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

Ottawa County bar cited for COVID violations
Ohio Investigative Unit
Ohio Investigative Unit
A bar in Ottawa County is one of the businesses that has been cited for COVID-19 violations. A state lawmaker wants to pass a bill that would do away with the monetary fines businesses face when they violate health orders.

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. 

Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) says 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 had 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 says many business owners have been fined thousands of dollars for violating the orders. And he says the fines have caused some businesses to close. He says the bill (HB127) would take away fines levied against the business owners. Merrin says he has support from majority Republicans and says he thinks he’ll even get support from DeWine. But last year DeWine vetoed a bill that would have lowered penalties for violating health orders.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles
Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.