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Lawmakers debate basis for COVID-19 vaccine mandate exemptions

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Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
Ross McGregor, Ohio Manufacturers' Association, testifies against HB435

The House Labor and Commerce Committee held the first of two hearings on HB435.

Ohio lawmakers are holding hearings on a bill that would make it easier for someone to be exempt from COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Part of that debate is over who is asking for the law in the first place.

Opponents of the bill argue that, with 65% of eligible Ohioans vaccinated, a bill to create exemptions would be to satisfy what they call a "vocal minority," some of whom have shared misinformation on this and other bills.

Rep. Dick Stein (R-Norwalk), who chairs the House Labor and Commerce Committee holding the hearings, says he still thinks exemptions are important to consider.

"A lot of us agree that the vaccine works. It has a more positive than certainly a negative but at the same time there are those out there that see it in a different light and do they have an opinion that needs to be honored," says Stein.

Republican leadership is hoping to pass a bill with consensus in the caucus, however they're expecting a lot of amendments that could be proposed.

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