Republican lawmaker aims to gut Indiana’s coronavirus limits

(Photo Supplied/Indiana House Republicans)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP): A Republican lawmaker pushed Monday to strip away much of the authority Indiana’s state and local public health officials have used to impose restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill would prohibit health officials from steps such as imposing limits on the number of customers allowed inside a business or restricting medical services that hospitals could provide, along with blocking restrictions on religious services or private schools.

Such steps under Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s executive orders over the past 10 months have stirred some conservative opposition and prompted debate in the GOP-dominated Legislature on measures limiting the governor’s emergency powers authority and preventing employers from requiring workers to receive immunizations against COVID-19 or any other disease.

But the bill sponsored by Rep. Bob Morris of Fort Wayne would go much further in limiting state authority than one written by House Majority Leader Matt Lehman of Berne.

Lehman’s proposal would require the General Assembly to be called into session for an extension of a governor’s emergency order beyond 60 days but doesn’t limit any current authority that’s been aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus that the state health department says has killed nearly 10,000 people in Indiana with some 2,000 more currently hospitalized.

The Republican-dominated Indiana House commerce committee Monday added restriction provisions proposed by Morris to his bill without any advanced notice and could vote on the bill next week.

Morris argued that state and local officials had gone too far in restricting businesses and that they had no right to place limits on attendance for religious services, including weddings and funerals, and require face masks and social distancing as was done during the early weeks of pandemic limitations last spring.

“I don’t feel that government should tell someone how they worship and what they wear and how they do it. And that’s really what our Constitution states as well,” Morris said. “So, we can recommend things, but to actually tell the church what they can and cannot do, I don’t feel that that’s correct.”

Neither Lehman nor Republican House Speaker Todd Huston immediately commented Monday on the provisions proposed by Morris.

Democratic Rep. Rita Fleming of Jeffersonville, a medical doctor, argued during the committee meeting that rolling back coronavirus safeguards now wasn’t wise and that not even churches should be exempt.

“It is the right of everyone in the community to be free of disease where possible,” Fleming said.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with Representative Morris that the government should not have the right to make a person wear a mask or restrict any place on the number of people that can attend, unless it’s a fire code safety issue. We all know how to keep our hands washed, cough in our sleeve and social distances. It’s like riding a bike. Some our ready for the training wheels to be removed. Others are not. I respect both. As for me, I know how to take the training wheels off, even if the government will not do it.

  2. It was interesting to watch CNN remove the Covid death toll November 4th. As was the admission that hydroxychloroquine and zinc actually work.

    Until politics are removed and actual data and science allowed to inform individuals, I prefer to make my own choices as to where and what to do. For example try to get a prescription for Ivermectin to fight against covid, it is like our doctors are still trying to cure with a poultice. The data behind Ivermectin is overwhelming, yet doctors refuse to use it for off label treatment, perhaps it is too cheap of a solution when covid deaths are worth $$$$.

  3. “Give me power to control my neighbor’s right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, because that is what is necessary to protect our country and the lives of me and my loved-ones.” How many times throughout history have we heard that rationale as the justification for tyranny? How many more times must we suffer the inevitable tragic results of such thinking before we learn?

  4. Out of Curiosity, Why have the added resume item in the news story: “Democratic Rep. Rita Fleming of Jeffersonville, a medical doctor, argued during the committee…..” whether or not she is a medical doctor is IRRELAVENT while discussing Limiting the Powers of the Governor and unelected Bureaucrats.

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