By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Private companies and public entities would be prohibited from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter a facility or do business, under anti-vaccine legislation passed by the House Republicans on Thursday who would cover everything from private theaters to public sports arenas.
In addition, schools could not prevent students from participating in activities based on their COVID-19 vaccine status, according to legislation approved by the GOP-controlled House on Thursday after the Trade and Labor Committee voted in favor of it a few hours earlier.
He goes next to the Senate where the Republican president has expressed skepticism about bills interfering with business decisions.
The bill also exempts employees from workplace vaccination warrants if they show proof of COVID-19 antibodies, provide evidence that they are at risk of a negative medical reaction, or refuse the vaccine for reasons of conscience, including religious beliefs. Employees or students who claim such exemptions could not be fired or expelled.
The bill does not extend the exemptions to people who work in children’s hospitals or intensive care units, but requires those entities to make a “good faith effort” to provide alternative placement for unvaccinated workers.
“Individuals must be given the opportunity to have this autonomy for themselves,” said Representative Al Cutrona, a Republican from the Youngstown suburbs who helped push the bill through committee. “Most importantly, we want to make sure people don’t lose their jobs or their form of employment.”
Earlier this year, Montana banned mandatory vaccines for employees. There is also a nationwide high-stakes legal battle involving more than two dozen Republican-led states, including Ohio, which have filed lawsuits challenging President Joe Biden’s vaccine requirement for businesses. private.
Thursday’s vote was the third time House Republicans have pushed the bill’s provisions in recent weeks, with House Speaker Bob Cupp previously stopping the legislation saying there are had not quite agree.
But ahead of its passage Thursday, Commerce and Labor President Dick Stein said he expected the entire House to approve the bill. The Republican of Norwalk, in northern Ohio, said the legislation is about personal choice and individual freedom.
“Mandating by any source, whether federal or state, will never create compliance,” said Stein, who said he was fully vaccinated. “We must do this through education, agency and personal choice between physicians and their families and the communities in which they live.”
Workplace vaccination mandates have become more common recently, with hospitals, state and local governments, and some large businesses requiring COVID-19 vaccines for employees. The warrants have led to overwhelming compliance – in some cases 99% of workers – although a small but noisy number have been fired, sued, or requested exemptions.
Democrats called the bill an anti-business bill that endangered the safety of workers.
The legislation is “bad public policy that undermines public health, confidence in science and vaccine, and endangers the lives of Ohioans, all for the sake of a vocal minority which represents a very extreme view of this. COVID-19 virus, ”said Rep. Allison Russo, a Columbus suburban Democrat and health care policy consultant.
The seven-day moving average of daily new cases in Ohio fell from about 3,484 new cases per day on Nov. 2 to about 4,948 new cases per day on Nov. 16, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins. University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
It is not yet known whether the bill will become law. All major business and health groups have previously opposed the legislation, and the Ohio Manufacturers ‘Association on Thursday called the new bill “a needless invasion of employers’ rights.”
Senate Speaker Matt Huffman, a Republican from Lima, also signaled his disapproval of any bill regulating how private companies can run their businesses. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has said he opposes both government vaccine mandates and government vaccine mandates.
Follow AP’s coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic.
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