COLUMBUS, Ohio – During the Monday COVID press briefing, Ohio Republican Governor Mike DeWine said he will veto Senate Bill 22 (SB22) on Tuesday – a proposed law that provides scope and duration to government power during public health emergencies. After the veto, the bill would then go where it originated, the Ohio Senate. There, it could be brought to a veto-override vote.
Ohio Senator Andrew Brenner (R-District 19) told The Ohio Star he believes the upper chamber will consider and override the bill as early as Wednesday – an override would require 20 “yes” votes. It passed the Senate 25-8 the first time.
If the bill passes the Senate, it would be sent to the Ohio House of Representatives where it would need 60 votes to override a DeWine veto.
Speaker of the Ohio House Bob Cupp (R-Lima) told an Ohio news agency that he is “absolutely positive” his chamber has the 60 override votes necessary to write it into law. The measure passed the House 57-37 the first time. Three Republicans voted against the measure and five did not vote.
“This bill is a trial lawyer’s dream,” DeWine declared after a member of the press asked him about the bill – indicating that the legislation, as written, would create legal issues for the government.
The Legislative Services Commission (LSC) – a nonpartisan agency of lawyers and researchers providing the Ohio General Assembly with drafting, research, budget and fiscal analysis – mentioned in the analysis of SB22 a potential legal snag regarding the parts of the bill that would allow the General Assembly to undo executive branch declarations, rules, and orders with a concurrent resolution (a simple majority vote in both the House and Senate; an action that is not a law and doesn’t require the Governor’s approval).
However, The Star talked with 1851 Center for Constitutional Law attorney Maurice Thompson who said SB22 “would be the bill making the law defining the scope of administrative power;” adding, “the legislature has not just the authority, but the duty, to limit that power.”
DeWine wrote a letter to every lawmaker on Monday, a move Brenner said usually happens post-veto. In the letter, DeWine states, “My deep concerns about SB 22 are for the safety of our citizens in the future.”
Nowhere in the letter did DeWine mention non-COVID deaths caused by COVID policies (whether suicide or deferred care due to the state of Ohio deciding essential care early in the government response), the emotional health impact of the State’s handling of the virus (among children and the aged in congregate care), or the economic impact – whether businesses closed for good or the unemployment clams in 2020 that were higher than the previous five years combined.
The five-page letter to lawmakers can be read below:
When asked if he agrees with Cupp that the House has the veto-override votes, Ohio Representative Scott Wiggam told The Star “the nature of the Governor is to go pick off people – and that will be the deciding factor here.”
However, Wiggam said he is confident that two of the three Republican representatives who voted against the bill the first time will vote in favor this time, adding that all five who did not vote at first pass will also likely support the measure this time. In that scenario the bill would seem to have more than enough votes (64) to override.
“If the Senate votes on Wednesday we should be doing it [then] also – I can’t imagine we wouldn’t,” said Wiggam. When asked about the constitutionality of the bill he said “if the Legislature can give power to the Governor in the first place, it can reel it back in.”
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Jack Windsor is the Statehouse Reporter at The Ohio Star. Windsor is also an independent investigative reporter. Follow Jack on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Image “Governor Mike DeWine” by The Ohio Channel.