Local leaders are joining Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in criticizing a plan to give Attorney General Dave Yost the authority to handle and dismiss lawsuits filed anywhere in Ohio against opioid manufacturers and distributors.

The proposal, drafted by three lawmakers working with Yost, also would give the state legislature, not local communities that have spent millions of dollars to fight addiction and overdoses, the power to divvy up proceeds from those lawsuits and settlements.

“I think the idea of that legislation would be a serious mistake,” DeWine said Wednesday. “If you look at how our services are delivered in Ohio and who has borne a great deal of the cost, you’ll find that local government has borne a great deal of that cost.”

The proposed bill, which has not been introduced, would give Yost and outside counsel 10 percent of any damages won in the lawsuits. The General Assembly would get the other 90 percent to "address matters of statewide concern," with no less than 18 percent of the total award going to local governments that initially filed the lawsuits.

Some 2,000 lawsuits filed by local jurisdictions across the state have been consolidated into one federal case in Cleveland. DeWine has filed separate lawsuits on behalf of the state.

Yost, a Republican, said in a statement Tuesday that "cities and counties that individually race to the courthouse, hoping for the luck of the draw and attempting to get any money that they can, are grasping for power. This is a state claim with statewide impact and should not be divided among political subdivisions.

"The interests of the state of Ohio are much greater than the sum of the interests of its political subdivisions. A consolidated claim allows for broad representation in this fight for the greater good so that we can fairly deliver equitable relief to communities based on impact," Yost said.

Local leaders sharply disagreed.

"I want Attorney General Yost to look my paramedics in the eye — men and women who have poured their blood, sweat, and tears into saving their neighbors, as they struggled and died by the hundreds to opiates — and tell them why we don't deserve our day in court," Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan said Wednesday in a statement.

Since the crisis peaked in 2016, Akron paramedics have responded to 4,000 overdoses, including 400 deaths linked to opiates.

"For years, Summit County has been on the ground fighting to address the opioid epidemic and protect our community and families," Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro said Wednesday in a statement. "The County has borne the substantial costs of prevention, education, drug interdiction and treatment related to the opioid epidemic. Our first responders, emergency teams, police force, public health and addiction treatment services, children’s services, and many more are on the front lines and are responding to the opioid epidemic every day. At this level of government, we are in the best position to serve our local communities and we know what we have spent and what we need for the future."

Summit County and 21 public agencies, towns, cities and villages in it launched a lawsuit in late 2017 demanding that 11 makers and three distributors of pain pills pay for the hundreds of overdose deaths and millions of dollars in public funds spent on the opioid crisis. Last week, Summit and Cuyahoga counties reached a reportedly $15 million tentative settlement with Endo and Allergan, which manufacture opioids.

The legislation proposed in Columbus would give Yost the discretion to dismiss each lawsuit then file his own for the benefit of the state.

"This poorly timed state takeover would violate both the Ohio Constitution's guarantee of home rule authority and its prohibition on passing retroactive laws," Horrigan said. "If Yost wants to control local governments, he'll have to change the Ohio Constitution first."

Shapiro vowed to "proceed with the [local] lawsuit we initiated in the best interest of all who live in Summit County."

The Dispatch reported Tuesday that an updated version of the proposed legislation would block any future flood of related lawsuits by local governments by giving the attorney general "sole and exclusive authority" to file lawsuits over a "matter of statewide concern."

Yost's office identified the lawmakers working on the bill as Rep. Bob Cupp, R-Lima; Sen. John Eklund, R-Chardon; and Sen. Bill Coley, R-West Chester. Cupp once served as chief legal counsel to Yost when the former Delaware County prosecutor was state auditor.

Yost has been critical of cities and counties working to negotiate a settlement of the nearly 2,000 locally generated lawsuits. In a letter to the judge overseeing the consolidated case, Yost argued that it would be unconstitutional to allow any proposal to go forward because it would allow subdivisions of the state to dictate terms to the state.

Lou Tobin, executive director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, called the proposed legislation "concerning. My members are not going to be happy. It undermines the authority of prosecutors to represent their counties and do what is best for them."

Kent Scarrett, executive director of the Ohio Municipal League, said in a tweet: "Shameful."