State Watch

Indiana governor asks state Supreme Court to review law giving legislators greater emergency powers

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) is asking the state's Supreme Court to review a state law that gives lawmakers in the Hoosier State greater emergency powers. 

In a statement shared with The Hill on Saturday, Holocomb said he has appealed a lower court's ruling on the matter to "gain clarity and finality" on the matter. 

"This lawsuit is about making sure that state government operates the way our constitution outlines. The proper functioning of state government is critical, especially during times of emergency," Holcomb said. 

"Our State, and its people, deserve clarity and finality on this important issue, which is why I am filing an appeal today," he continued. 

 

The law, House Bill 1123, essentially allows the Indiana General Assembly to convene an "emergency session" if its legislative council finds that the governor declared a state of emergency that has a statewide impact that should be addressed with legislative action.

The legislative council is comprised of sixteen members of the General Assembly, which includes lawmakers from both chambers, meaning the legislature is essentially calling itself into the session. 

Holcomb unsuccessfully vetoed the measure after the General Assembly passed the bill in April. In his veto letter, the governor argued that the law "will create significant uncertainty and solidify the controversy over its constitutionality."  

Holcomb first sued in April, arguing that the law curb's the governor's exclusive power to call a special session and violates the separation of powers.   

A Marion County judge sided with the lawmakers earlier this month, writing in an Oct. 7 ruling that the law does not necessarily limit the governor's ability to call a special session. 

Holcomb has been at odds with his party over the coronavirus pandemic, with the governor taking measures to impose a mask mandate, limit business capacities and continuing the state's public health emergency.

A spokesperson for Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R), which is representing the legislature, told The Indy Star that Holcomb "got his answer."

"So, now the taxpayers have to continue to be on the hook for his lawsuit," the spokesperson said.

Updated 3:02 p.m.

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