• 61°

GOP lawmakers give DeWine first override over health bill

COLUMBUS (AP) — GOP lawmakers on Wednesday made good on their promise to check the authority of fellow Republican Gov. Mike DeWine by issuing the first override of his term after a yearlong battle over how the state should respond during a health emergency.

The Republican-controlled House and Senate voted after short debates in each chamber to reject DeWine’s veto of legislation restricting the state including local health departments’ ability to respond to emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic.

“Governor DeWine, through his letter Monday and his veto message yesterday, made his serious concerns regarding Senate Bill 22 known to the members of the General Assembly and to the public,” Dan Tierney, the governor’s spokesperson said following the override.

The legislation simply gives lawmakers the power to review orders issued by the Ohio Department of Health, with more than 30 states having similar laws, said Senate President Matt Huffman, a Lima Republican.

The Senate bill in question would allow state lawmakers to rescind public health orders issued by the governor or the state health department as soon as they take effect, as well as prevent the governor from reintroducing similar orders for at least 60 days.

The bill would also limit state of emergency orders to a period of 90 days but allow lawmakers to extend them in 60-day increments indefinitely.

DeWine has warned the bill would also ripple the state’s ability to address an emerging public health crisis and open up local health departments to lawsuits by anyone who disagrees with their enforcement actions.