COLUMBUS – The Ohio House of Representatives today passed legislation to establish legislative oversight over orders issued during a state of emergency.
The measure, Senate Bill 22, passed the House by a vote of 57-37.
“There is a natural tension between the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government,” said the bill’s joint-sponsor State Representative Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville). “That’s healthy and a cornerstone of our form of government. The checks and balances that exist in our democracy are vital to protecting the rights and freedoms of Ohioans. This bill strikes and importance balance. It allows officials to respond to emergencies, to protect citizens in times of crisis. But it also says that authority is not unlimited.”
Provisions in the bill give the legislature the ability to oversee orders issued by any department under the administration in response to public health emergencies. Orders may be extended or rescinded by the General Assembly.
The bill also ensures that local communities may determine the course of local health orders. As a result, the bill provides parameters for local boards of health in which they must operate when issuing county and district wide orders.
“Let me share with you a few closing thoughts,” said Representative Scott Wiggam (R-Wayne County), joint-sponsor of the bill. “If you believe in freedom…this is the bill for you. If you believe the people of Ohio should have a voice…this bill is for you. If you believe in the checks and balances, this is the bill for you. This bill is about empowering people. It’s about empowering parents, empowering small businesses, empowering all Ohioans. It’s about ensuring they have a voice in their government. This bill is about ‘We the People.”
The Ohio Senate concurred with House amendments to the bill. It now heads to the Governor.