Ohio AG Files Suit Over "No Tax Cuts" Provision In COVID Relief Plan

Mar 17, 2021

President Biden will travel to Columbus next week to promote the federal COVID relief package that will send $11.2 billion to Ohio and its local governments. But the state’s attorney general went to court today to stop a provision in that $1.9 trillion stimulus package.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) had the news of the Biden visit in a conference call this morning, saying Biden will come to Ohio and “he will talk about the American Rescue Plan.” Brown didn't have details at the time, but the White House made an announcement a few hours later.

But also on Wednesday, Republican Attorney General Dave Yost filed suit to stop a part of the package that prevents states from using those funds for tax cuts, saying it’s unconstitutional.

“Congress just didn’t have the authority to coerce the states with regard to their tax policy," Yost said.

“They don’t have the authority to require that, even if it were a good idea. And look, the legislature’s not talking about cutting taxes. But Congress doesn’t have the authority to tell the legislature that they can’t.”

Yost’s suit is the first court action on the issue, though 21 Republican AGs wrote to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen asking her to clarify the provision.

The suit has the support of Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who said in a statement: "The precedent Congress is attempting to set here is that anytime the federal government sends money to state or local governments, they could add strings to control the tax policies of all 50 states. This is both arrogant and unconstitutional."

Yost has also sued the Biden administration over release of U.S. Census data by March 31. There was a hearing on that case Wednesday with oral arguments on Friday, but that could mean the a decision might not happen by the deadline Yost has requested.