11/22/2021 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

Spread the news about what Democrats have most recently delivered.
Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law last week, supported by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, but not supported by any Indiana republicans, Indiana will get $9 billion that will improve Hoosier lives and overhaul crumbling infrastructure:

  • $6.6 billion to improve highways. The money will allow INDOT to expedite ongoing projects, including the expansion of I-65 and I-70 to six lanes. In Indiana there are over 5,478 miles of highway in poor condition.
  • $401 million to repair and rebuild bridges. In Indiana there are 1,111 bridges in poor condition.
  • $100 million over five years to support the expansion of the an electric vehicle charging network in the state.
  • More than $750 million will go toward improving the state’s water systems.
  • $40 million to prepare more of our infrastructure for the impacts of climate change, cyber attacks, and extreme weather events. From 2010 to 2020, Indiana experienced 34 extreme weather events, costing the state up to $10 billion in damage.
    • $20 million over five years to protect against wildfires.
    • $20 million to protect against cyber attacks.
  • A minimum of $100 million will be used to help improve broadband internet access across the state. It will provide access to at least 217,000 Hoosiers who currently lack broadband infrastructure.
  • $170 million will go toward infrastructure improvements at the state’s airports.25% of this funding will go to local road projects. All of the investment is expected to happen over the next five years.


Between fixing bridges and expanding highways, the construction industry is expecting a big boost, too and thousands of jobs. “The Indiana Chamber of Commerce said the spending is well worth it. “We simply couldn’t let our infrastructure further deteriorate and burden business and citizens alike,” Indiana Chamber CEO Kevin Brinegar said. “This is the type of long-term, needed commitment to improve the state and nation’s infrastructure system that we’ve sought for more than a decade.”” (WTHR)

“We have discussed the need to make desperately needed investments in our infrastructure and broadband technology for too long,” Indiana Democratic Representative Frank Mrvan told the NWI Times following the House vote. “Today, we delivered.” (WTHR)
See more about the bill below and on our web page.

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The truth matters

Republicans fighting COVID vaccine mandates “are wielding a new weapon against the White House rules: natural immunity.
They contend that people who have recovered from the virus have enough immunity and antibodies to not need COVID-19 vaccines, and the concept has been invoked by Republicans as a sort of stand-in for vaccines.”
But the science doesn’t support this argument. Previous COVID infection is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Previous infection does not provide the known immunity that vaccination delivers. “That’s because how much immunity COVID-19 survivors have depends on how long ago they were infected, how sick they were, and if the virus variant they had is different from mutants circulating now…” In addition, many vaccinated survivors of COVID develop extra-strong protection, what’s called “hybrid immunity.””
Vaccines are the best way out of this pandemic to a more near normal, not previous COVID infection. In fact, Chicago firefighters and other city employees filed a lawsuit maintaining that prior COVID infection should allow them to opt out of vaccine mandates; the judge “said their case lacked scientific evidence to support the contention that the natural immunity for people who have had the virus is superior to the protection from the vaccine.” (Associated Press)

Enacted, signed into law by the President

H.R. 3684: Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
This bill was enacted after being signed by the President on November 15, 2021. Read a details of the bill on our web page.

H.R. 2689: Minority Business Resiliency Act of 2021
Some of this bill was incorporated into H.R. 3684: Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was enacted (signed by President) on November 15, 2021.

S. 3066: Battery Material Processing and Component Manufacturing Act of 2021
Some of this bill was incorporated into H.R. 3684: Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was enacted (signed by President) on November 15, 2021.

S. 3121: Promoting American Energy Jobs Act of 2021
Some of this bill was incorporated into H.R. 3684: Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which was enacted (signed by President) on November 15, 2021.

S. 921: Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila Federal Officers and Employees Protection Act

S. 1511: Protecting America’s First Responders Act of 2021

S. 1502: COPS Counseling Act


Passed the House and the Senate, President next

S. 796: Protecting Moms Who Served Act of 2021
Passed 414-9. All Indiana reps voted yea. View the vote.

In the House

House Bill H. Res. 789
GovTrack.us: “This resolution censures Representative Paul Gosar for posting a certain video on his social media accounts that depicts violence against Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and President Joseph R. Biden.”
“The House censured Rep. Paul Gosar and booted him from his committees Wednesday over a violent social media post in which he threatened prominent Democrats, representing a rare rebuke of a colleague that Speaker Nancy Pelosi deemed an “emergency.”
Two Republicans — Reps. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) and Liz Cheney (Wyo.) — joined all Democrats in voting for the measure. Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) voted present.” (Politico)

Passed the House, goes to the Senate next

H.R. 5376: Build Back Better Act
GovTrack.us: “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.” Passed along strict party lines. 220-213, with all republicans voting nay and all Democrats, except one, voting yea. View the vote.

H.R. 4233: Student Veterans Counseling Centers Eligibility Act
Passed 420-4. All Indiana reps voted yea. View the vote.

H.R. 147: To amend title 10, United States Code, to make certain improvements to services and benefits for veterans and separating members of the Armed Forces with respect to apprenticeship programs, and for other purposes.
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 427 – 0

H.R. 3730: To amend title 38, United States Code, to establish in the Department of Veterans Affairs an Advisory Committee on United States Outlying Areas and Freely Associated States, and for other purposes.
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 420 – 4. All Indiana reps voted yea. View the vote.

GovTrack.us: “This bill directs the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to develop a plan to ensure that TSA material disseminated in major airports is better understood by people accessing such airports, including by foreign language speakers and people with vision or hearing impairments.”
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 369 – 49. All Indiana reps voted yea except Jim Banks who voted nay. View the vote.

The following bills were passed on motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, Agreed to by voice vote so no individual record of votes was taken.

H.R. 4591: To direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit to Congress periodic reports on the costs, performance metrics, and outcomes of the Department of Veterans Affairs Electronic Health Record Modernization program.

H.R. 5516: VITAL Assessment Act

H.R. 2433: Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act

H.R. 4626: VA AIM Act

H.R. 5603: Protections for Student Veterans Act

H.R. 2915: HOPR Act

H.R. 5652: DHS Acquisition Review Board Act of 2021

In the Senate

Charles Sams III was confirmed to “lead the National Park Service, making him the first Senate-confirmed director since the Obama administration. Sams most recently served on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. He is an enrolled member of the Cayuse and Walla Walla of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation and the first Native American to lead the National Park Service.” (The Hill)

The House and Senate are in recess until Monday, Nov. 29.

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

In other news

“An estimated 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in one year, a never-before-seen milestone that health officials say is tied to the COVID-19 pandemic and a more dangerous drug supply.” (Associated Press)

“The White House on Wednesday provided states with a legislative road map for removing barriers to an opioid overdose reversal drug. The model law, released by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, offers legal provisions that states could enact to ease access to the drug naloxone. The move comes amid the Biden administration’s increasing efforts to combat the nation’s addiction crisis.” (Bloomberg Law)

 “President Joe Biden on Wednesday asked Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan to examine oil and gas companies and their role in rising gasoline prices. Citing “potentially illegal conduct,” Biden said pump prices are rising even as industry costs are declining.” (Politico)

“China on Tuesday welcomed a virtual meeting between President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as raising hopes for better relations, while the U.S. was more muted on the talks as the world’s two biggest powers sought to ratchet down more than a year of tensions.” (Associated Press)

President Biden said Monday he will nominate Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell for another term leading the central bank and tap Fed Governor Lael Brainard to serve as vice chair of the Fed board. (The Hill)


“The U.S. Interior Department on Wednesday will auction vast oil and gas reserves in the Gulf of Mexico estimated to hold up to 1.1 billion barrels of crude, the first such sale under President Joe Biden and a harbinger of the challenges he faces to reach climate goals that depend on deep cuts in fossil fuel emissions…The auction comes after a federal judge in a lawsuit brought by Republican states rejected a suspension of fossil fuel sales that Biden imposed when he took office.” (Associated Press)

The courts
“A Wisconsin jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse on Friday, siding with the teenager’s claims that he acted in self-defense during the chaotic night in Kenosha last summer that left two men shot dead and a third wounded…” (Politico)

“One of the families of the two men killed as well as some Democrats and activists on Friday denounced Kyle Rittenhouse’s not guilty verdict, saying it highlights the systemic racism in the country’s judicial system.” (Axios) Read more insightful comments from activists, politicians, and members of Congress at Axios.

“Two of the three men convicted in the assassination of Malcolm X are set to be cleared Thursday after insisting on their innocence since the 1965 killing…A nearly two-year-long re-investigation found that authorities withheld evidence favorable to the defense in the trial of Muhammad Aziz, now 83, and the late Khalil Islam, said their attorneys, the Innocence Project and civil rights lawyer David Shanies. Aziz called his conviction “the result of a process that was corrupt to its core — one that is all too familiar” even today.” (Associated Press)

“Sandy Hook families suing InfoWars founder Alex Jones have won a case against him after a judge ruled against Jones who has failed to comply with the discovery process. Jones and entities owned by him were found liable by default Monday in a defamation case against them.” (CNN)

“Defense attorneys rested their case in the Ahmaud Arbery trial Thursday after calling just seven witnesses, including the shooter, who testified that Arbery did not threaten him in any way before he pointed his shotgun at the 25-year-old Black man.” (Associated Press)

“The Pentagon’s top spokesperson on Monday insisted Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had the authority to require National Guard members to get vaccinated against Covid-19, despite new resistance from Oklahoma’s highest-ranking military official.” (Politico)

“Pfizer said Tuesday it signed a licensing agreement to allow broader global access to its experimental Covid-19 pill…The agreement with the Medicines Patent Pool, a United Nations-backed public health organization, would allow generic manufacturers to make the pill widely available in 95 low- and middle-income countries covering 53% of the world’s population, the company said…Earlier this month Pfizer announced topline results from its trial saying that an interim analysis — done before the trial was scheduled to end — showed an 89% reduction in the risk of hospitalization or death from Covid-19 among people given the drug within the first three days of symptom onset.” (CNN)

“The Biden administration is offering to partner with Covid-19 vaccine makers on expanding their U.S. manufacturing capacity as part of an emerging plan to produce an additional 1 billion doses per year, an administration official said Wednesday. The new initiative is aimed at ramping up the vaccine supply needed abroad and comes as officials have sought new ways to make good on President Joe Biden’s pledge to get 70 percent of the world’s population vaccinated by next September.” (Politico)

“The U.S. government has agreed to purchase 10 million courses of pharmaceutical company Pfizer‘s COVID-19 treatment for Americans in a $5.29 deal, the Associated Press reported. Though the U.S. has already agreed to buy 3.1 million courses of a competing treatment created by Merck, the Pfizer deal is the country’s biggest purchase agreement for a COVID therapy yet. In a statement released Thursday, President Joe Biden said though Pfizer’s treatment has yet to be approved by regulators, the administration was working to make sure that the pills “will be easily accessible and free” to Americans.” (Newsweek)

“Revised government figures show that the Bureau of Labor Statistics wildly underestimated job growth over the summer, undercounting by a cumulative 626,000 jobs between June and September.” (What a Day)

January 6
“Jacob Chansley, whose shirtless image on the Senate rostrum and menacing note to Vice President Mike Pence came to symbolize the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, was sentenced on Wednesday to almost three and a half years in prison, matching the harshest sentence handed down yet in the 10-month prosecution effort.” (Politico)

“A federal judge aired grave doubts Friday about a key charge the Justice Department is relying on in cases against hundreds of Jan. 6 Capitol riot defendants, raising the prospect of legal turmoil in more than a third of the prosecutions stemming from the violent attack.” (Politico)


Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) and House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) Saturday announced plans to reconvene session Nov. 29 to consider legislation that would allow Indiana’s current public health state of emergency to expire.  (Indy Politics)

“U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., is promising to vote against every upcoming federal spending measure — including funding for the U.S. military — if it does not include money to continue building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.” (NWI Times)

With the pandemic trend of increasingly fatal car crashes continuing into 2021, Indiana police departments have received millions in federal grant money to put toward efforts to curb reckless driving.  (South Bend Tribune)

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has signed an Executive Order lifting certain restrictions on truck drivers to help in the delivery of propane gas across the state  (Indy Politics)

Employers across Indianapolis struggle to meet hiring needs, even if they offer higher wages because not enough workers have the credentials needed to land these good jobs. (WFYI)

After more than 12 years of service, Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers announced on Tuesday her plan to leave her current role at the conclusion of the 2022 legislative session. Lubbers will also be stepping down as chair of the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet.  (Indy Politics)

After spending more than an hour debating the matter and listening to public comment, the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners voted 2-1 Tuesday to approve controversial new election maps that could tilt the local balance of power toward Republicans for the next decade by giving the GOP bigger edges in two commissioner districts while shifting racial minorities and Democratic voters to the third.  (South Bend Tribune)

Records show the Bureau of Motor Vehicles is selling people’s personal information and has been for years.  (WANE-TV)

Climate and the environment
Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light (IPL) has gathered over 700 signatures in a declaration urging Gov. Eric Holcomb and state legislators to recognize environmental health as a real issue in Indiana. This declaration was delivered early Friday to Holcomb’s office.   (The Statehouse File)

Indiana AG files lawsuit opposing Biden COVID-19 vaccine mandate | wthr.com
Attorney General Todd Rokita announced on Monday that he has filed a third lawsuit in opposition of President Joe Biden’s mandate that all healthcare workers in facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid must be vaccinated.

Four out of 10 Hoosier adults are still not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as Indiana’s sluggish vaccination rate coincides with recent increases in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, state health officials said.  (AP News Indiana)

Indiana officially filed its lawsuit against federal workplace vaccine rules.  (WFIU)

Indiana’s governor is facing pressure from fellow Republicans to end the statewide COVID-19 public health emergency order that’s been in place since March 2020 even as the state has seen a recent jump of infections and hospitalizations.  (AP Indiana)

The legal fight over the increased power Indiana legislators gave themselves to intervene during public health emergencies will be going before the state Supreme Court, although not for nearly five months.  (IBJ)

Statewide hospitalizations due to COVID-19 have risen more than 31% over the past two weeks amid a recent escalation in cases, according to the latest statistics from the Indiana State Department of Health.   (IBJ)

Upcoming 2022 legislative session
There will be debate in Indiana’s 2022 legislative session over cutting taxes. But at this point, the two Republican caucuses don’t seem to be on the same page on that issue. (WFYI)

Indiana’s largest teachers union is calling on state lawmakers to address educator burnout and ongoing teacher shortages during the next legislative session that begins in January. (IBJ)

Indiana Democrats pushing to legalize marijuana – WTHR
The Indiana Democratic Party will be pushing for the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in Indiana in the next legislative session …

Indiana House Democrats calls for marijuana legalization – WISH-TV
Indiana allows cannabidiol (CBD) and low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) use, but recreational marijuana use and medical cannabis are illegal in Indiana.

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