INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s attorney general believes the governor has overstepped his authority in issuing a statewide face mask mandate and that only the Legislature can make violations a criminal offense.
Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill issued an advisory opinion Wednesday night, just hours after GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the mask order taking effect Monday to help slow the coronavirus spread.
Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill issued an advisory opinion Wednesday, July 22 just hours after GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the mask order taking effect Monday, July 27 to help slow the coronavirus spread.
Hill’s opinion responded to a request from state Senate majority leader Mark Messmer of Jasper and four other Republican senators about Holcomb’s legal authority to impose a mask mandate.
The opinion, which does not block the governor’s action, said the state’s emergency law doesn’t give Holcomb authority for the mask mandate without the consent of the Legislature.
Hill said the governor should call the Legislature back into session.
“By this point in the pandemic — more than four months since the emergency declaration — it’s time to show some deference to the branch of government actually charged by our state constitution with the responsibility for enacting laws,” Hill said in a statement.
Gov. Eric Holcomb does not have the authority to criminalize violations of the mask mandate he issued today.
He should call a special legislative session to debate whether or not failing to wear a mask should be subject to criminal penalty. ⤵️https://t.co/ISL08dUqFr
— Curtis T. Hill, Jr. (@AGCurtisHill) July 23, 2020
Holcomb said Thursday he believed he had the necessary authority and wasn’t worried about the mask order being challenged in court.
“I don’t live under the threat of lawsuit,” Holcomb said. “We do our research before we speak.”
Hill is on his way out of office after failing to win the Republican nomination for reelection earlier this month.
Holcomb opposed Hill’s bid and had called for him to resign over allegations that he drunkenly groped a state lawmaker and three other women during a party.