08/17/2022 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

Stay informed and active! Attend our upcoming public meetings:

On Thursday, Aug. 18 at 6pm at the Merrillville Library we welcome Emilie Leroy Dion Hunt who is a founding member of our local Moms Demand Action, the group that has been actively pursuing common sense gun laws, most recently during the contentious 2021 Indiana legislative session.
Emilie is a passionate advocate for common sense gun laws and safe storage of guns in the home. She is a practicing attorney who lives with her family in Northwest Indiana. 
Learn and discuss the gun epidemic, gun control and how we can get involved. Learn what Moms Demand Action has done and what’s ahead.
Register here: https://www.mobilize.us/indivisiblenwi/event/486517/  And bring a friend!

Join us on Thurs., Sept. 1 at 5:30 at the Merrillville Library as we welcome Destiny Wells, candidate for Indiana Secretary of State and veterans advocate Martin Del Rio. Learn about this important race and how we all can become involved to make a difference in Indiana.
Register here: https://www.mobilize.us/indivisiblenwi/event/489950/  And bring a friend!

Rally for the Region August 27
Come out to help great candidates win election!
11am-2pm : Volunteers will knock on doors with candidates who are participating in the event. We would LOVE to get 40 volunteers. We have many candidates that will be participating in this event, including Thomas McDermott, Congressman Frank Mrvan, Senator Rodney Pol Jr, Representative Chuck Moseley, David Reynolds for Porter County Sheriff, Toni Downing for PC Auditor, Valeri Waseman for PC Assessor, Julie Giorgi for PC Commissioner, and more. We are calling this a canvassing blitz and hope to have many volunteers that come out to knock on doors for these amazing candidates.
6039 Robbins Road, Portage, IN 46360
3pm : After we canvass, come gather and talk to the candidates of Indiana, Porter County, and Laporte County at our Rally for the Region Cookout/ BBQ being held at Emerson House- 3634 N 700 W Laporte, IN 46350 
We will have pulled pork, sweet corn, and drinks (2 kegs local beer, soda, water) Please bring a dish to share, and BYOB if you want anything particular. 
Register here: https://www.mobilize.us/indems/event/489435/

Read our recent post, Rallying for Women’s Rights at the Statehouse, written by Becca, one of our active Indivisibles. We all know the outcome of the Indiana’s legislative special session. But with people like Becca, the pro-choice protesters and all of us Indivisibles we can win this fight. Her story is inspirational, frightening and heartbreaking. One of our best tools is messaging with stories. Tell this one and your own. And keep contacting your legislators; contact info is at the bottom of the post. We won’t give up.

Enacted, signed into law by the President

S. 3373: Honoring our PACT Act of 2022
“The PACT Act, which the House passed earlier this month, enables additional healthcare coverage for more than three million veterans who were exposed to toxic burn pits and Vietnam-era veterans exposed to the deadly herbicide Agent Orange…” (The Hill) Passed in the Senate 86-11 after being blocked by republicans the week before. This time both Indiana senators voted yea. View the vote.

HR 4346 CHIPS and Science Act of 2022
“This bipartisan bill will strengthen domestic manufacturing of semiconductors in an effort to not rely as heavily on overseas production of these important tech components. It will provide $52 billion to subsidize U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and billions in additional funding for emerging technology research and development.” (Nextgov)
Passed the House 243-187 with Indiana reps Carson, Mrvan, Baird and Hollingsworth voting voting yea and all other Indiana reps voting nay. View the vote. Passed the Senate 64-33 with Senator Young voting yea and Senator Braun voting nay. View the vote.

H.R. 3359: Homicide Victims’ Families’ Rights Act of 2021


Passed House and Senate, President next

H.R. 2992: TBI and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.

H.R. 6943: Public Safety Officer Support Act of 2022
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.

HR 5376 Inflation Reduction Act
The sweeping bill — named the Inflation Reduction Act –represents the largest climate investment in US history and make major changes to health policy by giving Medicare the power for the first time to negotiate the prices of certain prescription drugs and extending expiring health care subsidies for three years. The legislation will reduce the deficit, be paid for through new taxes — including a 15% minimum tax on large corporations and a 1% tax on stock buybacks — and boost the Internal Revenue Service’s ability to collect. 
It will raise over $700 billion in government revenue over 10 years and spend over $430 billion to reduce carbon emissions and extend subsidies for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and use the rest of the new revenue to reduce the deficit.
The climate provisions in the bill are likely to be more consequential than anything else in the bill. They will lead to a sharp reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, experts say, and help address arguably the world’s most pressing crisis.

But the other main spending portion of the bill — dealing with health care — is significant in its own right. First, it uses federal subsidies to reduce the cost of both health insurance and prescription drugs. Second, the bill gives Medicare officials the power to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies, which will likely reduce the price that the companies charge for those drugs.

For these reasons, the bill is effectively an effort to use the health care system to reduce economic inequality…The bill’s benefits will flow overwhelmingly to poor, working-class and middle-class families. Its costs will be borne by increases in corporate taxes (which ultimately fall on shareholders, who skew wealthy) and reductions in the profits of pharmaceutical companies.

It allows Medicare officials to negotiate over drug costs, giving companies less freedom to set high prices. That measure will mostly reduce Medicare’s spending, rather than families’ out-of-pocket costs — and, by extension, will reduce the federal budget deficit. But there will probably be spillover into out-of-pocket costs, especially for people in Medicare.

  • The bill sets a $2,000 annual cap on the amount of money that any senior pays for drugs. After somebody hits that cap, a combination of the federal government, private insurers and drug companies will pay the remaining bills. Today, drugs for cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and some other diseases can cost people much more than $2,000 a year. The new provision will take effect in 2025 and will save a small percentage of older Americans thousands of dollars a year.
  • The bill caps out-of-pocket insulin expenses at $35 a month for people in Medicare; many now pay more than $50 a month. The bill also makes adult vaccines free for both seniors and people in Medicaid, starting next year. The shingles vaccine, to take one example, now often costs more than $50.
  • For middle- and lower-income people who buy private health-insurance plans through the Obamacare exchanges, federal subsidies will increase for three years. This change will help about 13 million people. 

The political effects of the bill seem less clear…Americans often do not realize when a federal policy is helping them, because the benefits come through tax credits or other shrouded forms. Modern government tends to be more technocratic and complex than, say, Social Security. 
It’s easy to imagine how these health care provisions might fit the pattern. Some of the benefits will flow through private insurance plans that people may not associate with a government program, Cubanski notes. Other provisions won’t take effect for a few years. Still others will spare people from facing a large medical bill, but they may not be aware that they wouldn’t have faced such a bill if Congress had not passed a new law…All of which suggests that the law’s proponents will still have work to do after the House passes it and Biden signs it. “It’s always important for supporters of a policy to explain how it will benefit people,” said Sarah Lueck, a health care expert at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “And that’s really hard work.” (CNN)

The bill passed in the Senate 51-50 and then in the House 220-207 with all democrats voting yea and all republicans voting nay.

The truth matters
The bill increases IRS budget that had been cut by republicans so that staffing had been reduced to levels after WW II when the population was half the size it is now. As a result more low and middle income earners were subject to audit because those cases are easier to manage than more complicated audits of higher earners. Republicans have been charging that the $80 billion the Inflation Reduction Act would give to the IRS over the next 10 years would result in more middle-class Americans and small businesses getting audited. The Biden administration has repeatedly said the IRS would focus on increased enforcement activity on high-wealth taxpayers and large corporations and not target households who earn less than $400,000 a year.” In fact, “Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday directed the Internal Revenue Service not to use any of the new funding allocated in the Democrats’ new health care and climate bill to increase the chances of Americans making less than $400,000 a year getting audited…” (CNN)

“Senate Democrats fell short of an effort [last] Sunday to overrule a decision by the parliamentarian that effectively struck down a proposal sponsored by Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) to cap out-of-pocket insulin costs at $35 a month for people not covered by Medicare.  
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the ranking member of the Budget Committee, sought to enforce the parliamentarian’s ruling that Warnock’s cap on insulin prices violated the Byrd Rule because it would set prices in the commercial market and therefore couldn’t pass with a simple majority vote.  Senate Democrats insisted on a vote to waive the procedural objection to put Republican senators on record… The Senate voted 57-43 to waive the procedural objection against the insulin price cap but Democrats scored a symbolic victory when seven Republicans voted with the Democrats: Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska)…The vote on Sunday comes a day after another provision was struck from the bill that sought to lower drug prices by targeting drug companies with price increases that outpaced the rate of inflation.”  (The Hill)


“The Senate voted 95 to 1 Wednesday to ratify the applications of Finland and Sweden to join the NATO alliance, clearing the two-thirds threshold needed for approval.” Josh Hawley was the lone no vote. (Axios)

S.Res. 748: A resolution honoring and celebrating the life and legacy of Representative Jackie Walorski.
Submitted in the Senate, considered, and agreed to without amendment and with a preamble by Unanimous Consent.

Passed the Senate, House next

S. 2151: To amend the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to provide that COPS grant funds may be used for local law enforcement recruits to attend schools or academies if the recruits agree to serve in precincts of law enforcement agencie
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 3115: POWER 2.0 Act
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 4205: PAW Act
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 3860: Invest to Protect Act of 2022
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 3905: Preventing Organizational Conflicts of Interest in Federal Acquisition Act
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 4007: Fighting Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Act of 2022
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 4003: Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act of 2022
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 734: Jenna Quinn Law
Passed Senate with an amendment by Voice Vote.

H.R. 5313: Reese’s Law
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 3606: To amend title 38, United States Code, to eliminate the requirement to specify an effective period of a transfer of Post-9/11 educational assistance to a dependent, and for other purposes.
Passed Senate without amendment by Voice Vote.

S. 4458: Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act of 2022
Passed Senate without amendment by Voice Vote.

S.J.Res. 55: Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Council on Environmental Quality relating to National Environmental Policy Act Implementing Regulations Revisions.
Passed 50-47 with Indiana senators Braun and Young voting nay. View the vote.

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

In other news

“Former U.S. President Donald Trump declined to answer questions during an appearance before New York state’s attorney general in a civil investigation into his family’s business practices, citing his constitutional right against self-incrimination.” His lack of response can be considered by a jury should the case go to trial. (Reuters)

“A federal judge in Florida has unsealed the documents related to an FBI search of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home that took place earlier this week. The documents include both the search warrant and the property receipt, which outlines what was taken by authorities. They outline that agents recovered top secret and classified documents in Monday’s search.” (NPR)

“Though Trump has had the option to release the search warrant since Monday, it took a DOJ gambit to force the issue. Though the department typically closely guards search warrants, particularly in cases that have not yet yielded indictments, top DOJ officials said that the “public characterizations” of the FBI search by Trump and his attorneys effectively waived the need for secrecy.” (Politico)

“Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle urged their colleagues on Sunday to tamp down recent attacks levied against the FBI following its search of former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Trump allies have portrayed the unprecedented search — which included the seizure of 11 sets of classified documents as part of the agency’s investigation into whether Trump violated the Espionage Act and other federal statutes — as evidence the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) have been weaponized by the Biden administration. Some Republicans have called for the FBI to be defunded, while others have broadcast the notion that agents could come after all Americans, including showing up in their living rooms.” (The Hill)

“Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania said Tuesday that the FBI had seized his cell phone…Perry’s phone was imaged after the search on Tuesday morning and returned to him soon after. The warrant indicated that federal authorities would need to go back to federal court for a second warrant to access the contents, according to the source. Eastman, Clark and Perry haven’t been charged with any crimes. It is unclear if there is a target of the criminal investigation into political contacts that aided Trump’s post-election pressure campaign, but the DOJ inspector general investigates wrongdoing by employees within the Department of Justice, which Clark was at the time Trump tried to enlist him to push false voting fraud claims. Perry had introduced Clark and Trump.” (CNN)

“Federal investigators delivered subpoenas or paid visits to several House and Senate Republican offices in the Pennsylvania Capitol on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to multiple sources. The information being requested centered around U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., and the effort to seek alternate electors as part of former President Donald Trump’s efforts to remain in office after the 2020 election, several sources said.” (PennLive)

“Florida’s Medicaid regulator has finalized new rules banning health care providers from billing the taxpayer-funded program for gender-affirming medical treatments, a move that comes as the state has sought to block such therapies for young people…The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association support gender-affirming care for adults and adolescents. But medical experts said gender-affirming care for children rarely, if ever, includes surgery. Instead, doctors are more likely to recommend counseling, social transitioning and hormone replacement therapy. 
A coalition of LGBTQ and health rights groups, including Lambda Legal, Southern Legal Counsel, Florida Health Justice Project, and National Health Law Program, said the rule will leave thousands of transgender Floridians without critical care when they need it most.
“Ignoring thousands of public comments and expert testimony, Florida’s AHCA has finalized a rule that will deny Medicaid coverage for all medically necessary gender-affirming care for both youth and adults,” the coalition statement said. “This discriminatory and medically unsound rule will take effect on August 21, 2022, putting transgender people in jeopardy of losing access to critical gender-affirming health care services.” (Politico)

“On Saturday, al-Zawahiri, 71, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Kabul, Afghanistan, President Joe Biden announced Monday. Called a mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been one of the most sought-after people by the U.S. for over two decades. Al-Zawahiri, a trained surgeon born in Egypt, was Osama bin Laden’s No. 2, and he took over Al Qaeda after a U.S. raid killed bin Laden in 2011. He played a crucial role in planning the Sept. 11 attacks; he was indicted in absentia in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed 224 people; and he is believed to have plotted the 2000 attack on the USS Cole, which killed 17 sailors.” (NBC News)

“Chinese officials are making plans for Xi Jinping to meet with President Biden in Bali, in Southeast Asia, during the G20 summit in mid-November, The Wall Street Journal reports. This would be Xi’s first international trip since COVID, and Biden’s first meeting with Xi as president.” (Axios)

“The number of people living in America without health insurance coverage hit an all-time low of 8 percent this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday.” (ABC News)

“U.S. prosecutors on Thursday charged four current and former Louisville, Kentucky, police officers for their roles in the botched 2020 raid that killed Breonna Taylor…” (Reuters)

Women’s rights
“A woman turned away with an ectopic pregnancy. A miscarrying mother sent home, where she develops an infection. People with severe pregnancy complications left untreated. Within a month of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, abortion bans have thrown emergency care into disarray and put doctors in an impossible bind. Federal law requires physicians to treat pregnant patients in emergencies, providing abortions when necessary, while the law in some states prohibits emergency abortions. A showdown between the federal government and the states is now brewing. The state of Texas is suing the Biden administration to block federal guidance that protects access to emergency abortion care, even in states where abortion is a crime. And on Tuesday, the administration went on the offensive, suing Idaho over its abortion restrictions.” (CNN)

“President Biden on Wednesday issued an executive order to protect people’s ability to travel out of state to access abortion…Although the Biden administration has taken several steps to respond to the Supreme Court ruling, the executive branch’s role when it comes to protecting abortion care is limited without congressional action.” (Axios)

Climate crisis
“Extreme weather on both ends of the spectrum has thrashed parts of the US over the past week — one of the many signals that climate change is here now, scientists say. On the one hand, overwhelming rainfall triggered two ultra-rare floods last week, one in the St. Louis area and another in eastern Kentucky that has left dozens dead or missing. On the other, a fiery drought has fueled California’s largest wildfire of the year so far — the McKinney Fire — which burned so hot over the weekend that massive pyrocumulus clouds erupted into the atmosphere. Expect more of these extremes as the planet warms, said Kevin Reed, a climate scientist at Stony Brook University, and prepare for them.” (CNN)

“The US economy has now regained all jobs lost during the pandemic, after a blowout July jobs report that showed a gain of 528,000 jobs, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.” (CNN)

The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment ticked up further this month from a record low in June, Reuters reports. “All components of the expectations index improved this month, particularly among low- and middle-income consumers — for whom inflation is particularly salient,” survey director Joanne Hsu said. (Axios)

“The Biden administration will end a Trump-era policy requiring asylum seekers at the U.S. southern border to stay in Mexico while they await immigration hearings in U.S. courts, according to the Department of Homeland Security. President Joe Biden attempted to end the “remain in Mexico” policy when he first took office in January 2021, but was blocked by a federal judge, who ordered his administration to continue the practice. That order was lifted on Monday.” (Miami Herald)

“For months now, the governors of Texas and Arizona have been sending charter buses full of migrants and refugees to Washington, D.C.’s Union Station, just a few blocks from the Capitol building. When they disembark, they find neither the local nor federal government there to meet them.” Now Texas is sending migrants to New York City also. (NPR)

January 6
“A federal judge on Monday sentenced Guy Reffitt, who brought a gun to the US Capitol during the January 6, 2021, riot and threatened House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, to more than seven years in prison, the longest insurrection-related sentence to date.” (CNN)


Special session

Senate Enrolled Act 1 Abortion
Indiana’s governor signed into law late Friday a Republican-backed bill that will ban virtually all abortions in the state, making it the first to enact abortion-restricting legislation since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.   The ban takes effect on Sept. 15, at which point Indiana will have one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation. 
“Although the Senate narrowly voted in favor of a notarized affidavit to be required victims of rape or incest to access an abortion, a House committee eliminated that requirement. They also scrapped a provision in the bill that would allow the state attorney general to take over prosecution of abortion-related cases if a local prosecutor refuses to. Existing Indiana law makes it a felony for a doctor to perform an illegal abortion, and under the newly-enacted legislation, most abortions will be illegal. There are no criminal penalties for women who seek abortions.
The final language of the ban states explicitly that it does not apply to in vitro fertilization, miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies. The ban also will not limit access to the “morning after” pill or any forms of contraception. 
Senators accepted the House-amended version of the bill in a 28-19 concurrence vote late Friday evening after more than three hours of debate.
The vote marked the close of a special legislative session that saw nearly two weeks of long days and heated debate in both chambers of the General Assembly.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
The vote in the House was 62-38. View the vote in the House. The vote in the Senate was 28-19. View the vote in the Senate.

Indiana Republican lawmakers voted Friday to force thousands more people to give birth every year in a state with some of the worst maternal and infant mortality rates in the country. (WFYI)

Republican representative Jacobs said, ”The body inside of the mom’s body is not her body. Not her body, not her choice.” Read more comments from Indiana legislatures, republican and democratic, at Axios.

Some Indiana lawmakers are concerned about what laws will be put in place after Indiana’s recently passed near-total abortion ban.  (WFIU)  

Eli Lilly and Co., one of the largest and oldest companies in Indiana, announced Saturday it will look outside the state for corporate expansion projects in the wake of a sweeping abortion ban passed by the Legislature on Friday.  (IBJ)

Major Indiana companies that previously declined to publicly comment on a near-total abortion ban are now speaking out against the newly-enacted restrictions, saying the the move could inhibit business growth and make it harder to retain skilled workers. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

As Eli Lilly and Co. condemns Indiana’s near-total ban on abortion, I-Team 8 has discovered the pharmaceutical giant’s political action committee has donated tens of thousands of dollars to lawmakers and other state leaders who supported the law.  (WISH-TV)

Senate Enrolled Act 2
“Hoosiers can expect to see another $200 in their bank account after Indiana lawmakers approved a second set of payments during the special session. Under the legislation that passed, Hoosiers who didn’t file a tax return no longer have to file an affidavit. They’ll instead receive the $200 tax credit by filing a 2022 tax return, according to lawmakers. During the special session, the House and Senate each stripped a bill that originated from the other chamber and replaced it with a version of their own inflation relief plan.
House and Senate negotiators then settled on $200 payments, established a family support fund and also kept the gas tax cap, among other things…The measure also eliminates state sales tax on children’s diapers and increases the adoption tax credit. The House approved the payments in a 93-6 vote Friday. The Senate followed with a 37-9 vote, sending the measure” to the Governor who signed it into law.” (Fox 59)

In other news

“Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., and two of her staffers were killed in a car crash on Wednesday, authorities said. Walorski was 58.” (NBC News)

A northern Indiana congressional seat will remain vacant until the November election following the death last week of Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski in a highway crash.  (AP Indiana)

“Indiana received its first payment from its share of a national, $26 billion settlement with opioid manufacturers and distributors in mid-July, and expects to receive two more this year. Local governments could see their first payments this year.  

The state had sent letters to cities, counties and towns with their estimated payouts, which Rokita’s office also keeps in a detailed year-by-year spreadsheet on its website. Fort Wayne, for instance, will receive about $1.3 million this year and Indianapolis will receive about $8.5 million.

Local governments must spend 70% of the money on a broad list of opioid abatement strategies, including prevention, treatment, recovery support services, help for pregnant and postpartum women and more. There are fewer restrictions on the other 30%.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

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