COLUMBUS — Senate President Larry Obhof (R-Medina) announced Tuesdsay the Senate has passed Senate Bill 311, which will establish common-sense limitations on the Ohio Department of Health’s (ODH) ability to issue mandatory quarantine or isolation orders during crises like the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Senate Bill 311 restores the proper balance between the legislature and the executive branch,” said Obhof, who co-sponsored the bill. “We have seen too many decisions being made by an administrative agency rather than by the legislature.”
Senate Bill 311 strikes a careful balance that protects public health. It prohibits mandatory, statewide quarantine orders (such as a statewide “stay at home order”) that apply to individuals who have not been directly exposed to the disease that is the subject of the health order. However, the bill would still allow quarantine orders during a pandemic, but those orders could only apply to those who are sick or who have been directly exposed to the disease.
“This bill clarifies what the intent of the legislature has long been: quarantine and isolation can only be enforced upon people who have been diagnosed with a contagious illness or who have been directly in contact with someone who has the disease,” Obhof said. “Further, the bill enacts reasonable checks and balances to ensure that an administrative agency cannot exercise unchecked control over the state during public health emergencies.”
Senate Bill 311 provides additional legislative oversight over ODH quarantine and isolation orders by giving the General Assembly the ability to rescind the orders through the adoption of a concurrent resolution.
Senate Bill 311 was part of a wide-reaching legislative agenda last week. On Wednesday the Senate passed more than a dozen bills covering a broad range of topics, including local government funding, police reforms, education, criminal justice, legislative ethics, and the right to bear arms.
Senate Bill 311 now goes to the Ohio House of Representatives for further consideration. For more information about the bill, click here.
Senator Larry Obhof represents the 22nd Ohio Senate District, which encompasses all of Medina, Ashland and Richland counties as well as portions of Holmes county. He currently serves as President of the Ohio Senate.