New Ohio Bill Would Ease Penalties For Businesses That Violate COVID-19 Orders!

FEATURED PHOTO: REPRESENTATIVE DEREK MERRIN R-47TH DISTRICT

Ideastream.org, By Jo Ingles-STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU, Posted March 10th 2021

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 the governor’s fellow Republicans would ease penalties slapped on business owners cited for violating coronavirus restrictions.

State Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) said the Ohio legislature has passed laws in recent years to erase criminal records for certain offenders and he thinks the same should happen for businesses cited for flouting 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.

Merrin said many business owners have been fined thousands of dollars for violating the state’s health requirements, and claims some businesses have closed as a result.

The standing penalty is a second-degree misdemeanor charge, punishable with up to 90 days in jail and a $750 fine. Merrin’s proposal – which he said has from majority Republicans and even claims will get support from DeWine – would eliminate the fine levied against business owners.

Last year, DeWine vetoed a bill that would have eased penalties for violating health orders to a warning on the first violation, followed by a maximum fine of $150 for subsequent offenses and no possible jail time. And the governor said he would veto any legislation that would limit public health orders or the declaration of states of emergency in Ohio.

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