02/20/2022 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

Many bills still being considered in the Indiana General Assembly are very troubling.
We urge you to contact your representative and senator about bills of concern to you.
House bills are now in the Senate, so you will need to contact your representative.
Senate bills are now in the House, so contact your Senator.
Some bills are still in committee; you can also contact the committee chairs and members. Link to the assigned committee in the description of each bill below. Or see the list of committees on the Indiana General Assembly website: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2022/committees/
This is a short session so we need to act now.


House Bill 1001 Administrative authority; COVID 19 immunizations
Passed the House last month, and “the amended version was approved by the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee Wednesday. It now heads to the Senate floor.
The bill still requires any private employer with a COVID-19 vaccine mandate to offer employees a testing option. But several changes have been approved.
Employers would no longer be required to cover the cost of testing for workers, so they could charge employees for those tests. Religious exemptions only need to be accepted if they comply with federal law. And employees whose exemptions are denied would no longer be automatically eligible to receive unemployment benefits.” (Fox59)

House Bill 1077—Permitless carry—
Passed the House over the opposition of several major law enforcement organizations. Referred to Committee on Judiciary; not yet scheduled for a hearing.

House Bill 1134 Education matters
The bill prevents teaching “that any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individuals’ sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin or political affiliation.”
Last week dozens testified against an amended HB 1134, calling it, “an act of censorship intended to reduce meaningful conversation,” that it “discounts teachers’ professional training and censors classroom discussions,” and is “unnecessary, complicated and divisive.” Public testimony was cut off after less than 2 hours even though nearly 200 had signed up to speak. (Chalkbeat Indiana) This bill is still in the Education and Career Development committee in the Senate since no vote was taken.
Read an update on the bill at Indiana Public Media. Concerns are that even as amended this bill “would essentially prohibit teaching about affirmative action, reparations and perhaps many others as well.” This bill’s restrictions on providing mental health supports and services are also very concerning. Read a summary of the bill and its amendments at Indiana Coalition for Public Education.

Senate Bill 17 Material harmful to minors
This bill exposes librarians to a level 6 felony on the charge of providing materials deemed inappropriate by some parents or members of the community. Of course these very materials may be valued by others. Assigned to Committee on Education in the House. Not yet scheduled for a hearing.

Senate Bill 331 Education matters.
Presently ESA’s are only authorized for a few hundred special education students but the unsaid plan is to invest in an online portal so that the ESA is ready to expand and allow all students to be eligible for ESA grants.  
Problems with Education Savings Accounts.
• No standards. All a parent needs to do to get the money (approx. $7,000 plus special education funding) that normally goes to schools is to fill out an online application.
• No accountability, no oversight or no protections that the money is being used for the education for the intended child.
• Takes tax dollars allocated for public education and diverts that funding to Private, Charter and Home Schools
Passed out of the Education committee and referred to Ways and Means. (League of Women Voters Indiana)

Senate Bill 356 Teacher matters. (This language is used in HB 1251 which was referred to Committee on Education and Career Development, but not yet scheduled for a hearing.)
Allows school corporations to issue adjunct teacher permits and hire adjunct teachers. Those employees would not be covered by collective bargaining agreements or salary schedules. Adjunct teachers would not have to meet the licensing requirements of certified teachers.  SB 356 says districts could hire adjunct teachers on a part time basis but HB 1251 opens employment to part or full time. referred to Committee on Education where it is scheduled for a hearing Feb. 21. (League of Women Voters Indiana)

Senate Bill 1041 Participation in school sports.
Prohibits a male, based on the biological sex at birth, from participating on an athletic team or sport designated as being a female. (2)  Establishes a civil action for a violation of these provisions and protects institutions from being subjected to civil liability or criminal action for acting. (League of Women Voters Indiana)
Passed out of committee and will be heard on the House floor.

House Bill 1072 School referendum levies.  
Requires school corporation to share a portion of revenue received from a school referendum tax levy with each charter school that is in the school district that students attend. (Districts already have the option as Indianapolis Public Schools has recently decided to do.) (League of Women Voters Indiana) Referred to Committee on Appropriations; not yet scheduled for a hearing.

House Bill 1093 Education matters
Would require all police who regularly work inside public schools during regular hours to undergo basic school resource officer training. That training would include lessons on adolescent brain development, how to interact with students with disabilities and understanding racial biases, among other issues. (WFYI)

Supported by environmental groups
House Bill 1196 Homeowners associations and solar power
If a homeowner association (HOA) prohibits rooftop solar, 1196 would give a prospective solar owner a pathway to petition their fellow homeowners in the HOA to be allowed to install their individual array.  They would need to do this quickly, because the 2017 IGA session phased out net metering effective this June and with it the financial incentive to install solar.  Net metering relates to the rate at which a household sells back to its electric utility the energy that its solar array creates; attempts this session to correct this did not advance. (League of Women Voters Indiana)

Senate Bill 411 Commercial and wind energy
Seeks “to make siting regulations much more predictable for renewable energy companies seeking to expand into Indiana by rewarding communities that choose to adopt certain renewable energy siting standards with financial incentives. The bill is the second attempt to establish standardized wind and solar siting requirements in the state after several dozen Indiana counties enacted ordinances discouraging wind and solar projects. The bill has widespread support from business groups, environmental advocacy organizations and electric utility trade organizations.” The bill passed out of committee unanimously. (Indiana Environmental Reporter)

Opposed by environmental groups and the League of Women Voters Indiana
Senate Bill 265 (passed out of committee and is close to passing on the House floor.) and House Bill 1249: are about Wabash Valley Resources’ carbon sequestration plan and would establish near-blanket immunity from any damage caused to neighboring residents and businesses. (League of Women Voters Indiana)

House Bill 1209 paves the way for unproven carbon sequestration from new industrial sources of emissions throughout the State. Referred to Committee on Natural Resources and scheduled for a hearing Feb. 21. (League of Women Voters Indiana)

Senate Bill 271 Small modular nuclear reactors 
Would “empower the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to basically approve the construction, purchase or lease of small modular nuclear reactors for use in Indiana as long as the company trying to get the reactor built provides evidence of a plan to apply for all the state and federal licenses and permits necessary. The bill would also add small modular reactor projects to the list of clean energy projects that are eligible for financial incentives, including the recovery of costs through rate increases for utility customers. Consumer and environmental advocates opposed the bill in its current form, saying it would allow companies to pass on the financial risk of undertaking unproven reactor projects to customers.” (Indiana Environmental Reporter) Passed out of committee and will be heard on the House floor.

House Bill 1100 limits the flexibility of state agencies like IDEM and DNR to adopt any regulatory protections more stringent than those at the federal level. Referred to Committee on Commerce and Technology where it is on the schedule for Feb. 24. (League of Women Voters Indiana)

Senate Bill 269 decreases inspection of dams creating down-stream hazards at a time when Indiana’s precipitation has increased by 5.6 inches annually.  Passed out of committee and will be heard on the House floor. (League of Women Voters Indiana)

Voting rights
House Bill 1116 Electronic voting machines
This bill will add “small printers to thousands of electronic touch-screen voting machines and is being criticized by voting rights groups as relying on ineffective and outdated technology. (WFYI)  
The Senate Elections Committee adopted an amendment to eliminate new restrictions on absentee mail-in voting that the House-passed bill would have created. Previously, the legislation would have required individuals to attest under threat of perjury that they wouldn’t be able to vote in person on election day or during early voting. Passed out of Committee on Elections,  reassigned to Committee on Appropriations (Indiana Senate Democrats)

Women’s rights and health
Opposed by women’s rights groups
House Bill 1217 Coerced abortion ban. Passed out of committee and will be heard on the Senate floor. (Opposed by women’s rights groups

Supported by women’s rights groups
House Bill 1140 Increased Medicaid coverage. It extends Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 12 months postpartum and broadens eligibility of coverage by increasing Medicaid income limits. Passed out of committee and will be heard on the Senate floor (S

House Bill 1294 Restraint of Pregnant Inmates. This bill prohibits the shackling of pregnant inmates in labor and sets guidelines for restraint use for pregnant inmates. Passed the Senate unanimously and will be sent to the governor to sign or veto.

House Bill 1079 defines consent within 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 out of committee to the Senate floor. (Women4Change)

House Bill 1081 and Senate Bill 155 alter the definition of a “protected person” in cases of human trafficking to refer to “an individual who is less than 14 years of age at the time of the offense but less than 18 years of age at the time of trial” and “increases the penalty if the human trafficking victim is less than 18 years of age.” This bill also ensures that a person charged with human trafficking cannot claim the victim gave consent or that they were unaware the victim was under 18. A final provision states that police “must report human trafficking investigations to the attorney general within 30 days after an investigation begins.” (Women4Change) HB 1081 has been referred to committee but isn’t yet scheduled for a hearing. SB 155 passed the House and was returned to the Senate with amendments.

House Bill 1137 defines the time range under which protective orders will stay in effect. This includes orders that are effective for “(1) two years after the date of issuance; or (2) indefinitely after the date of issuance if the respondent is required to register as a lifetime sex or violent offender and the petitioner was the victim of the crime that resulted in the requirement that the respondent register as a lifetime sex or violent offender.” Passed out of committee to the Senate floor. (Women4Change)

Criminal justice
House Bill 1300 Bail
“Would continue the disturbing and counterproductive policy of treating charitable bail organizations more harshly than for-profit bail bondsmen. The legislation seeks to severely limit the number of people who charitable bail organizations can help while also connecting them with social services; it will only exacerbate the jail overcrowding issue faced by law enforcement across our state…Restricting charitable bail organizations while propping up the bail bonds industry is like cracking down on food pantries to protect the interests of a restaurant association.” (Indianapolis Recorder)
“Both the House and Senate have approved versions of bills limiting the ability of groups like The Bail Project to bail people out of jail. The latest revision says bail charities can post bail for nonviolent felonies — previous versions limited them to misdemeanors.
But both versions of the bill cap the amount bail charities can put up at $2,000. Bail Project operations manager David Gaspar calls it a direct attack on his group and on the poor. He notes people have a constitutional right both to bail and to the presumption of innocence, and charges the bill would restrict those rights to those who can afford private bail bonds.” (WIBC) Passed out of committee and will be heard on the Senate floor.

Passed both chambers
 Senate Bill 1 Automatic taxpayer refund
“Indiana lawmakers on Thursday approved expanding the number of people eligible for anticipated $125 payments this spring under the state’s automatic taxpayer refund law. Indiana House members voted 88-0 to join the Senate in approving a bill modifying the law so that about 450,000 people who don’t earn enough to owe any state income taxes are also eligible for the refund payments. Officials say those residents pay other taxes that are collected by state government.
The bill now goes to Gov. Eric Holcomb, who proposed the eligibility expansion in December.” (Inside Indiana Business)

House Bill 1013 State fossil
Indiana lawmakers haves designated the American mastodon as the state’s first official fossil, advancing the proposal to the governor’s desk for final approval. (WRTV)

In other news

Brown County Schools is investigating a letter that would allow parents to opt their children out of Black History Month-inspired diversity lessons.  (Indiana Public Media)

2022 Election
Republican Senate candidate Danny Niederberger and Democrats Valerie McCray and Haneefah Khaaliq  were rejected from the May primary for not submitting the required 500 signatures per congressional district required to make the ballot. Republican U.S. Sen. Todd Young and Democrat Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. appear to have submitted more than enough signatures and will run in their primaries unopposed. (Howey Politics)

The Indiana Department of Health released significantly revamped COVID-19 guidance for schools on Thursday that includes an end to contact tracing and quarantines for students exposed to COVID-19.  (Chalkbeat Indiana)

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


“USICA/Endless Frontiers/America COMPETES/Make It In America – the various names of the anti-China legislation – will be the subject of a high-stakes negotiation between the House and Senate in the months ahead.” (Punchbowl News) The Senate version ( S. 1260:United States Innovation and Competition Act of 2021) was approved by the Senate on June 8, 2021, by a vote of 68 to 32. The House has made changes to that bill to incorporate supply chain issues, inflation and climate change. The House and Senate versions must now be reconciled into a final version and approved by both chambers before being sent to the President and signed into law.

In the Senate

S.Res. 519: A resolution supporting an independent and democratic Ukraine against any further Russian military invasion, and for other purposes.
Submitted in the Senate, considered, and agreed to without amendment and with a preamble by Voice Vote. This simple resolution was agreed to on February 17, 2022. That is the end of the legislative process for a simple resolution.

The Senate is bogged down on negotiations to produce a reformed Electoral Count Act; there may not be a bill until early summer. Republicans and Democrats couldn’t agree on a Russia sanctions bill and will now be sending a letter to Putin instead. Priorities for Senator Manchin are the Electoral Count Act and the federal budget. Build Back Better remains dead, as, apparently, do parts that many Democrats hoped they could pass, at least for now. (Politico) and (Politico)

Passed the House and Senate, goes to President Biden to sign

H.R. 6617 Further Additional Extending Government Funding Act
Would extend funding for the federal government at previously enacted levels through March 11, 2022, to prevent a partial government shutdown when the current funding extensions lapses after February 18th. Passed in the Senate 65-27 with Senator Young voting yea and Braun voting nay. Passed in the House 272-162. (Causes) View the vote in the House. View the vote in the Senate.

H.R. 1667: Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act
Passed Senate without amendment by Voice Vote.

H.R. 189: John Lewis NIMHD Research Endowment Revitalization Act of 2021
Passed Senate without amendment by Voice Vote.

Passed the Senate, goes to the House next

S. 3541: Health Care for Burn Pit Veterans Act
Passed Senate without amendment by Voice Vote.

S. 697: Harriet Tubman Bicentennial Commemorative Coin Act
Passed Senate without amendment by Voice Vote.

S. 3059: Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act of 2021
Passed Senate without amendment by Voice Vote.

S. 3373: Protecting Our Gold Star Families Education Act
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 3706: A bill to provide for the application of certain provisions of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 for fiscal year 2021.
Passed without amendment by Unanimous Consent.

The week ahead

“Lawmakers will be on recess this week for Presidents’ Day.
When Congress returns, negotiating a bipartisan appropriations package that covers the rest of fiscal year 2022 will be a priority…” (Causes) No committee hearings are expected.

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

In other news

The California legislature has “unveiled new legislation that would allow Californians to sue makers and sellers of assault weapons, .50 BMG rifles, ghost guns or ghost gun kits. Officials didn’t go into the details of the bill, but made it clear that it’s based on a Texas law allowing people to sue abortion providers.” (Politico)

“The monthly child poverty rate increased from 12.1 percent in December 2021 to 17 percent in January 2022, the highest rate since the end of 2020. The 4.9 percentage point (41 percent) increase in poverty represents 3.7 million more children in poverty due to the expiration of the monthly Child Tax Credit payments. Latino and Black children experienced the largest percentage-point increases in poverty (7.1 percentage points and 5.9 percentage points, respectively)” (Poverty Center)

Climate and environment
“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued sweeping new guidance yesterday for natural gas projects, including a first-ever climate change threshold, upending decades of precedent for how major energy infrastructure is approved.” Opposed by republicans and Senator Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, who called FERC’s moves “reckless.” “The Commission went too far by prioritizing a political agenda over their main mission — ensuring our nation’s energy reliability and security,” Manchin said in a statement. “The only thing they accomplished today was constructing additional road blocks that further delay building out the energy infrastructure our country desperately needs.”” The guidance is likely to face litigation. (Energy Wire)

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced a US$1 billion investment in pilot projects that support farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners implementing climate-smart conservation practices.” (FoodTank)

“The Environmental Protection Agency will use the bulk of the $1 billion investment in the Great Lakes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the clean-up and restoration of the Great Lakes’ most environmentally degraded sites, securing clean water and a better environment for millions of Americans in the Great Lakes region.” (EPA)

“By 2050, seas lapping against the U.S. shore will be 10 to 12 inches (0.25 to 0.3 meters) higher, with parts of Louisiana and Texas projected to see waters a foot and a half (0.45 meters) higher, according to a 111-page report issued Tuesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and six other federal agencies.” (Associated Press)

The courts
“Kim Potter, the former suburban Minneapolis police officer who said she confused her handgun for her Taser when she fatally shot Daunte Wright, was sentenced Friday to two years in prison, a penalty that drew outrage from Wright’s family as too lenient.” (Politico)

A New York judge ordered the former president, along with his children Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr to testify in a long-running state civil investigation into his business practices. (Associated Press)

“The families of nine victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting announced Tuesday they have agreed to a $73 million settlement of a lawsuit against the maker of the rifle used to kill 20 first graders and six educators in 2012.” (Associated Press)

“The BA.2 virus — a subvariant of the Omicron coronavirus variant — isn’t just spreading faster than its distant cousin, it may also cause more severe disease and appears capable of thwarting some of the key weapons we have against Covid-19, new research suggests. New lab experiments from Japan show that BA.2 may have features that make it as capable of causing serious illness as older variants of Covid-19, including Delta. And like Omicron, it appears to largely escape the immunity created by vaccines. A booster shot restores protection, making illness after infection about 74% less likely.” (CNN)

“The Biden administration’s request for $30 billion in additional funds to fight COVID-19 is facing resistance from lawmakers. The administration, in talks with lawmakers this week, outlined the need for the additional funds for areas such as vaccines, testing capacity and treatments, though it is not yet a formal request. Officials said previous funds to fight the virus have already been spent or allocated.” (The Hill)

“The Biden administration plans to roll out a new rule eliminating potential hurdles for immigrants depending on public benefits and trying to obtain legal status, according to a newly proposed regulation. The proposed change brings the so-called “public charge” rule back to the forefront. The Trump administration had modified the decades-old regulation in a way that could reshape the legal immigrant population in the United States by making it more difficult for individuals to obtain status…the Biden administration proposes to adopt a standard similar to what was used prior to 2019. The proposed rule will have a 60-day public comment period.” (CNN)

January 6
President Joe Biden has rejected a request by former President Donald Trump to shield White House visitor logs from the committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, including appointments for individuals granted entry to the White House complex that day. (CNN)

“Avian flu has now been detected in flocks of birds in Virginia and Kentucky, just days after Indiana officials had to euthanize 29,000 turkeys due to the spread of the virus, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Monday…The culled birds will not enter the food system at a time when the agricultural industry is already being challenged by rising inflation and supply chain issues.” (Fox Business)

“Mostly Republican governors and legislators in more than a dozen states are fighting to give parents more control over what their children learn in public schools, banking on so-called parents’ rights bills as a political winner. But educators worry that empowering parents to veto books and history lessons would push many already stressed teachers out of the profession.”  (Stateline)