9/20/2021 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

Make your voice heard about redistricting!
From Common Cause Indiana—The maps shown the public last week will “continue the trend started with the maps of 2011. For both the Congressional and state legislative maps, the Republican super-majority has drawn mostly safe districts; ones where voters won’t have much say in who gets elected. So, we’ll have another decade of disengaged voters and low turnout. It’s not a pretty picture. 
 We’re also concerned about the lack of transparency and time the supermajority is giving redistricting. They intend to devote only two weeks to discussing maps that will largely determine the outcome of Congressional and state elections for a decade. They also have no plans to hold public hearings anywhere but the State House in Indianapolis.”
Our message to our legislators needs to be, “Slow down and give the public more time to study the mapping proposals and more time to tell the legislature what we think. Redistricting is too important to rush through and the public deserves to be full partners in this process.”
You can help get this message across by contacting your legislator immediately. Tell them you recognize the importance of redistricting and want it done right. Tell them the General Assembly must slow the process down and engage the public. Tell them to vote NO on any maps that haven’t been thoroughly vetted by the public. Send your legislator an email today >>

Indivisibles-the Education & Labor committee completed their markup, and we won a critical amendment vote on universal child care. The bill will now cap child care expenses at 7% of income for all families (whereas previously that would have only applied to families below a certain threshold of income in their state).

Our Congressman Frank Mrvan voted to support that provision, however, that provision is still not guaranteed to survive into the final package. 
We thank US Representative Frank Mrvan for his vote and encourage him to fight to make sure it remains in the final bill. 
Please send your thanks to the congressman and encourage him to keep fighting for Universal Child Care. 
1607 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC  20515
Phone: (202) 225-2461
Fax: (202) 225-2493
7895 Broadway, Suite A
Merrillville, IN  46410
Phone: (219) 795-1844
Fax: (219) 795-1850 Or send an email: https://mrvan.house.gov/contact

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

In Congress last week:
Passed the Senate, House next:
S. 273: Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill addresses certain driftnet fishing. Driftnet fishing is a method of fishing in which a gillnet composed of a panel or panels of webbing, or a series of such gillnets, is placed in the water and allowed to drift with the currents and winds for the purpose of entangling fish in the webbing.” The vote was by voice vote so no individual record of votes was taken.

S. 297: Reinforcing American-Made Products Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill specifies that the Federal Trade Commission’s regulation of the labeling of products as Made in the U.S.A. or Made in America supersedes any conflicting state laws.”
The vote was by unanimous consent so no individual record of votes was taken.

Coming up this week:
*The House returns to the Capitol from recess this week as lawmakers look to advance stopgap funding legislation that would prevent a partial government from occurring on September 30th. Additionally, *Democrats in both chambers are negotiating the parameters of their $3.5 trillion spending plan and preparing to take messaging votes on issues including abortion and elections.
*Read more about the week ahead in both Chambers at Causes.
*A procedural vote on Senate democrats latest election reform bill is expected Wednesday or Thursday. No republican support is likely so once again the filibuster will stand in the way of proceeding.
S. 2747: Freedom to Vote Act
GovTrack.us: “A bill to expand Americans’ access to the ballot box and reduce the influence of big money in politics, and for other purposes.”

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

In other news

These corporations bankrolled the sponsors of Texas’ abortion ban (Popular Information)

The Texas governor signed a new restrictive voting law. Read details of the law at Causes.

Biden’s Afghanistan Critics Are Dangerously Wrong (Crooked)

“The U.S. is flying Haitians camped in a Texas border town back to their homeland and blocking others from crossing the border from Mexico in a massive show of force that signals the beginning of what could be one of America’s swiftest, large-scale expulsions of migrants or refugees in decades.” (Associated Press)


Republican politicization of COVID has cost hundreds of thousands of lives. Joe Biden is finally on the offensive and placing the blame squarely where it belongs while he works aggressively to save lives. “In 2021/2022, the target demographic could be “vaccinated” and “vaccinated parents” in particular.
This isn’t so much an opportunity as it is an imperative. Republican governance costs lives, and we cannot afford to let them near the levers of power any time soon.”
Democrats need to take three steps:
First, they must make Republicans the face of the Delta surge and consistently assign them responsibility for the huge swath of unvaccinated Americans.
Second, Democrats must lean into vaccine mandates. The most effective language to use is simple:
“These types of requirements have been around for decades. Students are typically required to receive the smallpox and polio vaccine, and it only makes sense to require the coronavirus vaccine as well.”
Third, we need to entice parents with a message that critiques Republicans and touts the Biden Administrations’ efforts to control the pandemic — including the Biden announcement.
Because of poor vaccination rates, we will be living with this virus for a long time. “That sad fact is a direct result of Republican leadership and one Democrats must hammer home every day in every way possible.”
Read more of this compelling post, including polling that shows republican support for mandates from The Message Box by Dan Pfeiffer

There have been no COVID-19 outbreaks in San Francisco schools since students and educators went back into classrooms on Aug. 16, the San Francisco Department of Public Health announced Thursday, noting that about 90% of children ages 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated. (NPR)

“Unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely than vaccinated people to die from Covid-19, a large study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found.” (CNBC)

“The Biden administration has begun asking former inmates confined at home because of the pandemic to formally submit commutation applications, criminal justice reform advocates and one inmate herself tell POLITICO. Those who have been asked for the applications fall into a specific category: drug offenders released to home under the pandemic relief bill known as the CARES Act with four years or less on their sentences.” (Politico)

Climate Change

“For the second time in four days, this time out of U.N. headquarters in New York, leaders will hear pleas to make deeper cuts of emissions of heat-trapping gases and give poorer countries more money to develop cleaner energy and adapt to the worsening impacts of climate change.” (Associated Press)

“The Supreme Court announced Monday it will hear arguments Dec. 1 on a Mississippi abortion restriction that poses a direct challenge to the landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade.” (The Hill)



It appears Indiana Senate lawmakers will approve the state Senate redistricting map without any changes – regardless of what Hoosiers have to say at the only public hearing on that map.  (WFYI)

The maps aren’t good enough and shouldn’t be enacted until they are better.  That, in a nutshell, was the message repeated over and over Thursday to members of the Indiana House Elections Committee by individuals and organizations critical of the Republican-controlled redrawing of congressional and state legislative district boundaries. (Times of Northwest Indiana)

Critics of the new legislative maps unveiled by Indiana House Republicans say they “have historically extreme levels of partisan bias.”   (Indy Politics)

Indiana Redistricting Plan Criticized as Aiding Republicans –U.S. News & World Report
Republicans will keep greater control of Indiana’s Legislature than merited by the number of votes they receive, according to a political analyst …

“On a second day of rigorous public testimony, the message was clear: Many voters want more time before the proposed redistricting maps are set in stone and for legislators to hear their concerns… Critics accused the Indiana Republican supermajority of gerrymandering, or strategically drawing legislative districts to benefit the political party in power. Speakers said allotting more time for decisions that would impact the next 10 years of elections would allow Hoosiers to review the maps and give feedback, something they described as impossible in the short turnaround between the release of the maps and the hearing.”
“The committee is expected to reconvene on Monday for an amend-and-vote-only meeting, followed the same day by a full House vote on the committee’s report. The redistricting bill’s second reading is scheduled for Sept. 22. 
The Indiana Senate maps, which have not yet been released, are expected to get a public hearing Sept. 27.
The most up-to-date schedule of events can be found at iga.in.gov.” (Statehouse File)

 Republican redistricting plan released Tuesday shores up a suburban Indianapolis district for the GOP while not making major changes to a potentially targeted Democratic district in northwestern Indiana. “We’re approaching perfection as far as the Republicans are concerned,” Indiana University political scientist Marjorie Hershey said. “I think they just made sure that they further entrenched where they felt maybe they needed it.”  (AP Indiana)

Indiana House and Congressional redistricting maps released with little input from Democrats – WLFI
Common Cause Indiana considers the maps Gerrymandered. They say when that happens, voters lose faith in the election process. “A big problem with our …

Gerrymandering is the biggest threat to Indiana businesses – Hamilton County Reporter
Gerrymandering is the biggest threat to Indiana businesses. Posted By: The Reporter September 16, 2021. By FADY QADDOURA. State Senator. As a member of the Senate Elections Committee


Indiana high school placed on lockdown after student thought he heard someone loading a gun Chicago Sun-Times 
Lake Central High School in northwest Indiana was put on lockdown Wednesday morning after a student thought he heard someone loading a gun in a …
Indiana School After Report of Active Shooter – NBC Chicago – NBC Chicago‘Everyone is Safe’: Police Sweep NW 

“Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a 2018 federal regulation barring the possession of a firearm accessory that was used to perpetrate the deadliest mass shooting in American history.” (NWI Times)


The Democratic-controlled council voted 5-2 to reject the health order proposed by Dr. Chandana Vavilala that would have required masks be worn by all students, personnel and visitors inside every elementary, middle and high school in the county, including private and charter schools. (NWI Times) Two democrats– Christine Cid and Charlie Brown–voted in favor of protecting our communities and kids; three democrats– Dave Hamm, Al Menacha and Ted Bilski–sided against science and voted against simple protections for our children, our communities, and each other.

Indiana hospitals continue to take the brunt of a statewide surge in infections and hospitalizations spurred by the more contagious delta variant.  (AP Indiana)

Indiana ICUs Stressed by COVID-19 Surge Gripping the State – USNews.com  U.S. News & World Report
Indiana has had a slight dip in COVID-19 hospitalizations, but intensive care units are still stressed by the current surge in cases.

Indiana health officials announce COVID-19 testing expansion | WANE 15
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Department of Health has announced that Indiana will increase free COVID-19 testing across the state through a partnership with Gravity Diagnostics.

School districts have jumped at the chance to implement new state quarantine guidance that allows asymptomatic students and staff to stay in school if they come in close contact with COVID-19 in the classroom. The change allows students to remain in class rather than be forced to temporarily learn at home from worksheets or remote courses. To qualify the school district must implement a mask mandate with no mask breaks, except for eating and drinking. (WFYI)

Several major companies in Indiana including Eli Lilly, Anthem and Roche Diagnostics said they will require COVID-19 vaccines for their employees. But many other Hoosier businesses say the Biden administration’s proposed mandate to require vaccines or weekly testing goes too far.   (WFIU)

Unvaccinated Hoosiers and DUIs make Indiana a high-risk travel state (Statehouse File)

Nearly 1 in 3 Indiana schools not reporting COVID-19 data to state, ISDH data shows – FOX59.com – Data from the Indiana Department of Health shows nearly one in three Indiana schools has not reported COVID-19 data to the state …

Top Hoosier Republicans are pushing back on Democratic President Joe Biden’s efforts to bring a close to the COVID-19 pandemic by boosting vaccination rates across the country.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

Indiana Governor Takes Swipe at Biden’s Vaccine Mandates – USNews.com
U.S. News & World Report
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is criticizing President Joe Biden’s plan to require businesses with more than 100 employees to be vaccinated against …

Some students at Purdue University are receiving disciplinary action for failing to follow the school’s requirements for COVID.  (WIBC)

Women’s rights

A federal appeals court’s decision Wednesday means several, major Indiana anti-abortion laws stay in place, for now. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals halted an earlier ruling that struck down those laws.  (WFIU)

In other news

The city of Hammond is looking to use its $51.39 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan on shovel-ready projects.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

Indiana unemployment flat again – WISH-TV | Indianapolis News WISHTV.com
INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — For the third consecutive month, Indiana’s unemployment rate remained at 4.1% in August.

More than 6,000 Afghan refugees are being housed at the Indiana National Guard’s Camp Atterbury training base and preparing for permanent resettlement, two weeks after the first wave of evacuees arrived  (AP Indiana)

State health officials are asking Indiana residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites after the first West Nile virus case of 2021 was identified in a Lake County resident, and in mosquitoes in multiple other counties.  (AP Indiana)

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