House Republicans override veto of ban on Ohio communities from banning flavored tobacco sales
After a few weeks of wrangling for the needed three-fifths majority, Republicans in the Ohio House have overridden a veto on a provision in the state budget that prohibited communities from banning sales of flavored tobacco. It now goes to the Senate.
It’s further fueling the debate about uniform rules for businesses versus the home rule power of local governments.
Four Republicans joined all Democrats in voting against the override. Supporters of the veto have said it's about protecting kids from flavored tobacco and vapes, which can taste like candy. House Minority Leader Allison Russo (D-Upper Arlington) is concerned about taking power away from communities on some issues and not others.
“I think anytime we're talking about the preemption issue, we are violating home rule and Ohio as a home rule state. And I think that is something that we should protect as much as possible," Russo said. "And this is just one more example, I think, of the folks here in Columbus thinking that they know best for communities and cities and putting themselves in front of what our local officials—they are on the ground, they are hearing from constituents and then being able to adapt to the needs of those their communities and their constituents."
Republicans have approved bills that ban communities from banning plastic bags and have banned cities from using traffic cameras except under strict conditions. A Republican-proposed bill to make changes to Ohio's new recreational marijuana law would allow communities to ban pot sales. A court fight also continues over whether communities can make laws on guns that are stricter than state laws.
But Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) has said it’s about fairness to businesses and referenced that proposal that would allow communities to ban sales of marijuana.
“It's kind of similar to the marijuana—how do you protect children from these types of things that you don't want them to be able to buy and all of that sort of thing? I think the best way to do it is from a statewide perspective," Stephens said.
This is the second veto of this proposal from Gov. Mike DeWine, who struck a bill banning local bans of flavored tobacco in January and then vetoed the provision when it was added to the state budget in July. DeWine has suggested a statewide ban, but that hasn’t been proposed.