8/31/2021 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

Redistricting action from Common Cause Indiana:

Please call the top four legislators involved in redistricting today. Tell them Hoosiers deserve adequate time to consider the new district maps and that their plan to unveil and pass their maps over a couple of weeks in late September doesn’t give us enough time.  

Tell the legislature to show us the maps immediately after Labor Day! Tell them, when it comes to redistricting – we need time and transparency so show us the maps next week!            

Speaker of the House Todd Huston: 317-232-9677
President Pro Tem Rod Bray: 317-232-9416
Chairman Jon Ford: 317-232-9517
Chairman Tim Wesco: 317-232-9753

Here’s an idea of what to say: Hi, this is [NAME] and I’m calling because I’m concerned that the General Assembly is not conducting the map-drawing transparently or giving the public enough time to participate. Please release your proposed district maps to the public immediately after Labor Day.

We are in a time crunch and we must act now to demand fairly drawn maps! 

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


The Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission held numerous public hearings. It produced a report prioritizing redistricting criteria. Soon, the bipartisan panel will cap its work by drafting new voting maps for Indiana’s nine U.S. House seats and 150 state legislative districts based on the latest census data.  (AP Indiana)

A coalition of voting-rights groups is sponsoring a contest for Indiana residents to draw new maps for congressional and legislative election districts across the state.  (Indiana Public Media)

Enacted–signed into law by the President

H.R. 1448: Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers for Veterans Therapy Act

H.R. 3642: Harlem Hellfighters Congressional Gold Medal Act

In Congress this past week:

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

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. On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 418 – 7. View the vote.

S. 272: Congressional Budget Justification Transparency Act of 2021
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 423 – 1. View the vote.

Passed the House, goes to the Senate next

H.R. 4: John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021
On passage Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 219 – 212
The House passed the act strictly along party lines. “Democrats say the bill, known as H.R. 4, would strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which had been weakened by a pair of Supreme Court rulings over the course of the last decade. Its supporters say that would make it more difficult for states to restrict future voting access.” “Old battles have become new again,” said Alabama Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell, who introduced the legislation. “I want you to know that the modern day barriers to voting are no less pernicious than those literacy tests and those poll taxes. And what we must do, as we did back in the ’60s, is when we see states running amok, we need federal oversight.” (NPR) “Bipartisan majorities in Congress reauthorized the act five times, most recently in 2006, when then-President George W. Bush lauded the law and pledged to defend it in court.” (NPR) Activists are urging President Biden to come out in full support of ending the filibuster to pass voting rights legislation. Read more about the history of this law at NPR.

This week in Congress:

The “…House Armed Services is scheduled to mark up the massive annual defense policy bill Wednesday…” This process typically lasts for hours or days. Read about what is expected in the process and the final bill at Politico Huddle. Both chambers continue in recess. The Senate will return Sept. 13 and the House Set. 20.

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

In other news

“General Frank McKenzie announced that the last U.S. military flight departed Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul shortly after midnight on August 31st ― the Biden administration’s deadline for withdrawal.” (Causes)

Fact checks about Afghanistan from Politifact

Texas abortion providers are asking the US supreme court to block a near-total abortion ban that allows any individual the right to sue an abortion provider who violates the extreme law, a final effort to stop the unprecedented measure from taking effect on Wednesday. (The Guardian)

“Sirhan Sirhan, the man convicted of assassinating Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in 1968, was recommended for parole on Friday”after serving 53 years in prison. He is 77 years old. (CNN)

The unclassified version of the report about the origin of Covid-19 was inconclusive. “The intelligence community is still split on whether the virus was spread to humans from an infected animal or from a laboratory accident. The report said that while most agencies “assess with low confidence” that Covid “was probably not genetically engineered,” there wasn’t enough evidence to reach a firm conclusion.” (Politico)

The last decade saw considerable concern over rising income inequality in the United States. Academic work by Thomas Piketty and the populist backlash that fueled the presidential campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump brought this concern to mainstream America. Over the past few years, several researchers, including my colleagues and I at Ball State, have argued that regional inequality was an equal, if not more pressing, worry.  (Michael Hicks, Ball State University)

“New research from Columbia University’s Center on Poverty and Social Policy finds that the first child tax credit payment has already contributed to the child poverty rate dropping from 15.8% in June to 11.9% in July, or a decline of 25%.” (Business Insider)

The courts

“The Supreme Court on Thursday night blocked the Biden administration’s new eviction ban, in a ruling that left millions of Americans at risk of losing their homes during the pandemic.” (Politico)

“The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the Biden administration likely violated federal law in trying to end a Trump-era program that forces people to wait in Mexico while seeking asylum in the U.S.” (Associated Press)


“Record rainfall that triggered deadly floods in Western Europe in July was made between 1.2 and 9 times more likely by human-caused climate change, according to a new study.” (CNN)


“This year’s tumultous debates over whether American racism exists, who perpetuates it, and how it should be taught in K-12 classroom settings has saturated the nation’s thousands of school districts.

About 26 states now have taken steps to curb various aspects of how teachers discuss with students America’s racist past and how districts fight systemic racism. Many take effect this fall, and some of them contain penalties for teachers and administrators, including the loss of their license or fines.” Read about the backlash from incorporating diversity training and striving for equity in the schools to categorically or implied threatening educators to prevent teaching America’s history of racism at EdWeek.


“Some election security experts warn that the efforts to audit the 2020 election results backed by former President Donald Trump could actually make future elections “wide open” to voter fraud.” (Newsweek)

“Republican efforts questioning the outcome of the 2020 presidential race have led to voting system breaches that election security experts say pose a heightened risk to future elections.” (Associated Press)

“Wisconsin lawmakers will spend hundreds of thousands to review the presidential election and will soon issue subpoenas as part of their effort, according to Reince Priebus, the former head of the state and national arms of the Republican Party.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Judges have restored voting rights to an estimated 55,000 North Carolinians on parole or probation for a felony.

GOP state lawmakers, who were defending the law in court, plan to appeal Monday’s ruling to a higher court. But if the ruling is upheld on appeal, then people convicted of felonies in North Carolina will regain their right to vote once they leave prison.” (The News & Observer)

January 6 insurrection

“Despite racist vitriol and threats on his life, Lt. Michael Byrd, the U.S. Capitol Police Officer who fatally shot Ashli Babbitt during the Jan. 6 insurrection, defended his actions and revealed his identity in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt that aired Thursday evening.” “I know that day I saved countless lives,” Byrd told the network. “I know members of Congress, as well as my fellow officers and staff, were in jeopardy and in serious danger. And that’s my job.” (Politico Huddle)

“The select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is seeking a massive tranche of records from social media companies, on whose platforms many defendants charged in the Capitol attack planned and coordinated their actions.” The committee gave them two weeks to comply. (Politico)


Indiana juniors, who were freshmen when the COVID-19 pandemic first closed schools, will experience another first next spring: They will be required to sit for the SAT. 
At a time when many colleges and universities are dropping standardized test scores from their application considerations, Indiana will instead require all juniors to sit for the test as one possible path to graduation. (Chalkbeat Indiana)

The state is still forcing people to repay overpaid unemployment money, even if they legitimately received the money they were given.  (WIBC)

Governor Holcomb says Indiana is willing to serve as a temporary home for Afghan refugees, but needs more answers from the Biden administration.  (WIBC)

One year after the state launched an optional program to help landlords and tenants see if they can reach an eviction settlement out of court, tenant advocates say the program hasn’t seen enough buy-in to be effective,  (WFYI)

Indiana’s exasperated state health commissioner on Friday called out schools and other officials for not following evidence-based recommendations amid a COVID-19 surge that is now hitting children.  (Journal Gazette)

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surge across Indiana, health systems are beginning to take steps not seen in months.  (Indiana Public Media)

Indiana’s governor can go ahead with a lawsuit challenging the increased power state legislators gave themselves to intervene during public health emergencies, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday.  (IBJ)

The head of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus said Gov. Eric Holcomb is moving at a snail’s pace when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion. Rep. Robin Shackleford (D-Indianapolis) gives Holcomb a near-failing grade for his performance so far.  (WFYI)

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