SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio House Bill 110 has moved onto the Senate, but before it got to there, it contained language that could have been detrimental to city health departments like Salem, East Liverpool, Warren and the 17 others in the state.
“For this to come at this time really took us by surprise,” said Alanna Stainbrook, commissioner of the Salem City Health Department. “But it would have taken us by surprise at anytime because we do believe we are effective and we are efficient here in the city. We are very dedicated and committed to serving our residents here.”
Originally, the bill proposed abolishing city health departments that serve populations under 50,000 and combining them with their county health departments.
“As far as I can see, my local health departments work in conjunction with my county health department in a very effective and efficient manner,” said Rep. Tim Ginter (R-Salem). “Their location makes them more effective in that, because they’re closer to the people they serve, we have some citizens who are not able to make it to Lisbon, and so this allows them more accessibility. It also allows them to pay more specific attention to the needs of their community.”
Ginter said once he found out about the wording to “abolish” the city health departments, he started to work with legislators to get that language out of the bill. He said they were able to settle on a compromise.
“I do want to say that Representative Ginter is supporting us,” Stainbrook said.
As it reads now, if passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, city health departments would be given 18 months to prove that it’s not effective to merge with their county health department. If a merger was deemed more effective and efficient, the health departments would have 30 months to complete the merger.
Ginter pointed out that House Bill 110 is for the entire operating budget for Ohio, which is 2,800 pages and contains over 1,200 amendments from the Ohio House. Ginter related the bill to America’s pastime and said that “we’re on first base” and that it has “a long way to go.”
“When this comes back in the Senate version, I’m going to be advocating first for its removal over in the Senate and if it isn’t removed, I’m going to keep my eye on it as it comes through the House, but only after the governor signs it does this goes into place,” Ginter said.
Stainbrook also mentioned that the governor does have the power to veto it if it comes to his desk.