(INDIANAPOLIS) — Legislators have overridden Governor Holcomb’s veto of a bill allowing them to
call themselves back into session in an emergency.
The bill would allow the 16-member Legislative Council to bring legislators back to review a
governor’s actions under a state of emergency. Last year, a statewide lockdown due to the
accelerating coronavirus pandemic began less than two weeks after legislators adjourned for the
year — the General Assembly didn’t return to the statehouse for eight months.
House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) says the bill’s not a criticism of Holcomb. He says the
bill is meant to ensure the calendar doesn’t deny legislators a voice in a future emergency, with a
governor whose actions legislators don’t agree with. But LaGrange Senator Sue Glick charges the
administration failed to communicate with legislators about months of pandemic actions.
Holcomb contends the bill is unconstitutional. He says Indiana’s constitution makes clear that
only the governor can call the legislature back to work outside of its regularly scheduled session.
Holcomb’s veto message last week warned the bill will create uncertainty in the middle of a not-
yet-finished pandemic. Huston and Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) say the
governor still holds, in Huston’s words, “the vast, vast, vast, vast, vast majority” of Indiana’s
emergency power and can still exercise it.
Holcomb has hinted at a possible court challenge to the bill.
The bill reversed the usual party lines at the statehouse, with House and Senate Democrats
unanimously supporting the Republican governor. Senate Republicans passed the bill on a party-
line vote, while four House Republicans joined Democrats in voting no. At least three of those four
opposed the bill because they felt it should have gone further.
Indiana Democratic Party spokesman Drew Anderson branded the bill a case of Republicans “penalizing Eric Holcomb for believing in the science and data behind COVID-19 and for protecting public health.”
Legislators have passed another bill prohibiting any emergency restrictions on worship services.
Holcomb hasn’t said yet whether he’ll sign or veto that bill.