12/27/2021 Weekly Legislative Update Copy

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The Indiana General Assembly convenes on January 4. Several bills have already been submitted.
House Bill 1001 provides what Governor Holcomb has said is needed in order for him to end the health emergency he declared in March 2020, even as Indiana has one of the highest numbers per capita of illnesses and deaths of all states and its health care system is stretched to breaking. The bill also effectively prohibits businesses from enacting vaccine mandates. This provision is adamantly opposed by the conservative Indiana Chamber of Commerce along with healthcare professionals. See below under ‘Indiana’ for more details.
A contentious bill that did not pass last year is back—Senate Bill 14, Firearms Matter—allows permitless handgun carry. Public opposition defeated the bill last year.
Please Contact your representative and senator to let them know how you want them to vote.

Enacted, signed into law by the President

H.R. 5545: REMOTE Act

S. 3377: Capitol Police Emergency Assistance Act of 2021

H.R. 6256: To ensure that goods made with forced labor in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China do not enter the United States market, and for other purposes. 
Read details of the bill at Causes.

S. 1605: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022


Congress has been in recess. The House will return January 10 (RollCall) and the Senate January 3. (Senate.gov)

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

In other news

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that it is extending the pause on federally-held student loan payments for an additional 90 days through May 1, 2022. (Causes)

“Former President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization have sued New York Attorney General Letitia James, asking for a federal court to halt or limit her office’s ongoing investigations.
The lawsuit, which comes on the heels of James’ office seeking to depose Trump as part of its civil fraud investigation into the Trump Organization, also seeks to enjoin James’ involvement in any civil or criminal actions against the former President or his company.” (CNN)

“Under intense pressure from criminal justice reform advocates, the Justice Department has reversed a Trump-era legal opinion that could have required several thousand federal convicts to return to prison from home confinement if the Biden administration declares an end to the pandemic-related national emergency.” (Politico) “Thousands of people on home confinement have reconnected with their families, have found gainful employment, and have followed the rules,” [Attorney General] Garland said in a written statement. “We will exercise our authority so that those who have made rehabilitative progress and complied with the conditions of home confinement, and who in the interests of justice should be given an opportunity to continue transitioning back to society, are not unnecessarily returned to prison.”

The Biden administration has put forward its most ambitious vehicle mileage goals to date, raising standards for cars and small trucks while reversing a Trump-era rollback.” (The Hill)

“U.S. officials announced approval Tuesday of two large-scale solar projects in California and moved to open up public lands in other Western states to potential solar power development, as part of the Biden administration’s effort to counter climate change by shifting from fossil fuels.” (Associated Press)

The CDC shortened the recommended isolation and quarantine periods for people who have tested positive for, or been exposed to, COVID-19 given the nature of the Omicron variant. (Causes)

Former President Donald Trump’s surgeon general implied that Trump waited to express public support for coronavirus vaccines until President Joe Biden praised his involvement in them.  (MSN)

January 6
“The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is asking fellow members of Congress to cooperate in the probe.” Those named for now are republican representatives Jim Jordan and Scott Perry of Ohio and Pennsylvania, respectively. (NPR)

A “previously undisclosed records request, revealed in a new lawsuit, is the first confirmed subpoena issued by the committee for information directly from a bank. The committee, which has moved aggressively in recent weeks, is using its subpoena power to follow the money surrounding the pro-Donald Trump rallies leading up to the insurrection.” (CNN)


Most patients hospitalized because of COVID-19 are unvaccinated | wthr.com

As COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Lake County, the county council — which has final say on any potential countywide mandates — has not invited the county health officer to recent meetings to gauge if the county should be taking more steps to prevent the spread of the virus.  (Post Tribune)

Northwest Indiana’s emergency rooms are overcrowded with “an unprecedented number of patients” amid a spike in coronavirus cases.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

Indiana AG Todd Rokita says he doesn’t believe COVID-19 stats his own state releases – IndyStarIndiana hospitals are pleading for help as they’re seeing record numbers of patients.

In response to a rise in COVID-19 cases in the city and nation, new restrictions have begun in Gary immediately, the mayor announced.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

‘Making up their own rules:’ With COVID-19 cases rising, Crown Point parents are concerned about about masks being optional in schools (NWI Times)

Upcoming legislation
Last week Indiana legislators heard testimony about a bill that would restrict businesses from imposing COVID vaccine mandates. Dr Gabriel Bosslet gave an impassioned plea opposing the bill based on his experiences with the virus and importance of vaccines. Dr. Bosslet, an Indiana University Health critical care physician, told the committee that he’s seen people “die needlessly” because they didn’t get vaccinated and was frustrated with an intensive care unit where nearly all COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.
“The message this bill sends is that vaccines are not important,” Bosslet said. “Vaccines are important. They are the only way to end this.” (Insurance Journal)
His testimony was in stark contrast to much of the crowd and other testimony in support of the bill as they expounded lies and misinformation about the vaccines and virus.In addition, lawmakers “heard testimony opposing the bill from nearly every business sector, including manufacturing and hospitality representatives.” (News and Tribune)

Watch Dr Bosslet’s testimony here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VvrzzdGfwX8

Watch his interview on the Rachel Maddow show: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1oXhZn6c5Bw

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