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Ohio Senate President Says Lawmakers Likely To Overturn DeWine's Health Orders In June

Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) presides over session as Senators override Gov. Mike DeWine's veto of Senate Bill 22 on March 26, 2021.
Dan Konik
Statehouse News Bureau
Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) presides over session as Senators override Gov. Mike DeWine's veto of Senate Bill 22 on March 26, 2021.

There are a little over 167 coronavirus cases per 100,000 Ohio residents this week. That’s more than three times Gov. Mike DeWine’s target number to end all public health orders, such as the mask mandate issued last July.

The Republican leader of the Ohio Senate says state lawmakers will be ready to use their new power to lift those orders if DeWine doesn’t. 

Because the House and Senate overrode DeWine’s veto on SB22, the new law giving lawmakers the authority to rescind a governor’s health order or state of emergency takes effect in mid-June.

In an interview for this week's "The State of Ohio," Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said lawmakers will certainly consider overturning any remaining orders at that time, since they’ll already be in session discussing the state budget due at the end of June.

"'Plans' might be too strong of a word," Huffman said. "I think it's likely that if the emergency has not been declared to be over by the governor, that both houses and the legislature would pass the resolution called for for that to end.”

Senate Bill 22 allows lawmakers to overturn a governor's health order by concurrent resolution, as well as end any state of emergency. But DeWine continues to say he doesn't think that's constitutional, although it's not yet clear if he will sue to stop the law from taking effect.

State Rep. Nino Vitale (R-Urbana), a harsh critic of DeWine's COVID-19 policies, was one of the few Republicans who voted against the bill, saying he also thinks it's unconstitutional. And an analysis from the legislature's researchers also found questions about its constitutionality.

But Huffman said if they don’t vote to end the state of emergency, the law automatically orders an emergency declaration to expire 30 days after it’s issued. So the state of emergency DeWine declared in March 2020 would end on its own in mid-July.
DeWine previously said he would lift the state's coronavirus health orders once new infections dropped to a rate of 50 new cases per 100,000 people over two weeks. Although Ohio's infection rate had been declining quickly in recent months, it's risen again in the last week.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.