INDIANAPOLIS ─ Today, the Legislature reconvened to consider overriding Governor Holcomb’s veto of Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 5 and to consider the Technical Corrections Bill, Senate Bill 421. SEA 5 says that if a local order addresses an aspect of a declared emergency that is not addressed by an executive order or if a local order addresses an aspect of a declared emergency more stringently than an executive order, the local order cannot be put into place unless the local order is approved by the local legislative body.
SEA 5 also allows businesses to ignore public health enforcement actions issued by their locally appointed public health officers and legislative bodies if they choose to challenge the action. Challengers would be free to disregard emergency enforcement actions until their challenge is heard by a local government body.
State Senator Shelli Yoder (D─Bloomington) had the following comments on the override vote of SEA 5:
“I supported the governor in his decision to veto this bill because it’s a dangerous overreach of power by the state legislature,” said Sen. Yoder. “Local governments know best what is happening in their communities, and the state shouldn’t be stripping back their authority to lead when the next crisis hits. Our health decisions should be science-based; they shouldn’t respond to the political climate. Local government officials are elected to lead when governing is most difficult, and I don’t think we should be stripping them of their ability to lead their communities out of a crisis.
“It’s disappointing that the Indiana Republican Party’s in-fighting is carrying over into the way our local communities govern themselves. Indiana Republicans this session have been consistently unable to decide who should lead during a crisis. The on-going lawsuit involving the governor, the General Assembly and the Attorney General reflects that, as does this veto override.
“Ultimately, the reason I opposed this bill during normal session, and why I oppose making it law now, is that this bill will cost Hoosier lives. Gary’s Health Commissioner, Dr. Roland Walker, said it clearly when he came to the Statehouse to testify against this bill: ‘People will die. People will die. People will die.’
“We participate in democracy together, and we cast ballots in elections together, to form governments that can lead us during crises and prioritize our safety when selfish actions don’t align with the public good. That’s why, today, I voted to support the governor’s veto: because this bill puts lives at stake during future emergencies by stripping away enforcement power from local officials.”