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Rep. Brown expresses concern for workers following passage of HB 606

Says GOP-sponsored legislation would grant corporations partial legal immunity from COVID-19 related law suits
September 3, 2020
Richard D. Brown News

COLUMBUS- State Representative Richard D. Brown (D-Canal Winchester) voted “no” on House Bill 606, sponsored by State Representative Dianne Grendell (R-Chesterland), during Tuesday’s House session after the majority caucus blocked provisions that would protect essential workers who contract COVID-19 on the job from being included in the legislation.

House Bill 606, which was passed by the House in May, initially included an amendment from State Representative Brigid Kelly (D-Cincinnati) that would classify COVID-19 as an occupational disease, allowing working Ohioans to have access to Bureau of Workers’ Compensation coverage should they contract the illness.

“Since its passage, Republicans have been branding this misguided legislation as a ‘worker protection’ bill, when in fact, the emphasis all along has been on protecting the largest corporations from litigation when they do not follow best practices. This legislation has never been about the nurse, the EMT, the student, or the front-line worker, it has been about providing businesses a pass when they fail to follow safety protocols.

In a bill designed to account for the difficulties of doing business in the era of COVID-19, the least we can do is include BWC coverage for everyday, working Ohioans. The Senate GOP did a disservice to working Ohioans who have continued to put themselves at risk of contracting COVID-19 by showing up to work every day during this pandemic when they stripped worker protections from this bill,” said Rep. Brown.

While Rep. Brown and House Democrats helped to make the legislation more narrow and provided a sunset provision, ultimately, the GOP caucus in both chambers failed to adequately protect working Ohioans, leading the majority of House Democrats to vote “no” on the legislation. 

“While we can all agree that it is an unusually difficult time to do business throughout our country, we should not be providing corporations special protections while not doing the same for the working Ohioans who they employ. This overly broad legislation focuses too much on indemnifying big businesses than on ensuring safety for those who work and shop at them,” said Rep. Brown.