INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WLFI)- Capacity restrictions and closures of businesses have been a hot topic during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now state legislators are crafting a policy to restrict mandates health officers can put in place. One local legislator taking on this topic in the upcoming session is Senator Ron Alting. While he has filed a bill to restrict what mandates health officers can put in place he says health officers have played a vital role in keeping the community safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Their role will not change in terms of their advisement their recommendations for public safety because that is what all elected officials want to look at," said Senator Alting.
However, he thinks that local health authorities shouldn't be able to invoke mandates on local businesses without the approval of elected officials.
"A mayor or a commissioner usually has a little better feel and handle on the businesses particularly the small businesses that they represent in their areas," said Alting.
Senate Bill 48 would limit the time in which an order or mandate by a local health board or local health officer may be in effect unless approved by elected officials. Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler says this policy could make public health officials' jobs more difficult.
"This bill could potentially present some hurdles for health departments in their efforts to get their communities through this pandemic safely," said Dr. Adler.
Alting says that isn't the case. He feels that mandates that will affect local economies, need to be handled by people elected by the community.
"Nothing changes with with exception of when you do a press conference and you are going to close down all retail shops or no inside dining the health officer will be standing next to the elected official and the elected official will be announcing those regulations, " added Senator Alting.
Dr. Adler hopes that lawmakers will understand the decisions health officers have made throughout the pandemic are for the greater good.
"Trust that they are going to make decisions that are in the best interest of the public health of the community they serve," said Dr. Adler. "Trust that their decisions are going to be fair and reasonable and based on science and data."
Adler says any mandates or restrictions that have been in effect in Tippecanoe County have been discussed with elected officials before being put in to place. The first day of the 2021 legislative session is Monday, January 4th.