COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio House Republicans shelved a bill that would have given companies and schools the right to mandate vaccines, but also allowed significant opportunity for personal exemptions to getting the coronavirus shot.
After a two-week delay, and additional wrangling Wednesday that found Republicans failing to find any middle ground, Speaker Bob Cupp said he plans to move on to other topics.
“We put in countless hours, not only weeks but months on (vaccine bills) with all kinds of input, and so it’s time to move on to other important topics that are facing Ohioans in the state legislature,” he said Wednesday after he canceled a House floor vote on his preferred coronavirus vaccine bill due to not gaining enough consensus among members of his party for it to pass.
This means Ohio schools, colleges and businesses, including hospitals, are free to mandate the coronavirus vaccine as they see fit — subject to federal laws and orders and likely litigation brought by people and organizations against the vaccine.
House Bill 435 would have allowed employers, K-12 schools and colleges to impose coronavirus vaccine mandates on workers and students. But it also would allow broad exemptions based on medical, “natural immunity” from the coronavirus and reasons of conscience, including religious objections.
Nevertheless, the bill continued to be framed by many Republicans — including those who serve under Cupp in leadership — as allowing businesses to make people’s personal health decisions. Employers argued against this claim by saying if a company has a vaccine mandate, then it’s part of conditions of employment that people are free to accept or reject.
The Ohio Manufacturers’ Association, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and a coalition representing business and health care organizations all rejected the bill, which was supposed to be more moderate than a previous vaccination bill, HB 248.
HB 248, which made Ohio a laughingstock with testimony from people claiming the COVID-19 vaccine causes people to become magnetic and “interface” with 5G cell technology, prohibited all mandates for all vaccines, even for people who work at hospitals.
HB 248’s sponsor is attempting to use a legislative maneuver to force HB 248 past the committee where it has faltered and to the House floor for a vote. However, the move, called a discharge petition, requires the signatures of a majority of House members. Cupp said that hasn’t been achieved.
“I do not expect any movement in that bill,” Cupp said.