Weekly Legislative Update 6/27/2023

You can make a difference

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!


From NWI Times: Some of the laws taking effect July 1:
“Unless otherwise noted, each House Enrolled Act (HEA) and Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) takes effect Saturday.

Mail-in ballots — To receive an absentee ballot, Indiana citizens age 18 and up submitting a paper application for a mail-in ballot must now provide their driver’s license number, state identification card number, or voter identification number, along with the last four digits of their Social Security number, or a photocopy of the voter’s driver’s license or state ID card. (Also provides that an agency of the state or a political subdivision may not provide an individual with an application for an absentee ballot unless requested by the individual or a member of the individual’s family. 
 (HEA 1334) Read also Julia Vaughn’s commentary printed in the Indiana Capital Chronicle back in March. Voting in Indiana is already more difficult than in most states. This bill makes it even harder, especially for seniors and those who have disabilities.

Gasoline tax — Indiana’s gasoline tax increases by one penny to 34 cents per gallon, and by an additional penny each July 1 through 2027 to account for inflation. The rate was just 18 cents per gallon as recently as June 30, 2017, prior to enactment of the Republican road funding plan. (HEA 1001)

Storage units — Storage companies are authorized to seize the storage unit of a delinquent renter just five days after a missed payment, instead of 30 days. An auction of the stored contents may be held if the rent remains unpaid after 60 days, instead of 90. (HEA 1621)

Juveniles — Law enforcement officers no longer can intentionally lie to children under age 18 during an interrogation in an effort to secure a confession or for any other purpose. In addition, a police officer who takes a child into custody at a school, or during a school-sponsored event, must attempt to immediately notify the student’s parent, guardian or emergency contact. (SEA 415)

Mental health — An additional $50 million is provided to expand community mental health services across the state, a toll-free help line to provide confidential emotional support and referrals is created, Indiana is authorized to participate in the national 988 suicide and crisis lifeline, and the Indiana Behavioral Health Commission is reestablished. (SEA 1)

Teachers unions — School superintendents no longer have a statutory obligation to regularly meet with the union representative of school employees, outside of collective bargaining periods, to discuss various issues relating to school operations, such as curriculum, teaching materials, hiring and retention, performance evaluations, student discipline, class size, school safety and working hours. (SEA 486)

Landlords — Utility companies may ask a judge to appoint a receiver when a multifamily residential property owner with more than four units hasn’t paid a utility bill for the property for an extended period of time. If appointed, the receiver would have broad powers to operate the rental property in place of the landlord, including the authority to collect rents, pay debts and even sell the property. (SEA 114)

Sex education — Teachers and other school personnel are explicitly prohibited from providing instruction on “human sexuality” to students in prekindergarten through third grade. Indiana schools typically don’t provide any kind of sex education until at least fifth grade, except for state-mandated programs focused on preventing child abuse and child sexual abuse, which must continue under the law. (HEA 1608)

Machine gun — The definition of machine gun is revised to include a firearm with an attached “switch,” or any similar device, that enables fully automatic shooting with a single pull of the trigger. A person with a switch attached to their gun is subject to a variety of state penalty enhancements for the possession or use of a machine gun. (HEA 1365)

Service animals — Only a dog or miniature horse qualifies as a service animal for individuals with disabilities in Indiana. Facilities open to the public must take reasonable steps to accommodate a disabled Hoosier assisted by a dog or miniature horse. (HEA 1354)

Bullying — All Indiana school corporations must update their discipline rules to include provisions prioritizing the safety of bullying victims, as well as to ensure bullying incidents are reported to the parents of the victim and the alleged perpetrator no more than five business days following the incident. School corporations may also set guidelines for determining whether a bullying incident warrants the forced transfer of the victim or the alleged perpetrator to a different school in the district. (HEA 1483)

Food and beverage tax — The Merrillville Town Council may impose a food and beverage tax of up to 1% on all dine-in and take-home food and drinks sold at Merrillville eateries, bars and similar outlets. If adopted, the town plans to use the money to construct an 18,000-square foot expansion of the indoor recreational amenities at the Dean and Barbara White Community Center to attract more sports tournaments and out-of-town visitors to Merrillville. (HEA 1454)

Child molesting — A person over age 21 who has sex with a child less than 14 years old may be sentenced to a maximum term of 50 years in prison, instead of 40. Athletic coaches and workplace supervisors in Indiana no longer are permitted to engage in sexual conduct with certain individuals between ages 16 and 18, similar to other adults in a position of authority over children. (SEA 301HEA 1228)

Financial literacy — Successful completion of a one-semester financial literacy class is a new graduation requirement at every public, charter and private high school in Indiana, beginning with the class of 2028. The course must cover basic money management principles, debt management, retirement and investment accounts, taxes, loan applications, interest rate computation, credit scores, personal insurance policies and simple contracts, among other topics. (SEA 35)

Children’s hospitals — Northwest Indiana families covered by Medicaid will continue to have access to children’s hospitals in neighboring states after Hoosier lawmakers agreed to maintain Indiana’s increased payment rates for services at out-of-state children’s hospitals first authorized in 2021. (HEA 1313)
Alcohol permits — The city of Valparaiso is awarded five extra alcohol-sales permits for downtown restaurants. The new permits may be deployed at properties up to 1,500 feet outside the historic district centered on the Porter County Courthouse, instead of the former 700-foot maximum distance. (HEA 1200)

FAFSA — Every high school senior attending an Indiana public, charter or voucher-accepting private school is required to fill out and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before April 15 to determine their eligibility for grants and loans for postsecondary education. There are no penalties for students or families who fail to fulfill the FAFSA mandate. (SEA 167)
Drinking water — Every child care center, child care home and preschool in Indiana is obligated to test its drinking water for lead at least once before Jan. 1, 2026. If the test shows a lead level higher 15 parts per billion, the person responsible for the facility or preschool must either entirely eliminate the lead in the drinking water or install a state-approved lead filtering system. (HEA 1138)”

And from Indiana Capital Chronicle:
House Enrolled Act 1568 will allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control pills, patches or rings to adults for up to one year — though anything longer will require a referral to a provider.
Pharmacists who want to prescribe birth control will have to complete additional training. They are also required to provide patients with a self-screening risk assessment and refer them for a follow-up with their primary care providers. 
However, pharmacists can refuse to prescribe hormonal contraceptives on the basis of ethical or religious objections. 

At the urging of law enforcement officers, legislators passed HEA 1186, a bill that creates a 25-foot “buffer zone” around officers conducting official duties. Crossing within that barrier is a Class C misdemeanor. 
Proponents of the legislation say that yelling and touching from bystanders can make an officer’s job more difficult and even dangerous while opponents say it will erode accountability for law enforcement officers.
The bill has no exceptions for people who want to record police interaction, including the media. 

In other news
A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction Friday afternoon mostly blocking a ban on gender-affirming care for Hoosier youth diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Without action, the law would have taken effect July 1  (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

The Indiana Department of Education has released new guidelines to schools. These guidelines address changes to be implemented as a result of legislation passed this year. Read a summary from Indiana Capital Chronicle.

“Indiana’s private school voucher program grew by 20% in the 2022-23 school year — the largest increase in the number of students in nearly 10 years, according to a new report.
The Indiana Department of Education’s (IDOE) annual Choice Scholarship Program analysis released this month showed state funds paid private school tuition for 53,262 Hoosier students.
That’s compared to 44,376 students who used vouchers during the 2021-22 academic year.
With that growth came increased costs. The state spent $311.8 million on the program in the 2022-23 school year — 29% more than the year prior.
Voucher participation and spending are expected to jump even more this fall after state lawmakers expanded the program to be nearly universal and open to almost all Hoosier families.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle

An Indiana chapter of the national group Moms for Liberty is facing backlash after releasing a newsletter featuring a quote from Adolf Hitler. The Indiana Democratic Party and local politicians have denounced the group’s use of the quote.  (Indiana Public Media)

The state attorney general’s office filed to appeal a superior court judge’s decision to grant class action certification to a lawsuit that seeks to strike down Indiana’s near-total abortion ban on the basis of the state’s controversial religious freedom law.  (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Thousands more Hoosiers left the state’s Medicaid rolls during the second month of “unwinding” federal protections, according to the latest report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.  (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

“The well-being of Hoosier children continues to lag behind national peers but hit an all-time high for the state in the 2023 Kids Count Data Book
Indiana hovers just above the national average at 24th, the highest ranking for the state over the last decade. But in specific categories — for health care as well as family and community — the state scored 29th and 31st, respectively. 
The Indiana Youth Institute attributed the ranking from the Annie E. Casey Foundation to a lack of affordable and accessible childcare, which the foundation said hindered economic mobility and perpetuated generational wealth gaps.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Post-pandemic educational performance is declining while adolescents report higher rates of mental health crises such as depression and suicidal ideation, according to a presentation from the Indiana Youth Institute at a Commission on Improving the Status of Children meeting Wednesday.   (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

“ A major investment in life-saving cardiac care at St. Catherine Hospital is being hailed as a victory for East Chicago.
The long-standing hospital in the Indiana Harbor neighborhood landed a $1.5 million federal grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration to improve health care access for people who are medically vulnerable or underinsured.
U.S. Rep. Frank Mrvan helped line up the money and helped announce the investment.” (NWI Times)

“Manufacturing giants General Motors (GM) and Samsung SDI plan to spend more than $3 billion on a battery cell plant for electric vehicles (EVs) in St. Joseph County’s New Carlisle, promising to create 1,700 jobs with operations starting in 2026.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

“The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration on Tuesday awarded $19 million in National Opioid Settlement funds to local organizations to address the ongoing opioid crisis. 
Another $57 million is coming from the American Rescue Plan Act for crisis services. 
The opioid settlement funds will be spread across 30 local governments, community organizations and service providers to invest in treatment, prevention and harm reduction, while ARPA money will further the state’s work in building a response system for mental health crises…The largest grant was $7.6 million for Southlake Community Mental Health Center in Lake County to establish a new Crisis Receiving and Mental Health Stabilization Services Program.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle

“The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration announced a $21 million grant Monday to help Indiana make railroad crossings safer. The grant follows a Propublica article from April that detailed the dangers of stopped trains in places like Hammond, Indiana, which often force kids to climb over the tracks to get to school and prevent first responders from getting to emergencies in time.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)  

NIPSCO signed a long-term agreement with EDP Renewables to get power from the 198-Megawatt Carpenter Wind Farm in Jasper County.
The Merrillville-based gas and electric utility has pursued five projects to bring renewable energy to the Hoosier State. Collectively, the wind and solar farms will supply more than 1,000 megawatts of clean energy generation to Indiana.

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

Enacted, signed into law by the President

S. 777: Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2023


Passed the House and Senate, President next

S. 30: Fiscal Year 2023 Veterans Affairs Major Medical Facility Authorization Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote.

Veto override attempts failed
Vetoed by the President
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”.
Override attempt failed in the House. View the vote.
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
Veto override failed in the Senate 50-50; 2/3 required to override a veto. View the vote


Failed to pass in the House
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.
Failed by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 233 – 197 with all Indiana Reps voting yea except for Representatives Mrvan and Carson who voted nay. View the vote.

H.Res. 463: Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 277) to amend chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, to provide that major rules of the executive branch shall have no force or effect unless a joint resolution of approval is enacted into law;
Failed by recorded vote: 206 – 220. Indiana Representatives Mrvan and Carson voted nay, all other Indiana Reps voted yea except Rep. Pence who did not vote.

Passed in the House
H.Res. 489: Censuring and condemning Adam Schiff, Representative of California’s 30th Congressional District.
GovTrack.us: “This resolution condemns and censures Representative Adam Schiff for conduct that misleads the American people and directs the Committee on Ethics to investigate that conduct.”
Motion to table passed 225-196 with only Indiana Reps Mrvan and Carson voting yea and all others voting nay.  View the vote.
 “Dozens of Democrats gathered on the House floor Wednesday night after House Republicans pushed through a resolution censuring Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) for his role in Trump’s first impeachment. Democrats yelled “Shame, shame, shame!” as McCarthy read out the resolution while Schiff stood in the well of the House. “They’re out of their minds,” complained Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), the ranking member on the Rules Committee. “Is the moderate wing of the Republican Party dead? Where are the sensible Republicans? This Republican majority has turned this Congress into a very unserious place. And a dangerous place, too.”” (Punchbowl News)

H.Res. 524: Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 3564) to cancel recent changes made by the Federal Housing Finance Agency to the up-front loan level pricing adjustments charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for guarantee of single-family mortgages, and for other purposes; providing for …
… consideration of the bill (H.R. 3799) to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for health reimbursement arrangements integrated with individual health insurance coverage; and providing for consideration of the resolution (H. Res. 461) condemning the use of elementary and secondary school facilities to provide shelter for aliens who are not admitted to the United States.
Passed 215-211. View the vote.
The resolution was passed in a vote in the House. A simple resolution is not voted on in the other chamber and does not have the force of law.

Passed the House, Senate next
H.R. 3797: Paperwork Burden Reduction Act
Last Action: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote.
H.R. 4004: United States-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade First Agreement Implementation Act
Last Action: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote.

H.R. 3564: Middle Class Borrower Protection Act of 2023
GovTrack.us: “This bill rolls back changes made by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to the fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for a conventional single-family mortgage (i.e., loan-level pricing adjustments) and restricts future fee adjustments.”
Last Action: On passage Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 230 – 189 with Indiana Representatives Mrvan and Carson voting nay and all othe Indiana Reps voting yea. View the vote.
H.R. 3801: Employer Reporting Improvement Act
Last Action: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote.
H.R. 1606: Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Act of 2023
Last Action: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 407 – 0

H.R. 288: SOPRA Separation of Powers Restoration Act of 2023
GovTrack.us: “This bill modifies the scope of judicial review of agency actions to authorize courts reviewing agency actions to decide de novo (i.e., without giving deference to the agency’s interpretation) all relevant questions of law, including the interpretation of (1) constitutional and statutory provisions, and (2) rules made by agencies.”
Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 220 – 211 with Indiana Representatives Mrvan and Carson voting nay and all other Indiana reps voting yea. View the vote.
REINS Act: Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2023 or the REINS Act of 2023
GovTrack.us: “To amend chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, to provide that major rules of the executive branch shall have no force or effect unless a joint resolution of approval is enacted into law.”
H.R. 1640: Save Our Gas Stoves Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill places limits on energy conservation standards for kitchen ranges or ovens under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act.”
Passed 249 – 181 with all Indiana Reps voting yea except for Representatives Mrvan and Carson who voted nay. View the vote.
H.R. 3099: Special Envoy for the Abraham Accords Act
Last Action: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 413 – 13.
H.J.Res. 44: Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives relating to “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing
Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 219 – 210. Indiana Representatives Mrvan and Carson voted nay; all other Indiana Reps voted yea.
H.R. 662: Block Grant Assistance Act of 2023
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote


Failed in the Senate
H.J.Res. 44: Providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives relating to “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing
Failed passage in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 49 – 50 with both Indiana Senators voting yea

Passed the Senate, House next
S. 1549: Congressional Budget Office Data Access Act
Last Action: Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 264: Lobbying Disclosure Improvement Act
Last Action: Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 111: Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act of 2023
Last Action: Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.

Last Action: Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 349: Military Spouse Employment Act
Last Action: Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

S. 829: Disclosing Foreign Influence in Lobbying Act
Last Action: Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

Passed the Senate with changes, back to the House
H.R. 1734: TRANQ Research Act Testing, Rapid Analysis, and Narcotic Quality Research Act
Last Action: Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

Congress is now out of session until July 10.

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

In other news

In Other News…

“Russia glimpsed the threat of armed insurrection over the weekend, with Wagner Group mercenaries marching toward Moscow as President Vladimir Putin vowed retribution – all before a sudden deal seemed to defuse the crisis as rapidly as it had emerged.” (CNN)

“Robert Bowers, the gunman who killed 11 worshippers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018, was convicted by a federal jury Friday on all 63 charges against him.
Bowers, 50, now faces the possibility of the death sentence at the hands of the same jury for the deadliest attack ever on Jewish people in the US.” (CNN)

“The Club Q shooter Anderson Lee Aldrich pleaded guilty on Monday morning to five counts of first-degree murder and 46 counts of attempted first-degree murder in a mass shooting at a Colorado Springs LGBTQ club last year.” (CPR News)

Tori Bowie, a three-time Olympic medalist in track and field, died tragically at home during childbirth. Bowie’s death highlights a painful reality many Black women face. ‘The number of women who die during or shortly after childbirth in the United States is higher than in any other developed nationWomen of color face even greater risks. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are three times more likely than White women to die from pregnancy-related causes. (CBS News)

“The Federal Trade Commission is suing Amazon for enrolling customers in its Prime program without their consent and making it difficult for them to cancel their subscriptions.” (The Verge)

“Former Harvard professor and prominent public intellectual Cornel West will mount a third party run for president, he said on Monday in a video posted on Twitter… West will run as a candidate for the People’s Party …[he] taught philosophy at Harvard during multiple stints before returning to Union Theological Seminary in 2021. He previously held a tenured position at Princeton and has written an edited dozens of books. West entered the public sphere during the Civil Rights Movement and has emerged in the decades since as an irrepressible voice of radical political thought.” (CNN)

“Longtime public figure Marc Carmichael will campaign for Indiana’s open U.S. Senate seat in 2024 — the first Democrat to announce for the seat currently held by Sen. Mike Braun, who is stepping down to run for governor.
Carmichael targeted U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, a Republican — who announced his intention to run for the Senate seat in January — saying Banks was “mean-spirited” and “out of touch” with Hoosier voters.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Climate crisis
“Smoke plumes from fires burning in the forests of eastern Canada have drifted to cities like Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia, sending them soaring to the top of the global pollution charts.” The Midwest, including Indiana, is also suffering from poor air quality. “Rising temperatures are both increasing ground level ozone and particulate matter from existing pollution sources and increasing the number, speed and severity of wildfires — which are leading to more dangerous levels of drifting smoke” (The Hill)

Former POTUS
Donald Trump has been indicted on charges of mishandling classified documents at his Florida estate, a remarkable development that makes him the first former president in U.S. history to face criminal charges by the federal government that he once oversaw.” (Associated Press)
“Trump faces 37 counts related to the mishandling of classified documents, according to the indictment unsealed Friday. The charges include counts of retaining classified information, obstructing justice, and making false statements, among other crimes…Neither the indictment itself nor a conviction would prevent Trump from running for or winning the presidency in 2024.” (Associated Press)

“CNN has exclusively obtained the audio recording of the 2021 meeting in Bedminster, New Jersey, where President Donald Trump discusses holding secret documents he did not declassify.” (CNN) Click on the link to listen to the recording…

Judge Aileen Cannon “ordered on Monday that the defendants respond by July 6 to the special counsel’s request that the trial be delayed until December...[She also] denied a request from Smith’s team to file under seal a list of witnesses with whom Trump cannot speak about the classified documents case.
The first hearing for Donald Trump and the special counsel’s office before Judge Aileen Cannon in the Mar-a-Lago documents case will be in Fort Pierce, Florida, on July 14.
The hearing is set to discuss pretrial issues around classification, with Cannon on Monday granting a request from special counsel Jack Smith that she hold the hearing under the Classified Information Procedures Act.” (CNN)

Jan 6
“Daniel Rodriguez, the man who attacked then-Washington, DC, police officer Michael Fanone with an electroshock weapon in the neck during the US Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, was sentenced Wednesday to 12 and a half years in prison.” (CNN)

The January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol was “essentially planned in plain sight on social media” and yet the FBI and Department of Homeland Security appeared to have “completely dropped the ball,” a Senate committee concluded in the latest highly critical assessment of the security failures.” (CNN)

“The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to impose new limits on state courts reviewing certain election-related issues by ruling against Republicans in North Carolina fighting for a congressional district map that would heavily favor their candidates. The justices ruled in a 6-3 vote that the North Carolina Supreme Court was acting within its authority in concluding that the map constituted a partisan gerrymander under the state Constitution. In doing so, the court declined to embrace a hitherto obscure legal argument called the “independent state legislature” theory, which Republicans say limits the authority of state courts to strike down certain election laws enacted by state legislatures. (NBC News)

“The Supreme Court on Monday allowed the Louisiana congressional map to be redrawn to add another majority-Black district.
The justices reversed plans to hear the case themselves and lifted a hold they placed on a lower court’s order for a reworked redistricting regime. There were no noted dissents.” (CNN)

“The Supreme Court has revived Biden administration immigration guidelines that prioritize which noncitizens to detain and which to deport. Friday’s 8-1 ruling dismisses a challenge from Republican state attorneys general in Texas and Louisiana, who had argued that the policies conflicted with immigration law.” (CNN

“The Supreme Court…left intact a decades-old law that prioritizes the placement of Native American children with Native families or tribes in child custody proceedings, rejecting challenges brought by several adoptive parents.” (CNN)

“The Supreme Court…struck down Republican-drawn congressional districts in Alabama that civil rights activists say discriminated against Black voters in a surprise reaffirmation of the landmark Voting Rights Act.
The court on a 5-4 vote ruled against Alabama, meaning the map of the seven congressional districts, which heavily favors Republicans, will now be redrawn. Chief Justice John Robertstice Brett Kavanaugh, both conservatives, joined the court’s three liberals in the majority.” (NBC)

“Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in 2008 flew on the private jet of hedge fund billionaire and Republican megadonor Paul Singer to a luxury $1,000-a-night lodge in Alaska owned by a second GOP donor who did not charge him for his stay, ProPublica reported late Tuesday night.
Alito did not report his flight on Singer’s private jet on his financial disclosure forms, ProPublica said, adding that the flight would have cost Alito more than $100,000 one-way if he had chartered the plane himself. He also did not recuse himself when the Singer fund NML Capital finally got a hearing before the Supreme Court in 2012…
ProPublica uncovered similar free private jet travel and hospitality, plus financial entanglements, from GOP megadonors to Justice Clarence Thomas, highlighting the lack of binding ethics and recusal rules for Supreme Court justices.” (The Week)