Governor Ron DeSantis signs COVID-19 legislation to protect Florida jobs
Ron DeSantis joined Florida President Chris Sprouls and Senate President Wilton Simpson to sign legislation protecting Florida residents from losing their jobs due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and protecting the rights of parents to make student health care decisions. Bills have been passed through a special session of the Florida legislature and are effective once the governor signs. The legislation signed today is the most powerful pro-liberty and anti-delegation measure taken by any state in the country.
“I told Florida residents that we’re going to protect their jobs and today we put this in place,” Governor DeSantis said. “No one should lose their job due to heavy COVID mandates and we have a responsibility to protect the livelihoods of Florida residents. I am grateful to the Florida Legislature for joining me in standing up for freedom.”
- It prohibits mandates for a COVID-19 vaccine to a private employer.
- Employees can choose from many exceptions, including but not limited to health or religious concerns; pregnancy or expected future pregnancy; and previous recovery from COVID-19.
- Employees can opt for periodic testing or personal protective equipment as an exemption.
- Employers must cover the costs of testing and exemptions for personal protective equipment for employees.
- Employers who violate employee health protection measures will be fined.
- Small businesses (99 employees or fewer) will face $10,000 per employee for a violation.
- Medium and large companies will face $50,000 per employee violation.
- Government agencies may not order COVID-19 vaccinations for anyone, including employees.
- Educational institutions may not require students to be vaccinated for COVID-19.
- School districts may not have school face mask policies.
- School districts may not quarantine healthy students.
- Students and parents can file a lawsuit against school districts and recover costs and attorneys’ fees.
Florida House of Representatives Democrats have issued statements hostile to Governor DeSantis. “Businesses are trying to survive during the ongoing pandemic and the governor, with the support of the Republican legislature, is hampering their operations. Bills from the special session are anti-business and lawmakers are participating as additions to the governor’s sideshow to bolster his image as he hopes to become president,” said state representative Geraldine Thompson. .
Progressive State Representative Anna Escamani called it “a tough week in Tallahassee.” She added that Florida Democrats did not unite to vote against one of the Republican bills, apparently exposing internal problems in the Democratic Party. “There was actually one bill that Democrats could have stopped if we had stuck to the line and voted together as a caucus member,” the Orlando representative told his supporters by email.
Attorney General Ashley Moody has announced that Florida is challenging the Biden administration in court over the authorization of a CMS vaccine that Florida says is illegal and threatens to exacerbate a shortage of health care workers.
“Governor DeSantis has shown exemplary leadership throughout the pandemic, and I am proud to stand with him as we challenge the illegal vaccine mandates that the president and power-hungry bureaucrats have imposed on the people of Florida,” Attorney General Ashley Moody said. “I will always fight for freedom, the sovereignty of Florida, and the autonomy of American workers.”
There is a clear partisan divide over the vaccine mandates that will likely shape the next election cycle.
“Governor DeSantis has been clear: No Florida citizen should lose their jobs due to vaccine mandates,” Deputy Governor Janet Nunez said. “I salute President Simpson’s leadership and Speaker Sprouls for their efforts to protect the people of Florida. The Free State of Florida will never bend the knee to bypass the unconstitutional Biden administration.”
The politicization of the vaccine continues. It is a shame that the governor chose to call the symbol of technological and medical progress the “punch” to continue to scare and confuse people about the effectiveness of a vaccine. “We need to continue to listen to public health and medical experts to get through this pandemic and truly allow the people of Florida to thrive,” Democratic Leader Bobby Dubois said.