Local officials get health orders control under Indiana bill

Politics

Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana Health Commissioner, answers questions about COVID-19 infections and its impact on the state as Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb listens during a briefing at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. Holcomb ordered state residents to remain in their homes except when they are at work or for permitted activities, such as taking care of others, obtaining necessary supplies, and for health and safety. The order is in effect from March 25 to April 7. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers have voted 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” following complaints about COVID-19 orders closing or limiting businesses. 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.

Lawmakers voted Wednesday to advance the bill to Gov. Eric Holcomb for consideration. Some medical organizations have argued against shifting authority away from public health professionals.

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