For the first time as governor, Mike DeWine vetoed a bill Friday that restricted penalties for people who violate public health orders.
Senate Bill (SB) 55, which was introduced by state Senator Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green), would have allowed Ohioans who violate public health orders to receive a warning rather than receive fines. According to the bill, if people did not follow the public health orders then it would result in a fine no more than $100 for each subsequent violation.
According to The Toledo Blade, a violation of a public health order related to an epidemic can be charged as a second-degree misdemeanor. If found guilty of this crime, a person could receive up to 90 days in jail and a maximum of $750 fine.
When this bill was introduced in February 2019 it wanted to increase penalties for people who committed drug trafficking offenses near substance addiction services. In May, the clause about restricting fines became apart of the bill.
In his objection letter, DeWine says he supports the drug trafficking part of the bill, but not the one pertaining to the public health orders.
“In the midst of this pandemic, now is not the time to change tactics and impede local health officials’ ability to protect all Ohioans,” the governor wrote. “Our collective goals are always to ensure the safety of the public, guard against the health care system from being overwhelmed, and allowing all Ohio workers and businesses to do what they do best, which is grow our economy.”
“A robust public health system protects us from E-coli and Legionella outbreaks, threats of bioterrorism, or once-in-a-century pandemics,” he added.
SB 55 will now be sent back to the state Senate where the bill originated. For the Ohio Legislature to overrule DeWine’s veto it needs to receive a three-fifths majority in each chamber.
For the original vote, the Senate passed it 18 to 10 and the House approved it 72 to 23. Several state senators voted present on this bill. For the Legislature to overrule the governor’s veto, it will need two more state senators to vote in favor of the bill.
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