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Ohio Senate Approves Bill To Limit State Health Orders

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine wears a mask before his coronavirus press conference on June 23, 2020.
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine
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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine wears a mask before his coronavirus press conference on June 23, 2020.

A bill to limit Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s authority to issue health orders and require more legislative involvement moved forward on Wednesday. The bill was approved by the Ohio Senate and now heads to the Ohio House, as state leaders debate the role the government should play in a global pandemic.

The bill, SB22, limits states of emergency to 90 days, while allowing the Ohio legislature to revoke a state of emergency after 30 days and public health orders after 11 days. It also creates a committee to scrutinize those orders.

Delaware City council member Lisa Keller appeared before the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee to support the bill. Keller says it creates better checks and balances and allows the opinions of constituents to be represented by the legislators.

"I'm here at the Statehouse pleading on behalf of my community not to be cut off from the decision-making process in Ohio," Keller says. "But the decision-maker isn't here. There is no forum for me to address the governor, no process such as this for me to participate."

But opponents such as state Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) argue that the governor and state health department need the ability to make decisions quickly to respond to a health crisis.

"You have to have centralized dissemination of information and it has to be coming from the experts and not just our local authorities who feel that, 'Well, it's not in my county so I'm going to do whatever I want to do,' that's ridiculous," Thomas says.

DeWine says he would veto the bill if it passes, calling it unconstitutional.

What lingering questions do you have about COVID-19 and Ohio's response? Ask below and WOSU may report the answer for a future story.

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