INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (ADAMS) – City and county health departments will have to consult with elected officials before issuing public health orders.
Under a new law effective immediately, county commissioners or city councils would have to approve measures that are more strict than statewide orders. Governor Holcomb vetoed the legislation last week, but that veto was overridden.
The Republican-dominated Senate and House voted Monday.
The Indiana Senate voted 36 to 10 and the House voted 59 to 30, both in favor of the override.
Indiana Democrats responded Monday afternoon. They called for some lawmakers to stop politicizing health decisions.
Senate Democratic Leader Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) released the following statement after the Senate voted to override the veto of SEA 5:
“When the state is dealing with a public health crisis, the last thing we need to do is tie the hands of local health departments and prevent them from putting essential health measures in place. Local health officials have the best understanding of the scope of health emergencies in their communities. To intentionally put up barriers that make it difficult for them to implement necessary health protections, is big government overreach that is very dangerous.
“After the year we just had, I really don’t know how those on the other side of the aisle can move to strip local health officials of their power to establish health protections. Health experts should have the ability to rely on their training and expertise to make decisions on the best way to confront crises in their own communities.
“In the time it takes health officials to get an emergency order approved by their local city council or county legislative body, which is mandated under SEA 5, lives could be lost. When there is a crisis, decisions oftentimes have to be made immediately and without delay. Under this legislation, it will be that much harder for health professionals in our state to help us effectively navigate and combat emergency health situations like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This Republican infighting and politicizing of health decisions must stop. These political games and acts of retaliation against anyone who dares make a decision without first consulting the supermajority is going to lead to the unnecessary and avoidable loss of Hoosier lives.”