Indiana General Assembly votes to override the veto of Senate Enrolled Act 5

Last Updated on May 11, 2021 by Cass County Online

SOURCE: News release from Indiana Senate Democrats

INDIANAPOLIS—On Monday, the Indiana Senate voted to override Governor Holcomb’s veto of Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 5. This legislation restricts the ability of local health officials to implement health restrictions during an emergency that are more stringent or not addressed in an executive order, unless the order is first approved by a local legislative body.

Senate Democratic Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) released the following statement after the Senate voted to override the veto of SEA 5:

“When the state is dealing with a public health crisis, the last thing we need to do is tie the hands of local health departments and prevent them from putting essential health measures in place. Local health officials have the best understanding of the scope of health emergencies in their communities. To intentionally put up barriers that make it difficult for them to implement necessary health protections, is big government overreach that is very dangerous.

“After the year we just had, I really don’t know how those on the other side of the aisle can move to strip local health officials of their power to establish health protections. Health experts should have the ability to rely on their training and expertise to make decisions on the best way to confront crises in their own communities.

“In the time it takes health officials to get an emergency order approved by their local city council or county legislative body, which is mandated under SEA 5, lives could be lost. When there is a crisis, decisions oftentimes have to be made immediately and without delay. Under this legislation, it will be that much harder for health professionals in our state to help us effectively navigate and combat emergency health situations like the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This Republican infighting and politicizing of health decisions must stop. These political games and acts of retaliation against anyone who dares make a decision without first consulting the supermajority is going to lead to the unnecessary and avoidable loss of Hoosier lives.”

INDIANAPOLIS — Governor Eric J. Holcomb offered the following statement:

“As I said last week, Indiana is in an economically enviable position due in large part to the heroic local response to the pandemic that was permitted by a system rewarding speed, collaboration and medical expertise in a time of health emergency. In most cases, the cooperation between local elected officials and local health officials was superb.

“I would have hoped that such sweeping change could wait until we gathered all the relevant experts and stakeholders to strike the right balance regarding local health authority during emergencies and avoid discouraging laudable service in the field of public health, especially knowing that it’s locally elected officials who appoint the local department of health board that hires the local health director in the first place.

“My administration will do just that over the coming months to supply the legislature with up-to-date data before the next regular session.”

Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) issued the following statement:

STATEHOUSE – “Senate Enrolled Act 5 simply requires locals to adhere to the same approach in regards to issuing public health orders as what currently happens on the state level. Our elected governor takes recommendations from appointed state public health officials and ultimately decides the appropriate course via an executive order. Through this new law, the local legislative body must approve any appointed public health official’s orders when they are more restrictive than the state’s orders. Also, the law creates an appeals process for businesses who are ordered by a health department to pay a fine or shut down. Hoosiers have made it clear that they want an opportunity for their voices to be heard through their elected officials when restrictions can have significant and long-lasting impacts on individuals, businesses and communities. This law brings better balance to the local process while continuing to prioritize public health and safety.”