The Journal Gazette
Monday, January 17, 2022 5:40 pm

Legislators scrutinize bill limiting governor's authority

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb is pushing back on a bill that would limit his authority on executive orders and rulemaking at the same time House leadership is also taking a second look into the measure.

"Well, we have concerns. I do," the governor said. "There’s a lot of bills out there swirling around, this being one of them…that could very easily have an adverse impact on administering state government and our duty.

"And so we're in ongoing conversations about every word entailed in that bill as it is right now."

House Bill 1100 passed easily out of committee last week and should have been placed on the House calendar for amendment. But it is not there.

House Speaker Todd Huston said, "we’re going to take a look at that bill."

The legislation, authored by Rep. Stephen Bartels, R-Eckerty, is another example of the GOP legislature taking aim at its GOP governor.

It would limit all executive orders to 180 days unless the General Assembly extends it. Currently, they can last until another governor reverses them. Examples of executive orders in the past and currently include banning collective bargaining and providing pregnancy accommodations, both for state employees.

The bill also affects administrative rulemaking. The process is how state agencies – with public notice and hearings – adopt rules to administer the nuts of bolts of state law.

Under the bill, emergency rules created by state agencies would have to be approved by the Indiana attorney general's office and would be limited to 180 days. Other rules would expire after four years instead of the current seven.

The bill also would require a state government agency to repeal a rule containing a regulatory restriction before the agency may adopt a new rule with a regulatory restriction. And no rules can be more stringent than or impose harsher penalties than comparable federal statutes and regulations.

Last year, lawmakers passed a bill giving them more involvement in extended health emergencies such as COVID-19. As a result, Gov. Eric Holcomb sued the General Assembly. A hearing before the Indiana Supreme Court is scheduled for April 7.

Asked if he was getting tired of fighting lawmakers to do his job, Holcomb said no.

"The important thing to note is that it's not derailing the growth of the state of Indiana," he said. "So that's something I'm quite frankly proud of that we can have disagreements at the highest levels, and still do our jobs."

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