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Ohio Republicans Forgo Masks, Vote To Limit Acton's Power

The Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus on March 26, 2020.
Ryan Hitchcock
The Ohio Statehouse in downtown Columbus on March 26, 2020.

In this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss the slow reopening of the economy, the state's budget shortfall, and the poltics of wearing masks at the Statehouse.

Also this week: Ohio House Republicans voted to limit the power of Department of Health orders, a measure that Gov. Mike DeWine said he will veto.

Listen to Snollygoster on theWOSU Public Media mobile app, on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. And make sure to leave a rating and review!

In this week's episode:
Coronavirus Politics

Though more businesses were cleared to open this week, things still seem pretty quiet across the state.

Lawmakers also got back to work in the General Assembly, with a clear partisan divide: Democrats wore masks and almost all Republicans did not.

Another stark partisan divide came with the GOP-backed vote to make all new Health Department orders effective for only 14 days, unless legislators vote to extend them. Current law already allows the legislature to override a Health Department order with a two-thirds majority vote. The bill now goes to the Ohio Senate, but DeWine has vowed to veto if it reaches his desk.

Meanwhile, Ohio's economic shutdown means that tax revenues are way down. DeWine is implementing nearly $800 million of budget cuts over the next two months. The cuts mean that every school district will lose about 3.5% of its yearly state funding. Medicaid will see a cut, but not a reduction in coverage, because of some additional federal funding.

The state is sitting on nearly $3 billion in its "Rainy Day Fund," but DeWine says he won’t touch in this fiscal year.

Chasing Amy

Dr. Amy Acton, the director of the Ohio Department of Public Health, was featured in a glowing editorial videoproduced by The New York Times praising her leadership and communication skills.

Meanwhile, Acton was greeted at least twice this week by protesters outside her home. The protesters denounced her stay at home orders and called for her to be fired.

DeWine said the demonstrations at her home crossed a line.

Snollygoster Of The Week

Ohio state Rep. Nino Vitale, a Republican from western Ohio, is not a fan of government efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus.

He’s compared stay at home orders to being under house arrest. He's posted the conspiracy theory that BIll Gates wants to lock us down and profit by charging us for mandatory vaccinations. And this week, he said that the state should not mandate the wearing of masks because it dishonors God.

Send questions and comments to snollygoster@wosu.org.

Mike Thompson spends much of his time correcting people who mispronounce the name of his hometown – Worcester, Massachusetts. Mike studied broadcast journalism at Syracuse University when he was not running in circles – as a distance runner on the SU track team.
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