Gov. Mike DeWine took a stand Thursday against Ohio House Republicans who are trying to limit the Ohio Department of Health (ODH)’s powers during the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday, House Republicans on the House State and Local Government Committee (HSLGC) passed an amendment to a 2019 regulatory reform bill that would limit ODH’s orders to two weeks, The Ohio Star reported.
The amendment to Senate Bill 1 says an order could only be extended if it receives approval from the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, a 10-member panel split among House and Senate members from both parties. If the group declines to approve the emergency order or act on it, it would be ended.
DeWine said he would veto the bill if the Ohio legislature does take action to limits the ODH’s actions.
“We are in the middle of an emergency now. An emergency that we have not faced in 102 years,” DeWine said. “I don’t understand why anyone would think this is a great time to be changing the law, to be taking away the power of the executive branch to protect people.”
“As long as I am governor, I plan to follow my oath and take care of those problems. Any bill or any attempt that would get in the way of our ability to protect the people of the state of Ohio is a bill I will be forced to veto to protect the people of the state of Ohio,” he added.
The governor said if this bill ever became law it would create “chaos” because it would allow Ohioans to sue over health issued orders, which would result in courts deciding these matters.
“We’re in the middle of a crisis, trying to bring the economy back, trying to protect Ohio’s citizens,” he said. “We have a budget we’re trying to balance. So many, many things we have to do. I guess I just don’t quite understand it.”
The same day the HSLGC passed its amendment, Rep. John Becker (R-Union Township) introduced House Bill 618, which tries to reopen Ohio’s economy faster, according to his press release.
Becker said Ohio’s executive branch has relied on vague power to issue these “unconscionable actions upon a free people.” The GOP member says the Ohio General Assembly must restore Ohioans’ constitutionally protected rights.
“It’s time to stop the madness and reopen Ohio. This bill is named, ‘Need Ohio Working- NOW Act’ because we must act now to mitigate the ongoing economic catastrophe that has crippled our job market,” he said.
One day after Becker introduced this bill, DeWine announced barbershops, bars and personal care services can reopen in some capacity May 15.
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