03/28/2022 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

Last week Representative Chuck Moseley joined Indivisible NWI for an informative Town Hall. He discussed significant legislation from this year’s session and what to expect in the 2023 session. Read highlights at https://indivisiblenwi.org/2022/03/town-hall-with-representative-moseley/

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/


The truth matters: the Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation hearings

  • Jackson did not say critical race theory should be considered by judges in making decisions on the bench. Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s claim is False.
  • Senator Blackburn also misled on Jackson’s record on releasing people in prison during the pandemic.
  • Jackson’s approach to sentencing in child pornography cases did not significantly differ from that of other judges, data show. Prosecutors often go high in their sentencing recommendation, not because they expect to get it, but as a way to frame the judge’s decision. The focus on prison time is just one part of the overall punishment. Jackson included long periods of supervised release, generally for 10 years after serving time, and in one case for 20 years; it’s an underappreciated component of sentencing.



Passed the Senate, House next

S. 516: Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill directs the Department of Transportation to establish an Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) interagency working group to plan and coordinate efforts related to the safety, infrastructure, physical security, cybersecurity, and federal investment necessary to bolster the AAM ecosystem, particularly passenger-carrying aircraft, in the United States. Advanced Air Mobility refers to an air transportation system that moves people and cargo between places using new aircraft designs that are integrated into existing airspace operations as well as operated in local, regional, intraregional, rural, and urban environments.”
Passed Senate with an amendment by Voice Vote.

S. 1259: Safe Cribs Act
GovTrack.us: Would ban the sale of crib bumper pads.
Passed Senate without amendment by Voice Vote.

S. 2533: Making Advances in Mammography and Medical Options for Veterans Act
Passed Senate with an amendment by Voice Vote.

S. 2794: Supporting Families of the Fallen Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill increases from $400,000 to $500,000 the maximum coverage amount for members (or former members) of a uniformed service under the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance program and the Veterans’ Group Life Insurance program.”
Passed Senate without amendment by Voice Vote.

S. 253: Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Act
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 2102: SERVICE Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to direct the Under Secretary for Health of the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide mammography screening for veterans who served in locations associated with toxic exposure.”
Passed Senate with an amendment by Voice Vote.

The week ahead in Congress

“The Senate starts its week Monday with a series of votes that will allow the chamber to form a conference committee with the House on a bill to bolster U.S. economic and geopolitical competitiveness with China, including by increasing domestic production of semiconductors.” (Causes) Similar bills were passed in the House (HR 4521 America COMPETES Act) and in the Senate (S 1260 United States Innovation and Competition Act)  and the conference committee will seek to reconcile the differences into one bill. The House will vote on several uncontroversial bills and may also consider a bill to reschedule marijuana as a federal controlled substance and expunge marijuana crimes. Read more about the week ahead legislatively and in committee hearings at Causes.

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

In other news

“Madeleine Jana Korbel Albright, the first female secretary of state, who arrived in the USA as a young girl from war-torn Czechoslovakia before becoming a political and feminist icon, died Wednesday at 84.” (USA Today)

Former President Donald Trump filed a sprawling federal lawsuit on Thursday against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee and 26 other people and entities that he claims conspired to undermine his 2016 campaign by falsely tying him to Russia. (CNN)

Climate change
“Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is suffering its sixth mass bleaching due to heat stress caused by climate change, the reef’s managers confirmed Friday.” (CNN)

“The Biden administration will soon release a federal regulation that overhauls the US asylum system to settle claims at a faster pace and help alleviate the immigration court backlog.
The new rule gives asylum officers more authority by allowing them to hear and decide asylum claims — cases that are usually assigned to immigration judges — when migrants present at the US southern border. The regulation applies to migrants who are subject to expedited removal. Unaccompanied children are exempt.” (CNN)

January 6
“The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 riot has in its possession more than two dozen text messages, 29 in total, between former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, a conservative activist and the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, according to multiple sources familiar with the messages.” (CNN)

A federal judge ruled Monday that former President Donald Trump likely “corruptly attempted to obstruct” Congress from certifying the 2020 election, in a case over whether a House committee will receive a lawyer’s emails while investigating the attack on the Capitol. “The illegality of the plan was obvious,” U.S. District Judge David Carter in California wrote in approving the transfer of John Eastman’s emails to the committee. “Based on the evidence, the Court finds it more likely than not that President Trump corruptly attempted to obstruct the Joint Session of Congress on January 6, 2021.” (USA Today)

For an excellent brief summary of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearing, see Vox.

“Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden’s Supreme Court nominee, pushed back at Wednesday’s confirmation hearing against Republicans focusing on her rulings in child porn cases, which has been a significant focus of GOP questions over the past two days…Republicans have homed in on characterizing Jackson as “soft on crime,” sparking pushback from Democrats who have accused of trying to use the hearing as campaign fodder both for 2022, when they are trying to win back control of Congress, and 2024, to use against Biden.” (The Hill)

“Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson pledged on Monday to decide cases “without fear or favor” if the Senate confirms her historic nomination as the first Black woman on the high court.” Watch her opening statement at PBS.

Democrats anticipate a full Senate vote on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination by April 11. Read the procedures that will likely need to occur before then at Causes.

“On Thursday, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Ramirez v. Collier, which involved a death row inmate who sought to have his pastor lay hands on him and audibly pray during his execution. Though there are some procedural complexities to the decision, eight justices sided with John Ramirez, the inmate. Only Justice Clarence Thomas dissented. It was, in short, a ruling that prioritized religious liberty.” (Vox)

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced that based on a careful review of public and intelligence sources that the U.S. government assesses that members of Russia’s forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine. (U.S. Department of State)

Women’s rights
“Idaho on Wednesday became the first state to enact legislation modeled after a Texas law that allows private citizens to sue abortion providers who perform the procedure after about six weeks of pregnancy. The bill, which [Governor] Little signed into law on Wednesday, allows family members of a “preborn child” to sue doctors who perform the procedure after cardiac activity is detected in an embryo for a minimum of $20,000, in addition to legal fees. Such lawsuits can be filed within four years after an abortion is performed. “While I support the pro-life policy in this legislation, I fear the novel civil enforcement mechanism will in short order be proven both unconstitutional and unwise,” Little wrote. “Deputizing private citizens to levy hefty monetary fines on the exercise of a disfavored but judicially recognized constitutional right for the purpose of evading court review undermines our constitutional form of government and weakens our collective liberties.” “None of the rights we treasure are off limits. How long before California, New York, and other states hostile to the First and Second Amendments use the same method to target our religious freedoms and right to bear arms?”” (NBC News)


Signed into law by the governor

House Enrolled Act 1296, authorizes adult Hoosiers to carry a handgun in public without a license.
“In signing the handgun permit requirement repeal, Holcomb went against the vocal opposition of his state police superintendent to the further loosening of the state’s lenient firearms laws.” (CBS News) Indiana became the 24th constitutional carry state in the nation.
The bill was “pushed through by Republican lawmakers but opposed by Indiana’s top law enforcement official, county prosecutors and the state’s police chiefs association.” (NBC News)

Senate Enrolled Bill 382
“Starting in July, Indiana will tax e-cigarettes and new products like nicotine gummies for the first time. Health groups don’t like the way legislators did it…The General Assembly passed a 25% sales tax on vape cartridges last year, but changed their minds this year and lowered it to 15%.” (WIBC)

Though the 2022 legislative session came with victories for maternal health advocates, including a Medicaid expansion and limitations on the restraint of pregnant inmates, Indiana can do more to improve outcomes for mothers, advocates say.  (News and Tribune)

Vetoed by the governor

House Enrolled Act 1041 bars transgender girls from participating in girls sports. “Indiana lawmakers can override the governor’s veto with simple majorities in both the House and Senate. A veto override vote could happen as soon as May 24, which legislative leaders have scheduled as a tentative one-day meeting.” (Associated Press)

The Indiana High School Athletic Association on Wednesday commended Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s veto of a bill banning transgender females from participating in girls school sports after the association previously held back from taking an explicit stance on the proposal.  (AP Indiana)

Indiana’s governor has vetoed controversial legislation that would ban transgender girls from competing in K-12 sports teams matching their gender identities, but many Republican lawmakers are voicing their intent to override the veto.  (News and Tribune)

Indiana House Speaker says GOP will override governor’s veto of trans girls sports ban – WTHR
Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston said lawmakers plan to override the veto May 24, when they convene for technical corrections day.

The ACLU of Indiana said Wednesday that if Gov. Holcomb’s veto of the bill that would ban transgender girls from participating in grade school sports is overridden, they are prepared to take legal action.  (WIBC)

For the list of bills that have been signed into law, see Governor bill list: https://www.in.gov/gov/newsroom/2022-bill-watch/

In other news

U.S. Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., would welcome the U.S. Supreme Court rescinding its 1967 ruling that legalized interracial marriage nationwide in favor of allowing each of the 50 states to decide such issues on their own.   (Times of Northwest Indiana)

Sen. Mike Braun said interracial marriage ruling should be left to states – Fox 59
The Indiana Democratic Party released a statement condemning Braun’s statements, calling his rhetoric “an endorsement of the same dangerous white nationalist views that led to the insurrection against the United States of America on Jan. 6, 2021.” Read Braun’s statement backtracking what he said; it’s vague, condemning racism, but without acknowledging anything specific in the law, in court rulings, or in his own statements.

In a press call Tuesday, Sen. Mike Braun said the U.S. Supreme Court was incorrect in legalizing interracial marriage in a landmark case in 1967, and that the decision should have been left to the states.  (Indy Star)

Report: Nearly Three Quarters of Indiana’s Waterways are Too Polluted for Safe Recreation Indiana Environmental Reporter

Longtime Highland councilman moves to clerk-treasurer seat – NWI Times
Longtime town council member Mark Herak won the caucus to replace Michael Griffin, who replaced State Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond, when he retired in February.

“Northwest Indiana lawmaker has been recognized for his civility at the Statehouse by an organization whose members know better than anyone just how hard that sometimes can be. The Association of Retired Members of the Indiana General Assembly recently presented state Rep. Earl Harris Jr., D-East Chicago, with its 2022 Civility in Government Award.” (NWI Times)

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the dementia workforce experienced high turnover rates. Exacerbated by the pandemic, home health aides are in extreme demand right now, and the need is expected to increase over the next few years.  (Tribune Star)

Indy Politics chats with Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Mike Schmuhl regarding a number of issues, including the Governor’s veto of legislation impacting transgender athletes, Senator Mike Braun’s comments regarding interracial marriage, and the war in Ukraine.  (Indy Politics)

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