Gov. Mike DeWine says while Ohio’s COVID numbers are trending in the right direction, the pandemic isn’t over. So he’s warning that he will veto a bill that would pull back on some of his power to issue health orders if state lawmakers send it to him - as he did last year.
Senate Bill 22 would "establish legislative oversight over Governor's and health orders" and could come up for a vote in a Senate committee Wednesday.
But DeWine said the bill, which would create a panel of lawmakers that could review and rescind orders from the governor or his health department.
“This is not the time for us to be cutting our authority [or] the health department’s authority back in regard to protecting the people of this state," DeWine said. "It also has long-term ramifications well beyond this governor, well beyond this health department, well beyond this pandemic.”
And DeWine, the former Ohio Attorney General, also said he thinks it has a major flaw.
“It is, in my opinion, not constitutional," DeWine said. "So I think it would just be a grave, grave mistake and I’ve made it very clear to my friends in the legislature that if this bill would be passed I would have no choice as governor of this state to veto it.”
Medical experts opposed to the bill testified last week.
After criticism about a crowded room and virtually no masks in an Ohio Senate hearing on limiting Gov. Mike DeWine’s health orders last week, the room looks different today, as @OHdeptofhealth chief medical officer Bruce Vanderhoff and others testify against the bill. pic.twitter.com/E58KGVTrYd
— Karen Kasler (@karenkasler) February 10, 2021
Their testimony came after business owners, people opposed to vaccines and others spoke in support of it the week before.
Last year DeWine vetoed two bills proposed by his fellow Republicans that sought to curb his authority on closing businesses and levying fines for violating health orders. That first bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon), who's also a sponsor of this bill DeWine said he'll veto.
As the legislature pushed back on DeWine's COVID policies, more bills to curtail his authority were proposed. They included a measure to cancel the state of emergency declared last spring, a bill to require lawmakers' approval for health orders and a measure providing that only state lawmakers could institute a mask mandate - sponsored by noted mask opponent Rep. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana). But those bills didn't pass.