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Senate Bill 1 provides opportunity for people’s voice during a crisis

Yesterday (May 6), Senate Bill 1 passed within the Ohio House of Representatives. As a member of the State and Local Government Committee and as your state representative on the House floor, I voted to support the legislation along with many of my colleagues. Because of this, I want to be very clear about the intent of Senate Bill 1 and how it would affect our legislative processes moving forward.

The legislation approved still gives the state health department flexibility in responding to a crisis yet allows for legislative input so that the people of Ohio’s voices be properly heard in a time of emergency. This is a measured and balanced approach.

This action was not taken to attack the governor or put handcuffs on the director of health. Rather, it was about ensuring the legislature is not mute during a crisis. As a state representative, I hear from and represent thousands of people within the 5th Ohio House District that makes up Columbiana County. It is my job to represent them, especially as we all face an unprecedented pandemic with hundreds of concerns on a variety of issues.

Regarding specifics to the bill, under the plan health orders issued using Ohio Revised Code 3701.13 would be in effect for up to 14 days. Renewals or extensions of those orders would be subject to review by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR). This is a joint House-Senate committee that already reviews proposed state agency rules from more than 100 agencies including the Ohio Department of Health. This review could be done very quickly and would not hinder efficiency during a crisis.

I would like to point out that this portion of revised code has not been changed in over a century — 1908 to be exact. JCARR was not created until the 1970s. It’s important that the legislature does its duty to modernize the revised code appropriately. This was the purpose and reasoning behind the Ohio House passing Senate Bill 1 — to update the revised code, and as a result, giving a better opportunity for constituents to have their voices heard during a pandemic.

I personally respect our governor and the efforts put forth by his administration in reacting to this health crisis. However, our constituents must be a part of the process as they have been severely impacted by the coronavirus. This is not just a health issue. COVID-19 has impacted our economy, employees, small businesses, schools, and many other entities within our communities.

Through Senate Bill 1, we are ensuring that moving forward legislators can properly act as a co-equal branch of government to the executive branch by providing insight into the feelings and concerns Ohioans have during an emergency.

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