Senate OKs bill to limit governor’s emergency orders to 60 days

The Indiana Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that would put a 60-day limit on emergency orders issued by the governor unless the Legislature weighs in.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, issued a public health emergency order for the COVID-19 pandemic in March and has renewed the order every 30 days since then.

Republican legislative leaders have generally praised Holcomb’s handling of the pandemic, but they also say lawmakers should be able to provide input in the decisions when an emergency continues for an extended period of time.

Under Senate Bill 407, which the Senate passed 38-8, the governor would be allowed to issue an initial 30-day emergency order, but then could extend it only for another 15 days, unless the governor called the Legislature back for a special session or the body was already in session.

If the governor called lawmakers in for a special session, or they were already in session, then the initial order could be extended for 30 days.

To have an emergency order extend beyond a 60-day period, the Legislature would have to vote to approve the extension.

The bill’s author, Rep. Sue Glick, R-LaGrange, said she believes the General Assembly should have a seat at the table when decisions about long-term emergencies or disasters are being made.

“The bill is not a constitutional attack on the constitutional powers of the governor,” Glick said. “This bill allows the General Assembly to reassert its constitutional role in representation of the businesses and citizens throughout the state whose livelihoods were impacted by repeated disaster emergency orders, which closed them down for extended periods of time with no recourse.”

The new restrictions would only apply if and when the governor’s emergency order affected 10 or more counties within a 180-day period. The bill would apply to executive orders issued after March 1, 2020.

The governor would not be allowed to issue a new order for the same emergency for 180 days from when the previous order expired.

SB 407 would also establish a legislative state of disaster advisory group that would be tasked with working with the governor during the emergency, making recommendations on how to address the situation and keeping other lawmakers informed.

And it would give lawmakers a say in how federal aid is spent during emergencies if they are in session. If they are not in session, the State Budget Committee would be allowed to review the spending.

SB 407 is substantially different from the House Bill 1123, which is that chamber’s attempt to address the governor’s executive powers during an emergency. That bill would create what would be called an “emergency session,” which would allow lawmakers to convene at any time during a statewide emergency.

It would not limit the governor’s ability to extend emergency orders, but if lawmakers were in an emergency session, they could pass legislation to prevent the order.

The House passed the bill 69-27 on Feb. 9. The bills now switch chambers for further consideration.

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4 thoughts on “Senate OKs bill to limit governor’s emergency orders to 60 days

  1. These should be called what they are – right-to-die laws. The virus was the problem, not the restrictions. Economic activity went downhill once people figured out there was no way to (for instance) safely dine indoors, before any restrictions were issued.

    1. 99.6% survival rate for people below the age of 60. ~95% survival rate for people 70 and over. According to the NHS in the UK, the median age for a COVID death is 82–basically on par with the median age in general. It is essentially the same in the US. This disease is overwhelmingly felling people at the end of their life. But most of them recover too.

      The lockdowns were absolutely the cause of tremendous hardship for tens of millions of people–hundreds of millions across the globe–and it was completely unnecessary. But, if you’re part of the white-collar corporate wing who could migrate your job easily to your living room on a laptop, you simply didn’t care and preferred berating lower-middle class people and small business owners driven into poverty, all for the sake of a disease for which it is abundantly clear is of minimal risk to people in prime working-age population. You just didn’t care about them, you pretend to care about grandma, and now you rationalize your callousness by pretending this disease is on par with Ebola or the Spanish flu to justify a lockdown that was but a mild inconvenience for you. More motivated reasoning, because the white-collar corporate class are moral narcissists who think they have the world completely figured out, can do no wrong, and should be running things (even though they already basically do), so they look for any opportunity to scare the populace which gives credence to the authoritarianism that they crave.

      The legacy media does appreciate people parroting their falsehoods ad nauseam, absolutely. But it won’t be enough for them to salvage themselves, as they–the mouthpieces of this narcissistic corporate class–are on a continued downward financial spiral because few people trust them. Good.

    2. Funny, the long hauler I know – early 40’s, in shape, no comorbidities, still miserable three months later and can’t go for a walk – reminds me that sometimes there’s just more to it than survival.

      As for the economics, I’ll trust an economist. From Ball State’s Michael Hicks:

      “The evidence is very clear that the disease caused a sharp, historically unprecedented decline in economic activity before any state took action to slow the virus’ spread.

      The states that are recovering better today are not those with the lightest government action, but those who suffered the least spread of the virus. I don’t yet know if it was government action or luck that reduced spread; that’s the work of epidemiologists. Still, the economic evidence is overwhelming. It was always the virus that caused the recession.

      The looming universal availability of the vaccine means that we face a potential end to the pandemic. So, the real start of the recovery is in the hands of vaccine distributors, not economic policymakers. ”

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