COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the second time in as many weeks, Ohio House Republicans failed to move a bill forward they introduced that would have banned any entity from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine. The GOP has been split between giving Ohioans medical freedom versus allowing businesses to run free of government interference.
House Speaker Robert Cupp, R-Lima, would not say the bill is dead when asked, but did say the House will "be moving on to other topics now."
"Well, just as Ohioans are divided about what the proper approach is to vaccines, so are our members of our caucus," Cupp said.
The “Ohio COVID-19 Vaccine Fairness Act,” as it was originally written, said no business or school could force its employees or students to get a COVID-19 vaccine that had not been fully approved by the FDA. However, hospitals could have required its staff to be vaccinated.
Republican leadership had tried to make changes to the bill.
"There are some that would like to go further than what was proposed in terms of restriction of prohibition. There are some who think that it already goes too far. And as a result, there's simply not a consensus on it," said Cupp.
Ohio House Democrats, who have been vehemently against the idea of the bill and how Republicans tried to get it through the chamber, called it a waste of time.
“It's a bill that they took (House Bill) 248 and they tried to fix it into a bill that they thought would be more palatable to more people. The end result is a bill that no one likes. So they created a monster and it's not going to be birthed today, that's for sure," said Ohio House Assistant Minority Whip Richard Brown, D-Canal Winchester.
The business and medical communities were glad to see the bill fail as well.
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce says it "remains concerned that HB 435, and other similar bills, infringe on employers’ rights. Furthermore, legislative action on vaccine mandates is unnecessary."
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network says “Passage of this type of legislation would put the health of those who have battled cancer and the over 73,000 Ohioans who will be diagnosed this year at greater risk."
Cupp said the House will not have anymore hearings on House Bill 435, nor any other bills related to vaccines. Instead, Cupp said the House will now turn its attention to sports betting and he will focus on the Ohio Redistricting Commission approving new congressional district maps.
Oct. 18 Editor's Note: This story has been corrected to reflect vaccine passports are not a part of Ohio House Bill 435.