5/31/2021 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

Save the date: On June 17, 6-7:30, join us for a virtual screening of Racially Charged: America’s Misdemeanor Problem. The film exposes how our country’s history of racial injustice evolved into an enormous abuse of criminal justice power. Thirteen million people a year–most of them poor and people of color–are abused by this system. Read more about the film here and look for registration information in early June on our website and Facebook page.

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/

The truth matters

The federal unemployment supplements are not responsible for the large number of jobs openings. In Indiana someone taking the average unemployment from the state coupled with that from the federal government may make pennies more by not working. Most job openings, however, are offering more per hour than unemployment. While there are thousands of job openings, people collecting unemployment make up only a fraction of that number. (Fox 59)



Enacted, signed into law by the President

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.”

HR 941 Transplant Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “To reauthorize the Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act of 2005, and for other purposes.”


The Senate confirmed Kristen Clarke as first Black woman to lead DOJ civil rights division. (CNN Politics)


HR 3233 National Commission to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol Complex Act
Senate republicans filibustered the bill to establish bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 insurrection. Senator Schumer was unflinching in his remarks following the effort to move the bill forward, “The truth of the matters seems to be that Senate Republicans oppose the commission because they fear that it might upset Donald Trump and their party’s midterm messaging. I’m not speculating, that was reported in Politico [Wednesday]: that the Senate leader, Republican leader warned his conference that the January 6th commission could hurt the Republicans politically.” (Causes) View the vote.

Passed by the Senate, goes to the House next (Each bill passed by Unanimous Consent or Voice Vote so no individual record of votes was made.):

S. 325: A bill to amend the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act to extend the deadline for a report by the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children, and for other purposes.

S. 314: Klamath Tribe Judgment Fund Repeal Act 

S. 549: A bill to provide for the conveyance of certain property to the Tanana Tribal Council located in Tanana, Alaska, and for other purposes. 

S. 548: Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium Land Transfer Act of 2021

S. 550: Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Land Transfer Act of 2021

S. 559: A bill to amend the Grand Ronde Reservation Act, and for other purposes.

S. 108: A bill to authorize the Seminole Tribe of Florida to lease or transfer certain land, and for other purposes.

S. 144: Desert Sage Youth Wellness Center Access Improvement Act

Senators began their Memorial Day recess after votes on Friday. The House continues in recess. No committee hearings (virtual or in-person) are scheduled in either chamber during the week of Memorial Day. Read about what is expected when the Senate returns June 7. The House will reconvene June 14, although many virtual hearings are scheduled before that. Read more at Causes.

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

In other news:

100 years ago on May 31 Blacks in Tulsa, Oklahoma were massacred and their homes and businesses obliterated in the Black Wall Street Massacre. With at least 300 dead and 100 million in damages, no acknowledgment of guilt, or even of the event was made until recently. Even today, restitution has been categorically denied. 10,000 white people, along with law enforcement and the National Guard participated in the massacre. No charges were ever brought. (CNN Politics) and (CNN Business) Read a personal story and more historical context from The Conversation.

Three officers in Washington State have been charged with murder in the death of a Black man in March, 2020. Official reports and statements were wrong; two witnesses along with video footage show one of the officers kneeling on neck and chest of Manuel Ellis, depriving him of oxygen and killing him. (Associated Press)

Laws banning the teaching of critical race theory are being pushed through republican states across the country, leaving teachers uncertain how they can teach anything about race, race relations or current and historical events. (NPR)

UNC denied Nikole-Hannah Jones tenure, despite her impressive credentials as a scholar and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, including, significantly, The 1619 Project. “For the board of trustees to kowtow to criticisms of Hannah-Jones is not so much an admission of racism as it is a dedication to racism and its intention to distort, distract and destroy.” Read more at Poynter.

San Jose, CA was the site of the 15 mass killing this year, all with guns. (Associated Press)

Governor Gavin Newsom and later President Biden called, once again, for significant gun control legistlation. (Mother Jones)

Laws banning the teaching of critical race theory are being pushed throught republican states across the country, leaving teachers uncertain how they can teach anything about race, race relations or current and historical events. (NPR)

Lawyers from some of the insurrectionists are saying their clients were misled by misinformation stemming from Trump. Misinformation will be part of their defense. (Associated Press)

Texas law enacted permitless carry for handguns. Read what that means at Causes. Texas is one of 20 states so far to enact such a law.

Partisan recounts of mail in ballots are continuing. Georgia is the latest and Michigan will likely follow. These recounts of certified elections are a significant danger to democracy. (Associated Press) and CNN Politics)

Donald McGahn, who was Trump’s White House counsel, will probably testify about the Russia inquiry next week. (Link is NY Times, which requires paid subscription to access.)

“Manhattan’s top prosecutor has convened a grand jury that is expected to decide whether to indict former President Donald Trump should prosecutors present criminal charges in their probe of the Trump Organization…” (CNN Politics)

In response to a lawsuit holding the former president accountable in his role in the January 6 insurrection, Donald Trump’s attorney defended the ex-President, saying he is protected under the First Amendment and had “absolute immunity” while he was President to contest the election. (CNN Politics)

There is renewed hope for a bipartisan police reform bill. (CNN Politics)

For a balanced short analysis of the American Jobs Plan, see Center for Business and Economic Research. It’s NOT socialism, it doesn’t expand government either and now is a good time to address physical and social infrastructure.

Florida’s governor signed into law a bill that fines social media companies for deplatforming Florida politicians. The law is widely regarded as unconstitutional and simply a political ploy by DeSantis and republicans. (The Verge)

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, stating that “Vaccination is a personal decision between each citizen and a medical professional — not state government,” signed an executive order banning the state government from requiring Covid-19 vaccine passports. Governors in Alabama, Florida and Texas have issued similar legislation. (CNN Politics)

“Seventy percent of Americans favor vaccine verification while traveling by plane or staying in a hotel, a new PwC survey found.” (The Hill)

The Biden administration announced today that it will open up parts of the Pacific coast to commercial-scale offshore renewable energy development for the first time. (The Verge)

The world’s five worst pandemic leaders unsurprisingly includes the former president. (The Conversation)


Indiana AFL-CIO President Brett Voorhies said Holcomb was “trying to coerce Hoosiers into low-paying jobs.” “If he really wants to get Hoosiers back to work, he should focus on making sure parents have affordable childcare, more Hoosiers are fully vaccinated, and the available jobs are good, union jobs that pay living wages and provide good benefits…” (Associated Press)

Indiana Senate Democrats have a message for Indiana business owners struggling to find workers to fill open positions — pay more money. Senator Eddie Melton’s bill to raise the minimum wage in Indiana didn’t even receive a hearing during the legislative session. It would have been a gradual wage increase, not reaching $15 an hour until 2027. Read more at NWI Times.

Governor Eric Holcomb Friday signed Executive Order 21-14 to extend the public health emergency. Face coverings will be required in schools until June 30. Beginning July1 each school corporation will determine its mitigation requirements, including mask wearing. The continuation of the public health emergency “allows certain individuals who otherwise would not be eligible to administer COVID-19 vaccinations and allows the state to continue to receive pandemic emergency funds for programs such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.” Read more at Indy Politics.

Community Organizations Criticize IU Health’s Response to Dr. Susan Moore’s Death Indiana Public Radio
The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus released a statement. In it, Chair Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis) said the caucus is disheartened with the panel’s findings and applauded the panel’s recommendations.

“Gov. Eric Holcomb and Attorney General Todd Rokita continued this week to release conflicting press statements and file court documents in their dispute over the constitutionality of the House Enrolled Act 1123 lawsuit. In April, Holcomb vetoed the bill that would limit his powers during a state of emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic. Shortly after the General Assembly overrode his veto, Holcomb filed a lawsuit against the General Assembly.
Now the Office of the Attorney General has filed a court brief in Marion County Superior Court to strike the lawsuit.” (Statehouse File)
And more: Indiana’s attorney general argues in new legal filings that the governor is wrongly trying to use the courts to expand his powers with a lawsuit challenging the authority state legislators have given themselves to intervene during public emergencies.  (AP Indiana)

19 Republican lawmakers ask Holcomb to stop Indiana University from requiring vaccines The Indianapolis Star (paid subscription) 
Nineteen Republican lawmakers have signed onto a letter to Gov. Eric Holcomb, asking him to stop Indiana University from requiring COVID-19 vaccines. Indiana University is now reviewing this policy. (WGN)

Read about optimism for democracy and democrats in Indiana—from the South Bend Tribune. While we rarely carry a democrat for President, democrats have been elected far more frequently in statewide elections, or used to not long ago, and can easily once again, with some hard work and more effective campaigning.

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