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Holcomb Vetoes Emergency Powers Bill Over Constitutional Concerns

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(Brandon Smith/IPB News and courtesy of the governor's office)
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Gov. Eric Holcomb vetoed legislation Friday that would allow lawmakers to call a special session during a public emergency.

The measure, HB 1123, stems in part from legislators’ anger during the pandemic over some of the governor’s executive orders.

Holcomb had threatened that veto last week, explaining that he believes the core of the bill is unconstitutional.

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

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The Indiana Constitution gives the power to call a special session to the governor. It’s unclear whether the legislature can, too.

In a letter accompanying his veto, Holcomb said if the bill became law and legislators used it to call a special session, it would create “significant uncertainty.” The governor said the legal challenges to any legislation they passed during one of those special sessions would be “disruptive” when government should be a “steady foundation” during a public emergency.

The General Assembly will likely override the veto, which it can do with simple majorities in each chamber. That likely sets up a court battle over the measure’s constitutionality.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org 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.