10/06/2022 Weekly Legislative Update

You can make a difference

Join us for our Pre-Election Rally on October 27, 6-7:30 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.

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.

Election Day is coming soon and our democracy and freedoms are at stake. We all need to get involved to elect politicians that will work for us while preserving our freedoms and national democracy.

The campaign signs are up, political ads are airing and Congressman Frank Mrvan needs your help. Republicans are throwing lots of money into the campaign of his republican opponent, who is not even from Indiana! Frank has been a terrific congressman for all of us in Northwest Indiana and Indivisible has endorsed him. Volunteer here.

Indivisible NWI has also endorsed two outstanding candidates for state representative. They have worked tirelessly at the state level for all of us and need our help in their re-election campaigns. Please note that even if they are not your representatives, you can still campaign for them. We all need them in the statehouse.

Pat Boy represents District 9. Read about her here and volunteer for her campaign here and here.

Chuck Moseley represents District 10. Read about him here and volunteer for his campaign here.

Want to campaign for your district’s candidates too? An easy way to see who is running in your district is at Ballotpedia Indiana. Put in your address and you will find candidates running in The Nov. 8 election. You can learn more about each candidate and you can link to their campaign website to view volunteer opportunities. Unless Indiana elects more Democrats, Hoosiers will continue losing rights to health care, reproductive rights, freedom to read, criminal justice, a strong public education system, voting, freedom for our children to learn accurate American history—the list goes on and on.

Democracy takes a lot of work. Let’s get busy!

“Lake County’s voting sites for the Nov. 8 general election are set.
The county’s Board of Elections and Voter Registration unanimously agreed Thursday to use all the same polling places where citizens cast their ballots in the May primary election, with one exception.
The sole change is Merrillville Precinct 5. St. Joan of Arc Church, 200 E. 78th Ave., no longer is available as a voting site because the building is in the process of being sold. As a result, the new voting location for that precinct is Sts. Constantine and Helen Church Hall, 8000 Madison Ave., which also is a polling site for Merrillville Precinct 4.
All registered Indiana voters can find their voting site, see a list of candidates on their ballot and request a mail-in ballot, if eligible, by accessing their voter registration record online at IndianaVoters.com.” (NWI Times)

The truth matters

Thanks to the Democrats’ recently passed Inflation Reduction Act, the IRS will soon receive much needed funding that will lead to improved technology, customer service and increased tax revenue by going after wealthy people and businesses. And yet, “Voters in the country’s most competitive House and Senate races face a deluge of Republican ads focusing on the dubious claim that Democrats have empowered the IRS to hire an army of 87,000 new agents to target the middle class…At the heart of the attack ads is an argument the IRS itself says is “inaccurate.” Experts say that the IRS is mainly seeking to replenish its aging workforce and beef up its outdated tech, not hound average Americans.
The GOP messaging links back to the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the Democrats’ signature legislative achievement this Congress. The party-line bill authorized $80 billion in new funding for the IRS over a decade. According to a 2021 Treasury report, this wave of new money would facilitate the hiring of nearly 87,000 full-time employees through 2031. The IRS could generate as much as $200 billion in new revenue by better enforcing existing tax laws, more than covering the added costs.
“Here’s a statement from the IRS:
“Suggestions that we will be immediately doubling the number of auditors or enforcement personnel are inaccurate as we will pursue a thoughtful, measured increase to our personnel. Additionally, we will be simultaneously hiring positions in taxpayer service and Information Technology across the IRS.”” (Punchbowl News)

Enacted, signed into law by the President

H.R. 6833: Continuing Appropriations and Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2023
This bill funds the government until the end of the year.
Passed in the House 230-201. Ten republicans voted yea, all others voted nay, including all republican reps from Indiana. Reps Mrvan and Carson voted yea. View the vote. Passed in the Senate 72-25; Senator Young voted yea and Senator Braun voted nay. View the vote.

H.R. 6899: Russia and Belarus SDR Exchange Prohibition Act of 2022

S. 3895: United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2022.

S. 3969: Protection and Advocacy for Voting Access Program Inclusion Act

S. 4900: SBIR and STTR Extension Act of 2022


Passed House and Senate, President next

H.R. 468: Expedited Delivery of Airport Infrastructure Act of 2021

H.R. 4877: One Stop Shop for Small Business Compliance Act of 2021


The Senate version of the Electoral College Act, which would reform the electoral count procedure appears poised to pass during the lame duck session following the November elections. The bill would clarify that that the Vice President’s role in counting the electoral votes is purely ceremonial with no power to change the votes. It would also require a 1/5 percent of House and Senate members to object to the votes—currently only one member from each chamber is required to do that. The House version of this bill is slightly different—and requires a larger percentage of objectors. (The Hill)

Passed Senate, House next

S. 4673: National Computer Forensics Institute Reauthorization Act of 2022
Passed Senate without amendment by Voice Vote.

S. 1617: Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act
Passed Senate with an amendment by Voice Vote.

S. 1687: Small Business Cyber Training Act of 2022
Passed Senate with an amendment by Voice Vote.

S. 2521: SBIC Advisory Committee Act of 2022
Passed Senate with an amendment and an amendment to the Title by Voice Vote.

S. 3092: FIRE Act
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 3092: FIRE Act
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 3875: Community Disaster Resilience Zones Act of 2022
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 3906: Small Business Broadband and Emerging Information Technology Enhancement Act of 2022
Passed Senate with an amendment by Voice Vote

S. 4166: Technological Hazards Preparedness and Training Act of 2022
Passed Senate with amendments by Unanimous Consent.

Passed Senate with changes, back to the House

H.R. 3462: SBA Cyber Awareness Act
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

The next weeks in Congress

“Congress is gone until mid-November..”. (Punchbowl News)
The House is scheduled to be out of session until November 17; the Senate is scheduled to be out of session until Nov. 9. (Ballotpedia)

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

In other news

“A federal appeals court on Wednesday said the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy violates U.S. immigration law, dealing a blow to an Obama-era program that provides deportation protection and work permits to nearly 600,000 immigrant “Dreamers” who lack legal status… Despite its conclusion, the appeals court did not order the Biden administration to shut down DACA completely or stop processing renewal applications, deciding instead to leave in place an order from U.S. Judge Andrew Hanen that left the policy intact for current beneficiaries. The government, however, will continue to be prohibited from approving first-time DACA applications.” The Biden Administration is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court for a final decision on the legality of DACA. (CBS News)

“Six Republican-led states sued President Joe Biden on Thursday in an effort to block his student loan forgiveness plan from taking effect.” Additional lawsuits against the plan are likely forthcoming. (CNN)
“In a remarkable reversal that will affect the fortunes of many student loan borrowers, the U.S. Department of Education has quietly changed its guidance around who qualifies for President Biden’s sweeping student debt relief plan. At the center of the change are borrowers who took out federal student loans many years ago, both Perkins loans and Federal Family Education Loans. FFEL loans, issued and managed by private banks but guaranteed by the federal government, were once the mainstay of the federal student loan program until the FFEL program ended in 2010. On Thursday, though, the department quietly changed that language. The guidance now says, “As of Sept. 29, 2022, borrowers with federal student loans not held by ED cannot obtain one-time debt relief by consolidating those loans into Direct Loans.”
Multiple legal experts tell NPR the reversal in policy was likely made out of concern that the private banks that manage old FFEL loans could potentially file lawsuits to stop the debt relief, arguing that Biden’s plan would cause them financial harm.” The Biden Administration is exploring other legal options to provide relief to the approximately 800,00 borrowers affected by this change.” (NPR)

Elon Musk revived a bid to buy Twitter Inc. at the original price of $54.20 a share, backtracking on his effort to quit the deal and potentially avoiding a contentious courtroom fight. (Bloomberg)

“At least 120 people in Florida have died due to Hurricane Ian, according to local officials, as the death toll continues to climb a week after the powerful storm slammed into the state’s southwestern coast. Five additional people were also reported dead due to the storm in North Carolina, according to the governor’s office. The Category 4 storm made landfall in Florida the afternoon of Sept. 28, causing catastrophic damage, fierce winds and dangerous, record-breaking storm surges.” (ABC News)

“President Joe Biden said “it’s going to take years” for Florida to “recover and rebuild” after Hurricane Ian ravaged the state last week.
Biden met with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, one of his most prominent Republican critics, in the aftermath of the hurricane to coordinate recovery efforts. Biden said in his remarks Wednesday that he and DeSantis had “one job and one job only” which was to “make sure the people of Florida get everything they need to fully and thoroughly recover.”
Biden pledged to put politics aside, saying that federal, state and local governments will work together to help rebuild homes, businesses and lives. “This is about America coming together,” Biden said Wednesday. “And I really mean it, America coming together.”” (NewsNation)

Climate crisis
“Hurricane forecasters’ worst nightmare came true on Wednesday morning, when what had been a Category 3 storm Tuesday night suddenly jumped almost to Category 5. 
Why it matters: It used to be rare for storms to keep strengthening until landfall, let alone do so rapidly. Now it is not — and studies show this is a dangerous sign of climate change.
The big picture: Such an intensity leap was made possible by warm ocean temperatures and abundant atmospheric moisture — both factors that climate change enhances.

  • During the past several years, there have been multiple storms that rapidly intensified as they neared the Gulf Coast and did so through landfall.
  • Previously, tropical storms and hurricanes tended to weaken as they neared the northern Gulf Coast in particular, falling victim to cooler waters or stronger jet stream winds.
  • But that did not happen with Hurricanes Laura or Ida in 2020 and 2021 — or with Hurricane Michael, which ramped all the way up to a Category 5 storm in the Florida Panhandle in 2018.”

The courts
“A federal appeals court in New York on Tuesday handed former President Trump a partial victory in a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who accused Trump of raping her in the 1990s, with the court ruling that presidents are covered by a federal law that gives broad legal immunity to government employees.” But The 2nd Circuit panel asked the top local court in Washington to weigh in on another key issue bearing on Trump’s potential immunity: whether Trump was acting “outside the scope” of his presidency when he allegedly defamed Carroll…” (The Hill)

“Former President Donald Trump asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to intervene in the dispute over materials marked as classified that the FBI seized from his Mar-a-Lago estate this summer. Trump is specifically asking the court to ensure that the more than 100 documents marked as classified are part of the special master’s review. The request, if granted, could bolster the former President’s attempt to challenge the search in court, as he has argued that he may have had a right, as a former president, to possess certain government documents, including documents potentially containing the country’s most sensitive secrets.” (CNN)

“Judge Katanji Brown Jackson was formally sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice on Friday. Hours later she “gave a rousing speech at the Library of Congress, saying that since her appointment, she has been approached by people from “all walks of life” with what she called “a profound sense of pride in what feels to me like renewed ownership.”” (CNN)

“The Supreme Court opened its nine-month term Monday by hearing a conservative challenge to the federal government’s authority to regulate wetlands under a landmark environmental protection law, with Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson asking multiple questions on her first day on the bench.” (NBC News)

“Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson invoked the original meaning of the US Constitution in her first days of Supreme Court arguments, suggesting that she’s willing to engage with a constitutional doctrine traditionally associated with conservatives. The “framers themselves adopted the equal protection clause” reflected in the 14th and 15th amendments “in a race conscious way,” Jackson said Tuesday in countering the argument that redistricting—and particularly challenges to redistricting plans under the Voting Rights Act—must be race-blind.” (Bloomberg Law)

“Covid-19 vaccinations could save thousands of lives and billions of dollars this winter. A new analysis suggests that if more people in the United States get their booster by the end of the year, about 90,000 Covid-19 deaths could be prevented this fall and winter. But if booster vaccinations continue at their current pace, the nation could see a peak of more than 1,000 Covid-19 deaths per day this winter, according to the study, published Wednesday by The Commonwealth Fund. There are now more than 400 daily Covid-19 deaths, on average, in the United States.” (CNN)

“OPEC+ agreed to steep oil production cuts on Wednesday, curbing supply in an already tight market, causing one of its biggest clashes with the West as the U.S. administration called the surprise decision shortsighted.” (Reuters)

“The 99-day streak of price declines from mid-June to September 20 may become a distant memory, even as today’s prices are still far below the June record of just over $5.03 a gallon. Gas prices have increased every day but one day since then, and are now up by 16 cents a gallon, or 4%, since they bottomed out two weeks ago at $3.67 a gallon.
For the most part the price increases have been slow and incremental, but that might be about to change. OPEC+, which includes not only nations in the oil cartel but other major oil producers such as Russia, agreed Wednesday to slash oil production by about 2 million barrels a day.” (CNN)

“Wall Street closed out a miserable September on Friday with the S&P 500’s worst monthly skid since March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic crashed global markets. The benchmark index ended the month with a 9.3% loss and posted its third straight losing quarter. It’s now at its lowest level since November 2020 and is down by more than a quarter since the start of the year. The main reason financial markets continue to struggle is fear about a possible recession, as interest rates soar in hopes of beating down the high inflation that’s swept the world.” (NewsNation)

“We are now 18 months into inflation that is above the 2.0 to 2.5 percent level that the Federal Reserve targets as a normal rate of inflation. To slow that inflation rate, the Fed has raised their benchmark interest rate five times, from 3.25 to 6.25 percent. This has the effect of increasing the cost of borrowing, thus reducing consumer demand. It also increases the risk of a recession. It is too early to predict a recession, and economists, including this columnist, have a poor track record of predicting recessions. However, it is not too soon to think through what we might expect with a recession and what unexpected risks might accompany a downturn.”  (Michael Hicks, Ball State University)


2022 Election
“On Friday morning, political writer Abdul-Hakim Shabazz published interviews with two women who said they had been sexually assaulted by Morales years ago. The stories appeared in Shabazz’s publication, the Cheat Sheet. The allegations are the the latest controversy to touch Morales, who was nominated by Republican delegates at convention despite once being fired from the very office he now seeks. His military experience has also been scrutinized after he made it the focus of his campaign despite spending a total of just three months and 18 days on active duty as part of his training period.” (Yahoo News)

Senate candidates Tom McDermott and Todd Young are “scheduled to meet, along with Libertarian James Sceniak, for the sole U.S. Senate candidates debate at 6 p.m. Region time Oct. 16. The debate will be broadcast live on public television and radio stations across the state and available to view online through the website of the nonpartisan Indiana Debate Commission.” (NWI Times)

“A survey conducted by Indy Politics and ARW Strategies of likely voters in Indiana between September 25th and 26th shows Republicans in danger of losing the Secretary of State’s race this fall.”  (Indy Politics)

“A survey conducted by Indy Politics and ARW Strategies of likely voters in Indiana between September 25th and 26th shows the United States Senate race neck-and-neck heading into the final month.”  (Indy Politics)

“Transparency, communication and listening to stakeholders are key issues among this year’s Crown Point Community School Corp. Board of School Trustees candidates. They aired their views Saturday at a candidates’ forum at the Crown Point Public Library.”   (Times of Northwest Indiana)

“Hoosiers with print disabilities can choose a person to help them fill out their vote-by-mail ballot for this fall’s election. That’s after a federal judge’s recent ruling in a lengthy legal battle.” (WFIU)

In other news

The Attorney General’s office has filed its response to a lawsuit filed by Hoosier Jews for Choice challenging the state’s near-total abortion ban.  (WISH-TV)

The number of Hoosier women dying in childbirth, or within one year of delivery, is soaring — even before Indiana’s near-total abortion ban potentially compels up to 8,000 additional women each year to carry their pregnancies to term. (Times of Northwest Indiana) 

A group of lawmakers on Tuesday recommended that the Indiana General Assembly develop legislation lessening criminal penalties specific to the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, as well as to help psychiatric patients ready for release. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

The infrastructure of Indiana’s behavioral health treatment system is underfunded and in need of reform, even as one in five Hoosiers live with a mental illness each year, a new report says.  (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Watersheds in Indiana deposited massive amounts of toxic chemicals into the Great Lakes region in 2020, according to a report released Tuesday by Environment America Research and Policy Center.  (Indiana Economic Digest)

Some Hoosiers are pleading with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles to keep local branches open as the agency debates additional closures and pushes for more digital service transactions. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
The state of Indiana has finished printing and mailing the automatic taxpayer refund checks, State Auditor Tera Klutz said Thursday. (WANE)

A federal judge has barred Indiana from enforcing a 2016 law’s provisions that require abortion clinics to either bury or cremate fetal remains, finding that they violate the U.S. Constitution. (WANE)

Indiana’s plan for building out a statewide electric vehicle infrastructure network has received a stamp of approval from the Federal Highway Administration, paving the way for the Indiana Department of Transportation to begin the process of installing more than 100 charging stations across the state. (IBJ)

“Eligible students at six Indiana school districts will be able to access $1,000 for tutoring services beginning Oct. 15, according to a Wednesday presentation from the state department of education.” (Chalkbeat Indiana)

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