Weekly Legislative Update 11/14/2022

You can make a difference

You did it! Through all of our hard work along with excellent candidates, all of Indivisible NWI’s endorsed candidates won! Congressman Frank Mrvan was reelected as our 1st District Congressman and at the state level Chuck Moseley and Pat Boy also won. Nationwide, more voters chose democracy over extremism.
In Indiana, however, we still have a lot of work to do. The statehouse will be even more supermajority Republican than before and every statewide Democratic candidate lost. But we have hope and a path forward, 2024 is a short election cycle away and we are already talking and planning. As state legislators meet to begin the long legislative session starting in January, we cannot let up. All of us working together throughout the state can bring the change Hoosiers need. 


View official election results from the state here. National and top state office results are here; nationwide results maps are here. Nationally Democrats have won a majority in the Senate while the House has not yet been won by either party, although Republicans have flipped more seats and narrowly lead. Indiana Democratic Congressmen Mrvan and Carson won re-election to the House while all other Indiana House congressional seats remained republican. Republican Todd Young was re-elected to the Senate. Statewide republicans increased their super majority and also swept statewide seats.

“Northwest Indiana voters expressed their gratitude Tuesday to U.S. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan, D-Highland, for his accomplishments on their behalf in Congress over the past two years by rewarding him with a second term in the U.S. House. Unofficial election results from Lake, Porter and northwest LaPorte counties show Mrvan prevailed over Republican Jennifer-Ruth Green, of Crown Point, in what likely was the most expensive campaign in the history of Indiana’s 1st Congressional District…Green’s campaign barred The Times from attending her election night party at Villa Cesare in Schererville, once again favoring national conservative media outlets over publications based in the district she hoped to represent. Indeed, much of Green’s unsuccessful campaign — fueled by upward of $10 million in donations funneled through Republican elected officials and GOP-affiliated political action committees — focused on turning the California native, who identifies as both Black and Asian, into the national face of a “diverse” Republican Party.” (NWI Times)

Congressman Mrvan won District 1 by about 12,000 votes—winning just over 16,000 votes in Lake County, but losing narrowly in LaPorte County and by over 3,000 votes in Porter County.

Hoosiers elected as their new Secretary of State an election denier who has been accused of sexual harassment and voter fraud and was fired from the office he will now oversee. His opponent, Democrat Destiny Wells, was a strong and imminently qualified candidate. “The 2022 election in America will not be remembered in most places for this embarrassing civic collapse of the Hoosier conscience. It will be remembered for the end of Trump’s stranglehold on the national GOP. It will be remembered for the favorable conditions that should have led to a great night for Republicans nationally, and then ultimately didn’t. It will be remembered for pro-choice referenda that passed in Michigan to our north and Kentucky to our south, right after Indiana rushed to pass an oppressive abortion-banning law just three months earlier. It will be remembered for Americans voting for something as basic as democracy itself. But that’s not what happened in Indiana. Hoosier voters outdid themselves this time. The state announced to the nation the depth of its shallowness, its disengagement in its own government, and most of all, its ignorance.” (Michael Leppert)

“Indiana continues to be a deep red state. It’s largely a function of map drawing at the legislative and congressional levels, and vastly more GOP resources at the statewide level. In what appeared to be a tough election cycle onset, Democrats left eight Senate seats and 33 House seats uncontested. Senate Republicans picked off Sen. Michael Griffin by Lake County GOP Chair Dan Dernulc and could have defeated Democrat Sens. J.D. Ford and Rodney Pol if they had put in more resources earlier. The Senate GOP supermajority is now back to 40-10.” (South Bend Tribune)

The Indiana Democratic Party on Thursday issued a statement from Chairman Mike Schmuhl following the 2022 state and federal elections that read in part: 
“We have more work to do to rebuild our party so we can be more competitive and win more races. Next year’s municipal races are good opportunities for us to elect and reelect more Democratic community leaders across the state – and we continue to build on our approach of going everywhere and talking with everyone. Before the election, we held 160 events in 70 counties to talk with voters and garner media attention. We built an INGOP War Room at party headquarters to call out GOP extremism and hold them accountable every single day. We ramped up year-round organizing to primarily help in northwest Indiana and to help our state house field teams in central Indiana.
“Looking ahead, the 2024 elections will mark the 20-year anniversary of the Indiana Republican Party’s control over state government. That election will be a referendum on them and their record.
“Over that period, Indiana’s future has dimmed, and Hoosiers are worse off than they were at the start of this century. Our quality of life has an “F” rating. Indiana’s workforce, because of ‘right to work’, earned a D- grade. A report found that Indiana has the most polluted waterways of any state. Indiana has the third-worst maternal mortality rate in the nation. In addition, the Republican supermajority in the legislature and governor took away a woman’s freedom to choose. Major employers are worried about attracting top talentWe are dead last in campaign finance transparency. And, politicized classrooms have created a teacher shortage and put Indiana’s ‘brain drain’ into overdrive.” (Hamilton County Reporter)

“Republicans have claimed key victories in state Supreme Court races that will give them an advantage in major redistricting fights, while Democrats notched similarly significant wins with help from groups focused on defending abortion access.” (WISH TV)

“Concerns over the future of American democracy rivaled the economy as a driving force for many voters who cast a ballot in the midterms, a sign that the Jan. 6 insurrection — and the response to it — remain fresh on voters’ minds.” (The Hill)

“Trump’s picks to oversee elections in key 2024 battlegrounds all lost.” (Politico)

In governors’ races across the country Democrats picked up one seat and Republicans lost one. The latest Democratic win is Katie Hobbs in Arizona; the election was called Monday evening. (Politico). (NBC News)

“Voters in multiple US states passed measures to enshrine the right to abortion during Tuesday’s midterm elections, or knocked down attempts to further curtail such rights, in a stinging rebuke to the crackdown on reproductive freedoms taking place across the US.” (The Guardian)

“Voters approved recreational marijuana in Maryland and Missouri but rejected it in three other states, signaling support gradually growing for legalization even in conservative parts of the country. The results mean that 21 states have now approved marijuana’s recreational use. Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota voters rejected legalization proposals in Tuesday’s elections.” (NWI Times)


Congress is back in session this week after a long recess. These next two months will be the last opportunity to pass legislation under the 117th Congress before the new Congress is sworn in in January.
“Congress returns to work Monday with a packed to-do list for the final weeks of the year — and control of the House still unknown. The list includes reaching a government funding agreement, reauthorizing the Defense Department, passing a major election overhaul measure, codifying federal recognition of same-sex marriage and voting on nominations. And the House Jan. 6 committee is poised to wrap up its work before it dissolves.” (NBC News)

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

In other news

“The COVID-19 pandemic devastated poor children’s well-being, not just by closing their schools, but also by taking away their parents’ jobs, sickening their families and teachers, and adding chaos and fear to their daily lives. The scale of the disruption to American kids’ education is evident in a district-by-district analysis of test scores shared exclusively with The Associated Press. The data provide the most comprehensive look yet at how much schoolchildren have fallen behind academically. The analysis found the average student lost more than half a school year of learning in math and nearly a quarter of a school year in reading – with some district averages slipping by more than double those amounts, or worse. Online learning played a major role, but students lost significant ground even where they returned quickly to schoolhouses, especially in math scores in low-income communities.” (Associated Press)

“The Biden administration will extend the COVID-19 public health emergency through the spring of 2023, an administration official said Friday.,,The public health emergency declaration has expanded public health insurance during the pandemic, and allowed “hospitals and other health-care providers more flexibility in how they operate.” Its continued application will also allow millions of Americans to receive “free tests, vaccines, and treatments until at least April of next year,” Reuters writes, per two administration officials.” (The Week)

The courts
“A U.S. appeals court has extended a block on President Joe Biden’s administration from fulfilling his plan to cancel hundreds of billions of dollars in student loan debt at the urging of six Republican-led states, a court filing on Monday [Nov. 14] showed.” (Reuters)

“The U.S. Supreme Court heard an Indiana case Tuesday that could determine whether Medicaid beneficiaries can sue in federal court if they believe their rights are being violated or whether the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) should make that determination.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

“The Supreme Court on Tuesday cleared the way for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to face questioning before a grand jury investigating 2020 election interference in Georgia, while emphasizing that the inquiry must abide by constitutional safeguards for lawmakers.” (The Hill)

“The Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for the House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection to access phone records belonging to the Arizona Republican Party’s chairwoman [Kelli Ward]…Ward and her husband, Michael Ward, were among a group of 11 Arizonans who signed a fake election certificate purporting to show that former President Trump won the state.” (The Hill)

“The conservative Supreme Court met in October to consider whether colleges and universities can continue to take race into consideration as a factor in admissions, a case that could diminish the number of Black and Hispanic students in higher education. Hanging in the balance is the future of admissions plans at hundreds of schools that have relied on court precedent for decades in order to achieve the educational benefits they say flow from student body diversity on campus. ” (CNN)

“Consumer prices rose at slower rates in October, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department. The annual inflation rate fell to 7.7 percent in October from 8.2 percent in September, according to the consumer price index (CPI), a closely watched inflation gauge. Economists expected the annual inflation rate to fall to 7.9 percent, according to consensus projections.” (The Hill)

Former POTUS
“As Donald Trump inches closer to launching another presidential…,on, Justice Department officials have discussed whether a Trump candidacy would create the need for a special counsel to oversee two sprawling federal investigations related to the former president, sources familiar with the matter tell CNN… The Justice Department is also staffing up its investigations with experienced prosecutors so it’s ready for any decisions after the midterms, including the potential unprecedented move of indicting a former president. Top aides to Trump have been eyeing the third week of November as an ideal launch point for his campaign, with two sources telling CNN on Friday morning that the team has specifically discussed November 14. In the weeks leading up to the election, the Justice Department has observed the traditional quiet period of not making any overt moves that may have political consequences. But behind the scenes, investigators have remained busy, using aggressive grand jury subpoenas and secret court battles to compel testimony from witnesses in both the investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and his alleged mishandling of national security documents kept at his Palm Beach home.” (CNN)

“A highly anticipated meeting between China’s leader Xi Jinping and President Biden finished Monday with both leaders expressing an openness to restoring channels of communication and repairing a relationship that has been compared to a second Cold War.” (NPR)

“Ukrainian police officers and TV and radio services returned Saturday to the southern city of Kherson following the withdrawal of Russian troops, part of fast but cautious efforts to make the only regional capital captured by Moscow’s forces livable after more than eight months under occupation.” (Associated Press)


“Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr. issued a holiday eviction moratorium, which is effective Dec. 5 through Jan. 9, according to a release from Cmdr. Lessie Smith of the Lake County Sheriff’s Department Civil Division. The Sheriff’s Department will continue to serve and post eviction notices per Lake County Court order during the moratorium, but officers will not physically evict anyone.” (NWI Times)

“The Lake County Sheriff’s Office will now accept tips sent via text. Using the Tip411 program, residents can send anonymous tips by texting 847411. The first word of the message must be LCSO, followed by the tip.” (NWI Times)

“A coalition of Democratic attorneys general on Thursday urged a federal appeals court to leave in place a preliminary injunction blocking an Indiana school district from enforcing a new state law that bars transgender women and girls from competing on female sports teams.” (The Hill)

“The state of Indiana is entitled to seize the property of any local governmental entity for any reason, or no reason at all, any time it wants. That’s the unanimous ruling of the Indiana Court of Appeals in a first-of-its-kind challenge filed by two Northwest Indiana school districts against a controversial statute favoring charter schools. Lake Ridge Schools Corp. and the School City of Hammond sued the governor and a variety of education entities in 2020 contesting the validity of an Indiana law mandating public school districts sell any unused school building to any interested charter school or state educational institution for $1 — no matter the market value of the building or property.” (NWI Times)

“Indiana’s education leaders are revamping the state’s academic standards by cutting back current requirements and streamlining the content that teachers are required to cover in a school year… Already, the agency’s research has focused on identifying skills and traits students need “for lifelong success,” said Indiana Secretary of Education Katie Jenner. Those include communication, collaboration, growth mindset, problem solving, self-advocacy, perseverance and integrity, as well as information, digital and financial literacy…The discussion about standards followed the release of new data that shows declines in reading and math scores among Indiana’s fourth and eighth graders…Comparable to the state’s ILEARN and IREAD-3 state assessments, specific student populations including black students, Hispanic students and students who receive free or reduced meal prices are still struggling. Hoosiers in those student populations scored significantly lower than the state and national averages. In 2022, black eighth grade students had an average score in math that was 38 points lower than that for white students. Students who qualified for free and reduced meals scored 26 points lower than non-eligible students.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

“A bipartisan committee considered a list of proposals for changes in education policy. The proposals include changes to class curricula, the creation of more work-based learning experiences, and streamlining how schools report certain data to the state.” One that concerned hamstringing what teachers may discuss was not included but will likely be brought up during session. In contention…was a policy recommendation that would redefine what school and district leadership are required to discuss with teachers. The recommendation specifically sought to redefine Indiana’s discussion law, as well as topics required to be discussed with teachers through their local union representative. The change could limit teachers from raising concerns and discussing with their superiors issues relating to class sizes, student discipline, working and learning conditions, and student-teacher ratios. Such discussions are commonplace for teachers throughout the school year and required under current Indiana law.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

“In response to repeated requests from school officials and education advocates, Indiana lawmakers might be inclined to increase the amount of money the state awards to schools with at-risk and low-income student populations. The deliberations come ahead of the General Assembly’s January return to the Statehouse, when writing is set to begin on a new state budget…An interim study committee on fiscal policy is already exploring Indiana’s “complexity index,” which is used to calculate supplemental aid for schools. The dollars awarded are in addition to the base funding schools receive for all students…complexity funding has decreased by 40% — from $1.15 billion to just $700 million. School expenditures to address challenges created by poverty additionally exceeded revenues by 14% during the 2021 school year.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

“Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings has donated more than $1 million to an Indiana political action committee chaired by a former Democratic mayor of Indianapolis. In turn, that pro-charter school PAC has become a large contributor to Indiana Republicans, campaign finance records show. Hoosiers for Great Public Schools was created in April 2020 and is headed by Bart Peterson. The Democrat was mayor of Indianapolis from 2000 to 2008. He’s now president and CEO of Christel House International, an Indianapolis nonprofit which operates K-12 public charter schools in high-poverty areas. The Carmel-based PAC has since raised $1.6 million — but despite its name none of that money came from Hoosiers.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

An interim study committee examining solutions to Indiana’s housing crisis on Thursday approved a lengthy list of recommendations for future legislation — including state funding for housing-related infrastructure and a vague pledge to hold accountable negligent landlords peddling “substandard” housing. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Indiana’s surplus might seem massive but the state could operate only 33 days using nothing but rainy day funds — lower than the national median of 42.5 days, according to 2022 data analyzed by Pew Charitable Trusts.  Budget writers have been wary of commitments before the legislative session starts in January, but House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, told a crowd at a mental health summit that Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, would carry a bill addressing mental health funding…Democrats have pushed for “strategic investment” spending as priorities stack up for lawmakers. Also on the table, a $250 million investment in public health, a multi-million dollar upgrade to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles aging operating system and high construction costs at multiple ongoing capital improvement projects. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

A monthly gas sales tax rose Nov. 1 in Indiana, “after a brief autumnal reprieve, to 23.1 cents per gallon. That’s up a cent from last month and up more than 5 cents from November last year. The sales tax is recalculated each month based on gas prices. Gas cost $3.29 a gallon on average in Indiana from September 16 to October 15, according to the Indiana Department of Revenue, up from $3.14 in the month prior. Multiply that by the 7% sales tax rate, and that’s a tax of 23.1 cents on each gallon bought. Hoosiers pay four taxes on gas: a state sales tax (23.1 cents/gallon), a state excise tax (33 cents/gallon), a federal excise tax (18.3 cents/gallon) and a second, tiny federal tax funding hazardous waste clean-ups (0.1 cents/gallon). That adds up to 74.5 cents of tax on every gallon of gas.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

“Franciscan Health now plans to cease inpatient care and emergency room services at Franciscan Health Hammond, effectively closing the downtown Hammond hospital, which has served north Lake County and neighboring communities in Illinois for more than 120 years.” (NWI Times)

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