Countdown to Election Day: 35 days

Important Indiana Election Dates:

October 5 - 2020 Voter Registration Ends

October 22 - Deadline to Request Mail-In Ballot

November 3 -  General Election Day

November 14 - Military/Overseas Ballots Must be Received (must be postmarked by November 3)

Local, state, and federal highlights in today’s memo include:

  • How it Happened: From Law Professor to High Court in Four Years

  • US Congress Update: Speaker Pelosi Says Deal on Additional COVID-19 Package Possible, House, Senate in Session

  • U.S. to Ship Millions of Tests in Push to Reopen K-12 Schools

  • Positive COVID-19 Test Rates Top 25 Percent in some Midwest States

  • More Concerns About Paycheck Protection Loan Forgiveness

  • Regenstrief Releases App to Track Mask Usage

  • Businesses Face “Take Home” COVID-19 Lawsuits

  • CARES Act Money Update for Local Governments

  • Important Dates

  • Daily Numbers

    Let’s dive in.


How it Happened: From Law Professor to High Court in Four Years

Four years ago, Amy Coney Barrett was a little-known law professor in Indiana. Within weeks, she is likely to be the newest associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Barrett’s fast-track rise, set to drive the nation’s highest court to the right for a generation or longer, is the fulfillment of a decadeslong effort by conservatives to remake the federal bench that kicked into high gear after President Donald Trump was elected. For Trump, whose 2016 victory was bolstered by white evangelicals’ reluctant support of his candidacy tied to his promise to fill the seat vacated by the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia with a conservative, the latest nomination brings his first term full circle. 

Even before Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, Trump was campaigning for reelection in 2020 on his record of confirming more than 200 federal judges during his first term, fulfilling a generational aim of conservative legal activists.

Barrett, then a law professor at Notre Dame, was not well known in political circles in Indiana and almost unheard of nationally. But she found herself on the list of potential picks for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in large part thanks to McGahn. A fellow Notre Dame alum, McGahn knew Barrett from conservative legal circles, like Leo’s influential Federalist Society, and talked her up to the Indiana congressional delegation. (AP News)


US Congress Update: Speaker Pelosi Says Deal on Additional COVID-19 Package Possible,  House, Senate in Session

In an interview Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said she believes a deal can be reached on an additional COVID-19 relief package. The Speaker’s statement came after House Democrats announced a plan to move forward with a new package that is expected to cost nearly $2.4 trillion, a number that is roughly $1 trillion smaller than the House passed HEROES Act and roughly $1 trillion larger than what the Administration has previously signaled it would accept. Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin have agreed to resume negotiations, though these conversations have not yet begun as text of the new package has not yet been released.

The package is expected to include enhanced unemployment benefits, another round of direct economic assistance payments, aid for airlines, and another round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Pelosi has insisted the House will remain in session until a deal on additional relief is reached.

In a letter to colleagues Monday night, Pelosi did not indicate whether the House would vote on the new package. But Democratic lawmakers and aides said, barring a last-minute agreement with Mnuchin, they anticipated a vote on the legislation on Wednesday or Thursday, before lawmakers depart Washington and turn their focus to the campaign trail. (The Hill)

Bill Summary

Bill Text

Meanwhile, the House is in session this week and will consider a number of suspension bills. The Senate is in session and will consider H.R. 8337, the Continuing Appropriations Act, which the House passed last week. The Senate will vote on the government funding measure Wednesday, where it is expected to pass and head to the president’s desk to become law. Both Chambers will also conduct several committee hearings this week.

Please note that proxy voting rules remain in effect in the House and that members will not stay in Washington.


U.S. to Ship Millions of Tests in Push to Reopen K-12 Schools

President Donald Trump planned to announce Monday that the federal government will begin distributing millions of rapid coronavirus tests to states this week and urging governors to use them to reopen schools for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

The move to vastly expand U.S. testing comes as confirmed new COVID-19 cases remain elevated at more than 40,000 per day and experts warn of a likely surge in infections during the colder months ahead. It also comes just five weeks before the November election, with Trump facing continued criticism for his handling of the crisis.

The tests will go out to states based on their population and can be used as governors see fit, but the administration encourages states to place a priority on schools. A senior administration official with knowledge of the plans told The Associated Press that 6.5 million tests will go out this week and that a total of 100 million tests will be distributed to governors over the next several weeks. (Indianapolis Business Journal)


Positive COVID-19 Test Rates Top 25 Percent in some Midwest States

The Midwest is seeing a surge in new cases of COVID-19, with some states in the region experiencing positivity rates of more than 25 percent. North Dakota’s positive test rate has averaged 30 percent over the past seven days, compared to 6 percent the prior week. Positivity rates in South Dakota are hovering near 26 percent, up from 17 percent the week before. Montana’s positivity rate has increased to 20 percent week over week, and Minnesota has seen their rate increase to 7 percent. In total, seven states in the Midwest and western region have reported record one-day rises in the past week, including Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

 The World Health Organization (WHO) considers rates above 5 percent to be concerning as it suggests there are more cases in these communities that have not yet been uncovered.


More Concerns About Paycheck Protection Loan Forgiveness

“When the government pledged to give small businesses billions of dollars in rescue loans during the pandemic, it was an offer almost too good to refuse: The loans could be forgiven if employers only maintained payroll,” POLITICO’s Zachary Warmbrodt reports. “In little more than four months, the Paycheck Protection Program doled out $525 billion in loans to 5.2 million borrowers, which economists estimate saved millions of jobs. But to date, none of the loans have been forgiven.”

“Lenders that helped the government deliver the money are warning that the effort is running into new delays and complications that could leave struggling employers on the hook with unanticipated debt. … Banks are becoming more vocal about their complaints as they lobby Congress to pass legislation that would slash the amount of paperwork that businesses have to fill out to file for loan forgiveness, in particular those with loans under $150,000.”


Regenstrief Releases App to Track Mask Usage

Indianapolis-based Regenstrief Institute is inviting Indiana residents to become “citizen-scientists” by helping to track the number of Hoosiers who are wearing, or not wearing, masks.

The organization has released a new web application called MaskCount, which allows users to track the mask-wearing activity around them.

Regenstrief Institute Chief Executive Officer Dr. Peter Embi says the data will help research scientists analyze mask usage during the pandemic.

After registering, users can start sessions and count mask-wearing activity they see around them.  The device allows the user to swipe or tap their smart device to measure mask usage. Location data for each observation is captured and sent to secure servers. (Indianapolis Business Journal)


Businesses Face “Take Home” COVID-19 Lawsuits

New peril for employers: Wrongful death "take-home" lawsuits from the coronavirus, using the prior examples of asbestos.

Why it matters: Employers enjoy legal protections and liability caps under workers' compensation laws, but these lawsuits could skirt those protections, Reuters reports.

How it works: Plaintiffs will need to both prove that businesses were negligent on safety and that employees spread the virus to their family members. Some examples, per Reuters...

  • Lawsuit 1: The daughter of Ricardo Ugalde sued his employer, a packing plant in Illinois, alleging they placed workers "shoulder to shoulder" in April, without additional safety protections. Ugalde's wife died of COVID-19.

  • Lawsuit 2: The wife of Servando Reynoso sued his employer, an electrical components manufacturer, alleging she contracted the virus (and suffered organ damage) while caring for him after he got sick. His employer says staff wore gloves and masks before COVID-19.

The bottom line: A worst-case liability scenario for employers has damages running as high as $21 billion if the U.S. reaches 300,000 coronavirus deaths, Reuters reports. (Axios)


CARES Act Money Update for Local Governments

OMB has recently announced that the state will be loosening restrictions for reimbursement to local governments to include the following: 

  • All payroll costs for first responder public safety employees and their supervisors (i.e. police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and those who directly support these employees such as dispatchers and supervisory personnel).

  • Expenses incurred due to the mandatory paid family and sick leave policies required under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA).

  • Providing grants to small businesses to assist with the costs of business interruption caused by required closures.

  • Interest and administrative costs associated with tax anticipation notes.

 Other expenses also opened up for reimbursement include: 

  • Public health employee payroll expenses.

  • Costs associated with the administration of COVID-19 related programs and/or the reimbursement of COVID-19 related expenses.

  • Unemployment insurance expenses incurred as a reimbursing employer that are not otherwise reimbursed by the federal government.

  • Expenses incurred to remarket convention facilities and local tourism.

All expenses in these categories dating back as far as March 1 of this year may now be submitted for reimbursement to the IFA.


Important Dates

Wednesday, September 30 - 10:00 am - Probate Code Study Commission - House Chamber

Wednesday, September 30 - 1:00 pm - Interim Study Committee on Courts and the Judiciary - House Chamber

Thursday, October 1 - 9:00 am - Legislative Continuity Committee - Room 233

Thursday, October 1 - 10:00 am - 21st Century Energy Policy Development Policy Task Force - House Chamber

Monday, October 5 - 10:00 am - Indiana Standards and Assessment Task Force, House Chamber 

Monday, October 5 - 1:30 pm - Environmental Affairs Interim Study Committee - Senate Chamber

Tuesday, October 6 - 11:00 am - Corrections and Criminal Code Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Tuesday, October 6 - 10:00 am - Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications Interim Study Committee - Senate Chamber

Wednesday, October 7 - 10:00 am - Financial Institutions and Insurance Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Wednesday, October 7 - 10:00 am - Probate Study Commission - Senate Chamber

Thursday, October 8 -  10:00 am - Fiscal Policy Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Thursday, October 8 - 10:00 am - Roads and Transportation Interim Study Committee - Room 233

Tuesday, October 13 - 1:30 pm - Legislative Council Audit and Financial Reporting Subcommittee - Room 233

Wednesday, October 14 - 10:00 am - Pension Management Oversight Study Committee - Room 404

Wednesday, October 14 - 12:00 pm - Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Human Services Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Thursday, October 15 - 10:00 am - 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force - House Chamber

Monday, October 19 - 10:00 am - Indiana Standards and Assessment Accommodation Taskforce - Senate Chamber

Tuesday, October 20 - 9:00 am - Legislative Continuity Committee - Room 233

Wednesday, October 21 - 10:00 am - Probate Code Study Commission - Senate Chamber

Tuesday, October 27 - 10:00 am - Employment and Labor Interim Study Committee - House Chamber - CANCELLED

Thursday, November 12 - 10:00 am - 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force - House Chamber

Thursday, November 19 - 10:00 am - 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force - House Chamber


By The Numbers …

COVID-19 Cases

*New cases: 761

Total cumulative cases reported Tuesday: 119,066

Total cumulative cases reported Monday: 118,322

Increase in cumulative cases: 744

Increase in cases reported Aug. 1-Sept. 1: 27,769

Increase in cases reported July 1-Aug. 1: 21,170

Increase in cases reported June 1-July 1: 11,122

Increase in cases reported May 1-June. 1: 16,065

COVID-19 Deaths

New deaths: 20

Total deaths: 3,385

Increase in deaths reported Aug. 1-Sept. 1: 322

Increase in deaths reported July 1-Aug. 1: 315

Increase in deaths reported June 1-July 1: 480

Increase in deaths reported May 1-June. 1: 914

Increase in deaths reported April 1-May 1: 997

COVID-19 Testing

New tested individuals: 5,446

Total cumulative tested individuals reported Tuesday: 1,371,355

Total cumulative tested individuals reported Monday: 1,366,294

Increase in cumulative tested individuals: 5,061

Cumulative positivity rate unique individuals: 8.7%

Seven-day positivity rate unique individuals: 7.1%**

Cumulative positivity rate all tests: 5.9%

Seven-day positivity rate all tests: 4.3%**

Increase in unique tested individuals reported Aug. 1-Sept. 1: 325,159

Increase in unique tested individuals reported July 1-Aug. 1: 268,890

Increase in unique tested individuals reported June 1-July 1: 223,820

Increase in unique tested individuals reported May 1-June 1: 166,257

Increase in unique tested individuals reported April 1-May 1: 85,264

** The health department reports the 7-day positivity rates with a six-day lag to allow time for more comprehensive results.

County Numbers

Marion County cumulative cases: 21,563 (increase of 61)

Marion County new deaths: 1

Marion County cumulative deaths: 768

Marion County 7-day positivity rate unique individuals: 6.8%

Hamilton County cumulative cases: 4,965

Hendricks County cumulative cases: 2,779

Johnson County cumulative cases: 2,362

Madison County cumulative cases: 1,714

Boone County cumulative cases: 997

Hancock County cumulative cases: 948

Morgan County cumulative cases: 739

Shelby County cumulative cases: 683

Indiana Intensive Care Unit Usage

Available ICU beds: 41%

ICU beds in use by COVID-19 patients: 12.5%

Available ventilators: 81.9%

Ventilators in use for COVID-19: 3.2%

U.S. and Worldwide Numbers

As of Tuesday, from Johns Hopkins University:

U.S. cases: 7,156,562

U.S. deaths: 205,268

Global cases: 33,431,133

Global deaths: 1,003,168