Weekly Legislative Update 10/03/2023

You can make a difference

On Monday, Oct. 23, join us for Race-Class Narrative-A Messaging Workshop that will teach effective strategies that work. The Race-Class Narrative framework has a long and proven track record of success. We will meet in person at the Portage Library, 2665 Irving St., Portage, at 6pm for this important training. This training is provided by Indivisible National and will be shared via Zoom. We’ll watch and participate via the library’s big screen.
Please register here and bring a friend: https://www.mobilize.us/indivisiblenwi/event/585178/
If you prefer, you can participate at home by signing up with Indivisible Indiana 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.
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.

Join us on Thursday, Oct. 26 at 6pm at the Merrillville Library for a public meeting to work in our groups as we continue to plan actions to make a difference. Join a group at any time. We’re making change happen. Be a part of it. Please register here.

We met our goal! The Indivisible NWI team of walkers in Saturday’s Community HealthNet Breast Cancer Awareness Walk enjoyed a beautiful day of walking for a great cause. Thanks to everyone who walked and to everyone who donated to our team!
It’s Banned Books Week. Let Freedom Read!! Support the freedom to read! Check out important links at: https://bannedbooksweek.org/. Take action here:  https://bannedbooksweek.org/let-freedom-read-day/
The American Library Association tracks banned books; 2022 was a record year for book challenges. So far in 2022 there have been even more. Check out the top 13 most challenged books in 2022 here.
There’s less than a week left to register to vote before the municipal elections on Nov. 7! Register by Oct. 10.

 “Be prepared to hear an alarm blaring on your phone Wednesday afternoon …The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a nationwide emergency test will be conducted on devices Wednesday afternoon. It will be labeled as a test and not as an actual emergency.” (The Hill

Our first district congressman, Frank Mrvan, recently spoke on the House floor in support of the UAW and all unions and their role in expanding the middle class. (house.gov)

The truth matters

Senator Sanders has correctly noted that CEOs of companies make 400 times more than the workers under them. “That figure is nearly identical to that from the “Economic Policy Institute, a Washington, D.C., liberal think tank. The organization annually calculates the ratio of pay between CEOs and workers making the average median salary. The group’s analysis isn’t confined to autoworkers.
In the institute’s most recent report, from 2021, the compensation ratio was 399-to-1.” 
The AFL-CIO uses different data and calculated a smaller gap between workers and CEOs. Yet
“Fortune magazine calculated that it would take average workers six lifetimes, assuming a 45-year career, to earn a CEO’s single-year 2022 salary” even at that lower gap. (Politifact)

Passed the House and Senate and signed into law by the President

H.R. 5860: Making continuing appropriations for fiscal year 2024, and for other purposes.
Passed the House 335-91 with Indiana Representatives Mrvan, Carson, Baird, Bucshon and Houchin voting yea and all other Indiana reps voting nay. View the vote. Passed in the Senate 88-9 with Indiana Senator Young voting yea and Braun voting nay. View the vote.
“The Senate passed the measure Saturday evening after the House abruptly reversed course earlier in the day and passed a bipartisan bill to extend government funding after days of uncertainty over whether a shutdown could be averted…The measure will keep the government open only through November 17 and includes natural disaster aid but not additional funding for Ukraine or border security. It also includes a measure to keep the Federal Aviation Administration operational.” (CNN)
Keep in mind that” McCarthy already cut a deal with Biden, back in May, that provided a clear roadmap for this year’s funding. McCarthy is refusing to honor that deal.” (Letters from an American)


Passed the House and Senate, President 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 in both chambers so no individual record of votes was made.
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.
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 422 – 0
All Indiana Reps voted aye except Reps Mrvan and Carson who voted no. View the vote.
In the House“The US House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker – a historic moment that threatens to plunge House Republicans even further into chaos and turmoil.
The House will now need to elect a new speaker, but there is no clear alternative who would have the support needed to win the gavel…No House speaker has ever before been ousted through the passage of a resolution to remove them.” (CNN)
Moments after the vote, “a top McCarthy ally, Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., took the gavel and, according to House rules, was named speaker pro tempore, to serve in the office until a new speaker is chosen.
Eight Republicans and all 208 Democrats in attendance voted to oust the former speaker. (CBS News)
The House then briskly recessed so lawmakers could meet and discuss the path forward.” (Associated Press)

Earlier in the day “the House voted 208-218 on a motion to table Gaetz’s resolution to oust McCarthy, setting the stage for a vote on whether McCarthy should remain in the top spot.” (The Hill)
 “The Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries said in a letter to colleagues that he wants to work with Republicans, but he was unwilling to provide the votes needed to save McCarthy.
“It is now the responsibility of the GOP members to end the House Republican Civil War,” Jeffries said, announcing the Democratic leadership would vote for the motion to oust the speaker.” (NWI Times)

“The Republican impeachment inquiry into President Biden got off to a rocky start Thursday as the GOP sought to stress a need for the investigation” while presenting witnesses that noted there is currently no definitive evidence. (The Hill)

Passed the House, Senate next
H.R. 1530: Veterans Benefits Improvement 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): 423 – 0.
H.R. 3371: Wounded Knee Massacre Memorial and Sacred Site Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote.
H.R. 2872: To amend the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act of 2013 to allow States to issue electronic stamps under such Act, and for other purposes.
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote.
H.R. 5110: Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 424 – 1.
In the Senate “Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a trailblazing lawmaker and the longest serving female senator in U.S. history, has died at age 90…Feinstein was the first woman to hold a number of positions in government — she was the first woman to be mayor of San Francisco and the first woman elected to the Senate from California. Feinstein was also the first woman to chair the Senate Intelligence and Rules committees, and she was the first woman to hold the ranking member position in the Senate Judiciary Committee.” (Punchbowl News)

 “Laphonza Butler, a former adviser to Vice President Harris who currently serves as president of EMILY’s List, was named to fill the vacant U.S. Senate seat in California that was held by the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)…” (The Hill
“Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., was indicted Friday on corruption charges in Manhattan, N.Y., following a federal investigation that claimed he allegedly accepted luxury goods and large sums of money in bribes in exchange for committing corrupt acts, including providing sensitive information to the government of Egypt.” (NPR)
This is the second set of corruption charges levied against Menendez by the Justice Department in a decade. He previously fought off conspiracy, bribery and honest services fraud related to alleged personal favors.(CNN)  At least thirty Senate democrats along with the New Jersey governor have urged Sen. Menendez to resign. Nancy Pelosi has also called for his resignation. (The Hill)

Passed the Senate, House next
S. 2231: Maternal and Child Health Stillbirth Prevention Act
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent. 

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

In other news

“Former President Donald Trump won’t receive a jury trial in his $250 million civil fraud case in New York because his lawyers never asked for one.
Trump’s trial in his civil fraud case began on Monday morning in a downtown Manhattan courtroom, where the embattled former president made a surprise appearance.
The case was filed in September 2022, when New York Attorney General Letitia James announced her office had filed the sweeping lawsuit against Trump, his sons Eric and Donald Jr., and two other executives at the Trump Organization.
The case — in which New York Justice Arthur Engoron has already found that Trump committed years of fraud and handed down a “corporate death penalty” for the Trump Organization — is now in a bench trial for the remaining parts of the New York attorney general’s lawsuit.” (Insider)

“The Wisconsin Supreme Court rejected a lawsuit that sought to block state lawmakers from impeaching Justice Janet Protasiewicz, whose win flipped the high court to a liberal majority for the first time in 15 years last month.
The Supreme Court handed down its decision Tuesday to not hear the lawsuit, issuing the order without comment. The court said Protasiewicz did not participate in the decision…The decision comes amid a push by state Republicans to consider impeaching Protasiewicz after the state Supreme Court was asked to consider two redistricting cases over the state’s legislative maps.” (The Hill)

As of Oct. 1 roughly 28 million borrowers must begin to pay their monthly student loan bill. It marks the first time since a pandemic-related pause went into effect in 2020. Interest on federal student loans restarted on September 1. Millions of borrowers have a different loan servicer than they did the last time they made a payment and millions of others who finished school during the pause will be making their first payment ever. The Biden administration is encouraging eligible borrowers to apply to the government’s new income-driven repayment plan launched in August, known as SAVE” (CNN)

“The United Auto Workers expanded its historic strike against General Motors and Ford by adding two additional assembly plants, ramping up pressure on the companies to come to a new contract deal.
Workers at Ford’s Chicago Assembly Plant and GM’s Lansing-Delta Assembly Plant walked off their jobs at noon.” (NPR)

The courts

“The Supreme Court on Monday denied an effort by lawyer John Eastman to appeal a ruling that found he may have acted criminally with the legal advice he gave former President Trump. It spurred a rare recusal from Justice Clarence Thomas, whose wife corresponded with the California attorney in the weeks ahead of Jan. 6.” (The Hill)

“The US Supreme Court convened for a new term on October 2 and will begin hearing a growing list of cases that could transform the scope of the federal government, voting rights, and the rights to free speech and public safety.
Justices will consider the constitutionality of an entire federal agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Florida and Texas laws that impose government-mandated editorial policies on social media sites; and whether people subject to domestic violence restraining orders have a right to own a gun.
The Supreme Court is also likely to take up lower-court decisions about whether to ban a drug used in more than half of all abortions in the United States and whether political activists have a First Amendment right to organize a protest. And it has already announced that it will hear a major gerrymandering suit, with more cases potentially coming that could decide who prevails in future elections.” (Vox)

“The Supreme Court refused to reinstate Alabama’s Republican-drawn congressional map, enabling a court-appointed official to draw the lines for the 2024 election instead… In a brief order, the high court denied the state’s request, handing a significant victory for voting rights advocates and a group of Black Alabama voters who sued over the design. There were no noted dissents.” (The Hill)

“The US government will relaunch a program to provide free Covid-19 home tests to Americans, US Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday. US households can order four free tests from Covidtests.gov starting September 25…
HHS and ASPR also announced $600 million for 12 US Covid-19 test manufacturers to strengthen manufacturing capacity and purchase about 200 million over-the-counter Covid-19 tests for use by the federal government.” (CNN)

“The Biden administration on Wednesday expanded temporary protected status for Venezuela, making close to 500,000 newcomers freshly eligible to apply for work permits.” (Politico)

“The White House on Wednesday unveiled a new climate jobs training program that it says could put 20,000 people to work in its first year on projects like restoring land, improving communities’ resilience to natural disasters and deploying clean energy.
The American Climate Corps is modeled after a program that put millions to work during the Great Depression.” (NPR)

“The United Farm Workers (UFW) endorsed President Biden’s reelection bid on Tuesday, praising him as an “authentic champion for workers and their families.”
“The United Farm Workers has seen first hand the positive impact that President Biden has made in the economic standing, labor rights, and daily lives of farm workers across America,” UFW President Teresa Romero said in a statement.” (The Hill)


“A coalition of health care workers filed a brief in support of a lawsuit challenging Indiana’s ban on gender-affirming care for transgender youth. The coalition said the way the ban is written could have far-reaching effects on the care of Hoosier children…The law, SEA 480, bans medicinal and surgical gender-affirming care for transgender youth in Indiana and also bans providers from “aiding and abetting” parents seeking that treatment outside of the state.” (Indiana Public Media)
Indiana is teetering on the edge of a “child care cliff” after pandemic-era federal relief funding for the industry ran out over the weekend.
Driving the news: Without intervention, nearly 50,000 Hoosier children are expected to lose child care, according to an analysis by the Century Foundation.
The national think tank estimates more than 1,000 Indiana child care programs could close. (Axios)
“The Indiana Supreme Court Attorney Disciplinary Commission has charged State Attorney General Todd Rokita with three counts of professional misconduct…In his response, Rokita grudgingly acknowledges that he could have committed two of the violations but denies the third.” The charges are a result of actions Rokita took against Dr. Caitlin Bernard who provided an abortion for a 10-year-old rape victim from Ohio. Read a scathing analysis from John Krull, publisher of The Statehouse File. (State House File)
A government task force said getting rid of Indiana’s state income tax is becoming less likely following its second meeting Friday  (CBS 4)

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