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Holcomb Vetoes Bill Tying Hands Of Local Health Officials During Emergencies

eric holcomb headshot

(Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

Gov. Eric Holcomb issued his third veto this year Tuesday, rejecting a bill that would’ve tied the hands of local health officials during public emergencies.

The legislation, SB 5, would have barred local health officials from issuing emergency rules that went any further than restrictions created by the state. Instead, only local legislative bodies – county commissioners or city councils – could have done that.

READ MORE: How Will Indiana Distribute COVID-19 Vaccines? Here's What You Need To Know

So, for instance, county mask mandates now in place – with the state’s mandate repealed – would be blocked unless approved by those local elected leaders.

Holcomb said the bill undermines local responses to emergencies that have been key through the COVID-19 pandemic. The state’s response to the virus, he says, was influenced greatly by the knowledge that local health officials could also respond to the rapidly changing situation.

With the work of addressing and recovering from the pandemic still ongoing, Holcomb said he vetoed the bill to avoid disrupting that.

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

For the latest news and resources about COVID-19, bookmark our Coronavirus In Indiana page here.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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