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VERIFY: Ohio's executive branch can issue emergency health order, but would likely go to the courts to decide if it stands

Are the governor's hands really tied when it comes to issuing health orders like a mask mandate? Gov. DeWine has said yes.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Are the governor's hands really tied when it comes to issuing health orders like a mask mandate? Gov. DeWine has said yes.

Others have said no and he needs to do more to protect kids in schools that don't have mask mandates.

It's a question that's come up over and over since the passing of a new law that allows the legislature to veto health orders.

THE QUESTION: Under newly enacted legislation, SB 22, can Ohio's executive branch issue emergency health orders?

THE SOURCES:  

SB 22

Micah Berman, associate professor of public health law at Ohio State University

THE ANSWER: Yes, but the general assembly would likely adopt a concurrent resolution, which the new law allows. 

What we found:

"If the governor issued a health order, the legislature under SB 22 would be able to issue a concurrent resolution that would essentially void that health order,” said Berman. “It would also prohibit the governor from re-issuing a similar one. So that's the process that SB 22 sets up.”

According to Berman, the court challenge would be a messy process.

We reached out to the governor's office and we were told by a spokesperson for the governor that there is a high risk in the court not deciding on the side of the health mandate and in the case of masks in schools, it could result in fewer students wearing masks. The governor says he believes the approach he has taken so far is working to encourage more masking in schools.

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