Lawmakers to return to Statehouse with chance to override two vetoes

Lawmakers are set to return to the Indiana Statehouse on Monday to make technical corrections — a session in which they could also vote to overturn two vetoes by Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, in consultation with House Speaker Todd Huston, scheduled the corrections session, a Senate spokeswoman announced Wednesday.

Lawmakers established the technical corrections day in 1995. They can use the day to fix errors in new laws, but they aren’t supposed to make major changes. They also are allowed to overturn gubernatorial vetoes. Indiana legislators can override a veto by a simple majority vote in both chambers.

The governor has vetoed three bills this session, including one for House Enrolled Act 1123 that was overturned by the General Assembly while lawmakers were still at the Statehouse in mid-April. HEA 1123 sets up a new process for the General Assembly to call itself into an emergency session, even though the state Constitution explicitly gives the governor that authority.

The other vetoes, of Senate Enrolled Act 303 and SEA 5, took place after lawmakers had headed home from the Statehouse.

As such, the Senate may consider the governor’s vetoes of SEA 303 and SEA 5 on Monday.

SEA 5, which was vetoed Tuesday, would have allowed local elected officials to overrule orders issued by a city or county health department during a public health emergency.

SEA 303 would have required additional labeling for Indiana gas pumps that distribute E15, a fuel blend that contains up to 15% ethanol in gasoline.

Of the two measures, SEA 5 appeared to generate the most controversy.

Holcomb said he vetoed the bill because it would hamper the ability of local health officials to respond to emergencies.

Many Republican lawmakers said it was needed to allow local officials to have checks and balances over health departments when health officials impose restrictions on residents during emergencies.

During a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Marion County Health Commissioner Dr. Virginia Caine and Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, a Democrat, spoke favorably of Holcomb’s decision to veto the measure.

“I’ve been grateful to Governor Holcomb for continuing to allow local health authorities to set the guidelines that makes sense for their communities, especially important in a county like Marion County, because of our population, and our density, which is far different from our neighboring counties,” Caine said.

Hogsett encouraged lawmakers to let the veto stand.

“… I think it’s frankly indisputable that it’s better to have the experts in charge, with all due respect to elected officials. It’s better in the course of a public health crisis to have the experts making the recommendations and the decisions surrounding that. And those are people who put data and science first.”

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