Weekly Legislative Update 03/24/2024

You can make a difference

Join us for our April public meeting on Thursday, April 18 at 6pm at the Merrillville Library. We will hear from State Representative Mike Andrade. He’ll give us updates on the state, this past legislative session, and what to expect going forward. This year’s legislative session was short, but impactful in good and bad ways. Learn about significant legislation and what we need to anticipate and work on as we face the 2024 elections and the longer 2025 budget session.
Please register here and bring a friend!

Indivisible NWI has endorsed two outstanding democratic candidates for state offices.

  • Jennifer McCormick is running for Governor and brings a wealth of experience and terrific ideas to the job. Most recently she was our last elected State Superintendent of Instruction. You can read more about Jennifer McCormick here
  • Destiny Wells is running to be our next Attorney General. Destiny is an extremely well-qualified candidate who will bring integrity and professionalism back to that office. Read more about Destiny Wells here.



The Biden Administration:

  • “The Biden administration announced new automobile emissions standards Wednesday that officials called the most ambitious plan ever to cut planet-warming emissions from passenger vehicles…The new standards will avoid more than 7 billion tons of planet-warming carbon emissions over the next three decades and provide nearly $100 billion in annual net benefits, the EPA said, including lower health care costs, fewer deaths and more than $60 billion in reduced annual costs for fuel, maintenance and repairs.” (Associated Press)
  • The White House released a plan to help alleviate high housing and rental costs and the housing shortage. The proposal includes a $10,000 tax credit, which “is meant to incentivize people to sell their “starter homes”(defined as below the area’s median home price), freeing up those houses for first-time buyers…
    • Meanwhile, the plan also includes a tax credit for first-time buyers, meant to offset the cost of today’s high borrowing rates.”
    • There is even more to this proposal to make housing and renting more affordable, some of it rule making from the Federal Housing Finance Agency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Read more about Biden’s housing affordability proposal here
  • “Nearly 80,000 public service workers — including teachers, nurses and firefighters — will have roughly $6 billion in student loans forgiven Thursday, according to a statement from the Biden administration. These public service workers have dedicated their careers to serving their communities, but because of past administrative failures, never got the relief they were entitled to under the law,” the statement said.
    • “Because of the fixes my Administration has made, we have now cancelled student debt for over 870,000 public service workers — compared to only about 7,000 public service borrowers ever receiving forgiveness prior to my Administration.”
    • The announcement from the administration is one of several that Biden has made in recent months to lower or cancel student debt.” (NPR
    • “The Biden administration has canceled a total of $144 billion of federal student loan debt for nearly 4 million borrowers to date, mostly through existing student loan forgiveness programs that target specific groups of borrowers.” (CNN)
  • “President Joe Biden announced Wednesday one of the biggest federal investments in US chip manufacturing – a $8.5 billion grant to tech giant Intel – as he visited the battleground state of Arizona and struggles to get his key legislative accomplishments to register with voters... The funding for several Intel projects – in Arizona and three other states – comes from the CHIPS and Science Act, one of Biden’s biggest legislative wins that passed Congress with bipartisan support in the summer of 2022.” (CNN)


“A new budget by a large and influential group of House Republicans calls for raising the Social Security retirement age for future retirees and restructuring Medicare. The proposals…reflect how many Republicans will seek to govern if they win the 2024 elections… Apart from fiscal policy, the budget endorses a series of bills “designed to advance the cause of life,” including:

  • The Life at Conception Act, which would aggressively restrict abortion and potentially threaten in vitro fertilization, or IVF, by establishing legal protections for human beings at “the moment of fertilization.”…
  • Restructuring Medicare to essentially privatize it.
  • Cutting Social Security for some and raising the age of eligibility for all.
  • Cutting Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program

“Biden has blasted Republican proposals for the retirement programs, promising that he will not cut benefits and instead proposing in his recent White House budget to cover the future shortfall by raising taxes on upper earners…”  (NBC News) (Vox)

Enacted, signed into law by the President

H.R. 2882 The Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2024. 
Lawmakers finally passed “a $1.2 trillion government funding package .” and avoided a government shutdown.
The House passed the legislation in a bipartisan, 286-134 vote earlier on Friday.
The package is the second and final batch of annual government funding bills to clear Congress, about six months after the initial deadline for lawmakers to finish their spending work for fiscal year 2024, which ends in late September. 
The package — which combines half of the 12 annual funding bills — covers spending for the departments of Defense, Homeland Security (DHS), Labor, Health and Human Services, and State, as well as general government, financial services and foreign operations. This bill notably provides funding for the Dept. of Homeland Security, Dept. of Defense, and increased funding for childcare programs, including Head Start.
The Senate approved the mammoth package, which spans more than a thousand pages, in a 74-24 vote, sending the bill to President Biden’s desk for his signature. The final vote came around 2 a.m., two hours after the shutdown deadline…” Senate Republicans proposed several amendments—all were defeated. Had any amendments passed, the bill would have had to go back to the House for approval and there would have been a government shutdown; the House has adjourned for its two week recess. (The Hill)
Read more about this bill at Roll Call.
In the House all Indiana Representatives voted yea except Reps. Spartz, Banks and Carson who voted nay. View the vote.
Indiana Senator Young voted yea and Sen. Braun did not vote. View the vote.

H.R. 4366 Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2024
Congress.gov: This bill provides FY2024 appropriations for several federal departments and agencies.
Passed the Senate 75-22 with Senator Young voting yea and Sen. Braun voting nay. View the vote.

S. 206: A bill to require the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to regularly review and update policies and manuals related to inspections at ports of entry.

S. 1858: A bill to amend the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to establish a deadline for applying for disaster unemployment assistance.


Passed House and Senate, President next


Passed the House, Senate next

H.R. 1023: To repeal section 134 of the Clean Air Act, relating to the greenhouse gas reduction fund.
GovTrack.us: “This bill repeals the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. This fund provides financial and technical assistance to states and other eligible recipients to help enable low-income and disadvantaged communities carry out activities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Passed 209-204 with Indiana Representatives Mrvan and Carson voting no and all other Indiana Reps voting yea. View the vote.
H.R. 7023: Creating Confidence in Clean Water Permitting Act
GovTrack.us: “This bill modifies requirements under the Clean Water Act, including requirements concerning water quality criteria, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program, the permit program for discharging dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, and the meaning of waters of the United States.”
Passed 213 – 205 with all Indiana Representatives voting yea except Reps. Mrvan and Carson who voted no. View the vote.
H.R. 7511: Laken Riley Act
GovTrack.us: “To require the Secretary of Homeland Security to take into custody aliens who have been charged in the United States with theft, and for other purposes.”
“This bill would compel the Department of Homeland Security to take into custody all non-citizens who have been arrested for theft. No conviction is required, and no additional resources are provided to the Department to carry out this mandate.” (Rep. Betty McCollum
Last Action: On passage Passed by the Yeas and Nays: 251 – 170. All Indiana represnentatives voted yea except Rep. Carson who voted nay. View the vote.
H.R. 1836: Ocean Shipping Reform Implementation 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): 393 – 24
H.R. 7521: Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act
GovTrack.us: “To protect the national security of the United States from the threat posed by foreign adversary controlled applications, such as TikTok and any successor application or service and any other application or service developed or provided by ByteDance Ltd. or an entity under the control of ByteDance Ltd.”
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 352 – 65, 1 Present. All Indiana representatives voted yea. View the vote.
H.R. 4723: Upholding the Dayton Peace Agreement Through Sanctions Act
Last Action: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 365 – 30
H.R. 1752: E-BRIDGE Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 375 – 20
H.R. 886: Save Our Seas 2.0 Amendments Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 326 – 73
H.R. 3843: Action for Dental Health Act of 2023
Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 391 – 32
H.R. 7454: Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2024
Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 401 – 19
H.R. 7102: Native American Entrepreneurial Opportunity Act passed on 2/29 by 402-16. This bill would establish an Office of Native American Affairs within the Small Business Administration.
H.R. 6544: Atomic Energy Advancement Act passed on 2/28 by 365-36. According to the Hill, the bill would speed up environmental reviews, reduce fees for new reactors and extend existing liability protections for nuclear accidents.
H.R. 3821: Firefighter Cancer Registry Reauthorization Act of 2023
Last Action: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 413 – 7
Agreed to by voice vote so no individual record of votes was made:
H.R. 6602: To amend the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 relating to the review of the interagency dispute resolution process.
H.R. 766: Dr. Michael C. Burgess Preventive Health Savings Act
H.R. 6260: FOCUS Act
H.R. 6261: Impact of Crime on Public Building Usage Act of 2023
H.R. 6306: Embassy Construction Integrity Act of 2023
H.R. 3511: Service-Disabled Veteran Opportunities in Small Business Act
H.R. 4669: DOE and SBA Research Act
H.R. 7105: WOSB Certification and Opportunity Expansion Act
H.R. 5265: Small Business Administration Rural Performance Report Act
H.R. 6591: Encouraging Success Act
H.R. 5426: To require the Administrator of the Small Business Administration to provide a link to resources for submitting reports on suspected fraud relating to certain COVID-19 loans.
H.R. 7128: The WOSB Integrity Act of 2024
H.R. 4403: Securing the Cities Improvement Act
H.R. 5969: Improving Travel for Families Act
H.R. 4467: DHS Border Services Contracts Review Act
H.R. 498: 9–8–8 Lifeline Cybersecurity Responsibility Act
H.R. 3836: Medicaid Primary Care Improvement Act
H.R. 3385: DiasporaLink Act
H.R. 3277: Energy Emergency Leadership Act
H.R. 6174: DHS Biodetection Improvement Act
H.R. 6277: FASTA Reform Act of 2023
H.R. 6254: Public Buildings Accountability Act of 2023
H.R. 6249: Think Differently About Emergencies Act
H.R. 4693: Tennessee Valley Authority Salary Transparency Act
H.Res. 149: Condemning the illegal abduction of children from Ukraine to the Russian Federation.
On motion to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 390 – 9.This simple resolution was agreed to on March 19, 2024. That is the end of the legislative process for a simple resolution.


Failed Veto Override
In January, the House passed a disapproval of a waiver on buy America requirements for electric vehicle chargers that had passed the Senate last November. President Biden quickly vetoed it and on 2/29 the Senate attempted a veto override which failed 50-47. Overrides require a 2/3 majority to pass.

Passed the Senate, House next

S. 3853: A bill to extend the period for filing claims under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act and to provide for compensation under such Act for claims relating to Manhattan Project waste, and to improve compensation for workers involved in uraniu
Passed Senate under the order of 2/29/2024, having achieved 60 votes in the affirmative, without amendment by Yea-Nay Vote. 69 – 30. Indiana Senator Young voted nay and Sen. Braun voted yea. View the vote

Passed by Unanimous Consent or Voice Vote, so no individual record of votes was taken:
S. 4050: A bill to extend the deadline to commence construction of certain hydroelectric projects on the Red River.
S. 1189: A bill to establish a pilot grant program to improve recycling accessibility, and for other purposes.
S. 1194: A bill to require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to carry out certain activities to improve recycling and composting programs in the United States, and for other purposes.
S. 3706: A bill to amend section 3663A of title 18, United States Code, to clarify that restitution includes necessary and reasonable expenses incurred by a person who has assumed the victim’s rights.
S. 3859: A bill to ensure that homicides can be prosecuted under Federal law without regard to the time elapsed between the act or omission that caused the death of the victim and the death itself.
S. 50: A bill to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to require the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to give priority consideration to selecting Pensacola and Perdido Bays as an estuary of national significance, and for othe
“Former special counsel Robert Hur appeared before Congress on Tuesday to explain his investigation into President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents…” (CNN) Top takeaways from CNN and from Axios.
 Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., who announced last month he would not run for re-election, will resign from Congress early, [April 19], he confirmed in a statement Friday.” With his resignation, the Republican House majority will shrink to 218-213. (NBC News)
“Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, a hardline conservative who has clashed with his own party at times, announced on Tuesday that he will leave Congress at the end of next week.
Buck criticized dysfunction on Capitol Hill in discussing his decision to leave, telling CNN’s Dana Bash, “It is the worst year of the nine years and three months that I’ve been in Congress and having talked to former members, it’s the worst year in 40, 50 years to be in Congress. But I’m leaving because I think there’s a job to do out there.”
“This place has just devolved into this bickering and nonsense and not really doing the job for the American people,” he said.” (CNN)

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

In other news

“Russia and China on Friday vetoed a U.S.-sponsored United Nations resolution supporting “an immediate and sustained cease-fire” in the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza…” (Associated Press) Then on Monday “The United Nations Security Council has voted 14-0 in favor of a resolution demanding a cease-fire in Gaza for the rest of Ramadan. The United States abstained from the vote, clearing the way for the measure to pass.” (NPR)

“US District Court Judge Aileen Cannon on Thursday declined to toss out the classified documents case against Donald Trump after hours-long arguments in part over whether the charges against the former president were too vague…Trump’s second motion argued that the Presidential Records Act – which governs how White House records are handled by an outgoing administration – required that the case be thrown out. Cannon hasn’t yet ruled on the second claim. The judge, however, expressed skepticism during the hearing toward both requests for the charges to be dismissed, and she suggested that some of the issues the Trump legal team was raising would be better left to a jury to consider.” (CNN)

“In a groundbreaking verdict, a Michigan jury found James Crumbley – whose son killed four students at his high school in 2021 – guilty of involuntary manslaughter, a result experts say could set an important precedent for the extent to which parents of school shooters can be held responsible.
Just last month, the shooter’s mother, Jennifer Crumbley, was convicted of the same four charges, making her the first parent ever held directly responsible for a mass shooting committed by their child.” (CNN)

…”The U.S. Energy Information Administration put out a press release on Monday noting that in 2023, the U.S. broke all previous records for oil production.” (Reliable Sources)

Be aware. CNBC interviewed Donald Trump allowing him to spew lies with no pushback or fact checks. Chris Como is doing the same, interviewing right wing hosts; both are giving maga liars  a voice with a new audience. (Reliable Sources)

In the Georgia case against Trump and several others, “Judge Scott McAfee concluded that Willis and her office could stay on the case if Wade left the team — a step that the judge said was necessary in order to prevent “a significant appearance of impropriety” that resulted from the relationship. Within hours, Wade had stepped aside.” (Politico)
The judge will allow an “appeal his decision allowing District Attorney Fani Willis to continue prosecuting the case if special prosecutor Nathan Wade resigned.
Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee’s decision granting the request from Trump and eight of his allies gives them the green light to seek the Georgia Court of Appeals’ review of his ruling, which he issued Friday. McAfee said in a brief “Certificate of Immediate Review” that he intends to “continue addressing the many other unrelated pending pretrial motions,” regardless of whether the appellate court agrees to take up the case.” (CBS News)

“Donald Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan will be delayed by at least three weeks after the judge overseeing the matter agreed today that the former president and the district attorney’s office need additional time to review records from federal prosecutors that are related to the case.” (Politico)

“ Mike Pence said…he would not endorse Donald Trump for president in 2024… Republican Sen. Todd Young, also from Pence’s home state of Indiana, has said he will not support Trump’s candidacy.” (Politico)

“Inflation slowed in key areas like food and housing last month, fueling a touch of positive news for the Federal Reserve and American consumers alike. Overall, the Consumer Price Index showed that prices rose by 3.2% for the 12 months ended in February.” (CNN)

President Biden gave a strong State of the Union speech that has garnered praise for his feisty delivery of an amazing speech. I’ve read many comments about the speech, but this one says it very well, for me at least:
“If you haven’t yet watched the speech I urge you to do so as soon as you can. This is more than a throwaway suggestion—it’s a vehement call to action I truly hope you’ll take. Doing so will energize, inform, and inspire you, I promise!

  • If you feel unclear about what the Biden administration has accomplished in the last 3 years watch the speech.
  • If you’re not sure what President Biden’s agenda is for his next term watch the speech.
  • If you have any doubt as to whether he can handle another four years in office? Watch. The. Speech.

You can view it here.
(Chop Wood Carry Water)

“President Joe Biden’s budget request for fiscal 2025 would continue several administration goals to lower costs for most families while raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations, spend on climate initiatives and provide aid to U.S. partners abroad.
The $7.266 trillion budget request that calls for expanding the child tax credit, funding overseas partners and increasing taxes on the wealthy proposes several new or revamped programs. It will be up to Congress in the coming months to act on or reject Biden’s initiatives.
Read about the key budget points here.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

“Two million meals can be delivered to Gaza daily once a planned aid pier opens in about 60 days, a Pentagon press secretary said Tuesday. As fears of famine grow in the region, the World Food Programme also said one of its food convoys reached Gaza City for the first time since February 20.” (CNN)

“The Biden administration announced a new weapons package for Ukraine — worth up to $300 million — on Tuesday after months of warning there was no money left. Officials said the new funding became available as a result of savings made in weapons contracts. President Biden said the package is “not nearly enough” and urged Congress to pass additional funding.” (CNN)

“The Supreme Court ruled Friday that thousands of low-level drug dealers are ineligible for shortened prison terms under a Trump-era bipartisan criminal justice overhaul.” (AP News)

“A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Friday that public officials can sometimes be sued for blocking their critics on social media, an issue that first arose for the high court in a case involving then-President Donald Trump.” (AP News)


“Gov. Eric Holcomb on Monday opted to issue his first — and last — veto of the session on House Bill 1002, a priority proposal to further define antisemitism, particularly in academic settings, citing concerns with a compromise reached in the final hours of session… Holcomb instead issued a signed proclamation condemning “all forms of antisemitism” that includes the full IHRA definition and examples — something the Indiana Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) thanked him for doing.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

“Hobart and Portage are among communities that have scrapped curbside recycling after economic shifts have hobbled the recycling industry.
Recycling has become less profitable for waste disposal companies, which have increasingly been sending recyclables to the landfill if they’re contaminated with mixed-in trash or items that haven’t been properly cleaned and rinsed. Portage officials said nothing residents dropped in their recycling bins for the last two years was actually recycled.” (NWI Times)

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