Today I sent this letter to Governor Holcomb regarding his order to close private businesses in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak. -Curt

Dear Governor Holcomb:

These are unusual times right now with the coronavirus. My first thought is the health and welfare of all Hoosiers, and that we face this unusual season with the same rigor and grit that has become commonplace for Hoosiers since our founding.

At a time like this, you as Governor should indeed be giving advisories, warnings, guidance and suggestions to Hoosiers based on your consultations with doctors, health specialists, and other public officials. You also have direct and indirect control over many state services throughout Indiana.

However, I am asking you on behalf of Hoosiers to not go through with your heavy-handed order to close privately owned bars and restaurants like our neighboring states. This is a bad idea and goes against the very principles this nation was founded on, and the people of this state believe in.

The Constitution of the State of Indiana. Article I, Section 31 states that, “No law shall restrain any of the inhabitants of the State from assembling together in a peaceable manner, to consult for their common good […].”

I’m sure many Hoosiers would agree with me that the breaking of bread with friends and family in public places is the common good. Of course, currently many Hoosiers may heed warnings and choose to limit their contact with others as they see fit.

But this is a far cry from you using the power of government to forcibly close all Indiana bars and restaurants. The point is, Hoosiers should retain the liberty to make decisions such as eating at a restaurant for themselves.

We also must be mindful of what you are doing to the owners of these private businesses all over Indiana. If restaurants and bars are to change their hours out of concern, let them make the choice, don’t force the choice upon them.

Many restaurants and stores are already taking precautions they deem necessary in order to advance public health and whether this storm. But with this proclamation, you are declaring you personally have more wisdom than the thousands of restaurant and bar owners all over the state of Indiana.

And what of the many workers in these Hoosier establishments? You are depriving them of their ability to earn a living with a stroke of your pen.

If you start at restaurants, what is next? Are you going to shut down walk-in shopping at supermarkets for the same cause? How many Hoosiers don’t have the ability to order groceries and other necessities for delivery through the internet? Are you willing to cut off basic necessities to people when they don’t have the means to take care of it themselves?

Other states and cities are already giving us glaring examples of ways government is seeking to take advantage of this crisis in order to abuse the rights of citizens and residents. The mayor of Champaign, Illinois is trying to use the crisis to ban the sales of alcohol and firearms to ordinary citizens. Other political leaders in other states are pushing similar power grabs. I believe that Indiana understands the concept of Freedom just a little better than some of our other states.

The only special powers you have as Governor under the Indiana Constitution in a time of public sickness are found in Article 5, Section 20, which states, “Should the seat of Government become dangerous from disease or a common enemy, the Governor may convene the General Assembly at any other place.”

So, the question is, how far are you willing to go to push executive authority in Indiana? Authority that I remind you, you do not have.

Your ill-considered executive order to close restaurants and bars is going to end up causing more problems than it solves because you’re depriving business owners and workers of desperately needed income to cover necessities of life, to pay other bills, or to pay for things to care for their children. And again, you will be depriving Hoosiers of their lawful right to assemble in a peaceful manner.

I believe that if you leave this in the hands of ordinary Hoosiers, you will see that we are capable of handling difficult times just fine without government interference.

I am asking you, on behalf of the citizens, residents, business owners and workers of Indiana, to rescind this order and give Hoosiers their liberty back. Your Governorship can be defined in this moment.

Are you going to stand up for the rights of Hoosiers and let them conduct business like they see fit? Or are you going to use the heavy hand of government to let fear control Hoosiers?

I am going to stand up for the rights of Hoosiers, and I pray to Almighty God you do too.


Curt Nisly
Indiana House of Representatives, District 22