April 9, 2021

Holcomb Vetoes Emergency Powers Bill Over Constitutional Concerns

Gov. Eric Holcomb, center, disagrees with Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville), left, and House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers), right, over the constitutionality of an emergency powers bill.  - Brandon Smith/IPB News and courtesy of the governor's office

Gov. Eric Holcomb, center, disagrees with Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville), left, and House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers), right, over the constitutionality of an emergency powers bill.

Brandon Smith/IPB News and courtesy of the governor's office

Gov. Eric Holcomb vetoed legislation Friday that would allow lawmakers to call a special session during a public emergency.

The measure, HB 1123, stems in part from legislators’ anger during the pandemic over some of the governor’s executive orders.

Holcomb had threatened that veto last week, explaining that he believes the core of the bill is unconstitutional.

READ MORE: How Do I Follow Indiana's Legislative Session? Here's Your Guide To Demystify The Process

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The Indiana Constitution gives the power to call a special session to the governor. It’s unclear whether the legislature can, too.

In a letter accompanying his veto, Holcomb said if the bill became law and legislators used it to call a special session, it would create “significant uncertainty.” The governor said the legal challenges to any legislation they passed during one of those special sessions would be “disruptive” when government should be a “steady foundation” during a public emergency.

The General Assembly will likely override the veto, which it can do with simple majorities in each chamber. That likely sets up a court battle over the measure’s constitutionality.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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