06/17/22 Weekly Legislative update

You can make a difference

We have two important upcoming events in July, Please join us and bring a friend.
On Thursday, July 21, 5pm, LaKimba DeSadler, Director of Planned Parenthood Indiana will join us. Learn what’s next for Indiana, what Planned Parenthood is doing, and what we can do. We all must step up and speak out!
Thu, Jul 21, 5:00pm-6:30pm CDT
Portage Public Library, Rooms A-B
2665 Irving St, Portage, IN 46368
Register here.

Join us as we canvass to tell voters about Congressman Frank Mrvan and why all of us in District 1 need his representation in Congress. We’ll phone bank and knock doors. No experience is needed–everyone will be trained.
We’ll meet at Democratic Headquarters in Michigan City on Sunday, July 24, 12-3 
Evergreen Plaza
1712 East Highway 20
Michigan City 46360
Register here.

Indiana legislators will meet July 26 for a special session to pass legislation to ban abortions,
There are at least two concurrent rallies planned on Indianapolis at the Statehouse on Monday, July 25:
Women4Change and ACLU is holding the Bans off Indiana Rally starting at 11 Central and Noon ET.  It will be inside the Statehouse.

Indiana Won’t Go Back! is a rally created by Monique Rust that starts at Noon Central and 1 pm ET with a vigil to follow.

After Monday, July 25, lawmakers have until Sunday, August 14, to pass a bill. ACLU Indiana will have a presence at the Statehouse for the entirety of the special session, but they need us to step up.
You can sign up to stay involved throughout the special session by sharing your availability with them. Once you sign up, they will reach out to you with more information on opportunities to rally and take action. Sign up here.

Continue contacting the governor and your state and federal reps and senators. Flood their mailboxes, email inboxes and phone lines:

Email & call your state senator and representative

Contact Governor Holcomb: https://www.in.gov/gov/ask-eric/

Contact your Congressional Representative: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

Contact Senator Todd Young: https://www.young.senate.gov/contact By phone: 202-224-5623

Contact Senator Mike Braun: https://www.braun.senate.gov/contact-mike By phone: 202-224-4814

A note about this newsletter and the web page
The right-handed author of both has broken her right wrist, which is why this newsletter is so delayed. I’ll try hard to continue weekly updates. At the same time I highly encourage all of you to regularly check our Facebook and Twitter pages for the most important and recent information and updates.  


Passed the House, Senate next

H.R. 6538: Active Shooter Alert Act of 2022
GovTrack.us: “This bill requires a designated officer of the Department of Justice to act as the national coordinator of an Active Shooter Alert Communications Network regarding an emergency involving an active shooter. The bill sets forth duties of the coordinator, including to work with state, tribal, and local governments to encourage coordination of various elements of the network. The coordinator must also encourage federal, state, local, and tribal government agencies to establish procedures for responding to active shooters. Finally, the bill requires the Government Accountability Office to study and report on state and local responses to active shooters and situations requiring the issuance of a public alert or warning.” Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 260 – 169 with Indiana reps Mrvan, Carson and Spartz voting yea; all other Indiana reps voted nay. View the vote.

H.R. 8296: Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022
Causes: “This bill would create a federal statutory right to abortion that preempts nearly all state-level restrictions and regulations on abortions. It would prohibit all restrictions on abortion prior to viability and permit abortions after fetal viability if a healthcare provider determines the pregnancy would pose a risk to the mother’s health. The bill doesn’t provide a definition of physical or mental health and makes no effort to distinguish between the two.” The vote was 219-209 with Indiana Reps Mrvan amd Carson voting yea, View the vote.

H.R. 8297: Ensuring Access to Abortion Act of 2022
Causes: “This bill would prohibit anyone acting under state law from interfering with a person’s ability to access out-of-state abortion services. It would define “abortion services” as the use of any drugs approved to terminate pregnancies and any healthcare services related to an abortion, whether or not provided at the same time or on the same day.” The vote was 223-205. View the vote. Reps Mrvan and Carson voted yea.

H.R. 7900: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023
GovTrack.us: “This bill authorizes FY2023 appropriations for military activities and programs of the Department of Defense (e.g., personnel; research, development, test, and evaluation; and procurement of items such as aircraft, missiles, and ammunition). It also prescribes military personnel strengths for FY2023.”  Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 329 – 101. All Indiana reps voted yea except Pence who voted nay.

H.R. 7535: Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act
GovTrack.us: “To encourage the migration of Federal Government information technology systems to quantum-resistant cryptography, and for other purposes.” Passed by voice vote so no individual record of votes was made.

H.R. 7331: Improving Government for America’s Taxpayers Act
Passed by voice vote so no individual record of votes was made.

H.R. 3544: COVS Act Computers for Veterans and Students Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “This bill requires the General Services Administration (GSA) to quarterly transfer surplus computers and related technology to nonprofit refurbishers for eventual distribution to (1) schools, veterans, seniors, and other specified populations in need; and (2) state and local agencies for donation to nonprofit and public entities. Currently, the GSA operates the Computers for Learning Program, which distributes surplus computers and related technology from federal agencies to schools and educational nonprofits; the program does not allow property to be transferred directly to refurbishers.” Passed by voice vote so no individual record of votes was made.

H.R. 7174: National Computer Forensics Institute Reauthorization Act of 202
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 410 – 16 

H.R. 521: First Responder Fair RETIRE Act
GovTrack.us: “To permit disabled law enforcement officers, customs and border protection officers, firefighters, air traffic controllers, nuclear materials couriers, members of the Capitol Police, members of the Supreme Court Police, employees of the Central Intelligence Agency performing intelligence activities abroad or having specialized security requirements, and diplomatic security special agents of the Department of State to receive retirement benefits in the same manner as if they had not been disabled.”
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 417 – 0.

H.R. 5274: PREVENT ACT of 2021
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 429 – 0 

H.R. 1934: Promoting United States International Leadership in 5G Act of 2021
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required)

H.R. 7337: Access for Veterans to Records Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 406 – 21 

Passed the Senate, House next

S. 3470: End Human Trafficking in Government Contracts Act of 2022
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.

The week ahead in Congress

“Senators from both parties have reached an agreement to clarify that the vice president only has a ceremonial role in overseeing the certification of the electoral results, according to two Senate sources, the first legislative response to former President Donald Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. The agreement will be part of a larger deal to overhaul the Electoral Count Act, which a bipartisan group of senators plans to unveil as soon as next week.” (CNN

This week the House is set to take up “a birth control bill along with a “minibus” appropriations package, while the Senate is set to consider judicial nominations.
It’s possible that both chambers of Congress may consider a $52 billion bill to boost domestic semiconductor production as a standalone bill or a broader package to bolster competitiveness with China if a deal is reached. 
Bipartisan negotiations by a conference committee on the competition and semiconductors bill have been delayed amid Democrats’ internal talks about a reconciliation spending bill. Democrats’ reconciliation bill could be considered once an agreement is reached on a final package, although talks are ongoing and the spending negotiations are no longer expected to include climate spending or tax increases due to opposition by Sen. Joe Manchin…” (Causes)

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

In other news

“President Joe Biden vowed Friday to take “strong executive action” in response to moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin torpedoing his party’s efforts toward writing sweeping climate action and tax legislation.” (CNN)

“Senator Rand Paul has thwarted an alleged backroom deal that involved President Joe Biden naming an anti-abortion lawyer to the federal judiciary to soften Republican opposition to the president’s agenda…Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told the Times that Biden intended to nominate attorney Chad Meredith for a vacant district court position in Kentucky. McConnell, also a Kentucky Republican, told the paper there was no deal and described the nomination as a friendly gesture that reflected a more collegial, bygone era of the Senate.” (Newsweek)

“Ohio police officials released officer body-camera footage of a 25-year-old Black man killed in a hail of bullets fired by eight officers while he was unarmed and running away.” (ABC News)

“Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Thursday launched a $1 billion first-of-its-kind pilot program aimed at helping reconnect cities and neighborhoods racially segregated or divided by road projects, pledging wide-ranging help to dozens of communities despite the program’s limited dollars.” (NPR)

“The rise of the BA.5 variant is spurring new calls for funding for an Operation Warp Speed 2.0 to accelerate development of next-generation COVID-19 vaccines that can better target new variants… As alternatives to vaccine makers chasing each variant, experts point to research on “pan-coronavirus” vaccines that are “variant-proof,” targeting multiple variants, as well as nasal vaccines that could drastically cut down on transmission of the virus. There is ongoing research on these next-generation vaccines, but unlike in 2020, when the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed helped speed the development of the original vaccine, there is less funding and assistance this time around.  COVID-19 funding that could help develop and manufacture new vaccines more quickly has been stalled in Congress for months.” (The Hill)

The economy
“US inflation hit 40-year high in June, driven by record gas prices.” (CNN)

Gas prices have gone down every day for nearly a month across the country.  (WIBC)

Gun violence
“Four people, including the gunman, died and two were injured in another mass shooting, this time at the Greenwood Park Mall in Greenwood down in Central Indiana.” (NWI Times)

“The suspect in Monday’s mass shooting at a July 4th parade in Highland Park, Illinois, that left seven dead and injured more than two dozen has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder, Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart announced during a news conference Tuesday evening.” (CNN)

As of Monday, July 4, the country had already experienced at least 309mass shootings so far. At least 309 in just over 26 weeks. This averages out to more than 11 a week. (NPR)

January 6
“The latest hearing from the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection fleshed out the links between former President Donald Trump and the far-right extremist groups that were at the vanguard of the violent effort to stop the transition of power and keep him in office.” (CNN)

The Jan. 6 committee’s accumulating evidence against former President Trump, including testimony from White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson, has strengthened a potential criminal case against him and chipped away at his most likely defense arguments, legal experts say. (The Hill)

“A Washington, DC, police officer has corroborated to the House select committee investigating January 6, 2021, details regarding a heated exchange former President Donald Trump had with his Secret Service detail when he was told he could not go to the US Capitol after his rally, a source familiar with the matter tells CNN.” (CNN)

The Supreme Court has declined to revisit the landmark First Amendment decision in New York Times v. Sullivan, a 1964 ruling that created a higher bar for public figures to claim libel and has been a bedrock of US media law. Justice Clarence Thomas dissented from the court’s refusal to take up the case. (CNN)

The Supreme Court handed down a landmark decision in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District on Monday, overruling a 1971 case laying out how the government must keep its distance from religion. But Justice Neil Gorsuch’s opinion for himself and his fellow Republican appointees relies on a bizarre misrepresentation of the case’s facts. (Vox)

“Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn as an associate justice of the Supreme Court on Thursday, officially taking her place in history as the first Black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court.” (CBS News)

“The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it has agreed to hear a case next term that could upend election laws across the country with the potential endorsement of a fringe legal theory about how much power state legislatures have over the running of congressional and presidential elections.”(NPR)

Women’s rights
“Two weeks after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, President Joe Biden on Friday signed an executive order aimed at protecting access to abortion nationwide despite efforts by some states to outlaw or severely restrict it…His order largely finalizes what has already been announced by the administration — including instructions to the Justice Department to make sure women can travel out-of-state for abortion care.
The order addresses the elevated risks for patients, providers and clinics, which includes efforts to protect mobile clinics that have been deployed to state borders to offer care for out-of-state patients.
Biden’s action, the White House said, directs Attorney General Merrick Garland and the White House counsel to convene volunteer lawyers and organizations to “encourage robust legal representation of patients, providers, and third parties lawfully seeking or offering reproductive health care services throughout the country.”
Biden has also said he’ll provide leave for federal workers traveling for medical care, which could set an example for private companies to do the same. Biden is also ordering the Department of Health and Human Services to take “additional action to protect and expand” access to medication abortion, emergency contraception and IUDs. The agency is instructed to increase outreach and public education efforts regarding access to reproductive health care services — abortion included — to get reliable information to the public.
Patient privacy is another part of Biden’s order, which takes additional measures to address the transfer and sale of sensitive health-related data, combat digital surveillance related to reproductive health care services and protects people from fraudulent and deceptive practices.” (ABC News)

“Senior Biden administration officials announced Wednesday that they are reminding tens of thousands of pharmacies around the country that they risk violating civil rights laws if they refuse to fill orders for contraception or abortion medication or discriminate based on a person’s pregnancy status.
The action comes a few weeks after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and gave more than a dozen states a green light to ban abortion, and aims to respond to a wave of reports that pharmacies in those states are refusing to not only fill prescriptions for abortion and contraception pills but also other medications that they speculate could be used off-label to terminate a pregnancy.” (Politico)

“The Biden administration on Monday told hospitals that they “must” provide abortion services if the life of the mother is at risk, saying federal law on emergency treatment guidelines preempts state laws in jurisdictions that now ban the procedure without any exceptions following the Supreme Court’s decision to end a constitutional right to abortion.” (Associated Press)

The Biden administration reminded doctors and other health care providers Monday that a federal law protects them if they provide abortion services to save a patient’s life or health in emergency situations — regardless of what state laws say. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)


Indiana lawmakers say they have consulted with Governor Eric Holcomb and the special session to deal with abortion and the taxpayer refund will be on July 25th. (Indy Politics)

A fight looming over abortion rights in Indiana.  It will be the main focus for state lawmakers at a special legislative session next month. That  session will now begin on July 25.  Democratic lawmakers are touring the state ahead of potential abortion restrictions.  (WSBT)

Indiana’s Republican governor said Thursday he’ll sign any abortion-restricting measures that make it to his desk during the upcoming special legislative session.  (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb later walked back his previous statement that he expects to sign whatever abortion-restricting bill comes across his desk, but he struggled to articulate where specifically he stands on the incoming legislation. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Only seven percent of the General Assembly would answer a survey about their position on abortion access ahead of special session to address the issue.  (WTHR-TV)

Roe v. Wade and its federally guaranteed right to abortion may be overturned, but efforts by states to legislate use of prescribed drugs that terminate pregnancy could prove difficult, experts say.  (Tribune Star)

“Indiana’s Republican attorney general said on Wednesday that his office planned to investigate the Indiana doctor who helped a 10-year-old rape victim who crossed state lines to have an abortion.” (Politico)

“The doctor at the center of a firestorm over abortion rights sent a cease and desist letter to Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita on Friday demanding that he stop “making false and misleading statements” about her to the press. An attorney for Caitlin Bernard — the OB-GYN who performed an abortion on a 10-year-old rape survivor from Ohio whose case grabbed national attention this week — told Rokita that his public threat to criminally prosecute her and his suggestion that she did not report the abortion to the proper state authorities “forms the basis of an actionable defamation claim.”” (Politico)

“Indiana asked the Supreme Court Thursday to move quickly to officially transmit its opinion overturning Roe v. Wade to a federal appeals court so that the state can attempt to put its strict parental notification law into effect. 
The Indiana law was enjoined by a district court in 2017 as a violation of Supreme Court precedent. But last month, after the Supreme Court invalidated Roe v. Wade in a case called Dobbs v. Jackson, the justices instructed the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit to take another look at the Indiana law pursuant to Dobbs.
Under Supreme Court rules, the justices would set that process in motion by transmitting their mandate by July 25. In an emergency application filed with the court Thursday, however, the state asked the court to speed up the process.” (CNN)

The Holcomb administration doesn’t have any plans to expand the governor’s inflation relief proposal despite the state having $6.1 billion in reserve following the closeout of its fiscal year.  (WFYI)
An Indiana lawmaker is calling to get more money back into taxpayers’ pockets as the state reports a historic reserve balance.  (Fox 59)

Tens of millions of dollars in federal funds secured this year by U.S. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan, D-Highland, for Region environment and economic development projects are beginning to flow into Northwest Indiana.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

The race for Indiana’s next Secretary of State – typically a low-interest, down-ballot contest – has become a referendum on the future of the Indiana Republican Party with a rare statewide opportunity for hopeful Democrats. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

 A U.S. district judge has denied The Bail Project’s request for a preliminary injunction for a law that goes into effect on July 1. House Enrolled Act 1300 requires charitable bail organizations, like The Bail Project, to follow certain rules.  (Fox 59)

Indiana plans to pay a homegrown election equipment company more than $12 million to retrofit thousands of electronic-only voting machines to boost election security and voter confidence despite doubts from some experts on the move’s effectiveness.  (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

“Republican insiders earlier this month voted to nominate former Mike Pence aide Diego Morales, ousting  incumbent Holli Sullivan by a vote of 847-561. Gov. Eric Holcomb appointed her to the role in March 2021. He’ll face Democrat Destiny Scott Wells – a party executive, lawyer and military intelligence officer in the U.S. Army Reserve.” Libertarian Jeff Maurer is also on the ballot.
“Democrats are hoping controversy over Morales’ campaign goals and history working for the Secretary of State’s office will give Wells a boost.” Morales is an election denier and has been written up for poor performance when he worked in the Secretary of State’s office under two different Secretaries of State, including Todd Rokita.
Morales intends to create an election fraud investigation team, reduce Indiana’s early voting period from 28 days to 14 days and require potential voters to include copies of their photo IDs in applying for mail-in ballots. “Republicans have traditionally upheld Indiana’s nearly month-long early voting period as a reason to maintain limits on the reasons Hoosiers can qualify for mail-in voting.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s lawsuit challenging the authority of the General Assembly left Hoosier taxpayers to cover nearly $520,000 in legal fees, which Attorney General Todd Rokita called “a waste of Hoosier taxpayers’ hard-earned money.” Holcomb brought the case last year in response to HEA 1123, a law giving the General Assembly the power to call itself into special session whenever the governor declares a state of emergency. Holcomb issued a veto, which was overridden by the legislature. Holcomb then sued on the grounds the law violated the Indiana Constitution, which authorizes only the governor to convene a special session of the legislature. 
Rokita criticized the spending as an attempt to thwart the will of elected leaders and as unnecessary because the attorney general’s office is authorized to represent the state…Rokita represented the legislature in the suit… (Starved Rock Media)

Health experts say COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Indiana, with another surge likely.  (Fox 59)

The Indiana Department of Health is partnering with local health departments and other health care entities across the state to host back-to-school immunization clinics this summer.    (Indiana Public Media)

Indiana closes out the fiscal year with more than $6 billion in reserves.   (Indy Politics)

A new Indiana initiative aims to help parents of children with disabilities pay for therapies, tutoring and other services. But there’s a catch: It’s only available to families who leave the public school system — and the special education services it provides.   (WFIU)

State officials and private partners laid out first steps Wednesday evening for creating a statewide network of reliable electric vehicle chargers using federal funding.  (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

The Governor’s Public Health Commission voted Thursday to approve a draft report of recommendations for improving Indiana’s public health system, pending edits.  (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

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