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Indiana governor vetoes legislation curbing local health orders

Indiana governor vetoes legislation curbing local health orders
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Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) on Tuesday vetoed a bill that would limit the authority of local health departments to issue orders during an emergency.

Holcomb wrote in a letter announcing his veto that having local health departments respond to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a key part of the effort to combat the disease in the state.

“Right now it is critical that we maintain our local health expertise, flexibility and all the tools needed to respond,” the governor wrote.

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“We must not do anything that jeopardizes this as our heroic local health officials remain critical in the months to come as we accelerate our recovery and work to vaccinate many more Hoosiers,” he added.

Indiana lawmakers can vote to override Holcomb’s veto by a simple majority in both chambers, with The Associated Press reporting that it could happen as soon as next week.

GOP supporters of the bill have argued that it's aimed at protecting businesses' ability to operate after COVID-19 orders limited operations in the state.

The AP noted that medical and health organizations argued that the bill shifts authority away from them to elected officials who may lack experience in that area. 

The move comes amid a battle between Holcomb and Republicans in the state over the governor's emergency powers, with Holcomb last week filing a lawsuit against the legislature.

The governor sued after lawmakers voted to override his veto of a bill giving more authority to the legislature to get involved when the governor declares emergencies.