COLUMBUS — Ohio House Republicans have fallen short of bringing a bill to the floor that would provide employees and students with options for avoiding forced vaccinations.

The GOP Caucus — composed of all 64 Republicans in the House — met Wednesday and discussed the fate of House Bill 435 (HB 435), according to 82nd District Rep. Craig Riedel of Defiance. Sixty one Republicans attended, he said, but they could not produce the level of support needed to ensure the legislation’s passage if it were brought forward, he indicated.

The House is composed of 64 Republicans and 35 Democrats. Three Republicans were absent for the Caucus meeting Wednesday, according to Riedel.

He described HB 435 as a compromise bill — brought forward after two others were introduced that would have prohibited employers and learning institutions from requiring vaccinations among employees and students.

“I was disappointed,” said Riedel who told The Crescent-News he would have voted for HB 435 had it come to the House floor. “I really believe it’s a fair compromise. There’s been a lot of hard work put into this. It’s one of those issues that is not going to make anyone happy because people feel so strongly about this.”

He said House Speaker Bob Cupp chose not to bring the legislation forward as several Republican legislators would have to change their minds to ensure that 50 yes votes — a simple majority in the House — would be available to pass HB 435.

Cupp offered this statement Wednesday: “This is an important and personal issue for all Ohioans and those who represent them. Just as there are widely differing views among Ohioans on this issue, it’s certainly not a surprise that there are varying perspectives among their legislative representatives as well. It is important to have consensus within our caucus on how best to move forward.

“After countless hours of hearings and deliberation on this topic, there is still no consensus on how or whether to move forward,” Cupp added. “Consequently, the House at this time will pause additional hearings on this matter. We are continuing our work on other legislative matters that are important to Ohio and its people.”

Cupp’s decisions does not kill the bill, but puts it on hold until Republicans can find the necessary votes.

According to Riedel, HB 435 — which is specific to COVID-19 — would have offered employees and students four exemptions from taking a vaccine:

• religious grounds.

• a medical condition.

• demonstrate that the person already possesses the necessary antibodies.

• personal conscience.

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