Gov. DeWine vetos bill that would limit his powers during health emergency

The governor cited objections from healthcare and business leaders in his veto.
In this Dec. 13, 2019 file photo, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks during an interview at the...
In this Dec. 13, 2019 file photo, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine speaks during an interview at the Governor's Residence in Columbus, Ohio.(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
Published: Dec. 3, 2020 at 4:03 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVG) - Gov. DeWine has officially vetoed a bill aimed at limiting his power to issue orders during pandemics or other health emergencies. Senate Bill 311 was passed by both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly in November.

In vetoing the bill, Gov. DeWine cited the objections of healthcare professionals and business leaders and said that the bill “is not in the best interest of protecting the health and safety of all Ohioans.”

Among the objections cited by the governor was the following testimony from Dr. Andrew M. Thomas, Ohio State Medical Association Council member, given to the Ohio House of Representatives State and Local Government Committee.

“One of the most concerning aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic is the ability of an individual to infect another person unknowingly during the asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic phase of the infection. If the ability of the Ohio Department of Health to only issue executive orders related to those already diagnosed with the infection or exposed to someone who is diagnosed, we fear that there will be millions of Ohioans put at risk given the risk of asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic spread.”

Lawmakers who supported the bill were looking to limit the governor’s ability to close down businesses deemed non-essential following a months-long pandemic that has hit small business owners particularly hard.

The bill itself, however, wasn’t just aimed at businesses and included measures that would restrict the governor from ordering those traveling from infected areas to quarantine unless there was proof the individual had been directly exposed. The governor has argued that such restrictions would make it difficult to stop the next pandemic, as well as limiting his ability to combat the current one.

The General Assembly does have the power to override the governor’s veto of the bill with a two-thirds majority vote, however, the bill did not receive high enough initial support to meet that threshold.

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