Anti-Vaccine Measure Gets Second Chance; OMA Continues to Oppose

On Tuesday, June 22, the OMA testified before the House Health Committee in opposition to House Bill 248, which would ban employers from requiring vaccines. Ross McGregor, a former state representative and president and owner of Pentaflex Inc., testified on behalf of the OMA against the legislation. (Here’s coverage from the AP and Statehouse News Bureau.)

While his company doesn’t currently mandate COVID-19 vaccinations, McGregor told lawmakers his business should have the right to require a vaccinations, especially considering manufacturing’s designation as an essential industry. When questioned about employer rights versus those of the employee, McGregor responded, “I offer employment. I do not mandate it. I offer it. It is up to an individual to decide whether they wish to accept my offer of employment.”

After Tuesday’s hearing, Committee Chair Rep. Scott Lipps (R-Franklin) told reporters that HB 248 lacked the necessary votes to advance the bill, while Gov. Mike DeWine said he would not sign the legislation. The bill was presumed dead.

But on Thursday, the House GOP inserted elements of HB 248 into an unrelated measure (Senate Bill 111) that allocates federal COVID-19 relief funds. SB 111 passed the House on a 60-34 vote. The House-approved language would ban private and public entities from requiring individuals to get a vaccine that hasn’t received full approval from the FDA. This would include the COVID-19 vaccines that have been granted emergency approval.

SB 111 now heads to the Senate, where Senate President Matt Huffman (R-Lima) has said he’s opposed to the anti-vaccination measure, adding that government should not impose mandates on private businesses. Even if passed with the House language, Gov. DeWine could line-item veto the change. 6/25/2021

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