5/10/2021 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

Our democracy is under attack, but can be rescued by Congressional passage of legislation that will help guarantee every American easy access to the ballot box. State legislatures across the country are working to strip that access from people of color and those with low income. the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, The For the People Act (HR1 & S1) and Washington D.C. Statehood will assure that all voters have equal access to voting and equal representation in Congress.
John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,  HR 1 S1Washington D.C. Statehood

Contact our senators:
Todd Young: (202) 224-5623;
To email: https://www.young.senate.gov/contact/email-todd
Mike Braun: (202) 224-4814;
To email: https://www.braun.senate.gov/contact-mike

Find your representative and contact him or her.

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

Unemployment benefits are not holding prospective employees back from accepting a job. The unemployed will be eligible for an extra $300 per week in benefits through September. Hiring appears to have slowed and a number of reasons exist. If the demand for workers were high, wages would be increasing and they are not. Child care is still an issue, as is fear of exposure to the virus. Generally, eateries are complaining that jobless benefits are affecting their ability to hire, and yet that industry saw the strongest job growth of any during April. In addition, some jobs have not come back, requiring workers to retrain for other jobs. (Huff Post) and (Michael Hicks, Ball State University)


Congress was in recess last week. 

Enacted—signed by the President

H.R. 2630: Extending Temporary Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act

Congress will be back in session this week. The House will consider mostly non controversial bills. Some committees will meet. See the week ahead at Causes.

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

In other news:

The Biden administration announced the U.S. will protect gay and transgender people against sex discrimination in health care, reversing a Trump-era policy. “The action by the Department of Health and Human Services affirms that federal laws forbidding sex discrimination in health care also protect gay and transgender people.” Read more at the Associated Press.

“President Joe Biden formally raised the nation’s cap on refugee admissions to 62,500 this year, weeks after facing bipartisan blowback for his delay in replacing the record-low ceiling set by former President Donald Trump.” (Associated Press)

Florida’s governor signed the latest voter suppression law, in the name of election security, despite saying that Florida had no election security issues. Read more at Causes. The law imposes new restrictions on mail voting, makes voter registration more difficult, and modifies rules for observers in ways that could disrupt election administration. Read more at Brennan Center for Justice.

Read summarized details of Georgia’s new election law here.

The Biden administration is supporting the World Health Organization, India and South Africa in waiving intellectual property rights to the patents for COVID 19 vaccines, a controversial move that will take time to implement and is not a quick fix. (Causes) and the (AP)

“A federal judge has ordered the release of a key Justice Department memo supporting former Attorney William Barr’s conclusion that former President Donald Trump should not be prosecuted for obstruction of justice over episodes investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller. U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued that ruling in a withering opinion that accused Barr of being “disingenuous” when describing Mueller’s findings and found that the Justice Department was not candid with the court about the purpose and role of the 2019 memo prepared by Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel.” (Politico)

Facebook’s Oversight Board has ruled that Trump will continue to be banned from Facebook—for now. Read more at the Associated Press.

Is America a racist country? We’ve recently had comments from the President, Vice-President, Senator Scott, and various other political office holders and commentators. “Systemically, we know that Black people compared to whites are more likely to attend schools with less funding per student, less likely to obtain a job because of our “Black-sounding” name or even when attending an Ivy League university, less likely to obtain a home loan (even when having the same credit score), have their homes appraised for equitable value, more likely to experience pregnancy complications and maternal mortality, and more likely to have contact with police and the criminal justice system.” Read more of this thoughtful analysis at Brookings.

“Reported hate crimes against Asians in 16 of the nation’s largest cities and counties are up 164% since this time last year, according to a new study from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State University San Bernardino.” (CNN)

A federal grand jury has indicted the four former Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest and death… (NWI Times)

The officer who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks has been reinstated, although he does still face a felony murder charge. (CNN)


In another pushback against fellow Republicans, Gov. Eric Holcomb vetoed a bill (SB0005) on Tuesday that he said would have hampered the ability of local health officials to respond to emergencies.  (IBJ)

Legislators are set to reconvene Monday to make technical corrections to multiple new laws, allowing for an opportunity to override the veto on SB 5 as well as SB 303, regarding a new gasoline label for 15% ethanol and rules for underground storage tanks. 

Health departments speak about COVID-19 challenges amid possible override of SEA 5 Statehouse File

See the status of bills that reached the governor’s desk at LegiScan.

“Conflicting statements by government officials about pending lawsuits have led to confusion about whether the Indiana General Assembly is working with the Office of the Attorney General. Gov. Eric Holcomb and a private citizen, John Whitaker, have filed separate lawsuits against the General Assembly over the constitutionality of House Enrolled Act […]” (Statehouse File)

The state’s leading abortion provider is planning a legal challenge to a new Indiana statute mandating doctors tell patients pill-induced abortions possibly can be “reversed” — despite no reputable medical evidence backing that claim.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

Schools in high poverty areas are set to receive the most money in per student funding. “On average, the package will send $2,500 per student to schools, but around 90 public districts and charter networks in Indiana are expected to receive more.” The Gary charter school Thea Bowman Leadership Academy will receive the most per pupil funding of any school in the state. (Chalkbeat Indiana)

Learn which corporations and organizations contributed to political candidates, influencing legislation that failed or passed from Hoosier Action Resource Center.

Indiana’s health challenges during the pandemic have not been aided by the General Assembly. Indiana’s residents with the lowest incomes continued to pay disproportionately pay for government services when compared to the much lower tax rates or the weathiest Hoosiers. The health outcomes for Hoosiers continued to be among the worst in the country, outcomes made worse by COVID. Many Hoosiers with lower incomes had to continue working without adequate protections from their employers and so became sick. Many died. The state’s decision to not involuntarily remove anyone from Medicaid during the pandemic did likely save lives. The legislature, however, responded to such moves by reigning in the governor’s powers to issue rules; and mandates during a health emergency. The General Assembly did respond to any the other health issues that have plagued Indiana for years, even as these issues became more obviously apparent during the pandemic. (Hoosier Action Resource Center)

Gov. Eric Holcomb is set to reinstate a requirement that those applying to collect unemployment benefits actively seek jobs and be available for work—a requirement that the state has waived since the beginning of the pandemic.  (IBJ) Indiana to reinstate work-search requirement for unemployment South Bend Tribune

“Lake Superior Judge Thomas Hallett last week determined portions of the East Chicago “Welcoming City” ordinance run afoul of a state statute prohibiting so-called “sanctuary cities,” or localities that decline as a matter of policy to fully cooperate with federal immigration enforcement measures.” (NWI Times)

Judge alters ‘red flag’ process after Indiana FedEx shooting Police1
INDIANAPOLIS — All “red flag” cases filed by Indianapolis police will now come before a judge after an Indiana prosecutor was criticized for declining to use the law to pursue court hearings that could have prevented a man from accessing the guns used to kill eight people at a FedEx facility last month.

Franciscan Health plans to significantly downsize and demolish part of its Hammond hospital, one of the largest and longest-running hospitals in Northwest Indiana. Most hospital beds and surgical services will no longer be offered. On a typical day 50-60 patients are currently admitted to the hospital. It is also one of Hammond’s largest employers and a mainstay that helps surrounding businesses. Franciscan continues to build and upgrade hospitals and facilities in wealthier communities to the south of Hammond, which has an average income level well below the national average. (NWI Times)

Former IEDC Chief Exploring Bid for Governor Inside Indiana Business
INDIANAPOLIS – A former president of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. is exploring a possible run for governor.

Northeast Indiana population spikes, what attracts new residents? WANE
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Northeast Indiana’s population is growing faster than any other state in the region, with Allen County in the lead at 90% …

The Indiana Department of Labor is announcing new work rules for minors expected to go into effect this summer.  (Indy Politics)

Critics say Indiana COVID-19 law allows nursing home neglect Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Advocates for nursing home residents say they worry a new Indiana law expanding COVID-19 liability protections for health care providers will effectively block many lawsuits over neglect and substandard treatment that weren’t caused by the pandemic.

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