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Senate Approves Potentially Unconstitutional Bill On Emergency Powers

The Indiana constitution only says the governor can call a special session. (Brandon Smith/IPB News)

The Senate approved a bill Monday that allows the General Assembly to call itself into special session during a statewide public emergency – legislation that could be unconstitutional.

The bill, HB1123, is a reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic and many lawmakers’ frustration with some of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s executive orders. Sen. Sue Glick (R-LaGrange), the bill’s sponsor, said it allows lawmakers to call themselves back into session in an emergency.

“Allowing members of the Indiana General Assembly to have meaningful involvement in the decision-making by state officials during any state of emergency,” Glick said.

READ MORE: How Do I Follow Indiana's Legislative Session? Here's Your Guide To Demystify The Process

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But legal experts say the measure is likely unconstitutional. The Indiana Constitution only says the governor can call a special session.

The bill also gives lawmakers a little more oversight when it comes to spending federal economic stimulus dollars that come to Indiana.

Despite 10 "no" votes, there was no debate over the bill on the Senate floor. It now heads back to the House.

Contact reporter Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.