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Vaccine bill likely moving soon; hearings continue this week

Written on Oct 8, 2021

OSCPA staff report

Legislation to address employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates faced criticism from all sides of the issue Oct. 6-7 during two separate House Commerce and Labor Committee hearings.

Nevertheless, lawmakers are expected to make changes to the legislation and choose a course of action on the matter in the coming weeks.

House Bill 435, co-sponsored by Rick Carfagna, R-Genoa Township, and Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, would limit businesses’ and schools’ ability to mandate COVID-19 vaccination through four broad exemptions. Representatives of health care organizations and business groups argued this week that the legislation goes too far in restricting the ability of employers to require vaccines to ensure a safe workplace. And on the other side of the issue, anti-vaccine activists said the bill doesn’t go far enough to protect unvaccinated individuals.

In a positive development, at the urging of OSCPA and the broader business community, the bill would extend the essential qualified immunity law against COVID claims through June 30, 2023. The lawsuit immunity previously granted by H.B. 606 (133rd GA) expired on Sept. 30. However, trial lawyers objected to this language protecting businesses saying that instead it “would gift new immunity to negligent, harmful actors until June 2023.”

Many other organizations this week submitted written testimony, most of which was in opposition.

Stay tuned to OSCPA news sources for developments on this important issue!

Hannah News Service contributed to this report.