INDIANAPOLIS (AP/ABC21) - Governor Eric Holcomb has vetoed a bill that would limit the authority of county or city health departments by allowing local elected officials to block public health orders issued during emergencies.
Holcomb said in a veto message Tuesday that the time wasn’t right to jeopardize the flexibility of local health officials as the state recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and work continues to vaccinate more people.
Legislative Republican supporters said the step was meant to provide a “check and balance” following complaints about COVID-19 orders closing or limiting businesses.
Indiana lawmakers can override Holcomb’s veto by a simple majority vote in each chamber.
House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta, of Fort Wayne, said Tuesday he was relieved the governor vetoed the bill, which GiaQuinta said would, "undermine local health officers."
Likewise, representatives from two Indiana health care associations were happy with the governor's veto.
“We very much appreciate Governor Holcomb’s decision to veto this dangerous legislation and prioritize the health and safety of Hoosiers. We also hope Indiana legislators will give serious consideration to the Governor’s position when deciding on any future action.
Guided by facts, science and a single-minded mission to keep our communities healthy, local public health officials and our broader public health partners take very seriously the responsibility to protect human health and the important balancing act between science, economic impact and personal freedoms.
Thank you again, Governor Holcomb, for your support of public health officials and the critically important work being done to protect communities throughout our state.”Indiana Public Health Association & Indiana State Association of City and County Health Officials