Nearly 200 Show Support For Lawmakers' Panel That Could Strike Down Health Orders

Feb 3, 2021

Nearly two hundred people offered testimony in an Ohio Senate committee in support of a Republican-backed bill that would allow a panel of lawmakers to reject a health order from the governor, and to limit states of emergency to 30 days.

Rishanne Golden has blamed her 20-year-old daughter’s death in 2018 on the meningitis vaccine, though medical experts have said there’s no connection.

Golden told Senators she now has to rebuild her Marysville business that she said was devastated by Gov. Mike DeWine’s pandemic policies, which she called “insane”.

“And at 57 years old I would be forced to rise and build a new career and a new life that was not with a family of four, and that I would be doing so because in the land of the free, a dictator rules," Golden said.

Others testifying include business owners, students and people opposed to vaccines and masks. The testimony included some wild and unsubstantiated claims about COVID treatments, vaccines, mask effectiveness and government power.

Most in the room were maskless, leading Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) to leave the hearing and watch it in his office on the Ohio Channel. Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) stayed for the full hearing but echoed his colleague's worries about so many people in the room without masks.

The bill includes some elements of a bill that Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed last year. It's sponsored by Sens. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) and Rob McColley (R-Napoleon), who sponsored SB 311, a bill on business closures that was one of two DeWine rejected. More bills to limit DeWine's authority with health orders and shutdowns were proposed but didn’t pass both chambers.

While there is a statewide mask mandate in place, the Ohio House and Senate set their own rules. And so far, neither chamber has imposed a mask mandate - in fact, the House has twice rejected minority Democrats' efforts to put one into place.

Several state lawmakers have tested positive for COVID, including Reps. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) and John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake) who were hospitalized.