10/26/2021 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

Your Indivisible NWI Steering Committee wants to be sure we are concentrating on the issues that matter to you and we want to give you every opportunity to get involved with Indivisible NWI. Please fill out this survey so that we can focus our planning for the rest of this year and into the important mid-term election year of 2022. Click here for the survey.

Learn what’s in the Build Back Better Act. The framework of this bill will hopefully be complete by week’s end. “This bill provides funding, establishes programs, and otherwise modifies provisions relating to a broad array of areas, including education, labor, child care, health care, taxes, immigration, and the environment.” (Causes) The bill promises to be “one of the most ambitious and transformative domestic policy agendas since the Great Society of the 1960s or the New Deal of the 1930s.” (The Guardian)
And let’s call it what it is, the Build Back Better Act that will do so much for the country, not the $3.5 trillion spending plan, or reconciliation bill and other terms that focus on the cost (that will be paid for) and not about what it will do for all of us. Learn about it and talk about it

Indivisible National has launched a new campaign. The new initiative, named “Give No Ground,” will provide support to vulnerable incumbents who are crucial to Democrats achieving their agenda this Congress and whose districts and states must remain blue for Democrats to hold trifecta power in 2022. (Indivisible) Read how you can get involved. Read some of what the national press has to say at CNN and Forbes.

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

Politicians and human rights leaders condemned the appalling notion of excusing or justifying genocide when a Texas administrator instructed teachers to teach opposing perspectives on the Holocaust. Such distortions of the Holocaust have recently been revived in arguments that compare that genocide to COVID mitigation strategies. “The pandemic triggered a wave of analogies comparing vaccines and mask mandates to the Nazi persecution of Jews. Every news cycle stirred by such reprehensible analogies reinforced the illusion of “debates” over the Holocaust, propagating the notion that perhaps there is more than one valid perspective on genocide…This revisionism is not only an insult to the dead but also a danger to the living.” (Think. NBC News)

Enacted, signed into law by the President

H.R. 4981: To amend the Fentanyl Sanctions Act, to modify certain deadlines relating to the Commission on Combating Synthetic Opioid Trafficking.


In the Senate

S. 2747: Freedom to Vote Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill addresses voter registration and voting access, election integrity and security, redistricting, and campaign finance. 
Specifically, the bill expands voter registration (e.g., automatic and same-day registration) and voting access (e.g., vote-by-mail and early voting). It also limits removing voters from voter rolls.
Next, the bill establishes Election Day as a federal holiday.
The bill declares that the right of a U.S. citizen to vote in any election for federal office shall not be denied or abridged because that individual has been convicted of a criminal offense unless, at the time of the election, such individual is serving a felony sentence. The bill establishes certain federal criminal offenses related to voting. In particular, the bill establishes a new criminal offense for conduct (or attempted conduct) to corruptly hinder, interfere with, or prevent another person from registering to vote or helping someone register to vote.
Additionally, the bill sets forth provisions related to election security, including by requiring states to conduct post-election audits for federal elections.
The bill outlines criteria for congressional redistricting and generally prohibits mid-decade redistricting.
The bill addresses campaign finance, including by expanding the prohibition on campaign spending by foreign nationals, requiring additional disclosure of campaign-related fundraising and spending, requiring additional disclaimers regarding certain political advertising, and establishing an alternative campaign funding system for certain federal offices.”
Causes: “The vote went strictly along party-lines in the evenly-divided Senate, with all Democrats voting in favor and all Republicans opposed. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) changed his vote from “yea” to “nay” so that he can potentially bring the motion up for another vote in the future, making the final margin 49-51.
Wednesday’s vote marks the second time Senate Republicans have blocked Democrats’ efforts to overhaul the nation’s election laws this Congress, as a similar procedural motion on the For the People Act also failed on a 50-50 vote in late June
Schumer said Wednesday that it’s untenable for the Senate minority to block debate on Democrats’ election reform bill, foreshadowing a potential increase in pressure on Manchin and Sinema to eliminate the filibuster…” (Causes)

Passed the Senate, House next

S. 3011: State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial Fiscal Recovery, Infrastructure, and Disaster Relief Flexibility Act
GovTrack.us: “A bill to amend title VI of the Social Security Act to allow States and local governments to use coronavirus relief funds provided under the American Rescue Plan Act for infrastructure projects, improve the Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Fund, provide Tribal governments with more time to use Coronavirus Relief Fund payments, and for other purposes.” Passed by unanimous consent so no record of individual votes was taken.

S. 2899: Prison Camera Reform Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “A bill to require the Director of the Bureau of Prisons to address deficiencies and make necessary upgrades to the security camera and radio systems of the Bureau of Prisons to ensure the health and safety of employees and inmates.”
Passed by unanimous consent so no individual record of votes was made.

In the House

H.Res. 730: Recommending that the House of Representatives find Stephen K. Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusal to comply with a subpoena duly issued by the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.
The House voted to “hold Steve Bannon, one of former President Donald Trump’s closest allies, in criminal contempt of Congress after he defied a subpoena from the committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. The vote was 229-202. Nine Republicans voted with all 220 Democrats to pass the resolution: House Select Committee Vice Chair Liz Cheney, Reps. Adam Kinzinger, Nancy Mace, Fred Upton, Peter Meijer, John Katko, Brian Fitzpatrick, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, and Jaime Herrera Beutler.”
The vote “sets up a referral to the Department of Justice, which would then have to decide whether to prosecute.” (CNN)

Passed the House, goes to the Senate next

H.R. 3110: PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill expands workplace protections for employees with a need to express breast milk. Specifically, it expands the requirement that employers provide certain accommodations for such an employee to cover salaried employees and other types of workers not covered under existing law. Further, time spent to express breast milk must be considered hours worked if the employee is also working. The bill also extends from one year to two years the available time period for such accommodations.” Passed 276-149. Indiana Reps Mrvan, Carson and Hollingsworth voted yea. All others voted nay except Rep. Pence who did not vote. View the vote.

H.R. 654 the Drug-Free Communities Pandemic Relief Act
Causes: “This bill would authorize the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program, subject to certain limitations, to waive matching funds requirements that apply to grants for reducing substance abuse among youth. Prior to waiving those requirements, the program would have to make a determination that a grantee is unable to raise funds because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under current law, the Office of National Drug Control Policy administers the program and community coalitions that receive the grants must match a specified percentage of the federal award amount with non-federal funds, including in-kind contributions.”
Passed 395-30. All Indiana reps voted yea. View the vote.

H.R. 1029: Free Veterans from Fees Act
GovTrack.us: “To Waive the application fee for any special use permit for veterans’ special events at war memorials on land administered by the National Park Service in the District of Columbia and its environs, and for other purposes.” Passed 421-3. View the vote.

H.R. 4089: Darren Drake Act
GovTrack.us: “To direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop and disseminate best practices for rental companies and dealers to report suspicious behavior to law enforcement agencies at the point of sale of a covered rental vehicle to prevent and mitigate acts of terrorism using motor vehicles, and for other purposes.
Passed 379-51. All Indiana reps voted yea except James Baird. View the vote.

H.R. 4369: National Centers of Excellence in Advanced and Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “This bill directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to designate qualified institutions of higher education as National Centers of Excellence in Continuous Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and to provide grants to the centers. Each designated center must conduct research on continuous manufacturing technologies and must share information from such research with the FDA. (Currently, most drug production involves batch manufacturing, which typically takes longer than continuous manufacturing processes.)” Passed 368-56. All Indiana reps voted yea excdept Jim Banks. View the vote.

H.R. 1508: Guidance Clarity Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “This bill requires federal agencies to state on the first page of guidance documents that such guidance (1) does not have the force and effect of law, and (2) is intended only to provide clarity to the public about existing legal requirements or agency policies. Excluded from this requirement is guidance directed to the issuing agency or other agency that is not intended to have a substantial effect on the behavior of regulated parties, as well as internal executive branch legal advice or opinions addressed to executive branch officials.” Passed by voice vote so no individual record of votes was taken.

This week in Congress

The week ends with a deadline to extend funding authorization of surface transportation programs. There may be a vote in the House for the bipartisan infrastructure bill that would provide that funding. That vote, however, hinges on an agreement on the details of the Build Back Better Act. For a look at the week ahead in Congress in summary and day by day, including committee hearings, see Causes.

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

In other news

“A gusher of Facebook stories hit the web Friday night and will cascade into next week, as a consortium of at least 17 news organizations unfurl a series branded “The Facebook Papers,” based on documents from whistleblower Frances Haugen.” (Axios)

“President Joe Biden has once again refused to assert executive privilege over more documents that former President Donald Trump has sought to keep out of the hands of the committee investigating the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.” (CNN)

We are failing our children.  Those were the words that came to mind after reading two articles in recent weeks detailing abuse of power and trust with regard to our children and the criminal justice system. (Oseye Boyd, The Indianapolis Recorder)  

“The new social network founded by former President Trump may violate the terms of use of the software on which it is based.” (Talking Points Memo)


SCOTUS will hear arguments against the controversial Texas abortion law on November 1st.” The case will not concern the substance of the law. Instead “the Court will hear challenges that concern whether Texas’s private enforcement scheme can be used to insulate the law from constitutional review by federal courts and whether the federal Dept. of Justice has the standing to obtain an injunction against the state of Texas and its agents or against all private parties.” (Causes)

 “On October 29, Maine’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention will start enforcing a rule requiring all health care workers in the state to be vaccinated against Covid-19 — unless the Supreme Court intervenes to stop it. Does v. Mills is the first significant case to reach the justices that places a Covid-19 vaccination requirement against “religious liberty” claims brought by individuals who refuse vaccination. It is unlikely to be the last.” (Vox)


“Texas and Missouri filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Biden administration for its efforts to stop wall construction projects at the US southern border. The lawsuit…argues that President Joe Biden didn’t have the authority to refuse to spend funds Congress authorized under the Trump administration mandating the construction of the border wall.” (CNN)


“U.S. regulators on Wednesday signed off on extending COVID-19 boosters to Americans who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine and said anyone eligible for an extra dose can get a brand different from the one they received initially.” (Associated Press)

“In a rare move, federal labor officials have threatened to take over three states’ workplace safety programs because they failed to adopt emergency COVID-19 rules to protect health care workers…That admonition, labor advocates say, also serves as a thinly veiled warning that resisting the forthcoming federal vaccine mandate for most health care workers and employees at large companies likewise could cost states their regulatory power over workplace safety.”  (Stateline)

Beginning November 8 “For anyone traveling to the United States who cannot demonstrate proof of full vaccination, they will have to produce documentation of a negative test within one day of departure,” instead of the current three days, according to the White House. Fully vaccinated Americans will still have a three-day window for COVID-19 testing with negative results, but if they are not able to show proof of vaccination, they too will be subject to the one-day testing requirement.” (USA Today)

The research is unequivocal: police unions have a negative effect on innovation, accountability, and police — community relations. “Unionized officers draw more excessive-force complaints and are more likely to kill civilians, particularly nonwhite ones.”” Now police unions are inexplicably fighting against vaccine mandates. Even though 460 police officers have died to date of COVID 19, disingenuous police unions are suing over vaccine mandates. “…The head of the Chicago union pontificated that being vaccinated was a “personal choice” that government had no right to over-rule. That is especially ironic coming from someone who has been deputized by the government to enforce rules against the “personal choices” of, say, marijuana smokers, seat-belt resisters and gamblers….It’s bad enough that ordinary Americans don’t understand the difference between personal liberty and their obligations to their fellow-citizens…But these are people sworn to protect  and serve their communities–people who presumably became police officers in order to keep others safe. A “choice” to remain unvaccinated doesn’t simply expose the individual officer to a potentially deadly disease; it endangers anyone in the public with whom that officer interacts…” (Sheila Kennedy)


Governor Eric Holcomb is appealing a judge’s ruling regarding special session legislation to the Indiana Supreme Court. (Indy Politics)

The Indiana Senate…gained a new member. A private Democratic caucus chose Chesterton’s Rodney Pol Jr. to replace retiring Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes). Pol is a city attorney for Gary, Indiana. (WFYI)

 Governor Eric J. Holcomb today released the findings of a report assessing the curriculum, training standards, policies, and practices of all state-level law enforcement agencies.  (WBIW)

In an exclusive one-on-one interview with News 8’s Phil Sanchez, former state superintendent of public instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick explained why she believes Republicans are carrying out a “partisan crusade against public education.”  (All INdiana Politics, WISH-TV)

Indiana energy task force turns its attention to small nuclear reactors Energy News Network
As coal plants increasingly close in historically coal-heavy Indiana, the debate has intensified over how to replace the power from those plants…

Nearly 80 humanities groups around Indiana are getting a boost with a share of more than $800,000 in federal pandemic relief funding.  (WFIU)

Following the recommendation of its eviction task force, the Indiana Supreme Court has created a new program to help prevent evictions.  (Fox 59)

U.S. Senator Todd Young says while he is open to reforming the filibuster,  he says it should still take 60 votes to procedurally bring a vote to the floor in the Senate.  (Indy Politics)

The Governor’s Public Health Commission met Thursday to discuss issues affecting the public health workforce.  (WANE-TV)

Indiana is offering $1.8 million in clean air grants funded by its share of the Volkswagen emissions scandal settlement in order to reduce diesel emissions across the state.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

Today’s tight labor markets, which seem especially pronounced among low-wage jobs, have led to considerable speculation about the future of work. Of course, the labor market shocks of the pandemic set new records of unemployment, and the disease likely caused a million Americans to die early. It is natural that we should anticipate many long-term economic changes. However, the likelihood that the pandemic has radically altered the prospects for low-wage workers seems pretty modest.  (Michael Hicks, Ball State University)


Some conservative Indiana lawmakers wanting to stymie President Joe Biden’s planned COVID-19 vaccine mandates for private employers are facing skepticism from their own Republican leaders and the state’s largest business group.  (AP Indiana)

St. Joseph County Commissioners on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would bring $3 million in federal grants for health outreach efforts to minority communities, saying they feared accepting the money could mean falling under federal COVID-19 restrictions.  (South Bend Tribune)

Senator Braun is urging Chicago police officers fired from their job for refusing to comply with the city’s COVID-19 employee vaccine requirement to cross the state line and work instead for an Indiana law enforcement agency. (Times of Northwest Indiana)  

On Friday, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott blasted U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., for offering to help Chicago police officers who lose their jobs for refusing to comply with the city’s employee COVID-19 vaccination mandate find new positions at Indiana law enforcement agencies. (Times of Northwest Indiana)

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