COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW) — Republican lawmakers in Columbus are proposing new legislation, that would restrict Ohio’s COVID-19 health mandates and vaccine policies.
During a hearing of the Ohio House Health Committee, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jennifer Gross, (R) West Chester, told members, “We need to protect Ohioans from forced vaccination, whether it comes from the government, a school, employer or even a local retailer.”
Rep. Gross maintains House Bill 248 does not discourage or prohibit vaccinations.
“This bill focuses on establishing policies that afford citizens the opportunity to opt out of vaccination without scrutiny or harassment,” she said.
Among other things, the proposed law would prevent employers from forcing workers to show proof of vaccination, so called “vaccine passports.”
“Employers should not be able to threaten and intimidate employees with the loss of a job or punishment for failing to receive an injection of any vaccine, much less an emergency use vaccine,” she said.
Gross and other Republican sponsors of the bill say it would also prevent any effort to force unvaccinated people to wear face covers, and would preserve the right to medical privacy, whether someone decides to be vaccinated or not.
“The concept that a state would allow any individual or entity, public or public, to compel an invasive medical intervention on another individual through coercive tactics and mandates, sets a dangerous precedent,” said Rep. Gross.
But opponents of the bill are raising questions about how blocking certain vaccination policies will impact Ohioans who are considered at risk.
During the hearing Rep. Beth Liston, (D) Dublin, asked “I would say that many do fear for their employees, right, and certainly this is pretty wide spread practice because it is a deadly disease, do the businesses and community centers not have the right to protect their employees and the people that they serve?”
Rep. Gross responded, “so we are force vaccinating and taking people’s freedom, I would ask you, if you do not mind, how much freedom is too much freedom?”
The legislation is being weighed by the health committee, and could be considered by the entire House later this year.