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Holcomb vetoes bill limiting actions of local health officials


INDIANAPOLIS (WPTA21) - Gov. Eric Holcomb on Tuesday vetoed a measure that would limit the reach of local health officials during public emergencies.

Senate Enrolled Act 5 (formerly SB 5) would prevent those officials from issuing orders more restrictive than those applied by the state.

The measure was drafted during the COVID-19 pandemic, when some local health leaders enacted rules stricter than those coming from State government.

It passed through both chambers of the legislature -- 65-to 29 in the House, 37-to-12 in the Senate -- with overwhelming support from Republican members.

But Holcomb, also a Republican, said in his veto letter that the legislation would "undermine the successful balance" he believes to be in place -- one in which there have been "great examples of collaboration amongst elected officials and local health officers."

The Indiana Public Health Association and Indiana State Association of City and County Health Officials had pressed for a veto.

"We very much appreciate Governor Holcomb’s decision to veto this dangerous legislation and prioritize the health and safety of Hoosiers," the organizations said. "We also hope Indiana legislators will give serious consideration to the Governor’s position when deciding on any future action."

Jonathan Shelley

Jonathan Shelley is the news director at WPTA TV, which he joined in 2016 following nine years in a similar role in New Orleans and previous news management positions in Oklahoma City and Las Vegas.

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