COLUMBUS—The Ohio House of Representatives passed an amendment on Wednesday to limit the powers of the Director of Health, Dr. Amy Acton. Under an amendment to Senate Bill 1 to reduce the number of regulatory restrictions, all public health orders issued by the Director of Health would be advisory instead of mandatory unless approved by lawmakers. It would require all orders issued by the Department of Health on or after April 29, 2020 to last no longer than 14 days.
Dr. Acton would be able to request an extension past the 14 day rule, but would require the approval of the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review.
But Governor Mike DeWine’s office confirmed to several news sources that he would veto the legislation if it passes the Senate.
House Speaker Larry Householder (R),
in favor of the amendment, believes there needs to be “legislative oversight.”
Democrats, however, are calling the vote a “GOP-led attack on the state health director, a disgraceful abuse of power.”
House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes (D), in a released statement said,
“This is what happens when a single party of mostly men are permitted to dominate both chambers of the state’s legislature – their fragile egos are hurt that a woman has more power and is more relevant than they are.”
Sykes believes other issues regarding the COVID-19 crisis should have been discussed during the House session.
“The real people who should really feel disrespected are the people of this state who are struggling – the small business owners, the unemployed, as well as the elderly and black Ohioans disproportionately dying from this virus – whose voices are not being heard by the Ohio House.”
GOVERNOR DEFENDS PUBLIC HEALTH ORDERS
Since the initiation of the Ohio Stay-at-Home order in March, the majority of Ohioans have taken to social media to express their thoughts, both positive and negative.
Some who are against the public health order have resulted in protest at the state Capitol and most recently, near the home of the Director of Health.
Only days ago, protestors gathered in front of the home of Dr. Amy Acton. Neighbors reported people walking up and down the street with assault weapons stating that there will be no violence. “For now.”
Governor DeWine, who has been widely praised for his leadership of the COVID-19 crisis by both Republicans and Democrats throughout the country, has worked closely with Acton, Ohio’s top doctor and expert on COVID-19. Although Acton holds a cabinet position in the governor’s administration as Director of Health, she is not an elected official.
The Governor, however, has reassured the public that he is the one who sets policy in Ohio.
“Any complaints about the policy of this administration need to be directed at me. I am the office holder, and I appointed the Director. Ultimately, I am responsible for the decisions in regard to the coronavirus. The buck stops with me.”