(INDIANAPOLIS) — Businesses fined or closed for violating local pandemic restrictions would get a
second avenue for appeal under a bill backed by Senate Republicans.
Charlestown Senator Chris Garten’s bill would let businesses appeal a health department violation
notice to the county commissioners. President Pro Tem Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) says the bill is one of Senate Republicans’ top priorities. He says people affected by the decisions of an unelected health department should be able to turn to officials who are directly answerable to voters.
Garten’s bill would give a business two weeks to file an appeal. The commissioners would then have
a month to decide whether to hear it. If they don’t grant a hearing in that time, the citation stands. The penalty would be on hold until the appeal is resolved.
While the commissioners would handle appeals in most counties, there are three exceptions. Indy’s
UniGov structure would send appeals to the City-County Council. Fishers, Gary and East Chicago
have their own health departments, so the city council would hear appeals there. And in the rest of
Lake County besides Gary and East Chicago, appeals would go not to the commissioners but the
Businesses can already challenge citations in court — they could still do that if the council or
commissioners rule against them.
35 of the 39 Republican senators are co-authoring the bill, so it’s already got the votes to pass the
Senate. The House would consider it in March.