Bill would allow Ohio bars to stay open longer for the next year

Artist Andrew Scott's stainless steel, 30-foot-long gavel was installed in 2008 outside the the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center, home of the Ohio Supreme Court in Columbus, Ohio. Designed by architect Harry Hake, the building began its life in 1932 as an office building for the fast-expanding state government, after a natural-gas explosion that killed 11 workers delayed construction. In the early 2000s, the structure was gradually renovated and converted into the state's legal building. In 2011, it was re-dedicated as the Thomas J. Moyer Ohio Judicial Center in honor of the late state chief justice.

An Ohio lawmaker has introduced legislation that would extend operating hours for bars for the next year.

State Rep. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, said House Bill 218 aims to help businesses that lost revenue amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Over the course of the pandemic, we have seen countless businesses struggle financially and close their doors,” Cutrona said in a news release. “This legislation will help provide some much needed relief for our bars by providing them with the opportunity to stay open for an extra hour without the worry of health orders or curfews.”

The bill has been referred to the House Commerce and Labor Committee and awaits its first hearing.

Ohioans have complained at government-mandated closures amid the pandemic.

This week, Ohio lawmakers passed Senate Bill 22, legislation proponents say establishes legislative oversight over orders the governor issues during a state of emergency. Provisions in the bill give state lawmakers the power to extend or rescind orders.

“This bill provides reasonable checks and balances, which are vital to the function of our government,” state Rep. Sara Carruthers, R-Hamilton, said in a news release. “All Ohioans deserve to be a part of the decision making process through their legislators.”

The bill also ensures local communities can determine the course of local health orders. The measure provides parameters for local boards of health to operate when issuing county and district-wide orders.

“Let me share with you a few closing thoughts,” state Rep. Scott Wiggam, R-Wayne County, a joint sponsor of the bill, said in a news release.

“If you believe in freedom…this is the bill for you,” Wiggam added. “If you believe the people of Ohio should have a voice…this bill is for you. If you believe in the checks and balances, this is the bill for you. This bill is about empowering people. It’s about empowering parents, empowering small businesses, empowering all Ohioans. It’s about ensuring they have a voice in their government. This bill is about ‘We the People.’”

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