Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said on Tuesday that he would veto a bill aiming to curb emergency health orders if it made it to his desk.
During a press conference on Tuesday, DeWine said that “this is not the time for us to be cutting our authority.”
DeWine had been asked about Senate Bill 22, which was introduced late last month. The bill would establish the Ohio Health Oversight and Advisory Committee, as well as give the committee the power to rescind an executive order from the governor or an order from the Department of Health for preventing the spread of a contagious disease.
“The goal of this legislation is to give the citizens of the state of Ohio, through their elected officials, a voice in matters related to public health,” said State Sen. Terry Johnson (R-14-McDermott), one of the bill’s sponsors, in a statement when it was introduced. “This bill restores reasonable checks and balances that are crucial to the functioning of our government.”
DeWine said that he would veto the bill if it reached his desk.
“It also has long-term ramifications well beyond this governor, well beyond this health department, well beyond this pandemic,” DeWine said.
DeWine also raised questions about the constitutionality of the bill, citing an analysis from the Legislative Service Commission.
“A reviewing court might find the bill attempts to give the General Assembly a legislative veto power –that is, the authority to both make the law allowing the Governor or ODH to issue orders, and the authority to determine how that law is enforced by rescinding the Governor’s or ODH’s orders via resolution rather than bill,” the commission said in an analysis of the legislation. “Ohio’s courts appear not to have addressed this specific issue, but the U.S. Supreme Court and courts in several other states have ruled legislative veto laws unconstitutional on this basis.”
The bill, if passed, would also bar the governor or Department of Health from reissuing orders that had been rescinded for 90 days.
“I think it would be a grave, grave mistake, and I made it very clear to my friends in the legislation that if this bill would be passed, I would have no choice as governor of this state but to veto it,” DeWine said.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Ohio Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair.