Bill revising Governor Holcomb’s emergency powers slimmed down

(Photo supplied/State Of Indiana)

Senators have narrowed a bill revising Governor Holcomb’s emergency powers, but a provision Holcomb contends is unconstitutional is still there.

A Senate committee approved the slimmed-down bill on a party-line vote, setting up a possible final Senate vote next week. Senators abandoned a two-month cap on emergency declarations. The revised bill also no longer blocks local limits stricter than the state’s, and no longer blocks restrictions on houses of worship. A separate bill already passed by the Senate says churches can’t face stricter limits than essential businesses.

But the bill still includes a House-passed provision allowing the 16-member Legislative Council to call a special session to review emergency declarations. Several legal experts have echoed Holcomb in warning that violates the constitution — former Indiana Supreme Court Justice Frank Sullivan testified last week it would cause “an unholy mess.”

Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) and House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) acknowledge a legal fight is likely over that provision, but say it’s a fight they’re willing to take on. Bray argues that while the constitution says the governor can call a special session, there’s nothing that says legislators can’t.

Bray says he’s trying to get the bill into a form the House can accept without further negotiation. Huston says he approves of the general thrust of the latest version, but says he still needs to consult other House Republicans on whether they can back it without further changes.

Legislators are hoping to adjourn the session ahead of their April 29 deadline. And Huston hints he also wants to pass the bill with enough time to override a potential Holcomb veto, saying only, “The timing is important.”

Legislators have chafed at a lack of input on Holcomb’s pandemic restrictions last year. Indiana’s first COVID-19 death occurred five days after last year’s legislative session adjourned. A six-week lockdown began the following week as the pandemic accelerated, and legislators didn’t return to the statehouse for eight months.

But legislators so far have stopped short of trying to use their authority to terminate the emergency declaration. A House attempt to do so last month got just three votes. But 26 House Republicans have signed on to the latest resolution to end the emergency, and Huston, for the first time, isn’t ruling it out. He says he wants to hear what Holcomb says in a statewide address on the pandemic on Tuesday. Huston says it’s time to “move forward” from gathering limits and a mask mandate, and says he wants to keep legislators’ options open.

Bray remains skeptical. He says terminating the emergency would cut off the state from some emergency federal aid, including 50-million dollars a month in additional food-stamp money.

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Slacker06 March 20, 2021 at 9:59 am

Our representatives, the representatives of THE PEOPLE in the state legislature, must take measures to prevent the tyrant Holcomb from keeping Hoosiers oppressed by emergency orders. The more we learn about
the corneyvirus response activities of politicians, the more hoax-like it looks. Example: The Elkhart County Commissioners allowed themselves to be goaded into passing a masquerade ordinance with fines. This ordinance was rescinded recently but no enterprising reporter bothered to tell us how many fines were actually issued. I contacted Commissioner Brad Rogers. I was told that exactly ZERO fines were issued. This ordinance was nothing more or less an attempt at intimidation at the behest of the County Health Department. Hoosiers do not have to put up with this kind of fascist activity to restrict our liberty.

Robert L Huddlestun March 20, 2021 at 5:27 pm

Well put. It’s time to take back the control over our lives. If someone wishes to wear a mask, all fine and good. I am fully immunized as of 3 weeks ago and I am done masking up as “sign of respect”. Don’t have Covid, tested negative 9 times, been closely exposed 5 times. We don’t need nanny state continuing ruling out behavior. If you are old enough to serve your country, perhaps die for your country, you should have the right to decide what chances to take with your health. Old Marine.

Carman Greenlee March 21, 2021 at 8:22 am

Go for it Bray and Huston! You have WE THE PEOPLE’s support. The “governor” has created an UNHOLY MESS and mark my words HE will keep this mask crap going for as long as he possibly can. After the money maker BBall tournament is over dont be a bit surprised to hear more crap that the virus is back and worse then before. That’s what the CCP does. We wish more supposed reps and senators had the balls these two do to actually work for the people of Indiana. Cant wait for 2022 to primary as many of these people as we can and get peeps in there who actually will work for us and not say one thing to get elected and another when they get in office. We are so tired of them giving us the bird once they get in office.

Slacker06 March 22, 2021 at 12:52 pm

I believe I read a story recently that said federal grants were tied to the continuation of the mandates. Dopey King Governor Eric the Moronic has sold our souls for filthy federal lucre.

Charles U Farley March 22, 2021 at 3:22 pm

Said $1.9T Federal Grant is also tied to a provision that if a state accepts any of the money, they cannot lower taxes until 2024. The Dems are economically illiterate, but this is a poison pill to help sink the economy of the red states by forbidding the one thing that actually improves the economy. The left’s destruction is intentional.


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