Government officials, others question mask mandate


Indiana District 69 Rep. Jim Lucas took to his Facebook page Wednesday afternoon to announce plans to draft legislature that would limit the governor’s power in emergency situations.

In his post, the Seymour businessman said he feels the executive order signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb mandated the wearing the masks to be unconstitutional.

"The governor’s office is stating that the Indiana General Assembly granted emergency powers to the governor by passing IC 10-14-3 in 2003, and he is within his authority to do what he’s doing," Lucas said.

"I am drafting legislation for next session to rescind this level of power, as one person was never intended to have this much power in a constitutional republic," he said. "The constitutions are a restraint on government, and this obscene overreach is one of the many reasons the constitutions were written, and we are required to swear an oath to uphold them."

When asked about how well his potential legislation would be supported, Lucas said he knows support will be there.

"Yes, for a fact, as I’ve had this discussion with several," he said.

Lucas wasn’t the only government official who took issue with the order or wanted a special session to deal with other issues related to COVID-19, including allowing no-excuse absentee balloting during all elections and $2 billion in spent federal assistance fund and improving the criminal justice system and policing.

The list includes Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, state Senate Minority Leader Democrat Timothy Lanane and Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Donald Rainwater. All three have asked the governor to call a special legislative session to discuss the mask mandate and other issues with the judicial and legislative branches of the state government.

"Before a certain conduct is determined to be subject to criminal penalty, it should receive considerable debate by the legislative body that represents the people of the state," Hill said in a news release.

Hill further clarified his stance.

“Scientists tell us that wearing face masks is an effective means of helping prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The wisdom of wearing masks — or of laws requiring such measures — is not the issue here," he said. "Rather, the issue is whether we are following the proper and constitutional processes for enacting laws and whether we are respecting the distinct roles of each branch of state government.

"Executive orders have an important and legitimate function during times of emergency, but by this point in the pandemic — more than four months since the emergency declaration — it’s time to show some deference to the branch of government actually charged by our state constitution with the responsibility for enacting laws,” Hill said.

Lucas also showed his support for a special legislative session on Facebook.

"Boom! Damn right a special session should be called after four months of ’emergency’ executive orders," he said.

In April, Lucas asked Hill to comment on the constitutionality of Holcomb’s executive orders that imposed restrictions on nonessential gatherings and businesses.

On Tuesday, Lanane, in partnership with the Indiana Senate Democratic Caucus, Indiana House Democratic Caucus and Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, called for the governor to hold a separate special session in August to pass legislation that would ban chokeholds, racial profiling and no knock warrants. 

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