INDIANAPOLIS – Legislative leaders reacted nonchalantly Thursday to a threatened veto of an emergency powers bill expected to receive final votes Monday.
House Speaker Todd Huston and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray also acknowledged the issue would likely end up in court.
Both men said they have had ongoing conversations with Gov. Eric Holcomb and there is a genuine difference of opinion on the constitutionality of the bill.
“That was no surprise to me (Wednesday). We'll pass the bill. He will take his action and we'll have a chance to take ours,” Huston said.
Both he and Bray said there would be serious consideration given to an override of any veto – which only takes a simple majority of vote. And it could happen before they end session.
Bray said neither a veto nor a lawsuit scare him. “It is what it is. We have to try to craft the best policy,” he said.
House Bill 1123 is in question because it would allow the Indiana legislature to call itself back in for emergency sessions amid an extended statewide disaster declaration.
During the past year some lawmakers have been frustrated that Holcomb made all the decisions and they couldn't participate. The constitution gives the governor the authority to call a special session but he said GOP leaders told him it wasn't necessary.
Bray said neither he nor fellow caucus members has sought a legal opinion from Attorney General Todd Rokita. Holcomb also hasn't asked for an opinion.
Huston said it's worth the risk of a veto and lawsuit because there might not be the same collaborative relationship between legislative leaders and a governor that existed this time.
“The legislative body could have been shut out of the process for nine months,” he said. “I don't think this is about personalities. I'm so grateful, thankful for the job Gov. Holcomb has done but the fact of the matter is the people sitting in the seats will change.”
Holcomb clearly kept leaders in the loop but rank-and-file members expressed outrage and frustration over the 13-month emergency.