Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said Sunday he will not issue an executive order that reverses Indiana University’s vaccine mandate, despite a request from Republicans in the Legislature and amid mounting political backlash against the school’s decision.
IU announced last month that students and staff will be required to be fully vaccinated to return to campus in the fall and that it will allow very few exceptions.
That led to criticism from Republican lawmakers as well as a non-binding opinion from Attorney General Todd Rokita that said the policy was illegal under a new state law banning the state or local governments from issuing or requiring vaccine passports.
Holcomb, speaking from Indianapolis Motor Speedway on WTHR-TV Channel 13, said “there’s more than one way to skin a cat” and that “conversations are ongoing” about IU’s decision.
IU officials on Thursday defended IU’s decision to require vaccines but said they would “further consider our process for verifying the requirement.”
Holcomb also told WTHR that he found it “rich” that lawmakers would ask him to issue an executive order to ban the IU mandate. The request came from Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, and 17 other Republican members of the House, who said he should prohibit any state university from mandating vaccines that don’t have full U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.
The COVID-19 vaccines are being administered under emergency authorization.
Some of those same lawmakers have been critical of executive orders Holcomb issued throughout the pandemic that required masks and required businesses to close to try to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Legislature passed a law, enacted over Holcomb’s veto, that gives lawmakers the authority to call themselves into a special session during an emergency. Holcomb filed a lawsuit asking a court to block the law, saying it is unconstitutional. The governor is locked in a battle with Rokita, also a Republican, who claims the governor had no authority to file the suit without his permission.