Weekly Legislative Update 09/19/2023

You can make a difference

Today is National Voter Registration Day. It’s not the only day to register voters, however. People can register to vote up until Oct. 10 to be eligible to vote in the Nov. municipal elections.
From the State site: “Register to vote online by visiting http://www.indianavoters.com/.  Indiana residents with a valid Indiana driver’s license or Indiana state-issued identification card will be able to use this tool to submit a new voter registration application or to update an existing voter registration record.”
At the same site you can view your ballot and polling place.
Of note: Vote by Mail, Travel Board, Por Correo, and Voters with Print Disabilities absentee applications are currently unavailable to submit electronically online. I you want to submit an application for Vote by Mail, Travel Board, Por Correo, or Voters with Print Disabilities, you will need to print the form here and mail, email, fax, or hand-deliver the absentee ballot application to your county.”
Early voting for the Nov. 7 election begins Oct. 11.
On Thursday, September 21, at 6pm at the Merrillville Library we will welcome Jennifer McCormick, Democratic candidate for Governor! Learn more about Jennifer here.
Join us and bring a friend! Please register here: https://www.mobilize.us/indivisiblenwi/event/578867/
Community Healthnet Health Centers is sponsoring a Breast Cancer Awareness Walk dedicated to raising funds and awareness for breast cancer. It will be on Saturday, September 30, starting at 9am at beautiful Marquette Park in Gary. The walk starts at 10am. This event is a lot of fun and the walk is absolutely gorgeous. You can set your own pace and go any distance you want. Indivisible NWI is sponsoring a team. The cost is $30 per person; the money goes to Community Healthnet to help them provide breast cancer screenings and information. Read more about the walk here. You can register online. at our meeting on Thursday or at the event site starting at 9am.
One of our essential objectives as an organization is providing education and information about voting and issues. Another top priority is voter registration. At this event on September 30 we get to do both. We’ll have a table for voter registration and information along with our Inflation Reduction Act spin the wheel game. It’s a great game for people to learn about some of the terrific legislation passed during the Biden Administration.
Involvement in community events is an effective way for us to introduce ourselves to people and for them to learn about the important work we do. It’s also fun and a great way to help others and give back. Join us if you can!
Frustrated and unsure how to talk to people and message about politics, the country, democracy and more? Race-class narrative is a proven and effective tool of communication. Join us for a Zoom workshop presented by our Indivisible Regional Director, Scott Ikes. along with other Indivisible National trainers.
Save the date: Monday, October 23, 6:30-8.
You can register for this interactive Zoom event here: https://www.mobilize.us/indivisible/event/578719/
In the meantime, check out this great article by Ian Lopez:
It’s a great way to prepare for the workshop, too.
Ian Lopez is author of Merge Left: Fusing Race and Class, Winning Elections, and Saving America, as well as Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class. He is the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Public Law at UC Berkeley.
His books are great and important reads and available for purchase or to borrow from most public libraries.


“The Biden administration formally asked the Supreme Court on to review and overturn a ruling from a federal appeals court that would limit the availability of the common abortion pill mifepristone.
DOJ’s request followed a separate one made Friday by Danco Laboratories, the manufacturer of the brand name Mifeprex. In its filing, the company said its drug is safe and effective, and that the appeals court decision “upends FDA-approved conditions of use” for the drug…The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled in August that mifepristone — the branded drug Mifeprex and its generic counterpart — can stay on the market in states where abortion is legal,” but with restrictions that strike down changes the FDA made in 2016. Any decision “will remain on hold until the Supreme Court decides whether to take up the case in the term that begins in October. If that happens, arguments would likely happen sometime in early 2024, with a decision coming by the summer.”  (News Nation)
“The Biden administration announced on Tuesday that it will open up applications for the first tranche of funding — $400 million — to help states and territories take up energy efficient building codes.” The funding comes from the Inflation Reduction Act passed a year ago. (The Hill)
In a grueling 5 day around the world trip President Biden visited New Delphi and Vietnam before concluding his trip in Alaska for a 9/11 observance.
“He was able to seal significant agreements on global infrastructure projects, debt reform for the developing world and, most consequentially, challenged China’s sphere of influence by elevating relations with Vietnam, drawing bipartisan praise in Washington.” (CNN)


Funding for the government will end September 30 unless a budget is passed. Bills relating to the budget are supposed to originate in the House, but so far House Republicans are not in agreement on anything. Speaker McCarthy and President Biden agreed on a 2024 budget during the debt ceiling negotiations, but no Republican is paying attention to that. Leadership is struggling to put forth a continuing resolution that would fund the government until Nov. 1, but that also is unlikely to pass.
The Senate appropriations process has also fallen apart in recent days. (Punchbowl News)

Passed the House, Senate next

H.R. 663: Native American Child Protection Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill reauthorizes through FY2028 and otherwise revises certain programs related to the prevention, investigation, treatment, and prosecution of family violence, child abuse, and child neglect involving Indian children and families. Specifically, the bill revises the Indian Child Abuse Treatment Grant Program to encourage the use of grants for culturally appropriate treatment services and programs.”
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 378 – 32. All Indiana Reps voted yea except Rep. Spartz who voted nay. View the vote.
H.R. 1435: Preserving Choice in Vehicle Purchases Act
GovTrack.us: “Under current law, states are preempted from adopting or enforcing emission control standards for new motor vehicles (or new motor vehicle engines) unless the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a waiver authorizing a state to adopt such standards if certain requirements are met.
H.R. 1450: Treating Tribes and Counties as Good Neighbors Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote.
H.R. 3389: Emergency Wildfire Fighting Technology Act of 2023
Last Action: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended agreed to by voice vote.
H.R. 3152: Fight CRIME Act
GovTrack.us: “To impose sanctions with respect to countries, individuals, and entities that engage in any effort to acquire, possess, develop, transport, transfer, or deploy Iranian missiles and related goods and technology, including materials and equipment, 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): 403 – 8
H.R. 589: MAHSA Act
GovTrack.us: “To impose sanctions on the Supreme Leader of Iran and the President of Iran and their respective offices for human rights abuses and support for terrorism.”
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 410 – 3
H.R. 1567: ACRES Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 406 – 4.
H.R. 3981: Isakson-Roe Education Oversight Expansion Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 410 – 0.
Passed the Senate, House next
S. 2795: A bill to amend title 38, United States Code, to extend and modify certain authorities and requirements relating to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and for other purposes. Passed by Voice Vote so no record of votes was made.
S. 294: Expanding Access to Capital for Rural Job Creators Act
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.
S. 2747: A bill to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to extend the Administrative Fine Program for certain reporting violations.
Introduced in the Senate, read twice, considered, read the third time, and passed without amendment by Voice Vote.
“House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced he is calling on his committees to open a formal impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, even as they have yet to prove allegations he directly profited off his son’s foreign business deals.” (CNN)
“The House Oversight and Accountability Committee will hold its first hearing on the impeachment inquiry into President Biden on Sept. 28, also announcing plans to subpoena the bank records of his son, Hunter Biden, as soon as this week…The crux of the GOP claims relate to President Biden’s effort to oust what the U.S. viewed as a corrupt Ukrainian prosecutor in order to receive U.S. aid. Republicans have claimed that then-Vice President Biden accepted a $5 million bribe in exchange for helping oust Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin over an investigation into Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company where Hunter Biden was a board member.
President Biden’s actions were in line with calls from other world leaders at the time, and emails among State Department officials from the time show it was Shokin’s failure to address corruption in his own country that led to the push to remove him.” (The Hill)
“Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney announced Wednesday that he will not run for reelection to the Senate and called for a “new generation of leaders”…” (CNN)

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

In other news

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended an updated COVID vaccine for everyone aged six months and older…” (Scientific American)

“Five Americans detained for years in Iran walked off a plane and into freedom Monday…as part of a politically risky deal that saw President Joe Biden agree to the release of nearly $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets owed by a third country, South Korea.
The successful negotiations for the Americans’ freedom brought Biden profuse thanks from their families but heat from Republican presidential rivals and other opponents for the monetary arrangement with one of America’s top adversaries…
The $5.9 billion in cash released to Iran represents money South Korea owed Iran — but had not yet paid — for oil purchased before the U.S. imposed sanctions on such transactions in 2019.
The Biden administration also announced fresh sanctions on former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence.” (Associated Press)

“The IRS announced on Friday it is launching an effort to aggressively pursue 1,600 millionaires and 75 large business partnerships that owe hundreds of millions of dollars in past due taxes.
IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel said that with a boost in federal funding and the help of artificial intelligence tools, the agency has new means of targeting wealthy people who have “cut corners” on their taxes.” (Associated Press)

“The United Auto Workers’ strike against General Motors, Ford and Stellantis has entered its fourth day. This is the first time that union members have struck all three US automakers at the same time.” (CNN)

“Just months after liberal Justice Janet Protasiewicz won a 10-year Wisconsin Supreme Court term in a race that focused largely on abortion rights and gerrymandering, handing liberals a 4-3 majority on the bench after 15 years of conservative control, state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and other influential Republicans have floated the prospect of impeaching Protasiewicz. It would be a move that has only happened once in Wisconsin history – in 1853, when the Assembly voted to impeach a state judge accused of corruption, who was later acquitted by the Senate.
Further complicating the situation: Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, a Republican, has said the chamber would not consider acting on Protasiewicz. If the Assembly votes to impeach the justice and the Senate were to convict and remove her from office, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers would appoint her replacement. But if the Senate takes no action at all, she would be suspended from all official duties – leaving the court deadlocked, 3-3.” (CNN)

“…Special counsel David Weiss  has indicted Hunter Biden for three crimes: lying to a gun dealer about his drug use; lying on federal gun registration form 4473; and possession of a gun while using narcotics…” While the charges are true, “   But Biden possessed the gun for just 11 days, from Oct. 12 to Oct. 23, when his sister-in-law found it and threw it in a dumpster. He never loaded it. He never fired it…. most people are not charged with lying on a federal firearms application unless they’re also accused of a more serious crime. He legally owned the gun, and he’s a first-time, non-violent offender…[In addition], the Supreme Court itself has raised serious questions about the constitutionality of the law under which Biden is charged.” (The Hill)

“A jury of state senators voted to acquit Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) on all of the 16 articles of impeachment he faced in his historic trial.” (The Hill

The courts
“A three-judge panel struck down Alabama’s new congressional map Tuesday, finding the GOP-led state fell short of complying with the Supreme Court’s recent directive. “And we are struck by the extraordinary circumstance we face,” the federal judges wrote in a 196-page opinion.
“We are not aware of any other case in which a state legislature — faced with a federal court order declaring that its electoral plan unlawfully dilutes minority votes and requiring a plan that provides an additional opportunity district — responded with a plan that the state concedes does not provide that district,” they continued.
The ruling orders a court-appointed special master to submit three new maps by Sept. 25 that fix the dilution of Black voters in the state. It could provide a boost to Democrats as they attempt to retake the House in 2024. (The Hill)

“A Florida judge on Saturday struck down congressional district lines for northern Florida advocated by Gov. Ron DeSantis, ruling that the Republican governor’s map had improperly diluted Black voting power.
Circuit Judge J. Lee Marsh concluded that the congressional boundaries – which essentially dismantled the seat once held by Al Lawson, a Black Democrat – violated the state’s constitution, which protects minority-access districts.
Marsh’s order blocks the state from using the map in congressional elections and orders the legislature to draw a new one. The DeSantis administration is expected to quickly appeal the case all the way to the Florida Supreme Court.” (CNN)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday temporarily blocked a lower court order curbing Biden administration efforts to combat controversial social media posts on topics including COVID-19 and election security. (Associated Press)

“The Justice Department is arguing in a trial that began on Tuesday that the Alphabet (GOOGL.O) unit sought agreements with mobile carriers to win powerful default positions on smartphones to dominate search. The government argues that this antitrust trial, the biggest in decades, will determine the future of the internet.” (Reuters)

“A federal judge on Friday rejected former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’ bid to move his Georgia criminal case to federal court, a significant setback for Meadows and a troubling sign for former President Donald Trump.” (CNN)

“A federal judge on Wednesday found Donald Trump liable for defaming the writer E. Jean Carroll by denying in 2019 that he had raped her, and said jurors will decide only how much the former U.S. president should pay in damages.” (Reuters)


Some of Indiana’s largest employers are coming together to address what it calls the state’s neglect of civic education, its declining college-going rate and a low voter registration and turnout rate compared with other states  (IBJ)
“The vast majority of Indiana’s counties opted to participate in a statewide program designed to revamp the state’s public health investment — which averages $55 per resident, far below the national average of $91 per capita…Prior to the program, called Health First Indiana, the state’s public health investment was around $6.9 million, compared to the 2024 commitment of $75 million followed by $150 million in 2025.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
“Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is asking a Marion County court to block the sale of two Indianapolis Public Schools buildings, arguing that IPS is not following a new state law requiring districts to share property tax dollars with charter schools.
IPS says it is. It asked for an injunction to block the state’s $1 school building sale law.” (Chalkbeat Indiana)
Todd Rokita on Monday became Indiana’s second consecutive attorney general brought up on disciplinary charges — this time related to his statements about an Indiana doctor in the summer of 2022.  (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
U.S. Senator Todd Young says of all the Republicans running for President, Donald Trump is the only one who would lose to Joe Biden.  (Indy Politics)
Indiana Republican Senator Mike Braun is endorsing Donald Trump for President in 2024.  (WIBC)
The number of Hoosiers employed in clean energy continues to go up as the workforce recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report. Many more will be added. This growth sets the stage before the sector sees a boost from historic federal investment in climate and clean energy in the Inflation Reduction Act.  (WFIU)
Hammond educators voiced their frustrations during a public hearing relating to their contract negotiations this week.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)
“Indiana has led the country for nearly a year in the percentage of calls to the 988 hotline answered in-state.
The state Tuesday marked the progress it has made with the hotline more than a year since its launch.
The 988 hotline is for people experiencing mental health or substance use crises…The state plans to expand the hotline, including the addition of assistance for those who don’t speak English, videoconferencing for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community and a text option.” (Indiana Public Media)
A member of the Porter County Board of Health was removed from her position due to comments she made about the viability of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to members of the county commission.  (Times of Northwest Indiana)
Low test scores indicate students across Indiana are struggling with math and reading. In response, the Indiana Department of Education recently announced the expansion of a statewide tutoring program for students in third to eighth grades.  (WFIU)
A new state-funded service project aims to get diapers into the hands of impoverished parents. Advocates hope it will improve infant health and provide indirect financial aid to the state’s neediest.  (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
Indiana was recently ranked 40th in a study from Wallethub that reviewed the best and worst states to have a baby.  (WIBC)
Indiana’s near-total abortion ban is preventing doctors in the state from getting the training they need. Medical schools are bearing the responsibility of adapting to the new legislation. (WFIU)
The city of Gary has given out nearly 100 grants to local small businesses from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.  (Chicago Tribune)
“Jennifer McCormick — the former Republican state superintendent of public instruction turned front-runner for the 2024 Democratic gubernatorial nomination — has a steep hill to climb. She is behind in funding, name recognition and support in a conservative state that hasn’t elected a Democrat to the office in more than two decades.
But her campaign says new polling shows the race is competitive.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle
“Internal polling released by Democrat Jennifer McCormick’s campaign labelled next year’s gubernatorial contest a “toss-up”…The poll showed voters are unhappy with the direction of the state and overwhelmingly reject the extreme, near-total abortion ban passed following the Dobbs Supreme Court decision.” (Indy Politics)
Prominent national conservative organization Club for Growth on Tuesday endorsed U.S. Sen. Mike Braun in his bid for Indiana’s top elected position.  (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
Indiana gubernatorial candidate Suzanne Crouch used her first campaign advertisement Friday not to introduce herself — she currently holds the state’s second-highest elected position — but to sell her now-signature tax-cutting proposal.  (Indiana Capital Chronicle) 
Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch has said she wants to eliminate the income tax as her signature economic proposal in her run for governor. But lack of details, specifically how she plans to pay for it, have left many with doubts it can be implemented (Statehouse Happenings, WIBC)

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