There are a little over 167 coronavirus cases per 100,000 Ohio residents this week. That’s more than three times Gov. Mike DeWine’s target number to end all health orders such as the mask mandate issued in July.
And the leader of Republicans in the Senate says state lawmakers will be ready to use their new power to lift those orders if DeWine doesn’t.
Since the House and Senate overrode DeWine’s veto, a new law giving them the authority to rescind a governor’s health order takes effect in mid-June.
In an interview for this week's "The State of Ohio", Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said lawmakers may not be planning to do so but will certainly consider overturning those orders, since they’ll already be in session at that time discussing the state budget, which is due at the end of June.
"'Plans' might be too strong of a word," Huffman said. "I think it's likely that if the emergency has not been declared to be over by the governor, that both houses and the legislature would pass the resolution called for for that to end.”
Senate Bill 22 would allow lawmakers to overturn a governor's health order by concurrent resolution.
But DeWine continues to say he doesn't think that's constitutional. Rep. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana), a harsh critic of DeWine's COVID policies, was one of the few Republicans who voted against the bill, saying he also thinks it's unconstitutional. And an analysis from the legislature's researchers also said there were constitutional questions about it.
But Huffman said if they don’t vote to end it, the law orders an emergency to expire 30 days after it’s issued. So the state of emergency declared in March 2020 would end on its own in mid-July.