Ohio House passes bills limiting health department orders

Ohio Statehouse News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Ohio House of Representatives Wednesday passed two bills that limit orders issued by the Director of the Ohio Department of Health.

The House approved Senate Bill 1. This bill would require all orders issued by the Department of Health on or after April 29, 2020 to last no longer than 14 days. The exception is if the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review approves extensions of those orders.

The bill would also prohibit any future order by the Director of Health to be in effect for more than 14 days. The Director could request an extension from the joint committee.

Senate President Larry Obhof said on Wednesday the Senate will need to look at any bill that comes their way from the House but did not say if he would support these changes. 

Senate Bill 55 also passed the Ohio House Wednesday, which creates tougher penalties for certain drug crimes near a drug treatment facility.

That bill included a last-minute House amendment decriminalizing health department orders as they relate to the pandemic. It proposes a $100 civil fine for local health department order violations and $150 for state health department order violations.

A health department order violation is currently a criminal misdemeanor.

Governor DeWine issued the following statement on the amendments:

My administration is focused on the important things we need to do to help businesses responsibly reopen while protecting Ohioans’ health and safety. This week alone, this included increasing coronavirus testing and tracing, balancing Ohio’s budget, and working on plans to move Ohio’s economy forward. Ohioans need their legislators focused on these important issues. Creating more uncertainty regarding public health and employee safety is the last thing we need as we work to restore consumer confidence in Ohio’s economy.

SB55 and SB1 now go back to the Senate for approval of the changes.

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