09/19/2022 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

Join us for our next in-person event on October 27, 5-7:30 at the Merrillville Library, 1919 81st Ave, Merrillville
Meet and hear from Destiny Wells, the Democratic candidate for Indiana Secretary of State and Martin Del Rio, Veterans Advocate. The Indiana Secretary of State race is a Democratic must win for all Hoosiers who value the freedom to vote and election fairness. Hear why this race has become so important. Hear, too, what is being done for veterans in Indiana and around the country, what challenges veterans face and what more needs to be done.
Register here. Bring a friend–& a vet!
Get to know Destiny with this short video and at her campaign website.

Indivisible NWI is proud to have endorsed Congressman Frank Mrvan for re-election. Frank needs all of us to work to ensure his re-election. Check out volunteer opportunities here.

Early voting in person begins Oct. 12. Times and locations are posted for our NWI counties are posted here. You can view your full ballot on https://indianavoters.in.gov/ or  www.indianavoters.com. You can also go to Vote 411, which is a one stop site for elections information from the League of Women Voters. Ballotpedia Indiana also links to the most prominent races on your ballot with links to candidate information and websites. Finally, here’s a nice easy breakdown of voting in Indiana from Indiana Capital Chronicle.

The truth matters

“The facts are the facts. Truth is what you believe. By issuing prefacts—before more facts are known, Trump, republicans and far right media successfully convince millions that lies are truth. But there is reason for optimism–We can learn. We learned how cigarettes are killers, how seatbelts are life savers, and how Trump University was a scam, didn’t we? 
The key is that those who know better can’t ever stop defending actual facts over prefacts, or in other words, nonsense.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Enacted, signed into law by the President

H.R. 5376: Inflation Reduction Act of 2022
“The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 sets out to reduce the national deficit, address climate change and invest in clean energy, lower the cost of health insurance and prescription drugs, and reform and enforce the tax code.” (League of Women Voters) Read more details of this important bill at LVW and Indivisible. Read about actual savings and lowering costs here and health benefits for Hoosiers here. This bill will do a lot for all Americans and contains the most significant climate provisions ever passed. Talk about it; brag about it; this is a big win for Democrats.

S. 4458: Ensuring the Best Schools for Veterans Act of 2022

H.R. 2992: TBI and PTSD Law Enforcement Training Act

H.R. 5313: Reese’s Law

S. 3451: A bill to include certain computer-related projects in the Federal permitting program under title XLI of the FAST Act, and for other purposes.

H.R. 6943: Public Safety Officer Support Act of 2022

S. 3103: Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act of 2022


Congress came back in full force after a long recess.

Passed the House and Senate, President next

H.R. 7500: Fiscal Year 2022 Veterans Affairs Major Medical Facility Authorization Act
Passed Senate without amendment by Voice Vote.

H.R. 5754: Patient Advocate Tracker Act
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.

H.R. 8656: To designate the clinic of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Mishawaka, Indiana, as the “Jackie Walorski VA Clinic”.

S. 2293: Civilian Reservist Emergency Workforce Act of 2021

S. 442: BRIGHT Act

S. 4205: PAW Act


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Tuesday introduced a bill that would ban abortions nationally after 15 weeks of pregnancy…Graham, who previously said abortion decisions should be left up to states, on Tuesday said elected officials have the power to define and regulate abortion, including in Congress…“We should have a law at the federal level,” Graham said during a briefing. “If we take the House and Senate, I can assure you we’ll have a vote.” (The Hill)

Passed the Senate, House next

S. 958: Maximizing Outcomes through Better Investments in Lifesaving Equipment for (MOBILE) Health Care Act
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 3662: Preventing PFAS Runoff at Airports Act
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 1198: Solid Start Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “This bill permanently authorizes and expands the Solid Start program, which is an outreach program for veterans in their first year of separation from the military.”
Passed Senate with an amendment by Voice Vote.

S. 533: Guidance Clarity Act of 2021
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 4057: Strategic EV Management Act of 2022
Passed Senate with an amendment by Voice Vote.

Passed the House, Senate next

H.R. 5315: Drone Infrastructure Inspection Grant Act
GovTrack.us: “To direct the Secretary of Transportation to establish in the Department of Transportation a drone infrastructure inspection grant program and a drone education and training grant program, and for other purposes.”
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 308 – 110. Representatives Pence, Hollingsworth and Banks voted nay; all other Indiana reps voted yea.

H.R. 1066: Wildfire Recovery Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill makes changes with respect to the federal cost share for Fire Management Assistance Grants and provides that the federal share shall be not less than 75% of the eligible cost.” On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 328 – 88. Indiana reps Hollingsworth and Pence voted nay; all other reps voted yea.

H.R. 3173: Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act of 2021
GovTrack.us: “To amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to establish requirements with respect to the use of prior authorization under Medicare Advantage plans, and for other purposes.”
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote.

H.R. 884: National Aviation Preparedness Plan Act of 2022
GovTrack.us: “This bill directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop a national aviation preparedness plan for communicable disease outbreaks, including to require that frontline at-risk employees are equipped with appropriate personal protective equipment to reduce the likelihood of exposure to a communicable disease that has the potential to cause an epidemic or pandemic of infectious disease that would constitute a public health emergency of international concern (i.e., a covered communicable disease).” 
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 293 – 133. Indiana reps Mrvan, Spartz and Carson voted yea; all others voted nay.

H.R. 5774: Expediting Disaster Recovery Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 406 – 20. All Indiana reps voted yea except Hollingsworth and Pence.

The following bills passed under Suspension of the Rules

H.R. 1468: Securities and Exchange Commission Real Estate Leasing Authority Revocation Act

H.R. 5916: Wounded Warrior Access Act

H.R. 7735: Improving Access to the VA Home Loan Benefit Act of 2022

H.R. 7846: Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2022

H.R. 7939: Student Veteran Emergency Relief Act of 2022

H.R. 8260: Faster Payments to Veterans’ Survivors Act of 2022

H.R. 884: National Aviation Preparedness Plan Act of 2022

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

In other news

“The child poverty rate was 27.9% in 1993, but fell to a record low of 5.2% in 2021, according to new census data. The child poverty rate has decreased in every state.

  • And it’s fallen by about the same amount for Black kids, white kids, Hispanic kids, Asian kids, immigrants, and kids in one- or two-parent households.

Pandemic-era expanded government benefits, from stimulus checks to an expanded child tax credit, were major drivers in reducing child poverty in 2020 and 2021.

  • Academics and advocates have raised concerns that some of those additional gains may be erased now that the expanded child tax credit has expired.

Still, many of the driving factors behind the drop in child poverty are longer term.

  • They include lower unemployment, state-level minimum wage increases, a rise in single mothers’ participation in the workforce, and expansions of the safety net, the New York Times reports.”

“The White House struck a tentative deal Thursday to avoid a rail strike that risked major disruptions across the United States, with freight workers securing a key demand.” (NBC News)

“President Joe Biden announced his administration’s long-awaited student loan forgiveness plan Wednesday, saying it will forgive $10,000 in student loans for borrowers who earned less than $125,000 during the pandemic. People who received Pell Grants, grants to low-income students, while they were enrolled in college will be eligible to have $20,000 in debt forgiven.” (Vox)

“The White House hit back at Republicans in an uncharacteristic manner Thursday by using its Twitter account to go after GOP lawmakers who are bashing President Joe Biden’s move to cancel some student debt after they personally benefited from having Paycheck Protection Program loans forgiven during the Covid pandemic.” (NBC News)

“The Biden administration finalized a rule to transform the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy for more than 600,000 so-called “Dreamers” into a federal regulation, a move aimed at protecting the program from legal challenges that imperil its existence.” (CBS News)

“Inflation was little changed in the month of August, despite efforts by the Federal Reserve to cool off the U.S. economy. Data released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that inflation landed at 8.3% last month compared to one year ago. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast an 8.1% annual increase. Prices increased 8.5% in July…Inflation is expected to remain elevated for some time, though it should continue heading downward, according to the most recent New York Federal Reserve survey.” (NBC News)

“The Federal Open Market Committee meets on Tuesday and Wednesday. Central bankers are expected to approve an interest rate increase of at least 75 basis points. Federal Reserve Chair Jay Powell will likely signal at his Wednesday press conference that more big rate increases are coming until inflation – which remains at a four-decade high despite lower gas prices – cools down. These rate hikes are starting to hit the housing market as mortgages top 6% for the first time since 2008, as well as spilling over to other sectors. The problem – the Fed is risking a recession, perhaps a deep one, in order to bring inflation into line with its mandates. Other central banks are following the Fed’s path, risking a wider slowdown.” (Punchbowl News)

Former POTUS
“The Senate Judiciary Committee will investigate whether former President Trump’s Justice Department attempted to use the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office to prosecute his critics and protect his allies, the panel’s chairman said”. (The Hill)

“The Justice Department is asking the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta to lift part of an order from Judge Aileen Cannon that bars the government from using classified materials seized from Mar-A-Lago in its investigation and requiring the government to disclose those materials to the special master appointed in the case.” (NPR
“In its request with the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department said the lower court’s move to block criminal investigations from reviewing the seized documents marked as classified would cause irreparable harm, writing that the “criminal investigation is itself essential to the government’s effort to identify and mitigate potential national-security risks.” (CNN)

“The Supreme Court on Friday sided with Black voters who challenged Georgia’s system of electing members to the state’s Public Service Commission, which regulates public utilities in the state.
The move was a rare example of the conservative court siding with voters over state officials in disputes regarding election rules, especially when the court is asked to act on an emergency basis.” (CNN)

Women’s rights
“Senate Republicans led by Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced federal anti-abortion legislation on Tuesday — the first of its kind since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.
The Protecting Pain-Capable Unborn Children from Late-Term Abortions Act prohibits abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy and provides some exceptions in cases of rape, incest and to protect the life of the pregnant person. A physician who violates the law could face up to five years in prison.” There are also no exceptions for fetal viability of for a life threatening mental illness.” (Politico)


“Indiana’s near total abortion ban went into effect on Sept. 15. “Reproductive rights groups including the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and others are challenging Indiana’s law in state court. A hearing in that case is set for Sept. 19.” (NPR) The two lawsuits that challenge the ban are: “One lawsuit filed in Marion County court last week said that the ban violates Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act or RFRA. The lawsuit said Jewish, Muslim, Unitarian Universalist, Episcopal and pagan faiths all recognize a right to abortions that would be banned under Indiana law. And in some cases, the suit argued some faith traditions even say abortions should be performed in situations that Indiana will soon outlaw. Another lawsuit filed in August by the ACLU on behalf of a number of abortion clinics aruges the abortion ban violates Indiana’s constitution by including vague language regarding the risk to the health or life of a pregnant person and by limiting legal abortions to hospitals and surgical centers owned by hospitals only.” (Indiana Public Media)

“The ban outlaws all abortions except in the case of a fatal fetal anomaly and cases of serious health risk to the mother. One part of the law says these exceptions are up to 20 weeks but another part says they can be used anytime. Rape survivors can get an abortion up to 10 weeks post-fertilization. It also strips abortion clinics of their state medical licenses, and provides that only hospitals and hospital-owned ambulatory surgical centers can provide abortions.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

“Indiana’s Republican governor continued to defend the state’s near-total abortion ban after the new abortion law took effect on Thursday, saying he’s not concerned about possible economic repercussions or impacts on the state’s ability to retain and attract skilled workers.”  (Indiana Capital Chronical)

“While some abortion-rights advocates are looking to the fall general election to vote supportive candidates into office, one of the state’s most prominent anti-abortion groups said it will lobby lawmakers to pass a stricter abortion ban next legislative session.” (Indiana Public Media)

People still can obtain reproductive and other health services at the Planned Parenthood facility in Merrillville — even though a new Indiana law prohibits doctors from performing abortions at the clinic.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

“Seven states will tax federal loan forgiveness monies. “Indiana tends to follow federal tax policy, but has similarly chosen to break with Congress on this. Tax officials there have confirmed (to the AP) that residents will be expected to list any debt relief they receive under taxable income.” (NPR)

“Simple economic ideas aren’t really very hard to understand. So, I’m often puzzled to hear folks make the claim that Indiana’s low cost of living is an attractive feature. It is not. A low cost of living is actually evidence of chronic economic problems, and is maybe the last thing anyone should want to claim about their community. Cost of living differences between places are almost always a consequence of land prices.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle) 

“Roughly one in six Hoosiers have medical debt in collections — higher than the national average — and it jumps to one in four residents for Hoosiers of color. In all, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates that Hoosiers have $2.2 billion in outstanding debt. This means Indiana has the eleventh highest share of its population with medical debt in collections across the United States, the highest among its neighbors…The report urges lawmakers to draft eligibility standards for financial assistance require all hospitals to provide some financial assistance. According to the National Consumer Law Center, Indiana is one of a few states not to already require those provisions.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

The race for Indiana Secretary of State is clear cut in terms of our freedom to vote. Now another controversy has emerged involving the republican candidate who has touted his military service throughout the campaign. That service has been brought into question, in sharp contrast with democratic candidate Destiny Wells’ extended and stellar service. “Mike Hicks, a retired infantryman who served in the Army Reserve, highlighted the differences between the military careers of Morales and Wells.
“In reviewing the military experience of these two candidates, one of them enlisted for eight years and failed to meet the service obligation and failed to get promoted during that time and was eventually let go. The other one went from private to Lt. Col. at nearly record pace and, even after getting her graduate degree in law, remained an intelligence officer, volunteered to go overseas and serve and was selected repeatedly by promotion boards for higher positions of responsibility. “There’s really no comparison between the two candidates in terms of character of service and responsibility and performance of those duties,” Hicks said.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

“Gov. Eric Holcomb…announced an $111 million investment in philanthropic and state funds to target Indiana’s sliding literacy rate for young readers through specialized teacher training and new supports for students struggling to master the critical skill… The Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment foundation awarded a grant of up to $60 million to kickstart the far-reaching initiative. The Indiana Department of Education will use $26 million of its federal pandemic relief funds for these literacy efforts focused on students in kindergarten through third grades. In addition, Lilly Endowment will provide $25 million toward helping teacher preparation programs at Indiana universities and colleges begin using or boost instruction on the foundations of reading science. This the largest financial investment for student literacy in state history.” (WFYI)

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