6/28/2021 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference


Indivisible NWI and Brave New Films present a virtual film screening: Racially Charged: America’s Misdemeanor Problem Tuesday June 29  6pm central

Join us as we expose how our country’s history of racial injustice evolved into an enormous abuse of criminal justice power. 13 million people a year- most of them poor and people of color- are abused by this system. 
Akili Shakur from Black Lives Matter, NWI Gary and Saving Our Families will speak after we review the movie about how this issue has affected the African-American community. She will also suggest a call to action that allies can participate in to help further knowledge of this issue and to help. 
Our co-hosts are: Greater Lafayette Indivisible, Muncie Resists, Indivisible Indianapolis, Black Lives Matter NWI -Gary 
Please register: https://indivisible.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0odumtpzotHdcbM6wx85kBkTmQKY-GMF1d

We need national fair election laws. Some states, including Indiana, have draconian laws that make voting difficult, especially for those in heavily democratic and diverse urban areas. (Center for Public Integrity) More states are passing laws not only to make voting difficult, especially in heavily democratic communities, but to give control of election results to partisan lawmakers. The For the People Act, which would have reformed election laws across the country, failed to move forward for debate in the Senate. But that was just round one. All republican senators voted against fair elections, even to just debate the best way to do that. The For the People Act is being revised as I write this and will be brought to the Senate floor again. (Reuters) In the House the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is being tweaked and will be brought to the House floor for a vote some time this summer. Democrats want to make voting easier and more fair for all Americans so that our government is truly representative of the people.
See related articles:
The Seattle Times: Why you should care that other states are restricting voting rights at record pace
Brennan Center: Equity for the People
Vox: Joe Manchin’s sweeping new voting rights proposal, explained
Track election laws by state at Voting Rights Lab.

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

Critical Race Theory has become a republican rallying cry. Read about what it is (“Critical race theory studies racism at the systemic level, examining how policies, laws and court decisions can perpetuate racism even if they are ostensibly neutral or fair. Since its emergence in the late 1970s and 1980s, the discipline has expanded to include researchers in sociology, education and public health.”) and what it is not (CRT does not weaken “the public and private bonds that create trust and allow for civic engagement…” It does not identify “people or groups of people, entities, or institutions in the United States as inherently, immutably, or systemically sexist, racist, anti-LGBT, bigoted, biased, privileged or oppressed.” (Pew)
Critical race theory is “a collection of ideas, not a single doctrine, that explain why racial inequality and disparities persist long after civil rights laws and court rulings barred discrimination.” It “provides intellectual context for open discussions of race and privilege.” (Politifact)

Now Indiana’s Attorney General is voicing the republican misinformation about Critical Race Theory. He maintains that the subject of Critical Race Theory being taught in schools has been a point of contention between parents, teachers, and school districts throughout Indiana.  Because of this contention, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R) has laid out what he calls a “Parents Bill of Rights”; a list of what he says your rights are as a parent when it comes to interacting with school districts and your child’s education. (WIBC) 
“Assistant Democratic leader and member of the Senate Education and Career Development Committee, Eddie Melton (D-Gary), issued a statement criticizing Attorney General Rokita for what he called an “unnecessary and discriminatory overreach into education policy.”” Senator Melton went on to explain what CRT is and how it is now being used as a political weapon of the right. He went on to say, “I encourage Attorney General Rokita, as a leader of our diverse Hoosier state, to reexamine his statements on CRT and revise his ‘Parents Bill of Rights’ to retract the discriminatory and false claims that were made. I also want to encourage him to meet with me and the other members of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus to discuss this issue further and to get a more accurate and comprehensive understanding of CRT.” (Crusader)

Enacted, signed by the President

H.R. 49: To designate the National Pulse Memorial located at 1912 South Orange Avenue, Orlando, Florida, 32806, and for other purposes.

In Congress this past week:

Passed the House and the Senate and goes to the President next to sign or veto

S.J.Res. 14: A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to “Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources Review”
GovTrack.us: “This joint resolution nullifies the Oil and Natural Gas Sector: Emission Standards for New, Reconstructed, and Modified Sources Review rule published by the Environmental Protection Agency on September 14, 2020. The rule finalized amendments to new source performance standards under the Clean Air Act for the oil and natural gas sector, such as an amendment that removed limitations on methane emissions from such sector.” Passed the House 229-191. Indiana representatives Mrvan and Carson voted yea. All other Indiana reps voted nay. View the vote.

S. Joint 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”.
Causes: This resolution of disapproval would repeal the Trump administration’s rule that updated conciliation procedures for complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Read a more detailed explanation at Causes. Passed 219-210 in the House. Representatives Mrvan and Carson voted yea. All other Indiana representatives voted nay. View the vote in the House. Passed 50-48 in the Senate in May. Indiana Senators Young and Braun voted nay.

S. Joint Res. 15 A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Office of the Comptroller of Currency relating to “National Banks and Federal Savings Associations as Lenders”.
Causes: “This resolution of disapproval would repeal a Trump administration regulation known as the “National Banks and Federal Savings Associations as Lenders” rule.”
“The rule that S.J. Res. 15 would nullify undermines state consumer protection laws and would allow the proliferation of predatory lending by unregulated payday lenders using, among other vehicles, “rent-a-bank” schemes to funnel high-interest, predatory loans through national banks to evade state interest rate caps.” (Statement of Administration Policy)
In the House the vote was 218-208; House representatives Mrvan and Carson voted yea. All other Indiana representatives voted nay. View the vote in the House. The vote in the Senate was 52-47 in May; Indiana Senators Young and Braun voted nay. View the vote in the Senate. Read details of the bill at Causes.

H.R. 2441: Sgt. Ketchum Rural Veterans Mental Health Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “This bill requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), during FY2022, to establish and maintain three new centers of the Rural Access Network for Growth Enhancement (RANGE) Program in areas with interest from personnel and a need for additional mental health care for rural veterans. The RANGE Program serves veterans in rural areas who are experiencing mental illness.” Passed the Senate by unanimous consent so no record of individual votes was taken.

In the Senate

Failed cloture

S. 2093: For the People Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “A bill to expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and implement other anti-corruption measures for the purpose of fortifying our democracy, and for other purposes.”
Last Action: Cloture on the motion to proceed to the measure not invoked in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 50 – 50. Cloture is required to move past a Senate filibuster or the threat of a filibuster and takes a 3/5ths vote. In practice, most bills must pass cloture to move forward in the Senate.
This sweeping voting rights legislation failed to gather any republican support and so was filibustered from even beginning debate about the bill. All democrats voted in favor. Dems will now turn to the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, although at this point it isn’t a bill yet. It passed the House in the last Congress, but has not yet been officially written for this Congress. (CNN Politics)

Passed the Senate, goes to the House next

S. 2184: A bill to amend the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 to institute a trading prohibition for certain issuers that retain public accounting firms that have not been subject to inspection by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, and for other purposes
Passed without amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 272: Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “This bill requires federal agencies to make budget justification materials available to the public on a website. The bill also requires the Office of Management and Budget to make certain details regarding the materials available to the public, including a list of the agencies that submit budget justification materials to Congress, the dates that the materials are submitted to Congress and posted online, and links to the materials.” Passed by unanimous consent so no record of individual votes was taken.

S. 1251: Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “This bill authorizes the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish a voluntary Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Certification Program to help reduce entry barriers into voluntary environmental credit markets for farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners. A voluntary environmental credit market is a market through which agriculture and forestry credits may be bought or sold.” Passed 92-8. Senators Young and Braun voted yea. View the vote.

S. 1095: Colonel John M. McHugh Tuition Fairness for Survivors Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to provide for the disapproval by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs of courses of education offered by public institutions of higher learning that do not charge veterans the in-State tuition rate for purposes of Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program, and for other purposes.” The vote was by voice vote so no individual record of votes was taken.

S. 2255: Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “A bill to extend the trade adjustment assistance program for one month.” Passed by unanimous consent so no record of individual votes was taken.

In the House

Passed, goes to the Senate next

H.R. 1443: LGBTQ Business Equal Credit Enforcement and Investment Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill requires financial institutions to report certain credit application data to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for the purposes of enforcing fair lending laws. Specifically, financial institutions must report this data regarding lesbian-, gay-, bisexual-, transgender-, or queer-owned businesses. Currently, this data is reported regarding women-owned, minority-owned, and small businesses.” Passed 252-176. Indiana representatives Mrvan and Carson voted yea; all other Indiana reps voted nay. View the vote.

H.R. 2062 Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act of 2021
Causes: This bill “would clarify that considering age in any employment practice is prohibited, even if factors other than age motivated the practice in part.” Passed 247-178. Indiana representatives Mrvan, Carson and Hollingsworth voted yea. All other Indiana reps voted nay. See the vote. Read more about this bill at Causes.

H.R. 239 Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act
Causes: This bill “would eliminate copayments that the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) currently charges veterans who receive contraceptive items from the Veterans Health Administration.” Passed 245-181. View the vote. Representatives Mrvan, Carson and Hollingsworth voted yea. All other Indiana representatives voted nay.

H.R. 1374: Enhancing State Energy Security Planning and Emergency Preparedness Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “This bill authorizes the Department of Energy (DOE) to provide financial assistance to states for the implementation, review, and revision of a state energy security plan that assesses the state’s existing circumstances and proposes methods to strengthen the ability of the state to have a reliable, secure, and resilient energy infrastructure.” The vote was 398-21. All Indiana reps voted yea except Mrvan and Hollingsworth who didn’t vote. View the vote.

H.R. 983: Preventing Crimes Against Veterans Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “This bill establishes a new criminal offense for knowingly executing, or attempting to execute, a scheme to defraud an individual of veterans’ benefits, or in connection with obtaining veteran’s benefits for an individual. A violator is subject to criminal penalties—a fine, a prison term of up to five years, or both.” Passed 416-5. All Indiana reps voted yea except Mrvan and Hollingsworth who didn’t vote. View the vote.

The week ahead in Congress

The Senate is adjourned for a two week recess and the House will be in recess beginning on Thursday. In the meantime, the House will consider many noncontroversial bills. They will also consider bills to replace the busts of figures who supported slavery or the Confederacy from the Capitol, ensure the independence of inspectors general, form a select committee to investigate the January 6th Capitol riot, and a surface transportation package. They will also conduct committee hearings. Read details at Causes.

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


The Supreme Court sided unanimously with “student-athletes at National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) institutions, ruling that the NCAA cannot restrict schools from competing for talented athletes by offering additional education-related benefits.” (Causes)

“The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday sided with oil refineries in Wyoming and Oklahoma and against a consortium of renewable fuel producers in a 6-3 majority opinion by Justice Neil Gorsuch that was joined by all the other men on the life-tenured bench. The stinging dissent authored by Justice Amy Coney Barrett was joined by all of the court’s women.” (Law & Crime)

The Supreme Court ruled that the President had the authority to oust the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Mark Calabria, an appointee of former President Trump with broad powers over mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. A White House official said Biden would start the process of inserting an FHFA director who supports the administration’s priorities on housing policy. (Los Angeles Times)

In a 6-3 ruling that fell along ideological lines, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a decades-old California rule inspired by César Chávez that allowed union organizers to meet with farm workers at their place of work. (Cal Matters)

“The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of a Pennsylvania high school student who was suspended from the cheerleading program over a profane Snapchat post lamenting being denied a spot on the varsity squad. The justices’ 8-1 decision found that the First Amendment imposes broad limits on public schools’ ability to regulate off-campus speech delivered via social media, but the high court left the door open to educators regulating messages that are highly disruptive to school operations.” (Politico)

In other news

When President Biden announced a bipartisan deal for an infrastructure bill, he seemed to tie signing that bill to receiving a democrats only social infrastructure bill (American Families Plan) at the same time. He explicitly has walked back those comments, making it clear that he does support the bipartisan bill with or without the other. (Politico)

Derek Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison for the murder of George Floyd. (USA Today)

“An investigation by Michigan’s Republican-led Senate Oversight Committee found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in 2020, and recommended that Michigan’s attorney general investigate individuals who made false claims for their own ends.” (Axios)

Covid variants pose a real danger to the unvaccinated, even those who have been previously infected. Variants, including the Gamma from Brazil and Delta from India are infecting even those who have recovered from Covid. These variants are more infectious and deadly than earlier versions of the disease. They are also becoming more prevalent in the U.S., mostly in areas with low vaccination rates. Monoclonal antibody treatments have not been effective against these variants. Fully vaccinated people are protected. (CNN Health)
Check out this short video from Politifact on how to talk with vaccine skeptics and a link to answers to common questions about the vaccines.

“The U.S. government on Friday released a landmark report , mandated by Congress, examining “unidentified aerial phenomena” witnessed by U.S. military personnel over recent years. Driving the news: While the report found no evidence of aliens, it did find that UAPs could pose a threat to national security. The report issued by the intelligence community and the Department of Defense did not definitively determine what the military personnel saw.” (Axios)

A federal freeze on most evictions that was enacted last year is scheduled to expire July 31, after the Biden administration extended the date by a month. (AP Indiana) 

AG Garland is suing the state of Georgia, charging that its new election law intentionally targets Blacks to limit their access to voting. (Politico) Read more details of the law and what it changes at Causes.
“In 2013, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act by deciding that laws must have been created with the intent to discriminate against minorities, rather than just proving a discriminatory effect. Garland acknowledged that under the prior standard, the Georgia law likely never would have happened.” [Guardian / Sam Levine]
The lawsuit is “complicated by a pending Supreme Court case brought by the Republican Party of Arizona, challenging the statute under which the DOJ is bringing its case.” [CNN / Devan Cole, Christina Carrega, Fredreka Schouten, Evan Perez, Ariane de Vogue, and Dianne Gallagher]

In mayoral races across the country voters are turning to outsider candidates—and they are Black. By the end of the year more cities will be run by Black mayors than by republicans. (The Hill)


Butler University announced Monday afternoon it is requiring all students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated for the fall semester.  (WIBC)

ISU Opts to Encourage, but Not Mandate COVID-19 Vaccine  U.S. News & World Report
Indiana State University will encourage but not require COVID-19 vaccinations for students and employees when they return to the western Indiana …

Survey: Indiana ranks among least safe states for COVID-19 WISHTV.com
The results: Indiana ranks as the 43rd least safest states when it comes to COVID-19. Dr. Paul Calkins, a physician at IU Health, told News 8 it’s because …

Federal courts won’t expand vote-by-mail in Indiana any time soon after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a case on the issue Tuesday.  (WFIU)
High court declines to hear Indiana vote-by-mail limits case Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case challenging Indiana’s vote-by-mail restrictions.

The Penn-Harris-Madison school district is examining its teaching of issues involving race and diversity and inviting the public to a series of meetings after parents called into question curriculum they say promotes elements of critical race theory.  (South Bend Tribune)

An Indiana woman became the first person sentenced in the January riot at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday after entering a guilty plea and telling the court she’s since educated herself with movies such as “Schindler’s List.”  (Indy Star)

A federal judge said he’ll soon decide whether to block a new Indiana law that would require doctors to tell women undergoing drug-induced abortions about a disputed treatment for potentially stopping the abortion process. (AP Indiana)

Could Indiana’s 2019 “revenge porn” law be the first among similar statutes enacted in states across the country to be struck down as an overbroad infringement on the First Amendment right to free speech?  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

Unemployment rose across Northwest Indiana in May, eclipsing double digits in four cities; Lake County had the highest unemployment in Indiana. LaPorte County was third and Porter County eighth in joblessness in the state. (NWI Times)

The State Budget Committee has approved spending $12 million for engineering and design work on a planned $400 million rebuild of a deteriorating state prison in northwest Indiana. (AP Indiana)

Indiana reports hundreds of birds dying across the state  Purdue Exponent
The Indiana DNR is collaborating with the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center to …
Indiana calls on removal of all birdfeeders; sick or dead birds now in 15 counties – WISHTV.com

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