The September 9th announcement by the Biden Administration that it would seek to mandate all private sector firms with 100 or more employees ensure employees are either fully vaccinated or tested regularly had the effect of pouring gasoline on a fire that was already raging in Ohio. Previously, the legislature had been considering several bills dealing with Ohio’s vaccination laws, but none yet had enough support to pass.
So, the House this week tried a different approach.
On Monday, HB 435 was introduced as a placeholder bill, initially including nothing but a statement of intent to enact legislation regarding vaccines. A day later, the actual bill was released, presented to the House Health Committee, and reported by the committee on a party-line vote without receiving any public input. The plan was for the bill to then be considered for final passage by the full House this week. However, amidst wide-ranging opposition as well as frustration over the rushed process, the House opted not to vote on HB 435, instead re-referring it to committee for further consideration.
The Ohio Chamber was amongst those expressing concerns. Though more narrow than HB 248, the vaccine-related bill that had previously gotten the most legislative attention and to which the Chamber has twice testified in opposition, HB 435 still infringes on the rights of Ohio’s employers.
Whether or not HB 435 can be amended in such a way as to gain majority support remains unclear. In the meantime, the Ohio Chamber will continue to urge lawmakers not to pass any bill that unnecessarily inserts government into the middle of the employer-employee relationship or restricts an employer’s ability to manage their workplaces free from government interference.