The Rundown

Burke introduces bill to rescind Ohio business mask enforcement

By: - December 1, 2020 1:27 pm

State Sen. Dave Burke, R-Marysville.

Ohioans are required to wear masks when patronizing any business, and those businesses must take a forceful role in enforcing that rule.

State Sen. Dave Burke, R-Marysville, takes issue with that latter part, and formally introduced a bill on Monday to strike down a portion of that order.

It is the latest bill from an Ohio Republican targeting an order from Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health. 

The Ohio Capital Journal first reported in November about Burke’s plan to introduce the bill.

Burke told this outlet he does not object to the statewide mask mandate, but is critical of the health order signed on Nov. 13 that requires businesses to make sure customers remain compliant and wear masks. 

Businesses found to not be enforcing the mask mandate can face warnings or temporary shutdowns. The health order states that local law enforcement, health officials and Bureau of Workers’ Compensation employees can serve as inspectors.

Burke’s bill would only rescind a specific portion of the health order (Paragraph 10, labeled “Cooperation”) stating: “All businesses shall allow access to, and permit inspection of the public areas of their premises by, representatives of (the Ohio Department of Health), local health departments or districts and law enforcement during all business hours; shall provide any information regarding compliance with this Order that is requested; and, shall cooperate fully in any inspection or investigation of compliance.”

In other words, should this bill be enacted, business owners would be able to prevent inspectors from entering or investigating their businesses. 

Burke’s Senate Bill 387 also declares an emergency in order to be enacted immediately. The bill text states this provision is “necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety.” It also claims the health order results in a “severe burden on Ohio’s businesses and their employees.”

There are a number of other pending bills targeting the state health department’s authority, though it is unclear how many will receive serious condition as the legislative term concludes later this month. 

DeWine has pledged to veto any bill inhibiting the health department’s ability to respond to a pandemic.

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Tyler Buchanan
Tyler Buchanan

Tyler Buchanan is an award-winning journalist who has covered Ohio politics and government for the past decade. A Bellevue native and graduate of Bowling Green State University, he most recently spent 6 1/2 years as a reporter and editor of The Athens Messenger and Vinton-Jackson Courier newspapers. He is a member of the BG News Alumni Society Board and was a 2019 fellow in the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism.

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