Holcomb says he remains confident he can impose mask mandate, despite AG’s opinion otherwise

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Gov. Eric Holcomb said Thursday he is confident he has the legal authority to impose a statewide mask mandate, telling reporters after an event in Lafayette that “we do our research before we speak.”

The Republican governor’s comments came a day after he announced the mandate, which will require face coverings for anyone who is 8 years and older in indoor public places commercial entitles, transportation services, or in outside public spaces when social distancing isn’t possible. The requirement is to take effect Monday.

Holcomb said he decided to mandate masks in response to the state’s rising COVID-19 caseload.

The Indiana State Department of Health on Thursday reported 954 new COVID-19 cases, an all-time daily high for positive cases. The state has now reported more than 600 cases daily for the past 10 days.

Following Holcomb’s announcement, five Republican senators asked Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill for an official opinion about whether the governor had the power to enforce such a mandate. Hill, also a Republican, released an advisory opinion late Wednesday that said Holcomb would need to call a special session to create and enforce the requirement.

“Without properly delegated authority from the General Assembly, the proposed order would not have the force and effect of law,” Hill wrote in the advisory opinions. “The General Assembly would need to specifically and clearly allow for a mask mandate by law.”

Holcomb had previously said there won’t be any “mask police,” but violations will be considered a Class B misdemeanor, which can result in up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Hill said specifically in his opinion that Holcomb has no authority to create a crime or enact punishment without legislative authority.

But when asked about Hill’s opinion and whether, as governor, he believed he could issue the mandate, Holcomb said, “I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t believe it. I do believe it.”

The Governor’s Office provided the account of Holcomb’s conversation to IBJ, which did not have a staffer in Lafayette. According to that transcript, a reporter asked Holcomb whether he’s concerned he will be sued to stop the mandate.

“I don’t live under the threat of lawsuit,” Holcomb said. “We do our research before we speak.”

Two of the five senators who requested Hill’s opinion told IBJ on Thursday they have no plans to sue to stop the mandate. In fact, one of them—Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo—said he doesn’t want to get into a “legal squabble” with the governor.

“I think that’s a bridge too far, quite honestly,” Buck said.

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17 thoughts on “Holcomb says he remains confident he can impose mask mandate, despite AG’s opinion otherwise

    1. Yes no kidding, maybe Republicans will not vote for either canidate for governor, and move down the ballot.
      Stores don’t support it, and won’t insist so you have been defanged Sir.

  1. More people believe in Curtis Hill than Swamp Puppet Holcomb. Holcomb needs to just go away!

    Yeah, we’re seeing the major reason Holcomb wants to oust Hill……

    Those pesky Constitutional legal statutes that keep getting in the RINO’s way!

    1. All right Darrell I can see that perspective. He was hand picked by the insiders.

    2. Quote them. I don’t think the Constitution and settled law says what you think it does.

      A reminder, in Jacobson vs. Massachusetts, it was ruled the government had the power to force a man to get a smallpox vaccination.

      “in every well ordered society charged with the duty of conserving the safety of its members the rights of the individual in respect of his liberty may at times, under the pressure of great dangers, be subjected to such restraint, to be enforced by reasonable regulations, as the safety of the general public may demand”

      “real liberty for all could not exist under the operation of a principle which recognizes the right of each individual person to use his own, whether in respect of his person or his property, regardless of the injury that may be done to others”

      Or, we could trust the legal opinion of the guy who just got his law license taken away for 30 days for getting drunk and grabbing women, so now we’ve got Todd Rokita on the ballot. Thanks, Curtis.

  2. Im just an old man talking.

    While we are being invaded by an entity of another planet we continue to deny our reality by the power of our ego.

    If COVID had a brain it would laugh at us and say, “lets just sit back and wait. Their human ego will kill them without our effort”

    Its just a mask. A small price to pay. I’ve lost thousands along with other business owners. Its better than the sure alternative.

    How about teaching our children unity or the monster will win.

  3. Use masks and be responsible. Seek to protect yourself and others, Yes, you may spread Covid to others without your knowledge. What’s wrong with seeking to ensure safety to all citizens. With many people ill, we all pay. It’s a small ask for those who wish to enter establishments. Why the refusal. What about seat belts worn as a safety precaution? Of course, insurance need not pay if it’s proven a seat belt was not worn; that may be the key. How many want to take a chance with their children — current data suggest that few get sick, but if confined in a schoolroom all day other unanticipated effects may occur.

  4. Regardless of what one may think of Curtis Hill personally, or whether one believes the allegations made against him or not, and even granted there is probably an element of payback at play here, I find it shocking that the Governor seems prepared to just ignore an Attorney General’s Opinion like it’s of no consequence. An AG Opinion is an official finding by the chief legal officer of the state, and as such, carries some weight and should mean something. But not, apparently when it gets in the Governor’s way. And the politicians wonder why respect for the rule of law is declining in this country. Disgraceful.

    1. Agree with Keith M. Our AG is right. Holcomb didn’t go through the proper process to make this enforceable.

  5. I’m tired of the mask discussion. It’s a waste of time. We all want real, honest, non-politicized data. From the source.

    Governor and Mayor Pothole, please have all healthcare facilities post the following direct on their websites.

    IU Health, Franciscan, Ascension, Community, Lutheran, Parkview, Memorial, etc. from March 15th to date:

    ▶️ Total patients tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic began (includes pending tests)
    ▶️ Total positive tests
    ▶️ Tests pending (waiting for results)
    ▶️ Current inpatients that are COVID-19 positive
    ▶️ Total COVID-19 patients discharged
    ▶️ COVID-19 patients discharged in the last 24 hours

    Then please post ICU inpatients (or percentage from the same time period in 2019.

    The public can decide with accurate data. Not epidemiologists with an agenda.