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House GOP Leader: Order That Sparked FEMA Rumor Gives DeWine Broad Power

Majority Floor Leader Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) speaking on the House floor in March 2018
Ohio House
Majority Floor Leader Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) speaking on the House floor in March 2018

Gov. Mike DeWine has shot down as “ridiculous” and “crazy” an internet rumor about the state’s plans for federal emergency management money. But a Republican House leader who’s thought to be a possible candidate for Speaker says he’s still concerned.

House Majority Floor Leader Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati) railed against the order on non-congregate sheltering in an interview for "The State of Ohio" for this coming weekend.

“This order was worded far too broadly and gives the governor and the health director power to say to Karen Kasler: ‘OK, we don't think you're going to quarantine at home like we're asking you to - off to the internment camp you go’," Seitz said.

Seitz added that he's worried about an executive having "the power to order perfectly healthy people that have a home or an apartment in which they can quarantine to go off to a FEMA camp somewhere. That's the kind of thing that gets at least certain elements of the public quite upset about executive overreach."

DeWine called that rumor “crazy”, saying the order does not set up camps for involuntary detainment, but creates a way for federal funds to help pay for people who need to quarantine but can’t at home – for instance, to buy hotel rooms for medical workers with families.

When asked about DeWine's explanation, Seitz said the language could have been clearer. He wrote in a text: "If I were the drafter, I would have said that nothing in this order shall be construed to authorize the involuntary commitment of any person to such a facility if they have a home residents and have not violated a lawful quaratine order. That would have quelled any suspicion."

But Seitz said in that text that he’s "satisfied that he [DeWine] does not intend to use the power that the order literally confers on him".

There are reports that Seitz is considering a run for speaker in January, if Republicans retain their majority in the House. Seitz has been in the General Assembly since 2000, serving in both the House and Senate.

He has praised current Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima), and said when asked if he intends to mount a campaign for speaker: "I'm not even thinking about that."