The Indiana General Assembly overrode Gov. Eric Holcomb’s (R) veto of a bill Monday that made it more difficult for municipalities to impose strict coronavirus orders.
WSBT’s Max Lewis reported the Indiana Senate voted 36-10 and the state House voted 59-30 to override Holcomb’s veto of Senate Bill 5, which required a vote by a local governing body to impose tougher virus-related restrictions than the state.
#BREAKING: Indiana House votes 59-30 to override Gov. Holcomb's veto of SB 5. The bill goes into effect immediately so all local mandates are now null and void
— Max Lewis (@MaxLewisTV) May 10, 2021
A city or county cannot just rely on a health authority to issue rules, a council or commission must sign off on them, according to the legislation. Private businesses may still implement more strict rules, according to WSBT.
The Indianapolis City-County Council moved swiftly Monday night to reimpose restrictions in Marion County, WISH TV reported.
By a 19-5 vote, councilors restored health department guidelines.
Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Health Department, said the stricter rules provide “the ability to make quick decisions at a local level is critical to protecting Hoosiers during a public health crisis.”
“Senate Enrolled Act 5 would have zero effect on those communities experiencing dynamic and fruitful working relationships between these groups,” state Sen. Chris Garten (R) told the Center Square. “However, in these communities that are lacking, this legislation would ensure that the local elected officials who are chosen by the people of a particular community to serve, represent and understand the interests of that community would have a seat at the table.”
The Center Square said after the veto override, “no longer will a county health officer have total, unchecked power to fine or close a business during a local or state-declared health emergency, or impose occupancy limits.”
Holcomb condemned the override:
I would have hoped that such sweeping change could wait until we gathered all the relevant experts and stakeholders to strike the right balance regarding local health authority during emergencies and avoid discouraging laudable service in the field of public health, especially knowing that it’s locally elected officials who appoint the local department of health board that hires the local health director in the first place. My administration will do just that over the coming months to supply the legislature with up-to-date data before the next regular session.
“No one in government, elected or otherwise, should have power that can’t be checked by some other part of government,” state Sen. Mike Gaskill (R) said, according to The Center Square. “This is simple, basics, going back to the founding of our country. This is a simple check and balance.”