GOP lawmaker tries to kill vaccine lottery: 'Ohioans don't want giveaways -- they want freedom'

An Ohio Republican is trying to stop Gov. Mike DeWine's proposal to give away $1 million in a vaccine lottery.

State Rep. Jena Powell (R-Arcanum) is drafting emergency legislation to prevent the state from awarding prizes, including five $1 million jackpots, starting May 26 after receiving their first dose of three approved coronavirus vaccines and signing up through the Vax-A-Million lottery program, reported the Ohio Capital Journal.

"Ohioans don't want giveaways to mask his horrible policy for the past year, they want freedom," Powell posted earlier this month of Facebook. "Ohioans don't want giveaways they want lower taxes. Ohioans don't want a benevolent dictator they want a free market leader. Ohioans deserve better than a giveaway funded by hard earned tax payer dollars.

The prize money will come from federal COVID-19 relief funds that have already been allocated to the Ohio Department of Health, and even Democrats have questioned the plan.

"As elected leaders, we're obligated to take seriously our duty to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars," House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). "Using millions of dollars in relief funds in a drawing is a grave misuse of money that could be going to respond to this ongoing crisis. Ohioans deserve better than this. I do hope people continue to get the vaccine and help our state reach herd immunity so our economy and way of life can thrive again."

There's some evidence that vaccination rates have risen since the lottery's announcement, and two other states have introduced their own versions of the plan.

Powell has been an outspoken critic of the Republican governor's handling of the pandemic and has been consistently opposed to efforts to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Her bill would redirect the Vax-A-Million funding toward either children's mental health initiatives or to small business relief grants.