Attorney General rejects petition for anti-vaccine mandate bill a fourth time

A COVID-19 vaccine clinic was set up at the Butler County General Health District building Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 at 301 South Third Street in Hamilton. The normal days for vaccine clinics are Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. until noon. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

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A COVID-19 vaccine clinic was set up at the Butler County General Health District building Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021 at 301 South Third Street in Hamilton. The normal days for vaccine clinics are Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. until noon. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office has rejected for a fourth time a summary of a petition for a bill meant to ban many vaccine requirements and the sharing of vaccination status.

Two previous versions of the petition were rejected in December 2021 and February 2022 by the office due to problems with the summary, while another was rejected in January 2022 due to insufficient signatures.

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The office said the petition was rejected because the summary was not a “fair and truthful representation” of the proposed bill, writing in a response letter that “the summary does not properly advise a potential signer of the proposed statute’s character and limitations.”

Issues with the rejected summary include:

  • It says the bill will impose restrictions on businesses that it does not.
  • It says the bill will give businesses certain legal protections that it does not.
  • It doesn’t indicate whether an “estate” or “trust” would be part of that protected category.

The petition can be edited and submitted again.

The proposed statute, called the “Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act,” would ban any person, public official or employee, state agency, political subdivision, school, child day care center, nursing home, residential care facility, health care provider, insurer, institution or employer from requiring or requesting someone get a vaccine, except for those vaccines already required by Ohio law like mumps, tetanus and rubella.

It would also broadly ban denying service to someone based on vaccination status.

Finally, if any individual believes that one of the above people or groups are violating the statute, the bill would allow the individual to sue them, and if they win receive court costs, attorney’s fees and “any civil penalty that the court considers appropriate.”

The proposal shares the name of a very similar bill introduced last year, which drew the ire of business groups and health and hospital groups, and later stalled.

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