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Legislature overrides Gov. DeWine’s veto on bill that could limit COVID health orders

Published: Mar. 24, 2021 at 3:12 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The Ohio General Assembly voted to override the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 22 on Wednesday.

The bill sought to give the legislature power over health orders. In a veto message issued Tuesday, Gov. Mike DeWine criticized the legislation, saying it jeopardizes the health and safety of Ohioans. Republicans in the Ohio House and Senate argue it’s about separation of powers, individual freedoms, and giving Ohioans a voice in public health matters.

“It’s time for us to stand up for the legislative branch. It’s time for us to reassert ourselves as a separate and co-equal branch of government here in the state of Ohio,” said Sen. Rob McColley, R-Napoleon. “We need to stand up and we need to finish this for all the Ohioans who have been asking us for a long time to be their voice.”

SB 22 would create an Ohio Health Oversight and Advisory Committee to review health orders and rules issued by the governor’s office or ODH, giving the legislature the power to modify or rescind health orders.

The Senate needed 20 votes to override the veto in its chamber. 23 Republicans in the Ohio Senate all support the bill and moved to override Gov. DeWine’s veto issued on Tuesday. The Ohio Constitution requires the bill to be reconsidered in the House. The Ohio House voted in favor of the override 62-35. Those votes solidify the veto override and make the legislation law. It goes into effect in 90 days.

House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes, D-Akron, who has a master’s degree in public health, criticized members in the final moments before the House voted to overread the veto for taking on the responsibility she felt should fall with public health leaders.

“You are not good at public health. This is not your lane. you need to get out of it,” Sykes said. “People are going to be harmed by this decision.”

Gov. DeWine’s spokesperson, Dan Tierney, released a statement Wednesday evening after the vote.

“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,” the statement said in part.

The move could have major implications on COVID-19 mitigation efforts, including the statewide mask mandate and other current health safety measures. Read the entire legislation here.

You can also read the proponent’s testimony here.

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