COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Republican lawmakers on Wednesday advanced the latest legislative action aimed at limiting the emergency powers of Ohio’s governor.
A Senate bill introduced last month by lawmakers would establish “checks and balances” on fellow GOP Gov. Mike DeWine’s ability to issue and keep in place executive action during an emergency.
The bill would create a committee that would have to power to rescind executive actions taken by a governor or the state health department through a concurrent resolution, which requires a simple majority from the House and Senate. The latest draft of the bill was altered Wednesday to reduce the number of lawmakers making the final say on orders in the committee from 10 to 6.
Opponents of the bill warned it would decentralize the state’s response during an emergency and cost lives in the process.
“This is not a good time to limit the authority of the state health director,” Democratic Sen. Hearcel Craig said during the hearing. “We are unsure of the deleterious impact that our interventions might have on the ongoing war against COVID-19, including the potential variants.”
The senator’s comments mirrored those made by DeWine during a briefing Tuesday, where he once again indicated his disdain for efforts made by fellow GOP lawmakers to pass such legislation.
“We’re not out of this yet,” he said. “We cannot declare victory.”
DeWine, who vetoed a similar Senate bill in December, called the legislative action unconstitutional and “a grave mistake.”
He added, “I made it very clear to my friends in the Legislature that if this bill would be passed, I would have no choice as governor of the state but to veto.”
Farnoush Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.