Weekly Legislative Update 06/04/2023

You can make a difference

Indivisible NWI is sponsoring Health, Wellness and Vaccine Fair at Wicker Park Pavilion, 2215 Ridge Road in Highland, on Thursday, June 15, 4:30-7:00. Join us! Free screenings, health, wellness and safety info. Free flu and Covid vaccines! Our partner- the Lake County Legacy Foundation- is giving $25 Stracks cards to everyone who has a vaccine! Giveaways, snacks and more! For families, kids, seniors- everyone!
We will also offer voter registration and information. Join us and spread the word!
Our next Public Meeting will feature State Representative Earl Harris Jr.! Join us on Thursday, June 29 at 6pm at the Merrillville Library, 1919 81st Ave. Representative Harris will discuss updates from the State House along with how the Inflation Reduction Act and other federal legislation is impacting Indiana, especially all of us in NW Indiana. We’ll also continue working in groups to plan and take actions on important issues. Get involved, stay involved; we’re doing the work. Join us!
Please register here and bring a friend!

“June 1 marked the start of Pride Month, a time when many companies and brands enact inclusive initiatives or product lines in honor of LGBTQ+ communities nationwide. Recently, however, such corporate projects have been increasingly enveloped by a swell of (mostly) conservative and far-right backlash, pushing companies to either acquiesce and roll back their plans or weather the storm and stand strong in their support.” Read how a few of those companies have responded. (The Week)
Read a brief history of the origins of the month from the Library of Congress. Find comprehensive information and resources at the Human Rights Campaign. From the same site, find events throughout the month.
Juneteenth is now a federal holiday. For some of the events being held in NW Indiana, click here and  here.

Enacted, signed into law by the President

H.R. 3746: Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023
GovTrack.us: “This bill would enact a compromise reached by House Republicans and President Biden to avert an impending fiscal crisis related to the statutory debt limit. In exchange for the continued solvency of the federal government, sought by Democrats, Republicans secured in the bill across-the-board cuts to federal spending, ending Biden’s suspension of student loan repayments, adding new work requirements for SNAP and TANF, reinstituting the statutory debt limit after the 2024 elections, and more.”

“A large bipartisan majority of the Senate voted 63-36 to approve the bill…
Senate Republican conservatives such as Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) joined Republican defense hawks such as Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in voting against the bill.  
A total of 31 Republicans voted against the measure, including Senate Republican Conference Committee Chairman John Barrasso (Wyo.).
Senate Democrats, meanwhile, weren’t happy about caps on non-defense discretionary spending, tougher work requirements for federal food assistance and approval of a controversial natural gas pipeline — but the overwhelming majority of Democrats voted for the bill to avoid a default. Just four Democrats voted against the measure: Sens. John Fetterman (Pa.), Ed Markey (Mass.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), along with Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).” (The Hill) Indiana Senator Young voted yea and Senator Braun voted nay. View the vote in the Senate.

More about the debt ceiling agreement:
“Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y}…orchestrated several deft maneuvers throughout the debate. 
In January, Democratic leaders very quietly launched the process, known as a discharge petition, to force a vote on a clean debt ceiling bill as an emergency hatch if the talks went sideways. Behind Jeffries and Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), the Democratic whip, party leaders then secured unanimous support for that petition, which heightened the pressure on Republicans to cut a deal with Biden.
And Wednesday, when McCarthy failed to secure the necessary Republican votes to pass the rule governing the bill, Jeffries mobilized Democrats to buck tradition and fill the void to ensure the measure could pass — but only after it was clear that Democrats would be needed to rescue the vote.” (The Hill)
The bill passed 314-117 with more democratic support than republican. See the vote. All Indiana Reps voted yea except for Rep. Spartz who voted nay and Rep. Banks who did not vote.

What’s in the bill:
“The debt limit bill erases the threat of government default until 2025 and sets top-line spending caps, but Congress still has work to do to actually fund the government before Oct. 1 or face a government shutdown …One part of the bill aims to incentivize Congress to pass 12 regular appropriations bills by instituting a penalty for failure: an automatic 1 percent cut to discretionary programs, across the board.” (The Hill)
“Republicans were able to use their control of the House to insist on several policy changes, including lower nonmilitary spending; work requirements in anti-poverty programs; less funding for the enforcement of tax laws; and approval of an Appalachian gas pipeline. Democrats protected their biggest policy goals, including recent legislation on clean energy, health care and infrastructure. Biden may also be able to minimize the impact the bill’s spending cuts (like those related to tax enforcement) by later moving money from one program to another.
The fate of Biden’s climate policies seems especially important. The House bill not only protects all the clean energy subsidies passed last year, but also includes a bipartisan priority known as permitting reform that has the potential to remove some of the bureaucratic obstacles to major clean-energy projects.
Given the radicalism of today’s Republican Party and its tolerance for political chaos, there was a real risk that these debt ceiling talks would cause an economic crisis. Instead, they led to a classic political deal that left untouched the major accomplishes of Biden’s first term. It is a reminder that he is the most successful bipartisan negotiator to occupy the White House in decades.” (NY Times)

Read a more detailed synopsis of the bill at CNN.

“Conservatives are eying the coming 2024 budget debate as their leverage point to install favored policy priorities,” including a balanced budget amendment, blocking new hires at the IRS and more. (The Hill)


Passed the House and Senate, President next

H.J.Res. 45: Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Department of Education relating to “Waivers and Modifications of Federal Student Loans”.
GovTrack.us: “This joint resolution nullifies the rule issued by the Department of Education on October 12, 2022, that suspends federal student loan payments and discharges debt.”
Passed in the House 218-203 with all Indiana Representatives voting yea except Reps Mrvan and Carson who voted nay. View the vote in the House. Passed in the Senate 52-46 with both Indiana senators voting yea. View the vote in the Senate. President Biden has said he will veto.
S.J.Res. 11: A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to “Control of Air Pollution From New Motor Vehicles: Heavy-Duty Engine and Vehicle Standards”.
Passed 50-49 in the Senate. View the vote. Passed in the House 221-203 with Indiana Representatives Mrvan and Carson voting nay and all other Indiana reps voting yea. View the vote.
S. 777: Veterans’ COLA Act of 2023
In the House, on motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote. Passed in the Senate by Unanimous Consent.

Vetoed by the President, no override attempt

H.J.Res. 42: Disapproving the action of the District of Columbia Council in approving the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act of 2022.

Vetoed and override failed in the House

H.J.Res. 39: Disapproving the rule submitted by the Department of Commerce relating to “Procedures Covering Suspension of Liquidation, Duties and Estimated Duties in Accord With Presidential Proclamation 10414”.
 On passage, the objections of the President to the contrary notwithstanding Failed by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 214 – 205.

Passed the House, Senate next

H.R. 1669: VET–TEC Authorization Act of 2023
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 409 – 9
GovTrack.us: “This bill requires the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to permanently implement a program under which it provides up to 8,000 covered individuals per year the opportunity to enroll in high technology programs of education that provide non-degree training or skills related to computer programming, media application, data processing, or information sciences.”
H.R. 2797 Equal Opportunity for All Investors Act of 2023
GovTrack.us: “This bill expands who may be considered an accredited investor for purposes of participating in private offerings of securities. Certain unregistered securities may only be offered to accredited investors.” Passed 383-18. View the vote.
H.R. 2792: Small Entity Update Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill requires the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to report on and revise the definition of small entity every five years. Agencies are required to consider the impact of their rules on small entities under the Regulatory Flexibility Act…
The SEC must also issue a proposed rule to implement these recommendations.”
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 367 – 8 
H.R. 2795: Enhancing Multi-Class Share Disclosures Act
GovTrack.us: “To amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to require issuers with a multi-class stock structure to make certain disclosures in any proxy or consent solicitation material, 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): 347 – 30
H.R. 2796: Promoting Opportunities for Non-Traditional Capital Formation Act
GovTrack.us: “To amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to require the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation to provide educational resources and host events to promote capital raising options for traditionally underrepresented small businesses, 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): 309 – 67
H.R. 1076: Preventing the Financing of Illegal Synthetic Drugs Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 402 – 2
H.R. 1156: China Financial Threat Mitigation Act of 2023
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 400 – 5 (Roll no. 229).
H.R. 366: Korean American VALOR Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote.
H.Con.Res. 40: Expressing support for local law enforcement officers and condemning efforts to defund or dismantle local law enforcement agencies.
The vote was 301-119. All Indiana Representatives votes yea except Rep Carson who voted no. View the vote.

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

In other news

“ Elon Musk is being accused of insider trading in a proposed class action by investors accusing the Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) CEO of manipulating the cryptocurrency Dogecoin, costing them billions of dollars.” (Reuters)

“Minorities, immigrants and now members of the LGBTQ community are being warned of the risks of visiting Florida after the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group issued a travel advisory following newly passed laws and policies that may be harmful to people in those communities.
On Tuesday, the Human Rights Campaign in partnership with Equality Florida, a state LGBTQ advocacy group, issued an updated travel notice outlining potential impacts of six bills that were recently passed, many of which have already been signed by the state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis.” (CNN)

“Target said it was removing some products that celebrate Pride Month after the company and its employes became the focus of a “volatile” anti-LGBTQ campaign.” (CNN)
“Michael Edison Hayden, a senior investigative reporter and spokesperson for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization that tracks hate crimes, told NPR that Target’s reversal would only serve to encourage more violent threats.
“If [Target is] going to wade in on this, and they’re going to put support out there for the LGBTQ+ population, I think once they enter that fray they have a responsibility to stand by that community,” he said. “As soon as you back down like this, you send a message that intimidation works, and that makes it much scarier than if you had never started to begin with.”” (NPR)

As part of an investigation into federal child labor law violations in the Southeast, the Department of Labor said that three separate franchises that operate a total of 62 McDonald’s restaurants across Kentucky, Indiana, Maryland and Ohio “employed 305 children to work more than the legally permitted hours and perform tasks prohibited by law for young workers,” the agency wrote in a Tuesday press release…
The Department of Labor has found a 69% increase in children employed illegally by companies since 2018. During fiscal 2022, there were 835 companies that employed more than 3,800 children in violation of labor laws. 
Despite the increase in federal child labor law violations, multiple states have either passed or introduced legislation to roll back child labor laws, a push from businesses and conservative lawmakers.” 
(Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Ron DeSantis announced his presidential bid in a glitch-filled interview with Elon Musk on Twitter. (Politifact)

“Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has officially declared himself a candidate for the GOP nomination for president, making him the latest Republican to enter a crowded field that has so far been dominated by former President Trump.” (The Hill)

In May “The U.S. central bank raised its benchmark overnight interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to the 5.00%-5.25% range, as expected by financial markets, but in doing so dropped from its policy statement language saying that it “anticipates” further rate increases would be needed.” (Reuters)

“The U.S. economy continued to crank out jobs in May, with nonfarm payrolls surging more than expected despite multiple headwinds, the Labor Department reported Friday.
Payrolls in the public and private sector increased by 339,000 for the month, better than the 190,000 Dow Jones estimate and marking the 29th straight month of positive job growth.
The unemployment rate rose to 3.7% in May against the estimate for 3.5%, even though the labor force participation rate was unchanged. The jobless rate was the highest since October 2022, though still near the lowest since 1969.” (CNBC)

January 6
“Four members of the far-right Proud Boys have been found guilty of seditious conspiracy by a jury in Washington, DC, for their roles to forcibly prevent the peaceful transfer of power from then-President Donald Trump to Joe Biden after the 2020 election…The guilty verdict marks the third time that prosecutors have secured convictions for seditious conspiracy in the Justice Department’s historic prosecution of those who breached the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.” (CNN)

 “Right-wing media favorite John Solomon disclosed on Thursday that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has given him “unfettered access” to the Jan. 6 surveillance tapes. That footage, which was also given earlier this year to Tucker Carlson when he was at Fox News, has been denied to news organizations which filed a lawsuit for them in April. Solomon aired some of the footage on his Real America’s Voice program, using it to accuse then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi of exploiting the chaos to create a “Hollywood moment” by allowing her documentarian daughter to film the events of the day. Later in the show, Solomon welcomed radical Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who floated a conspiracy theory about Pelosi.” 
McCarthy is releasing the surveillance footage to right-wing media and hiding it from news organizations. “McCarthy, who is very familiar with the horror that unfolded at the Capitol that day, knows that the media personalities he is giving the tapes to will use it to push bogus conspiracy theories about what happened. He knows that they will use the footage to rewrite the history of that day. And yet, he still provides them with the tapes while withholding it from news organizations.” (CNN)

“With demand far outstripping available slots, a new U.S. government mobile phone app has been an exercise in frustration for many would-be asylum seekers. It also is a test for the Biden administration’s strategy of coupling new legal paths to entry with severe consequences for those who don’t follow them.” Arrests are sharply below predictions. (NWI Times)
In fact, “The number of migrants illegally crossing the southwest U.S. border is at its lowest point since the start of the Biden administration.” (NBC News)

“The U.S. Supreme Court in a major environmental decision overturned the Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of wetlands that fall under the agency’s jurisdiction, siding with an Idaho couple who’d said they should not be required to obtain federal permits to build on their property that lacked any navigable water.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

“The Supreme Court handed down an absolutely confounding decision on Thursday, which will encourage employers to bombard their workers’ unions with lawsuits if those workers go on strike. The Court’s decision in Glacier Northwest v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters waters down a rule intended to protect workers from duplicative lawsuits that can drain their union’s finances.” (Vox)

“The Supreme Court  declined for now to block a new law in Illinois that bans assault-style weapons such as the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, which has been used in multiple mass shootings.
The decision in a brief unsigned order means the Illinois law enacted in the wake of a July 4 shooting in the city of Highland Park last year that killed seven will remain in effect while legal challenges continue.” (NBC News


All bills, including the budget, have been signed into law by the governor.
“ Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb gave his final stamp of approval Thursday to the state’s next two-year budget, which features big spending on health care, accelerated tax cuts and a near-universal private school voucher program.
The $44 billion plan is the last Holcomb will sign before his term concludes at the end of 2024. 
The biggest chunk of the budget is dedicated to K-12 education — accounting for nearly $21 billion, or 47%, of all appropriations.
Republican lawmakers touted an 10% increase in overall K-12 tuition support formula over the biennium. But much of that increase is earmarked towards the expansion of Indiana’s Choice Scholarships — which allow families to receive vouchers to attend private schools.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
“Indiana’s part-time legislature could work less under a provision inserted into the state budget giving flexibility on the length of future sessions.
The budget session — which occurs in odd-numbered years — would still have an April 29 end date. And the so-called short session — which occurs in even-numbered years — would still conclude by March 14.
But the new language allows the sessions to begin later.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
“The Indiana Medical Licensing Board ruled that Indianapolis OB-GYN Dr. Caitlin Bernard violated state and federal patient privacy laws when she publicly discussed a 10-year-old rape victim seeking an abortion in Indiana. 
The licensing board deemed Bernard did not improperly report child abuse, however, and is fit to practice medicine. “ (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

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