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State Senator Hopes for Override Vote on Bill Vetoed by Governor DeWine Last Week

A sponsor of a bill that would limit the Governor’s power to enact health orders is holding out hope for an override of the governor's veto of the bill.

State Senator Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) is one of the primary sponsors of Senate Bill 311. The bill would prevent the governor from enacting statewide orders for quarantine or isolation and give the legislature the power to overturn other orders—such as curfews or mask-wearing—with a resolution. WKSU’s Jay Shah talked with Roegner about the legislation.

Q: The governor has said that this bill endangers a leader's ability to react quickly to protect Ohioans in the face of a health threat and a number of medical professionals have also supported that. So how would you respond to that concern?

A: You know, I would respond and just say read the bill. It's very simple. It's very short. It does not, you know, limit the executive branch's ability to issue orders except for a quarantine and isolation. A quarantine and isolation it says you cannot issue general statewide or regional quarantine or isolation orders, so there you know that is one limitation.

But all the other orders that he's been enacting like curfews or masks, or whatever it might be. I mean, the Executive Branch is absolutely free to still go and do that. The General Assembly would still have to convene to undo the order but nowhere in this bill does it say the executive branch can’t issue those orders and they can be just as nimble as they were before.

Q: Some fellow legislators, including Republican Senator Matt Dolan, don't favor an override of the governor's veto and some are frustrated that time is being spent on this now. They say that legislators all have the ability to introduce bills at any time. So why is this bill being pushed now with cases, surging and counties going purple?

A: Well again Jay nothing in this bill—if it were to pass now—would automatically undo any of those orders that the governor has passed recently like the mask order for example. Again the General Assembly would just have to you know get together and pass a resolution to undo these orders, but for the isolation and quarantine, OK.

Why should we do it now? Well because you know, I'm concerned that if, you know if it doesn't get passed now, I wonder if you know down the road, there is an order that the majority of the General Assembly doesn't feel is appropriate, say we hear from our constituents and say this isn't right you know, we should as a General Assembly be able to overturn the governor's orders in a proportional way that he can write them.

So, what I mean by that is, you know, he can pass, he can, um introduce these executive orders pretty quickly. All you have to do is you need to draft them up and the health director signs 'em and boom, they’re done. That is not at all comparable to what the General Assembly would have to do, if we have to pass a bill. Uh you know the bill would have to go through both chambers and then have to be veto proof crossed over into to undo an order.

What this resolution says now is it doesn't have to be a bill. It has to be a resolution. The difference between a bill and a resolution is a resolution cannot be vetoed, bills can be vetoed. So you know that's why we're in the middle—and I get it in the middle of the pandemic—yes, you know, there are cases, they are surging. I absolutely understand that you know, but at the same time, we are also facing, you know there's economic issues. There's educational issues. There's kids that are not not learning, there's the psychological issues there's an increase in suicides and depression and isolation and I think all that needs to be taken into consideration. And when you have representatives and senators that are closer to the people in many ways just by sheer matter of numbers because you know, we don't represent all almost 12 million people of this state. You know, we have smaller districts than the governor does so we can you know we have an ear to the ground in many ways closer than he does so I think it's helpful for us to be able to have a voice at the table.

Roegner tells WKSU she is awaiting results of a COVID-19 test following a Thanksgiving trip with family and friends to Colorado. Instagram photos show that neither the senator’s family nor their friends wore masks during this trip nor did they socially distance.

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State Senator Kristina Roegner is one of the primary sponsors of Senate Bill 311
Jay Shah / WKSU
State Senator Kristina Roegner is one of the primary sponsors of Senate Bill 311