Weekly Legislative Update 08/21/2023

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We need your help!
Our public Facebook page was deleted in late July in what seemed like a malevolent act. We were unable to recover it.
This action seriously hampers our reach to 1,000s and 1,000s of users; our Facebook interactions with fellow Indivisibles and others have always been very high. When our page was deleted, we lost all of our followers.
Our president, Kim Eldridge, worked very hard to build a new page and it’s great—but now we need to build up our followers. That’s how we reach more of you—and many, many others.
So go to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100095364423787&mibextid=LQQJ4d
Like and follow us. Share our page to yours. Invite people you think would be interested to the page. Comment on our posts. With all of us working on this, we can build our Facebook reach quickly. It’s our best way to reach people. We educate and inform about important local, state and national issues and legislation. We issue calls to action. Facebook is one of our most important tools for making Indivisible NWI work so well. Thanks for your help!
Join us on Thursday, Aug. 31, at 6pm for our August public meeting at the Michigan City Public Library. 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. We will also break into our working groups to plan specific actions on high priority issues.
Please join us at 6pm the Michigan City Library, 100 E 4th St, Michigan City, IN 46360
Register here: https://www.mobilize.us/indivisible/event/572471/
And bring a friend!

Enacted, signed into law by the President

H.R. 4004: United States-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade First Agreement Implementation Act
S. 111: Providing Accountability Through Transparency Act of 2023


H.Con.Res. 57: Expressing the sense of Congress supporting the State of Israel.
Last Action: Resolution agreed to in Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.
Explanation: This concurrent resolution was agreed to by both chambers of Congress on July 25, 2023. That is the end of the legislative process for concurrent resolutions. They do not have the force of law.
Congress is out of session until after Labor Day.

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

In other news

“Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) ongoing blockade of senior military promotions is becoming an even bigger story over August, especially now that three of the eight members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are serving in an acting capacity.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin once again argued on Monday that Tuberville’s holds are harming military readiness, but the Alabama Republican is no closer to relenting.” (Punchbowl News)

“Hilary, the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years, swept people into swollen rivers, toppled trees onto homes and flooded roadways as the massive system marched northward Monday, prompting flood watches and warnings in more than a half dozen states.” (Associated Press)

And that’s not all. “Three tropical storms are churning over the Atlantic Ocean at the moment, with a fourth looking possible in the Gulf of Mexico amid a spate of thunderstorms.
We still haven’t reached the peak of what’s expected to be an above-average hurricane season. 
Hurricanes are more likely to be larger and more powerful when they form over hotter ocean water, and the ocean is a lot warmer than usual this summer.” (NPR)

“The wildfires that tore through western Maui last week have already earned the tragic distinction of being among the deadliest in modern U.S. history — and the death toll is only expected to climb as recovery efforts continue.” (NPR)

“People in areas of the United States with high levels of a certain kind of air pollution have a greater risk of dementia, a new study found…Particle pollution is particularly deadly because PM2.5 is so tiny — 1/20th of a width of a human hair — that it can travel past your body’s usual defenses. Instead of being breathed out when you exhale, it can get stuck deep in your lungs or go into your bloodstream. The particles cause irritation and inflammation and can lead to respiratory problems. Research has found that long-term exposure to particle pollution can also cause cancer, depression, breathing problems and a variety of heart problems.” (CNN)

Climate crisis
“A state judge in Montana gave climate activists a decisive win on Monday when she ruled that the state’s support of fossil fuels violates their constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment.” (Grist)

Former POTUS
“Donald Trump’s bond has been set at $200,000 in the Georgia case accusing the former president of illegally scheming to overturn his 2020 election loss, according to court papers filed Monday.
Trump is also barred from intimidating co-defendants, witnesses or victims in the case — including on social media — according to the bond agreement signed by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, Trump’s defense attorneys and the judge. It explicitly includes “posts on social media or reposts of posts made by another individual on social” (Associated Press)

“Former President Trump announced plans to turn himself in on Thursday at a Fulton County jail, after being charged with crimes related to his efforts to overturn the election results in Georgia…Trump and his 18 co-defendants, all of whom were charged under the state’s Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law, were given until this Friday at noon E.T. to surrender to Georgia authorities. 
Trump is accused of orchestrating a “criminal enterprise” to remain president and faces other related charges laid out in the indictment, in addition to the RICO charge.” (The Hill

Gun control
“The National Shooting Sports Foundation filed a lawsuit contesting a new Illinois law that prohibits marketing guns to minors through cartoons and other tactics. (Sun-Times)”

“The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to freeze a lower court order that bars the government from regulating so-called ghost guns – untraceable homemade weapons – as firearms under federal law.
The brief order grants the Biden administration’s request to allow the regulations to remain in effect while legal challenges play out.” (CNN)


“Indiana’s near-total abortion ban is set to take effect within days after the Indiana Supreme Court on Monday denied a rehearing in a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.” (NWI Times)

“A federal appeals court has rejected a plea to expand absentee vote-by-mail to all age groups in Indiana.”  (WISH)

The Bail Project has seen its appeal rejected in federal court, upholding a law passed in Indiana last year that limits who can be bailed out of jail.  (Fox 59)

A new law criminalizing those who refuse to move 25 feet away from law enforcement after being ordered to do so is unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment, claims a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana. (Herald Bulletin)

“Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office has issued at least three civil investigative demands to medical providers as he continues to seek out information regarding gender-affirming care practices across the state. Eskenazi Health, Indiana University Health and Mosaic Health and Healing Arts are now asking a judge to quash the demands, although court proceedings are under seal. The move by Rokita’s office comes after just three medical providers responded to a March 6 request for details on care for transgender minors. He laid out more than a dozen questions, including requests for data on hormone treatments, surgeries and consent. The letters were sent to a medical practice, a university, four hospitals and Planned Parenthood’s 11 Indiana locations. Eskenazi, IU Health and Planned Parenthood responded, though some with little detail. The others did not.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
(The law has mostly been put on hold in federal court. “The ruling bars the state from enforcing a prohibition on medical interventions used in transgender health care, such as puberty blockers or hormone replacement therapies. However, U.S. District Court Judge James Patrick Hanlon upheld the ban on surgical procedures, which previous Statehouse testimony and court filings indicated weren’t occurring on minors in Indiana.”- Indiana Capital Chronicle)

The state rejected a recommendation to “name Indianapolis OB-GYN Dr. Caitlin Bernard a winner of the Torchbearer Award — considered to be the most prestigious recognition of Hoosier women.
The Indianapolis Star first reported Tuesday that the rejection happened behind closed doors and with no explanation given to the judges who had unanimously selected her.
The Indiana Civil Rights Commission told the Star Bernard was rejected because of her case before the state Medical Licensing Board, which resulted in a reprimand. Holcomb gave a similar explanation to reporters.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

“Indiana students’ reading scores have been virtually unchanged for three years, according to new test data, underscoring fears about students’ struggles to recover from the pandemic
More than four out of five third graders — just under 82% — passed the Indiana reading exam, the IREAD, in 2023. Yet that’s approximately the same rate as in 2021 and 2022, and several percentage points below the passing rate from 2019, when 87.3% of all students passed the test. 
The results, released by the state on Wednesday, tell a similar story to scores released last month from the statewide assessment for grades 3-8, the ILEARN. Both exams showed student performance has stagnated in reading over the last three years.” (Chalkbeat Indiana

Dozens of parents are pushing Indiana’s governor to stop a proposal that could cut Medicaid reimbursement rates for autism therapy.  (WSBT)

Ten Hoosiers stood in Guatemala City, Guatemala on a Sunday in late June, watching streams of people socialize, drink coffee and listen to music. It was June 25: Election Day.  Led by Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales, who immigrated from Guatemala in 1999, the team had traveled to observe how the country puts on its elections — an “educational opportunity” that cost about $20,000.  (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

The State Budget Committee on Friday approved plans for a new $1.2 billion correctional facility in Westville, but not before several members raised  concerns about the project’s significant cost-estimate increase and the recent decision that the new prison would replace the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City in addition to the existing Westville Correctional Facility.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

The redevelopment of Gary’s long-vacant Union Station will help bridge the digital divide by bringing more high-speed broadband internet access to the Steel City.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

The City of Gary has been awarded $1 million in funding to purchase additional license plate readers for the city, according to a joint press release from the United States Attorney’s Office and the Gary Police Department.   (Times of Northwest Indiana)

The 37 gas stations in Hammond will have to close from midnight to 5 a.m. daily starting Nov. 1, after the Hammond Common Council voted Monday to approve an ordinance regulating gas station hours.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)

lawsuit has been filed against Indiana Attorney General Theodore Rokita over a recent opinion that CBD is a controlled substance similar to heroin and cocaine. (Indy Politics)

In presenting a new volume of his office’s Parents’ Bill of Rights earlier this week, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita put the focus on religion, asserting separation of church and state is a myth, but one legal scholar said the top Hoosier lawyer is misstating the law.  (Indiana Citizen)

“Former Indiana Secretary of Commerce Brad Chambers on Thursday joined an increasingly crowded Republican primary field to succeed Gov. Eric Holcomb in 2024. Fort Wayne businessman Eric Doden, U.S. Sen. Mike Braun and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch” are also running. “Former Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill joined the contest last month after campaign finance deadlines but could attract — and more importantly, retain — a key segment of the Republican Christian vote.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, who is seeking the GOP nomination in the race for the Indiana governor’s office, has asked Rep. Greg Pence, R-Indiana to  consider being  her running mate, a campaign spokesman told The Republic.  (The Republic)

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