Republican-led House OKs limits on Ohio health director

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton walks into her daily coronavirus news conference on Friday, April 17, 2020 at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. (Doral Chenoweth/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

Republican lawmakers frustrated with Ohio’s aggressive stay-at-home orders voted Wednesday in the GOP-controlled House to limit the authority of the state’s health director.

Posted: May 6, 2020 5:13 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Republican lawmakers frustrated with Ohio’s aggressive stay-at-home orders voted Wednesday in the GOP-controlled House to limit the authority of the state’s health director.

The move seeks to restrict mandatory closure and stay-at-home orders issued by the health department to 14 days.


A protester stands on the step of the Ohio State House in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, April 20, 2020, to protest the stay home order that is in effect until May 1. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Protesters gather outside of the Ohio State House in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, April 20, 2020, to protest the stay home order that is in effect until May 1. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

After that, the orders would need approval from a legislative rule-making body.

Gov. Mike DeWine blasted the move, saying his fellow Republicans should be focused on increasing coronavirus testing, dealing with a $775 million budget deficit and reopening the economy.

“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,” the governor said in a statement.

Republican backers said the measure was an appropriate legislative check on the power DeWine, and his health director, Dr. Amy Acton, who issued Ohio’s orders.

Acton has won praise for her aggressive decisions to combat the coronavirus spread, but those who think the state is moving too slow in reopening its economy have directed their anger toward her in recent weeks.

A small group of protesters stood outside her house last weekend, leading DeWine to later condemn the demonstration, saying “come after me.”

The partisan divide over Ohio’s reopening and its record unemployment emerged into full view at the Statehouse as House Republicans approved the limits on the health department along party lines.

“We are dealing with orders of the director of the Department of Health that had no due process whatsoever,” said Rep. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican. “That had no hearings, that had no public comments, that had no oversight, that had no review by anybody save those in the executive branch.”

Democrats said the legislation undermined public health policy and the state’s responsibility to protect people during a crisis. House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes also said Acton made an easy scapegoat as an unelected official.

“We should not attack a woman just because she is exerting the power the legislature gave to her,” Sykes said.

House Speaker Larry Householder, a Glenford Republican, said he rejected proposals to require the health director to seek legislative approval before issuing orders.

Under the current plan, once a 14-day order was reviewed, “I think the Legislature would make the right decision. I’m not concerned about that,” Householder said.

The measure’s support was unclear in the GOP-controlled Senate. Earlier in the day, Senate President Larry Obhof said Ohio had had a “very positive” response compared to other states, and noted that DeWine “was very careful not to interfere with people’s constitutional rights.”

BUDGET CUTS

A day after DeWine announced plans to cut $775 million from state spending over the next two months, his budget director outlined more details about those plans.

While the biggest chunk will come from a $355 million reduction for schools, lower income districts were cut less per-pupil than those that are able to raise more money through property taxes, said Kimberly Murnieks, DeWine’s budget director.

The nearly $212 million cut from Medicaid will mainly come administrative cuts and eligibility for health-care services will not be reduced, she said, citing increased the need because of the pandemic.

Colleges and universities will see a nearly 4% cut.

That amounts to a $15 million for Ohio State University and an $8 million reduction for the University of Cincinnati.

Overall, tax collections for Ohio in April were down 35%.

Meanwhile, commissioners in a Republican-dominated county in southwest Ohio are shunning $2.4 million in federal coronavirus relief funding.

Warren Commissioner David Young, a Republican, told The Cincinnati Enquirer he didn’t want “to be part of the feeding frenzy.”

The county’s conservative commission also rejected federal stimulus funds under the Democratic Barack Obama administration.

CASES

The number of confirmed and probable deaths associated with the coronavirus has reached 1,225, state health officials said Tuesday.

The department noted more than 21,000 presumptive and confirmed cases of the virus, including just over 4,000 hospitalizations.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks.

Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 775686

Reported Deaths: 14025
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1066871814
Lake572681031
Allen43500701
Hamilton37653427
St. Joseph37508568
Elkhart29882471
Tippecanoe23732232
Vanderburgh23634405
Porter19690327
Johnson19020394
Hendricks18271323
Clark13730199
Madison13719348
Vigo12949256
Monroe12691180
LaPorte12645225
Delaware11218198
Howard10832237
Kosciusko9851124
Hancock8855150
Bartholomew8343157
Warrick8216157
Floyd8128183
Grant7457181
Boone7289105
Wayne7273201
Morgan6988143
Marshall6376117
Dubois6327118
Cass6130112
Noble607391
Dearborn605878
Henry6001111
Jackson520977
Shelby514898
Lawrence5020128
Gibson471697
Montgomery464792
Clinton462755
DeKalb461485
Harrison459277
Huntington429082
Whitley421045
Steuben414561
Miami411573
Jasper403957
Knox397291
Putnam388762
Wabash373884
Adams358956
Ripley354571
Jefferson351487
White341854
Daviess3110100
Wells305981
Greene298485
Decatur294393
Posey288235
Fayette287764
Scott285458
LaGrange278873
Clay277649
Washington257638
Randolph248583
Jennings243349
Spencer240531
Fountain239050
Starke231559
Owen226759
Sullivan224143
Fulton210446
Jay204132
Carroll200623
Orange194456
Perry193139
Vermillion183444
Rush179127
Tipton174348
Franklin173935
Parke157816
Pike144034
Blackford138732
Pulaski124748
Newton124137
Benton111615
Brown106743
Crawford106716
Martin92715
Warren88715
Switzerland8568
Union73910
Ohio58711
Unassigned0429

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1132798

Reported Deaths: 20530
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1312911496
Cuyahoga1180592268
Hamilton830231263
Montgomery541901064
Summit491891018
Lucas43982835
Butler40324615
Stark34056941
Lorain26232511
Warren25125312
Mahoning22881614
Lake21602397
Clermont20592261
Delaware19295138
Licking16977227
Fairfield16959207
Trumbull16940493
Medina16019278
Greene15721254
Clark14439309
Portage13548219
Wood13411201
Allen12124245
Richland11870214
Miami11140229
Wayne9344228
Columbiana9282236
Muskingum9207137
Pickaway8796123
Marion8774140
Tuscarawas8756257
Erie8220166
Ashtabula7318180
Hancock7080135
Ross7070165
Geauga7032153
Scioto6887108
Belmont6261179
Lawrence6033106
Union595149
Jefferson5787162
Huron5678122
Sandusky5536130
Darke5476131
Seneca5391128
Washington5391111
Athens528660
Auglaize510587
Mercer492885
Shelby487798
Knox4678112
Ashland450198
Madison450066
Defiance444599
Fulton443275
Putnam4366104
Crawford4152112
Brown414163
Preble3988107
Logan396379
Clinton395667
Ottawa378281
Highland370768
Williams361878
Champaign351760
Guernsey334054
Jackson324954
Perry300550
Morrow298544
Fayette291350
Hardin280465
Henry279067
Coshocton275161
Holmes2735102
Van Wert254465
Gallia254150
Adams253658
Pike247137
Wyandot236557
Hocking224163
Carroll203349
Paulding181542
Meigs153940
Monroe139446
Noble138739
Harrison115738
Morgan112024
Vinton88217
Unassigned04
Fort Wayne
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Angola
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It will be another cool Wednesday morning.
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