DeWine Vetos Bill Aimed At Reduced Penalties For Violating Health Orders

Gov. Mike DeWine speaks at his daily coronavirus press conference on March 20. Behind him are Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton. [Office of Gov. Mike DeWine]
Gov. Mike DeWine speaks at his daily coronavirus press conference on March 20. Behind him are Lt. Gov. Jon Husted and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton. [Office of Gov. Mike DeWine]
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Gov. Mike DeWine vetoed a bill that would have lowered fines for violating health orders issued by Ohio’s governor, the state health director or local health departments. 

The veto, DeWine’s first on a measure not budget-related, was expected.

DeWine said he would veto any legislation that would limit public health orders, and struck down Senate Bill 55 specifically because of an addition that would reduce fines for violating public health orders during an emergency like the current pandemic.

The standing penalty is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable with up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine. The bill would have required a warning on the first violation of a health order, followed by a maximum fine of $150 for subsequent offenses – and no possible jail time.

DeWine, in his veto message, said he supported the initial intent of the bill, which was to increase penalties for those caught selling drugs outside addiction treatment centers.

"However, the bill was amended in a way that would make it difficult for local health officials to protect the public’s safety and fight the spread of COVID-19," DeWine wrote. "In the midst of this pandemic, now is not the time to change tactics and impede local health officials’ ability to protect all Ohioans."

There were enough Republican and Democratic votes for the bill to override a veto in the House, but not in the Senate.

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

 

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