8/23/2021 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

On August 19 we met to discuss what Indivisible NWI is doing and will be doing going forward. We also asked for your input. What do you want to do? What do you want Indivisible to do? We talked about what we have done to register people to vote. At a future meeting we will teach you how to register voters remotely.
Our next meeting will be Thursday, October 21. Look for details and a link on our Facebook and Twitter pages, here on our webpage and in our emails and newsletters.

We also talked about voter suppression and the status of voting rights legislation in Congress. Perhaps most urgently, we discussed redistricting and gerrymandering—just as Indiana is gearing up to redraw congressional and state level election maps that will be in effect for the next 10 years. Public input now is vital to let our legislative officials know we want fair maps. Then we welcomed Michaela Spangenburg from Better Ballot Indiana for a very informative presentation about ranked choice voting, a system that would mean everyone’s vote really does count. Link to a slide show of her presentation here.

Other important links from our meeting:

A rundown of voter suppression laws from the Brennan Center for Justice: https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/voting-laws-roundup-july-2021

The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, how it addresses discrimination in elections, from the Brennan Center for Justice: https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/how-john-lewis-voting-rights-advancement-act-targets-discrimination

HR 1 The For the People Act could neutralize some of the new restrictive election laws because it creates national standards for voting access. Read an excellent point by point summary: https://hr1-cha.house.gov/
And more from from the Brennan Center for Justice (https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/research-reports/people-act-separating-fact-fiction)

HR 1 has passed the House. Read what is next for this bill in the Senate (S1): https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/567290-schumer-sets-september-voting-rights-fight-after-gop-blocks-quick-debate

Washington D.C. Statehood: https://statehood.dc.gov/page/faq
HR 51, The Washington D.C. Admission Act
S 51 The Senate version
Additional info about this bill at CNBC.
Some of the wildest republican arguments against statehood from Forbes.

We talked also about redistricting—it’s happening soon and Indiana is on track to continue to be one of the most gerrymandered states in the country—unless we the people speak up. Read more details below and contact your representative and senator: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/

Not only is 2022 just around the corner, but democracy itself stands on the brink, requiring action at every level of government. For the first time in a long time, progressive changes are possible, but not without work. If you’re ready to jump into action and volunteer with Indivisible NWI, email our president, Kim Eldridge at kimeldridgeevents@gmail.com


Republicans are on track to draw maps that keep and increase the number of seats they hold, making representation even more disproportionately republican even though Indiana is only slightly more republican than democratic. At the congressional level only two seats are held by democrats and those seats may be at risk. We must continue to demand transparency and accountability. Once a draft of the maps has been drawn, demand that lawmakers once again meet with the public for their input. Then demand an additional two weeks before the maps are brought up for a vote so that the public has time to review the maps and provide input.
Find  your representative and senator and contact them: 

“House Elections Committee Chairman Timothy Wesco said that the process (of redistricting) will begin in the House with HB 1581 and 1582 as the vehicle bills. “We plan to reconvene in September,” Wesco said. “We will have hearings in both the House and Senate. There will be public input on the maps. Members of the public can draw and submit their own maps.”…Wesco said all remaining hearings will occur at the Statehouse, telling The Associated Press that further delays in approving new districts could cause problems for county officials preparing for next year’s elections as well as dozens of potential candidates waiting to find out where the district lines are.”  Wesco said a map-drawing tool should be running in a few weeks after [the] release of census data at iga.in.gov/redistricting. (News and Tribune)

Read the report from a compilation of public input about redistricting during meetings held by the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission and then presented to the Indiana legislature. Encourage your representative and senator to read the report; it details what Hoosiers want from redistricting and how they think the maps should be drawn.

Click here to find your state senator or state representative.

In Congress this past week:

Last week the Senate and House were both in recess.
However, on Tuesday the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, HR 4, was introduced in the House and will likely be brought to a vote this week. The bill passed in the House in the last Congress, but was never brought to a vote in the Senate. This most recent version has been updated to address Supreme Court rulings that significantly gutted the original landmark bill of 1965.
“The new version of the John Lewis Act also requires all 50 states — regardless of whether they have a racist history — to submit certain kinds of election rules to preclearance. The list of election practices that must be submitted to federal review by all 50 states includes most laws that reduce “the proportion of the jurisdiction’s voting-age population” that belongs to a particular racial or language minority group by 3 percent or more. It includes all redistricting laws in areas with significant minority population growth. It includes certain voter ID laws, and it includes many attempts to close or reduce the hours of polling places.” (Vox) Read more about the bill in an excellent summary from Vox.

House came back Monday to consider the following (https://docs.house.gov/floor/):

HR 4 John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “To amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to revise the criteria for determining which States and political subdivisions are subject to section 4 of the Act, and for other purposes.”

S. Con. Res. 14 Setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2022 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2023 through 2031
GovTrack.us: “This resolution passed in the Senate on August 11, 2021 and goes to the House next for consideration.”

Senate Amendment to Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act HR 3684
: “To authorize funds for Federal-aid highways, highway safety programs, and transit programs, and for other purposes.”

More of the week ahead in Congress from Causes:
Monday will feature a procedural vote on a rule to structure debate around Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget resolution to use reconciliation, an election reform bill, and a bipartisan infrastructure bill. 
Democratic leadership intends to delay the vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill until after the budget resolution passes the House and Democrats negotiate a reconciliation bill that passes the Senate, although several moderates have said they will vote to block the budget resolution unless the bipartisan infrastructure bill receives a vote first

The House is expected to continue its recess after this week.

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

In other news

“The Texas Senate on Friday passed legislation that would end requirements that public schools include writings on women’s suffrage and the civil rights movement in social studies classes.
Among the figures whose works would be dropped: Susan B. Anthony, Cesar Chavez, and Martin Luther King Jr., whose “I Have a Dream” speech and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” would no longer make the curriculum cut.” (The Nation)

“The U.S. gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Monday, potentially boosting public confidence in the shots and instantly opening the way for more universities, companies and local governments to make vaccinations mandatory.” (Associated Press)

Voting rights

“On Wednesday, the Georgia State Election Board appointed a three-member panel to review election administration in Fulton County. The panel is newly required under Georgia’s new election law and is the first step in a potential Republican takeover of the Democratic county’s election administration.” (Democracy Docket)

“A standoff in Texas over new voting restrictions that gridlocked the state Capitol for 38 consecutive days ended Thursday when some Democrats who fled to Washington, D.C., dropped their holdout, paving the way for Republicans to resume pushing an elections overhaul…Many of the proposed changes to Texas voting that Democrats have railed against for months remain in a bill that already passed the state Senate, and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott could now sign the legislation in a matter of weeks, if not sooner.” (Huffpost)

“Georgia now has one of the highest voter registration rates in the nation, with 95% of citizens over 18 years old signed up to vote, according to federal election data released this week.” (Atlanta Journal- Constitution)


The Biden administration has approved updates to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), giving families who currently receive food stamps the largest single increase in benefits to date…New calculations mean that the average SNAP benefit will increase by $36.24 per person, per month, beginning Oct. 1. The impact will be felt by many, as the Agriculture Department says the program helps feed more than 42 million Americans (or 1 in 8) each month.
The exact amount will vary by state — you can check on the estimated increase your state will receive here. (NPR)

“Biden stood up on Monday and said “the buck stops here.” But he made clear he thought that buck had been passed to him by plenty of other people. He acknowledged that the U.S. footprint was now confined to the Hamid Karzai International Airport. He seemed stunned by the scenes of chaos there, the tarmac awash with would-be refugees, some so desperate they clung to an aircraft as it took off.
Yet Biden remained adamant about getting out of Afghanistan, even given the catastrophe on view on screens the world over.
Four presidents over two decades have found themselves mired in Afghanistan, wondering when they might get out. Biden grasped the nettle like no other. And he may well face the political consequences each of his predecessors managed to sidestep.” (NPR)


“For the first time on record, precipitation on Saturday at the summit of Greenland — roughly two miles above sea level — fell as rain and not snow…Ted Scambos, a senior research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, said this is evidence Greenland is warming rapidly.” He called it “unprecedented.” (CNN)

The Courts

“A federal appeals court on Friday said a pause on evictions designed to curb the spread of the coronavirus can remain in place for now, setting up a battle before the nation’s highest court.” (Yahoo News)

“Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied a bid to block the construction of the proposed Obama Presidential Center in Chicago’s Jackson Park on Friday, acting alone and without releasing an explanation of her decision.” (Politico)

The Census

Every state grew more diverse in the last decade, according to new census data released Thursday.  (Stateline)


“Indiana’s governor gave his support Monday to the growing number of school districts across the state issuing mask mandates for students and staff as they try to head off more COVID-19 outbreaks.” (WTHI TV)

Court of Appeals says Indiana can withdraw from federal pandemic unemployment program Fox 59
“Because we find that Indiana Code section 22-4-37-1 does not require participation in the CARES Act programs, the State’s decision to terminate the benefit does not violate the statute.”
But: “Indiana will continue paying out the extra $300 in weekly federal unemployment payments despite a court ruling that the state’s Republican governor had the authority to withdraw from the program…Those payments will continue because the state must give recipients a 30-day notice that they will stop, which extends past the scheduled Sept. 6 end of the federal pandemic unemployment programs, Indiana Department of Workforce Development spokesman Scott Olson said. ” (U.S. News and World Report)

Hundreds of steelworkers chanted “We build America” as U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, United Steelworkers President Tom Conway, U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan, Cleveland-Cliffs CEO Lourenco Goncalves and others rallied support Monday for a $1 trillion infrastructure bill at a Region union hall. (Times of Northwest Indiana) 

Governor Eric Holcomb Wednesday announced he is establishing a 15-member commission to examine Indiana’s public health system and make recommendations to improve its structure, funding, and operations. (Indy Politics)

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. is running next year for the U.S. Senate.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

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