GOP lawmaker wants to outlaw ‘vaccine passports’ in Ohio

    Photo from the U.S. Department of Defense.
    State Rep. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield. Official photo.

    A Republican lawmaker wants to prohibit “vaccine passports” in the state of Ohio, saying that doing so will ensure residents will maintain their freedom during the pandemic’s final stages.

    State Rep. Al Cutrona, R-Canfield, wants to outlaw any requirement that Ohioans show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination “in order to be allowed entry into an area or establishment,” a news release announcing the proposed legislation states.

    “Ohioans are encouraged to take the COVID-19 vaccine for the health and well-being of themselves and others,” Cutrona stated. “However, a vaccine should not be mandated or required by our government for our people to integrate back to a sense of normalcy. We’ve had restrictions on our freedoms for over a year and more restrictions or mandates are not the answer to every issue related to COVID-19.”

    Such vaccine passports have been suggested for international travel, though New York recently announced a digital “Excelsior Pass” to allow residents there to attend theaters, stadiums, wedding receptions and other large-scale events.

    “Ohio is not New York,” Cutrona stated. “I anticipate introducing this bill to ensure that the liberties of all Ohioans are instilled throughout this vaccination phase of the pandemic.”

    Gov. Mike DeWine has not indicated any plan to institute a vaccine passport program in Ohio, though President Joe Biden’s administration is reported to be working on a nation-wide program.

    The Ohio Capital Journal sought comment about vaccine passports and this proposed legislation from the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. It’s unclear yet whether the organization will support this pending bill.

    “While we generally support allowing private sector businesses to determine their own policies free from government interference, a global pandemic like we’re experiencing is obviously unprecedented and we’re discussing these types of issues with our members,” wrote Julie Wagner Feasel, vice president of communications for the Chamber, in an email.

    Other Republicans have condemned the concept as well, including U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel:

    Details about Ohio’s vaccination program and how to book an appointment are available on the Ohio Department of Health website by clicking here.

    THE MORNING NEWSLETTER
    Subscribe now.
    HELP US GROW
    Make a tax-deductible donation.
    Tyler Buchanan
    Tyler Buchanan is an award-winning journalist who has covered Ohio politics and government for the past decade. A Bellevue native and graduate of Bowling Green State University, he most recently spent 6 1/2 years as a reporter and editor of The Athens Messenger and Vinton-Jackson Courier newspapers. He is a member of the BG News Alumni Society Board and was a 2019 fellow in the Kiplinger Program in Public Affairs Journalism.