COLUMBUS, Ohio – State lawmakers are expected to quickly seek to override Governor Mike DeWine’s veto of laws that would give lawmakers the power to override health orders.
What you need to know
- The Ohio Senate could attempt to override the veto on Wednesday
- Opponents said Senate Bill 22 would cripple health officials
- Governor Mike DeWine vetoed the bill Tuesday afternoon
The governor had 10 days, excluding Sundays, to veto the bill and he used the full-time available to delay the legislative process, eventually vetoing it on Tuesday afternoon.
In a statement, the governor said the bill “jeopardizes the safety of every Ohioan” and contained a 5-page veto message that reproduced a letter to Republican lawmakers Monday.
The legislation would hold a group of lawmakers responsible for overseeing health instructions and emergency rules by state executive departments, and would give lawmakers the power to put those orders down after 30 days.
When DeWine announced its intention to veto the legislation, Senate President Matt Huffman said he would schedule an override vote as soon as possible.
The Senate could try to override the veto at its next session on Wednesday.
In addition to the governor’s office, Democratic lawmakers and the Ohio Department of Health have spoken out against the bill, which aims to give lawmakers the ability to prevent officials from responding to health emergencies, whether it’s the current pandemic or not possible future crises.
One of the sponsors of the law, Rep. Scott Wiggam of Ohio 1st District, said in a response to the governor Tuesday morning that the legislative debate had revealed “fundamental differences between the current philosophy of the executive and the philosophy of the majority of members the legislature. “
The Senate voted 25 to 8 for the bill on February 17 and voted 57 to 38 in the House of Representatives.
During a press conference Monday, DeWine said he still saw a way forward to negotiate a more moderate version of the legislation that would give lawmakers some of the control they seek.
“I still believe we can reach an agreement that will include that oversight while protecting the health of the people of Ohio,” he said.
The governor said he had sent “a compromise proposal” to lawmakers but declined to provide details of what that meant.
Republican lawmakers said the bill was a response to the government’s overreach during the pandemic with a spring lockdown followed by the mask mandate and curfews, among many other health mandates.
Before the bill was passed, the governor said previous talks with lawmakers had collapsed and claims the version of the bill that they ultimately passed was unconstitutional.
If it were incorporated into law, Senate Bill 22 would:
- Give the legislature the opportunity to override health regulations and emergency declarations
- End any public health emergency statement after 90 days
- Allow lawmakers to end emergencies after 30 days if they so choose
- Form a six-member committee with lawmakers from both chambers to advise on public health orders
- Prohibit local health departments, schools, and businesses from closing and issuing orders such as prohibiting mass gatherings
- Allow residents to file lawsuits if they believe their constitutional rights have been negatively impacted
DeWine said the strict rules on quarantines are among the most dangerous aspects of the legislation.
Wiggal’s letter said lawmakers would take action against the governor’s “unrestricted” use of executive power during the pandemic. He said Senate 22 bill restored control and he argued that it was up to the court to determine whether the bill was constitutional, not the governor.
“This type of autocratic rule needs to be scrutinized by lawmakers and should be scrutinized in court as I believe it is not only unacceptable but also unconstitutional. An executive that has uncontrolled powers to give healthy citizens a “stay at home” order or to prevent all citizens from leaving after 10 p.m. under threat of arrest simply has too much power, ”Wiggam said.