State lawmaker: Majority of Butler County residents want economy to ‘reopen immediately’

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Butler County dealing with coronavirus pandemic slideshow

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

State Rep. Candice Keller implored the Butler County commissioners Monday morning to follow Preble County’s lead in declaring all businesses essential and reopening the economy, but the commissioners were advised they don’t have the authority.

Keller, a Republican from Middletown, openly criticized Gov. Mike DeWine and health director Dr. Amy Acton for issuing orders that limited business after declaring a state of emergency.

“Executive order is not law, it is simply an order reinforcing an existing law,” Keller said. “According to our Ohio Constitution and consulting with some constitutional attorneys, in Ohio the legislature must declare a public health emergency by a two-third vote in both houses for there to be a declared public health emergency, and in Ohio we have not done that.”

She said she was acting on behalf of all of her constituents who are suffering irreparable harm from the virtual lockdown.

“The residents of Butler County are overwhelmingly suffering and want Ohio and more specifically Butler County to reopen immediately,” Keller said. “Approximately 95 percent or more of the emails from my constituents presently to my office say open Ohio now, not tomorrow, not two weeks from now but today. The economy of Butler County is made up of an enormous amount of small businesses that cannot take much more of this without a total and complete collapse.”

Commission President T.C. Rogers said there are many things that need to be considered, such as the potential legal ramifications of passing a resultion declaring all business essential and encouraging them to open. He also noted Preble County did not take any official action, like a passing such a resolution.

“I for one don’t want to do anything just for symbolism,” he said. “All of us have many, many, many friends which are dealing with this closure and I’m glad you hasve some evidence it wasn’t right… We want to do it but we need to find out how.”

Commissioner Don Dixon received a phone call during Keller’s speech from the county prosecutor’s office, and he announced the board doesn’t have the authority to do what Keller wanted.

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