LAWRENCE CO. – The Lawrence County Commissioners Tuesday morning voted to lift all COVID-19 restrictions in Lawrence County. Their vote came after Indiana lawmakers voted Monday to override the governor’s veto of a bill giving local elected officials power over county or city public health orders issued during emergencies.
The action to override last week’s veto by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb makes the new law effective immediately.
The Republican-dominated House and Senate both easily approved the new law requiring elected county commissioners or city councils to approve any local health orders that are more stringent than statewide directives, if the local measures are to take effect.
Republican legislators say the proposal is meant to provide a “check and balance” protecting the rights of business owners following complaints about COVID-19 orders closing or limiting businesses that have been imposed over the past year.
The commissioners all agreed it was time for Lawrence County to become “wide open”.
Commissioner Dustin Gabhart said businesses like bars and restaurants are struggling to survive.
Commissioners Wally Branham agreed saying, “Employees need to be able to go back to work.”
“If people feel they need to wear a mask they can, if they feel they need to take the vaccine they can, but we can’t keep penalizing businesses and those that work there,” Branham added.
Commissioner Rodney Fish said this is not a normal decision commissioners would make.
“I have thought about this for the last 24 hours after the veto was overridden,” Fish said. “We are not directing anyone’s individual activities. They need to do what they need to do, to stay safe. I don’t like going against professionals but it has been 15 to 16 months and it is time to get back to some normalcy. I want to remind everyone that with freedom comes responsibility.”