Ohio Budget Vetoes: Gov. DeWine Keeps COVID-19 Business Violation Fines

July 1, 2021

Though the Ohio Budget was signed into law on Thursday, July 1, 2021, Gov. Mike DeWine used his line-item veto power to eliminate several provisions that impact Ohio businesses, particularly for bars and restaurants that violated COVID-19 related restrictions. Here are the most relevant vetoes:

No Elimination of COVID-19 fines

  • The budget included a provision that would have vacated penalties and pending enforcement actions for bars and restaurants that violated state COVID-19 health orders, including returning fines already paid. When vetoing the provision, DeWine said that eliminating these penalties “would send a horrible, horrible, horrible message,” and would not be fair to businesses that complied with the orders.

Senate and House Cannot Intervene in Redistricting Litigation

  • Ohio’s Congressional districts will be redrawn over the next few years and the legislature wanted the ability to spend state funds hiring attorneys to defend the legislature’s positions in any redistricting lawsuit that may be brought. According to Governor DeWine Attorney General Dave Yost requested the veto, saying “Neither the legislature nor its members have authority, under our state constitution, to exercise executive power,” in a letter to DeWine. “While our office’s position isn’t that the legislature may never intervene – indeed, they have successfully done so at least once that we know of – we do not believe they can guarantee an independent right of intervention for each chamber in state law.”

No Court of Claims Option for Open Meetings Violations

  • With COVID-19 restrictions eliminated, public bodies can no longer hold meetings that must be open to the public via Zoom or social media. The budget included a provision that would have allowed individuals to bring actions in the Court of Claims for violations of the open meetings law, however, the governor removed that language.

Fully Funding CAT Tax Administration

  • The budget reduced the amount earmarked to the Department of Taxation for administering the Commercial Activity Tax. In vetoing the provision, DeWine said, “This item will hinder the Department of Taxation’s ability to carry out its collection and enforcement functions, which could potentially impact state revenue.”

KJK will continue to monitor both state and federal budgets and keep you informed on developments that impact businesses and individuals. If you have questions about the Ohio budget or Governor DeWine’s vetoes, please contact Jennifer Hart at jmh@kjk.com or 216.310.4917.