You can make a difference
In 2021 Democracy came under attack at the Capital, by state legislatures around the country, by conservative media and most republicans who continue to lie about the election and justify all they do and don’t do based on the lies they tell. The threat is even more real this year.
“In 2021, the state legislative push to restrict access to voting was not only aggressive — it was also successful.” In 2022 more such bills are expected to pass. In addition, three democratic governors who have successfully vetoed such bills in their states—Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania—are up for re-election. The legislatures in these states and others are trying to circumvent their democratic governors through various means. States are also enacting laws that will politicize the counting of ballots, potentially bypassing the will of the voters.
“The Freedom to Vote Act is a broad package of voting, redistricting, election security, and campaign finance reforms that would ensure minimum national standards for voting access for every American. It would also prevent partisans from sabotaging election results. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would prevent discriminatory practices and rules in voting from being implemented in states and localities where discrimination is persistent and pervasive, protecting access to the vote for all eligible voters, regardless of race, color, or membership in language minority groups. And it would restore voters’ ability to challenge discriminatory laws nationwide.” (Brennan Center for Justice)
These measures will be brought up for a vote early this year. Our Indiana senators need to know we support voting rights and want them to support these bills. You may not expect them to support these bill because they are republicans. But they still need to be bombarded by their constituents who expect more. There was a time not very long ago when renewing the Voting Rights Bill passed automatically with strong bipartisan support. There was a time when republicans as well as democrats thought the right to vote was important, when voting was considered a right entitled to all of us, no matter our race or background or political persuasion. Republicans are counting on ‘winning’ through voter suppression and lies. These important pieces of legislation along with our own activism can ensure our democracy endures.
After redistricting, accompanied by lies and misinformation that underscore republican messaging, Indiana State GOP Chairman Hupfer is confident that republicans can win the 1st Congressional seat for the first time in over 90 years. “In northwest Indiana, the 1st congressional district is in play for the first time. The National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee is putting dollars into it. They’re already putting ads up.” The seat is currently held by first time Congressman Frank Mrvan, a democrat. (95.3 Michiana’s News Channel)
The only solution to saving democracy is citizen involvement. Indivisible NWI will strive to keep you informed and urge you to take action. Contacting your Members of Congress and state legislators as often as you can to let them know how you want them to vote is an effective action. One on one conversations is one of the best ways to sway another’s point of view. Registering people to vote—and helping them get to the polls—are also very important. This year plan to take action with Indivisible!
The Senate will return Jan. 3 and the House Jan. 10. The Build Back Better Act may be reworked to gain the support of Senator Manchin. House progressives may oppose any bill without immigration reform, however, and the parliamentarian has said including that provision violates Senate rules.
The Senate will also take up voting rights reforms, the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Both bills would require eliminating the filibuster to pass. That move has been opposed by Senators Manchin and Sinema. (Causes) Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the Senate will vote on filibuster rules changes to advance stalled voting legislation that is needed to protect democracy. The vote will take place on or before Jan. 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. (Associated Press)
Lawmakers face a deadline of February 18th to pass the annual appropriations bills or enact another temporary stopgap bill to avert a shutdown. (Causes)
The federal government is poised to undertake a first-of-its-kind review of the war in Afghanistan after Congress passed legislation establishing an independent commission to conduct it. The commission was included in the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2022. (Causes)
Significant action in Congress in 2021 (Causes)
- Following the January 6th riot at the Capitol that interrupted Congress’s certification of the Electoral College’s results, the House voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump for the “incitement of an insurrection.” The House voted to impeach Trump on a mostly party-line vote of 232-197, with 10 Republicans joining all Democrats in voting for impeachment. The Senate later acquitted Trump following an impeachment trial on a 57-43 vote which saw seven GOP senators join all 50 Democrats in voting to convict, well short of the 67 votes required for his conviction and removal from office.
- After Senate republicans voted against a bipartisan committee to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection, House Democrats in June moved to form a select committee tasked with investigating the attack on the Capitol that has since held numerous hearings that have unearthed damning information about the planning of the insurrection by Trump and his inner circle.
- Democrats passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act using the budget reconciliation process in late February and early March. It passed the House on a party-line vote of 220-211 and the Senate on 50-49. The ARP provided an additional round of economic stimulus payments to Americans, extended the federal enhancement of unemployment benefits through early September 2021, and temporarily increased the child tax credit. It also provided $350 billion to state and local governments, $168 billion to schools, and $48 billion for the healthcare response to COVID-19, among other areas.
- Drafted by a bipartisan group of senators to combine the reauthorization of surface transportation and water resources development programs with additional new spending on infrastructure, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was one of the most significant pieces of infrastructure legislation passed by Congress in years. The bill provided a total of $1.2 trillion in infrastructure spending, including $550 billion in new spending, which was partially offset by using unspent COVID relief funding. The total includes $110 billion in new funding for roads, bridges, and major projects; $118 billion for energy infrastructure; $55 billion for water infrastructure; and $65 billion for broadband deployment.
- A paired down version of the Build Back Better Act passed the House on strict party lines, but languished in the Senate because of opposition by Senator Joe Manchin. That bill would have created new entitlement programs for paid leave and childcare; expanded preschool programs; subsidized green energy technology; and provided temporary protection from deportation for certain unauthorized immigrants. In addition, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the immigration provisions violated the chamber’s rules.
In other news
“President Joe Biden has warned Russia’s Vladimir Putin that the U.S. could impose new sanctions against Russia if it takes further military action against Ukraine, while Putin responded that such a U.S. move could lead to a complete rupture of ties between the nations. The two leaders spoke frankly for nearly an hour Thursday amid growing alarm over Russia’s troop buildup near Ukraine, a crisis that has deepened as the Kremlin has stiffened its insistence on border security guarantees and test-fired hypersonic missiles to underscore its demands.” (Associated Press)
President Joe Biden cannot require teachers in the Head Start early education program to be vaccinated against COVID-19, a Louisiana federal judge ruled Saturday, handing a victory to 24 states that had sued the federal government. U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty wrote that the Biden administration unlawfully bypassed Congress when ordering that workers in Head Start programs be vaccinated by Jan. 31 and that students 2 years or older be masked when indoors or when in close contact outdoors. (WTHR)
“An unprecedented spike in Covid-19 cases fueled by the fast-moving Omicron variant is crushing hospitals across the United States…” (CNN)
“They’ve interviewed more than 300 witnesses, collected tens of thousands of documents and traveled around the country to talk to election officials who were pressured by Donald Trump. Now, after six months of intense work, the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is preparing to go public…They are planning televised hearings and reports that will bring their findings out into the open.” (Associated Press)
“The US marks one year since the Capitol insurrection that brought a tangible threat to American democracy and has resulted in a year of investigations, questions and political enmity. Presently, the House select committee investigating the attack is locked in a battle with former President Donald Trump, who incited the rioters and bolstered falsehoods that led to the violence.” (CNN)
“Members of the House select committee investigating January 6 said Sunday that they have critical testimony about communications to former President Donald Trump on the day of the deadly attack.” Rep Cheney “reiterated her strong reservations about Trump’s fitness for future office.” (CNN)
The town of Griffith celebrated both New Year’s and its own independence day this weekend.(NWI Times)
Indiana just set a new daily record for COVID-19 deaths and saw a record 25.1% of hospitals suffer a critical staffing shortage. (Times of Northwest Indiana)
Indiana officials updated guidance for K-12 schools after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new isolation guidelines for COVID-19 cases this week, and masking largely determines how long students have to stay home. (WFIU)
Governor Holcomb extended the public health emergency at a press conference on Wednesday. The next several weeks look grim for Indiana. Only slightly more than half of Hoosiers are vaccinated; hospitals are filling up—hospital census is the highest its been in five years—and ICU beds are in short supply; nearly all of the very sick are unvaccinated; treatments are in short supply; healthcare workers are leaving the profession due to burnout; too many are being guided by lies and misinformation. Watch the governor’s press conference at Indy Politics.
Read key takeaways at WTHR.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb Wednesday pushed back against comments made recently by Attorney General Todd Rokita regarding COVID-19. Rokita responded on social media with the following statement, “A lack of global standardization of the data and non-uniform use of criteria is an industry-wide management issue, not an Inspector General Issue. This isn’t about fraud at this point, it’s about inaccurate numbers and political agendas causing doubt.” (Indy Politics)
‘Come and count them’: Indiana hospital CEO addresses Todd Rokita’s COVID numbers comment (Yahoo News)
Hospital leaders say COVID-19 data is audited throughout Indiana and labor shortages aren’t directly related to vaccine mandates.
At first, it was Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb who pushed back against claims by Attorney General Todd Rokita on COVID-19, now it’s Indiana’s hospitals. (Indy Politics)
At a time when coronavirus cases are spiking, local hospitals are calling in the National Guard and Navy for help, hospital staff are suffering from burnout, and there’s a fear of running out of beds in intensive care units, Attorney General Todd Rokita thought it was the right time to let the state (and the world) know he doesn’t believe the situation is as dire as it’s being portrayed. Instead of playing politics, it would be nice if Rokita made himself useful and tried to find ways to protect Hoosier lives in a real way. Instead, Rokita is a habitual filer of lawsuits against the Biden administration when it comes to COVID-19 mandates. He’s playing with children’s lives and with the lives of all Hoosiers—in health and in education. He opposes the teaching of history that is accurate in the name of protecting children—white children? But even that is disingenuous given his cavalier approach to Indiana’s worsening public health crisis. Osye Boyd, Indianapolis Recorder)
Study shows Indiana ranks as least safest state during pandemic – WISH-TV
Findings showed Indiana ranked 48th in vaccination rates, 49th in positive testing rate, 46th in hospitalization rate, 45th in death rate and 31st in terms of viral transmission. The total score put Indiana at the very bottom.
Gary’s “Welcoming City” ordinance, enacted in 2017 in response to the anti-immigrant push of the early Trump administration, largely complies with state law, according to a recent ruling by the Indiana Court of Appeals. (Longview News Journal)
The Indiana Supreme Court has expanded the limited number of people eligible to recover damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress. (Times of Northwest Indiana)
Former WOWO talk show host and Army veteran Gary Snyder, a Democrat, is hinting at a bid to unseat Congressional Representative Jim Banks in 2022. (WPTA)
Indiana Secretary of State Holli Sullivan has eliminated 12 voting precincts in Lake County, leaving the state’s second-most populous county with 352 precincts. (NWI Times)
A new year means new laws for Indiana. Three new laws are set to impact Hoosiers in 2022. One will stop surprise medical billing. Another expands e-prescriptions. The third requires new internet policies for school districts. (WTHR)
“The Indiana General Assembly convenes its annual session Tuesday, and Hoosier lawmakers are scheduled to continue meeting weekdays at the Statehouse in Indianapolis until adjourning for the year on or before March 14. Sessions in even-numbered years originally were intended to address only emergency state needs. But now lawmakers consider legislation relating to pretty much any issue during the “short session.” At the same time, measures that spend new money generally are frowned upon because most representatives and senators prefer to stick to the two-year spending plan they approved during the four-month “long session” in 2021. Republicans are dominant at the Statehouse. The GOP controls 39 of 50 Senate seats and 71 of 100 House seats.” Read about some of the legislation enacted last year. (NWI Times)
Indiana lawmakers expect to start their new session by quickly diving into a contentious debate over a Republican-backed proposal aimed at limiting workplace COVID-19 vaccination requirements, even as the virus threatens to overwhelm the state’s hospitals. (AP Indiana)
Indiana House Republicans have a bill which would provide exemptions to workers from getting the COVID vaccine. But the Senate may have other plans. (Statehouse Happenings, WIBC)
Indiana GOP lawmaker’s bill would repeal law requiring turn signals – WISH-TV
According to a draft of Senate Bill 124 drivers would not have to use turn signals 200 feet before changing lanes or turning, nor would have to use turn signals 300 feet before changing lanes in a 50-mph zone. It wasn’t clear Wednesday what change Freeman is after or if the senator is trying to remove any mandatory use of turn signals in Indiana.