DeWine issues executive order, starts rule making process for health care for trans kids in Ohio

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ohio Statehouse News Bureau) – Gov. Mike DeWine is standing by his veto of a Republican-backed bill that bans trans kids from playing on girls’ sports team and limits the type of health care trans children under 18 can receive. And Dewine is taking action on the alternative plans he has proposed.

Mike DeWine stands at a podium.
Gov. Mike DeWine speaks to reporters about his executive order and administrative rules regarding health care for trans kids on Jan. 5, 2024. [Sarah Donaldson
Statehouse News Bureau]
But looming large in the background is a threat by GOP lawmakers at the Statehouse to override DeWine’s veto.

DeWine has faced a backlash from many of his fellow GOP lawmakers in the Ohio General Assembly. DeWine said he doesn’t regret it the veto of House Bill 68.

“I made the decision. It was the right decision as far as I’m concerned,” DeWine said.

DeWine said he and the General Assembly agree children under 18 should not be receiving gender-affirming surgical procedures, which Ohio’s children’s hospitals say aren’t happening. He signed an executive order immediately banning gender transition surgeries for minors – a ban children’s hospitals say they support.

DeWine has also announced he’s started the process of creating rules to collect data on trans health care.

“When I really started looking at this, there are some holes that were clear to me, needed to be filled. One, we need to have data. We need to have information. We have it on virtually everything else in the medical field. We don’t have data on this. We don’t have data about the frequency and circumstances. So you know, it’s time that we got that,” DeWine said.

DeWine said he’s also concerned that trans people of all ages get the kind of mental health care that he believes is crucial. And he said that care needs to be in tandem with physical health care. He’s concerned about unscrupulous providers setting up shop in Ohio to provide care that isn’t as comprehensive as it should be. So, he’s also asked for rules to prevent that from happening.

“I am concerned that there could be fly-by-night providers, clinics, that might be dispensing medications to adults with no counseling and no basic standards to assure quality care,” DeWine said.

DeWine said his executive order and administrative rules address trans health care in a more comprehensive way than the bill passed by lawmakers.

A possible veto override is looming

But many Republicans who sponsored and voted for the bill and the groups that supported the legislation are not happy with DeWine’s veto. The next House session is Jan. 10, and Speaker Jason Stephens (R-Kitts Hill) noted in a statement last week that the bill passed both the House and Senate with veto-proof majorities. And he said his caucus “will take the appropriate next steps.”

A spokesman for Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) said depending on what the House does, the Senate plans to override the veto on Jan. 24, though it could be sooner.

One of the criticisms of DeWine’s approach to the issue through executive order and administrative rules is that future governors could possibly amend those. DeWine’s response to that criticism was simple.

“Look, if the legislature wants to take what I’ve just done here by executive order and wants to put that in permanent law, that’s fine with me,” DeWine said.

DeWine said he’s hoping the first item on the agenda for returning lawmakers will be to deal with making rules for the initiated statute passed by voters in November that allows for recreational marijuana in Ohio. He said Ohioans can possess and use it but they don’t have any legal place to buy it and there are not adequate rules to regulate it.