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Legislature overrides Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto on health bill

The General Assembly overrode Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of a bill that gives legislators the authority to end states of emergency and limit public health orders.

On Wednesday, a day after DeWine’s veto, the Senate voted 23-10 to overturn it. That quickly was followed by a 62-35 vote in the House.

The House needed at least 60 votes and the Senate at least 20 to reject DeWine’s veto.

Both legislative bodies are controlled by Republicans. DeWine also is a Republican but has come under scrutiny by his fellow party members in the Legislature for his health orders as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the Senate, only two Republicans joined all Democrats in rejecting the veto override, while only one Republican voted with all Democrats not to override it.

Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, said: “The General Assembly truly represents the voice of the people from district to district and town to town. The people must never feel forgotten, especially during times of emergency, when unchecked power can be used to impact lives and livelihoods.”

The bill limits public health orders to 90 days and allows the Legislature to terminate them after 30 days as well as permit lawmakers to rescind any order or rule issued in response to a state emergency on the day it’s declared and bar the executive branch from reissuing the order for 60 days.

It also limits the role of local health boards during health crises.

State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, said Republicans “who voted for this legislation because of checks and balances on power should look in a damn mirror. My colleagues are on a dangerous power trip.”

State Rep. Michael J. O’Brien, D-Warren, said: “So there I sit on the House floor with two-thirds of the Republicans without masks and without social distancing overriding the governor’s veto on health orders whereas the governor assembles health professionals to assist him with health decisions.”

In his Tuesday veto message, DeWine wrote the bill “jeopardizes the safety of every Ohioan” and was unconstitutional.

The state has been under executive orders for more than a year in response to the pandemic.

The bill takes effect in 90 days, permitting legislators to remove every restriction put in place by DeWine related to the pandemic. DeWine has said he expects the state no longer to be under any restrictions as a result of COVID-19 by that time.

This is only DeWine’s second veto as governor, a position he’s held since January 2019. It’s the first time the Legislature overturned his veto.

The other veto came in September on a bill to prohibit the governor from issuing general statewide or regional quarantines against those not exposed to an infectious disease. Legislators decided not to challenge the veto.

COVID-19 DATA

More than 1 in every 4 Ohioans has started the COVID-19 vaccination process.

The ODH reported 2,948,323 people, 25.22 percent of the state’s population, had at least started getting the vaccines — given in one or two doses, depending on the brand — as of 6 a.m. Wednesday, including 65,246 people in the previous 24 hours.

The state should exceed 3 million people today.

About 70 percent of state residents who are at least 70 years old have started getting vaccinated.

In Mahoning County, 26.85 percent of the population (61,404 people) had received at least one dose with 25.16 percent in Trumbull County (49,819 people) and 22.67 percent in Columbiana County (23,098 people) as of 6 a.m. Wednesday, according to the ODH.

There were 1,663,271 people, 14.23 percent of the state’s population, who finished the vaccinations as of 6 a.m. Wednesday, including 31,843 in the prior 24 hours.

In Mahoning County, 16.21 percent of the population (37,075 people) had completed the process, while 13.98 percent of the population in Trumbull (27,683 people) and 13.93 percent of the population in Columbiana (14,196) had as of 6 a.m. Wednesday.

The Mahoning Valley’s mass vaccination clinic at the former Dillard’s store at the Southern Park Mall opened Wednesday, providing first-dose inoculations to more than 800 people.

COVID-19 DATA

The ODH reported 1,848 new COVID-19 cases in the state Wednesday, up from the daily average of 1,527 for the past 21 days. Wednesday was the third straight day with an increase in new COVID-19 cases.

The state had a total of 1,004,670 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday with 955,928 presumed recovered.

With an adjusted policy on how it reports COVID-19 deaths, the ODH will provide that information only Tuesdays and Fridays. The state reported a total of 18,382 dead from the virus Tuesday.

Mahoning County had 19,989 total COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday with 18,939 presumed recovered and 573 deaths, according to the ODH.

The department reported Trumbull County had 14,819 total COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday with 13,914 presumed recovered and 448 deaths.

Columbiana County had 8,306 total COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday with 7,948 presumed recovered and 218 deaths, according to the ODH.

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