House Republicans Look to Reduce Health Department, DeWine Authority

[May 8, 2020]

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued the following statement, after the Ohio House of Representatives approved legislation this week to limit the power of the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) director:

“My administration is focused on the important things we need to do to help businesses responsibly reopen while protecting Ohioans’ health and safety. This week alone, this included increasing coronavirus testing and tracing, balancing Ohio’s budget, and working on plans to move Ohio’s economy forward. Ohioans need their legislators focused on these important issues. Creating more uncertainty regarding public health and employee safety is the last thing we need as we work to restore consumer confidence in Ohio’s economy.”

Passage of the bill was seen as an attack on DeWine’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal passed largely along party lines, 58-37, with two Republicans breaking from their party to vote against the bill.

The measure limits health department orders to 14 days and allows an order to be extended only if approved by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. The state has been under a stay-at-home order since March. Multiple House Republicans had called for the immediate reopening of the state without restrictions such as social distancing or workplace sanitization requirements.

At his daily briefings DeWine has repeatedly said any criticism of his handling of the coronavirus crisis should be directed towards him—and not ODH Director Amy Acton, MD. DeWine has said he would veto the bill.

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