LIMA — State Rep. Jennifer Gross, a West Chester Township Republican who authored legislation that would have made vaccine mandates obsolete in Ohio, wants an ally to replace Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp when his term ends in 2022.
Gross, who was removed from the House health committee after authoring House Bill 248, was a keynote speaker Wednesday, Dec. 15, during the Lima Community for Medical Freedom’s latest event.
“I need help,” Gross said. “I need a liberty fighter. I need a constitutional conservative. I need somebody who’s going to be up there, because you know what happens to me when I walk through the House right now? It goes like this: They don’t look me in the eye.”
HB 248 would have ended most vaccine mandates by prohibiting employers, including hospitals and nursing homes, from requiring vaccinations, implementing vaccine passport systems or even asking for an employee’s vaccination status for any infectious disease, not just COVID-19.
Under Gross’s bill, schools and childcare centers would be required to notify parents of vaccine exemptions, businesses could not deny service to anyone based on their vaccination status, and employers could no longer offer financial incentives to encourage vaccinations among employees.
The bill inspired lengthy committee hearings and opposition but has not made it out of the House health committee thus far, despite repeated efforts to force a floor vote in the House.
Still, supporters are now trying to turn HB 248 into a ballot question after House lawmakers passed another bill that would ban vaccine passports and create new vaccine exemptions for conscience objections and proof of natural immunity, which would require yearly antibody tests.
Gross said she regrets supporting that alternative bill, HB 218.
“It was difficult,” she told supporters on Wednesday. “I’ve been standing alone. I am the joint sponsor. There’s no other joint sponsor on HB 248. … I’ve been canceled. I’ve been lied about how I’m an anti-vaxxer over and over. I was always someone who believed in medical freedom. That’s what I stood for.”