COLUMBUS, Ohio — After months of efforts by Ohio House Republicans, the caucus passed an anti-vaccine mandate bill on Thursday.
Representatives voted 58-32 in a mostly party-line vote in favor of House Bill 218. The bill now goes to the Ohio Senate.
The legislation would prohibit schools, colleges and employers from mandating vaccines if the vaccine uses RNA or other genetic technology and is not fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
It would also allow for school and employer vaccine mandate exemptions for reasons based on medical contraindications, natural immunity and reasons of personal conscience. The legislation would prohibit so called “vaccine passports” meaning that venues cannot require proof of COVID-19 vaccination to gain entry.
While the bill was a victory for conservatives, it’s still in question on whether the bill will make it into law.
The bill drew ire from Ohio Chamber of Commerce head Steve Stivers, a former Republican congressman who left the U.S. House earlier this year to lead Ohio’s business community. He said Thursday that it should be up to businesses to decide whether patrons must be vaccinated.
Stivers also opposed a proposed federal regulation that would have required employees of businesses with 100 or more employees to require vaccinations or weekly testing. The proposed federal regulations were lifted amid a legal dispute before being enacted.
“This bill is bad for private businesses,” Stivers said. “It tries to tell private businesses what they can’t do and what they have to do in a way that could jeopardize some private businesses, their employees and their customers.”
Rep. Sara Carruthers defended the bill.
“What I’m against is someone forcing vaccines on anyone. I don’t like mandates,” she said.
DeWine has suggested in the past he would veto such legislation.
"My position is that employers should not be told by government to vaccinate, or require vaccinations, nor should they be told that they cannot require vaccinations," DeWine said earlier this month.