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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

With First Drawing Set For Monday, Ban On Ohio's Shot Lottery Proposed

Karen Kasler

Just as the first of five drawings for a million dollars and for a college scholarship is taking place on Monday, a Republican state representative who’s been critical of Gov. Mike DeWine’s mask mandate and COVID shutdowns has sponsored a bill to ban the Vax-A-Million shot lottery. 

More than 2.7 million Ohioans have registered for the $1 million prize in the Vax-A-Million lottery, with the first of five weekly drawings happening Monday night.  Over 104,000 Ohioans between 12 and 17 have registered for the drawing for a full-ride scholarship to an Ohio public college or university. Winners will be announced on Wednesday.

Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) said assuming there was support for her bill, she knows there’s no way it could be passed and signed or a veto overridden before the first drawing.

“It takes a little bit of time to write a good piece of legislation. So we do have it finalized and that's why we're moving forward on it. Ohioans want their money to be spent wisely and the vaccine lottery does not do that," Powell said.

But she said there's still a reason to propose it, since it would apply to the four drawings after this week’s.

“And additionally on top of that, we are also looking at the future in the bill as well. In our draft, it does not allow any futuristic vaccine lotteries to take place," Powell said.

Powell pushed back on the increase in COVID vaccination rates since the lottery was announced, saying more talk about the vaccine or other factors could be driving up those numbers.

And she said she still feels the $5 million in prize money and around $1 million in full-ride college scholarships is frivolous, even though it’s not much in comparison to the state budget. The budget also includes Medicaid caseloads that have been rising during the COVID pandemic.

Since Ohio's announcement, three other states - Maryland, New York and Oregon - have followed suit with a form of a vaccine lottery.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau

Contact Karen at 614/578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.