COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Will Columbus City Council repeal the citywide mask mandate which has been in place for just shy of six months? While it seems likely, there is a process in order to get it done.
To repeal Ordinance 2388-2021 pertaining to the wearing of face coverings in response to the spread of COVID-19; and to declare an emergency.
The SR in the ordinance‘s name stands for Second Reading, which is required by law. Its name implies exactly that: any ordinance on which council will act needs to be presented at two meetings at least one week apart from each other.
Council can override that second reading requirement with five of seven members voting to do so. However, in this case, the ordinance to repeal the mask mandate was read into the record on March 1. With Monday’s meeting marking the second reading, council will not have to override the second reading.
Once the ordinance is entered into the record for the second time, council will then discuss and vote on the ordinance. Given that the director of Columbus Public Health has recommended the city drop its mandate, there does not appear to be a reason for council not to follow her recommendation.
If council does approve the ordinance and the mask mandate is repealed, however, that isn’t the end of the process. The approved ordinance then needs to go to Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther’s desk, at which point he can sign it, not sign it, or veto it.
All signs point to Ginther signing the repeal of the mandate, given his public comments in recent weeks, and once it is signed, it goes into effect immediately. However, should Ginther fail to sign the ordinance or even veto it, that doesn’t mean the process ends.
Should Ginther not sign the ordinance, it will go into effect 10 days after it is passed by council, in this case, on March 17. This is what the “to declare an emergency” language in the ordinance triggers — if signed, the ordinance goes into effect immediately after the mayor signs the legislation. If unsigned, it’s 10 days.
Ginther also has the right to veto any ordinance approved by council. Council, though, can override that veto if the number of council members who vote to do so is the same or higher than the number of members needed to pass the ordinance in the first place.
Ginther does not typically sign ordinances at council meetings, so if the ordinance is approved, the earliest it is likely to be signed is Tuesday. So, if council does vote to remove the mandate, masks will still be needed until word comes from the mayor’s office that the ordinance is law.