The underlying legislation additionally would stop the state or a local health officer from limiting business hours of operation under any circumstances, unless explicitly authorized to do so by a federal or state law.
Most of Morris’ proposed limits on the government’s ability to respond to a public health crisis were incorporated into the measure with the “consent” of committee members, a process typically used at the Indiana Statehouse to adopt noncontroversial legislative changes without a roll call vote.
In this case, several of the newly elected Democratic committee members, including state Rep. Mike Andrade, D-Munster, said they didn’t understand they were, in essence, voting in favor of Morris’ changes by not objecting to his request for consent.
The only one subject to a roll call — exempting religious activities from face masks and social distancing — was barely adopted, 6 to 5, by the Republican-dominated panel after Morris hastily cut off discussion on the amendment
In the end, Morris did not request a vote by the committee to advance his revised legislation to the full House — leaving the measure in limbo, at least until the committee meets again next week.
Morris’ effort to wholesale gut key portions of Indiana’s pandemic response, which by any measure has been less onerous than neighboring states, especially Illinois, sharply contrasts with a parallel proposal sponsored by state Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, the House Republican floor leader and two other House Republican committee chairmen.