By Ashley Shuler
INDIANAPOLIS — Two bills are now law after the Senate joined the House in voting to override former Gov. Mike Pence’s vetoes on the bills Tuesday.
In Indiana, a governor’s veto can be overridden if a constitutional majority of both chambers—51 representatives, 26 senators—vote to do so. Both bills passed in a landslide in both chambers during session last year.
Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, listens to discussion in the Senate. He was the lone senator to vote against the environmental regulation bill Tuesday. Photo by Ashley Shuler, TheStatehouseFile.com
Vetoed bills, like these, become law if the effective date has already passed. The effective date for both the bills below was July 1, 2016.
Limiting the state environmental department’s power
Because of the Senate’s override, House Bill 1082, which blocks standards set by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management from going into effect if they are tougher than federal law, is now law.
When Pence initially vetoed the legislation, he cited public concern over safe drinking water in the wake of the crisis in Flint, Michigan. The drinking water in Flint became tainted with lead and other toxins and thousands of residents were potentially exposed.
Pence said he wanted to ensure the state could create its own solutions in the case of an emergency.
However, the senator who presented the bill, Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, argued what happened in Flint had nothing to do with this “no more stringent language” bill.
“What happened in Flint was a result of major mistakes by individuals who had not followed existing regulations,” he said.
Charbonneau said the bill won’t slow the government down from responding to crisis or making new regulations. The department has to report to the legislative council with proposed actions. Those actions wouldn’t go into effect until reviewed by legislators.
The Senate voted 49-1 to override Pence’s veto Tuesday.
Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington, was the lone senator to vote against the override. His vote against the override was a vote against the whole premise of the original bill. Stoops voted against the bill when it first passed through the Senate.
“It’s still sticking the legislation in the middle of regulatory authority,” he said. “Frankly, I don’t trust the legislature to be in that position in Indiana. I don’t think they’ve ever really shown any concern for environmental protection.”
Private university police departments can release less information
Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, (left) discusses House Bill 1082 with Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso (right). Senate members voted 49-1 to override Pence’s veto of the “no more stringent language” bill. Photo by Ashley Shuler, TheStatehouseFile.com
The Senate also overrode Pence’s veto of House Bill 1022, authored by Rep. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, Thursday. It requires police departments at private universities to release records in cases with arrests, but not in cases involving accidents or complaints.
Pence vetoed the legislation last year because he said limiting access to police records is a barrier to transparency.
His veto came just days after the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled on the high-profile ESPN versus University of Notre Dame case. The university had denied the network’s request for cases involving student athletes. The ruling said the Notre Dame police force was a “public agency” and was required to produce certain documents unless otherwise protected under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act.
However, in November, the Indiana Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of Notre Dame, saying private universities aren’t subject to the public records law.
The Senate voted 47-3 to override Pence’s veto Tuesday. Only senators John Crane, R-Avon, Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, and Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, voted to keep the veto and stop the bill from becoming law.
Merritt said he voted against overriding Pence’s veto because he doesn’t think the state should have a hand in what private colleges should or should not release.
Merritt also said he doesn’t think the override will damage Pence’s legacy in the state.
“If he wasn’t vice president, I think it would probably damage it a little bit,” he said. “But since he’s on to bigger and better things, I don’t think it harms it. I think his legacy is intact.”
Ashley Shuler is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.