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Lawmakers fall short of overriding health orders bill veto

December 23, 2020 GMT

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Gov. Mike DeWine’s veto of a bill limiting the Health Department’s ability to fight the pandemic will stand after Republican lawmakers wrapped up their two-year session without making good on a veto override threat.

The bill that DeWine vetoed Dec. 3 would have allowed the Ohio Legislature to adopt resolutions to rescind Health Department orders to prevent the spread of contagious diseases. It would also prevent the agency from implementing regional or statewide quarantines for people who haven’t been directly exposed or diagnosed with the disease.

DeWine, a Republican, said the bill would hamstring the state from responding quickly to situations that might require a quarantine, such as a bioterrorism attack. The measure was one of several that Republican lawmakers passed this year trying to limit the governor’s coronavirus protection efforts.

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Senate President Larry Obhof, a Medina Republican, signaled in recent days he was open to a compromise that would eliminate criminal penalties for health order violations. He also questioned whether the House had votes for an override.

House Speaker Bob Cupp, a Lima Republican, disputed that late Tuesday, saying the House had the votes. But six Republican House members were absent Tuesday, with several having previously confirmed they or family members had positive coronavirus tests, Gongwer News Service reported.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Ohio did not increase over the past two weeks, going from 11,418 on Dec. 8 to 8,239 on Dec. 22, according to an Associated Press analysis of data provided by The COVID Tracking Project.