemic.  the Student Learning Recovery Grant Program (HB 1008) establishes the $150M student learning recovery grant program and student grant recovery fund.  “This bill tries to address learning loss and the impact of COVID-19 on our schools and the educational progress of our kids.” 

The first broadband bill to move this Session is SB 264, which aims to provide broadband service to unserved and underserved populations.

 HB 1101 is designed to address child care issues incurred by the pandemic by allowing schools to enter into contracts with providers (often those already providing before/after care) to care for school-aged children during a declared disaster emergency. It eases some of the licensing requirements (during an emergency) while still protecting the safety of those in care. The bill passed unanimously from the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee Wednesday and will be considered by the full House next week.

An attempt to address potential fraud in the Unemployment Insurance system drew a contentious debate in House Employment, Labor & Pensions Committee Tuesday. Rep. Leonard (R-Leonard) presented HB 1152 as a way to more quickly kick out fraudulent claims from the UI system while opponents brought up concerns that it could apply to someone who made a simple mistake in their address or received a small gift of charity from a family member. The bill passed out of Committee 8-4 and will continue to generate conversations and further attempts to narrow the scope as it goes through the process.

HB 1385 began as an electric vehicle infrastructure pilot program which would have authorized an electric utility to install, own, or operate charging infrastructure, and provide incentives or rebates to customers to encourage investment in electric vehicles or EV infrastructure.  The bill was held on Tuesday and the House Utilities Chair, Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) informed the Committee that HB 1385 would be incorporated into HB 1220, which reestablishes the 21st Century energy policy development task force, following its expiration on December 2, 2020. 

House Public Policy heard HB 1396 on Tuesday – it’s a comprehensive alcohol bill with several provisions designed to support Indiana based breweries, wineries, distilleries.  The committee will vote on the bill next week.

Senate Education Committee heard SB 54, which would require all HS seniors to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Air (FAFSA) unless a waiver is completed by the parents or the school principal. The committee will consider any changes to the bill and may vote on it next week.

The above summaries were provided by the Southwest Indiana Chamber.

Senate Bill 1 which provides sweeping coronavirus liability protections for businesses and organizations has passed the Senate. It was opposed by all the Democratic senators who said it did not provide for “legitimate claims, especially in relation to deaths or COVID-infections 19 in long-term care facilities, could be prevented from seeking redress in court.” A similar House Bill (HB 1002, also HB 1258) is expected to pass; the governor has pledged to sign the resultant bill. (“Senate Approves Broad COVID-19 Liability Shield for Indiana Businesses.” Bollyinside. 29 January 2021: https://www.bollyinside.com/news/senate-approves-broad-covid-19-liability-shield-for-indiana-businesses-government-and-politics/.)

HB 1519: An Indiana lawmaker wants to ban state and local governments from ever again imposing many of the COVID-19 restrictions in place over the last year.  (WFYI)

Legislation (SB 3 and HB 1286) to ensure expanded telehealth services remain available to Hoosiers after the COVID-19 pandemic is over has cleared its first hurdle at the Statehouse.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC) discussed their justice reform legislative agenda last week. House Bill 1015 would create a public database with information on disciplinary action taken against police officers. House Bill 1334 would offer resources such as mental health services, nutrition assistance and student support programs in Indiana schools. House Bill 1580 would eliminate the requirement that a 17-year-old charged with a crime have their information automatically sent to adult court. House Bill 1334 would expand the Youth Advisory Council.

Senate Bill 389 repeals the law regulating wetland activity and has passed through committee. It is opposed by environmental groups, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, “who said the bill would undermine years of work in flood prevention and water quality efforts, as well as increase flood risks and costs to the state, local governments and individual Hoosiers.” (Saenz, Enrique. “Senate Environmental Committee Passes Bill Eliminating State Wetland Protections.” Indiana Environmental Reporter. 26 January 2021: https://www.indianaenvironmentalreporter.org/posts/bill-eliminating-state-wetland-protections-passes-senate-environmental-committee.)

Senate Bill 275 authored by State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) passed out of the Senate Tax and Fiscal Committee.
Indiana State Senator Eddie Melton’s Bill to Generate Revenue and Address Local Blight Passes committee unanimously GlobeNewswire
“If approved into law, the bill would create a tax amnesty program for participating counties, waiving the penalty and interest of delinquent taxes.”

SB 179: Legislation authored by state Sen. Mike Gaskill could change how county commissioners are elected in the future.  (The Herald Bulletin)

Senate Bill 32 and House Bill 1213 would ban conversion therapy for LGBT minors. ( Wooten, Taylor. “Two Indiana legislators are fighting to end conversion therapy for LGBT minors.” The Statehouse File. 29 January 2021: http://thestatehousefile.com/44260/two-indiana-legislators-are-fighting-to-end-conversion-therapy-for-lgbt-minors/.)

HB 1238 would create the “Northeast Indiana Strategic Development Commission” – a group of 11 people who would represent the 11 counties of Northeast Indiana. “The commission would operate to meet three goals: increase area per capita income, grow the population, and develop more training and job opportunities. It would also lobby to get more federal and state money, grants, and loans to invest in Northeast Indiana.” (Beals, Daniel. “New bill would create commission to lobby investment in Northeast Indiana.” ABC WPTA21. 28 January 2021: https://wpta21.com/2021/01/28/new-bill-would-create-commission-to-lobby-investment-in-northeast-indiana/.)

A Northwest Indiana lawmaker is working to make it significantly easier for police to issue huge fines to motorists who drive around a school bus with its stop-arm extended while children are boarding or exiting the bus. If Senate Bill 69 passes, motorists who unlawfully pass a school bus could be assessed a $10,000 fine. (Carden, Dan. “Indiana lawmakers eye $10,000 fine for driving past a stopped school bus.” Times NWI. 26 January 2021: https://cutt.ly/hkt3wfl.)

Teachers may be required to take extra steps to pay union dues if Senate Bill 251, discussed Wednesday becomes law. It’s the only paycheck deduction that would have new requirements, and the Indiana State Teachers Association says it singles out and attacks them.  (WFIU)

House Bill 1011 making gender wage discrimination illegal, Senate Bill 79, Domestic battery enhancement, Senate Bill 246, Pregnancy and childbirth accommodation, Senate Bill 313, Paid family and medical leave program, Senate Bill 10, Statewide maternal mortality review committee, Senate Bill 58, Vote centers, are among bills supported by Women for Change Indiana and other advocates for Hoosier women. (Hicks, Justin. “Advocates, Lawmakers Push For Women’s Economic Stability With Proposed Bills.” WFYI PBS. 29 January 2021: https://www.wfyi.org/news/articles/advocates-lawmakers-push-for-womens-economic-stability-with-proposed-bills.) and (“January 29: Here’s what happened at the Statehouse this week.” Women4Change Indiana. 29 January 2021: https://www.women4changeindiana.org/legislative-blog/2021/1/29/january-29-heres-what-happened-at-the-statehouse-this-weeknbsp.)

House Bill 1040, an effort to prevent the sudden death of student athletes is making progress in the Indiana General Assembly.  (WFYI)

House Bill 1134 would require signature requirements to be placed on the ballot as a candidate for the senate or governor. WFYI

See LegiScan for bills that are most active, trending, or most viewed.

A delay in the completion of data from last year’s census has Indiana legislative leaders anticipating a special session over the summer to draw new maps for congressional and General Assembly districts.  (WFIU)
The delay will affect potential candidates, who must file by mid-February. (Howey, Brian. “Atomic! Redistricting delays 2022 cycle; 50% increase of over doses; Andrew Luck come back.” Howey Politics Indiana. 29 January 2021: https://howeypolitics.com/Content/HPI-News/-HPI-News/Article/Atomic-Redistricting-delays-2022-cycle-50-increase-of-over-doses-Andrew-Luck-come-back/39/123/25528.)

The current chairman of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission has been named Indiana Inspector General by Governor Eric Holcomb.  (Inside Indiana Business)

A state audit has revealed a number of “noncompliance” issues involving millions of tax dollars in 2019. Follow-up by an independent contractor found the money was in the millions because the issues had been ongoing since mid-2017.  (Lebanon Reporter)

A report commissioned by AgriNovus Indiana, the initiative focused on growing Indiana’s agbioscience economy, shows aggregate losses from the pandemic cost Indiana food producers approximately $500 million.  (Inside Indiana Business)

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