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(INDIANAPOLIS) – Legislators’ call for more say in state emergency declarations now has some


House Majority Leader Matt Lehman’s (R-Berne) bill doesn’t require legislators to vote on an

emergency declaration, but it does require that they have the opportunity. Under current law, a

governor can declare an emergency for up to a month, but can extend it for a month at a time.

Governor Holcomb has renewed his March declaration 10 times. Lehman’s bill would still let a

governor declare a one-month emergency on his own, but he could only extend it if the legislature’s

in session. If it’s not, he’d have to call a special session.

Any two-month span without a special session being called or legislators being in session would

terminate the emergency declaration

Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) and House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers)

say they’ve conferred with Holcomb on the bill, and say it’s not a criticism of his handling of the

pandemic. But they say the emergency powers law didn’t anticipate a crisis that lasts as long as the

pandemic has.

Indiana’s first coronavirus death was confirmed five days after the General Assembly adjourned for

the year. Legislators didn’t return for another eight months.

A separate bill authored by Representative Jeff Thompson (R-Lizton) would allow legislators to call

themselves back into session if a majority of the House and Senate request it and the speaker and

pro tem approve. Currently, only the governor can call a special session.

Representatives Curt Nisly (R-Milford) and John Jacob (R-Indianapolis), who have refused to wear

masks during House sessions, have authored a resolution to terminate the emergency declaration,

the only current way for the legislature to weigh in. The bill’s been sent to the Rules Committee,

which Lehman chairs.