COLUMBUS– State Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) today voted against House Bill (HB) 218, Republican-back legislation that contains last-minute changes to prohibit schools, universities and employers from requiring students or employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. It would also bar public and private entities from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for any reason.
HB 218 originally extended bar hours of operation and exempted bars from statewide curfew, but was amended to include prohibiting vaccine mandates, today during Commerce and Labor Committee.
“This is a bait and switch bill,” said Rep. Brent. “The original bill was about liquor laws, but was then switched out to address anti-vaccine mandates only 12 hours before session. This process does not allow the public to respond to this consequential mandate. HB 218 rejects public health and science. This bill fails to live up to the Ohio Promise that Ohioans can work with safety and security. It does not allow employers to perform their legal obligations to create a safe work environment.”
Democrats expressed concerns that the bill sends the wrong message to Ohioans who continue to lag the nation for coronavirus vaccination, ranking 41st among states. More than 25,000 Ohioans have died from COVID-19.
Additionally, Democrats warned that vaccine hesitancy would slow Ohio’s economic recovery by threatening the health of workers and causing uncertainty among consumers. Ohio’s major business and health organizations oppose the Republican ban.
HB 218 would:
Prohibit schools, universities and employers from requiring students or employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine;
Expand exemptions for medical, natural immunity and reasons of personal conscience;
Bar public and private entities from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for any reason;
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.