STOW — Dozens of people staged a protest outside of Stow City Hall Saturday afternoon, many carrying signs demanding that all Ohio businesses be opened and supporting the passage of Senate Bill 1.
According to information from the Portage County Tea Party, around 100 people attended the rally. The rally in Stow was part of a statewide effort called "Rally Around Ohio" that included protests in 31 counties. Initial estimates are that as many as 3,000 Patriots participated in the protests across the state, the largest number to protest Gov. Mike DeWine since the lockdowns and shutdowns began. As many as 432,000 Ohioan are believed to have seen at least one of the protests, impacting 3.7 percent of the states population, according to organizers.
"Our goal was to show our fellow citizens that not everyone is happy to be locked in their homes and out of work in order to put pressure on Gov. DeWine to end the State of Emergency since he is unable to provide any reason for it to continue," the Portage County Tea Party stated in a media release sent Saturday. "The protests also focused on Ohio's state senators who are now under pressure to pass Senate Bill 1, which was passed by the Ohio House this week, which would reign in the abuse of power currently on display by Gov. DeWine and his health director. The Senate is expected vote on Senate this week on the bill."
This was the only protest in Summit and Portage counties.
Occasionally, passing cars on Graham and Darrow roads would honk in support. The protesters were not practicing social distancing of 6 feet and did not appear to be wearing masks.
A Facebook post made by the We The People Convention encouraged those from the Portage County TEA Party and the Summit County TEA Party to meet at 1 p.m. at the Stow City Hall to demand the state senate vote "Yes" on Senate Bill 1 to limit the powers of DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton, the director of the Ohio Department of Health.
In March, DeWine issued a stay-at-home order for residents, unless they were considered essential workers going to their jobs or those out on errands such as doctors’ visits or going to the grocery store. While some businesses have reopened or will reopen before the end of the month, many types of venues will remain closed for an indeterminate time due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
A media release sent by Sens. Kristina Roegner (R-Hudson) and Rob McColley (R-Napoleon) stated the Ohio House of Representatives passed SB 1. Among the provisions in the bill include an amendment to the initial bill adding restrictions on the director of health’s discretion to issue orders, such as the ones issued regarding the stay-at-home mandate.
"I feel the House amendment addressing the director of health’s ability to issue an order is appropriate given the circumstances," Roegner stated in the joint release. "Our government was not set up for one branch to have the authority to disrupt the general public’s lives and businesses for this long without some form of check or balance. The time has come to reflect the will of many Ohioans by restoring balance to our government. The amendment added to Senate Bill 1 in the House supports the spirit of the underlying bill, which is to control big government overreach. I am fully supportive of these changes and hope my senate colleagues will concur."
While current law prescribes no limit to the length of such directives, the amendment caps the duration at 14 days. If necessary to protect the public safety, the director of health can request that the legislature, through the Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review, extend the order as needed. The House passed the amended bill during Wednesday afternoon’s session.
SB 1 now awaits senate approval to changes made in the House.
SB 1 initially aimed to reduce the regulatory burden on Ohio businesses. SB 1 requires state agencies to reduce regulatory restrictions by 30% by 2022 and to establish inventories outlining all restrictions established by state agencies. If the required reductions are not achieved, the bill specifies that they must eliminate two regulatory restrictions for each new restriction they create.