Today, members of the Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus urged Governor Mike DeWine to veto House Bill 244, which was amended with dangerous provisions that would limit the Ohio Department of Health’s ability to respond to future public health emergencies and prevent public schools and higher education institutions from creating policies to keep students and employees safe.
“It is unfortunate that critical legislation to support our military families was tainted by last-minute amendments that will put the lives of Ohioans in danger,” they said in the letter. “We strongly feel that such major policy changes, particularly those directly impacting our children and teachers, deserve thoughtful consideration.”
The bill, which was intended to address educational opportunities for children in military families, was amended on the Senate floor Monday with a provision that would ban public schools and universities from requiring vaccines that haven’t received full FDA approval. This includes all Covid-19 vaccines currently available in the United States. The legislation would also prohibit schools from mandating other safety measures for those who are unvaccinated.
“We fear prohibiting public schools and universities from being able to require masks and institute other policies for those who have not been vaccinated will jeopardize public health during future outbreaks,” they said.
The bill also includes an amendment that would limit the Department of Health’s ability to isolate or quarantine individuals returning to Ohio from another country designated with a travel health notice due to a disease outbreak. Under this legislation, the Department of Health would only be able to isolate or quarantine individuals for up to 48 hours after their arrival, which Senate Democrats say may not be enough time to diagnose or stop the spread of a new disease.
“We must allow public health experts to have the flexibility to determine how long an individual should quarantine and isolate in order to keep Ohioans safe,” they said.
The full letter can be found here