Local officials get health orders control under Indiana bill

Indiana lawmakers voted Wednesday in favor of limiting the authority of county or city health departments by allowing local elected officials to overturn orders or enforcement actions issued during emergencies.

Posted: Apr 21, 2021 6:55 PM
Updated: Apr 23, 2021 6:51 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers voted Wednesday in favor of limiting the authority of county or city health departments by allowing local elected officials to overturn orders or enforcement actions issued during emergencies.

Republican supporters say the proposal is meant to provide a “check and balance” protecting the rights of business owners following complaints about COVID-19 orders closing or limiting businesses that have been imposed over the past year.

The bill would require any local public health orders more stringent than one issued by the governor must be approved by an elected county or city board. The Senate voted 37-12 and House members voted 65-29 to advance the bill to Gov. Eric Holcomb for consideration.

Some medical and health organizations opposed the bill, arguing against shifting authority away from public health professionals to local elected officials who largely don’t have such experience.

Holcomb has said he was concerned about the proposed limitations on local health officials and that he would “take a hard look” at the bill. The governor’s office said Tuesday he would review the final bill.

Legislative Republicans voted last week to override Holcomb’s veto on a bill giving themselves more authority to intervene during statewide emergencies declared by the governor.

Republican Sen. Chris Garten of Charlestown said he believed appointed local health officials shouldn’t have unchecked power to shut down or other restrict businesses.

“We’re simply saying that anyone in a position, in a democratic republic, that has that much unparalleled power should get a second set of eyes to look at it,” Garten said.

The bill also creates a procedure allowing the public to appeal enforcement actions such as citations, fines or an order to close a business to an elected county or city board. Final negotiations on the bill left out provisions from a previous version that would have allowed a business to stay open during its appeal even if it was not following health orders.

Democrats argued that the bill gives politicians too much control over public health decisions and could jeopardize the public.

“I don’t understand why in this bill dealing with emergency stuff we’re actually hamstringing local health departments and making it harder for orders to go into effect that prevent you and me getting sick,” said Rep. Ryan Dvorak, a South Bend Democrat. “I think this is a really dumb part of the bill.”

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Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1366179

Reported Deaths: 24795
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook54690810144
DuPage907991285
Will75762993
Lake67398990
Kane58533778
Winnebago33359477
Madison30572520
McHenry28675288
St. Clair27899514
Peoria23185317
Champaign20699145
Sangamon18823234
McLean18225181
Tazewell16983291
Rock Island15029318
Kankakee14223210
Kendall1309294
LaSalle12585244
Macon10778200
DeKalb9901119
Vermilion9686132
Adams8474123
Williamson7442130
Whiteside7165172
Boone671774
Ogle612081
Grundy589976
Clinton576390
Coles568996
Knox5569150
Jackson503164
Henry500767
Livingston483185
Stephenson476983
Woodford476177
Effingham472972
Macoupin471583
Marion4471115
Franklin445975
Monroe435793
Jefferson4300120
Lee417453
Randolph413384
Fulton395357
Morgan390282
Logan388959
Montgomery372974
Bureau372782
Christian367973
Fayette317855
Perry317760
Iroquois302766
McDonough286447
Jersey269350
Douglas259035
Saline256454
Lawrence240625
Shelby229937
Union226140
Crawford212126
Bond205524
Cass199525
Jo Daviess181924
Clark180433
Warren180146
Pike179352
Ford179047
Wayne178053
Hancock176131
Carroll175636
Richland175240
Edgar170640
White169826
Washington164425
Moultrie161128
De Witt151725
Mason151645
Piatt150014
Clay148143
Mercer147533
Johnson144515
Greene143933
Massac134640
Wabash134612
Cumberland129019
Menard123712
Jasper115118
Marshall107418
Hamilton83515
Schuyler7607
Brown7106
Pulaski6867
Stark63824
Edwards56912
Henderson52414
Calhoun5182
Putnam4833
Scott4791
Alexander46811
Gallatin4604
Hardin38612
Pope3224
Out of IL111
Unassigned02356

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 735462

Reported Deaths: 13480
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1006161752
Lake54169976
Allen40913680
St. Joseph36301553
Hamilton35807408
Elkhart28815442
Tippecanoe22464219
Vanderburgh22367397
Porter18921310
Johnson18063381
Hendricks17310315
Clark13032192
Madison12754339
Vigo12497249
LaPorte12073215
Monroe11945170
Delaware10750187
Howard9985218
Kosciusko9463117
Hancock8367142
Bartholomew8096156
Warrick7797155
Floyd7686178
Grant7094174
Wayne7069199
Boone6740101
Morgan6606139
Dubois6165117
Marshall6108112
Cass5886105
Dearborn583178
Henry5779105
Noble565084
Jackson503473
Shelby494196
Lawrence4591120
Gibson436892
Harrison436472
DeKalb430485
Clinton428453
Montgomery425789
Whitley397939
Huntington394280
Steuben391057
Miami383768
Knox372890
Jasper372049
Putnam363360
Wabash355280
Adams342655
Ripley340870
Jefferson331881
White316854
Daviess298399
Wells292081
Decatur285992
Fayette281962
Greene280485
Posey272034
LaGrange268870
Scott267454
Clay261147
Washington242132
Randolph242081
Spencer232731
Jennings230949
Starke218954
Fountain213746
Sullivan212242
Owen203056
Jay197630
Fulton196140
Carroll190220
Orange184454
Perry184437
Rush174025
Vermillion170044
Franklin168435
Tipton163345
Parke146716
Pike135334
Blackford135132
Pulaski117345
Newton108834
Brown102641
Crawford101415
Benton99014
Martin89515
Warren82615
Switzerland7948
Union71410
Ohio57111
Unassigned0417