Business group pushes back on vaccine bill

One of the most powerful interest groups at the Ohio Statehouse is pushing back on HB 248, the proposal that prohibits employers from requiring workers to be vaccinated. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce wants the bill stopped before it goes any further.

Chamber President and CEO Steve Stivers told WHIO-TV that 99.5% of the organization’s 8,000 members would never require their workers to be vaccinated. Stivers said, though, there are a small percentage of companies that may want to mandate it.

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“Hospitals, nursing homes, dentist’s offices or businesses that have medically fragile customers or patients, some of our members may feel it is necessary to mandate a vaccine,” Stivers said.

Stivers, a former state lawmaker and former member of Congress from Central Ohio, is well connected with legislative leaders at the Statehouse. Still, there are individual lawmakers who support the bill. Rep. Rodney Creech, R- West Alexandria, attended a demonstration at the Statehouse Tuesday to show support for the proposal. The demonstration attracted hundreds of people from around the state, including Michelle White of Arcanum. She stood waving a sign to people driving by the Statehouse to show her opposition to vaccine mandates.

“I feel it should be a choice on our own and not be forced,” White said.

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The event coincided with a hearing of the bill by the Ohio House Health Committee. During the hearing, no vote was taken and no amendments were accepted. Earlier, House Speaker Bob Cupp, in a rare statement of its kind, said no action would be taken on the bill until later.

Stivers said he expects that the Health Committee will decide what to do with the bill when the full General Assembly ends their summer break and returns to Columbus in mid-September. As for his response to the demonstrators and their chants for medical freedom, Stivers said, “I believe in freedom, but I also know that has freedom also has to have consequences or else you have pandemonium.”

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