Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof

Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof discusses the latest state budget proposal as fellow Senate Republicans listen during a news conference Tuesday, June 11, 2019, at the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio.

(The Center Square) – Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof plans to keep the pressure on Gov. Mike DeWine when he says he is considering allowing the state’s restaurants and bars to serve alcohol after 10 p.m.

DeWine, who in late July asked the liquor commission to order no alcohol sales after 10 p.m., has said over the past two weeks he is reviewing the ban and wants to balance its impact on small business with public health.

“We’ve heard from a significant number of businesses from my district and around that state that this is hurting their ability to continue, and while we appreciate the governor’s efforts throughout the year, we think the focus should remain on social distancing, not on timelines,” Obhof said.

To that end, Obhof is seeking co-sponsors for a bill that repeals the rule that ends sales at 10 p.m.

“Nothing in the bill should be construed as accepting the validity of July 31 rule. The basis for the Rule is unclear, and the 10 p.m. curfew is inconsistent with the recommendations of the administration’s own Restaurant Advisory Group,” Obhof wrote in his request for co-sponsors. “Of course, many of us also question whether an agency or commission may promulgate rules that directly contradict the Revised Code. However, whether it is valid or not, the Rule is currently being enforced, and we believe it is prudent for the legislature to repeal it.”

Obhof, speaking to Richland County commissioners this week, said DeWine’s order goes against Ohio law that sets dates and times alcohol can be sold, according to the Richland Source.

“I am not aware of any reason that it’s more dangerous for me to drink a beer at 10:01 p.m. than it is to have a beer at 9:58 p.m.,” Obhof told commissioners, according to the Richland Source.

Also, earlier this week, the Columbus City Council voted unanimously to repeal a city ordinance that stopped the sale of food and alcohol at restaurants and bars at 10 p.m. and closed all on-site business at 11 p.m. 

Regional Editor

An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher.