DeWine on veto override: ‘This is not the only crisis we will face’

Gov. Mike DeWine outlined his objections to Senate Bill 22 during a COVID-19 press conference on Thursday, March 11. Screenshot courtesy The Ohio Channel.

When lawmakers started debating a bill to give themselves power to strike down public health orders, Gov. Mike DeWine expressed hope they would ultimately reject the proposal.

When lawmakers passed the bill, DeWine said he would veto it and expressed hope they would choose against overriding him.

Less than 24 hours after issuing his veto, lawmakers voted to override it. DeWine said he is now hopeful they will consider making fixes to the law he finds most objectionable.

Hope seems to spring eternal in the governor’s office, at least in public view. On Thursday, DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted insisted to reporters their relationship with the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly remains strong. 

Meanwhile, lawmakers spent the previous day championing their successful effort to roll back the governor’s authority. Rep. Thomas Brinkman, Jr. of Mount Lookout, whom DeWine endorsed for reelection last fall, wrote after the override vote: “Checking the overreach of the executive branch, finally.”

The GOP supermajorities were unable in 2020 to overcome three DeWine vetoes of bills targeting his pandemic authority.

The math for an override, requiring a three-fifths majority, became easier for Republicans this term after the party gained three seats in the House and another in the Senate headed into the new term.

As previously reported, Senate Bill 22 provisions include:

  • Through passing a concurrent resolution, the legislature can rescind public health orders; state of emergency declarations; and any other executive branch order/rule issued in response to an emergency declaration.
  • These orders/declarations can be rescinded as early as the same day they are issued. 
  • The executive branch cannot reissue a rescinded order for at least 60 days
  • Limits state of emergency declaration to 30 days, requiring legislature approval to extend it.
  • Limits local boards of health from issuing widespread quarantine orders or any other orders that generally impact schools and businesses.
  • Local boards of health can only issue a quarantine/isolation order to individuals who have been diagnosed with a disease or have come in contact with someone who has. 

The governor as well as legislative analysts have questioned the constitutionality of SB 22, noting that the Ohio General Assembly cannot enact any law “except by bill.” Votes to rescind health orders would come via concurrent resolutions.

DeWine has said he opposes the bill not because of how it may impact his administration, but that of a future governor.

“My passion comes from a deep concern and belief that this is not the only crisis we will face,” he said Thursday, reiterating his view that SB 22 “is about the future.

DeWine was asked if his administration plans to file any legal challenge against the bill.

“I don’t know,” the governor answered. “My opinion about the constitutionality of the bill has not changed. Whether we file something, somebody else does at some point, I don’t know at this point.”

The bill must wait three months to go into effect. The current pandemic health orders may be gone by then. If not, Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said lawmakers may determine then whether to cast votes to rescind them.

As the next three months go by, DeWine said Ohio must come together to help end the pandemic.

“Whatever people have thought about the health orders, all of us coming together, we can have a common cause, and that is to get everyone vaccinated that wants to be vaccinated,” he said.

DeWine said of the final stretch in this pandemic response: “Let’s drive this thing into the ground and move on.”

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