by J.D. Davidson
While in one area of the Ohio Statehouse lawmakers took aim at limiting Gov. Mike DeWine’s authority, in another area others began attacking specific orders issued during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aside from bills that would require General Assembly approval for statewide stay-at-home orders, Ohio state senators held hearings on a bill that would end DeWine’s orders to stop alcohol sales at restaurants and bars at 10 p.m. and on another that placed limitations on county fairs.
As DeWine was announcing a statewide 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew that begins Thursday, Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, and President Pro Tem Bob Peterson, R-Washington Court House, testified for their bill that would wipe out the ban on alcohol says after 10 p.m.
“Ohio’s restaurants and bars have suffered immensely from the restrictions placed on their industry during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Obhof said. “In order to survive, we have seen them step up during this crisis and find innovative ways to safely serve their customers and keep hundreds of thousands of Ohioans employed. These are our friends, our neighbors and leaders in our communities, and Senate Bill 374 will help them keep their jobs and doors open.”
The bill eliminates DeWine’s July 13 alcohol order and reverts sale times established by Ohio law. It also prevents any disciplinary actions resulting from violations of the July 13 order.
In all, 22 state senators signed on as co-sponsors.
“In all of our communities, these businesses – many of them family owned – have proven their ability to ensure safe dining and a safe workplace,” Peterson said. “My colleagues and I are firmly committed to removing unnecessary and stifling regulations on those who are responsibly working to provide for their families, employ their fellow Ohioans and play an important role in our economy’s recovery.”
Also, Senate Bill 375, in the Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee, would void the director of health order regarding county fairs. In late July, the department of health ordered county fairs to operate only as junior fairs, prohibiting rides, games and other grandstand events.
“This legislation is necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety,” co-sponsor Sen. Frank Hoagland, R-Mingo Junction, said in written testimony.
State Sen. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster, also a co-sponsor, said Ohioans want to return to normal.
“Though the state’s annual county fairs have concluded for the season, it is necessary to ensure that all county fairs fully operate next year and continue thereafter,” Schaffer said in written testimony. “It is imperative that we re-open Ohio and ensure that government does not become an obstacle to its citizens.”
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. Davidson is a regional editor for The Center Square.
Photo “Ohio Capitol” by Mj. CC BY-SA 4.0.