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Ohio Attorney General Sues To Block Tax Provision Of COVID Relief Plan

Dave Yost speaks at the Ohio Republican Party event, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. Yost was elected as the next Ohio attorney general.
Tony Dejak
Associated Press
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost

President Biden will travel to Columbus next week to promote the federal COVID relief package that will send $11.2 billion to Ohio and its local governments. Meanwhile, the Ohio Attorney General went to court on Wednesday to stop a provision in that same package.

Republican Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit to stop a part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that prevents states from using those funds for tax cuts, calling it unconstitutional.

“Congress just didn’t have the authority to coerce the states with regard to their tax policy," Yost said. “They don’t have the authority to require that, even if it were a good idea. And look, the legislature’s not talking about cutting taxes. But Congress doesn’t have the authority to tell the legislature that they can’t.”

Yost’s suit is the first court action on the issue, though 21 Republican Attorney Generals wrote to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen asking her to clarify the provision.

"The precedent Congress is attempting to set here is that anytime the federal government sends money to state or local governments, they could add strings to control the tax policies of all 50 states," Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said in a statement supporting the lawsuit. "This is both arrogant and unconstitutional."

Yost has also sued the Biden administration over release of U.S. Census data by March 31. There was a hearing on that case Wednesday with oral arguments on Friday, but that could mean the a decision might not happen by the deadline Yost has requested.