Indiana’s governor asks court to review emergency law ruling

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Indiana’s governor is asking the state’s high court to review a judge’s ruling that upheld a new law giving legislators more power to intervene during public health emergencies.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said Friday in a statement that he has appealed the Marion County judge’s ruling to Indiana Supreme Court to seek “clarity and finality on this important issue.”

The Republican-dominated Legislature enacted the law over Holcomb’s veto following criticism from conservatives over a statewide mask mandate and other COVID-19 restrictions that Holcomb had imposed by executive orders.

The measure establishes a new process under which legislative leaders can call the General Assembly into what it calls an “emergency session.” Holcomb’s lawsuit argued that the law violates a state constitutional provision allowing only the governor to call the Legislature into a special session.

In an Oct. 7 ruling, Marion Superior Judge Patrick Dietrick said the state constitution gives the General Assembly the authority to determine when and for how long it will meet.

In a prepared statement Friday, Holcomb said his 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. Our State, and its people, deserve clarity and finality on this important issue, which is why I am filing an appeal today,” Holcomb added.

Republican state Attorney General Todd Rokita has sided with legislators in defending the new law. Rokita’s office released statement critiquing the governor’s appeal, The Indianapolis Star reported.

“He got his answer. Turns out he didn’t like the answer,” the statement said. “So, now the taxpayers have to continue to be on the hook for his lawsuit.”

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