03/14/2022 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

Join us for a town hall with Indiana State Representative Moseley on 
Wednesday, March 23, at 6pm central time.

Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Learn about this year’s legislative session and what to expect for the rest of this year and in 2023 in the state legislature. Many devastating and controversial bills were considered this year and some passed. What can we expect going forward?

Voter registration for the primary ends on April 4. Check your voter registration, register to vote and help others register, all online. Learn how and about important deadlines on our website: https://indivisiblenwi.org/2022/03/your-guide-to-voter-registration/

PLEASE REACH OUT TO GOVERNOR HOLCOMB urging him to VETO HB 1296, permitless carrygovholcomb@gov.in.gov or  317-232-4567

PLEASE REACH OUT TO GOVERNOR HOLCOMB urging him to VETO HB 1211. This bill will significantly impede our environmental and other state agencies, both in terms of workloads and costs, and in delays to time-sensitive emergencies rules. 
govholcomb@gov.in.gov or  317-232-4567 

PLEASE REACH OUT TO GOVERNOR HOLCOMB urging him to VETO H B 1300–Charitable Bail, a bill that
“would continue the disturbing and counterproductive policy of treating charitable bail organizations more harshly than for-profit bail bondsmen. (Indianapolis Recorder) You can take action by contacting Governor Holcomb to urge him to vote no. Hoosier Action makes it easy: https://www.hoosieraction.org/stop1300 


Passed both chambers, sent to the governor

House Bill 1296 Firearms matter—permitless carry
“Republican lawmakers pushed through a bill that would repeal Indiana’s requirement for a permit to carry a handgun in public on Tuesday, further loosening the state’s firearms laws despite public opposition from the state police superintendent and some major law enforcement organizations.
The House and Senate approved the repeal as Republican lawmakers revived it last week after conflict among GOP senators had temporarily sidelined the issue…
State Police Superintendent Doug Carter, joined by the state’s Fraternal Order of Police, police chiefs association and county prosecutors association, strongly objected the proposal. They maintained the permit repeal would strip officers of a screening tool for quickly identifying dangerous people they encounter who shouldn’t have guns.” (Associated Press) Read the statement from Moms Demand Action. View the vote in the House. View the vote in the Senate.
Call and/or email Governor Holcomb: https://www.in.gov/gov/ask-eric/

House Bill 1211 State and local administration
House Bill 1211 includes language from HB 1100, an anti-environmental, anti-health bill. HB 1100 did not pass, but HB 1211 did. As amended in conference committee and adopted by both chambers, HB 1211 includes harmful regulations from HB 1100: 1) It will increase agencies’ workloads by requiring them to readopt rules every four years instead of every seven years; and it can thus increase costs because of the need to hire more staff.  2) It will delay time-sensitive emergency rules, such as those addressing public health, wildlife, or farm animal diseases, by giving the Attorney General up to 30 days to review emergency rules. (League of Women Voters and Hoosier Environmental Council)

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) You can take action by contacting Governor Holcomb to urge him to vote no. Hoosier Action makes it easy: https://www.hoosieraction.org/stop1300 
Indiana lawmakers late Tuesday night sent Gov. Eric Holcomb legislation that opponents say would severely limit the ability of charitable bail organizations to help poor Hoosiers.  (Indy Star) View the vote.

House Bill 1002 Various tax matters Includes “the elimination of the utility receipts tax and an income tax cut from 3.23% to 2.9% over a period of seven years — if certain conditions are met. The first tax decrease from 3.23% to 3.15% would be automatic in 2023.” (Fox 59) Passed the House 82-17 (View the vote.) and in the Senate unanimously. Eliminating the gas tax through July, promoted by Democrats was rejected by Republicans. (Fox 59)

Failed to pass both chambers

A measure to remove a legal defense for Indiana schools and public libraries accused of sharing harmful material failed during this year’s legislative session. The Senate voted down the proposal as its final move before adjournment. It was initially proposed as Senate Bill 17 and part of a controversial curriculum bill, HB 1134. Both bills died during the session’s second half, after missing key legislative deadlines. The language was later added into House Bill 1369 alongside a lot of different ideas, about things like towing, drugs and parole. It was narrowly defeated in the Senate 21-29. View the vote(WFYI)

In other news

“Indiana State Sen. Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) and State Rep. Gregory Porter (D-Indianapolis) called on the Republican supermajority to join them in supporting the suspension of gas sales and gas excise tax through at least July in order to curb soaring prices Hoosiers are paying at the pumps. “For years, the supermajority has said they’re on the side of working Hoosiers – if that’s true, cutting the gas taxes should be an easy yes. Today, Indiana’s average gas price hit $4.15 per gallon – this is a huge blow to Hoosiers just trying to live their daily lives,” Lanane said.
While the democrats admitted suspending the gas taxes could cost the state an estimated $300 million, Porter pointed out the state could afford the hit due to the previously boasted $5 billion projected surplus.” (Fox59)

A spam filter blocked as many as 70,000 emails sent to Indiana legislators about a contentious bill that aimed to place restrictions on teaching about racism and political topics.  (AP Indiana)

The federal government is investing another $45 million in 10 Northwest Indiana infrastructure and economic development projects recommended by U.S. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan, D-Highland. The money was included in the just passed omnibus spending bill. Tens of thousands in more dollars is being directed to Northwest Indiana from the American Rescue Plan.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

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


Passed the House and Senate, President next

H.J.Res. 75: Extension of Continuing Appropriations Act, 2022
“This joint resolution provides continuing FY2022 appropriations to federal agencies through March 15, 2022. It is known as a continuing resolution (CR) and prevents a government shutdown that would otherwise occur if the FY2022 appropriations bills have not been enacted when the existing CR expires on March 11, 2022.” Passed by voice vote in both chambers. (Congress.gov) This bill was necessary to allow time to prepare the omnibus spending bill below to be printed and filed and sent to the President.

HR 2471 Consolidated Appropriations Act
“A massive spending bill for the fiscal year that began over five months ago is headed to President Joe Biden’s desk after the Senate cleared it for his signature late Thursday, putting an end to a frenzied stretch of negotiations in both chambers this week. On a 68-31 vote, the Senate passed the 2,700-page, $1.5 trillion omnibus containing all 12 fiscal 2022 spending bills, $13.6 billion in supplemental appropriations to address the crisis in Ukraine and a lengthy list of unrelated measures fortunate enough to ride on the must-pass vehicle. 
As Republicans sought, the omnibus allows for almost equal increases in defense and nondefense spending from last year’s levels, with a $46 billion or 6.7 percent boost for nondefense programs and a $42 billion, 5.6 percent increase in defense accounts. Democrats had sought roughly double that amount for nondefense programs.” (Roll Call)
Passed in the Senate 67-31. Senator Braun voted nay; Senator Young voted yea. View the vote. Passed the day before in the House 220-180 with Representatives Mrvan and Carson voting yea; all other Indiana reps voted nay. View the vote. (Roll Call)
Some of the provisions CNN:

  • Increases for congressional offices, staff and Capital police
  • A boost for the IRS, the largest increase since 2001.
  • Money for election security
  • Increase in money for high-poverty schools and Head Start and financial aid boost
  • More Funds for medical research and public health
  • Unlocks new infrastructure investment, part of the Infrastructure Act but couldn’t be released until passage of the appropriations legislation.
  • Renews the Violence Against Women Act, which expired in 2018.
  • Increase in funding for child nutrition programs.
  • Increased funding for cybersecurity protection
  • Closing a vaping loophole by moving synthetic nicotine under the FDA
  • Increased spending on defense and national security (more than half of the spending bill)
  • Ukraine aid
  • Covid-19 relief, requested by the White House and originally in the bill, was stripped over offsets. A stand alone bill is expected from the House, but unlikely to pass in the Senate.

H.R. 55: Emmett Till Antilynching Act
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.

H.R. 3076: Postal Service Reform Act of 2022
Passed Senate without amendment by Yea-Nay Vote. 79 – 19. Senator Young voted yea; Senator Braun voted nay. View the vote.

H.R. 2545: To amend title 38, United States Code, to clarify the role of doctors of podiatric medicine in the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes.
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.

Passed the House, Senate next

H.R. 5681: Shadow Wolves Enhancement Act
GovTrack.us: “To authorize the reclassification of the tactical enforcement officers (commonly known as the “Shadow Wolves”) in the Homeland Security Investigations tactical patrol unit operating on the lands of the Tohono O’odham Nation as special agents, and for other purposes.” Passed 387 – 33. All Indiana reps except Banks voted yea. View the vote.

H.R. 5615: Homeland Security Capabilities Preservation Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill directs the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to submit to Congress a plan to make federal assistance available to certain urban areas that previously received Urban Area Security Initiative funding to preserve homeland security capabilities related to acts of terrorism.” On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill.  Agreed to by voice vote.

H.R. 5616: DHS Basic Training Accreditation Improvement Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “This bill addresses issues involving accreditation and law enforcement training, research, and development at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).” The vote was 390-33. All Indiana reps voted yea. View the vote.

S. 658: National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “This bill allows the Department of Homeland Security to work together with a consortium composed of nonprofit entities to develop, update, and deliver cybersecurity training in support of homeland security.” Passed 403-19; all Indiana reps voted yea. View the vote. Passed the House with changes, so it was sent back to the Senate.

H.R. 6968 Suspending Energy Imports from Russia Act
Causes: “This bill would ban Russian energy imports effective 45 days after this bill’s enactment.” The vote was 414-1. All Indiana reps voted yea. View the vote.

Passed the Senate, House next

S. 2299: CADETS Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill expands age requirements for the Student Incentive Payments Program, which provides financial support to cadets who attend one of six state maritime academies and commit to a post-graduation service obligation.” Passed Senate without amendment by Voice Vote.

S. 2089: Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act of 2021
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

The week ahead

The Senate may vote on the nomination of Shalanda Young to be director of the Office of Management and Budget Monday or Tuesday and consider other nominations and legislation later in the week. The House will vote on noncontroversial bills. They may bring to the floor a bill to prohibit the enforcement of forced arbitration agreements and a bill to ban discrimination on the basis of hair texture or hairstyles. They may consider a bill to end preferential trade treatment for Russia in terms of tariffs. Read details about upcoming legislation along with expected committee hearings in both chambers at Causes.

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

In other news

“President Joe Biden on Friday called for suspending normal trade relations with Russia and said the US would ban imports of seafood, vodka and diamonds from the nation as part of an effort to ramp up economic pressure on Russia for invading Ukraine. Biden said the US, along with the G7 and European Union, will call for revoking “most favored nation” status for Russia, referred to as permanent normal trade relations in the US. The status means two nations have agreed to trade under the best possible terms, which can include lower tariffs, fewer barriers to trade and high imports, Biden said. The move requires approval from Congress and legislation is expected to be introduced following Biden’s announcement.” (CNN)

“President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order on government oversight of cryptocurrency that urges the Federal Reserve to explore whether the central bank should jump in and create its own digital currency…Under the executive order, Biden also has directed the Treasury Department and other federal agencies to study the impact of cryptocurrency on financial stability and national security…The order establishes the first comprehensive federal digital assets strategy for the United States.” (Associated Press)

President Biden announced Tuesday that the U.S. will ban Russian energy imports in response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. (Causes)

“The Biden administration is restoring California’s authority to set its own tailpipe pollution standards for cars, reversing a Trump administration policy and likely ushering in stricter emissions standards for new passenger vehicles nationwide.” (Associated Press)

The courts
“Texas’ high court on Friday effectively ended a challenge by clinics to a state law that banned most abortions by ruling that state officials, including those tasked with doctor licensing, have no role in enforcing the law.” (NBC News)

“A state judge ruled Friday that providing gender-affirming care is not a reason for the state to investigate a family for child abuse, and halted all such investigations. The statewide injunction from District Judge Amy Clark Meachum will remain in effect until “this court, and potentially the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of Texas” hear the case, she said.” (Texas Tribune)

The economy
The budget deficit is down dramatically. “The federal budget deficit was $475 billion in the first five months of fiscal year 2022, the Congressional Budget Office estimates. That amount is less than deficits recorded during the same period in the two prior fiscal years: It is less than half the shortfall recorded for the same months in fiscal year 2021 ($1,047 billion) and three-quarters of the deficit recorded in 2020 ($624 billion), just before the start of the coronavirus pandemic. From October 2021 through February 2022, revenues were $371 billion (or 26 percent) higher and outlays were $201 billion (or 8 percent) lower than they were during the same period a year ago, CBO estimates.” (Congressional Budget Office)

“America’s worker shortage is far from over: In January, the nation had a record 11.3 million jobs to fill and not enough workers to do so, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.” (CNN)