You can make a difference
Take action now. Many of the following bills will harm Hoosiers and face a final vote in the Indiana Senate or House. Contact your senator or representative to urge them to vote no.
House Bill 1410 Mandatory job search for TANF eligibility Creates hurdle after hurdle for families applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, while tying the hands of the state agency that administers the program. This program helps Hoosier families to buy items that other federal assistance programs don’t cover, like laundry detergent, diapers, and feminine hygiene products. Families also use TANF for other necessities like rent, utilities, and transportation. More red tape will prevent very low income Hoosiers from accessing benefits to help their families. Faces a vote today in the Senate. FeedingIndiana’s Hungry has made it easy to take action by contacting your Senator. Click here.
House Bill 1134 Education matters
Passed out of committee to the House floor. Senator Eddie Melton, a member of the committee and among democrats who proposed amendments that were defeated by the committee. He said in a statement, “… It’s clear that white-washing our history, despite claims otherwise, is the intent of legislation like HB 1134. Passing this legislation was a mistake that will hinder our teachers and students, and I’m saddened to see members of this body support a bill that not only moves our state backward but is a detriment to future generations.” (NWI Times) Melton further stated, “Just because something makes us uncomfortable, it should not be prevented from discussion,” he said. “No one in here is accusing any white person of being a slave owner. But I still feel the impact of it.” ((Chalkbeat Indiana)
The bill has been amended, but even as amended this bill “would essentially prohibit teaching about affirmative action, reparations and perhaps many others as well. (Indiana Coalition for Public Education.) This bill has been an opportunity for legislators to push false narratives about teachers, degrade their profession, and chip away at the public trust toward educators. The result will be the mass exodus of public education teachers in a time when Indiana faces a teacher shortage. The result will be children who become adults with a poor grasp of factual American history and an inability to think critically about the impact of history and culture on the present. This is a political bill that is about playing to a base and getting their votes. Our teachers and kids are the collateral damage.
Senator Rogers, sponsor of the bill, said that history can be taught but that leaders at the time can’t be blamed for what happened, “If somebody did something in the past that was wrong, you would, I guess I don’t like to throw blame without knowing and having been there. I mean we can say that we don’t particularly like what happened in the past.” (WTHR)
Read a summary of the amended bill at the Associated Press.
Senate Bill 356 Teacher matters.
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. Passed out of committee to the House floor.
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.
Passed out of committee and will be heard on the House floor. Governor Holcomb has signaled his support for this bill. (Associated Press)
House Bill 1300 Bail
“Would continue the disturbing and counterproductive policy of treating charitable bail organizations more harshly than for-profit bail bondsmen. (Indianapolis Recorder) Passed the Senate and returned to the House with amendments. You can take action by contacting Governor Holcomb to urge hime to vote no. Hoosier Action makes it easy: https://www.hoosieraction.org/stop1300
House Bill 1217 Coerced abortion
Healthcare providers “must inquire with a pregnant woman seeking an abortion whether the abortion is coerced…Requires certain medical personnel who believe that an abortion is coerced to offer the pregnant woman information on certain services, the use of a telephone, and an alternative exit from the health care facility…” A final provision creates mandatory reporting requirements including the name and address of the pregnant person who had been coerced, but not that of the person(s) who coerced them. As of 2/23, third reading passed; returned to the House with amendments. (Women4Change)
House Bill 1077—Permitless carry—
Passed the House over the opposition of several major law enforcement organizations. In the Senate the bill was amended after opposition testimony by law enforcement entities. An amendent passed that would provide gun owners with a provisional permit to carry with them while awaiting their state-approved lifetime handgun license. Passed out of the Judiciary Committee. But it is now dead because it was reassigned to the Senate rules committee, and therefore didn’t make the committee deadline to advance to the Senate floor. This happened because of a possible rules violation due to the significant amendment passed Wednesday night.
However, the language could be resurrected in another bill in a conference committee since HB 1077 passed one chamber, the House. So, the bill does not advance to the Senate floor, but the proposal could come back before session ends in another bill. The Indiana Senate’s top Republican said Thursday that he and the majority of his caucus support the effort to pass so-called “constitutional carry” in Indiana and will find a path forward…He said Republicans will look for another bill in which to insert the measure. (IndyStar)
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) Passed out of committee to the Senate floor.
Senate Bill 361 Economic development
Under this bill the state could not only create economic development districts without local approval, but the legislation would also then capture the growth in local income, sales, and property taxes and then take those funds and spend them anywhere else in Indiana. (Indy Politics)
Senate Bill 265 and House Bill 1249 Carbon sequestration pilot project
These bills might be dead, but could remerge in another bill. League of Women Indiana urges you to contact your state senator and representative to oppose any language granting legal protection to the Wabash Valley Resources underground carbon capture and sequestration project.
These bills would give liability protection to this project in the Terre Haute area. Each was initially approved in its chamber of origin and then passed on to the second chamber. After a swell of opposition, the Senate bill was defeated in the House, and the Senate did not hear the House bill in committee. However, because the language had been passed initially by both chambers, it could reemerge in a different bill in conference committee.
Senate Bill 411 Commercial solar and wind energy
This bill that sought to incentivize the spread of commercial renewable energy systems in Indiana has moved forward in the Indiana Legislature, but without the incentives. It now faces a vote in the House. (Indiana Environmental Reporter)
House Bill 1354 Requirements for SNAP participants
Lawmakers Monday backed off a plan to cut off food stamps to Hoosiers who owe child support. A Senate committee changed a proposed bill into merely a study committee topic. The amended bill was voted out of committee to the Senate floor.
Not all bad…
House Bill 1214 Residential eviction actions
The Indiana Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would seal eviction filings in some instances. It now goes back to the House in amended form for a vote there. (Indiana Public Media)
House Bill 1294 Restraint of pregnant inmates
Establishes legal standards for how jails and prisons can use restraints on pregnant incarcerated people and creates a reporting mechanism to document all occasions where restraints are used in Indiana prisons. Passed the Senate, motion to concur filed in the House. (Women4Change)
House Bill 1079 Elements of rape
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. In the Senate for a final vote. (Women4Change)
House Bill 1140 Medicaid coverage for pregnant women
Expands the Medicaid income eligibility requirements for pregnant women, extends additional postpartum coverage from 2 months to 12 months, and removes the Medicaid limitations for pregnant women for pregnancy related medical services. Passed the Senate with amendments; motion to dissent filed in the House. (Women4Change)
Senate Bill 155 Human trafficking
Alters 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.” The Senate has concurred with House amendments. (Women4Change)
House Bill 1137 Protective orders
Defines the time range under which protective orders will stay in effect. Passed in the Senate; returned to the House with amendments. (Women4Change)
House Bill 1100 would have limited the flexibility of state agencies like IDEM and DNR to adopt any regulatory protections more stringent than those at the federal level. After public opposition this bill is dead—it did not receive a hearing in committee.
Passed the House and Senate, goes to Governor Holcomb next
House Bill 1002 Various tax matters
Passed the Senate unanimously after all the tax cuts were stripped from the bill. All that’s left in the bill are mostly provisions from Senate legislation. That includes language also in SB 1 that extends a tax refund to previously ineligible Hoosiers and language from SB 390 that ends all local food and beverage taxes in the next 20 years and sets up a process to renew them and create new ones. There’s also new language that requires the Hoosier Lottery to get legislative authorization before expanding to online gaming. (WFYI)
House Bill 1196 Homeowners associations and solar power
This bill is a pro-solar win. Many Hoosiers live in neighborhoods that have homeowner associations (HOAs). Some HOAs allow rooftop solar; and others, perhaps based on outdated notions of rooftop solar technology, prohibit solar. This bill gives a prospective solar project owner a pathway to petition their fellow HOA homeowners for approval, with the understanding that their project must abide by certain conditions (e.g. the system does not meaningfully extend beyond the roof).
House Bill 1013 State fossil
Indiana lawmakers have designated the American mastodon as the state’s first official fossil, advancing the proposal to the governor’s desk for final approval. (Indiana Public Media)
In other news
“With election commission rulings, nearly half of legislators seeking reelection are unopposed in either party…That will change in the coming months. Indiana election law allows party officials to fill vacancies on the general election ballot after the primaries; typically, some but not all of the vacancies are filled by the deadline for doing so, which this year is July 5.” (The Indiana Citizen)
The 2021 Indiana Civic Health Index unveiled Tuesday showed that although the state has taken its first steps toward improving civic education in its schools, Hoosiers still rank low nationally for participation in the voting process. (The Indiana Citizen)
“The Indiana Department of Transportation and the engineering firm Troyer Group will hold a public hearing March 9 regarding a proposed roundabout at U.S. 231 and Cline Avenue between Crown Point and St. John… The public hearing will begin at 6 p.m. and be held at Suncrest Christian Church, 10009 Parrish Ave., St. John. Project representatives will be available to answer questions during an open house beginning at 5 p.m. and again after the presentation. Public statements for the record will be taken as part of the public hearing procedure.” (NWI Times)
To find and contact your Indiana legislators: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/
Enacted, signed into law by the President
S. 583: Promoting Rigorous and Innovative Cost Efficiencies for Federal Procurement and Acquisitions Act of 2021
Congress convenes Monday after a recess.
The Senate is expected to take up an abortion rights bill that was passed in the House. It is unlikely to move past the the filibuster’s 60 vote threshold to allow debate to continue. It will also take up a bipartisan post office reform bill. It may also move on legislation related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “Committees will hold hearings on global security challenges and strategy; federal support for preventing and responding to carjackings; and implementation of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.”
The House will likely take up bills to “make lynching a federal crime that’s distinct from other applicable crimes (like murder or hate crime statutes), a bill to ban discrimination based on hair texture or hairstyle in federal programs or public accommodations and a bill to expand healthcare coverage for veterans who were exposed to toxic substances during the course of their service. Additional legislation may be brought to the floor. Committees will hold hearings on state and local recovery funds under the American Rescue Plan; substance use, suicide risk, and the healthcare system; and collective bargaining by congressional staff.” (Causes)
To find and contact your Members of Congress: https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials
In other news
The State of the Union will be Tuesday night in the House chamber in the Capitol. It is President Biden’s first SOTU. (Punchbowl News)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced guideline changes allowing most Americans to unmask indoors, which health experts say may be the first step in shifting the U.S. to an “endemic phase” of the pandemic. (USA Today)
“The three white men convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was jogging in a south Georgia neighborhood in February 2020, were convicted on federal hate crime charges on Tuesday by a predominantly white jury.” (The Hill)
Three former Minneapolis police officers charged with depriving George Floyd of his civil rights on the day of his murder in 2020 were each found guilty on all counts Thursday in federal court. All three officers — J Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane — were charged with denying Floyd his right to medical care, while Kueng and Thao also faced charges for failing to intervene with former officer Derek Chauvin’s use of force. (KARE 11)
President Biden on Friday “nominated federal appeals court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, the first Black woman selected to serve on a court…She “would be the high court’s first former public defender; she possesses the elite legal background of other justices as well.” (Associated Press)
“The Supreme Court has rejected a case seeking to overturn a 2020 victory by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe that struck down a permit for the Dakota Access oil pipeline.” (The Guardian)
The Environmental Protection Agency faces a Supreme Court case on Monday that could deal a significant blow to the federal government’s ability to fight the climate crisis and prevent its worst outcomes. Republican attorneys general will argue the EPA has no authority to regulate planet-warming emissions from the power sector. Instead, they will say that authority should be given to Congress.” (CNN)
“The high court said Tuesday it would hear the case of Colorado-based web designer Lorie Smith. Smith offers graphic and website design services and wants to expand to wedding website services, but she says her religious beliefs would lead her to decline any request from a same-sex couple to design a wedding website. She also wants to post a statement on her website about her beliefs, but that would run afoul of a Colorado anti-discrimination law. Smith had argued the law violates her free speech and religious rights. The Supreme Court said in taking the case, however, that it would look only at the free speech issue. It said it would decide whether a law that requires an artist to speak or stay silent violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment. The case is expected to be argued in the fall.”(NWI Times)
Moody’s Analyticshas issued a report that defends the American Rescue Plan. “The ARP has been criticized as being too large, overstimulating an already fast-improving economy and significantly contributing to the currently uncomfortably high inflation,” Moody’s analysts write. “This perspective is not consistent with our results. Without the ARP, the U.S. economy would have come close to suffering a double-digit recession in spring 2021.” (Politico)
“The Supreme Court on Tuesday turned away an appeal by former President Trump in his dispute with congressional investigators who have sought access to Trump-era records as part of a House panel’s investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol…Tuesday’s development formally ends Trump’s legal effort to stymie lawmakers’ efforts to obtain a batch of schedules, call logs, emails and other requested documents that the committee says could illuminate key circumstances surrounding the deadly Capitol riot.” (The Hill)
“World leaders Thursday reacted to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with raw outrage — and vows of unprecedented sanctions — that shrouded a sense of powerlessness to defend Ukraine militarily without running the risk of a wider war in Europe.” (Associated Press)
“The White House, along with the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Canada, announced Saturday evening that they would expel certain Russian banks from SWIFT, the high-security network that connects thousands of financial institutions around the world, pledging to “collectively ensure that this war is a strategic failure for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.”” (CNN)
The “NATO Response Force is being activated for the first time to bolster the defenses of countries on the alliance’s eastern front amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine… NATO allies are increasing shipments of anti-tank, anti-armor, ammunition, and other military equipment to Ukraine to sustain their capacity to resist Russian forces. ” (Causes)
“In a dramatic escalation of East-West tensions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian nuclear forces put on high alert Sunday in response to what he called “aggressive statements” by leading NATO powers.” (Associated Press)
Why Ukraine matters
Ukraine is a country that is among the top countries in the world in agriculture, various mineral, gas and coal reserves, and is a top exporter of a variety of products. It is a democratic country that borders Russia, an autocratic dictatorship. It also borders NATO countries. It is the second-largest country by area in Europe by area and has a population of over 40 million–more than Poland. (Ukranian Worldwide Information Network)
Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations confronted Russia’s representative during an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday, telling him as Russia’s invasion began: “There is no purgatory for war criminals. They go straight to hell, ambassador.” (Axios)
“Two former presidents—Democrat Jimmy Carter and Republican George W. Bush—today released statements condemning the invasion and standing behind Ukraine. Bush wrote, “The American government and people must stand in solidarity with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people as they seek freedom and the right to choose their own future. We cannot tolerate the authoritarian bullying and danger that Putin poses.”
And yet, while some leading Republicans are expressing support for Ukraine and simply ignoring President Joe Biden, the same Republicans who have been most closely associated with Trump and the January 6 insurrection are trying to use Russia’s attack on Ukraine to undermine the president. These include Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who took over for Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY) when the House Republicans stripped her of her position as the third most powerful House Republican, tweeted that “Joe Biden is unfit to serve as Commander-in-Chief. He has consistently given into [sic] Putin’s demands and shown nothing but weakness.” This is simply an extraordinary statement for a lawmaker to issue at a time when a president is rallying the global community to stop an invasion of another democracy, but she is not alone. Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, Lauren Boebert, Andy Biggs Paul Gosar, Senators Ted Cruz , Tom Cotton , and Ron Johnson and others all are working to undermine Biden in this moment of global crisis.
Diplomat Aaron David Miller, who spent 24 years in the State Department, had his own assessment of the president. He said: “So far, Biden has done a masterful job of leading and maintaining both E.U. and NATO unity.”” (Letters from an American)