Indiana Legislators Override Veto Of Local Health Authority Bill

Four local legislators voted in favor of overriding the veto.

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(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Indiana legislators have once again voted to override a Governor Holcomb veto.

On Monday, legislators voted to override the governor’s veto of Senate Enrolled Act 5, which restricts the ability of local health officials to implement health restrictions during an emergency that are more stringent or not addressed in an executive order, unless the order is first approved by a local legislative body.

The Senate override vote was 36-10 and the House Vote was 59-30.

Among local lawmakers, State Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg), State Rep. Randy Lyness (R-West Harrison), State Senator Jean Leising (R-Batesville) and State Senator Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond) voted to override the veto. Chip Perfect was excused from voting.

Governor Holcomb had the following response to the override vote:

“As I said last week, Indiana is in an economically enviable position due in large part to the heroic local response to the pandemic that was permitted by a system rewarding speed, collaboration and medical expertise in a time of health emergency. In most cases, the cooperation between local elected officials and local health officials was superb.

"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.”

Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston says the law brings a better balance to the local process while continuing to prioritize public health and safety:

"Senate Enrolled Act 5 simply requires locals to adhere to the same approach in regards to issuing public health orders as what currently happens on the state level. Our elected governor takes recommendations from appointed state public health officials and ultimately decides the appropriate course via an executive order. Through this new law, the local legislative body must approve any appointed public health official's orders when they are more restrictive than the state's orders. Also, the law creates an appeals process for businesses who are ordered by a health department to pay a fine or shut down. Hoosiers have made it clear that they want an opportunity for their voices to be heard through their elected officials when restrictions can have significant and long-lasting impacts on individuals, businesses and communities. This law brings better balance to the local process while continuing to prioritize public health and safety."

Senate Democratic Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) also reacted to the vote:

"When the state is dealing with a public health crisis, the last thing we need to do is tie the hands of local health departments and prevent them from putting essential health measures in place. Local health officials have the best understanding of the scope of health emergencies in their communities. To intentionally put up barriers that make it difficult for them to implement necessary health protections, is big government overreach that is very dangerous."

For more information on SEA 5, visit Senate Bill 5 - Local health departments; public health emergencies - Indiana General Assembly, 2021 Session.

RELATED STORIES

Gov. Holcomb Vetoes Bill Limiting Local Health Orders

Gov. Holcomb Files Lawsuit Challenging Constitutionality Of House Bill 1123

Lawmakers Vote To Override Gov. Holcomb Veto

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