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Ohio conservative think tank sues over "COVID vaccine or test" rule on businesses

 Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center started holding mass vaccination clinics in April 2021.
Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center started holding mass vaccination clinics in April 2021.

Lawsuits from Republican-led states are expected after the Biden administration announced that by January 4, all businesses with over 100 employees must require those workers be vaccinated against COVID or tested regularly.

Organizations are also likely to sue, with a conservative policy group from Ohio already doing so.

The Buckeye Institute filed the suit in federal court on behalf of two Ohio manufacturers. Buckeye’s Robert Alt says the Occupational Safety and Health Administration doesn’t have the authority to issue this mandate, which he said will have a devastating effect on already strained supply chains.

“I think there are businesses across the country and employees across the country that have very grave and serious concerns about this," Alt said. "And ultimately, even if we think the motives were pure or the outcomes are good, government must still act within the limits of its authority, even in times of pandemic.”

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh says OSHA has the power to order the mandate that will cover 84 million workers, along with a similar one for federal contractors.

Ohio joined Kentucky and Tennessee in a lawsuit over that requirement, saying deputies quitting over it will lead to the release of federal detainees housed in county jails.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been supportive of the federal government's vaccine-or-test mandate. The Ohio Chamber of Commerce is opposed, saying the rule is "a significant infringement on the ability of Ohio employers to set their own workplace policies."

Several bills to ban various vaccine mandates in Ohio have been proposed, but have been put aside for the time being because of opposition from the Chamber, health systems and other influential groups.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Karen is a lifelong Ohioan who has served as news director at WCBE-FM, assignment editor/overnight anchor at WBNS-TV, and afternoon drive anchor/assignment editor in WTAM-AM in Cleveland. In addition to her daily reporting for Ohio’s public radio stations, she’s reported for NPR, the BBC, ABC Radio News and other news outlets. She hosts and produces the Statehouse News Bureau’s weekly TV show “The State of Ohio”, which airs on PBS stations statewide. She’s also a frequent guest on WOSU TV’s “Columbus on the Record”, a regular panelist on “The Sound of Ideas” on ideastream in Cleveland, appeared on the inaugural edition of “Face the State” on WBNS-TV and occasionally reports for “PBS Newshour”. She’s often called to moderate debates, including the Columbus Metropolitan Club’s Issue 3/legal marijuana debate and its pre-primary mayoral debate, and the City Club of Cleveland’s US Senate debate in 2012.