Jim Renacci
Jim Renacci
By Jim Renacci
Former Congressman
R-Ohio

WADSWORTH, Ohio – Over the past year, we have seen and experienced first-hand the disasters and outright contradictions that result when state and federal government becomes too involved in our financial, health and religious lives. Now, we cannot turn back time and reverse what happened then. But we can put in place common-sense measures that recognize fundamental issues of religious freedom, privacy, choice, and common sense.

Let’s start with mask mandates. Like several Republican governors, I oppose statewide mask mandates and do not think that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine ever had the legal authority to unilaterally impose one on Ohioans without the express consent of the Ohio General Assembly.

I also believe the governor should never hide behind his or her appointed director of health as to a reason why they make decisions. They are advisers to the governor, not elected officials.

Personally, if you want to continue to wear a mask in public, then by all means wear one. If you don’t want to personally wear a mask in public, then don’t wear one. The choice is yours. You and your doctor or other medical professional are the best judge of what’s right for you in these situations, not an out-of-touch governor or state or federal government bureaucrat.

At the same time, property owners and businesses have the right to make reasonable rules for their customers and employees to follow. As we proceed post COVID-19, there will likely be a few businesses and property owners who may choose to continue to ask that masks be worn. Other businesses and property owners will not require masks.

It is simply not state government’s role to interfere with the private relationships that Ohioans have with their businesses or employers as long as those private businesses or property owners do not discriminate against their employees or customers, violate their First Amendment rights or violate the ADA laws and requirements already in place.

The same goes for the various COVID-19 vaccines. Our government’s proper role is to assist the private sector in making the vaccine available to the public. But that’s where government’s role should end. Full stop. Organizing lotteries and other giveaways is something that a big government Democrat like California Governor Gavin Newsome would do, not an Ohio Republican governor.

Big government has no right to choose a side in your very personal and private decision to obtain a vaccine or not. Businesses must also follow the laws that are already in place and designed to protect individuals with disabilities, religious and other exemptions. If the Ohio General Assembly would pass legislation that would strengthen those protections and prohibit vaccine mandates, I would most certainly sign it into law if given the opportunity.

Finally, I strongly oppose so called vaccine passports issued by either the federal, state or local government. A requirement like that takes us down a very slippery slope. There is no room in our free country for government officials asking for our papers.

Jim Renacci is a business owner who operated 60 businesses, created 1,500 new jobs and employed over 3,000 people across Ohio. He served four terms in the U.S. Congress and was the 2018 Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate from Ohio. For more information, visit https://jimrenacci.com/.