Senate Approves Potentially Unconstitutional Bill On Emergency Powers

Mar 30, 2021

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.

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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 bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.