DeWine vetoed a similar measure late last year and on Thursday said it would veto the latest bill as well.
A bill that limits governors’ ability to issue public health orders during a pandemic is unconstitutional and a violation of the separation of powers, according to Governor Mike DeWine, who plans to veto the latest legislation headed to his desk while hopes for a compromise.
The GOP-controlled House passed the final version of the bill on Wednesday, and he now heads to DeWine with what his fellow Republican legislative leaders believe is a veto-proof majority in both chambers.
The measure is the latest effort by Republican lawmakers to curb DeWine’s authority to issue statewide orders such as wearing mandatory masks and crowd size limits during sporting events.
Among other provisions, the bill limits public health orders to 90 days and would allow the legislature to resolve them after 30 days with a “simultaneous resolution”, a different accelerated vote. from normal legislation.
The bill “aims to give Ohio citizens a voice in public health and restore the natural separation of powers that should exist in any form of government,” said Senator Rob McColley, a Republican. from Napoleon.
DeWine vetoed a similar measure late last year and on Thursday said it would veto the latest bill as well. As Ohio emerges from the pandemic, the concern is now limiting the powers of governors going forward, the governor said.
“I’m very concerned about a future governor and statewide health departments that don’t have the tools they need to keep the people of the state safe,” DeWine said.
Allowing lawmakers to overturn a governor’s order with a resolution and not effective legislation is “clearly unconstitutional,” DeWine added.
The governor raised a particular issue with the law requiring that public health departments could not quarantine individuals unless they had a direct contract with someone who was “diagnosed with a communicative or contagious disease.”
Such a warrant could have devastating consequences if a traveler from abroad arrived with possible exposure to a highly contagious disease like Ebola but could not provide such rigorous documentation of the contact, the governor said.
“Do we really want that person to mix with society, possibly sealing the medical fate of hundreds and hundreds of people?” DeWine said. “This bill would say that that local health department couldn’t stop that person from doing this.”
While DeWine said he still hopes to reach a compromise with lawmakers, Senate President Matt Huffman said he will schedule an overrule vote when DeWine vetoes the measure.
“The governor’s office can still issue health orders during times of emergency,” said Huffman, a Republican from Lima. “This just puts people at the table not only to monitor but also to be part of the process.”