3/28/2021 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

The nation is still mourning after the killings of eight people in Georgia, killings that have brought scrutiny to the prevalence of violence and hate speech toward Asian Americans.( The Guardian

While bigotry toward Asian Americans has always existed, since the pandemic began there has been an alarming increase in hate speech and violence. (Stop AAPI Hate)

Take action by
Learning more:
Check out and share this resource on anti-Asian violence.
Check out The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee for a comprehensive look on the long and forgotten history of Asian American life. 
Stop AAPI Hate: National Report
Contacting your MOC:
H.Res. 151: Condemning all forms of anti-Asian sentiment as related to COVID-19 was reintroduced in the current legislative session on Feb. 23. Let your representative know how you feel.Donating if you can:
If you’re able, split a donation among eight organizations that are fighting to protect and support the AAPI community. Click here to split a donation now.

Please contact your state representative about

Please contact your state senator about

HB 1001 (Budget Bill) HB 1005 which would expand voucher eligibility and SB 413 which would create Educational Scholarship Accounts, will probably not receive individual hearings. Debate on these issues will likely be rolled into the budget bill, HB 1001; lobbying against HB 1005 and SB 413 will be much harder. These bills divert millions of public school funds to private schools.
Send emails and make calls to legislators. (To send an email, find your legislator and then follow this format: Senator.Niemeyer@iga.in.gov)
Your message can be as simple as this: I am (name) from (area), I ask you to remove the voucher expansion and ESAs from the budget bill. Sending more money to private schools hurts my public school district. Public schools educate 94% of Hoosier children, and that’s where your priorities should be.
Read more at Indiana Coalition for Public Education As of Friday Indiana legislators have not changed their minds. We all need to speak out.
Indiana Republicans resolute for school voucher expansion Associated Press 
Republican lawmakers remain resolute on their push for a big expansion of Indiana’s private school voucher program in the face of pushback from public school leaders across the state.

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 Truth Matters

Fact Checks

American Rescue Plan will help people across the country, regardless of political leanings. Some are claiming this relief bill is a blue state bailout that will go to poorly run states. That is a lie. More money will be directed toward poor states—and Indiana is a poor state. In 2020 federal monies helped with a budget shortfall of $3.5 billion. On top of that, Indiana residents get back far more than they pay in federal taxes, unlike other states that get back less in federal dollars than they pay in. Read more at Center for Business and Economic Research, Ball State University.

HR 1,  For the People Act, and S 1 are the companion bills that will bring sweeping elections reform. This legislation IS constitutional. Many republicans are saying the Constitution does not allow Congress to regulate state election law. That is a lie. The Constitution does not prevent federal regulation of elections. “In the United States, states have primary responsibility for the administration of federal elections. The federal government, however, has significant authority to determine how these elections are run, and may direct states to implement such federal regulations as the federal government provides. This authority can extend to registration, voting, reporting of results, or even more fundamental aspects of the election process such as redistricting.” Read more at Every CRS Report
“Although the Elections Clause [in the Constitution] makes states primarily responsible for regulating congressional elections, it vests ultimate power in Congress. Congress may pass federal laws regulating congressional elections that automatically displace (“preempt”) any contrary state statutes, or enact its own regulations concerning those aspects of elections that states may not have addressed. The Framers of the Constitution were concerned that states might establish unfair election procedures or attempt to undermine the national government by refusing to hold elections for Congress. They empowered Congress to step in and regulate such elections as a self-defense mechanism.” (National Constitution Center)

The filibuster has a long history in preventing the passage of civil rights legislation and since the early twentieth century, anti-lynching bills. In fact, it prevented these pieces of legislation from even coming to a vote. So when Minority Leader McConnell says the filibuster has had no part in preserving Jim Crow laws, he is wrong. The most egregious use of the filibuster did just that and going forward it has prevented the Senate from accomplishing significant legislation for years because a simple majority cannot pass legislation. Read more at The Atlantic.

What happened at the Capital on January 6 was a violent insurrection. Trump, some republicans and right wing media are whitewashing what happened with Trump claiming this week there was no danger to anyone. The seditious riot was violent; people were killed; the intent was to hurt and kill more. Read the myth and the facts at NPR.


Signed into law

S. 579: A bill to make a technical correction to the ALS Disability Insurance Access Act of 2019.

In the Senate

Marty Walsh was confirmed as Secretary of Labor. Read more about President Biden’s cabinet at Vox. Dr. Vivek Murthy was confirmed as Surgeon General. Read more at CNN Politics. Shalanda Young was confirmed to be deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget. Read more at CNN Politics. Rachel Levine was confirmed to be assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, making her the first openly transgender official ever approved by the upper chamber. Read more at The Hill.

S1 The for the People Act received a hearing in the Senate on Wednesday. It is nearly identical to the House companion bill, HR 1. It is a sweeping voting rights and elections reform bill that will make voting easier for millions, make elections more secure and reform campaign finance law. Read more about the bills at CNN.

Passed the Senate

H.R. 1868 Preventing Automatic Spending Cuts to Medicare & Other Programs Triggered by Sequestration
Causes.com: “The Senate version of the bill retains provisions aimed at preventing automatic spending cuts to Medicare and other mandatory spending programs triggered by sequestration under the Budget Control Act. A breakdown of the current version of the bill, which returns to the House following Senate passage, can be found at Causes. Passed 90-10. Both Indiana senators voted yea.

H.R. 1799 Extending Small Businesses’ Application Period for Paycheck Protection Program Loans From March 31st to May 31st
Causes.com: “This bill — the PPP Extension Act of 2021 — would extend the application window for small businesses seeking forgivable loans under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) from its current deadline of March 31, 2021, to May 31, 2021. It would also give the Small Business Administration (SBA) an additional 30 days to process applications received before June 1st and guarantee those loans.” Passed 90-2. Both Indiana senators voted yea.

The week ahead

Both the Senate and the House will be in recess for the next two weeks. The House is expected back April 12 and the Senate April 12. Both chambers will hold pro forma sessions Monday March 29 and Thursday April 1.(Causes)

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

In other news:

HR 1 and S 1 will usher in sweeping reform to expand voting rights, enhance election security and target campaign finance. We need this legislation now more than ever as draconian Jim Crow laws to suppress the votes of minorities are passing in states across the nation, beginning with Georgia. Republicans are working hard to cement their power in this country, end democracy and usher in autocratic rule. They are justifying their efforts in statements about the need to enhance election security; the election across the country was the most secure in history. Read more at the Associated Press and the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

Georgia has passed sweeping election changes in embrace and response to the big lie about election fraud and that will suppress the vote of primarily democratic, minority and poor voters. Many aspects of the bill role back democracy, one person, one vote, and perhaps most troubling of all allows the republican takeover of election results. “The state board, which now will be fully controlled by the Republican legislative majority, is unilaterally empowered to take over (among other things) the process of disqualifying ballots across the state.” Read a summary of each aspect of the bill at Vox.

Border detentions of unaccompanied minors will likely surpass the May 2019 record. Yet migrant apprehensions are no where near historical proportions. In fact, they remain far less than under the George W Bush administration. Many reasons exist for the number of immigrants currently at the border, including Trump policies. Read more at CNN and The Week.

The research is clear; more gun ownership results in more gun deaths. No other developed country in the world has nearly the same level of gun violence as in the United States. No country in the world has the number of privately owned guns by far than in the United States. The United States makes up only 5% of the world’s population and yet owns 45% of the guns. Gun control measures enjoy nationwide support and yet such measures have not been passed on the federal level in decades. Read more at Vox.
Biden urges gun control legislation and says he’ll do what he can from the executive level. The House recently passed two background check measures; republicans responded that gun control measures wouldn’t stop mass shootings even though such shootings have sky rocketed as gun control measures have become more lax across the country and with the lapse of the assault weapons ban several years ago. They also blamed recent shootings on defunding the police. Senators Cruz and Grassley said they “will reintroduce a bill that would criminalize “straw purchasing” of firearms — when someone buys them on behalf of someone who is prohibited by law — and gun trafficking. The bill would also improve and reauthorize grants for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.” Read more at NBC News and Poynter.

Senator Manchin opposes the background check bills that passed the House because he doesn’t want such checks to be required for personal sales. Read how his bill from 2013 differs from what has been passed by the House at Causes.

“The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is extending the Affordable Care Act special enrollment period by three months to August 15…The change will allow Americans more time to take advantage of benefits granted through the Covid relief law — including increased federal subsidies to reduce premiums.” More than 206,000 have signed up during the special enrollment period so far. Read more at CNN Politics.

The House held a hearing about H.R. 51, Washington D.C. Statehood. Statehood is constitutional, despite what republicans maintained. (Slate). Washington D.C. has a population that surpasses other states and yet has no voting representation in Congress despite paying federal taxes. Republicans made disingenuous and often false arguments against statehood. (Mother Jones)


Contact your representative!
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
The House Environmental Affairs Committee held a hearing on Monday and is preparing to move forward with legislation eliminating all or most protections for state-regulated wetlands in Indiana. The committee heard testimony for over two hours. “The House committee is considering revising that plan to continue partially protecting particularly difficult-to-replace forested wetlands, but allowing most other isolated wetlands to be drained or filled without consequence or any obligation to replace them.
The legislation is championed by the Indiana Builders Association, which claims state wetland protections make it more difficult for home builders to develop new subdivisions, driving up housing costs for Hoosiers.” “However, the sponsor of the measure, state Sen. Chris Garten, R-Charlestown, said his interest largely is punishing the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, which partially is in charge of overseeing Indiana wetlands, because he claims IDEM officials once were unfair to some of his constituents.” The chief of staff for IDEM said he is unaware of any such complaints, but said that eliminating all protections for the 640,000 of state-regulated wetlands “ “ will unleash some 640 billion gallons of water from the displaced wetlands into fields, streams, and municipal sewer systems…” The bill is opposed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and of environmental organizations. According to state data 85% of Indiana’s wetlands have already been drained.
State data show Hoosiers already have drained 85% of the state’s historical wetlands. Read more at Times of Northwest Indiana
Indiana’s state wetlands law originally passed in 2016, vetoed by then Governor Mike Pence, and the veto overridden by the General Assembly in 2017. SB389 passed out of the Senate with bipartisan opposition. The bill is being held for further consideration before it returns to Committee next week. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)


Indiana House republicans refused to debate redistricting reform, reform that was once favored by republicans. Under a proposed amendment to SB 398 the General Assembly’s nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency would prepare maps for lawmakers to vote on; this proposal is based on what Iowa has done for decades. Read more at WBOI NPR.
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.
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 has been 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 at All in for Democracy and Common Cause Indiana.

Passed the House and Senate, Governor next

HB 1156 Prohibition on microchipping employees
This bill expands the list of employers who cannot microchip workers and passed with a 48-1 vote. This bill is in anticipation of a problem; it has never been reported as happening. Read more at The Statehouse File.

HB 1030 Removal of a county elected officer

HB 1230 Safe haven 911
“This bill allows baby boxes to be located at an ambulance hub or emergency medical services station that’s staffed 24 hours a day. The legislation also authorizes a parent to call 911 to request an emergency services provider pick up a newborn baby the parent intends to permanently surrender, instead of having to find transportation to a police station, fire station, hospital or baby box.” (NWI Times)

Under consideration, likely to pass

House Bill 1123 States of emergencies; general assembly sessions
This bill passed the Senate Rules Committee with amendments and with all democrats opposed. It creates an advisory committee of legislators that a governor would keep informed during emergencies of a longer duration and passed through senate committee. A key Senate panel on Thursday backed away from more severe restrictions on future governors’ emergency powers. It moves to the senate floor for a vote next. (Journal Gazette) 
Amended Indiana emergency powers bill moves on Fox 59 into session during a public emergency even if that means a challenge in the courts. 
Read more also at the Statehouse File.

HB 1001 (Budget Bill)
HB 1005 which would expand voucher eligibility and SB 413 which would create Educational Scholarship Accounts, will probably not receive individual hearings. Debate on these issues will likely be rolled into the budget bill, HB 1001. These bills would divert millions from public education.
Public school districts across Northwest Indiana are uniting against this legislation…(Times of Northwest Indiana)

Representatives from nine Indiana agencies spoke at the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting Thursday, presenting their proposed budgets to the group of senators. (The Statehouse File)

House Bill 1384 Civics education
This bill has been re-passed by the House after the Senate returned it with an amendment. The amendment included minor changes to the wording of the bill. HB 1384 outlines a plan for creating standardized civics education in Indiana, and it has a strong chance of becoming law. (Women4ChangeIndiana)

House Bill 1479 Early Voting
This bill has been passed by the Senate and returned to the House with amendments. This bill allows for the creation of satellite offices to give voters more time to cast early ballots. (Women4ChangeIndiana)

HB1007 State health improvement and grant program
This bill creates a new public program called “In It for Health” modeled after Indiana’s Safety Pin program. Indiana has long struggled with public health rankings, with rankings such as 41st in overall health and near last at 48th in funding public health per capita. Voted out of committee by unanimous vote. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

HB1397 Technical training and workforce development
This bill is “designed to improve workforce training offerings and awareness of those opportunities. The bill passed 12-0 from Senate Education Committee and is recommitted to the Appropriations Committee due to the fiscal impact of the bill.” (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

HB1449 Broadband development
The bill subsidizes broadband in health clinics and for Indiana students for the next 4 years. It establishes a reverse auction system, modifies the Next Level Grant program to serve unserved addresses and prohibits state grants where federal grants have already been awarded. It requires the Office of Community & Rural Affairs (OCRA) to establish and publish specific goals and submit to state board of account audits annually. The amended bill passed out of committee 13-0. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

HB1101 Daycare licensure exemption in declared emergency
This bill “provides daycare licensure exemptions during a disaster emergency, …During the early days of the pandemic, many programs were unable to provide childcare prior to an executive order passed by Governor Holcomb.  This bill allows programs to continue without the need for an executive order.  The Senate unanimously passed the amended bill 48-0.” (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

HB1127 Mental health and addiction forensic treatments.
This bill “does 3 things – removes language which requires termination of Medicaid coverage when someone has been in jail for 2 years so they won’t need to reapply for Medicaid; it allows recovery wraparound services for those individuals to ease their transition into recovery and out of incarceration; and finally, it requires the collection of demographic data by the division.” It “passed unanimously 49-0. The House has filed a Motion to Concur with the Senate amendments and will vote on that next week.” (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

HB1152 Unemployment insurance
This bill is the DWD agency bill to clarify provisions concerning the overpayment of unemployment benefits resulting from fraud or a failure to disclose wages. It passed out of the Senate 39-10. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

HB1220 21st century energy policy development task force
This bill “reestablishes the 21st Energy Policy Development Task Force and passed through committee unanimously. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

HB1266 Education building and transportation authorities
This bill “was amended to send the idea of establishing educational building and transportation authorities across K-12 school districts to an Interim Study Committee instead of allowing them to be created later this year. This change was made in response to concerns that the idea had not yet been considered thoroughly enough to understand the benefits and costs. The amended bill passed the Committee 9-3.” (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

HB1520 Electric utility reliability adequacy metrics
“The bill demands reliability for customers and encourages the use of renewables when possible without compromising reliability or afford.” The bill passed out of Committee 10-0. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

HB1008 Student learning recovery grant program
This bill “establishes a learning recovery grant program in response to the learning loss post-COVID-19. The bill will appropriate $150M from the state general fund for the 2021 state fiscal year to allow schools and other groups to apply for grants to cover the expense of programs to address the learning loss of students who have fallen behind academically. To be eligible for the grants, an entity must develop and submit a student learning plan. Virtual programs are not eligible for funding…” The bill passed out of committee unanimously. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

HB1402 All payer claims data base
This bill defines the Advisory Board that will oversee the All-Payer Claims Database (APCD) that was established in 2020. The APCD will ultimately be a repository for all healthcare claims in Indiana. The data will be accessible to consumers, state agencies, policy makers, etc. as a free online portal that compares cost and quality. Passed through committee unanimously. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

HB 1220 21st century energy policy development task force
Utility consumers and Indiana’s public finance arm will likely have a voice on a task force charged with developing the state’s energy policy. Democrats object to the partisan makeup of the task force.(WFIU)

HB 1190 Overweight truck permits
The Sheriff of Lawrence County says allowing 120,000-pound trucks on state and local roads could pose a serious threat to public safety.HB 1190 (currently under consideration by the Indiana Senate) would allow virtually any truck to operate at 120,000 pounds on state and local roads – up from the current 80,000-pound limit. Read more at Indy Politics

HB 1453 Judicial selection in Lake and St. Joseph counties
Changes judicial selection in Lake and St. Joseph counties. Passed narrowly out of committee with amendments. Read more at Indiana Courts.

HB 1004 Small business restart grant program
The Indiana Senate has passed legislation that would create a grant program for small businesses struggling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and has doubled the amount of funding that would be available for the program.  The bill has been changed and so goes back to the House. Read more at IBJ.

HB 1283 Urban agricultural zones
Addresses the establishment of community gardens. This bill provides that a qualifying farmer may apply to a designating body to have an area designated as an urban agricultural zone. In the Senate it has not passed the Committee on Agriculture. It has been reassigned to Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy

Senate Bill 79 Protection orders and domestic battery
This bill has been returned to the Senate with amendments. SB 79 proposes several protections for survivors of domestic battery, including increased protection for minors. The bill has already passed through both the Senate and House. (Women4ChangeIndiana)

SB214 Low income housing
This bill will encourage development of more low income housing by allowing local governments to enter into an agreement with developers to establish a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) that will level-set the local taxes to be paid for a defined set of years instead of a usual property tax assessment that may fluctuate and increase more rapidly than can be economically justified by the development. The bill passed the House 94-0 on Tuesday. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

SB 373 Carbon credit programs
This bill would “encourage farmers and woodland owners to participate in markets for the sale of carbon offsets, and also expand investment in new public forestland, by providing new opportunities for private investors to buy Indiana-generated carbon offsets.” Passed the Senate in a bipartisan vote. (Hoosier Environmental Council)

SB36 Psychology interjurisdictional compact
This bill “makes permanent the changes implemented during the pandemic to expand mental health access for Hoosiers.” Passed out of committee unanimously. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

SB305 Physical therapy licensure compact
This bill “adds Indiana to the 29 states already part of the physical therapy licensure compact giving Hoosier PT’s the opportunity to practice in other compact states and PTs from other compact states to practice in Indiana. Indiana.” Passed out of committee unanimously. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

SB143 Pharmacy benefit managers
This bill “builds off of a Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) bill passed last year… The bill, which some stakeholders testify creates appropriate and necessary checks and balances for the PBM’s, and curbs PBM abuses and provides oversight, received extensive testimony. Chair Rep Martin Carbaugh (R-Ft Wayne) announced that due to the volume of amendments the bill would be held…” (Southwest Indiana Chamber)

SB 35 Statutes applicable to Lake and St. Joseph counties.
This bill reinstates the process for the Lake County commissioners to veto an ordinance approved by the Lake County Council, and for the council to override the commissioners’ veto. Passed the House unanimously. (NWI Times)

SB 17 Campground matters.
This bill allows a campground owner to ask an individual to leave a campground in certain instances. It passed out of committee unanimously with an amendment for a technical correction and so will go back to the Senate.

SB 255 Expungement
This bill requires criminal history providers to periodically review their criminal history records for expunged convictions.

SB 365 Immunity for physician wellness programs
Passed out of committee unanimously with an amendment and so goes back to the Senate.

SB 368 Juvenile Justice
This bill provides for the automatic expungement of certain juvenile offenses. Prohibits a juvenile arrestee who meets certain requirements from being housed with adult inmates prior to trial, with certain exceptions and more. Passed through committee.

SB 275 Property tax matters and waiver of penalties and interest
This bill would create a tax amnesty program for participating counties, waiving the penalty and interest of delinquent taxes. Passed out of committee.

Keep an eye on the Governor’s Bill Watch Page  to see which bills have passed the general assembly and are awaiting the Governor’s signature.

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

In other news

Statewide mask wearing will no longer be mandatory as of April 6. Mask use requirement in schools will remain. Read more at Chalkbeat Indiana.

House republicans were moving toward a resolution to end the health emergency, but since Holomb’s announcement that he will do so himself, that resolution is now dead. Read more at WIBC.

Indiana officials caution Hoosiers ahead of state reopening; health commissioner says pandemic …Chicago Tribune
A day after Indiana’s governor announced plans to relax statewide precautions meant to stem coronavirus spread, the state’s top health official warns the pandemic is far from over…

Coronavirus in Indiana: 977 New COVID Cases, 8 Additional Deaths, 59K Vaccinations – NBC Chicago

Indiana hits million fully vaccinated – Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

As Indiana mask mandate nears end, these 5 things are causes for concern to health experts – Evansville Courier & Press

The Indiana Supreme Court will not block creditors from seizing part or all of the stimulus payments from the latest COVID relief bill.  (WIBC)

Governor Eric Holcomb has tapped State Rep Holli Sullivan to be the new Secretary of State. Sullivan’s appointment elated members of the GOP establishment but angered the party’s conservative wing. Bad feelings between the two factions are setting up an exciting Republican Convention in 2022 when Sullivan will be up for re-election. Rob Kendall and Abdul-Hakim Shabazz break down why Holcomb picked Sullivan and how the State Convention might shake out.  (Statehouse Happenings. WIBC)

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has signed an executive order to extend the state’s individual income tax filing and payment deadlines to May 17. The move aligns the state’s deadline with that of federal tax filings.  (WTHR)

Former Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger, who surprised many when he announced his resignation earlier this month, says the pipeline of economic development deals may be the strongest it’s ever been. Schellinger says projected economic development deals include commitments for more than 13,000 jobs and $3.8 billion in capital investment.  (Inside Indiana Business)

Indiana’s attorney general maintains that the S1 and HR1 are unconstitutional and has promised to file a lawsuit if this sweeping voting rights legislation passes. (WBIC). The legislation is constitutional; the constitution does allow Congress to regulate federal elections. (National Constitution Center)

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