Section: News

Ohio residents propose legislation to ban vaccine mandates

Ohio residents are urging lawmakers to consider a ballot initiative to ban vaccine mandates, according to the Columbus Dispatch. The proposed legislation would prohibit vaccine passports, prevent programs requiring individuals to disclose their vaccination status and disallow institutions from refusing service to unvaccinated people. 

This proposed law comes after Ohio House lawmakers passed House Bill 218, “the Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act.” If enacted, H.B. 218 would expand vaccination exemptions for students or employees on the basis of medical or personal reasons and previously-acquired natural immunity. Similar to the newly proposed law, it would also prevent businesses from requiring proof of vaccination from employees or patrons, and prohibit schools or businesses from mandating vaccination for students or employees if the vaccine isn’t fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration. 

At the same time, the Dispatch also reported that several large companies in Ohio are pausing enforcement of vaccine requirements, following possible changes to the federal vaccine policy requiring companies with 100 employees or more requiring vaccinations for workers. While the rule mandated that the 84 million applicable workers — two million from Ohio — be vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2021, a federal court blocked the proposal, prompting some companies to halt their vaccine requirement plans. Gov. Mike DeWine has previously opposed sweeping vaccine mandates, though he has encouraged all Ohioans to receive the vaccine. 

The next step for the proposed law is for Attorney General Dave Yost to decide whether to approve an initiated statute petition, which he will do later this week according to the Dispatch. If he approves the petition, its proponents will need to obtain 1,000 signatures from Ohio voters and file their proposal with Yost’s office. From there, the group would send the proposal to the Legislature with 132,000 signatures, and, if not passed within four months, petitioners could put the proposal on the ballot for the next general election.


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