You can make a difference
On February 25 Indivisible NWI welcomed Barbara Tully from Indiana Vote by Mail. We learned a lot about this important process that has led to a significant increase in voter turnout and a significant decrease in voter suppression in many states. We also learned about the legislative process in Indiana and how and when to let our lawmakers know our opinions. Learn more and view the video of the event at https://indivisiblenwi.org/2021/02/vote-by-mail/
The big lie is back.
We all want our politicians to work to make lives better for everyone. But the big lie that never went away is being pushed to the forefront of news again. Trump and his many congressional allies are repeating the lie that he won the election. He didn’t. Over 60 lawsuits, Trump’s own attorney general and the Supreme Court concur. Congress—and those at all levels of government—need to work for the American people in support of democracy and to enact legislation that helps build better lives. Read more at USA Today. An analysis of the election and the effects of lies and disinformation on the election and its aftermath is available from the National Task Force on Election Crisis.
Please encourage your state representative
- To protect our remaining wetlands and oppose SB 389.
Senate Bill 389 will repeal wetlands protections. Talking points from Hoosier Environmental Council. Mythbusting on SB 389: https://www.hecweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Mythbusting-on-SB-389.pdf
- To oppose criminalizing peaceful protests. Senate Bill 198 creates a new crime, conspiracy to commit rioting
- To oppose House Bill 1369 Firearms Matter that would allow handgun carry without a permit.
- To oppose SB 353 Various Election Laws Matter that would prevent any change to Indiana’s already draconian election laws while imposing others.
Please encourage your state senator
- To oppose House Bill 1367 School corporation disannexation It is a controversial bill that allows white students to transfer out of a diverse school corporation into a nearly all white one. Talking points and links to committees, their members, and senators from Indiana Coalition for Public Education
- To oppose House Bill 1005 School Matters Indiana Coalition for Public Education: “This is a very broad sweeping bill with a number of impacts on public schools as well as private voucher programs. It also creates Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) which allows taxpayer funded unsupervised homeschooling..” More details at ICPE.
- House Bill 1001 State Budget Although Governor Holcomb proposed increasing public school funding, this budget is diverting a third of the money appropriated to school vouchers.
- To oppose House Bill 1577, Telemedicine and abortion-related services. Women4Change: “This bill would allow mental health providers to not participate in abortion-related practices or procedures based on ethical, moral, or religious beliefs.
As you read through the state legislation below, become involved by contacting your state representative or senator to tell them your support for or against. Make your voice heard. Many of the bills being considered this year seek to wrest control from local to state control, decrease gun control, favor private over public school funding, and remove environmental controls and regulations.
Contact your MOCs to demand they support COVID relief, HR1, which will provide comprehensive reform to expand voting rights, change campaign finance laws to reduce the influence of money in politics, limit partisan gerrymandering, and create new ethics rules for federal officeholders, and HR 51, Washington DC statehood: https://indivisible.org/demand-your-senators-support-our-february-recess-asks
Scroll down for easy access to your senators and representative.
Read what’s next with Indivisible and how you can be involved: The Indivisible 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/
In Congress this past week:
H.R. 1389 American Rescue Plan
Read details of this $1.9 trillion dollar COVID relief bill at Causes.
Indiana Democratic Representatives Mrvan and Carson voted yea; all other Indiana representatives voted nay.
Fact check claims you’ve read and heard about this bill from Politifact and the NY Times.
H.R. 546 Effective Assistance of Counsel in the Digital Era Act
Causes.com: This bill “ would apply attorney-client privilege, including the crime fraud exception, to electronic communications sent or received through the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) email system.”
See the vote.
H.R. 1192 Puerto Rico Recovery Accuracy in Disclosures Act (PRRADA) of 2021
Causes.com: would require professionals employed in debt adjustment cases involving Puerto Rico to file verified statements disclosing their connections with the debtor, creditors and other interested parties before seeking compensation for their services…[This bill would] close a loophole in Puerto Rico’s debt restructuring process under the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA) that was passed in 2016. Passed unanimously.
H.R. 5 Equality Act
Causes.com: “This bill would turn sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) into protected classes under the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1968 Fair Housing Act, thereby banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity in education, employment, housing, credit, and federal jury service. It would also prohibit discrimination (through changes to existing civil rights laws) in “public accommodations” and federal funding on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.”
The vote was 224-206. See the vote.
H.R, 803 Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act
Causes.com: This bill “would authorize the designation of several wilderness and conservation areas within public lands in California, Colorado, and Washington. In sum, the bill would designate about 1.49 million acres of federal lands as wilderness, add nearly 1,000 miles of rivers to the National Wild and Scenic River System, and withdraw over 1.2 million acres of public land from new oil and gas and mining claims. It contains provisions of six bills that were combined as part of this package,a breakdown of which” can be found at the link above.
Passed 227-200. See the vote.
Tom Vilsack was confirmed as Secretary of Agriculture; Linda Thomas Greenfield was confirmed as United States Ambassador to the United Nations and Jennifer Granholm was confirmed as Secretary of Energy. Read more at Politico.
The week ahead in Congress
The Senate will debate HR 1319 American Rescue Plan, likely hold a vote and send it back to the House with Senate revisions. The Senate will continue to conduct confirmation hearings for President Biden’s cabinet nominations. Committees will hold hearings on the Capitol riot; waste, fraud, and abuse in federal programs; global security challenges; and the racial wealth gap. Read more at Causes.
On Tuesday the court will hear arguments that challenge Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, that election laws cannot have the consequence of making voting more difficult for minorities. According to Section 5, a state can be in violation even if a law was passed without discriminatory intent. The challenge involves two Arizona laws, but would have nation-wide consequences if the court were to rule in favor of the Arizona laws. Morales-Doyle. Sean. “The Supreme Court Case Challenging Voting Restrictions in Arizona, Explained.” Brennan Center for Justice. 25 February 2021: https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/supreme-court-case-challenging-voting-restrictions-arizona-explained.)
In other news:
A federal judge indefinitely halted President Biden’s order to suspend deportations for 100 days. Learn more from the Associated Press.
Extreme voter suppression bills are being considered in legislatures across the country. Read more at Mother Jones.
The Biden Administration said that schools must administer federally required standardized tests this year, but that they won’t be held accountable for the results; the tests may also be shorter, remote or delayed. Read more at Chalkbeat.
This was the last week for bills to be considered in committee and be heard on the house or senate floor where it was introduced. Any bill that did not pass the chamber where it was introduced is now officially “dead” and is no longer tracked. It doesn’t mean the issue is dead; it could show up in another bill via amendment.
Senate Bill 311 Use of force and self defense.
Prohibits a state or local law enforcement officer (officer) from firing warning shots. Allows a guard, official, or officer in a state or local penal facility to fire warning shots to prevent the escape of a person. Prohibits a law enforcement agency or merit board from taking an adverse employment action against a law enforcement officer who lawfully exercises the officer’s right of self defense, and requires a law enforcement agency to indemnify a law enforcement officer for reasonable expenses incurred by the officer in successfully contesting an adverse employment action. See the vote.
Senate Bill 200
Noncompliant prosecuting attorney. Permits the attorney general to request the appointment of a special prosecuting attorney if a prosecuting attorney is categorically refusing to prosecute certain crimes, and establishes a procedure for the appointment of a person to serve as a special prosecuting attorney to prosecute cases that the county prosecuting attorney is refusing to prosecute. See the vote.
Read more about SB 311 and SB 200 at the Associated Press.
Senate Bill 141 Central Indiana public transportation projects. Requires the budget agency to withhold local income tax revenue from an eligible county if the eligible county fails to raise certain revenues for a public transportation project. … Prohibits Marion County from creating additional IndyGo bus rapid transit lines if the revenue requirements are not met. The Attorney General has ruled that funding from Federal Grants is tax payer money and cannot be applied to the 10% requirement of funds raised from non-taxpayer monies. Read more about this bill that will likely reduce public transit in Indianapolis at WIBC.
See the vote.
Senate Bill 251 Deduction of dues to exclusive representative.
Provides that a school employee has the right to resign from, and end any financial obligation to, a school employee organization at any time.
NBC Chicago: “The bill seeks to have school districts send an email to all employees who have union dues deductions with a boldface message in 14-point type that they have the right to not join the union and may stop their paycheck deduction at any time.”
See the vote.
Senate Bill 407
Statehouse File: “Senate Bill 407 applies to any emergency order after March 1. It passed the Senate with a 38-8 vote on Tuesday and is headed to the House. The bill would give Holcomb only 60 days to extend an emergency order without approval from the General Assembly, but the General Assembly can terminate any emergency order if they don’t see it as necessary.”
See the vote.
Senate Bill 415 Political activity of employees and contractors.
Provides that notwithstanding any ordinance or resolution of a political subdivision, an employee of the political subdivision may serve as the chairman of a county political party while continuing to serve as an employee of the unit free from any discipline or other sanctions. This bill would “void an Indianapolis ethics ordinance that prohibits a county chairperson from doing business with the city. [It] would allow a city employee to serve as both the county party chair and an employee, despite the rather obvious potential for conflicts of interest.” (Kennedy, Sheila. “We Don’t Need No Damn Ethics…or Cities” Sheila Kennedy. 28 February 2021: https://www.sheilakennedy.net/2021/02/we-dont-need-no-damn-ethics-or-cities/.) See the vote.
Senate Bill 259 Parents with Disabilities Vote was unanimous.
Senate Bill 377 Broadband Development Vote was unanimous.
Senate Bill 352 Broadband Development Vote was unanimous.
Senate Bill 359 Broadband Projects Vote was unanimous.
Senate Bill 201 Operating While Intoxicated See the vote.
Provides a defense to prosecution for a person who operates a vehicle with marijuana or its metabolite in the person’s blood under certain conditions.
Passed the House
House Bill 1001 State Budget
Although Governor Holcomb proposed increasing public school funding the budget is diverting a third of the money appropriated to school vouchers. Read more at Fox 59.
House budget proposal heads to the Indiana Senate Fox 59
“I would say that it shows their priority is not funding K-12 public schools,” said Indiana State Teacher Association Vice President Jennifer Smith-Margraf.
See the vote.
House Bill 1005 School Matters
Indiana Coalition for Public Education: “This is a very broad sweeping bill with a number of impacts on public schools as well as private voucher programs. It also creates Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) which allows taxpayerfunded unsupervised homeschooling..” More details at ICPE.
See the vote.
House Bill 1577, Telemedicine and abortion-related services.
Women4Change: “This bill would allow mental health providers to not participate in abortion-related practices or procedures based on ethical, moral, or religious beliefs. It also limits abortion-related telemedicine services…creates legislation on who is allowed to access mental health and telemedicine services and who is not.” See the vote.
House Bill 1009 TANF Program
Southwest Indiana Chamber: This bill would provide an “increase in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits and allows individuals up to age 24 pursuing skills training will not be penalized for earning wages as they attempt to work themselves out of generational poverty. It is estimated the bill will put an additional $11M into the hands of low-income families..” See the vote.
House Bill 1127: Mental Health Addiction and Forensic Treatments Vote passed unanimously.
In other news
Indiana educators #Blackout4Ed to advocate for teacher vaccine priority, protest school choice bills WAVE – For the past two years, Indiana’s public school educators have typically worn red every Wednesday to push for a teacher pay raise. However, …
More on the disanexation bill, House Bill 1367, that was passed by the House last week, from the Statehouse File. That bill will allow white students In South Bend to transfer out of a diverse school system into an almost all white one. “Interesting to note that South Bend is under a consent decree entered into by the school district and the U.S. Department of Justice way back in 1981 to desegregate its schools… that consent decree is still very much in effect.”
And more–A longstanding St. Joseph County debate over school district boundaries captured the state’s attention last week after Republican lawmakers booed and shouted down Black legislators’ concerns about discrimination in a bill that would remove students from the racially diverse South Bend Community School Corp. and send them to the smaller, less diverse John Glenn School Corp. (South Bend Tribune)
State and local government employees, including Hoosier teachers, can breathe a little easier knowing their retirement funds — for now — will not be subject to political whims. (House Bill 1180 did not make it out of committee.) (Times of Northwest Indiana)
Gary Mayor Jerome Prince announced the city will be participating in a universal income pilot program benefiting 125 city residents chosen by lottery. (Post Tribune)