COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – The right of individuals to claim one of three exemptions to decline a mandatory workplace dose of the coronavirus vaccine would expire by late 2025, under the latest version of a House GOP bill limiting businesses’ ability to require the vaccine as a condition of employment.
Under the bill, employees who could show proof of COVID-19 antibodies, proof they run the risk of a negative medical reaction, or those who don’t want the vaccine for reasons of conscience, including religious convictions, would be exempt from employer mandates.
The bill would now end or “sunset” those exemptions by Sept. 30, 2025, Rep. Rick Carfagna, a Delaware Republican and bill co-sponsor, said Wednesday.
The legislation is one of several anti-mandate bills being considered by legislatures nationwide. GOP Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued an executive order to prohibit any entity, including private business, from enforcing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate on workers.
Carfagna said he believes the House bill sensibly balances the rights of workers and businesses. But the fate of the legislation is uncertain. Although House leaders anticipated putting the measure up for a full vote in the Republican-controlled House Wednesday, private discussions by GOP lawmakers continued with no indication the bill has enough votes to pass.
All major business and health groups oppose the legislation. And Senate President Matt Huffman, a Lima Republican, has expressed skepticism at any bill regulating how private businesses can run their companies.
The bill’s exemptions would also be available for employees and students at Ohio’s public and private schools, colleges and universities. Governments would be prevented from requiring proof of vaccination to enter locally or state-owned public facilities, which would include publicly funded sports stadiums.
The legislation does not prevent private businesses from requiring vaccination proof. In addition, employees of children’s hospitals and employees who work on hospital intensive care or critical care units would not be eligible for the exemptions to receiving the vaccine.
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