State Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wayne County) today helped pass major legislation to bring greater oversight to state health department pandemic orders and to increase government transparency. The orders have been the subject of much debate in recent weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wiggam spoke in support of the legislation on the House floor today.

“Senate Bill 1 requires state agencies to provide the legislature and the public with a complete inventory not only of their regulatory restrictions, but the basis for them,” said Wiggam. “Second, for the next four years, we are prohibiting these agencies from adopting any new regulatory restriction unless it simultaneously removes two or more existing regulatory restrictions.”

Additionally, under the bill, Ohio Department of Health orders issued under Ohio Revised Code 3701.13 would be subject to review by the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review. The 10-member House-Senate panel reviews proposed state agency rules from more than 100 agencies, including those proposed by the Ohio Department of Health.

Wiggam is chair of the State and Local Government Committee, which passed the bill out of committee earlier today before it passed within the House.

Ohio Revised Code 3701.13 is a little used state law that’s been on the books for more than a century. The legislature passed it more than a century ago, before a panel like JCARR existed.

Under the measure approved today:

·       New health department orders issued under Ohio Revised Code 3701.13 would be effective for up to 14 days, and would require JCARR approval to be extended.

·       To extend a health department order, three of five members of JCARR from each chamber would have to vote in favor of the rule.

·       The amendment also makes clear that any Ohioan has standing to seek a court order requiring the governor or state health director to comply with the JCARR oversight requirement without having to prove they will be irreparably harmed if the court does not intervene.

·       Any state health department orders issued under ORC 3701.13 on or after April 29 cannot be extended without JCARR approval.

The measure now goes back to the Senate for concurrence.

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