GOP Lawmaker Introduces Bill to Prohibit COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates at Ohio Colleges and Universities

Lawmakers introduced a Republican-sponsored bill into the House Higher Education and Career Readiness Committee that would ban COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Ohio colleges and universities.

House Bill (HB) 747 sponsored by state Representative P. Scott Lipps (R-Franklin) prohibits private colleges or state institutions of higher education from discriminating against an individual based on COVID-19 vaccination status even in medical school programs.

“Our colleges and universities are institutions where freedom of thought and choice should be encouraged, not crushed. By requiring vaccines and discriminating against individuals who choose not to receive one, we are not only making very intimate health decisions for our students, but we are showing them that their education, choice, and autonomy are less meaningful and not of their own control,” Lipps said.

According to Lipps, he formed the legislation after hearing a constituent’s story of being denied access to a clinical required for graduation at a private university in Southwestern Ohio because she had not received the COVID-19 vaccination.

“Once we heard from our constituent family and then contacted the university in Southwestern Ohio, that was sufficient for us to move forward and try to draw light to this,” Lipps said.

Lipps said that he intentionally wrote the bill to be “narrow,” after the House Health Committee “suffered through hundreds of hours of testimony and thousands of witness statements regarding vaccines and vaccine technology or mandates.”

In the December 6th hearing on the legislation, Lipps said the bigger bills to ban vaccine mandates made him realize “the broader the bill, the more difficult the bill.”

“We’re looking for baby steps for successes on mandates,” Lipps said.

According to Lipps, there are “select universities” that still have a vaccine mandate in place but there was no survey of the individual universities to verify mandate status at the time he created the bill.

Lipps has also advocated for legislation to ban COVID-19 vaccine mandates in elementary and high schools, although no mandates currently exist in those areas he says it is a preemptive measure for future law changes

Lipps questioned what role the government should play “in deciding what a person is able to do with their own body.”

Democrats have called the GOP hypocritical the last several years on issues of bodily autonomy as many members support potential legislation to prevent vaccine mandates but push ahead with legislation to ban abortion in Ohio.

“I am looking forward to working with you and many others like you across the aisle on making sure that as we move forward, autonomy of choice and decisions between you and your doctor are left up to you and not the state of Ohio,” state Representative Joe Miller (D-Amhurst) said.

Under the proposed legislation colleges and universities are still able to recommend vaccines but they will not be able to treat individuals differently based on their vaccination status.

“It is against my values as a conservative to promote government mandated vaccine or to encourage medically-exempt individuals to be discriminated against because of a vaccine,” Lipps said.

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Hannah Poling is a lead reporter at The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Follow Hannah on Twitter @HannahPoling1. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “P. Scott Lipps” by Ohio House of Representatives. Background Photo “COVID-19 Vaccine” by torstensimon.

 

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