COLUMBUS—State Senator Tim Schaffer
(R-Lancaster) and State Senator Kristina Roegner
(R-Hudson) announced today legislation that will significantly update local boards of health. Senate Bill 348 will allow local boards of health to reject orders from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) or Ohio Director of Health during periods of emergency including pandemic, epidemic, and events of bio-terrorism. However, the local board must approve any rejection of ODH orders by at least a two-thirds majority vote of the board and must have “collaborative consultation” with ODH.
“I am proud to introduce this piece of legislation,” said Schaffer. “The past few months have highlighted inconsistencies and concerns with the way our current local boards of health operate during periods of emergency. This bill looks to modernize and reinforce these boards with local healthcare professionals who know what is best to address the needs of their community and business leaders who understand the local economy and the critical role it plays in keeping Ohioans healthy.”
“This legislation ensures that local boards of health have the final say on health restrictions and quarantine measures,” Roegner said. “Ohio has always been a local control state, recognizing that each community understands its own needs best. This principle should apply here as well.”
The bill will also allow licensed healthcare professionals to receive up to five credit hours annually that will count as continuing education credit for their specific professional licensure.
“My thought process is that sound local medical decisions will lead to sound economic decisions. They won’t shut the economy down—their jobs depend on it and they will be responsive to the local citizenry,” Schaffer said. “We also added five hours of credit toward a medical licensure renewal. This was added to entice medical professionals to apply and serve on local boards at no cost to the boards.”
Additionally, the bill will make changes to the current membership requirement of local boards to require a majority of its members be licensed healthcare professionals with at least one physician, specialized doctor, and registered nurse. The bill also adds local business leaders so the local board has input into the local economic conditions.
“’Collaborative Consultation’ is a new term designed to make sure the local health board consults with the state health department before it departs from state mandates,” Schaffer said. “No such decisions should be made without good, objective medical and economic data.”
To learn more about Senate Bill 348, click here