Ohio Chamber: Government mandates on business not the right solution

NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
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NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on everyone. Whether you are a parent who had to find the time to home-school your child or a business owner struggling to keep your doors open, we have all faced some type of challenge or disruption to our normal routine during the past 18 months.

However, over the course of the past year we have seen Ohio businesses reopen, children back in school and employees start to return to work. We are seeing real progress in the fight against COVID.

Now, just as we are making this forward progress, the federal government and Ohio legislature are trying to force mandates on Ohio business owners. At the state level, it is with House Bill 248, the Vaccine Choice and Anti-Discrimination Act, which prohibits business owners from requiring mandatory vaccinations and vaccination status disclosures from their employees. At the federal level, the government overreach occurred with the Biden Administration’s recent mandate forcing all businesses with over 100 employees to require employees be vaccinated or be subject to weekly COVID testing.

ExploreSee more of our COVID-19 coverage.

These two mandates are just two sides of the same coin. They both insert government into the middle of the employer-employee relationship and represent an inappropriate government intrusion into the private sector. Ohio companies want to be part of the solution and will do what is right for their employees, customers and businesses. They don’t need to be micromanaged by the government telling them how to best run their business.

At the Statehouse, I am concerned that the enactment of HB 248 will harm our business climate. In order to bolster our economic recovery, employers need to have the freedom to develop safety and safety protocols that enable them to fully reopen, but instead HB 248 limits their options and could result in companies instituting other safety measures that hamstrings Ohio’s economy, such as reduced operating capacity.

At the same time, I believe Biden’s announcement is misguided and poses a threat to the bottom line of a small business. A government mandate prevents businesses from crafting tailored workplace policies that promote safety while accounting for their individual circumstances. Biden’s plan also exposes employers to a substantial fine of $14,000 per violation, when it is not even clear what constitutes an infraction and it does not include a safe harbor when employers make a good faith effort to comply.

This uncertainty is compounded because the details available to the public now do not make clear how the Biden administration will determine who is an employee, what testing an unvaccinated employee must undergo, who will pay for that testing, and how employees with qualifying vaccine exemptions will be treated.

In short, whether it is the federal government or the Ohio legislature, one-size-fits-all government mandates limiting employer rights are not the right approach. It is imperative that we let our businesses manage their workplace free from government interference.

Steve Stivers is the president & CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. As the state’s leading business advocate and resource, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce aggressively champions free enterprise, economic competitiveness and growth for the benefit of all Ohio businesses.

ExploreRead the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association's response to the mandate.
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Steve Stivers is the President & CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. As the state’s leading business advocate and resource, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce aggressively champions free enterprise, economic competitiveness and growth for the benefit of all Ohio businesses.

Steve Stivers is the President & CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. As the state’s leading business advocate and resource, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce aggressively champions free enterprise, economic competitiveness and growth for the benefit of all Ohio businesses.
Caption
Steve Stivers is the President & CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. As the state’s leading business advocate and resource, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce aggressively champions free enterprise, economic competitiveness and growth for the benefit of all Ohio businesses.

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