Editorial: Ohio GOP needs to keep hands off pandemic response

cleveland.com/Plain Dealer

For almost 24 years, Ohio’s General Assembly has failed to fix school funding. For more than ten, it’s failed to ensure the solvency of Ohio’s unemployment compensation system. And despite the indictment of former House Speaker Larry Householder on federal corruption charges, the legislature has failed to repeal House Bill 6, whose passage was the goal and result of allegedly corrupt machinations.

Yet some legislators think they should second-guess Gov. Mike DeWine when he fights to protect Ohioans from pandemics. That might be a joke – but for the fact that a committee has begun hearings on Senate Bill 22, which would do just that.

Ohio’s anti-COVID-19 war has been complicated because an 88-county state has 113 health districts. But that’s a day at the beach compared to putting 132 state senators and representatives – so cowardly they won’t require mask-wearing in the Statehouse – in charge of Ohioans’ health.

The nonpartisan Legislative Service Commission’s analysis of SB 22 states it would allow “the General Assembly to rescind any executive order issued by the Governor, or any emergency declaration issued by the Governor (no matter the method used to declare the emergency), by passing a concurrent resolution.”

Note the word “any” and the default to a resolution, not a bill. The power being sought in this broadly worded, constitutionally suspect bill could violate the Ohio Constitution in two ways, the LSC notes: first, by overriding separation of powers by giving the legislature the power to veto executive actions; and second, by allowing that to occur through legislative resolutions, not bills that can be vetoed. Talk about overreach.

True, only if Republicans can muster veto-proof majorities for SB 22 could it become law: It’s virtually certain DeWine would veto it.

Also true, questions of constitutionality have seldom prevented Ohio legislative action (or in the case of school funding, inaction). But by threatening the integrity of Ohio’s pandemic response, SB 22 also could endanger Ohioans’ lives. The bill belongs in a wastebasket, not the Revised Code.

cleveland.com/Plain Dealer

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