A move by state lawmakers to strip local governments of the power to appoint members of the local health board is, in our view, a continuing abuse of power. It’s also unneeded, unnecessary and dangerous.
State Rep. Scott Wiggam, R-Wooster, chairman of the House state and local government committee, recently held a hearing to hear opposition testimony to House Bill 463, which would consolidate appointment power to just the county commissioner boards that are served by the public health board.
Currently, all local governments in a public health district have input on who is appointed to health boards. Wiggam, and other lawmakers who want to change that hope to gut public health departments and that, in our view, is just not wise. There’s no reason for this we can see, and these lawmakers must be stopped.
Wiggam and other House Republicans who support this bill don’t want to hear testimony. This is just lip service to create the illusion this is an above-the-board effort for just cause. It isn’t that. It’s a blatant power grab to consolidate power over health boards and continue the right-wing war on public health that Wiggam and others double-downed on during the pandemic.
Wiggam, a close ally of former House Speaker Larry Householder prior to Householder’s arrest in the $61 million bribery scheme, has long been an enemy of public health measures. In June 2020, he and 18 other House Republicans signed a letter declaring that the pandemic had peaked. They called for public health orders to be canceled.
In the months that followed that misinformed call, infections, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 rose exponentially. Wiggam and his fellow Republican lawmakers were dead wrong then, and they’re dead wrong now.
We see no reason to consolidate power under one local government. The system is not broken and does not need fixed, especially by individuals like Wiggam, who don’t understand the need for public health measures and don’t respect it.
It’s a blatant abuse of power.