Governor Holcomb’s lawsuit against the General Assembly over whether legislators can call themselves into session is finally before a judge.
Holcomb sued five months ago after legislators passed the bill over his veto. But a hearing was delayed by a procedural battle over whether Holcomb is allowed to sue without the blessing of Attorney General Todd Rokita, whose office is representing legislators. The Indiana Supreme Court ruled he can.
On Friday, Marion Superior Judge P-J Dietrick heard two hours of arguments on whether the law is constitutional. Solicitor General Thomas Fisher says the constitutional amendment which brought legislators into session every year, instead of every other year, specifically allows legislators determine when, how often, and how long they meet. He argues that includes the right to convene outside the regular session.
Attorney Richard Blaklock, representing Holcomb, argues the constitution explicitly says the governor has the power to call special sessions. Fisher contends that power doesn’t rest solely with the governor, but rather, is a single legislative action a governor is allowed to perform. Blaklock responds it defies common sense to suggest legislators have had the power to call themselves into session for 51 years and haven’t attempted it even once.
The legislature did create a one-day “technical corrections day” to consider veto overrides and clean up poorly worded new laws. Fisher argues that shows the legislature has had the power to convene itself all along, while Blaklock contends that’s an extension of the regular session, with the date determined and announced before the General Assembly adjourns for the year.
The disputed law gives the 16-member Legislative Council the power to call legislators back to consider changing or repealing a governor’s emergency declaration.