COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Gov. Mike DeWine has vetoed a bill that included an amendment to reduce the penalty for violating a health department order.
Senate Bill 55, as originally introduced, 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.
According to DeWine’s veto message:
This bill, as introduced, would have increased the penalty for individuals who seek to harm the health and safety of Ohioans in recovery by selling controlled substances near recovery centers.
This is an idea I support and look forward to the day I sign that provision into law.
However, the bill was amended in a way that would make it difficult for local health officials to protect the public’s safety and fight the spread of COVID-19. In the midst of this pandemic, now is not the time to change tactics and impede local health officials’ ability to protect all Ohioans.
Our collective goals are always to ensure the safety of the public,, guard against the health care system from being overwhelmed, and allowing all Ohio workers and businesses to do what they do best, which is grow our economy.
A robust public health system protects us from E-coli and Legionella outbreaks, threats of bioterrorism, or once-in-a-century pandemics.
For these reasons, this veto is in the public interest.Gov. Mike DeWine
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