You can make a difference
On Monday, Jan. 31 join us for our first big event of the year via Zoom.
Follow the link at 6 PM central on Monday, January 31st to join the meeting.
- We will be unveiling the results of our Indivisible NWI survey.
- We will be talking about what issues are the most important to you as well as the ways that you told us that you want to be involved.
- Come and learn how you can help us to do more.
- We will also give you the latest updates.
- We will talk to you about how you can run for precinct committee person as the filing date comes near.
- That and so much more, join us.
Saving Democracy begins at the grassroots level–that’s all of us!
Many bills in this session of the Indiana General Assembly are approaching passage and we urge you to contact your representatives and senators about how you want them to vote.
Bills must pass out of committee this week or they cannot advance this session. Some concerning bills have passed out of committee and some have passed the House or Senate. None have passed both the House and Senate, so there is still time to make your voice heard.
Women 4 Change Indiana lists several bills they urge all of us to advocate for or against. They include bills addressing women’s rights, voting rights, sex education, racism, sexism, and more. Links are provided for you to easily take action. Read a brief description of each bill and then click on the link to take action.
The Indiana Coalition for Public Education follows bills related to public education. They provide a brief analysis and links to easily email committee members.
See Hoosier Environmental Council for their Bill Watch advocating for and against proposed legislation and to take action.
To email members of a committee, click on committee in the tabbed menu at the top of the General Assembly web page. Choose the committee; then on the left side of the committee page click on ‘members’. On each member’s page click on ‘send email’ in the menu on the left side of the page.
Click here to contact your representative and senator. To email, choose ‘send email’ from the menu on the left on the legislator’s page.
Senate Bill 143 Self defense
Specifies that “reasonable force” includes the pointing of a loaded or unloaded firearm for purposes of self-defense and arrest statutes. This is a stand your ground law.
Research: https://www.everytown.org/solutions/repeal-stand-your-ground/ Let your voice be heard, and let the Courts and Criminal Code Committee know that you’d like them to vote NO on SB 143
House Bill 1077/Senate Bill 14— Permitless Carry
These bills are similar and allow Hoosiers, unless otherwise prohibited, to carry loaded concealed handguns in public.
You can view this week’s hearing on SB 14 here: http://iga.in.gov/information/archives/2022/video/committee_judiciary_4200/
ISP Maj. Rob Simpson represented the Indiana State Police in opposing these measures. He said. “Our system, just in the last two years, located over 10,000 rejections.” (WDRB)
This bill goes against a majority of Hoosiers AND law enforcement who are opposed to this measure.
Of note, also, is that the state firearms death rate, is 15.3% of total deaths, which is above the national average.
House Bill 1134 Education matters
Places restrictions on how teachers can teach history. “The civil rights movement, the 1915 Armenian genocide, evolution, human reproduction. These are some of the lessons that Indiana teachers fear they would have to water down or eliminate altogether if the state passes sweeping new regulations on how they may address race and racism. Lawmakers added a ‘good citizenship’ clause to alleviate objections, but educators still oppose the bill, saying the ban could halt the teaching of a whole slate of history topics that might risk making a student uncomfortable. If the bill passes, our children will not learn about essential American history; many teachers will quit the profession, leading to a severe teacher shortage in Indiana.” (Chalkbeat Indiana)
Civil rights groups and educators rallied at the Statehouse on Wednesday to kill House Bill 1134, a controversial “parent transparency” bill that opponents say will limit how teachers approach race in the classroom. (Tribune Star)
Teachers, Black leaders oppose ‘racist’ school bill – WTHR
The Indiana State Teachers Association gathered a group of nine speakers to castigate House Bill 1134. The bill was called “dangerous” and “racist” during a press conference by the state’s largest teachers union Wednesday. Speakers argue the bill is bad for teachers, students, and the state.
“This is a heinous bill,” said Dr. Ivan Hicks with the Indianapolis NAACP. “It is a racist bill. It’s a bill that seeks to divide and does not bring us together as a community.”
The bill applies to all state agencies and institutions, including state colleges and universities. (The Indiana Citizen)
This bill has passed through committee and is now on the House floor for debate and a vote.
Senate Bill 17 Material harmful to minors.
Removes schools and certain public libraries from the list of entities eligible for a specified defense to criminal prosecutions alleging: (1) the dissemination of material harmful to minors; or (2) a performance harmful to minors. Adds colleges and universities to the list of entities eligible for a specified defense to criminal prosecutions alleging: (1) the dissemination of material harmful to minors; or (2) a performance harmful to minors.
All public and school libraries across the state already have a challenge procedure in place when a parent or community member objects to any particular material. This bill would allow parents to skip that process and exposes librarians to a level 6 felony on the charge of providing materials deemed inappropriate by some parents–but appropriate by others. Testimony before the Education and Career Development Committee was heard on Wed. but so far no vote has been taken. Some of the testimony was compelling and others chilling. View the archived video here.
House Bill 1182 – School board elections
Provides that for school board offices, each candidate’s affiliation with a political party or status as an independent candidate must be stated on the ballot. Read a full Statehouse Note analysis on this bill from the Indiana Coalition for Public Education here. All who testified opposed this bill.
The bill is still in the House Elections and Apportionment Committee.
House Bill 1252 Education enrichment accounts
Establishes the Indiana student enrichment grant program.
One of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education’s legislative priorities and core beliefs is that public funds belong in public schools. “We support a moratorium on the expansion of public funding for education savings accounts (ESAs). Draining funds and putting them in unaccountable private hands via “marketization” does financial harm to traditional public schools where over 90% of Hoosier children attend.” (Indiana Coalition for Public Education)
Bill passed out of House Education Committee and was referred to House Ways and Means.
Senate Bill 331 Education scholarship account program
“This bill is an education savings accounts expansion (another form of voucher).
ICPE supports a moratorium on the expansion of public funding for charter, choice scholarship (voucher), innovation schools as well as education savings accounts (ESAs), SGOs (scholarship granting organizations) or micro/home schools. Draining funds for these experiments in private hands and marketization does financial harm to traditional public schools where over 90% of Hoosier children attend.” (Indiana Coalition for Public Education)
This bill passed out of committee on 1/20/22 and will now move to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
House Bill 1072 School referendum levies
Under this bill school corporations must distribute a portion of revenue from referendums to charter schools in the same area. This bill would have the largest impact on Gary and Indianapolis, cities that contain the largest populations of charter school students in the state. Hearing was held this week in the House Ways and Means Committee and passed 13-8.
House Bill 1001 Administrative authority; COVID 19 immunizations
This bill would “prohibit employers from requiring employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine unless employers also offer religious and medical exemptions. They also would have to offer weekly COVID-19 testing as an alternative at their expense.”
Passed the House 58-35 (NWI Times) “All Democrats and seven Republicans voted no. Employees would also be able to prove natural immunity every six months instead of getting vaccinated. Employees who are fired as a result of noncompliance would be eligible for unemployment.” (The Indiana Citizen)
Senate Bill 329 Various election law matters
This bill prohibits the expansion of vote by mail and absentee voting. In addition, it “[r]equires an applicant for an absentee ballot application to include the applicant’s driver’s license number and the last four digits of the applicant’s Social Security number.” Referred to committee (Women4Change Indiana)
House Bill 1063 De novo judicial review of certain agency actions
This bill would alter the standards that govern the way a trial court reviews the decision of an administrative agency. Such decisions include rulings of the Office of Environmental Adjudication (OEA) and the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) that are charged with reviewing administrative appeals of IDEM and DNR permitting and enforcement decisions. Under current law, a party who seeks judicial review of an OEA or NRC ruling has the burden of proving that the decision is unlawful… Passed the House. Opposed by Hoosier Environmental Council. It will likely be assigned to Senate Judiciary so please tell your state senator to oppose this bill and urge him or her weigh in with the Judiciary Chair, Sen. Liz Brown not to hear HB 1063. (Hoosier Environmental Council)
House Bill 1100 Agency oversight and rulemaking procedures
This bill would limit Indiana state agencies’ ability to adopt timely and appropriate state standards to protect public health and the environment. Opposed by Hoosier Environmental Council. (Hoosier Environmental Council)
Other bills of concern
Hoosier Action notes that these two bills will lead to more Hoosiers unnecessarily remaining in jail just because they can’t afford bail:
Senate Bill 6 Bail for violent arrestees and Senate Bill 8 Nonprofit bail funding.
Both bills passed out of committee 7-2 and will be heard on the Senate floor
House Bill 1002 Various tax matters
This bill cuts individual income tax from 3.23% to 3.0%, repeals the utility receipts and utility services taxes, eliminates the 30% minimum floor on new business personal property (BPP), creates a state income tax credit for that BPP currently taxed, makes Indiana standard a single direct tax (eliminated double direct sales tax), and a few other minor changes. Several lawmakers questioned the perceived priorities of the bill, The bill passed the House 68-25 and moves to the Senate where GOP leaders have been less enthusiastic about significant tax cuts in a non-budget year. (Southwest Indiana Chamber)
Republicans in the Indiana House passed their $1 billion individual income and business tax-cut proposal Thursday on a 68-25 party-line vote, sending it to the Senate, where its future is murky. (IBJ)
House Bill 1131 Emergency powers and orders
A bill setting a time limit on a governor’s executive orders could come to a vote in the House this week. A House committee voted last week to automatically terminate any executive order after six months unless the legislature votes to extend it. The bill also sets a four-year expiration for regulations issued by state agencies, unless they’re renewed. And it puts a six-month limit on emergency rulemaking, with a required review by the attorney general before they can take effect.
Governor Holcomb warns the bill would interfere with the operation of state government. He says there are “ongoing conversations about every word” of the bill with legislative leaders.
A House committee approved Representative Steve Bartels’ (R-Eckerty) bill last week on party lines. Executive orders normally remain in effect as long as a governor is in office. (WIBC)
It’s not all bad…
House Bill 1294 Restraint of pregnant inmates
This bill would stop the inhumane practice of shackling Hoosier women while giving birth. The bill passed unanimously out of committee and now goes to the floor for a vote. (Hoosier Action)
HB 1140 Medicaid coverage for pregnant women
This bill expands Indiana’s postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 12 months. Passed the House, goes to the Senate next. (Hoosier Action)
House Bill 1079 Elements of rape
This bill defines consent to Indiana laws on sexual assault and provides victims with ability to demonstrate a lack of consent. It further expands existing elements of rape to include rape by impersonation as a specific charge. Passed the House and referred to the Senate. (Women4Change Indiana)
House Bill 1214 Residential eviction actions
This bill would enable some eviction expungement and increase access to rent relief, was amended and passed to the House floor. (Hoosier Action)
Senate Bill 230 Enforcement of habitability standards
This bill would empower renters and make homes safer and will be heard in committee Monday, January 24 (Hoosier Action)
Senate Bill 1 Automated taxpayer refund
The Indiana Senate gave final approval Thursday which would expand eligibility for the state’s $125 tax refund. The bill now goes to the House. (The Statehouse File)
House Bill 1150 Automated traffic enforcement in school zones
Authorizes “Indiana counties and municipalities to contract with speed camera companies to install and operate automated speed enforcement devices on any road, including state highways, within a half-mile in any direction of a public, charter or private elementary or high school.
Under the plan, the speed cameras could operate between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day of the week, regardless of whether students or other pedestrians are present in the school zone.” Violators would face a $250 fine. (NWI Times)
House Bill 1035 Highway work zone speed enforcement pilot program.
Authorizes the state police department and the Indiana department of transportation to establish the automated work zone speed enforcement pilot program (pilot program) to enforce highway work zone speed limits. Creates the automated work zone speed enforcement pilot program fund to deposit fines collected by the pilot program.
Senate Bill 373 Lake County convention and entertainment district
State Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, is continuing to craft legislation aimed at developing a Lake County convention or entertainment facility in or around Lake Etta County Park in Gary. The bill will be ready for a committee hearing before Thursday, the deadline for all bills to pass out of committee. (Times of Northwest Indiana)
House Bill 1130 Public comment at meetings
Public comment at meetings. Requires a governing body of a state or local public agency (governing body) to allow members of the public to provide oral public comment at a public meeting. Allows a governing body to permit oral public comment at a public meeting that is conducted electronically during a state or local disaster emergency. Won unanimous committee approval Wednesday, mandates the governing body of school corporations allow any person physically present at a school board meeting to address the board for at least three minutes. (NWI Times)
House Bill 1318 Child care provided by a school corporation
Legislators in the Family, Children and Human Affairs committee unanimously passed a bill Thursday allowing public schools to bypass licensure requirements to provide child care but several expressed reservations and asked for continued work. (Tribune Star)
To find and contact your Indiana legislators: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/
Enacted—signed into law by the President
Passed the House and Senate, goes to the President next
H.R. 1192: Puerto Rico Recovery Accuracy in Disclosures Act of 2021
On motion that the House suspend the rules and agree to the Senate amendment Agreed to by voice vote.
S. 1404: Ghost Army Congressional Gold Medal Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote.
Passed the House, goes to the Senate next
H.R. 4673: EVEST Act Ensuring Veterans’ Smooth Transition Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to automatically enroll veterans who are eligible for VA health care into the VA health care system upon the receipt of information from the Defense Manpower Data Center of the Department of Defense that proves eligibility of such veterans for enrollment.” Passed 265-163. Indiana reps Spartz, Baird, Buschon and Banks voted nay, Rep. Hollingsworth didn’t vote; all others voted yea. View the vote.
Failed in the Senate
H.R. 5746: Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act
Failed to attain the 60 vote threshold needed to limit debate on a party-line, 50-50 vote. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer changed his vote to “nay” to give himself the procedural option to bring it up for another vote in the future, making the final margin 49-51.
Once that vote failed, Schumer and Democrats put forward a proposal to use the Senate’s “nuclear option” to allow the passage of election-related legislation on a simple majority vote after the minority party exhausts a talking filibuster, effectively eliminating the 60 vote threshold for such bills. That effort failed on a 52-48 vote, as centrist Sens. Manchin and Sinema joined all Republican senators in voting to uphold the filibuster and oppose the change. Changing the Senate’s precedents using the nuclear option required the support of all 50 Democratic senators plus Vice President Kamala Harris to break the tie. (Causes)
The week ahead
Neither chamber will be in session next week; the House will be back Feb. 1 and the Senate Jan. 31. No committee hearings will be held.
To find and contact your Members of Congress: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials
In other news
“Robert Califf’s nomination to lead the FDA is being threatened by the agency’s recent decision to expand access to abortion pills as a fresh wave of anti-abortion rights groups seeks to derail his confirmation…” (Politico)
Read a concise summary of the Russian military buildup around Ukraine’s boarders, along with other nonmilitary threats and the response of NATO countries thus far at Causes.
“The US Department of Education has distributed all $122 billion in school Covid-19 relief funding from the American Rescue Plan to states, the Biden administration announced Tuesday — a major milestone as school districts nationwide continue to grapple with Omicron’s surge.
The Biden administration last March announced the allocation of more than $122 billion for schools from the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, with two-thirds of those funds — totaling $81 billion — “made available to states immediately.” The remaining federal dollars were contingent on the approval of a state plan detailing how the funds would be used, the Education Department noted at the time.” (CNN) View the state plans, including Indiana’s plans for its allocation of over $1 billion.
A federal judge in Texas on Friday blocked President Biden’s mandate for federal workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the latest blow to the White House’s vaccination efforts.
Judge Jeffrey Brown, who was appointed by former President Trump, wrote that the order exceeded the president’s authority. (The Hill)
Trump campaign officials, led by Rudy Giuliani, oversaw efforts in December 2020 to put forward illegitimate electors from seven states that Trump lost, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the scheme. (CNN)
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis district attorney in the Atlanta area investigating former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state has requested a special grand jury to gather evidence and compel witnesses to testify in relation to her probe. (CNN)
Republican gubernatorial candidate David Perdue on Thursday called for the creation of an election police unit in Georgia, echoing a proposal by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and continuing Perdue’s focus on election falsehoods. (CNN)
The Supreme Court cleared the way Wednesday for the release of presidential records from the Trump White House to a congressional committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol. The court’s order means that more than 700 documents will be transferred to Congress that could shed light on the events leading up to the insurrection when hundreds of rioters converged on the Capitol attempting to stop certification of the 2020 presidential election results. (CNN)
The Supreme Court struck down another appeal to stay the Texas law that prohibits abortions while making ordinary citizens the enforcers. (The Hill)
West Virginia Republicans have introduced a 15-week abortion ban nearly identical to the Mississippi law currently under review by the Supreme Court, while Arizona has become the sixth state to consider a copycat bill of Texas’s vigilante-enforced ban (Crooked Media, What a Day)