Bill giving Ohio lawmakers veto power over health orders heads to governor

The Ohio House plans to vote Wednesday on a bill allowing state lawmakers to change or revoke public health orders.

Ohio Republicans passed a bill Wednesday let state lawmakers change or revoke the state's public health orders over the objections of Democrats and Gov. Mike DeWine. 

"The most important decisions of the past year were all out of ours hands," Rep. Scott Wiggam, R-Wooster, said. "Shutting down businesses. Telling people you are essential and not essential. Whether or not a mask mandate needs to continue. Those are pretty big decisions, and one person has made those."

Senate Bill 22, which passed through both the House and Senate on party-line votes, would change that by giving state lawmakers the power to rescind or change public health orders issued by any state agency. 

But both chambers may need to vote again to make the bill a law. DeWine said he would veto a previous version of the bill, calling it a "grave mistake" to tie the hands of a future governor. He declined through a spokesman to comment on the revised bill Wednesday.

Here's how the bill would work: 

  • Any state of emergency order would expire after 90 days unless lawmakers voted to extend it in 60-day increments. 
  • Lawmakers could terminate the emergency after 30 days.
  • Creates the Ohio Health Oversight and Advisory Committee with equal members from both chambers.
  • Bans local boards of health from closing schools, issuing orders for specific types of businesses (i.e. shutting down gyms) or prohibiting public gatherings. 
  • Lets people sue the state on the constitutionality of any order in their county of residence and pays them attorney fees if they win.

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