Republicans and Democrats in the Ohio House have overwhelmingly approved a bill that seeks to limit Gov. Mike DeWine’s authority to shut down businesses statewide in a future health order. But Dewine is pushing back.
The bill would allow businesses to stay open if they’re following safety protocols, and that they're essential no matter the size.
It aims to stop a statewide shutdown like the one at the start of the pandemic in March, which was designed to keep people at home and not interacting with others with certain exceptions, to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
On the floor, Rep. Jon Cross (R-Kenton) took on the criticism that the bill was being rushed through on the first voting session of lame duck, saying it was introduced in May.
“We have had nine months. How much longer do we need to figure this out? Ohio is done waiting,” said Cross.
But Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) fired back that the pandemic is constantly changing, and that she wanted time to confer again with constituents after nearly a month of record cases and hospitalizations.
“And I would have appreciated the opportunity to give them that breathing room,” Boggs said.
Though there was some spirited debate, A provision to pass the bill as emergency legislation failed, but the measure was approved on the floor 75-11.
Not long afterward, Gov. Mike DeWine was holding his fifth press conference of the day as he toured Ohio cities to talk about his 10pm-5am COVID curfew. And he said he’d veto the bill, calling it “horribly misguided”.
“This is a direct attack on public health. It’s a direct attack on the safety of the people of the state of Ohio. It’s very sad. It’s very, very sad,” said DeWine.
The bill passed with more than a veto proof majority. It takes 60 votes to override a veto in the House and 20 in the Senate, where the bill now goes.
Lawmakers have introduced several bills to limit the power of DeWine and his health director, including a bill to cancel the COVID state of emergency and to require lawmakers to vote to extend orders after 14 days.
DeWine has said he would veto any bill that limits his power on health orders, and he’s vetoed one that would lower penalties for violating health orders.
He signed one that bans any state shutdown of houses of worship - which hasn't happened in Ohio. It also prohibits the canceling of an election. Polling places were closed just hours before the March primary election day, but the vote was extended to April 28, so the election was never "canceled".