Florida Democratic leadership calls for special session to target vaccine mandates[dick-]Measuring the competition between Ron DeSantis and Joe Biden

Florida Democratic leadership calls for special session to target vaccine mandates[dick-]Measuring the competition between Ron DeSantis and Joe Biden

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  • Photo from the governor’s press office

As the start of a special legislative session called by Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday, House and Senate Democrats criticized measures the Republican-controlled legislature viewed as “political theater” designed to advance the governor’s political ambitions.

The special session will focus on Republican opposition to vaccination and mask requirements against COVID-19, with DeSantis, widely cited as a potential Republican presidential candidate for 2024, leading efforts to block such mandates.

Proposals for consideration during the special session (HB 1B and SB 2-B) seek to ensure that workers receive exemptions from employer-required vaccinations against COVID-19 and to prevent governments from requiring employees to receive vaccinations. Another measure (HB 5B and SB 6-B) that would move the state toward withdrawing from the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration oversight.

Evan Gein, House Minority Leader D-Dania Beach, told reporters Monday morning that the special session “is not about good public policy,” saying the Republican-backed bills are intended to escalate the spat between DeSantis and President Joe Biden. .

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This is political theater. This is not about helping anyone. It is not about guaranteeing anyone’s freedoms. This is not about government policy. “This is about two guys running a measuring contest that should be in private, and instead letting it seep out in front of the whole public,” Jenny said.

This week, lawmakers will also consider a bill (HB 7B and SB 8-B) that would strip the state’s surgeon general of the ability to mandate vaccinations during public health crises. Although Democrats have criticized incumbent state surgeon Joseph Ladabo, Representative Fentris Driskill called the proposal shortsighted.

“It seems to me a bit, perhaps, counterproductive to remove this as a tool in our general surgeon’s toolbox… because you just don’t know what emerging conditions might present themselves. So leaving it as an option, for me, would be the course of action.” wiser,” Driskill, D-Tampa, told reporters on Monday.

Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, Democrat of Orlando, stood alongside several of his House colleagues during a press conference at the Capitol on Monday as he pulled out a list of “serious issues” facing Florida residents that would not be addressed during the special session.

We have an affordable housing crisis that needs to be addressed. We have to fix unemployment for the many Florida residents who are still struggling to get their benefits. “We must expand health care, especially for those workers who have lost access to health care during the pandemic,” Smith said. “Gov. DeSantis doesn’t want to address any of these issues. Instead, he wants us to come back here again to discuss masks and COVID-19 vaccines.”

A group of Senate Democrats also criticized the bills on Monday, saying the legislation would do nothing to help small business owners who have struggled throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

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“I’d like to learn about the unemployment system. I’d like to come over here and talk about apartment safety, affordable housing, you know, 100,000 septic tanks in Miami-Dade County that need to be converted because they’re killing Biscayne Bay, which is a huge commercial and tourist generator for coastal communities, Senator Jason Bezo, Democrat of North Miami, told reporters during a news conference Monday morning.

The special session, which is expected to run through Thursday and take place less than two months before the regular legislative session begins on January 11, comes as DeSantis continues to roll back the Biden administration’s vaccination mandates.

The state has filed lawsuits challenging vaccination requirements for federal contractors and companies with 100 or more employees. The Biden administration wants these requirements to take effect on January 4th. DeSantis also said the state will challenge the Biden administration’s move to require the vaccination of workers in health care facilities, such as hospitals and nursing homes, that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs.

But Bezo said much of the language in the legislation for the special session is ambiguous and criticized proposed penalties against business owners who terminate employees who have not received vaccinations.

“If you really have a small business owner, and the guy owns a barber shop with two chairs, and he has a $10,000 fine, that doesn’t quite fit in with the $50,000 for a company that might have 3,000 employees,” Bezo said.

Pizzo, the former attorney general, described the legislative measures as “another series of bills that were quickly drafted without much deliberation,” adding that the proposals seemed “to accommodate the assertions, platitudes, or statements made by the governor.”

Senator Tina Polsky, D-Boca Raton, said the special session would not help the state end the nearly two-year pandemic.

“Here we are giving license to people, for many reasons, to be able to opt out of getting a vaccine. And I think that’s exactly the opposite approach that we should be taking to encourage vaccination,” Polsky said.

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