New Bill Would Take Away Consequences For Businesses That Violate COVID Orders

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — Ohio lawmakers will look over yet another measure to pull back on Gov. Mike DeWine’s power to issue health orders. A new bill proposed by one of his fellow Republicans would take away penalties slapped on business owners cited for violating coronavirus orders.

Ottawa County bar cited for COVID violations
Ottawa County bar cited for COVID violations [Ohio Investigative Unit]
Republican Representative Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) said the Ohio Legislature has passed laws in recent years to erase criminal records for certain offenders. He thinks the same should happen for businesses that have been cited for breaking COVID-19 regulations.

“These are business owners that have supposedly violated an order. They haven’t the opportunity before a real judge. So if we are going to expunge records for criminals, we can certainly do it for business owners under these dire circumstances,” Merrin said.

He said many business owners have been fined thousands of dollars for violating the orders. And he claimed the fines have caused some businesses to close.

The bill (HB127) would take away fines levied against the business owners.

Merrin said he has support from majority Republicans and thinks he’ll even get support from DeWine. But last year DeWine vetoed a bill that would have lowered penalties for violating health orders.