Weekly update & Legislative report 04/14/2024

You can make a difference

Join us this Thursday, April 18, at 6pm at the Merrillville Library for updates and discussion on the state of our state. Learn about significant legislation and what we need to anticipate and work on as we face the 2024 elections and Indiana’s longer 2025 budget session.
Click on the picture above to sign up or click here. Join us & bring a friend!

Indiana’s Primary Election is May 7 and early voting is open. View your ballot at www.indianavoters.com and click on ‘check voting status’.

Save the date for our May meeting–Thursday, May 9 at 6:30–at the Merrillville Library. We’ll hear from Destiny Wells, Democratic candidate for Attorney General! She is a highly qualified and experienced candidate. Read more about this outstanding candidate here: https://www.wellsforindiana.com/

The truth matters

Democrats support a women’s right to make her own health decisions. You have likely heard Trump’s latest statement about abortion.
After months if not years of mixed messages, former President Donald Trump shared an abortion position that leaves policy to the states and includes some exceptions, rather than backing a national abortion limit.” (Poynter) “Former President Donald Trump lied on Monday and said that Democrats wanted babies “executed after birth,” in a video that was supposed to unveil his views on the politically fraught issue of abortion. “They support abortion up to and even beyond the ninth month,” Trump said in a video posted on Truth Social. “The concept of having an abortion in the later months, and even execution after birth. That’s exactly what it is — the baby is born, and the baby is executed after birth.”” (Business Insider) That is a lie and we have heard similar charges from Republicans before. The bill republicans are referencing, The Women’s Health Protection Act, passed the House in 2021 but failed in the Senate. Read the bill here. It is a bill in support of a woman’s life and health free of government interference. 

There is no evidence of a migrant-driven crime wave in the United States. Overall crime is down year over year in PhiladelphiaChicagoDenverNew York and Los Angeles. Crime has risen in Washington, D.C., but local officials do not attribute the spike to migrants. “This is a public perception problem. It’s always based upon these kinds of flashpoint events where an immigrant commits a crime,” explains Graham Ousey, a professor at the College of William & Mary and the co-author of “Immigration and Crime: Taking Stock.” “There’s no evidence for there being any relationship between somebody’s immigrant status and their involvement in crime.” (NBC)

Thank you, Joe Biden

  • “The Biden administration…set the first-ever national limits for toxic and pervasive “forever chemicals” in drinking water. The administration’s action seeks to reduce the amount of chemicals belonging to a class known as PFAS in drinking water. These substances, which have been used to make waterproof and nonstick products, have seeped into a significant portion of the nation’s water. They have been linked to increased risk of prostate, kidney and testicular cancer, weakened immune systems, developmental delays in children, decreased fertility and high blood pressure in people who are pregnant.” (NewsNation)
  • “The DOE announced $475 million in funding for five projects in Arizona, Kentucky, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia to accelerate clean energy deployment on current and former mine land…This funding—made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—will support a variety of diverse, locally-driven clean energy projects that can be replicated in current and former mining communities across the country.” (Dept. Of Energy
  • “U.S. factories making industrial essentials like steel, aluminum, cement, chemicals — and even household staples like ice cream and mac and cheese — are about to get a whole lot cleaner…The Biden administration awarded $6 billion for demonstration projects that aim to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions from heavy industrial sectors. The initiative represents the single-largest decarbonization investment in American history…The Inflation Reduction Act is behind most of the program’s funding, (Canary Media)
  • “The EPA finalized the strongest ever greenhouse gas standards for heavy-duty vehicles to protect public health and address the climate crisis while keeping the American economy moving.” (EPA)
  • “Thousands more firearms dealers across the United States will have to run background checks on buyers when selling at gun shows or other places outside brick-and-mortar stores, according to a Biden administration rule that will soon go into effect. The rule aims to close a loophole that has allowed tens of thousands of guns to be sold every year by unlicensed dealers who don’t perform background checks to ensure the potential buyer is not legally prohibited from having a firearm.” (NewsNation)
  • “Vice President Harris visited Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where she announced a new measure to curb gun violence: the National Extreme Risk Protection Order Resource Center. This resource center will provide training for local leaders on how to use red flag laws and keep communities safe.” (USA Today)
  • “President Joe Biden once again is trying to deliver widespread student debt forgiveness, with a new plan unveiled on Monday that could help about 30 million borrowers erase some or all of their college loans. ” (CBS)  “These plans are on top of the actions the Biden-Harris Administration has already taken to cancel student debt for 4 million Americans.” (Federal Student Aid) In another student loan forgiveness plan unveiled on Friday, “the Biden administration is canceling student loans for another 206,000 borrowers as part of a new repayment plan that offers a faster route to forgiveness.” (AP News)


“The House on Friday voted to reauthorize a key U.S. spy program considered crucial to national security.
In a 273 to 147 vote, lawmakers renewed Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which is set to expire on April 19, through 2026.
It won’t head to the Senate right away.
Right after the House passed the FISA bill, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., objected to its passage. Luna requested a vote on the motion to reconsider the legislation. That means the FISA bill will not be able to head to the Senate yet until after the House votes to table the motion to reconsider the vote next week.” (ABC)

While promising to send the impeachment articles on April 10, “House Speaker Mike Johnson will now delay sending articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to the Senate until next week, his spokesman said, as Senate Republicans consider ways to inflict political pain on Democrats, including a threat to bring the upper chamber to a halt.” (NBC News)

Passed the House, Senate next
H.R. 2560: Sea Turtle Rescue Assistance and Rehabilitation Act of 2023
Last Action: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 332 – 82
H.R. 4389: Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Enhancements Act of 2023
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote.
H.R. 1246: To authorize leases of up to 99 years for land held in trust for federally recognized Indian Tribes.
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote.
H.R. 6492: EXPLORE Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote.
H.R. 6233: Community Reclamation Partnerships Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill Agreed to by voice vote.
H.R. 6655: A Stronger Workforce for America Act
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 378 – 26 

Passed the House with changes; back to the Senate
S. 2051: Missing Children’s Assistance Reauthorization 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): 406 – 0 

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

In other news

“The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Tuesday the state must adhere to a 160-year-old law barring all abortions except in cases when “it is necessary to save” a pregnant person’s life – a significant ruling that will make a Civil War-era abortion law enforceable in the state.” (CNN)
“Arizona GOP state lawmakers blocked an effort Wednesday to proceed on legislation that would repeal the 1864 law — raising questions around what steps the state Legislature might take to address the court ruling ahead of the November election.” (The Hill)

“The city of Chicago and the state of Illinois are set to split more than $19 million in new congressionally approved funding released to assist cities and states in addressing the migrant crisis, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin announced Friday.” (Chicago Tribune)

“Long-term undocumented immigrants are gaining traction on demands for legal work permits amid a strong labor market and easier access to employment for newly arrived asylum seekers.
The Biden administration on Thursday greatly expanded work permits for a large swath of immigrants, including asylum seekers and green card applicants.” (The Hill)

Election news
The same federal court that previously ruled a Charleston-area district was unlawfully drawn decided yesterday that the map must be used for this year’s congressional election. The reason for the decision: The Supreme Court delayed the case for too long. (NBC News)

“Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. named Silicon Valley attorney and entrepreneur Nicole Shanahan as his vice presidential pick…The deep-pocketed investor could also provide a financial boost to backstop Kennedy’s expensive campaign…” (CNN

“Democratic President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign is wrangling with Republican-dominated state governments in Ohio and Alabama to assure he is listed on their fall ballots, as once-mundane procedural negotiations get caught up in the nation’s fractious politics.” (AP News)

“Former President Trump’s first criminal trial is set to begin in New York on Monday. Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.” (The Hill
Judge Juan Merchan ruled that Trump’s trial will go forward Monday with jury selection, rejecting defense arguments that the barrage of media coverage around the trial has prejudiced potential jurors. The ruling marks the fourth time this week that a judge has rejected a Trump attempt for a last-minute delay of jury selection, which would mark the former president’s first criminal trial.” (The Hill

New York Attorney General Letitia James…is asking hard questions about the $175 million bond that would safeguard at least some of what Trump owes New York while he appeals losing the trial. A hearing on the bond’s financial soundness is set for Monday, April 22.”
And James is also intent on holding [Trump and his lawyers accountable] for “the withholding of evidence.” (Business Insider)

“Even as Trump’s legal setbacks piled up, tension continued to grow between special counsel Jack Smith and Judge Aileen Cannon. Following Cannon’s request for jury instructions that would bolster Trump’s unfounded claims that the Presidential Records Act allowed him to take the classified documents when he left the White House , Smith issued a scathing new filing that expressed his willingness to go to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to intervene in the case and potentially to seek her removal.” (MSNBC)


“U.S. Steel’s shareholders approved a $14.9 billion sale to Nippon that would mean an end to independent domestic control of an iconic American steelmaker that became the world’s first billion-dollar corporation, developed the city Gary as a company town and was largely responsible for spurring the development that transformed Northwest Indiana from sand dunes and marshland into the second largest metro in the state…The proposal has met with bipartisan opposition, including from U.S. Rep. Frank J. Mrvan, D-Highland…The deal still faces antitrust and national security reviews.” (NWI Times)
“Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita on Thursday called out the Indiana Department of Health and Indiana Public Access Counselor for “collusion” and issued a non-binding advisory opinion saying terminated pregnancy reports are public records…Destiny Wells, who is running for Attorney General as a Democrat, rebutted Rokita’s opinion in a statement.
“Hoosier women are outraged by Attorney General Todd Rokita’s actions today regarding private health data. There is no excuse for subjecting Hoosiers to Todd Rokita’s state sanctioned breach of patient confidentiality.”
” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
“The Indiana Court of Appeals on Monday unanimously affirmed a challenge to the state’s near-total abortion ban, though it sent a preliminary injunction back to a trial court for a narrower take.
The state — represented by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office — is likely to appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
“Republican gubernatorial candidate Curtis Hill will no longer stand trial next week for the controversy that cost him his last elected office. That’s after a judge on Wednesday afternoon vacated jury proceedings in the civil battery lawsuit against him.
Four women — three legislative staffers and a former state lawmaker — accused Hill of groping them at a 2018 post-session party. He was then Indiana’s attorney general.”
(Indiana Capital Chronicle)
Indiana’s gubernatorial candidates all promote the use of public funds for unfettered private education with essentially no accountability for how those funds are spent. In the meantime they support the imposition of various accountability measures for public schools from what is allowed to be taught to how teachers are paid. Read the candidates answers to questions about education in Indiana at Indiana Capital Chronicle.
“A new lawsuit announced by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita on Wednesday targets nearly two dozen companies operating in the state that manufacture and sell products containing dangerous “forever chemicals.”” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
“Fifteen regions across Indiana are set to receive a share of $500 million in new economic development grants meant to boost the state’s quality of life, place and opportunity, Gov. Eric Holcomb and other state leaders announced Thursday.
The dollars are part of Indiana’s second Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative, better known as READI 2.0 — a grant program that has been a signature policy of Holcomb’s administration.
All 92 counties will be impacted by projects funded through the program. Among those are plans to increase available housing, develop new work-based learning partnerships, add support for small businesses and expand child care options. Also anticipated are new parks, trails and other attractions that improve day-to-day life within dozens of Hoosier communities and make the state a magnet for talented workers and their families.” (Indiana Capital Chronicle)

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