Indiana Daily Student

Gov. Holcomb sues state legislature over bill expanding legislative power during emergencies

<p>Gov. Eric Holcomb gives a speech Nov. 3, 2020, at the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. Holcomb is suing the General Assembly over House Bill 1123.<em><br/></em></p>

Gov. Eric Holcomb gives a speech Nov. 3, 2020, at the JW Marriott Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. Holcomb is suing the General Assembly over House Bill 1123.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb asked a trial court judge to rule on the constitutionality of a legislative oversight bill April 27.

House Bill 1123, will allow the state legislature to call 40-day emergency sessions if the legislative council makes a resolution concerning a state of emergency declared by the governor. The resolution  must find that a state of emergency has been declared, has statewide impact and that it is necessary for the legislature to convene. 

According to the Indy Star, the bill came from COVID-19 challenges where Holcomb had received criticism for requiring masks, limiting crowd sizes and shutting down non-essential businesses. Some republicans voted against the bill because it did not end Holcomb’s emergency COVID-19 declaration, according to the Indy Star.

The bill would also establish an emergency advisory group to advise the governor during a state of emergency and give the state the authority to choose the way discretionary funds are used. 

According to the Indy Star, Holcomb has called the bill unconstitutional and said it inhibits the governor's exclusive powers as head of the executive branch. 

“I am vetoing HEA 1123 because I firmly believe a central part of this bill is unconstitutional,” Holcomb said in his veto letter.

The bill was introduced in the Indiana House of Representative Jan. 4 and was written by Republican Rep. Matt Lehman. The bill was vetoed by Holcomb April 9. The state congress overturned the governor's veto on April 15.

After the legislature overturned Holcomb’s veto, the governor asked a Marion County judge to review  the law, according to the Indy Star. 

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita has not given the governor’s office permission to hire outside legal counsel for the lawsuit, according to WBOI. Rokita moved to halt the unauthorized lawsuit April 30 according to a press release.

In the release, Rokita said any proposed legal action by attorneys representing the governor was a threat to government stability and function according to the release. 

There is no current timetable to the progression of this lawsuit, according to WBOI.

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