Weekly Legislative Update 12/28/2022

You can make a difference

As the year draws to a close, we say goodbye to the 117th Congress. Some (many) of us may be disappointed in what legislation didn’t pass when hope was so high two years ago when this current Congress began. Congressional Democrats had a razor thin majority and yet accomplished so much that it is considered by many to be one of the most legislatively successful Congresses in recent history.
“The 117th Congress opened with the unfathomable Jan. 6, 2021, mob siege of the Capitol and is closing with unprecedented federal criminal referrals of the former president over the insurrection — all while conducting one of the most consequential legislative sessions in recent memory.
Lawmakers are wrapping up the two-year session having found surprisingly common ground on big bills, despite enduring bitter political divisions that haunt the halls, and the country, after the bloody Capitol attack by supporters of the defeated president, Donald Trump, that threatened democracy.” (US News and World Report) Read a brief synopsis of what Democrats achieved over the past two years.

We’ll hit the ground running as 2023 begins. We have a plan to move forward… we want to share our ideas and suggestions as we partner with Democratic candidates and elected officials in 2023 and beyond.
We will be sending a document to our email list very soon. Take a look and then let’s discuss at our Public Meeting –
6 pm on Thursday January 26 in room A at the Merrillville Library.


Enacted, signed into law by the President

S. 558: FLOODS Act
S. 1466: Saline Lake Ecosystems in the Great Basin States Program Act of 2022
H.R. 3285: 21st Century President Act
S. 2899: Prison Camera Reform Act of 2021
S. 2991: Countering Human Trafficking Act of 2021
H.R. 6604: Veterans Eligible to Transfer School (VETS) Credit Act
S. 1687: Small Business Cyber Training Act of 2022
H.R. 4250: War Crimes Rewards Expansion Act
H.R. 6961: Dignity for MST Survivors Act
H.R. 263: Big Cat Public Safety Act
S. 231: PFAS Act
S. 3846: Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Reauthorization Act of 2022
H.R. 7181: Human Trafficking Prevention Act of 2022
S. 3905: Preventing Organizational Conflicts of Interest in Federal Acquisition Act
H.R. 7299: SVAC Act of 2022
H.R. 7335: MST Claims Coordination Act
S. 4003: Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act of 2022
H.R. 7735: Improving Access to the VA Home Loan Benefit Act of 2022
H.R. 8260: Faster Payments to Veterans’ Survivors Act of 2022
S. 5230: Help Find the Missing Act
S. 5229: A bill to direct the Joint Committee of Congress on the Library to remove the bust of Roger Brooke Taney in the Old Supreme Court Chamber of the Capitol and to obtain a bust of Thurgood Marshall for installation in the Capitol or on the Capitol
S. 198: Data Mapping to Save Moms’ Lives Act
H.R. 1193: Cardiovascular Advances in Research and Opportunities Legacy Act
S. 1617: Disaster Assistance for Rural Communities Act
S. 2796: Rural Opioid Abuse Prevention Act
S. 3092: FIRE Act
S. 3115: POWER 2.0 Act
H.R. 5796: Patents for Humanity Act of 2022
S. 3662: Preventing PFAS Runoff at Airports Act
H.R. 7077: Empowering the U.S. Fire Administration Act
S. 3875: Community Disaster Resilience Zones Act of 2022
H.R. 2220: To amend title 40, United States Code, to modify the treatment of certain bargain-price options to purchase at less than fair market value, and for other purposes.
H.R. 2930: Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act of 2021
H.R. 3462: SBA Cyber Awareness Act

Passed the House and Senate, President next

The omnibus $1.7 spending bill passed the House and the Senate late last week. It passed in the Senate 68-29. Indiana Senator Braun voted nay and Senator Young voted yea. (Senate.gov)
“Eighteen Senate Republicans rebuked former President Trump this week by voting to clarify that the vice president does not have the power to overturn a presidential election as Trump pressured then-Vice President Mike Pence to do on Jan. 6, 2021.” (The Hill)
“The omnibus would provide nearly $1.65 trillion in regular discretionary spending for fiscal 2023, which would fund every federal agency through Sept. 30.
Defense accounts would receive $858.4 billion, close to a 10 percent boost over the current fiscal year, while nondefense spending would rise nearly 8 percent to $787.4 billion. The package also includes $85 billion in emergency spending not counted in the discretionary topline. 
For a little extra insurance against a brief partial government shutdown, the House also cleared another one-week continuing resolution to extend the current stopgap measure — which expires at midnight Friday — through Dec. 30. That will provide plenty of time for the 4,126-page omnibus to be enrolled and sent to President Joe Biden for his signature.” Although a handful of Republican Reps voted yea, none were from Indiana. Reps Mrvan and Carson voted yea.(RollCall) Read brief details of the bill at CNN, RollCall and Government Executive.

H.R. 7535: Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill addresses the migration of executive agencies information technology systems to post-quantum cryptography. Post-quantum cryptography is encryption strong enough to resist attacks from quantum computers developed in the future.”
On motion that the House suspend the rules and agree to the Senate amendment Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 420 – 3

Passed the Senate, House next

Passed by Unanimous Consent so no individual record or votes was taken. Click on a bill to learn more about it.

S. 4926: Respect for Child Survivors Act
S. 1541: Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act of 2022
S. 3405: Low Power Protection Act
S. 4240: Justice for Victims of War Crimes Act
S. 4814: ORBITS Act of 2022
S. 1294: Protecting American Intellectual Property Act of 2021
S. 1324: Civilian Cybersecurity Reserve Act
S. 3949: Trafficking Victims Prevention and Protection Reauthorization Act of 2022
H.R. 7939: Veterans Auto and Education Improvement Act of 2022
S. 5087: A bill to amend the Not Invisible Act of 2019 to extend, and provide additional support for, the activities of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Justice Joint Commission on Reducing Violent Crime Against Indians, and for other
S. 5329: A bill to amend the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act to improve the program, and for other purposes.
S. 5323: A bill amend title VI of the Social Security Act to allow States and local governments to use coronavirus relief funds provided under the American Rescue Plan Act for infrastructure projects, improve the Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency F
S. 5328: A bill to amend the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 to extend terminal lakes assistance.
S. 1942: National Heritage Area Act
S. 4120: Childhood Cancer STAR Reauthorization Act
S. 4859: Project Safe Neighborhoods Reauthorization Act of 2022
H.R. 7939: Veterans Auto and Education Improvement Act of 2022
S. 3946: Abolish Human Trafficking Reauthorization Act of 2022


“The main tax committee in the House voted to release six years of tax returns belonging to former President Trump as part of an investigation into the presidential audit program at the IRS. The vote was 24-16 and fell along party lines, with Democrats voting in favor and Republicans voting against.
The returns include six years of personal returns as well as returns for eight of Trump’s businesses.”

Takeaways include:

  • “The IRS has a mandatory audit program for sitting presidents, but didn’t audit Trump until more than two years after he assumed the presidency.
  • Trump’s tax liability fluctuated wildly in the years his returns were reviewed by the Ways and Means Committee and by the JCT (The Joint Committee on Taxation is a nonpartisan committee of the United States Congress)
  • The JCT found that Trump paid nothing in tax in 2020, $558,000 in tax in 2019, $5.3 million in tax in 2018 and nothing again in 2017.
  • His taxable income in these years was also a roller coaster ride. Trump had $0 in taxable income in 2020, $3 million in taxable income in 2019, $23 million in 2018 and $0 again in 2017.

Trump’s real estate ventures and other businesses consistently lost money and were written down as losses, and that most of his actual income was coming through interest earned on his investments.” (The Hill)

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

In other news

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that he plans to petition the state’s Supreme Court to convene a grand jury to investigate “any and all wrongdoing” with respect to the COVID-19 vaccines. The Republican governor, who is often mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2024, gave no specifics on what wrongdoing the panel would investigate, but suggested it would be in part aimed to jog loose more information from pharmaceutical companies about the vaccines and potential side effects.” (NewsNation)

The Biden administration is planning new coronavirus precautions on travelers arriving from China due to a surge in COVID-19 cases and concerns about the lack of transparent reporting data from the country, federal health officials said Wednesday. (The Hill)

The courts
“A Delaware trucker described as an architect of the conspiracy to kidnap Michigan’s governor was sentenced Wednesday to more than 19 years in prison — the longest term yet given to anyone convicted in the plot. Prosecutors had sought a life sentence for Barry Croft Jr., 47, who was the fourth and final federal defendant to learn his fate. Judge Robert J. Jonker described him as “the idea guy” behind the plot and called him “a very convincing communicator” for people who were open to his views.” (Associated Press)

The court ruled on Tuesday that Title 42, which for the last two years allowed the government to expel migrants who might otherwise qualify for asylum because of the COVID-19 pandemic, must remain in place. (The Hill)

January 6
The January 6 Committee held their final public meeting on Monday. “The panel voted to issue four criminal referrals for former President Donald Trump. It also referred four Republican members of Congress — Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Scott Perry, R-Pa., Andy Biggs, R-Ariz. — to the House Ethics Committee for failure to comply with subpoenas.”
The committee has released a 154-page document that it describes as its “introductory material” into the report.

Late Thursday the committee released their final report. They made several recommendations to Congress. “Congressional committees of jurisdiction should consider creating a formal mechanism for evaluating whether to bar those individuals identified in this Report under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment from holding future federal or state office.”
Other recommendations include employing “whole-of-government strategies” to combat white extremists and anti-government groups; declaring the joint session of Congress held to certify Electoral College results a “National Special Security Event” and beefing up penalties for anyone who tries to disrupt the proceedings; adding protections for election workers; improving oversight of the U.S. Capitol Police; and exploring limits on the Insurrection Act. Some Trump allies urged him to invoke the 1807 statute to help stay in office, a move that could’ve provoked an even more serious constitutional crisis.
The select committee’s final report is the culmination of nearly 18 months of investigative work. It provides a definitive roadmap of what happened in the period leading up to, during and after the Jan. 6 insurrection. The panel is scrambling to release everything it can before Republicans take over the House next month.
[It’s] stunning to consider the sheer scale and audacity of Trump’s bid to remain in office. As Cheney has repeatedly described it, this “multi-pronged effort” including Trump’s “launch of the Big Lie”; pressure on state officials to refuse to certify their state’s election results; the “fake elector” scheme; a plan to name an interim attorney general who’d declare the election results fraudulent; a sustained campaign to influence former Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to certify Joe Biden’s Electoral College win; the Ellipse rally; and more.
Look at this striking statistic from the report:
“The Select Committee estimates that in the two months between the November election and the January 6th insurrection, President Trump or his inner circle engaged in at least 200 apparent acts of public or private outreach, pressure, or condemnation, targeting either State legislators or State or local election administrators, to overturn State election results.
“The Trump Campaign contacted, or attempted to contact, nearly 200 State legislators from battleground States between November 30, 2020 and December 3, 2020, to solicit backing for possible Statehouse resolutions to overturn the election.”
“The select committee notes that Trump tried to reach Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger 18 times before the infamous “Find 11,780 votes” call.” (Punchbowl News)

It also released transcripts of 34 witness testimonies on Wednesday, including depositions with former Trump lawyer John Eastman and Trump’s acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark…House Republicans are privately plotting to release their own 100+ page rebuttal in a bid to cast the select committee’s report as partisan.” (Axios)


Increased funding for K-12 education is a priority for Republicans, Democrats and education advocacy groups as the Legislature prepares to convene for its 2023 budget-writing session.  (Tribune Star)

“Hoosiers can expect to see some tax changes come January 1, including the elimination of the state’s $3,000 mortgage deduction. The Tax Foundation reports that under H.B. 1260, enacted in March 2022, Indiana’s $3,000 mortgage deduction will be repealed, while the property tax homestead deduction will increase by $3,000, allowing taxpayers to deduct the lesser of 60 percent of the assessed value of the property or $48,000 (up from $45,000) in 2022. Additionally, senior citizens may claim a tax deduction on homes valued up to $240,000 (up from $200,000) in 2022.” (Indy Politics

The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus met this week and elected Rep. Earl Harris, D-East Chicago, as chairman and Rep. Carolyn Jackson, D-Hammond, as vice chair.  (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday named Grant County Superior Court Judge Dana Kenworthy to the Indiana Court of Appeals, marking the first time the majority of the 15 members are women.   (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Indiana Republican legislative leaders say they’re not prepared to enact any significant abortion legislation in the 2023 session.  (WFIU)

Gov. Eric Holcomb joined 24 other state governors in signing an open letter to President Biden, asking him to end the federal public health emergency in April 2023. (WFIU)

Pregnant individuals and first-time parents across the state will have a new resource for aide following the $10 million expansion of the state’s Nurse-Family Partnership program.  (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Indiana voters said they’d support Donald Trump for another presidency over other Republicans in a new poll Monday, but were less sure about candidates in other key races. And Hoosiers think lawmakers should focus on lowering health care costs — not changing up K-12 curriculums or further restricting abortion.  (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

The Teamsters union has filed a federal complaint of discrimination against the MonoSol plant in LaPorte, alleging workers have been called derogatory names and are treated differently based on race and gender.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

In August 2021, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb issued Executive Order 21–21, which convened a commission to provide counsel on the state of public health in Indiana. The most striking finding ultimately is the extent to which Indiana has neglected investing in the health of its citizens. (Gabriel Bosslet, Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Indiana health experts are pushing for a higher cigarette tax in the state.  (WSBT)

“A  federal judge has approved a mandate to clean up Hammond, Highland and Griffith’s urban waterways. U.S. District Court Judge Philip P. Simon signed an order last weekend requiring the three communities to stop using the Grand Calumet and Little Calumet Rivers as open sewers. But, that was the easy part. Now local, state and federal government officials must work together — something they declined to do in the past — to bulk up the communities’ sewage collection and treatment infrastructure.” (NWI Times)

Nipsco has requested a consumer rate increase of 16.5%. A public hearing will be on Wed., Jan. 4 at 6pm
Valparaiso High School – Auditorium (Door 1 or Door 31)
2727 North Campbell Street, Valparaiso, IN 46385 Learn more at Citizens Action Coalition where you can also submit an email to the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor.

“A northwestern Indiana hospital that was days away from closing its emergency room has been ordered by a judge to keep those emergency services operational for another nine months. A Lake County judge granted a preliminary injunction last week that Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. had sought against Franciscan Health Hammond, which announced Nov. 3 that it would close its emergency room at year’s end. ” (NWI Times)

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