12/05/2021 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.

The truth matters

Mask mandates saved lives in Missouri—according to it’s own study. But the republican administration opposes masks and so buried the analysis that proved the truth.
“Mask mandates saved lives and prevented COVID-19 infections in Missouri’s biggest cities during the worst part of the delta variant wave, an analysis by the state Department of Health and Senior Services shows.
But the analysis, conducted at the request of Gov. Mike Parson’s office in early November, was never made public and was only obtained by The Missouri Independent and the Documenting COVID-19 project after a Sunshine Law request to the department…There are a number of variables that impact infection and death rates, the health director wrote in a Nov. 3 email. But the effectiveness of masks is clear, he wrote…Parson has spoken out repeatedly against local mask mandates, calling them “WRONG” in a tweet and a contributor to the erosion of public trust. Attorney General Eric Schmitt has gone a step further, suing St. Louis, St. Louis County, Kansas City and Jackson County to block enforcement of their mask mandates…Missouri’s decision not to release public health data showing a demonstrable difference in COVID-19 infection and death in masked communities is notable and reflects the deep political polarization surrounding pandemic policies, one expert said.
“It’s devastating to see what the Missouri governor did since mask policies do reduce the spread of COVID-19 and would reduce the number of people who become sick and die in Missouri,” said Julia Raifman, an assistant professor of health law, policy and management at Boston University who oversees the COVID-19 U.S. State Policies Database.” (Missouri Independent)

Enacted, signed into law by the President

H.R. 6119: Making further continuing appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2022, and for other purposes.
Passed the House 217-209 with Representatives Mrvan and Carson voting yea and all Indiana republicans voting nay except Rep. Spartz who did not vote. View the vote.
Passed Senate, under the order of 12/2/2021, having achieved 60 votes in the affirmative, without amendment by Yea-Nay Vote. 69 – 28. Senator Young voted yea and Sen. Braun voted nay. View the vote.


The following passed the House under the fast-track “suspension of the rules” process, which requires a two-thirds majority for passage in exchange for expedited debate, goes to the Senate next.

H. R. 4352 To amend the Act of June 18, 1934, to reaffirm the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to take land into trust for Indian Tribes, and for other purposes
Passed 302-127 with all Indiana reps voting yea except Banks, Spartz and Pence. View the vote.

H. R. 2930 Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act of 2021
Passed 364-57. Indiana rep Banks voted nay; all other Indiana reps voted yea. View the vote.

H. R. 5720 Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act
Passed 422-4. All Indiana reps voted yea. View the vote.

H. R. 4055American Cybersecurity Literacy Act
Passed 408-17 with all Indiana reps voting yea. View the vote.

H. R. 4045 FUTURE Networks Act
Passed 394-27. View the vote.

H. R. 2685 Understanding Cybersecurity of Mobile Networks Act
Passed 404-19. View the vote.

H. R. 550 Immunization Infrastructure Modernization Act
Passed 294-130. Indiana reps Spartz, Walorski, and Hollingsworth voted nay. All others voted yea. View the vote.

H. R. 4026 Social Determinants of Health Data Analysis Act
Passed 399-28. View the vote.

The week ahead in Congress

The Senate will continue their negotiations on the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022, with votes on the package possible once an agreement regarding amendment votes is reached.
In the House lawmakers may consider 30 bills under the fast-track “suspension of the rules” process.
Additionally, the House may vote on a bill to protect elections and prevent presidential abuse of power; the NDAA; legislation extending year-end healthcare provisions; and a bill to lift the debt limit.
Read more about the week ahead, including committee hearings at Causes.

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

In other news

“Former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Bob Dole, who represented Kansas in Congress for 27 years, died Sunday at the age of 98.” (Mother Jones)

“Democrat Stacey Abrams announced Wednesday that she will mount a second campaign for governor in Georgia, setting up a potential rematch with incumbent Republican Brian Kemp in 2022.” (Yahoo News)

“As some lawmakers and parents attempt to limit teachings about racism and schools’ diversity and inclusion efforts are met with protests, numerous reports of racist bullying have recently surfaced in classrooms from coast to coast.” (CNN)

Due to a dramatic uptick in book challenges and outright removal of books from libraries, American Library Association’s Executive Board and the Boards of Directors for all of ALA’s eight divisions have released a joint statement regarding attempts to remove materials that focus on LGBTQIA+ issues and books by Black authors or that document the Black experience or the experiences of other BIPOC individuals. Read the statement in support of the freedom to read that is essential to a strong democracy and guaranteed by the Constitution, but is being attacked by conservative groups and politicians who are trying to wrest control of the free expression of ideas.

“This week, second gentlemen Doug Emoff did something routine for Jews across the globe. He celebrated Hanukkah, the Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. But, unlike any other Jew on earth, Emhoff lit his menorah in the Vice President’s residence. In the process, he became the first member or spouse in the executive branch to take in the festival of lights as a matter of religion and not ceremony.” (Politico)

Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
“The first major infusion of federal cash from the bipartisan infrastructure law is on its way to states to overhaul the country’s aging water infrastructure and dangerous lead pipes… EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in an interview that it is the “single largest investment in water infrastructure” in the history of the federal government…”This law’s investment in water is nothing short of transformational,” Regan said. “We’re less than three weeks post the president signing this, and we’re hitting the ground running.”” (NBC News)

“The coronavirus has a new variant of concern — one that appears to be driving a dramatic surge in South Africa and offering a glimpse of where the pandemic might be headed.” (Associated Press)

Read more detail about this new worrying variant, Omicron, and why the best protection for us all is more vaccinations world-wide at The Conversation.

The economy
“…We can expect that November jobs number to get revised upwards, probably dramatically. The U.S. has already added 976,000 more jobs in 2021 than initially reported, the largest net upward revision over the course of a year.  Each “disappointing” Labor Department report brings a flurry of bleak coverage that drags down the national vibe and President Biden’s poll numbers, but it’s clear to anyone paying attention that they have more to do with the way the government estimates growth than with the state of the economy. Anyone just glancing at headlines, unfortunately, continues to be misled.” (What a Day)

“Overall job growth fell far short of expectations, with the U.S. adding just 210,000 of the roughly 500,000 jobs that analysts projected the economy to gain last month. Even so, the unemployment rate sunk from 4.6 percent to 4.2 percent, landing less than 1 percentage point above the pre-pandemic jobless rate…The divergence between the top-line jobs gain and other gauges of labor market strength left economists baffled, but generally optimistic.” (The Hill)

“A 15-year-old boy is in custody after three students [now four] died and eight were injured in a shooting Tuesday afternoon at a high school in Oxford, Michigan, authorities said.” (CNN)
“Ethan Crumbley, 15, was charged as an adult with two dozen crimes, including murder, attempted murder and terrorism for a shooting Tuesday at Oxford High School in Oakland County…
The U.S. has had 31 mass killings this year of which 28 involved firearms.” (Associated Press)
“The parents of the teen accused of fatally shooting four people at a Michigan high school have been charged in connection with the rampage, the U.S. Marshals office said Friday. James and Jennifer Crumbley were each charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter.” (CBS News)

January 6
“On the eve of the committee’s vote to censure former Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) official Jeffrey Clark for failing to comply with their subpoena after largely refusing to answer their questions, a lawyer for Clark indicated he would like to exercise his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.” (The Hill)

Women’s rights
“In the biggest challenge to abortion rights in decades, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority on Wednesday signaled they would allow states to ban abortion much earlier in pregnancy and may even overturn the nationwide right that has existed for nearly 50 years…The court’s three liberal justices said that reversing Roe and Casey would significantly damage the court’s own legitimacy.
“Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?” Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked.” (Associated Press)

“A new law limiting the use of abortion-inducing medication in Texas goes into effect Thursday. The law makes it a felony to provide the medication after seven weeks of pregnancy, putting Texas at odds with federal regulations. It also makes it a crime to send the medication through the mail.” (Texas Tribune)


“A third Republican candidate is getting into the race for Secretary of State. Newtown County Commissioner Kyle Conrad has announced he is running for the job…He will face incumbent Holli Sullivan and Diego Morales, a former aide to Mike Pence when he was Governor.” (Indy Politics)

The Indiana Department of Health reported 5,659 new positive coronavirus cases and 57 additional deaths in its latest update. The agency’s dashboard puts the state’s 7-day all-test positivity rate at 13.1% with a rate of 24.1% positive for unique individuals. (Fox 59)

‘It’s Ramping Up’: Indiana ER Doctor Warns of Increase in COVID Hospitalizations – NBC Chicago
An emergency room doctor issued a warning about the number of people being admitted for COVID-19 statewide in Indiana.

Indiana’s top medical groups pleaded Tuesday for more people to get COVID-19 vaccine shots as the state is in the midst of a new surge of infections and hospitalizations.  (AP Indiana)

The Indiana governor’s office acknowledged Wednesday that the statewide COVID-19 public health emergency will likely extend into the new year after a failed attempt by legislators to quickly approve steps the governor sought to let the declaration expire.  (AP Indiana)

The state’s health care providers may be unable to treat everyone needing medical services in the months ahead due to another surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations, primarily of unvaccinated patients.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

Redistricting—Lake County county council and commissioner districts
“The Lake County Redistricting Commission will have no shortage of proposed maps as it starts preparing to redraw county council and commissioner districts to account for population shifts over the past decade. Four county commissioner maps and three county council maps were submitted by Monday’s deadline to the bipartisan, four-member Indiana Election Commission the General Assembly has put in charge of Lake County redistricting. The maps can be viewed online by clicking the “Election Commission” tab on the left side of the in.gov/sos/elections/ website. Lake County residents also can view the proposed maps, and provide feedback on them directly to the redistricting commission, during a public hearing scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Dec. 10 in the commissioners’ courtroom at the Lake County Government Center, 2293 N. Main St., Crown Point”(NWI Times)

Upcoming legislation
House Bill 1001
Indiana House Republicans have revealed their top priority for the 2022 legislative session. The House GOP caucus’s 56 members signed on to a reintroduced bill that would effectively ban private companies from enforcing COVID-19 vaccine mandates.  (WFIU)
“The bill would require any employer with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate to also offer a testing option, and the cost of testing would be covered by the employer, not the employee. The proposal was criticized by Indiana business leaders during a public meeting last week.
But some others argue it doesn’t go far enough…“I would like to see it recognize natural immunity more thoroughly and maybe put some teeth in it should an employer not comply with the letter of the law,” said State Rep. Mike Speedy (R-Indianapolis), another co-author.
Meanwhile, medical experts have concerns of their own.” (Fox 59)

Efforts to advance state legislation that would restrict employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates took another unusual turn Friday as Republican leaders scheduled a House committee hearing on the bill for later this month, more than two weeks before the formal legislative session kicks off.  (IBJ)

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