INDIANAPOLIS — At the end of every legislative session, on the last night, the gavel falls in the Indiana House of Representatives as the Speaker announces, “Sine Die,” which is Latin for, “We’re outta here and we’re not coming back.”
Not so this year.
On April 22nd, when the work on the biennial budget is concluded, the lawmakers will merely adjourn with the option of returning to the Statehouse this summer when they, and not Governor Eric Holcomb, choose.
In the past, after the close of the session, it has been up to the governor to decide if a special session need be called to wrap up any unfinished business.
A year ago, when Holcomb issued executive orders to address the COVID-19 pandemic, republican lawmakers from his own party were not happy that he bypassed their advice or approval.
This spring’s anticipated legislative adjournment preserves the right of the lawmakers to return to work when they see fit and for whatever reason.
“This is much more related to the fact that we have a very unique circumstance this year in regards to redistricting,” said Republican House Speaker Todd Huston of Fishers. “This allows us to move through some steps, have the committee hearing, have the bills, the committee can actually pass the bill, hopefully that while being thoughtful also allow some process changes to make sure we’re here a limited number of days and save the taxpayers some money.”
Completion of the 2020 Census was hampered by COVID-19 restrictions across the nation and, as a result, Indiana lawmakers are not expecting to receive the data they need to redraw Indiana’s legislative districts until September.
By leaving the conclusion of the session open ended, the General Assembly also preserves the option of coming back to work if Governor Holcomb takes further action regarding COVID-19 emergency orders that the lawmakers disagree with.
“This is a very unique year and we felt like this senator bray and I and our caucuses felt like this was the best thing knowing that we have to come back anyway is to leave this open and it would extraordinary circumstances for us to come back prior to redistricting and it is certainly our hope that we just come back for those days and then that is it,” Huston said.