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Holcomb Pushes Back On Restricting Governor's Emergency Powers


Gov. Eric Holcomb is pushing back at the idea of curtailing the emergency powers he’s used throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

State lawmakers are expected to debate restrictions of those powers in the 2021 session.

Indiana law gives the governor broad authority under public emergency declarations. In this year’s case, Holcomb declared a public health emergency in March and renewed it every 30 days since. It allowed him to close some businesses under the “Stay-At-Home” order, impose gathering restrictions and require Hoosiers to wear masks in public.

Some lawmakers oppose those orders. And they want the General Assembly more involved in the process – requiring legislative approval to renew a public emergency, for instance.

Holcomb said he’s always open to conversations with the legislature. But he also said governors need the tools to ensure they can keep the state moving forward.

"The virus doesn’t take 30 days to discuss what a health emergency is," Holcomb said. "I don’t get to go to COVID-19 and say, 'Hey, can you call a timeout for a second? We’ve got to have a big discussion about this and I don’t know how long the discussion’ll be.'"

The legislative session is scheduled to begin Jan. 4.

Contact reporter Brandon at 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.