11/08/2021 Weekly Legislative Update

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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.

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

Some parents and advocacy groups expressed doubt about the need for vaccinating children because they maintain that children do not die or become seriously ill from COVID-19 at the same rate as adults. To date 700 children have died of COVID, but childhood deaths across the board are rare. In 2021 COVID has become one of the leading causes of death among children. Vaccinating children protects not only them, but also their families and communities. “There is simply not an acceptable number of child deaths when such effective and safe preventive treatments are available,” wrote Beers, a professor of pediatrics at Children’s National Hospital. “So, for the same reason pediatricians recommend seatbelts and car seats, we are recommending vaccines for COVID-19.” (Politifact)

Enacted, signed into law by the President

H.R. 5763: Further Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2021 (This bill will be superseded when the President signs H.R. 3684: Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act: Funding Over $1 Trillion in Transportation, Energy, Water, & Broadband Infrastructure Programs that provides the funding covered in this bill. See below.)


Passed the House and the Senate, President next

H.R. 3684: Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act: Funding Over $1 Trillion in Transportation, Energy, Water, & Broadband Infrastructure Programs
Causes: “The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would provide a total of $1.2 trillion in funding for infrastructure projects around the country including roads, bridges, rail, transit, ports, airports, the electric grid, water systems, and broadband. Further, it would reauthorize numerous existing programs and authorize new programs related to surface transportation and water resources. It would provide $550 billion in new spending over five years; offset some of that spending without raising taxes and increase the deficit by $256 billion over a decade according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) — although proponents of the bill suggest that the deficit impact may be smaller or non-existent due to offsets the CBO can’t score.”
A breakdown of the major provisions in the more than 2,700 page bill can be found at Causes. Scroll down past opinions for a detailed overview.
Passed 228-206 with 13 Republicans voting yea and 6 Democrats voting nay. (CNBC) Indiana reps Carson and Mrvan voted yea; all other Indiana reps voted nay. View the vote.
“To reach a compromise, progressives agreed to release the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the holdout moderates made a public pledge to vote for the Democrats’ social spending plan the week of November 15th as long as the CBO score is similar to the White House’s preliminary estimate.” (Causes)
“The House of Representatives [also] passed a key procedural vote to line up eventual passage of the Build Back Better Act…The procedural vote sets up the conditions on the final vote, such as how much time each party gets to debate the bill on the House floor, and whether any amendments can be introduced. It also sets into stone what the bill will contain when it is finally taken up for a formal vote later this month.” (CNBC)

H.R. 1510: To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit to Congress a report on the use of cameras in medical facilities of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent so no individual record of votes was taken.

H.R. 2093: Veterans and Family Information Act
Passed Senate without amendment by Voice Vote so no individual record of votes was taken.

S. 108: A bill to authorize the Seminole Tribe of Florida to lease or transfer certain land, and for other purposes.
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 425 – 2 

Passed the House, goes to the Senate next

H.R. 3992: POJA Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “This bill prohibits employers from limiting, segregating, or classifying job applicants based on an applicant’s age.” Passed 224-200. Indiana reps Mrvan, Carson and Hollingsworth voted yea and all others voted nay. View the vote.

H.R. 1917: Hazard Eligibility and Local Projects Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 409 – 16

H.R. 1339: Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act
GovTrack.us: “To require the Secretary of Transportation to establish an advanced air mobility interagency working group, and for other purposes.” Passed 383-41 with all Indiana reps voting yea except Jim Banks. View the vote.

H.R. 3193: E-BRIDGE Act
GovTrack.us: “To amend the Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965 to provide for a high-speed broadband deployment initiative.”
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 410 – 16

H.R. 3709: Preliminary Damage Assessment Improvement Act of 2021
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 402 – 11

H.R. 2220: To amend title 40, United States Code, to modify the treatment of certain bargain-price options to purchase at less than fair market value, and for other purposes.
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 416 – 4

H.R. 1619: Catawba Indian Nation Lands Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill ratifies and confirms the actions of the Department of the Interior to take into trust approximately 17 acres of land in Cleveland County, North Carolina, for the benefit of the Catawba Indian Nation. The land is made part of the Catawba Reservation.” The bill allows gaming on the land taken into trust for the tribe.” The vote was 361-55. All Indiana reps voted yea except for Trey Hollingsworth. View the vote.

H.R. 2758: Lumbee Recognition Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill extends federal recognition to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and makes its members eligible for the services and benefits provided to members of federally recognized tribes.” The vote was 357-59. All Indiana reps voted yea except for Trey Hollingsworth. View the vote.

H.R. 1975: Pala Band of Mission Indians Land Transfer Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “This bill directs the Department of the Interior to take approximately 721.12 acres of land in San Diego County, California, into trust for the benefit of the Pala Band of Mission Indians, if the tribe transfers title to that land to the United States. The land is made part of the Pala Indian Reservation. The vote was 397-25. All Indiana reps voted yea except for James Baird. View the vote.

H.R. 5221: Urban Indian Health Confer Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to confer with urban Indian organizations regarding health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives living in urban areas.” The vote was 406-17. All Indiana reps voted yea. View the vote.

H.R. 3616: Bear River National Heritage Area Study Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill directs the Department of the Interior to conduct a study to assess the suitability and feasibility of designating the study area, including areas in Utah and Idaho that are within the main drainage area of the Bear River, as a National Heritage Area, to be known as the Bear River National Heritage Area.” Passed 399-23 with all Indiana reps voting yea. View the vote.

H.R. 4881: Old Pascua Community Land Acquisition Act
GovTrack.us “This bill directs the Department of the Interior to take tribally owned lands in Pima County, Arizona, into trust for the benefit of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona. Lands taken into trust shall be part of the Pascua Yaqui Reservation.” Passed 375-45. All Indiana reps voted yea. View the vote.

H.R. 2088: Eastern Band of Cherokee Historic Lands Reacquisition Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill takes specified lands and easements in Monroe County, Tennessee, into trust for the use and benefit of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. These lands include the Sequoyah Museum, the Chota Memorial, the Tanasi Memorial, and land to provide support for these properties and cultural programs.” Passed 407-16 with all Indiana reps voting yea except for James Baird. View the vote.

H.R. 3469: Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Act of 2021
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 418 – 2

H.R. 4256: Investing in Main Street Act of 2021
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 413 – 10

H.R. 3462: SBA Cyber Awareness Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 423 – 0

H.R. 4481: Small Business 7(a) Loan Agent Transparency Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 407 – 9

H.R. 4531: 7(a) Loan Agent Oversight Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 411 – 9

H.R. 4515: Small Business Development Center Cyber Training Act of 2021
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 409 – 14


S. 4: John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2021
Cloture on the motion to proceed to the measure not invoked in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 50 – 49.
This bill is provisionally dead due to a failed vote for cloture on November 3, 2021. Cloture is required to move past a Senate filibuster or the threat of a filibuster and takes a 3/5ths vote. In practice, most bills must pass cloture to move forward in the Senate.

“For the fourth time, Senate Republicans blocked the consideration of Dilawar Syed, the CEO of a healthcare AI company and President Joe Biden’s nominee to serve as deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration, in the Senate’s Small Business Committee. If confirmed, Syed would be the highest-ranking official in the federal government who is a practicing Muslim.” (Business Insider)

“Robert Santos was confirmed Thursday as the next U.S. Census Bureau director, becoming the first person of color to lead the nation’s largest statistical agency on a permanent basis.
The Senate approved Santos, a third-generation Mexican American statistician from San Antonio, Texas, for the job overseeing a bureau that conducts the once-a-decade census, often described as the nation’s largest civilian mobilization, as well as surveys that create the data infrastructure of the nation.” (NBC News)

Passed the Senate, goes to the House next

S. 1064: RENACER Act
GovTrack.us: “A bill to advance the strategic alignment of United States diplomatic tools toward the realization of free, fair, and transparent elections in Nicaragua and to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to protect the fundamental freedoms and human rights of the people of Nicaragua, and for other purposes.” Passed Senate with an amendment by Voice Vote so no individual record of votes was made.

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

In other news

“World Food Programme chief David Beasley posted a summary of a plan on Twitter today to show Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, how donating part of his wealth could alleviate global hunger. Beasley promised a “detailed” $6.6 billion plan within days on averting “crisis for 42 million people on famine’s edge in 43 countries.” Musk offered to sell Tesla stock if the WFP showed “exactly” how the money would solve hunger.” (Bloomberg)

The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse began. Read what is known about what happened the night he killed two men and wounded another, along with the charges he faces at the Associated Press.

An annual economic forecast from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business shows the economy will remain “somewhat resilient” amid challenges stemming from the pandemic, such as the supply chain. However, Kelley economists say labor shortages will continue to be a major concern, not only in the Hoosier State, but across the U.S.  (Inside Indiana Business)

Tuesday’s election
A dismal performance by Democratic candidates in New Jersey and Virginia is sparking a sense of panic among Democrats who now view their Senate and House majorities as in serious peril in the 2022 midterm elections…Republicans immediately went on the offensive, announcing a new bid to go after swing-seat Democrats in the House… Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics moved Senate races in Arizona, Georgia and Nevada from the “lean Democratic” column to “toss-ups.” Dave Wasserman, an analyst with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, tweeted that Tuesday’s results “are consistent [with] a political environment in which Republicans would comfortably take back both the House and Senate in 2022.” (The Hill)

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was all but assured a victory against political newcomer Glenn Youngkin. Since the election of Barack Obama in 2008, Virginia has voted Democratic in presidential elections. Democratic Party stalwart McAuliffe saw the state’s “blue wave” returning him to the governor’s mansion if he could link his Republican challenger to the chaotic realm of Donald Trump. As political scientist Athena M. King explains, it didn’t work. Flush with $20 million of his own money, Youngkin captured enough of the much-coveted suburban vote by demonstrating Republican values without embracing Trump – at least publicly. Youngkin led the whole GOP ticket to victory, including its candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general, with a “red wave” that won back a slim majority in the Virginia House of Delegates. (The Conversation)

“The U.S. economy added 531,000 jobs in October, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, streaking past economists’ predictions of 450,000. That’s the best monthly gain since July and a major rebound from September’s report, which said that the economy added just 194,000 jobs after estimates for 500,000. The U.S. actually gained closer to 312,000 new jobs in September, Friday’s analysis concluded, indicating that the malaise-inducing Delta setbacks weren’t as bad as they looked. So, uh, everybody go back to last week and start feeling better. 
Companies added workers in nearly every industry, with significant gains in restaurants and bars. The unemployment rate also hit a new pandemic low, declining to 4.6 percent from 4.8 percent in September. President Biden touted the progress in remarks at the White House: “Before we passed the Rescue Plan, forecasters said it would take until the end of 2023 to get to the 4.6 unemployment rate. Today, we’ve reached that rate two years before forecasters thought it was possible…the Biden administration can now reset the conversation with some solidly good news on the economic recovery and its prospects going forward. Take it as a reminder not to lose hope about the difficult midterm fight to come—a whole lot can change in a year.” (What a Day)


“The Supreme Court on Monday heard oral arguments regarding a pair  of procedural challenges to a controversial Texas abortion law that effectively prohibits abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected While oral arguments don’t always indicate how a justice will vote on a case, a majority of the justices seemed to side with abortion providers’ argument that they had standing to challenge the Texas law’s constitutionality while questioning the DOJ’s ability to mount a challenge on those grounds. That majority includes Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who were in the majority when the Court decided on the first suit related to the Texas law.” (Causes)

“U.S. Supreme Court justices signaled they’re poised to rule that most people have a constitutional right to carry a handgun outside the home, casting doubt on a New York law requiring a special justification to get a permit.” (Bloomberg)

Women’s rights
“Conservative lawmakers in Ohio introduced a copycat Texas abortion restriction Tuesday night that goes even further than the highly controversial measure from the Lone Star State. Rather than impacting abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, the law aims to prohibit them at any stage of pregnancy…Reproductive rights advocates warned when Texas’ S.B. 8 passed that it would likely inspire copycat legislation in other red states. And they were right: At least 10 other states are working to pass a Texas-style abortion restriction, including Arizona, Georgia, Indiana and Missouri… (Huffpost)

“Workers at health facilities that receive federal funding, including major hospitals and nursing homes, will need to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4 under a sweeping emergency rule released by the Biden administration Thursday.” (The Hill)

“The Biden administration published its vaccinate mandate for businesses on Thursday, setting a Jan. 4 deadline in line with healthcare workers and employees of federal contractors…“OSHA estimates that this rule will save thousands of lives and prevent over 250,000 hospitalizations during the six months after implementation,” [a senior administration] official said.” (The Hill)

“Eighty-four million employees working at large employers and 17 million health care workers at facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid will be covered by the rules implemented by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “Together the OSHA and CMS rules, along with the other policies the administration has previously implemented means that over two thirds of all workers in the United States are now covered by vaccination policies,” a senior administration official said, discussing the new rules.” (CNN)

An appeals court ruled on Saturday to temporarily halted President Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 employees or more. (The Hill)
“Solicitor of Labor Seema Nanda…said the Labor Department was “prepared to defend this standard in court. The US Department of Labor is confident in its legal authority to issue the emergency temporary standard on vaccination and testing…The Occupational Safety and Health Act explicitly gives OSHA the authority to act quickly in an emergency where the agency finds that workers are subjected to a grave danger and a new standard is necessary to protect them.”” The administration has until 5pm Monday to respond. (CNN)

“Children ages 5 to 11 can now get a Covid-19 vaccine in the United States after the CDC director signed off on the recommendation late Tuesday. (CNN)

“Pfizer Inc’s (PFE.N) experimental antiviral pill to treat COVID-19 cut by 89% the chance of hospitalization or death for adults at risk of severe disease… The trial’s results suggest that Pfizer’s drug surpasses Merck & Co Inc’s (MRK.N) pill, molnupiravir, which was shown last month to halve the chance of dying or being hospitalized for COVID-19 patients at high risk of serious illness.” (Reuters)

Gun control
“Giffords, the gun-control nonprofit founded by former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the National Rifle Association of violating campaign finance laws dating back to 2014.” (NPR)

“Pollution-cutting pledges made at crunch climate change talks in Glasgow would put the world on track for 1.8 degrees Celsius of global warming, according to the International Energy Agency.” (Bloomberg Green)

January 6
Jeffrey Clark, the former DOJ official embroiled in Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, appeared for his deposition before the committee, but refused to testify. He “instead delivered a 12-page letter from his attorney — a lawyer who worked on a post-election lawsuit aimed at overturning the results in Georgia — defending his refusal to testify.” Even though Trump has not impeded his attorneys from testifying, Clark maintains that Trump may change his mind and that executive privilege would then prevent him from testifying, if that privilege is upheld in court, which is unlikely. (Politico)

2022 election
The Republican party “has added U.S. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan, D-Highland, to the list of 70 Democratic congressmen it’s targeting for defeat in 2022.” (NWI Times)

“Kari Lake, the Arizona gubernatorial candidate recently endorsed by former President Donald Trump, has embraced fringe far-right figures in her campaign events, including publicly thanking a Nazi sympathizer for his support and appearing with figures linked to the QAnon conspiracy, a CNN KFile review of her appearances has found.” (CNN)


Indiana’s attorney general continues to criticize Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb for trying to block a new law that gives state legislators more power to intervene during public health emergencies, even while agreeing that the state Supreme Court should take up the dispute.  (AP Indiana)

A new pre-eviction diversion program created by the Indiana Supreme Court is meant to make tenants aware of resources available before going through the eviction process. (WISH-TV)

The Crown Point City Council unanimously passed an ordinance on Monday prohibiting pet stores from selling or giving away dogs or cats.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

 An Indiana congressman regained control of his office Twitter account on Friday after he deleted a post about a transgender Biden administration official that the social media company found violated its rules. Banks, whose district covers Fort Wayne and surrounding northeastern Indiana, has frequently drawn attention with right-wing social media comments. He said he stood by his post about Levine. “Twitter provides a crucial platform for elected officials to communicate with voters, which is part of what makes Twitter’s biased and arbitrary censorship so dangerous,” Banks said. Fighting the left’s censorship will remain a priority of mine for as long as I’m in Congress.”  (AP Indiana)

There’s a new poll out that shows a majority of Republicans in Indiana favor some form of legalization when it comes to marijuana.  (Indy Politics)

Indiana Supreme Court Justice Steven H. David will step down from the bench in the fall of 2022 after nearly 30 years as a judicial branch leader.  (Indy Politics)
State Auditor Tera Klutz announced Tuesday night she wants a second term in 2022.  (Journal Star)

Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. acknowledged Friday he smoked marijuana at two recent “Grateful Dead” concerts in Chicago, and pledged he will work to legalize marijuana nationwide if he’s elected next year to the U.S. Senate.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

With Indiana’s state tax collections surging, a top Republican legislator is looking at possible significant changes to the state sales tax and cutting property taxes for some businesses.  (AP Indiana)

“Indiana will sue the Biden administration over its federal vaccine mandate, calling it government overreach. Attorney General Todd Rokita announced Thursday plans to file at least three lawsuits – including one with Louisiana and Mississippi – to challenge the vaccine mandate.” (WANE)

Gov. Eric Holcomb released a statement Thursday directing the Indiana Department of Labor to work with Attorney General Todd Rokita on a lawsuit over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for large employers. (Indy Star) 

Coronavirus Indiana: Gov. Eric Holcomb extends COVID orders but changes considered …ABC7 Chicago In a COVID Indiana update, Gov. Eric Holcomb extended some coronavirus executive orders. He suggested changes in the order will be made by December.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said Indiana is at a point where he “thankfully can contemplate” ending the public health emergency around the COVID-19 pandemic.  (WFIU)

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