By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A Republican-backed bill that would ban Ohio employers from requiring workers to get vaccinated was slated for Tuesday for additional testimony from supporters and opponents.
The measure before the GOP-controlled House Health Committee has drawn several opponents of COVID-19 vaccines but does not mention the coronavirus. Instead, it discusses the mandatory requirements for all vaccines, such as the flu.
The legislation would also prevent employees from being fired for refusing to be vaccinated and allow them to sue their employers if they felt they had been fired wrongly.
Supporters, including Bill’s sponsor representative Jennifer Gross, say vaccinations should be a personal choice. The debate over the legislation gained national notoriety in June when a doctor testified before the committee that people had become magnetized by the vaccine, allowing the metal to stick to their skin. This does not happen.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a bulletin on June 3 specifically debunking this lie, explaining that all COVID-19 vaccines are metal-free.
Opponents of the bill include hospitals, state doctors and nurses associations and other healthcare groups who say the measure could undo decades of protection against preventable diseases such as measles, mumps, hepatitis, meningitis and tuberculosis. The Ohio Manufacturers Association and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce are also opposed.
Lawmakers shouldn’t micromanage companies as they try to keep their employees safe, House President and CEO Steve Stivers said last week.
“No lawmaker can claim to be pro-business and at the same time support efforts to restrict an employer’s ability to run their workplace without government interference,” said Stivers, a former Republican state lawmaker and member of the US Congress.
The fate of the bill in its current form is unclear. House Speaker Bob Cupp, a Republican from Lima, said on Monday that the committee chairman had been tasked with holding an additional hearing, Tuesday’s, without scheduling a vote or making any changes.
Hearings will then come to a halt “while we work with the President, the sponsor of the bill and all interested parties on this important issue,” Cupp and the rest of the GOP leadership said in a statement.
GOP Governor Mike DeWine also opposes the legislation, calling it a “very, very serious mistake” which, in the case of hospitals, would take away their authority to decide how to keep patients safe.
Last month, however, DeWine enacted a bill prohibiting public schools and colleges from requiring individuals to receive vaccines not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The governor had urged the FDA to grant such approval, which it did on Monday for the coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer.
The Anti-Vaccination Mandate Bill before the House Health Committee also strengthens views that schools must provide parents with any exemptions they can request from immunizing their children. In addition, the bill would repeal a state law requiring students to disclose whether they have been vaccinated against hepatitis B and meningococcal meningitis.
A new law in Montana is the only measure that similarly bans employer-required vaccinations, though it does allow healthcare facilities to require unvaccinated workers and those who refuse to disclose their immunization status to wear protective clothing. masks and take other precautions.