COLUMBUS — Ohio’s Chamber of Commerce is voicing opposition to a bill which would limit private and public entities in regards to vaccinations for their employees.
In June 2021, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce first publicly voiced opposition to House Bill 248. The House Health Committee is revisiting the bill next week, and the Ohio Chamber will once again testify against the legislation.
HB 248, the Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act, prohibits business owners from requiring mandatory vaccinations and vaccination status disclosures from their employees. This would apply to employers, schools, health care providers and any other private or public entities.
“It’s time for lawmakers to stop trying to dictate workplace policies that interfere with the ability of employers to ensure the safety and wellbeing of employees and others who enter places of business,” said Ohio Chamber President and CEO Steve Stivers in a press release. “Businesses continue to do the best they can in responding to the many challenges and consequences of the COVID crisis. They don’t need to be micro-managed by the government telling them how to best run their business.”
The Ohio Chamber said it opposes HB 248 because the bill conflicts with Ohio’s at-will employment laws, which allow employers to dismiss an employee for any reason, without warning. The chamber believes HB 248 infringes upon employers’ rights.
“It’s ironic that, since the beginning of the pandemic, many of the same lawmakers who have been pushing back against what they see as government overreach are the ones now calling for more government controls on business,” added Stivers. “No legislator can claim to be pro-business and at the same time support efforts to restrict an employer’s ability to manage their workplace free from government interference. The Ohio Chamber is simply asking for them to be consistent.”
However, one of the proponents of HB 248, Ohio Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) told the Darke County Women’s Republican Club in June that she believes personal freedoms are being threatened by vaccination mandates.
“It isn’t about whether vaccines work or not. That’s not my decision. But people are in tears calling our offices saying that their freedoms are at stake… with (the possibility of) forced vaccinations and passports,” she said.
Powell added, “This is why we need limited government…At the end of the day, being a politician is a service to the people. We are elected to serve.”
In response to the Ohio Chamber’s position on the legislation, Powell told The Daily Advocate she continues to support HB 248, and has called upon Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp, and Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman to complete passage of the bill.
“Business rights don’t trump personal freedom and rights,” she said. “In regards to this legislation, the chamber is representing large corporations and large healthcare networks, not the people. Ohioans have made it very clear they don’t want forced vaccinations in our state, whether from the private or public sector.”
Powell added, “Businesses have the right to fire and hire, but are not people’s healthcare providers and do not have the right to dictate people’s choices when it comes to private healthcare matters.”
The Daily Advocate had received no official comment from the Darke County Chamber of Commerce at the time of publication.
To contact Daily Advocate Editor Erik Martin, email [email protected] or call 937.569.4312.