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Senate Approves Bill To Limit States Of Emergency, Health Orders

Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) voted against SB22 saying it undermined the expediency needed to respond to a health crisis.
The Ohio Channel
Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) voted against SB22 saying it undermined the expediency needed to respond to a health crisis.

A bill to limit Gov. Mike DeWine’s (R-Ohio) authority to issue health orders and states of emergency and require more legislative involvement is moving forward today. It passed out of the Ohio Senate and now heads to the Ohio House, continuing the debate the role the government should play in a global pandemic. 

The bill, SB22, limits a state of emergency to 90 days and allows the Ohio House and Senate to revoke a state of emergency after 30 days and health orders after 11 days. It also creates a committee to scrutinize those orders.

Lisa Keller, Delaware City council member, appeared before the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee to support the bill. Keller says it creates better checks and balances and allows the opinions of constituents to be represented by the legislators.

"I'm here at the Statehouse pleading on behalf of my community not to be cut off from the decision making process in Ohio. But the decision maker isn't here. There is no forum for me to address the governor, no process such as this for me to participate," Keller says.

But opponents such as Sen. Cecil Thomas (D-Cincinnati) argue that the governor and state health department need the ability to make decisions quickly to respond to a health crisis.

"You have to have centralized dissemination of information and it has to be coming from the experts and not just our local authorities who feel that 'well it's not in my county so I'm going to do whatever I want to do,' that's ridiculous," says Thomas.

DeWine says he would veto the bill if it passes.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.