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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

DeWine Will Veto House Bill To Limit Business Shutdowns

The Ohio House overwhelmingly approved the bill on "essential" businesses in the first day of lame duck session. [Karen Kasler / Statehouse News Bureau]
The Ohio House met in the first day of lame duck session to consider the bill on "essential" businesses.

Republicans and Democrats in the Ohio House overwhelmingly approved a bill that seeks to limit Gov. Mike DeWine’s authority to shut down businesses statewide in a future health order.

But Dewine is pushing back.

The bill would allow businesses to stay open if they’re following safety protocols, and would declare that they're "essential" no matter the size. It aims to stop a statewide shutdown like the one at the start of the pandemic in March, which was designed to keep people at home and not interacting with others with certain exceptions, to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

On the House floor, Rep. Jon Cross (R-Kenton) took on the criticism that the bill was being rushed through on the first round of voting in the lame duck session, noting the bill was introduced in May.  

“We have had nine months. How much longer do we need to figure this out? Ohio is done waiting,” Cross said.

But Rep. Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus) fired back that the pandemic is constantly changing, and she wanted time to again confer with constituents after nearly a month of record COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. 

“And I would have appreciated the opportunity to give them that breathing room,” Boggs said.

Though there was some spirited debate, a provision to pass the bill as emergency legislation failed, but the measure was ultimately approved on the floor, 75-11. 

Soon after, DeWine was holding his fifth press conference of the day as he toured Ohio cities to talk about his 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. COVID-19 curfew. He said he’d veto the bill, calling it “horribly misguided”. 

“This is a direct attack on public health. It’s a direct attack on the safety of the people of the state of Ohio. It’s very sad. It’s very, very sad,” said DeWine.

The bill passed in the House with more than a veto-proof majority; it takes 60 votes to override a veto in the House and 20 in the Senate, where the bill heads next.

State lawmakers have introduced several bills to limit powers for DeWine and the Ohio Health Director, including a bill to cancel the COVID-19 state of emergencyand another that would  require lawmakers to vote to extend healh orders after 14 days.

DeWine has said he would veto any bill that limits his power on health orders, and he already  vetoed one that would lower penalties for violating health orders. He signed one that bans any state shutdown of houses of worship — which hasn't happened in Ohio. That measure also prohibits canceling an election.

In March, polling places were closed just hours before they were set to open for primary voting, but the vote was extended to April 28 so the election was never "canceled."

Copyright 2020 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.