The Indiana state senate passed a bill Thursday that would prevent Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) or future executive leaders from extending a statewide emergency declaration without the legislature's approval.
Under the bill, the governor cannot extend such an emergency for more than 15 days if the legislature is not in session or 30 days if they are in session but has refused to extend the order.
The bill also establishes an advisory group from the assembly that would work with the governor in such an emergency and prohibits the governor from spending federal relief aid – instead giving that power to the legislature.
"One hundred and fifty members of the General Assembly live amongst the people who have elected them," said state Sen. Susan Glick (R), who authored the bill. "We have listened to our constituents and very often it has a been a negative response to order after order after order for which we could do nothing. Our hands were tied. We simply want our seat at the table."
Holcomb has used his emergency powers to extended the state's COVID-19 restrictions 11 times since the pandemic began, including implementing stay-at-home and masking orders.
The measure passed 38-8 and will now go to the state's House of Representatives, where it will immediately become law if passed.