03/14/2021 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

Join Indivisible NWI as we welcome the Foodbank of Northwest Indiana. We will learn about the Foodbank and how we can help them to fight food insecurity!!
Please register. You will receive a link to join the meeting.
Help us help the Foodbank to combat food insecurity!

The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus has issued recommendations to legislative leadership to protect their physical safety, to address recent racist actions in the House, and systemic racism in general. The Sierra Club has a petition you can sign to urge leadership to endorse and institute these actions. Read more and sign the petition here.

Please contact your state representative about

Please contact your state senator about

  • 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.
  •  House Bill 1369 Firearms Matter would allow handgun carry without a permit.. Permitless Carry has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Liz Brown is the chair of the committee. As chair, she has the ability to to not have the bill heard. Call or email and ask her to not hear the bill. Here’s a sample script: “Hello my name is [insert name]. I’m calling today to ask Senator Brown to NOT hear HB 1369 on the Judiciary Committee. This issue is very important to me. Thank you.”  Email:  Senator.Brown@iga.in.gov; phone: 317-234-9426
  •  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.

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/

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/

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


The truth matters

Fact checks

Misinformation and lies are swarming around republican circles about the American Rescue Plan. This bill funds COVID-related needs; Republicans claim that only a small part goes to COVID. Indeed ‘only’ 9% goes to vaccines and other direct health spending, the rest aims to help alleviate pandemic induced crisis. Most of what is in the rest of the bill was in previous republican sponsored relief bills, including the one proposed by the 10 republicans who met with President Biden. Despite what republicans say, this bill is more targeted to those in need than previous bills. Aid to states and cities was opposed by republicans who called it a blue state bail out. Among those who have seen the largest revenue falls are a mix of blue and red states and cities and all of them will receive money, regardless of political leaning. Read more at Reuters, also factcheck.org and politifact.

Conservative news and social media have blamed President Biden for the seemingly recent rise in gas prices, particularly citing the cancellation of the Keystone Pipeline. That pipeline wasn’t operating when it was canceled; prices rose more substantially under Trump; prices have been responding to supply and demand—more gas is being used now than earlier in the pandemic. Read more at Politifact.

In Congress this past week:

Passed by the House and signed into law by President Biden:

HR 1319 American Rescue Plan
GovTrack.us: “This bill provides additional relief to address the continued impact of COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) on the economy, public health, state and local governments, individuals, and businesses.”
Causes.com: Provides “provide $1.9 trillion in funding for initiatives to provide economic relief and healthcare resources to mitigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.” 
Passed 220-211 on March 10. Scroll down the page for details of the bill at causes.com.
This bill is being hailed … as a generational expansion of the social safety net, providing food and housing assistance, greater access to health care and direct aid to families in what amounts to a broad-based attack on the cycle of poverty.” Read more at the Associated Press.
This bill will cut child poverty in half. Research over decades has shown how damaging poverty is to children, “including neurological and organ damage that can last a lifetime….raising kids above the poverty line had measurable and significant cognitive, emotional, and medical benefits.” A direct cash disbursement is very efficient for raising children out of poverty. Moreover, research showed “there was significant evidence that the cash allowances would not disincentivize parents from working.” Read more about the significance of cutting child poverty in half at The Century Foundation.
Brookings details several studies that link direct cash payments for children to lasting benefits, cognitively, academically, physically, emotionally, behaviorally and more into adulthood and beyond.
This bill’s effect on poverty and resultant overall benefits are also detailed by the Urban Institute.
A very small percentage of this bill goes to libraries, but it is significant. The bill provides $200 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services — the single largest increase in the agency’s history — and a new $7 billion program for libraries and schools to distribute technology necessary for remote learning, working from home, virtual healthcare visits, and more. Read brief details at the American Library Association.


H.R. 842: Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021
Govtrack.us: “This bill expands various labor protections related to employees’ rights to organize and collectively bargain in the workplace. See the vote.

H.R. 1446 Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021
: “This bill would close what became known as “Charleston loophole” by extending the initial background check review for gun purchasers from three to 10 business days…
The 2015 mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina exposed what became known as the “Charleston loophole.” After Charleston mass shooter Dylann Roof killed nine African-American churchgoers in 2015, an internal review at the FBI revealed that he would’ve been blocked from buying the Glock .45-caliber model 41 he used in the shooting had the background check process been more stringent. In Roof’s case, the initial background check revealed a drug arrest, but NICS examiners couldn’t tell whether Roof had admitted guilt or been convicted, so they contacted local records officers to find out. After three days of failed attempts to determine Roof’s status, the dealer sold Roof the Glock. Had the examiner checked the National Data Exchange (D-DEx), a national repository of criminal justice records submitted by agencies across the U.S, they’d have found a record showing that Roof admitted drug possession — which would have led to the denial of his gun purchase. It was legal for the gun purchaser to sell the firearm to Roof after the background check couldn’t be completed within three business days, which led to this scenario becoming known as the “Charleston Loophole.””
See more details of the bill at Causes. Read a summary at govtrack.us.
Passed 219-210. See the vote.

H.R. 8  Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “This bill establishes new background check requirements for firearm transfers between private parties (i.e., unlicensed individuals).
Specifically, it prohibits a firearm transfer between private parties unless a licensed gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer first takes possession of the firearm to conduct a background check.
The prohibition does not apply to certain firearm transfers, such as a gift between spouses in good faith.”
Causes.com: “This bill would amend the federal criminal code to prohibit a licensed gun dealer from transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person before a background check has been completed. Under current law, licensed gun dealers may allow firearms to be transferred to an unlicensed person if a background check remains incomplete three business days after it was submitted.”
Passed 227-203 See the vote. Although eight republican representatives voted yea, only Indiana’ two democratic representatives voted yea—Representatives Mrvan and Carson.

H.R. 1276: VA VACCINE Act of 2021
Govtrack.us: “This bill authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to furnish a COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) vaccine to covered individuals during the COVID-19 public health emergency.” The vote was without objection so no record of individual votes was made.


Marcia Fudge was confirmed as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Merrick Garland was confirmed as Attorney General; Michael Regan was confirmed as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. Read more at Politico.

The week ahead in Congress

Causes.com: “Congress returns this week with the House set to consider a pair of immigration bills, legislation to protect women from domestic violence, extend the ratification deadline for the Equal Rights Amendment, and prevent automatic budget cuts triggered by Democrats’ recently enacted spending package. Meanwhile, the Senate will continue to fill Cabinet vacancies.” Read more details, including committee hearings at Causes.

See bills that are coming up and trending at GovTrack.

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

In other news:

A study released Tuesday found that since June states with Republican governors experienced the highest deaths per capita from COVID, surpassing the rates set by democratic states early in the pandemic. Read more at NBC News.

A key step forward was announced on Monday to accelerate President Biden’s plans to expand renewable energy. The Interior Department said on Monday it had completed its environmental review for a massive wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts, a breakthrough for the U.S. offshore wind industry. Read more at Politico.



District 1 has been historically democratic, but may flip republican if as expected it is gerrymandered to diffuse the democratic vote and bring in the mostly republican vote in the south of the county. Read more at the Exponent.
Redistricting will occur this fall in the supermajority republican Indiana legislature this fall. Once we know how many people live in Indiana we redistrict. That is, we draw new district lines that put the same number of people into each electoral district. One person, one vote. Redistricting occurs every 10 years with the release of census statistics. How the district boundaries are drawn can make the difference between empowering and maximizing the voters’ voices or minimizing and muting those voices. The Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission is seeking public input into fair maps and will work to create these maps. Then the maps will be presented to the legislature by All in for Democracy. The legislature has no obligation to consider these maps, but the process may pressure them into bowing to public pressure to consider maps that are fairly drawn, maps that allow voters to choose their politicians, not gerrymandered maps that allow politicians to choose their voters.
Read more about redistricting and how you can become involved at All in for Democracy and Common Cause Indiana.

Indiana General Assembly

The legislature is at the half way point of the sessions. Bills passed by the House are being considered in the Senate and those passed by the Senate are being considered in the House. Many are still in committee in their respective chambers; a few are expected to receive a vote during the week ahead. Of over 1000 bills introduced this session, just over 300 are still under consideration

House Bill 1266 Education building and transportation authorities
This bill sailed through the House with only one vote against, but is garnering a great deal of controversy in the Senate. This bill would solicit ideas to make school transportation and facilities  more efficient, but school authorities see it as an attempt to force schools into privitazation and/or consolidation. They say it will also keep them out of financial conversations and make each district pay for teacher pay increases. Read more at Chalkbeat Indiana.

HB 1006 Police Reform passed its committee unanimously and will be heard on the Senate floor next week.
The bill bans chokeholds except where deadly force would be justified, and requires de-escalation training. It also makes it easier to yank the certification of officers who have committed misconduct. And it requires police departments to supply the full work record of an officer applying to another department. (WIBC)

Indiana’s efforts on broadband expansion Fox 59
INDIANAPOLIS — Broadband expansion is the most important issue for Indiana lawmakers this session, aside from the budget. Many are hoping they bring relief to those without access to affordable high speed internet in the state. Three bills are addressing the issue– SB 352, SB 377 and HB 1449

School boards push back against Indiana voucher expansions Chicago Tribune
Local school leaders across Indiana are lining up against a Republican-backed school funding plan over concerns it would give private schools a big financial boost at the detriment of traditional public schools. The debate in the Senate is over a House passed bill—HB 1005, School Choice Matters, and the House passed budget.

HB 1123 and SB 407  seek to reign the governor’s executive powers, but is running up against Indiana’s Constitution.
Indiana lawmakers debate for hours on executive emergency powers Fox 59
Former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Frank Sullivan said he believes this bill is unconstitutional and anything passed during that session called by …
Top Indiana officials defend governor’s emergency powers – Chicago Tribune

House Bill 1369 Firearms Matter
Effective March 30, 2022: (1) Repeals the law that requires a person to obtain a license to carry a handgun in Indiana. Read more about this bill at WTHR.

Senate Bill 389 will repeal wetlands protections.
Mythbusting on SB 389: https://www.hecweb.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/Mythbusting-on-SB-389.pdf

Read more about bills of note under consideration at our blog. Scroll down to Indiana.

Read about most the active and monitored bills at LegiScan Indiana

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

In other news

Teachers and other school employees will be able to get COVID-19 vaccinations through Indiana’s shot clinics across the state starting next week. (AP Indiana)

Governor Eric Holcomb Monday announced he has selected Jim Staton to serve as interim Secretary of Commerce.  (Indy Politics)

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is joining attorneys general from 11 other states to sue the President Biden administration over new environmental regulations that they claim will “impoverish millions.” The lawsuit was filed Monday as a response to the Biden administration’s sweeping environmental protection order called “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.” “Biden signed the order into action Jan 20, setting in motion the reversal of a bevy of Trump administration-era policies that promoted economic growth over environmental regulations.” (South Bend Tribune)

A voting rights group is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider its lawsuit that aimed to make mail-in ballots available to all Indiana voters for last fall’s election. (IBJ)

Indiana officials have yet to describe any big plans for the influx of federal money expected from the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that Congress approved this week.  (AP Indiana)

Indiana Could See $5.8 Billion in New COVID Relief Money NBC Chicago
Indiana officials have yet to describe any big plans for the influx of federal …

Some Hoosiers who get federal assistance with their electric and gas bills may face shutoffs after this week. The state ends on Monday, March 15. (WFYI)

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