Lawmakers on Hill face change

Federal lawmakers who represent or will represent northeast Indiana introduced several bills in the last half of 2016. But their legislation expired with the adjournment of the 114th two-year session of Congress in December.

If they wish to keep their bills alive, legislators will have to reintroduce them in the 115th session, which begins Tuesday, or hope that someone else does.

Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., has retired and will be replaced in the Senate by Rep. Todd Young, R-9th. In the House, former state senator Jim Banks will succeed Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, who lost the GOP Senate nomination to Young in the May primary election.

Matt Lahr, former communications director for Coats and chief of staff for Banks, said in an email that the two bills Coats filed in the second part of 2016 will likely be revived in the new year by other senators.

Lahr said Coats’ Mandatory Bureaucratic Realignment and Consolidation Commission Act – which would create a bipartisan non-government commission to develop a plan for balancing the federal budget – is part of a broader budget bill being prepared by the Senate Budget Committee. Members of both the Senate and House are considering reintroducing the Mandatory BRACC Act as a stand-alone proposal, he added.

Lahr said Coats’ other recent bill, the Protecting Access to Diabetes Supplies Act, might be brought back by co-sponsor Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. The measure would ensure that Medicare recipients have access to various brands of test strips used to monitor the blood-sugar levels of diabetics.

Young filed three bills in the second part of 2016.

“He’s going to continue working on all three, one way or another,” Young spokesman Jay Kenworthy said in a telephone interview.

Two of his bills were the same as or similar to legislation in the Senate – what are called companion bills. In those cases, Young will sign on as a co-sponsor when the Senate companions are reintroduced by their original sponsors, Kenworthy said.

One of those proposals, the Relief from Obamacare Mandate Act, would suspend the individual insurance mandate of the Affordable Care Act if medical insurance premiums increase by more than 10 percent from the previous year. Four of the six ACA insurance providers in Indiana raised their premiums, on average, by at least 11.5 percent for 2017.

Another Young bill with a companion measure in the Senate would establish a demonstration program to provide integrated care to Medicare beneficiaries with end-stage renal disease.

Young’s third bill, the Emergency East Chicago Housing Relief Act, would increase Indiana’s allocation of low-income housing tax credits to help 332 families who were displaced from a public housing complex in East Chicago because of lead and arsenic contamination. Kenworthy said Young is working with Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, on pushing the legislation forward.

Politico has reported that one of the first orders of business for the Republican-controlled House in 2017 will be to vote on a new version of the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act, which would require congressional approval of any administrative regulation with an annual economic impact of at least $100 million. The House passed Young-sponsored versions of the REINS bill in 2013 and 2015, but the Senate did not vote on them.

“The REINS Act has definitely been his baby for some time,” Kenworthy said. “He’ll be shepherding that in the Senate.”

Between them, Young, Coats, Donnelly and Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-2nd, introduced eight bills during the last six months of 2016. Stutzman filed no bills in that period.

In addition to the legislation from Coats and Young, here are bills filed by Donnelly and Walorski since July 1:

Sen. Joe Donnelly

Title: Investing in Neighborhood-focused, Vital, Evidence-based Strategies and Trust (INVEST) to Prevent Crime Act

What it would do: Authorize previously appropriated resources for communities to address persistent or historical crime through collaborative cross-sector partnerships

Title: Protecting Veterans Credit Act

What it would do: Amend the Fair Credit Reporting Act to exclude from a consumer report for one year information related to a military veteran’s medical debt resulting from hospital or medical services provided in a non-Department of Veterans Affairs facility and information related to a fully paid or settled medical debt that had been characterized as delinquent, charged off or in collection

Donnelly’s office said he intends to push both bills in the next Congress as well as introduce legislation designed to discourage the outsourcing of American jobs and encourage domestic investments by companies; reintroduce a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that he filed in 2015; and work toward congressional authorization of the site for the National Desert Shield and Desert Storm War Memorial on federal land in Washington, D.C. Legislation introduced by Donnelly and Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., to establish the memorial was signed into law in late 2014, and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell approved the monument location in August.

Rep. Jackie Walorski

Title: Aria Harrell Act

What it would do: Ensure care and benefits for World War II veterans exposed to mustard gas during secret tests by the U.S. military. The bill is named after an affected veteran from Missouri.

Walorski’s office said it is working with the staff of Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., on revising the House and Senate companion bills for reintroduction.