Holcomb Confident In Legal Authority To Issue Mask Mandate

Jul 24, 2020

Gov. Eric Holcomb says he’s confident he has the legal authority for his order requiring Hoosiers to wear masks in public.
Credit (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

Gov. Eric Holcomb says he’s confident he has the legal authority for his order requiring Hoosiers to wear masks in public.

Attorney General Curtis Hill released a non-binding opinion that said even the broad emergency powers in state law don’t authorize the governor to issue a mask mandate or attach a criminal penalty to it.

Holcomb said he’s not worried about potential lawsuits over his order.

“I don’t live under the threat of lawsuit," Holcomb said. "We do our research before we speak.”

READ MORE: Do I Have To Wear A Face Mask? What You Need To Know About Indiana's New Mandate

Both candidates for attorney general also weighed in. Democrat Jonathan Weinzapfel supports the governor. He says he believes Holcomb – a Republican – has the authority to issue the mandate and would defend it in court.

Republican candidate Todd Rokita is less clear. He said "valid concerns" have been raised about public health versus individual liberty. And Rokita says he would work with the legislature to "clarify" the emergency powers law in state code.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.