Ohio House Republicans on Wednesday approved legislation that would limit the authority of the director of the Ohio Department of Health in what is being called a direct attack on Republican Gov. Mike DeWine and his administration’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Senate Bill 1, which would prohibit orders issued by the Department of Health on or after April 29, 2020 from lasting longer than 14 days, was approved by the House. The bill would allow for orders to be extended if the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR) approves.
The vote was 58-37 in favor of the amended bill, with a few Republicans voting against. It is not veto-proof, should Gov. Mike DeWine decide not to sign it.
State Rep. Bill Reineke (R-Tiffin) joined the Republican majority in voting for the legislation.
The bill would require approval from three of the five JCARR members in each chamber to let a health order stand. Republicans, by virtue of having supermajorities in both chambers, hold three of the five spots in each grouping.
Multiple House Republicans, including Reineke, have called for the immediate reopening of the state without restrictions such as social distancing or sanitization requirements for the workplace.
Gov. DeWine said in regards to the legislation that creating more uncertainty regarding public health and employee safety is “the last thing we need as we work to restore consumer confidence in Ohio’s economy.”
“My administration is focused on the important things we need to do to help businesses responsibly reopen while protecting Ohioans’ health and safety. This week alone, this included increasing coronavirus testing and tracing, balancing Ohio’s budget, and working on plans to move Ohio’s economy forward. Ohioans need their legislators focused on these important issues. Creating more uncertainty regarding public health and employee safety is the last thing we need as we work to restore consumer confidence in Ohio’s economy,” DeWine said in a statement.
The legislation still requires Senate approval and the governor’s signature. If DeWine were to veto the measure, it would require a legislative override with a three-fifths majority vote in each chamber.
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