Among its provisions, SB 22 specifies that any order or regulation issued by a local board of health for the prevention or restriction of disease may apply only to individuals and businesses that:
- Have been medically diagnosed with the disease that is the subject of the order or regulation.
- Have come in direct contact with someone who has been medically diagnosed with the disease that is the subject of the order regulation.
- Have a documented incident in the building of the disease that is the subject of the order or regulation.
Senate Bill 22 passed the Ohio House on a 57-38 vote and the Ohio Senate on a 25-8 vote. All Miami Valley lawmakers voted yes, except state Reps. Willis Blackshear Jr., D-Dayton, Andrea White, R-Kettering, and Nino Vitale, R-Urbana, who all cast no votes.
Support for a bill and support for an override can be two different questions but legislative leaders say they have the required two-thirds majority vote required for an override.
Jeff Cooper, health commissioner with Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County, said he believed people should know that many local elected officials have supported this legislation, naming state Sens. Niraj Antani and Steve Huffman, and state Reps. Rodney Creech, Phil Plummer and Tom Young.
“We strongly urge now, the General Assembly to act in the best interest of the public health of all Ohioans, and to not override the governor’s veto,” Cooper said.
Greene County Public Health Commissioner Melissa Howell said she would encourage people to contact their local representatives who voted for SB 22, including state Reps. Bill Dean and Brian Lampton, and state Sen. Bob Hackett.
Health officials from area counties released a letter calling Senate Bill 22 “a colossal misstep” that “demonstrates a willful neglect of scientific evidence.”
The three-page letter from Montgomery County county commissioners and the health departments of Champaign, Clark, Darke, Greene, Miami, Piqua, Preble, Montgomery and Warren counties warns of ill-advised changes to public health authority.
The local officials called SB 22 reactionary, disturbing, troubling and ignorant, and warned that it would hamper efforts to contain future epidemics. They also said that curtailing public health authority would have a disparate impact on minority and low-income communities.
“Proposing such legislation is shameful,” the letter said.
The letter comes a day after DeWine sent a five-page critique of SB22 to state lawmakers.
State Rep. Scott Wiggam, R-Wooster, responded to DeWine, saying they have different views of government powers and individual freedoms.
“When power is consolidated through emergency it always leads to tragic oppression and is rarely retrieved by the people without desperate action,” Wiggam said in his letter. “In the past year, Ohioans have faced constantly moving goal posts and life changing policies from one branch of Ohio’s three branches of government.”