Ohio Democrats are condemning Attorney General Dave Yost for an effort to take over opioid-related lawsuits.
As The Ohio Star reported, Republicans are considering a bill that would grant to “the Attorney General sole authority to bring a civil action and consolidate other actions based on a matter of statewide concern and to create a Statewide Remediation Fund for the deposit of moneys adjudged to the state in the action.”
The bill, supported by Yost, has yet to actually be introduced but would give the attorney general the authority to take over lawsuits initiated by five or more local governments.
Yost said in a statement that local governments are “grasping for power,” and should instead allow the state to negotiate on behalf of all residents.
In a new op-ed for the Akron Beacon Journal, three House Democrats, including House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron), accuse Yost of “carrying on the tradition of blocking funds that should flow directly to our local governments.”
“One reason our cities and counties have taken such a significant financial hit due to the ongoing opioid crisis is that our first responders are already grappling with a decade of cuts to local government funds that have stressed budgets to the max. Now, Yost seeks to squeeze the metaphorical blood from the turnip,” they write.
Sykes was joined by State Reps. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) and Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) in publishing the editorial.
They call the effort to take over opioid lawsuits “absurd” and say it will “be celebrated by opioid makers and distributors looking to delay or avoid accountability.”
“Yost’s plan is the definition of strong-arming. If he successfully wrests legal authority from communities on behalf of the state, it will be to the detriment of hardworking families and our Ohio taxpayers,” they continue.
Gov. Mike DeWine, they note, appears to be on their side after telling reporters that he believes the takeover attempt is a “serious mistake.”
“For more than 100 years, the Ohio Constitution has recognized the authority of local governments to govern themselves without undue interference from the state. This right, known as “home rule,” is a cornerstone of a fair and proper allocation of power between the state and local governments,” the Democrats continue. “Our communities have a fundamental right to their day in court and to allow the court and a jury to assess the facts.”
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