Bill that bans vaccine mandates teeter-totters between House leaders
The bill is officially on hold, for now.
First, House Speaker Bob Cupp (R-Lima) announced the legislature would be "moving on" from working on bills that try to ban or limit vaccine mandates.
Those were his comments on Wednesday after the House GOP once again failed to reach a consensus on HB435, which would grant broad exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the public and private sector.
Then, on Thursday morning, House Health Committee Chair Scott Lipps (R-Franklin) scheduled a hearing for HB248, a bill that bans mandates on all childhood and adult vaccines.
Ohio House Health Committee will hold another hearing on the bill to Ban All Vaccine Mandates (HB248). The hearing next week is accepting written testimony only, with possible amendments and a possible vote— Andy Chow (@andy_chow) October 14, 2021
That October 19 hearing put the bill up for a possible vote out of committee. The announcement came as a surprise around Capitol Square given Cupp's previous comments.
The back-and-forth ended when Cupp sent Lipps a letter Thursday evening, publicly ordering him to cancel the meeting. At that point, Lipps' office confirmed the hearing had been canceled.
With House lawmakers signaling a transition away from legislation that would restrict COVID-19 vaccine policies, Bruce Vanderhoff, Ohio Department of Health director, was asked if he saw this as a potential opening to do more to increase the state's COVID-19 vaccination rate.
"Our focus remains on getting good information out to people and encouraging vaccination rather than as a department of health providing specific mandates for the vaccine," said Vanderhoff.
While House Republican leadership are putting the brakes on HB248, the bill's co-sponsor Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester) is trying to orchestrate a maneuver around the House speaker.
Though @SpeakerCupp has ordered @LippsforOhio to cancel next week’s Health Cmte hearing and possible vote on the “vaccine choice” bill banning all mandatory shots for kids and adults, there are now 13 Republican state reps who’ve signed the petition to force a floor vote on it. pic.twitter.com/DZ6Jgy5Xbv— Karen Kasler (@karenkasler) October 15, 2021
The lawmaker has been circulating what's known as a discharge petition that would compel a House floor vote if enough people sign on. The petition would need 50 votes to go to the floor, so far 13 Republican legislators have added their names.
A federal rule for businesses to require employees be vaccinated or tested for COVID-19 is expected soon.