10/11/2021 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

The For the People Act is now The Freedom to Vote Act. Support for this bill is crucial for the survival of American democracy. The majority of Americans want to know that their vote counts. But when the minority can manipulate where people vote through redrawing election maps our voices can be silenced.
Contact our senators:
Senator Braun: email– https://www.braun.senate.gov/contact-mike    phone–(202) 224-4814
Senator Young: Email–https://www.young.senate.gov/contact/email-todd    phone–(202) 224-5623

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 truth matters

Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo to address the violent threats facing educators, administrators and schools. Some are claiming that the attorney general has ordered the FBI to mobilize against parents who oppose critical race theory in public schools. Attorney General Garland did not single out opponents of CRT, but said the FBI would work with U.S. attorneys and federal, state and local authorities to develop strategies to combat criminal conduct and threats targeting school personnel. (Associated Press)

About COVID:

“A new rumor on social media falsely claimed that President Joe Biden commanded the military to dishonorably discharge service members who reject the Pentagon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. That’s not true. In reality, Biden gave no such direction, and legal experts said he wouldn’t have the authority to do so.” (Politifact)

“Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine does not contain fetal cells, contrary to online claims….” An online interview purported to make that claim, but instead it shows that the company used cell lines during testing—cloned copies of the same source that grow continuously in labs. (Associated Press)

Enacted, signed into law by the President

S. 189: Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2021

S. 1828: HAVANA Act of 2021

S. 1917: K-12 Cybersecurity Act of 2021

Last week in Congress

Passed the House and Senate and goes to the President next

H.R. 4981: To amend the Fentanyl Sanctions Act, to modify certain deadlines relating to the Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking.
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent, so no individual record of votes was made.

Passed the Senate, goes to the House next

S. 544: A bill to direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to designate one week each year as “Buddy Check Week” for the purpose of outreach and education concerning peer wellness checks for veterans, and for other purposes. 
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent so no individual record of votes was made.

S. 796: Protecting Moms Who Served Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “This bill requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to implement the maternity care coordination program. The VA must provide community maternity care providers (i.e., non-VA maternity care providers) with training and support with respect to the unique needs of pregnant and postpartum veterans, particularly regarding mental and behavioral health conditions in relation to the service of the veterans in the Armed Forces.
Additionally, the Government Accountability Office must report on maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity among pregnant and postpartum veterans, with a focus on racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes for veterans.” Passed by unanimous consent so no record of individual votes was made.

Passed the Senate with amendments, back to the House

S. 1301: [Increase of Public Debt Limit]
GovTrack.us: “On September 29, 2021, this bill became a House proposal to temporarily suspend the public debt limit through December 16, 2022. The Senate amended the bill on October 7, 2021 to be an increase in the public debt limit in an amount, $480 billion, that was projected by the Treasury Department to be the amount of debt needed through early December 2021 to not reach the public debt limit.”
Last Action: Senate concurred in the House amendment to S.1301 with an amendment (SA 3847) by Yea-Nay Vote. 50 – 48. Republicans filibustered the bill, but in a vote an hour earlier, 11 Republicans joined with Democrats to break the filibuster, knowing that the bill would pass and the economic crisis would be averted. Those Republicans then voted against the bill here.

The week ahead in Congress

“Democrats in Congress are continuing negotiations on their reconciliation spending bill and its connection to the bipartisan infrastructure bill off the floor this week, with the Senate in session to consider nominations and the House on recess.” The House adjourned until Oct. 19, although some business will take place and they may be called back sooner if needed. Read more about the week ahead at Causes

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

In other news

“Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee released a sweeping report Thursday detailing what they say is evidence former President Donald Trump and a top lawyer in the Justice Department attempted to overturn the 2020 presidential election.” (CNN Politics)

“The US Department of Education announced major changes Wednesday to a federal student loan forgiveness program that the agency says could bring relief to more than 550,000 borrowers working in government and nonprofit sectors, including around 22,000 borrowers who will automatically be eligible for student loan forgiveness without needing to take additional steps.” (CNN)

“President Joe Biden ordered the restoration of environmental protections at three national monuments that had been reduced by former President Donald Trump.” (Bloomberg

“The Biden administration announced Monday that it will cancel all remaining border barrier contracts within Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Laredo Sector and Rio Grande Valley Sector.” (Causes)

“More than 130 countries on Friday backed a landmark agreement to set a new minimum tax rate for companies around the world.
The agreement, which was brokered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), would set a minimum tax rate of 15% from 2023, and it has the potential to transform the global business landscape by cracking down on tax havens. But the agreement still faces a rocky path given that it must be passed by a closely divided U.S. Congress and be approved by each of the countries.” (NPR)

“The U.S. has agreed to provide humanitarian aid to a desperately poor Afghanistan on the brink of an economic disaster, while refusing to give political recognition to the country’s new Taliban rulers, the Taliban said Sunday.” (Associated Press)

“One America News, the far-right network whose fortunes and viewership rose amid the triumph and tumult of the Trump administration, has flourished with support from a surprising source: AT&T Inc, the world’s largest communications company.” (Reuters)

COVID “The number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.” (Associated Press)

“Pfizer and BioNTech submitted their formal request for Emergency Use Authorization of the vaccine for children ages 5-11.” (NPR)

“Merck said it is seeking US Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization for its experimental antiviral Covid-19 treatment, molnupiravir. If authorization is granted, the drug, made by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, would be the first oral antiviral treatment to fight Covid-19. It comes in capsule form.” (CNN)

“Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday it has asked the US Food and Drug Administration to authorize booster shots for its coronavirus vaccine, but has left it up to the FDA and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to decide just who should get their boosters and when.” (CNN Health)

The courts
“The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Friday temporarily allowed Texas’ near-total abortion ban — the strictest in the nation — to again be enforced after freezing a federal judge’s temporary block of the law. The state appealed the order just two days after it was issued.” (Texas Tribune)

“The Supreme Court’s ruling in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, expected by mid-2022, could declare a New York state restriction on carrying concealed handguns in public places unconstitutional. Such a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs, which include a National Rifle Association affiliate, could loosen gun regulations in many parts of the country…[T]his case is also noteworthy in that how the court reaches its conclusion could affect the Second Amendment analysis of all weapons laws in the future.” (The Conversation)


Indiana governor signs GOP’s contentious redistricting plan – AP News
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s signature was the final step in the redistricting for Indiana’s nine congressional seats and 150 seats in the state Legislature …
Independent analyses say Indiana redistricting will produce little competition – WFYI
The partisan balance of the Indiana General Assembly has been largely locked into place for the next decade by Republicans who drew new legislative district …

A judge on Thursday upheld the increased power Indiana legislators gave themselves to intervene during public health emergencies, siding with them in a lawsuit filed by Gov. Eric Holcomb.  (AP Indiana)
Indiana governor undecided on appeal of emergency law ruling – WISH-TV
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s governor says he will take as much time as he needs to decide whether to continue his court fight against a new law giving …
Rokita: Court’s ruling of Indiana emergency law puts power back into hands of the people | WANE 15
Judge upholds Indiana emergency law challenged by governor – WOWO 1190 AM | 107.5 FM

Lake County Councilman Dan Dernulc, R-Highland, absolutely loves serving on the financial governing body for the state’s second-most populous county and now he wants to serve in the Indiana Senate.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

President Joe Biden on Friday said he would nominate former Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.  (IBJ)

Less than 20% of Indiana rental assistance money has been given out – WISH-TV
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Only 19% of the $450 million in rental assistance money has been allocated to residents in Indiana. According to a U.S. Treasury.

The utility (NIPSCO) that provides natural gas for most of northern Indiana has asked state regulators to approve a 17% rate increase for its more than 800,000 gas customers.  (AP Indiana)

Indiana environmental leader announces retirement – WISH-TV
INDIANAPOLIS (Inside INdiana Business) — The executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council has announced his retirement after 14 years with the organization…

State agencies to discuss how large of tax credit Indiana residents will get due to state – FOX59.com
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana came out of the pandemic year strong, paying off for its residents. In July, Auditor Tera Klutz said the state ended the fiscal year …

Indy Politics talks with State Democratic Party Chairman Mike Schmuhl about his party’s efforts to counteract what they say are Republican efforts to restrict reproductive rights.  (Indy Politics)

The Elkhart County Commissioners voted to deny the needed zoning changes for a proposed solar farm project. That’s after the county council unanimously approved the project’s economic development agreement Saturday. (WVPE)

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