5/23/2021 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.

Contact your Indiana senator and representative to demand that district maps are fairly drawn. See details of the latest redistricting information below and read the report issued by Common Cause Indiana.

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/


Groups working together to advocate for fairly drawn maps in Indiana have released a report this week. The Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission (ICRC) was formed by the All IN for Democracy coalition in early January 2021 after an open application process that yielded nearly three hundred candidates. It is composed of nine Indiana voters: three Republicans, three Democrats, and three who are neither Republican nor Democrat. Public forums were conducted in each congressional district with a 10th follow-up meeting after all the others had taken place. (You can view the forums here.) All Hoosiers were invited to attend each virtual forum. Common Cause Indiana has issued an eight page report summarizing public input into redistricting. Public preferences for the criteria for the drawing of the maps in each district are detailed. The report has been given to Indiana legislative leaders with the hope they will give serious considerations to the guidelines laid out in the report. Although leaders have said that the drawing of the district maps will be transparent, most have not offered opinions or comments about the report. It is now up to each of us to hold our legislative representatives accountable to what the we and our fellow Hoosiers want. Districts must be drawn fairly so that voters truly choose their representatives; politicians should not be choosing their voters. The maps will be drawn in late summer or early fall when final census information is released to the states. Read more:

Legislative leaders offer little in response to redistricting recommendations The Statehouse File .
This week, legislators were given an eight-page report from the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission, based on testimony gathered during 10 virtual public hearings that drew about 900 participants across the state.

Activists seek 30-day review of Indiana redistricting plan Associated Press
Voting rights activists on Wednesday urged Indiana legislative leaders to give the public at least a month to review proposed new congressional and state election district maps before they are finalized.



Passed the House and the Senate and signed into law by the President

S 937 COVID 19 Hate Crimes Act 
Govtrack.us: “A bill to facilitate the expedited review of COVID-19 hate crimes, and for other purposes.” Read the summary at Govtrack.us and more details at Causes. The vote was 364-62 in the House. View the vote in the House. The vote in the Senate was in April and the only nay was Josh Hawley.

Passed the House and Senate:

H.R. 1318: Alaska Tourism Restoration Act
GovTrack.us: “To restrict the imposition by the Secretary of Homeland Security of fines, penalties, duties, or tariffs applicable only to coastwise voyages, or prohibit otherwise qualified non-United States citizens from serving as crew, on specified vessels transporting passengers between the State of Washington and the State of Alaska, to address a Canadian cruise ship ban and the extraordinary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Alaskan communities, and for other purposes.” Passed without objection in the House and by unanimous consent in the Senate. No record of individual votes was taken.

Passed the House, goes to the Senate next:

H.R. 3233: National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex Act
GovTrack.us: “To establish the National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex, and for other purposes.” Read the summary. Passed 252-217. View the vote.

H.R. 3237: Emergency Security Supplemental to Respond to January 6th Appropriations Act, 2021
GovTrack.us: “This bill provides $1.9 billion in FY2021 emergency supplemental appropriations for the legislative branch and federal agencies to respond to the attack on the U.S. Capitol Complex that occurred on January 6, 2021. Passed 213-212. View the vote.

H.R. 2911: VA Transparency & Trust Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit to Congress a plan for obligating and expending Coronavirus pandemic funding made available to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.” Passed 411-4. View the vote.

H.R. 1629: Fairness in Orphan Drug Exclusivity Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill limits which orphan drugs may be granted a market exclusivity period by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (Generally, an orphan drug is one that is not economically viable because of the rarity of the disease that it treats. The sponsor of an FDA-designated orphan drug may be granted various incentives, such as a seven-year period in which the FDA may not grant market approval to a different sponsor for the same drug to treat the same disease.)” Passed 402-23. View the vote.

The following noncontroversial bills passed by voice vote so no record of individual votes was made.

HR 3146 SAVE Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “To amend the Defense Production Act of 1950 to ensure the supply of certain medical materials essential to national defense, and for other purposes.”

H.R. 3125: COVID-19 Emergency Medical Supplies Enhancement Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “To enhance authorities under the Defense Production Act of 1950 to respond to the COVID-19 emergency, to provide additional oversight of such authorities, and for other purposes.”

H.R. 2959: COVID-19 Fraud Prevention Act
GovTrack.us: “To establish the Consumer and Investor Fraud Working Group to help protect consumers and investors from fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic, to assist consumers and investors affected by such fraud, and for other purposes.”

Passed the Senate and goes to the House next:

S.J.Res. 13: A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission relating to “Update of Commission’s Conciliation Procedures”.
GovTrack.us: “This resolution expresses congressional disapproval of the rule submitted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that revises the EEOC settlement process to provide employers with the factual and legal basis that the EEOC relied on to make a reasonable cause finding of a discriminatory practice.” Causes: “…Congress has the authority to overturn rules within 60 legislative days with simple majority votes in both chambers along with the president’s signature under the Congressional Review Act. If this resolution were enacted, future similar rules couldn’t be enacted without Congressional approval.” Read details of the rule and the resolution at Causes.com. The vote was 50-48. All republicans voted nay, with 2 not voting. View the vote.

Next week the House starts a three-week recess, although several committees will hold remote hearings. Committees will hold hearings on oversight of COVID-19 relief programs for small businessesinfrastructure investments at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, and science and energy research at the Dept. of Energy
In the Senate much of the week will be spend on voting on amendments to a package known as the United States Innovation and Competition Act, which aims to bolster U.S. competitiveness with China in economic, geopolitical, and military domains. Senate Committees will hold hearings on the Federal Reserve’s oversight of the financial system, the crisis in Ethiopia, and judicial nominations. See more on the week ahead at Causes.

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


“The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will consider a case involving pre-viability abortions this fall, which could reshape the Court’s precedent surrounding abortions.” Read details at Causes.

In other news:

May 25 marks one year since the murder of George Floyd. Read a thoughtful analysis of the worldwide aftermath from The Guardian.

“District Attorney Andrew Womble announced Tuesday that the deputies who fatally shot Andrew Brown Jr. last month were justified in using deadly force, saying Brown “recklessly” drove at the officers on scene while trying to flee arrest.” (CNN)

Senator McConnell does not support an independent commission to investigate the insurrection on January 6, as republicans unite in seeking to re-write what happened that day. (NWI Times)

“A statement released Wednesday on Capitol Police letterhead, said to be authored by multiple officers on the force, delivered a rare public rebuke of top Republicans for opposing a proposed bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 Capitol riot that injured scores on their force.” (Politico)

“Inequality in the U.S. is worsening by many measures — especially when it comes to employment.” (Axios)

“The New York state attorney general’s office has widened its probe into the Trump Organization to include an examination of potential criminal wrongdoing, according to the office’s spokesman.” (NPR) Read more at USA Today.

President Biden has signed an executive order that directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) to devise a plan for expanding access not just to public defenders but also to the civil court system, where legal representation is not guaranteed by the government. Read more at The Hill.

Arizona’s governor signed into law new voter restrictions that target the state’s current system of vote by mail. Read details of the new bill and what changes at Causes.

“The Board of Supervisors in Maricopa County, Arizona, has signed a letter condemning the ongoing audit of the 2020 election, calling the GOP-led Senate to end a recount they describe as a “sham” that is turning the state into a “laughingstock”…The letter was signed by Republican supervisors Steve Chucri, Bill Gates, Clint Hickman, Jack Sellers and Democrat Steve Gallardo. Republican Recorder of Maricopa County, Stephen Richer and Democratic county sheriff Paul Penzone also signed.” The board will note answer any more inquiries from the auditors nor till they attend a meeting to answer questions about “serious problems” the auditors have found. The seventeen page letter was sent to the senate president. (Newsweek)

Representative Val Demings is going to run against Marco Rubio for his Florida senate seat. (Politico)

Congressman Mrvan has filed his first bill, The Longshore and Harbor Workers’ COVID-19 Compensation Act of 2021, also known as House Bill 3114, would make longshore and harbor workers automatically eligible for workers’ compensation payments by establishing a “conclusive presumption” they contracted the coronavirus while at work. (NWI Times)


Governor Eric  Holcomb today announced that Indiana will end its participation in all federally funded pandemic unemployment insurance programs effective June 19, 2021.  (Indy Politics)

Groups ask judge to block Indiana ‘abortion reversal’ law  pharostribune.com

Indiana’s Senators Discuss Legislation to Support Economy, Boost Technology and Reduce Climate Change Impacts Indiana Environmental Reporter
Trey Hollingsworth spoke at Nature Conservancy of Indiana’s Indiana Agriculture and Climate Roundtable. Enrique Saenz. May 20, 2021. Despite overall Republican resistance to the Biden administration’s environmental efforts, Indiana’s two U.S. senators have worked with Democrats to introduce federal legislation seeking to boost the nation’s economy and technology while helping reduce climate change impacts.

Governor Eric Holcomb has named Amy Beard as the new commissioner of the Indiana Department of Insurance. Beard is replacing Stephen Robertson, who is stepping down on June 1 after 11 years as commissioner.  (Inside Indiana Business)

Gov. Eric Holcomb on Monday called out Attorney General Todd Rokita as part of state Republicans’ constitutional infighting over a new law about emergency powers.  (WISH-TV)

A new economic impact report shows maritime and industrial operations at Indiana’s three ports contribute $8.2 billion per year to the state’s economy, a 5% increase from the last report. The study, completed every five years, is based on 2019 data measuring jobs, income, business revenue, and economic output.  (Inside Indiana Business)

Indiana Unemployment Flat for April  Inside INdiana Business
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development says the state lost 600 private sector jobs, primarily in the construction and leisure and hospitality …

Nearly $2.6 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds is headed to Indiana public schools. In rural districts where income from property taxes is low, some of that money will pay for long-delayed building maintenance.  (WFIU)

Indiana University is requiring all students and employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations for the fall semester and is threatening to cancel class registrations and fire staff members who don’t comply.  (AP Indiana)

Notre Dame will require all staff and faculty members to get the COVID-19 vaccine before the fall semester begins in August, according to a letter from university leaders.  (South Bend Tribune)

And from the Indiana Democratic Party—the American Rescue Plan—Impacts on Indiana

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