Nearly every governor has set up a dictatorship crushing every aspect of our lives, including regulating our breathing. After eight to 10 months of silence, state legislatures are finally convening and dealing with the scope of executive emergency powers. But rather than holding hearings exposing all the lies about the efficacy of lockdowns and masks and publicizing the harms of those policies, most GOP-controlled legislatures are simply rearranging the deck chairs for future emergency declarations while tacitly agreeing with the premise of this tyranny. The American people need to wake up before these legislatures are out of session and the governors have another eight months of free reign.
It's understandable to give governors emergency powers for a handful of days. But when they promulgate edicts that affect every aspect of our lives and properties, there is no reason why, within a week, a legislative body should not be in session holding hearings with expert witnesses on both sides of the debate to see whether those measures are constitutional, necessary, efficacious, or more harmful than helpful. Had this been done in state legislatures last March and April, they would have discovered that these unconstitutional policies are all pain and no gain.
Yet here we are, 10 months into "15 days to flatten the curve," and most GOP-dominated legislatures are still not asking questions about the underlying premise of these policies, categorically banning their implementation, and properly reining in abuses of executive power.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Indiana. Gov. Eric Holcomb has accepted the entire false premise of the likes of Joe Biden and Andrew Cuomo that lockdowns and masks mitigate a viral spread. As such, he has implemented unconstitutional infringements upon liberty almost to the degree of the hard-core blue states. He began categorically shutting down restaurants on March 16, the day after the legislature adjourned its 2020 session. Thanks to the weak leadership in these GOP supermajority-controlled chambers, there was no successful push to force the legislature to reconvene for almost an entire year. Now that legislators are back in session and 15 days of lockdown have turned into infinity, they are stripping him of all this power, right?
More like rearranging the deck chairs.
Last week, the Indiana House passed HB 1123, sponsored by House floor leader Rep. Matt Lehman. The bill was touted as limiting the governor's power to issue an emergency order beyond 30 days, but in fact it does little to change current policy. Rather than categorically ending an emergency declaration after 30 days absent an affirmative vote by the legislature to extend it, this bill keeps the default position in place — that the governor can extend the order for as long as he wants unless the legislature passes a concurrent resolution to block it. It's a seemingly slight nuance that makes all the difference.
Proponents of the bill might argue that under current policy, the legislature doesn't even have the ability to convene in a special session to block the governor absent the governor's permission, and this bill enables the legislature to convene in an emergency session. That is true, but this bill will not enable rank-and-file members to call for that session, only a "council" made up of leadership members — the same leaders who sat idly all last year while the governor tore up the Bill of Rights, the Hoosier economy, and education for a generation of children. It's the same leadership that still agrees with the underlying premise of Holcomb, Biden, and Cuomo — that indefinite masking and quarantining of healthy people are legally sound and scientifically sane.
Rep. Jim Lucas (R) has a bill that would stop these orders dead in their tracks after 28 days, but leadership is opposing it. "We're just moving things around and we're not really doing anything to protect the individual against government overreach," complained Lucas.
As the Center Square reports, "The great majority of Republicans also showed no interest Monday night in amendments that would have strengthened the Lehman bill, HB 1123, and restored to the legislature its sole lawmaking authority."
Rep. Curt Nisly introduced amendments to categorically ban the governor from using emergencies to legislate and regulate the people directly rather than simply issuing guidance to executive officials. They were all voted down. Nisly aptly captured the sentiments among Republicans that I have noticed in most state legislatures across the country. "All summer a lot of Republicans bloviated about, you know, 'We can't do anything, because we're not in session.' And, now we are, and we're doing about the same thing we did this summer, which was nothing."
There is no desire whatsoever from these legislators to deal with the current abuse of power, which is the greatest in American history. No desire to use the wealth of evidence against lockdowns and masks to oppose the underlying premise of these particular orders in addition to properly reforming future emergency powers. We saw this in West Virginia, where the GOP leaders in the legislature only want to apply the limitations to future orders. The Senate bill in Indiana is even weaker and also only applies to orders issued after March 1.
It would be one thing if this is the best they can do with divided government. But Republicans enjoy a 71-29 majority in the House and a 39-11 majority in the Senate! What's more, in Indiana, as in West Virginia, it only takes 51% of the legislative vote to override a governor's veto, which means they could even afford to lose 13 RINOs in the Senate and 20 in the House and still override Holcomb's veto. Sadly, there are more RINOs than that.
Just how radical is Eric Holcolmb? Last year, the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) stayed out of the gubernatorial election in deference to him. It's the only time in recent memory the union declined to endorse the Democrat candidate.
In October, conservative Rep. Curt Nisly speculated that the reason was because the teachers' union already had their Democrat man in the governor's mansion, embodied in Holcomb. As the Center Square reported last year, Holcomb met with ISTA on July 14 (virtually, of course!). Just eight days later, Holcomb announced a statewide mask mandate, originally making all violators guilty of a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail or a $1,000 fine, something we have not seen in most Republican-controlled states. He predicted mask-wearing would become "the fashion of the day."
The same day, ISTA President Keith Gambill sent out a statement crediting the union's meeting with Holcomb for securing the mask mandate. Four weeks later, ISTA announced the unprecedented move to remain neutral in the gubernatorial race between Holcomb and the official Democrat opponent, Woody Myers. In other words, Holcomb was such a leftist that he was indistinguishable, in the eyes of the teachers' union, from a Democrat.
The legislature appears to be going along with this Republican in name only. Several weeks ago, House Speaker Todd Huston encouraged people to wear masks, claiming that "the vast, vast, vast majority of the scientific and medical community agree that wearing masks are important and I will stand by those."
Indiana and Missouri share similar climate breakdowns, and have predictably followed similar seasonal curves.
— IM (@IM)1613688240.0
Well, Speaker Huston, show us any evidence that masks have worked. Missouri is the closest state that doesn't have a mask mandate, and given that it is in the same NOAA climate zone, it had the exact same seasonal curve, as we have seen across the country and across the globe. In fact, Missouri seemed to do better.
The curves are so regional and seasonal in nature that Illinois, Indiana, and Missouri all had the same curves, despite Illinois having the earliest mandate and Missouri having no statewide mandate. Yet Missouri had the fewest cases of the three. In fact, even within Missouri, one suburban St. Louis County, Jefferson, which instituted its own local mask mandate, did worse than neighboring St. Charles County, which had no mandate, even though Jefferson County has a lower population density than St. Charles.
Jefferson & St. Charles are both suburban counties in the St. Louis area.
Jefferson County panicked and mandated m… https://t.co/En6jQ99WZf
— IM (@IM)1613694335.0
How much longer will we tolerate this in supermajority Republican states that Trump carried by a large margin? Why are we even focused on taking back Congress with a bunch of leftist Republicans when we can't even secure basic liberties against the most radical and destructive Democrat policies in states with 3-1 GOP majorities in the legislature?
Well, until Republican legislators are forced to answer tough questions from their constituents, they will continue to skate by every primary without any competition. That's why it's time for conservatives to focus like laser beams on Republican-controlled legislatures.
There are several billboards on I-69 just south of the Michigan-Indiana border, essentially inviting Michiganders to flee lockdowns and live freely in Indiana. Unfortunately, things are not that much better in Indiana. Conservatives must work to make this red state red again so that it really can make things better for refugees from blue America.