Weekly Legislative Update 10/29/2023

You can make a difference

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Find your polling place: https://indianavoters.in.gov/ From there, click on ‘Find Your Polling Place’. You can view your ballot there also.
For more information about the candidates, go to vote411.org. This site is from the League of Women Voters who sends questionnaires to candidates and then posts their answers on the site. You can also find your polling place on their site.
Early voting ends at 12pm on Nov. 6. 
Early voting sites in Lake County: https://lakecounty.in.gov/departments/voters/2023-general-election-early-voting-locations-times
Early voting sites in LaPorte County: 
Early voting sites in Porter County (Oct. 23-Nov. 6 at noon): 
https://www.porterco.org/1111/Early-VotingOur next public meeting will be on Thursday, Nov., 2, at the Merrillville Library, 1919 W 81st Ave at 6pm.
Join us for a discussion and presentation by Deb Chubb with Indiana Women’s Action Movement and Sisters for Choice. Learn more about women’s rights in Indiana and how we can take action.
Please register here and bring a friend!
This event is a great opportunity to learn more and to learn what we can do to bring about change in Indiana!

The truth matters

Congress has been arguing over the budget, the deficit and a government shutdown that will occur on Nov. 17 without Congressional action. The truth is that these budget appropriations account for only a little more than a quarter of government spending, with much of it going to the military. The rest is mandatory spending—things like Medicare, social security veteran’s benefits and Medicaid—and is considered nondiscretionary– Spending for these programs continues based on how many Americans are eligible to receive these benefits. This spending is not part of the annual appropriations process. Annual appropriations do not contribute to the lion’s share of the federal deficit. Check out the truth about federal spending bills from Politifact.
“Since Biden took office, border patrol agents have encountered migrants about 7.2 million times at and between ports of entry. But that doesn’t mean that many migrants entered and remained in the U.S. That data shows events, not individuals, and one person can be recorded multiple times. 
CBP data also shows that millions of encounters led to removals.” (Politifact)


“President Biden has asked lawmakers for almost $106 billion in funding for Israel, Ukraine, countering China in the Indo-Pacific, and operations on the southern U.S. border.”  (NPR)
“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said…that he sides with President Biden on the matter of bundling Ukraine and Israel aid together…” (The Hill

Passed the House and Senate, President next

H.R. 366: Korean American VALOR Act
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent.

The House

After a nearly monthlong search, Republicans unanimously picked Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana as the next speaker of the House.
“Now in the spotlight, Johnson—and the most electorally vulnerable Republicans who supported him—will have to answer for his prominent role in attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Johnson didn’t just vote alongside two-thirds of the conference to reject results from two states on January 6, 2021. He also spearheaded the House GOP conference’s amicus brief for a Texas lawsuit that attempted to throw out election results from four key swing states Joe Biden won.” (The Dispatch)
He is also known for his fervent stance against abortion and LBGTQ+ rights and his extremely conservative views. He supports a federal abortion ban and a federal ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.  Read more at NBC News.
The Senate

S.Res. 417: A resolution standing with Israel against terrorism.
Last Action: Submitted in the Senate, considered, and agreed to without amendment and with a preamble by Yea-Nay Vote. 97 – 0. This simple resolution was agreed to on October 19, 2023. That is the end of the legislative process for a simple resolution.
Passed the Senate, House next
S.J.Res. 32: A joint resolution providing for congressional disapproval under chapter 8 of title 5, United States Code, of the rule submitted by the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection relating to “Small Business Lending Under the Equal Credit Opport
Passed Senate without amendment by Yea-Nay Vote. 53 – 44. Both Indiana Senators voted yea. View the vote.
“The Senate on Wednesday [Oct. 18] voted to overturn a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule requiring lenders to report demographic data on small-business loan recipients, defying a White House veto threat…
Supporters of the rule say it will help ensure that lenders distribute loans equitably to underrepresented borrowers.” (Politico)
S. 1170: Project Safe Childhood Act
Passed Senate with an amendment by Voice Vote.
S.Res. 417: A resolution standing with Israel against terrorism.
Agreed to without amendment and with a preamble by Yea-Nay Vote. 97 – 0. This simple resolution was agreed to on October 19, 2023. That is the end of the legislative process for a simple resolution.

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

In other news

“The United Auto Workers union has reached a tentative agreement with Stellantis, which makes vehicles under the Dodge, Ram, Chrysler and Jeep brands…”(CNN)

“A bruising 41-day strike at Ford is near an end as the United Auto Workers and its largest employer have reached a tentative deal to return 16,600 strikers to the job within days and pay workers at least 25% more between now and 2028.” (CNN)

“The U.S. has stopped issuing export licenses for most civilian firearms and ammunition for 90 days for all non-governmental users, the Commerce Department said on Friday, citing national security and foreign policy interests.” (Reuters)

“Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips announced Thursday that he is running for president, kicking off a long-shot Democratic primary challenge to President Joe Biden.” (CNN)

“Former Vice President Mike Pence suspended his 2024 presidential campaign on Saturday, with his campaign running low on money and the Republican Party moving in a different direction than the longtime Indiana conservative.” (NBC News)

“The US economy expanded at a remarkably strong pace in the third quarter, despite interest rates at their highest level in 22 years.
Gross domestic product, a measure of all goods and services produced in the economy, grew at an annualized 4.9% rate in the third quarter…” (CNN)

“The U.S. added a whopping 336,000 jobs in September and the unemployment rate stayed even at 3.8 percent, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department.
The September jobs report far exceeded expectations after several months of slowing employment gains.” (The Hill)

“The number of Americans who were food insecure — meaning they couldn’t reliably afford to eat — soared last year, according to new government data.” (Axios)

Gun violence
A gunman shot up a bowling alley and a bar, killing 18 people and injuring dozens more. “The massacre in Maine is the deadliest of at least 566 mass shootings in the US so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. With 18 victims killed, the mass shooting is also the deadliest since the Uvalde massacre in May 2022, when 21 people were gunned down at a Texas elementary school.” (CNN)
“New House Speaker Mike Johnson  said that “now is not the time to discuss legislation to address the scourge of mass shootings, adding: “The problem is the human heart, not guns.””  (Axios)

“The Biden administration announced it waived 26 federal laws in South Texas to allow border wall construction on Wednesday, marking the administration’s first use of a sweeping executive power employed often during the Trump presidency.: (Associated Press)

Israel-Hamas War
The heinous Hamas attack on Israel resulted in the greatest loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust. The attack has been compared to the terrorist attack on 9/11 in this country. And yet, the acts of violence were so barbarous as to make those comparisons at times difficult. Even then when comparing the number of lives lost, consider a per capita comparison. In that case, Israel’s loss of life would stand at 45,000. Then remember this country’s rage and grief in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. Israel’s stated goal in this war is to eliminate Hamas entirely. In previous wars it sought to contain Hamas, but the high costs of the terrorist attacks of Oct. 7 has made such a goal untenable for them.  Read more about the history of Israel, its relationship to Gaza and Hamas and the current war at the Council on Foreign Relations.

“The head of the UN Relief Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) warned Friday that hunger and disease are rapidly becoming a major issue in Gaza and said more aid was urgently needed in the enclave… “The last remaining public services are collapsing, our aid operation is crumbling and for the first time ever, [our staff] report that people are now hungry.” (CNN)

“President Biden delivered a rare prime time address on Thursday [Oct.19] night. Rhetorically, Biden sought to draw parallels between the two conflicts [in Israel and Ukraine], weaving them together into a narrative about the vital struggle against America’s foes. 
Hamas and Russian President Vladimir Putin both want to “completely annihilate a neighboring democracy,” Biden said… He further contended that Iran “is supporting Russia in Ukraine, and it is supporting Hamas and other terrorist groups in the region.”
The bedrock of Biden’s argument was that resolute support of U.S. allies is essential for preserving American primacy in the world. American leadership, he contended, “is what holds the world together.” It would “put all that at risk if we walk away from Ukraine, turn our backs on Israel.”” (The Hill)

Jan. 6
“Attorney Jenna Ellis has entered a guilty plea in the Georgia election interference case.
Ellis is the fourth defendant to plead guilty in the broad racketeering case focused on efforts to keep then-President Donald Trump in office after his 2020 loss to Joe Biden.” (NPR)

The Supreme Court “blocked in full a lower court ruling that would have curbed the Biden administration’s ability to communicate with social media companies about contentious content on such issues as Covid-19.” (NBC News)

“Ivanka Trump, the daughter of former President Trump, must testify in her father’s civil fraud trial in New York, a judge ruled Friday morning.” (The Hill) “The ruling sets up a week of Trump family testimony next week.” (USA Today)

Voting rights
“A federal judge ruled Thursday that Georgia’s congressional and legislative maps unlawfully diminish the voting power of black voters and must be redrawn. The likeliest result is a redrawn federal map netting Democrats another seat in the House in a state currently represented by nine Republicans and five Democrats. The Republican-led legislature will reconvene to draw the new maps, which are due by December 8.” (The Dispatch)

Women’s Reproductive Freedom
“A Texas county near New Mexico — where abortion is legal — has banned helping people traveling to get an abortion in one of the newest ways conservatives are trying to restrict abortion access since the fall of Roe v. Wade.
Lubbock County is the largest of four Texas counties that have now adopted a version of the measure, which would be enforced through lawsuits filed by private citizens against people who help women obtain abortions.” (Associated Press)


The State Budget Committee has authorized the establishment of Transit Development Districts (TDDs) near three commuter rail stations along the existing South Shore Line and its under-construction West Lake Corridor.  (Times of  Northwest Indiana)
“State budget regulators on Friday approved a request from Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration to set new reimbursement rates for autism therapy services for Hoosier children with Medicaid.” It is still set well below the average rate and Democrats on the Budget Committee warned it would not be enough to adequately serve Hoosier children. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
“The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning has announced the Employer-Sponsored Child Care Fund, part of Gov. Eric J. Holcomb’s 2023 Next Level Agenda, to mobilize employers and communities to create or expand child care offerings that address the needs of working Hoosiers. The $25 million program, a partnership with the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, uses a portion of the state’s remaining federal relief funds from the COVID-19 pandemic.” (StateHouse File)
Axing Indiana’s individual income tax and replacing just half the revenue with a sales tax hike would cost the state’s poorest residents an additional $62 and hand the top 1% of earners a $30,000 tax cut, a think tank told state lawmakers Friday. (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
“On Tuesday, members of the Interim Study Committee on Pension Management Oversight voted on a draft report that includes the recommendation that Indiana provide an annual 13th check or annual COLA to certain members of the public employees’ retirement fund, Indiana state teachers’ retirement fund, legislators’ defined benefit plan and EG&C plan.” Read also Representative Chuck Mosley’s compelling support of the measure. (StateHouse File)
Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita and 41 other attorneys general sued Meta in federal and state courts Tuesday alleging the company knowingly designed and deployed harmful features on Instagram and its other social media platforms that purposefully addict children and teens.  (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
“As Hoosiers are getting older and Indiana’s long-term care system evolves to embrace the needs of a more complicated population, state officials are finalizing a potential $15 billion worth of contracts pivoting to managed care.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle
Indiana has the country’s ninth highest infant mortality rate and the third highest maternal mortality rate. Advocates said doulas can educate patients and help prevent pregnancy-related deaths.  (WFIU)
NIPSCO announced Wednesday that it has filed a request with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to raise its natural gas base rates. The natural gas utility has 859,000 customers in 32 counties according to a news release detailing rate hike request. (WANE)

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