02/07/21 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

Indiana Senate Bill 389 will repeal a law from 2003 that protected Indiana wetlands. Despite bipartisan opposition, the bill has passed the Senate. We must stop this dangerous bill! 
Call your representatives today to say 
“Keep Indiana protections of wetlands and vote no on the bill that takes those protections away! Thank you.”
Here’s how you find their phone numbers. https://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/
Read more. (Claiborne, Anissa. “Bill that takes protection away from wetlands in Indiana has passed the senate.” WTHI-TV10. 03 February 2021: https://cutt.ly/Gkx0Bqw)

On February 18 at 6 join us to learn about the future of the Democratic Party in Indiana.
Visions for the Democratic Party is a panel discussion about the Indiana Democratic Party, what works, what could be improved and how we can best strengthen and grow the party. Indivisible NWI is co-sponsoring this important event. Please register here: https://indivisible.zoom.us/…/WN__sbKvGknQRuhTyJVBFdDTw
Learn more about this important event.

On Thursday, February 25 at 5:30 join Indivisible NWI as we host Indiana Vote by Mail. We welcome Barbara Tully from Indiana Vote By Mail. She will speak on what we all need to know about Vote By Mail and how we can get involved. Bring your questions Learn about this important initiative.

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/


The For the People Act, HR 1,”would be the most significant democracy reform in the past half century. It would make our democracy fairer, stronger, and more inclusive by, among other things, expanding voting rights, overhauling our campaign finance system, aongressnd ending extreme partisan gerrymandering.” (“The For the People Act: Democracy Reform.” Brennan Center for Justice Reform. https://www.brennancenter.org/issues/ensure-every-american-can-vote/voting-reform/people-act-democracy-reform .)

A Facebook post inaccurately describes HR1 as a bill that will destroy voting in America. Read the factual response to each charge against the bill made in the post. (Sherman, Amy. “Fact-checking misleading attacks on HR 1, Democrats’ voting rights bill.” Politifact. 03 February 2021: https://www.politifact.com/article/2021/feb/03/fact-checking-misleading-attacks-hr-1-democrats-vo/.)

Write, call or email your U.S Representative and urge him/her to support HR1. Let them know you support making voting easier for every eligible citizen and you would like to see a transparent redistricting process that includes citizen participation in 2021.

The week ahead in Congress

On Monday the Senate will vote to confirm Denis McDonough as Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The impeachment trial will begin on Tuesday in the Senate. Senate committees will consider more of President Biden’s cabinet nominees. Committees in both chambers will begin drafting the conronavirus relief bill. Except for committee meetings and hearings, the House is in recess. (Revell, Eric. “Senate to Begin Trump’s Second Impeachment Trial, Committees Start Drafting Reconciliation Bill.” Causes. 07 February 2021: https://www.causes.com/articles/46877-senate-begin-trump-s-second-impeachment-trial-committees-start-drafting-reconciliation-bill.)

In Congress this past week:


House Bill 447: National Apprenticeship Act of 2021

GovTrack.us: “To amend the Act of August 16, 1937 (commonly referred to as the “National Apprenticeship Act”) and expand the national apprenticeship system to include apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships, and pre-apprenticeship registered under such Act, to promote the furtherance of labor standards necessary to safeguard the welfare of apprentices, and for other purposes.” 
Passed the House Feb. 5 and goes to the Senate next. 
See the vote.

Senate Bill S. Con. Res. 5: A concurrent resolution setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2021 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2022 through 2030. 
Causes.com: “This budget resolution would implement the reconciliation process and establish a budgetary target for House committees to draft coronavirus (COVID-19) relief legislation that would increase the deficit by a total of $1.9 trillion.” 
A number of amendments to the Democratic budget resolution that allows the reconciliation process to be used for a $1.9 trillion coronavirus (COVID-19) relief bill were proposed and many were adopted; most are not binding. Some of the amendments, including one to prevent a ban on fracking, one to deny payments to undocumented immigrants, and one to support the Keystone XL Pipeline, were stripped away in the final bill. Elis, Niv. “Five takeaways from the budget marathon.” The Hill. 05 February 2021: https://thehill.com/policy/finance/537600-five-takeaways-from-the-budget-marathon.) 
Passed with no Republican votes.

Passed the House Friday, Feb. 5 with no Republican votes; Jared Golden of Maine also voted nay. House committees will begin crafting parts of the relief legislation within the confines of reconciliation. Speaker Pelosi has promised a bill within two weeks. (“House passes budget resolution, paving way for Covid relief – as it happened.” The Guardian. 05 February 2021: https://cutt.ly/kkvaDEq.)

H.Res. 73: Providing the Sergeant-at-Arms with the authority to fine Members, Delegates, or the Resident Commissioner for failure to complete security screening for entrance to the House Chamber, and for other purposes. 
The resolution was passed in a vote in the House on Feb. 2. A simple resolution is not voted on in the other chamber and does not have the force of law. The vote was by special rule so no record of individual votes was made.

H.Res. 72: Removing a certain Member from certain standing committees of the House of Representatives. 
GovTrack.us: “This resolution removes Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene from the House Committee on the Budget and the House Committee on Education and Labor.” 
Agreed to Feb. 4. See the vote.


H.R. 545: To amend title 40, United States Code, to prevent Members of Congress and their employees from carrying firearms in the Capitol building, and for other 
GovTrack.us: “The No Congressional Gun Loophole Act would prevent members of Congress from carrying weapons inside the Capitol Building or its grounds…While 21 House members had written a letter advocating such a gun ban be included in the 2021 rules package, the proposal was ultimately not included.” Introduced Jan. 28.

H.R. 301: To amend title 36, United States Code, to establish the composition known as “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as the national hymn of the United States. 
Govtrack.us: “A new bill would make “Lift Every Voice and Sing” the official national hymn of the United States.” Introduced Jan. 16

On Friday Democratic Senators introduced legislation to revise section 230 o f the Communications Decency Act. (Klar, Rebecca. “Democratic senators introduce bill to limit Section 230 protections.” The Hill. 05 February 2021: https://thehill.com/policy/technology/537524-democratic-senators-introduce-bill-to-limit-power-of-section-230.)

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

In other news:

Senator Romney released the framework his Family Security act, which would provide payments to families with children. It is similar to one supported by Democrats, although Romney’s bill provides more generous payments while eliminating and revising other tax breaks, including the Child Tax Credit. Both bills would substantially relieve child poverty. (Rainey, Rebecca. “Romney proposes child care benefit for families, fueling Democrats’ push.” Politico. 04 February 2021: https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/04/romney-child-care-benefit-democrats-465940.)

Although disproportionately affected by COVID 19, Black and Hispanic communities are lagging far behind in vaccinations as compared to white populations. There are few vaccination sites in these communities. (McMinn, Sean. “Vaccine Sites Missing From Black And Hispanic Neighborhoods.” NPR Politics. 05 February 2021: https://cutt.ly/CkvrDsA.)

As two more cabinet appointees were confirmed, Alejandro Mayorkas as Directory of Homeland Security and Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation, President Biden furthered his pledge to create a diverse cabinet. (Wise, Alana. “Biden Pledged Historic Cabinet Diversity. Here’s How His Nominees Stack Up.” NPR Politics. 05 February 2021: https://cutt.ly/fkveSRH.)

Unemployment dipped slightly, but economic growth was slow last month as only 49,000 jobs were added. (Revell, Eric. “U.S. Unemployment Rate Fell in January Despite Sluggish Job Growth.” Causes. 05 February 2021: https://www.causes.com/articles/46875-u-s-unemployment-rate-fell-january-despite-sluggish-job-growth.)


President Biden is off to a record start with executive orders and proclamtions. (Keith, Tamara. “With 28 Executive Orders Signed, President Biden Is Off To A Record Start. NPR Politics. 03 February 2021: https://cutt.ly/akvwYJl)

President Biden gave his first foreign policy address last week, promising to improve foreign relations with allies, end support for the war in Yemen, sanction Myanmar and end Trump’s America First policy. (Ordonez, Franco. “Biden Looks To Move Beyond Trump’s ‘America First’ In 1st Foreign Policy Address.” NPR Politics. 04 February 2021: https://cutt.ly/bkvepSP)


Some of the summaries below were provided in part by

Women4Change, https://www.women4changeindiana.org/legislative-blog/2021/2/5/february-5th-heres-what-happened-at-the-statehouse-this-week.

The Statehouse File, http://thestatehousefile.com/

AIM Legislative Summary, https://aimindiana.org/terminal/legislative-summary-february-5-2021/

Read about active and most viewed bills at Legiscan, https://legiscan.com/IN.

Passed the Senate:

Despite bipartisan opposition Senate Bill 389 a bill to remove wetlands protections set in law from 2003 passed the Senate 29-10. (Colias-Pete, Meredith. “Bill that would strip state protections for wetlands heads to Indiana House.” Chicago Tribune. 01 February 2021: https://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/ct-ptb-env-wetlands-senate-passes-st-0202-20210201-rtpkbkapazhgdfnliijkjwyciu-story.html.) 
See the vote.

The Indiana Senate voted to pass Senate Bill 79, Domestic battery enhancement. The bill had bipartisan support and has since been referred to the House.  

The Indiana Senate voted to pass Senate Bill 81, Training for investigators of sexual assault cases. The bill had bipartisan support and has since been referred to the House.

Under consideration in the Senate:

SB 158 would reduce the maximum fees that can be charged for any ordinance violation by 90% (from $2,500 to $250 for a first offense and from $7,500 to $750 for a second offense). It also prohibits local units from fining owners of residential apartment complexes on a per-unit basis, and instead requires any fine to be applied only once per complex. This bill will likely be heard in committee next week.

Rocky rollout for rioting bill in Indiana Statehouse Fox 59 
The Indiana Statehouse and a number of memorial locations under the authority of state government were occupied, damaged or utilized as staging ..
Senate Bill 198 addresses rioters while holding any protesters present responsible for any civil disobedience on the part of anyone in the protest It will be reworked to make it adhere more closely to the U.S.Constitution, noted the bill’s author, republican senator Michael Young. 
Legislation debated in a Senate committee Tuesday would turn almost anyone who participates in a protest that turns violent into criminals.(WFYI)  

Senate Bill 229 would require all nursing homes to allow at least some limited visitation for their residents – even during a pandemic – under legislation unanimously approved by a Senate committee Wednesday.  (WFYI)

Passed the House

House Bill 1152, cracking down on unemployment benefits fraud, has passed the House and moves to the Senate. Even with amendments, some groups say it still has the potential to harm those who make honest mistakes.  (WFIU)

Under consideration in the House

House Bill 1123, intended to limit how Indiana governors respond to crises like COVID-19 was amended with a set of new guidelines not included in the original proposal and further limiting local responses along with the governor’s. Among the limitations, churches cannot be restricted under any circumstance. The full House will consider the bill next week.

House Bill 1114 has passed out of committee, poising the Indiana General Assembly to strip from counties, cities and towns the ability to set local building design requirements for residential properties, and to invalidate all existing local residential design standards.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

The Indiana House Courts and Criminal Code Committee voted to pass and adopt HB 1176, Elements of rape. House Bill 1176 would criminalize sexual assault in cases where the perpetrator knowingly deceives the survivor about his/her identity. This bill would make assault of this kind illegal in Indiana, even if the assault did not occur by force. The bill has bipartisan support. 

The Indiana House Committee on Elections and Apportionment voted to pass and adopt House Bill 1479, Early Voting. Two amendments to the bill have since failed to pass the House, but the House has yet to vote on the bill itself. House Bill 1479 advocates for more opportunities to vote early, which would help to increase voter access and turnout. 

The Indiana House Committee on Elections and Apportionment voted to pass and adopt House Bill 1365, Various election matters. Several amendments have since failed to pass the House, but the House has yet to vote on the bill itself. 

House Bill 1032, Newborn Safety Device, passed the House and now is being referred to the Senate. The bill would add a baby box to any facility that has medical staff on standby. 

House Bill 1230 extends the already existing Safe Haven law to allow parents to willingly give up custody of newborns to emergency services and remain anonymous. 

House Bill 1434– –considers raising cigarette tax to $2 per pack. The Elkhart Truth (The Center Square) – Indiana legislators debated a bill earlier this week to raise the tax on cigarettes to $2 a pack, a move that would take Indiana out ..Indiana bills would give undocumented immigrants driving cards  WISHTV.com 
House Bill 1138 and Senate Bill 319  would give driving cards to undocumented immigrants. Under the current Indiana law, undocumented immigrants are not allowed a driver’s license. The bills have been assigned to committees.

House Bill 1005  would open the state’s existing private school voucher program to thousands of families who currently make too much money to qualify and increasing the stipends for middle-class students. It passed out of the Education Committee and will be heard in the House Ways and Means Committee next week. ( McCoy, Dylan Peers. “Indiana voucher supporters, opponents spar at Statehouse.” Chalkbeat Indiana. 04 February 2021: https://in.chalkbeat.org/2021/2/4/22267242/indiana-voucher-expansion-esas.)

Indiana lawmakers discuss 1st cigarette tax hike since 2007 WTHI-TV.com 
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana could increase its cigarette tax for the first time in more than a decade and impose a new state tax on vaping liquids …
House Bill 1434: A House committee made significant changes Thursday to the way Indiana would spend proceeds from a proposal to hike the state’s cigarette tax for the first time in more than a decade and impose a new state tax on vaping liquids.  (AP Indiana) 
Indiana lawmakers propose using cigarette tax for Medicaid WHAS11.com

Proposed bill would pay remote workers to move to Indiana WISHTV.com 
If House Bill 1416 becomes law, if you make $100,000 or less and live outside Indiana or are a college graduate, you would have a potential $5,000 benefit to help reimburse taxes and and moving costs. If you make more than $100,000, it would be an $8,500 grant.

House Bill 1305, would preserve Region access to Chicago children’s hospitals pdclarion.com See the bill.

Indiana bill would make it easier for companies to install 5G towers in neighborhoods WISHTV.com 
Under Senate Bill 225 any communication company currently doing business in Indiana may place as many poles in the right-of-way as they see fit, taking away a city or county’s authority to place restrictions on 5G towers.

Indiana lawmakers are pulling the plug on Senate Bill 74 that would prohibit employers from requiring workers from getting immunizations against COVID-19 or any other disease.  (AP Indiana)

In other news

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded $2.5 billion to homelessness programs across the country, including  $26 million to 86 assistance programs across Indiana. (Dixon, Taylor. “Millions of dollars given to Indiana homelessness programs as pandemic continues.” The Statehouse File. 05 February 2021: http://thestatehousefile.com/44333/millions-of-dollars-given-to-indiana-homelessness-programs-as-pandemic-continues/.)

Indiana to get $12.5M share of national opioid settlement Fox 59 
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana will receive more than $12.5 million as part of a multistate settlement with a consulting firm that worked with opioid …

Indiana Easing School Rules For COVID-19 Quarantines NBC Chicago 
Indiana health officials are allowing schools across the state to relax their quarantine rules for students with coronavirus exposure even as they offer ..

NIPSCO moving ahead with wind, solar projects despite Indiana legislative misgivings Chicago Tribune. Despite an Indiana law signed last year to slow its move off long-dominant coal, several electric utilities, including NIPSCO, are moving forward with .

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

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