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Government & Politics

Sponsor of Bill to Ban Mandatory Vaccines Launches Effort to Force Ohio House Vote

Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester) speaks to supporters of her bill in the Statehouse Atrium as a hearing on the bill went on in a committee room on August 24, 2021.
Karen Kasler
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester) speaks to supporters of her bill in the Statehouse Atrium as a hearing on the bill went on in a committee room Aug. 24, 2021.

There’s a new effort to get a vote on a controversial bill that would ban all mandatory vaccines in Ohio, as well as outlawing so-called “vaccine passports.”

The bill’s sponsor has launched a discharge petition to get it to a full House vote. Republican Rep. Jennifer Gross has always described it as a freedom bill, and she drafted the petition after the Biden administration’s COVID vaccine or testing mandate for businesses. She wrote in a statement: “It is now time for the Ohio Legislature to take action on HB 248 ... I hope to see signatures and support from my fellow House Members.”

Gross said in a text that she’s “heartsick” that other lawmakers don’t see the bill as urgent. She said she didn't want to do a discharge petition, since that opens the bill up for amendments from any representative, not just those on the House Health Committee, where the bill is now. But she texted: "The bill is [not] perfect. So, now the entire caucus can help fix it."

House Speaker Bob Cupp had said last month he expected action on the bill when the House returned in mid-September, but the bill isn’t scheduled for a hearing. The bill is in the House Health Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Scott Lipps (R-Franklin), and his office said it's up to Cupp.

Fifty representatives would need to sign the discharge petition to force the vote, but now only Gross and fellow Republican Nino Vitale have signed. Vitale has written that he's "not against vaccines" but has also said publicly that he did not have his children vaccinated.

The original bill banning public and private entities from mandating any vaccines from childhood shots on up or proof of vaccination status has 15 co-sponsors, and Gross said in a text “those who said they’d support it need to [ante] up.”
Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.