Indiana Attorney General calls for special legislative session, questions Holcomb's executive orders

Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said Gov. Eric Holcomb has been unclear about which components of his executive orders are mandates and which are requirements.

Posted: Aug 14, 2020 3:43 PM
Updated: Aug 15, 2020 12:18 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — In a letter sent Friday to Gov. Eric Holcomb and leaders of the state General Assembly, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill questioned the governor’s ability to continue issuing executive orders responsive to the COVID-19 pandemic and called for a special legislative session to “address public governance challenges” caused by the virus.

Hill contends the governor’s executive orders near the beginning of the pandemic were “unfortunate” but justified.


AP FILE - In this Thursday, April 30, 2020 file photo, Gov. Eric Holcomb wears a mask in Kokomo, Ind.

There was an urgent public health crisis then, Hill said, and the governor’s actions were needed to prevent “public disaster and chaos.”

Holcomb has signed 38 such orders since March, which have included statewide mandates on school and business closures, limits on public gatherings and requirements for mask-wearing and social distancing.

Now, however, Indiana’s top lawyer says it’s “debatable” whether Holcomb has the same “emergency authority” to continue issuing non-legislative policies.

Enough time has passed now for “ordinary mechanisms of republican government” to find ways to function again, Hill said.

As such, the attorney general argued in his letter that the grounds for Holcomb to continue issuing emergency orders “becomes shakier by the day” and that responsibility to respond to the coronavirus pandemic should shift to state legislators in the General Assembly.

“The remedy is to stop trying to address COVID-19 by temporary stop-gap measures and return to the mode of policymaking set forth in our Constitution,” Hill said in his letter.

Hill further complained that the governor’s executive orders have sent inconsistent and confusing messages to Hoosiers statewide.

The attorney general said Holcomb has been unclear about which components of his executive orders are mandates and which are requirements.

Hill also referenced recent anxieties experienced by Indiana schools leaders after mixed messages were released by both lawmakers and the governor over potential cuts to school funding as a result of the pandemic.

“Candidly, while Hoosiers at first mostly obeyed the Governor’s emergency orders, as those orders have endured, overreached, mutated, or proven impracticable, many citizens have begun to lose respect for them,” Hill said.

A special session, the attorney general concluded, “is the only way” to “restore public confidence is constitutional government” and ensure consistency in public funding and relevant lawmaking during the pandemic.

Holcomb has been urged by legislative Democrats to bring the General Assembly back in a special session before its scheduled start in January.

The goal, legislators said, is to craft laws relating to racial justice, school funding and vote by mail that take effect before a projected worsening of the pandemic this fall.

But the governor has not agreed, saying in July a special session wasn’t “on my agenda right now.”

Holcomb did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Hill’s letter.

Hill’s bid for reelection was scuttled last month after he lost the Republican nomination for Indiana following a monthlong suspension of his law license over allegations that he groped a state lawmaker and three other women during a party.

The governor and other legislative leaders responded in 2018 by calling for Hill to resign. Hill has denied wrongdoing.

You can view the full letter from Attorney General Hill to Gov. Holcomb and leaders of the Indiana General Assembly below or by clicking here.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 112626

Reported Deaths: 3520
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20832759
Lake10292318
Elkhart6415109
St. Joseph6156102
Allen6029200
Hamilton4724109
Vanderburgh344530
Hendricks2673122
Monroe247436
Tippecanoe226913
Johnson2268123
Clark215056
Porter207845
Cass19329
Delaware188261
Vigo178123
Madison159575
LaPorte137739
Floyd131461
Howard128563
Kosciusko120217
Warrick119936
Bartholomew115357
Marshall98924
Dubois95418
Boone95146
Hancock91143
Grant89133
Noble89132
Henry77024
Wayne74414
Jackson7409
Morgan70038
Shelby66529
Daviess64427
Dearborn63228
LaGrange63111
Clinton59212
Harrison56024
Putnam53710
Lawrence50528
Montgomery50521
Knox5019
Gibson4854
White48114
DeKalb45611
Decatur45439
Miami4263
Fayette41813
Greene41835
Jasper3862
Steuben3707
Scott35610
Sullivan33012
Jennings31212
Posey3060
Franklin29925
Clay2935
Orange28524
Ripley2838
Carroll27013
Wabash2618
Washington2611
Starke2537
Whitley2526
Wells2482
Adams2453
Jefferson2443
Fulton2342
Huntington2223
Tipton21722
Spencer2153
Perry21413
Randolph2087
Jay1730
Newton17111
Owen1651
Martin1640
Rush1524
Pike1401
Vermillion1260
Fountain1182
Pulaski1151
Blackford1133
Crawford1030
Brown1023
Parke941
Benton880
Union770
Ohio767
Switzerland700
Warren391
Unassigned0225

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 145850

Reported Deaths: 4635
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin26242603
Cuyahoga17196644
Hamilton12850309
Montgomery7583152
Lucas7187358
Butler5727102
Summit5172249
Marion307247
Mahoning3002279
Warren294748
Stark2771168
Pickaway263444
Lorain227786
Delaware216620
Fairfield203850
Columbiana192180
Licking187562
Trumbull1852131
Clark175938
Wood173772
Clermont165520
Lake158649
Medina143939
Allen138869
Miami138049
Greene137632
Portage109466
Mercer107717
Tuscarawas91620
Erie91244
Wayne90866
Ross86123
Richland80819
Madison78712
Darke76839
Belmont71227
Geauga70547
Hancock67410
Ashtabula65148
Athens6292
Lawrence61618
Shelby5909
Auglaize5709
Putnam55823
Sandusky55520
Huron5337
Union5002
Scioto4746
Ottawa46630
Seneca45314
Preble42213
Muskingum3802
Holmes3777
Jefferson3284
Logan3013
Henry30012
Champaign2943
Perry2889
Defiance28710
Clinton28213
Brown2812
Knox28015
Morrow2522
Washington25123
Hardin25013
Fulton2371
Jackson2344
Coshocton23111
Crawford2276
Fayette2266
Ashland2244
Highland2203
Wyandot20212
Williams2013
Gallia18612
Meigs17210
Pike1670
Hocking1619
Guernsey1578
Carroll1517
Adams1234
Van Wert1143
Monroe10918
Paulding1050
Harrison622
Morgan470
Vinton453
Noble270
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 63°
Angola
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 59°
Huntington
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 59°
Decatur
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 59°
Van Wert
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 59°
Warmer Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events