Emergency powers law challenged by Gov. Holcomb upheld by judge

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A judge has upheld the increased power Indiana legislators gave themselves to intervene during public health emergencies, siding with them in a lawsuit filed by Gov. Eric Holcomb.

The Marion County judge ruled Thursday that the state constitution gave the General Assembly the authority to determine when and for how long it will meet. The judge wrote that the Legislature wasn’t limited to meeting just during its annual sessions that begin in early January and adjourn by the end of April.

Holcomb contends in his lawsuit that the constitution allows only the governor to call the Legislature into a special session later in the year. Holcomb’s lawsuit argued that the law passed this spring over his veto violates the constitution by giving legislative leaders the authority to call lawmakers into an “emergency session” when the governor has declared a statewide emergency.

Republican legislators advanced the law following criticism from conservatives over a statewide mask mandate and other COVID-19 restrictions that Holcomb imposed by executive order.

We reached out to the governor’s office about the ruling, his office said “We have just received the judge’s order and we’re reviewing it.”

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita issued a statement about the ruling.

In it he said, “This is a huge win for the people of Indiana and permits their voices to be heard through their legislators when the Governor invokes his own emergency powers.”

Legal experts anticipate the dispute will ultimately be decided by the Indiana Supreme Court.

You can read the order from the Marion County judge on the lawsuit below.

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