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Indiana AG moving to stop Gov. Holcomb's lawsuit against state Legislature over emergency powers law

The AG has insisted his office should resolve a dispute between two branches of state government.
Credit: WTHR

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana's Office of the Attorney General is asking the court to strike what it calls an "unauthorized lawsuit filed by attorneys purporting to represent the Office of the Indiana Governor in an attempt to invalidate a law enacted by the General Assembly addressing the timing of its own sessions during a future state of emergency."

The AG has insisted his office should resolve a dispute between two branches of state government.  

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The lawsuit argues that the Legislature is “usurping a power given exclusively to the governor” under the state constitution to call lawmakers into a special session. 

The AG's office addressed those concerns in a statement, reading in part:

This new law leaves untouched the Governor’s constitutional authority to call the General Assembly into special session, merely carrying out the General Assembly’s own constitutional authority to “appoint by law” the day for “commencing” its sessions and to “fix by law” “the length and frequency of [its] sessions.”

Republican legislators pushed the bill after months of criticism from some conservatives over COVID-19 restrictions that Holcomb imposed by executive order.

However, Republican legislative leaders praised the governor’s actions during the pandemic, but say the bill is meant to allow the input of lawmakers during extended emergency situations. For stay-at-home orders, mask mandates and business restrictions, some Republicans lawmakers say they should have more of a say in a public emergency.

“I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the State of Indiana and I have an obligation to do so. This filing is about the future of the executive branch and all the Governors who will serve long after I’m gone,” Gov. Holcomb said in a statement to 13News.

Holcomb vetoed the bill on April 9 and issued a letter explaining his reasons. The legislature voted to override that veto days later.