Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday he will call the state legislature for a special session to add “protections” related to federal vaccine mandates.
“What we are going to be doing, in addition to mounting aggressive legal challenges to federal mandates, we are also going to be taking legislative action to add protections for people in the state of Florida. And that’s something that cannot wait until the regular legislative session next year,” DeSantis said at a news conference in Clearwater.
DeSantis said he and his administration will continue to fight the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed new vaccine rule for large employers, an emergency standard announced by President Joe Biden last month. DeSantis said they are looking specifically at how federal mandates apply to contractors and hospitals and in the early phases of assembling legal action on both fronts.
“I think we have got to stand up for people’s jobs and their livelihoods,” DeSantis said.
Democrats called the action an “outrageous” attack on local governments and businesses.
“Our positions should not be used as a place to bully people and businesses, but it should be used to push and promote good policy,” state Sen. Shevrin Jones said in a tweet. “Florida deserves leadership that will promote truth and facts, not more reckless politics with human lives on the line.”
Rep. Andrew Learned tweeted, “This is our Governor playing presidential primary politics by putting Floridians last.”
Some legislative actions will include holding employers responsible for damages if an employee is forced to get vaccinated and has an adverse reaction, according to the governor. DeSantis said any business that mandates Covid-19 vaccines will no longer qualify for the state’s Covid-19 liability protection.
“At the end of the day, you should not be discriminated against because of your health decisions,” he said.
DeSantis said he will also ask the legislature to “fortify the parents’ bill of rights,” an executive order signed earlier this year that directs the Florida Department of Education and the Florida Department of Health to issue emergency rules that give parents a choice on whether their children should wear masks in class.
DeSantis noted the “very strong action” taken by the state legislators in the last session. DeSantis cited measures such as the state’s vaccine passport bans that “nipped that whole issue in the bud.”
“But now you have these aggressive potential mandates, which could potentially lead to many people losing their jobs,” he said.
Judge set to rule in schools mandates case
Friday, a judge said he would issue a ruling in November after hearing arguments on a challenge to DeSantis’ ban on mask mandates in schools.
The hearing, heard by Deputy Chief Judge Brian Newman on Thursday and Friday, was set to determine the validity of the emergency rule adopted by the state’s Department of Health.
Six Florida school districts filed a petition against the department, challenging the rule that blocks the implementation of mask mandates in schools and another that allows parents to decide if their student should quarantine after being exposed to Covid-19.
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