Weekly Legislative Update 7/24/2023

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Join us for our August public meeting on Thursday, August 31, at 6pm at the Michigan City Public Library where State Representative Pat Boy will speak about the state of the state, recent legislation and climate issues important to NW Indiana, including the impact of the Inflation Reduction Act, the most impactful legislation ever passed to address the climate crisis. Please register here and bring a friend!
Indivisible NWI wrapped up a very successful campaign as part of a pilot program by Indivisible National to promote the Inflation Reduction Act. We held town halls with state and federal representatives who discussed the impact of the IRA and other Democrat-led legislation on NW Indiana. Members of our working group talked with unions while others wrote letters to the editor, wrote and posted information and graphics so we could all talk about what the IRA is doing for us all. Indivisible National used what we and the other pilot groups did to create a national campaign. That campaign kicked off with a nationwide call-out meeting last week. The campaign will begin next month in celebration of the signing of the bill one year ago in August. Read about the legislation here. Read some updated information here and here. Learn about this important legislation and talk about it. We will hold two events in August–our August public meeting on Aug. 31 and a tabling event in Gary on August 12.
Sign up for the next trainings from Indivisible National—in Race Class Narrative:

Enacted, signed into law by the President

S. 30: Fiscal Year 2023 Veterans Affairs Major Medical Facility Authorization Act


Passed House & Senate (President next)

S. 111: Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act of 2023
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 400 – 0
H.R. 4004: United States-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade First Agreement Implementation Act
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent. 

Passed the House, Senate next

H.R. 2670: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024
On passage Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 219 – 210 
GovTrack.us: “This bill authorizes FY2024 appropriations and sets forth policies for Department of Defense (DOD) programs and activities, military construction, and the national security programs of the Department of Energy (DOE). The bill authorizes appropriations, but does not provide budget authority, which is provided by appropriations legislation.” Passed 219-210 with all Indiana Reps voting yea except
Although the Biden Administration supports broad aspects of this bill, it vigorously opposes several parts. Read about them here.
“The annual National Defense Authorization Act, which sets policy for the Defense Department, cleared the House in a near-party-line vote, 219-210. Four Republicans voted against the bill, while four Democrats voted for it, support that rescued the defense measure from failure.” (CBS)
[Speaker] “McCarthy agreed to demands from a group of conservatives who threatened to block a vote on the annual defense measure unless their amendments on a range of far right policies were allowed. House Republicans were successful in pushing through amendments on various social policies, including a measure eliminating the Pentagon’s offices of diversity, equity and inclusion, and a measure denying health care coverage for transgender-related medical treatments for service members…”
Another “amendment would prohibit the Defense Department from paying or reimbursing travel expenses related to abortion care for service members — a policy implemented by the Pentagon after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade…”
Even though it passed the House, the defense package is likely dead-on-arrival in the Senate, given the various changes from the GOP.” (NPR)
H.R. 813: Global Investment in American Jobs 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): 386 – 22. All Indiana Reps voted yea except Rep. Banks who did not vote. View the vote.
H.R. 1418: Animal Drug and Animal Generic Drug User Fee Amendments of 2023
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote.
H.R. 3935: Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through FY2028, including activities and programs related to airport planning and development, facilities and equipment, and operations. The National Transportation Safety Board is also reauthorized through FY2028.”
Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 351 – 69. All Indiana Reps voted yea except Rep. Spartz who voted nay. View the vote.

Passed the Senate, House next

S. 112: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to strengthen benefits for children of Vietnam veterans born with spina bifida, and for other purposes.
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.
S. 1096: Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General Training Act of 2023
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.
S. 460: Urban Indian Health Confer Act
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.
S. 794: CTPAT Pilot Program Act of 2023
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.
S. 1308: A bill to amend the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act to extend the deadline for the Secretary of the Interior to promulgate regulations implementing title IV of that Act, and for other purposes.
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.

Congress will be out of session soon for a long August recess and they have a lot of work to do before they leave. That includes the Senate passing their own defense appropriations bill and trying to approve military promotions despite Republicans blocking them over the Pentagon’s abortion policy. Read details at Punchbowl News.

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

In other news

“The Biden administration on Monday filed a lawsuit against Texas over floating barriers that state officials have deployed in the middle of the Rio Grande, seeking to force the state to remove the buoys that federal officials argue have endangered migrants and Border Patrol agents alike.” (CBS)

“Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Tuesday that she has filed charges against 16 people who signed paperwork falsely claiming that President Donald Trump had won the 2020 election as part of a scheme to overturn the results.” (NBC)

“The Georgia Supreme Court Monday declined to take up an effort from former President Donald Trump to quash an investigation into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in the state.” (The Hill)

“The IRS is showcasing its new capability to aggressively audit high-income tax dodgers as it makes the case for sustained funding and tries to avert budget cuts sought by Republicans who want to gut the agency.
IRS leaders said they collected $38 million in delinquent taxes from more than 175 high-income taxpayers in the past few months.” (Associated Press)

“The IRS is ending a decades-old practice of having unarmed revenue officers visit households and businesses to help them resolve their account balances by collecting unpaid taxes and unfiled tax returns. These visits will only continue in a few special circumstances, the agency said Monday. Instead, taxpayers will receive letters in the mail to schedule face-to-face meetings.” (CNN)

“ Alabama Republicans, under orders of the U.S. Supreme Court to redraw congressional districts to give minority voters a greater voice in elections, rejected calls Monday to craft a second majority-Black district and proposed a map testing the judges’ directive.” (Politico)

“The Biden administration announced Friday it would automatically forgive $39 billion in student debt for 804,000 borrowers.
The relief is a result of fixes to the student loan system’s income-driven repayment plans. Under those repayment plans, borrowers get any remaining debt canceled by the government after they have made payments for 20 years or 25 years, depending on when they borrowed, and their loan and plan type.” (CNBC)

Jan. 6
“Special counsel Jack Smith has informed former President Donald Trump by letter that he is a target in his investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election…The letter, which sources said was transmitted to Trump’s attorneys in recent days, indicates that yet another indictment of the former president could be imminent…The target letter mentions three federal statutes: conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud the United States, deprivation of rights under a civil rights statute, and tampering with a witness, victim or an informant..” (ABC)

“The “six conservative colleagues on the high court ruled…that Harvard University’s and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s (UNC) use of race in admissions violates the Fourteenth Amendment.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a biting dissent blasted the Supreme Court majority decision Thursday that gutted the use of Affirmative Action on college admissions.
In a fiery dissent that Sotomayor read from the bench to underscore its historic significance, the liberal justice wrote that the ruling “rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress.” “In so holding, the Court cements a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in an endemically segregated society where race has always mattered and continues to matter,” Sotomayor said in the 69-page dissent.
“The Court subverts the constitutional guarantee of equal protection by further entrenching racial inequality in education, the very foundation of our democratic government and pluralistic society,” she added.”  “Ignoring race will not equalize a society that is racially unequal,” she continued. “What was true in the 1860s, and again in 1954, is true today: Equality requires acknowledgment of inequality.”
Sotomayor also noted that her conservative colleagues relied on arguments found in the dissenting opinions of previous rulings, suggesting that these “lost arguments” are not grounds for overturning precedent and further degrade confidence in the court.”
(The Hill)
“Chief Justice John Roberts, a longtime critic of affirmative action programs, wrote the decision for the court majority, saying that the nation’s colleges and universities must use colorblind criteria in admissions…”
“Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the court’s first Black female justice, also chimed in, saying: “With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces ‘colorblindness for all’ by legal fiat. But deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life.”…
Ultimately, effects will be felt in every aspect of the nation’s economic, educational, and social life–from the Rooney rule that requires a minority applicant be considered in all NFL coach hiring decisions to employment and promotion decisions, DEI programs in schools and workplaces, and much more.” (NPR)

“The Supreme Court…blocked the Biden administration’s student debt relief plan in a 6-3 decision, stopping more than 40 million borrowers from receiving loan forgiveness and delivering a major defeat to one of the president’s key campaign promises.” (The Hill)
“Hours after the court struck down his initial effort to provide debt-ridden students with relief, Biden reintroduced a program to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt.
The new effort is grounded in the Higher Education Act (HEA), unlike the first effort rooted in the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students (HEROES) Act, which the administration argued they could use due to the national emergency established during the COVID-19 pandemic…
While interest will start accruing again for borrowers in September, the action is intended to remove the threat of default or harm to credit ratings because the Education Department won’t refer borrowers who miss payments to collection agencies or credit bureaus for 12 months.” (The Hill)
“In a dissent, Justice Elena Kagan, writing for herself and fellow liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson, chastised the majority for exceeding its “proper, limited role.” Kagan read portions of the dissent aloud from the bench, a rare occurrence saved for when justices want to highlight their viewpoint.” (The Hill)
“The decision will affect as many as 43 million borrowers, or roughly 1 in 8 Americans.” (NPR

“The justices return in the fall to hear oral arguments for its new term, including to consider whether domestic abusers can own guns.” (NPR)


“State Comptroller Tera Klutz, CPA confirmed…that the State of Indiana closed the 2023 fiscal year with $2.9 billion in state reserves.” (Indy Politics)
“A study from the University of Washington released Monday shows maternal mortality rates more than doubled in some states between 1999 and 2019, with sharp increases for some racial and ethnic groups.
Researchers touted it as the first study to provide such maternal mortality calculations for every state.
In Indiana, the maternal morality rate more than doubled for both white women and Hispanic women. Indiana led the nation in maternal mortality rate increases for white women, with deaths increasing by more than 150%, and Hispanic women, with deaths increasing by more than 105%.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

“Indiana lawmakers cleared the way last year for school districts to issue their own permits and hire adjunct teachers for hard-to-fill teaching positions. After some hesitation, school districts have now begun to turn to adjunct teachers, who aren’t licensed by the state and instead need to have four years of relevant experience and pass a background check before stepping into the classroom.” (Chalkbeat Indiana
“Republican John Rust, chair of a major egg farm, filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on July 1, while Democrat Keith Potts, a member of Indianapolis’ City-County Council, announced his Senate run Thursday.
Rust joins Republican frontrunner U.S. Rep. Jim Banks in the fight for the GOP nomination. Potts will face off against former state lawmaker Marc Carmichael for the Democratic nomination. A spate of additional candidates from a variety of parties have also registered with the FEC.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle

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