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DeWine Warns He'll Veto Latest Bill To Curb Health Order Authority

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks during an interview at the Governor's Residence in Columbus, Ohio on Dec. 13, 2019.
John Minchillo
/
AP
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks during an interview at the Governor's Residence in Columbus, Ohio on Dec. 13, 2019.

Gov. Mike DeWine says that while Ohio’s COVID numbers are trending in the right direction, the pandemic isn’t over. He warned state lawmakers that he will veto a bill to pull back on his power to issue health orders, as he did last year.

Senate Bill 22 would "establish legislative oversight over Governor's and health orders," and was approved by a Senate committee Wednesday. It now goes to a full vote before the Ohio Senate.

DeWine says he has long-term concerns about a bill to create a panel of lawmakers that could review and rescind from the governor or the Ohio Department of Health.

“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 says. "It also has long-term ramifications well beyond this governor, well beyond this health department, well beyond this pandemic.”

The bill would create a committee that could revoke executive actions through a concurrent resolution, which requires a simple majority from the House and Senate.

As the former Ohio Attorney General, DeWine also said he thinks the bill 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 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 state Sen. Rob McColley (R-Napoleon), who's also a sponsor of the current SB22.

As the legislature pushed back on DeWine's COVID policies, lawmakers proposed even more bills to curtail his authority, including 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 state Rep. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana).

None of those bills were passed.