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Guest column/Celebrate personal freedom and liberty

Published By Herald-Star on July 3, 2021
Ron Ferguson In The News

The last year has been a struggle. Lockdowns, restrictions, job losses, foreclosures and bankruptcies have crippled our economy. Then there’s the physical toll — rises in addiction, depression and domestic abuse.

 It’s time for us to rebuild, but to start that process we needed to break the chains of government overreach. That’s what I’ve spent the first six months in office doing. Now, let me invite you behind-the-scenes to explain how.

Two bills were introduced in the legislature empowering us to rescind orders by the governor or director of health. The first bill was Senate Bill 22, which was a good bill. The second was House Bill 90, which was much stronger. Unfortunately, SB 22 was the bill that came up for a vote rather than HB 90. I was the only member of the House of Representatives to vote no on SB 22 on the floor the first time we voted on March 10, then vote yes on SB 22 to override the governor’s veto on March 24.

Here’s why I voted that way. My initial no vote was to send a message that we should pass the stronger bill, because it would’ve been better for Ohioans. The fact is the legislature needs to quit passing watered down bills and start taking stronger stands for our constituents. I then voted yes to become the 60th of 60 votes needed to override the governor’s veto and empower the legislature to give Ohioans their freedom and liberty back.

All bills take 90 days to become law. So June 23 was the first day the legislature could use the newly acquired power of SB 22 to rescind the orders which had locked our state down for more than a year. This is where the story gets even more exciting.

 Rather than wait, I wanted to be prepared to take action on June 23. So I drafted House Concurrent Resolution 21, along with state Rep. Scott Wiggam, R-Wayne County, to rescind all remaining restrictive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. We took HCR21 to the House Clerk’s office on May 13. On May 14, the governor made the announcement that the mask mandate would be lifted on June 2. What’s the logical conclusion here? Wiggam and I taking action with HCR 21 removed Ohio’s mask mandate.

But Ohio was still in a state of emergency. So we kept up the fight. On June 17, I delivered sponsor testimony on HCR 21. The governor ended the state of emergency on June 18. What’s the conclusion? We ended the 16-month-long state of emergency in Ohio.

There was still one major battle left. We needed to make sure that Ohioans were not forced to take a vaccine against their will. I offered an amendment on June 24 that would prohibit any private or public entity from requiring a non-FDA approved vaccine and/or discriminating against any person based upon vaccination status. The amendment passed the House with a veto-proof majority of 62 votes. Unfortunately, the Senate was unwilling to vote on my amendment. They instead voted on a lesser amendment that would only prevent non-FDA approved vaccines from being required at a public school or state institution of higher education. The good news is at least the freedom and liberty of our students and school faculty is protected.

So that’s what I’ve been doing for the last six months, but the fight isn’t over. We need to pass stronger bills in the fall, bills that make Ohio the greatest state in the country. I can promise you that I will continue fighting to secure and defend your individual rights in Columbus at every turn.

On July 4, I hope you celebrate the founding of the greatest nation on Earth. I hope that you celebrate your personal freedom and liberty. And most of all, I hope you get to celebrate with as many friends and family as you can on your own terms now that Ohio is fully open.

Happy Independence Day.

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