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Senate leaves Holcomb veto intact while House sends legislation to end emergency order

Both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly sent some good news to Gov. Eric Holcomb Thursday—the Senate upholding his veto of last year’s ethanol gas labeling bill and the House sending him the legislation that he had requested to allow him to end the COVID-19 emergency order.

During the 2021 legislative session, Holcomb vetoed Senate Bill 303, which would require labeling of E15 gas pumps. The vote to overturn the veto Thursday was almost perfectly split, with 26 Senators voting no and 24 voting yes.

SB 303 dealt with E15, or ethanol “gasohol” containing 15% ethanol. The bill would have required labels on E15 pumps to remind consumers to check their vehicle manufacturer guidance. Holcomb vetoed the bill last year, noting that the Environmental Protection Agency already requires E15 pumps to be labeled. Holcomb said this added layer of government is unnecessary and confusing.

The author of SB 303, Sen. Mark Messmer (above), R-Jasper, called it a consumer protection issue.

“Someone said we’re the only state that requires it,” Messmer said. “Does that not make it a good policy?”

Messmer held up a photo of a gas pump taken in French Lick, stating that it was improperly labeled.

Sen. Phillip Boots, R-Crawfordsville,. said he sells gasoline. Though he agreed with Messmer that E15 can ruin engines of lawn mowers, chainsaws and some vehicles, he said consumers would not pay attention to an additional label. Boots voted against overriding the veto.

Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, said the additional label could deter people from using ethanol. According to Leising, 51% of the corn grown in the state of Indiana is used to make ethanol.

Leising also said Randy Kron, president of Indiana Farm Bureau, told her he did not think the veto needed to be overridden.

In the end, the Senate narrowly decided the current labeling was enough.

As Holcomb’s veto was upheld, legislation was also finalized to give him the ability to end the state’s emergency order. House Bill 1001, which began as a controversial anti-workplace vaccine mandate bill, was amended by the Senate to remove those provisions and leave in place procedures to end the emergency order. The House on Thursday voted to concur with the Senate amendments rather than send the bill to a conference committee to resolve the differences.

This bill will now go to Holcomb’s desk and he has said he will sign it.

Taylor Wooten is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.