Holcomb extends public health emergency as lawmakers call off Monday session

(Gov. Holcomb)
Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 3:32 PM EST
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INDIANAPOLIS (WPTA) - Indiana’s public health emergency will continue for at least another month, as Gov. Eric Holcomb said on Wednesday that he will extend that declaration that was set to expire on Dec. 1. The move follows an announcement that state lawmakers will not meet on Monday, as had been planned, to consider steps that Holcomb said were necessary for him to pass on a renewal.

In a statement, Holcomb said:

“Last week I made clear what would be necessary to responsibly allow the state public health emergency to expire. However, following the announcement that the General Assembly will not return on Monday, Nov. 29, I plan to extend the state public health emergency and the executive order next week for another 30 days to preserve the necessary provisions. I will continue to work closely with Speaker Huston and Senator Bray as we move into next legislative session.”

Legislative leaders had announced last Saturday that lawmakers would return to the Statehouse for a one-day session to take up measures that Holcomb requested, and more. Indiana’s statewide mask mandate and business or crowd restrictions were lifted months ago, but many conservatives have criticized the continuing health order.

The recent developments came as Indiana has seen a recent increase in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. On Tuesday, several medical and business groups argued against a proposal aimed at ending the public health emergency and enacting broad exemptions from workplace vaccination requirements.

At that same hearing, individuals who said they have lost their jobs -- or expect to lose them -- addressed the representatives and senators. Some supported the proposed changes, but many said they do not go far enough.

“Tuesday’s passionate public testimony reinforced the concerns I’ve heard from constituents and business leaders over the federal mandates,” House Speaker Todd Huston, a Republican, said. “While most Indiana companies are acting in good faith, it’s unacceptable that some employers are blatantly disregarding well-established vaccine exemptions, and we’ll address these issues through legislation.

“Over the next month, we’ll continue to listen and talk with stakeholders about our policy proposals, and we’ll file legislation in the near future. Hoosiers can rest assured that we’ll hit the ground running come Jan. 4.”

Many Democrats at the Statehouse argued that the legislation would put a burden on businesses.

“I am glad that the Republican caucuses listened to our call, and the calls of the business and healthcare communities, to give the important issue of COVID-19 vaccines the full vetting it deserves,” Sen. Greg Taylor said. “This issue should be discussed and considered before our full Legislature, undergoing the proper legislative process, instead of unnecessarily being pushed through -- which would hurt our businesses, workers, healthcare community and schools.”

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