A Marion County judge says a new state law allowing the Indiana General Assembly to call itself into special session during future emergencies does not violate the state’s constitution. Governor Eric Holcomb had sought a ruling in a lawsuit against legislative leaders on the matter.
The case is almost certainly heading to Indiana Supreme Court.
The ruling from Marion Superior Court Judge P.J. Dietrick says “the General Assembly now has complete authority to set the rules governing the timing of its sessions. It may extend its session indefinitely, or enact measures such as HEA (House Enrolled Act) 1123, giving it the ability to commence a session limited to a specified agenda when the legislative council adopts a resolution meeting HEA 1128’s narrowly defined circumstances.”
“The General Assembly is not limited to one session per year; the Special Sessions Clause is a grant of limited legislative authority to the Governor, not a limitation on the General Assembly’s express and inherent legislative authority over the scheduling of its sessions; and there is no constitutional text limiting the General Assembly’s authority over its sessions to only ‘regular’ sessions.”
The ruling also says, “In sum, constitutional text, historical evidence, judicial decisions, and longstanding practice all foreclose the Governor’s theory that the Special Sessions Clause gives him exclusive authority to call any session beyond a purportedly once-a-year ‘regular’ session. Because HEA 1128 simply provides When a legislative session WILL commence and does not limit or restrict the Governor’s ability to call a special session, it does not Violate the Special Sessions Clause.”