Florida’s special lawmaking session is underway to try to limit government and business pandemic response
At the request of Gov. Ron DeSantis, Florida lawmakers are in Tallahassee this week to take up a slate of bills that push back against the federal government’s vaccine mandates and limit local governments’ authority to require COVID-19 immunizations.
In announcing the special legislative session, DeSantis said, “When the vaccines first came out, we worked very hard to provide it, particularly to our elderly, but we said from day one: we will make it available for all, but we will mandate it on none because ultimately we want individuals to make the determinations about what is right for them.”
Bills up for consideration would require businesses to allow for religious, medical, and other types of exemptions if they want to require their employees be vaccinated — in some cases, potentially fining businesses that comply with the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate.
Local governments would be banned from requiring vaccination.
Another bill would establish a state-run agency to regulate safety in the workplace. Right now, Florida businesses are regulated by the federal OSHA. The state would need to get approval from OSHA to run its own program, a process that would take years to accomplish and hasn’t been done by any state in decades.
The proposals come after OSHA issued a rule this month that would require tens of millions of workers nationwide to be vaccinated against COVID-19, or be regularly tested and wear masks, by Jan. 4. Florida is challenging the rule in federal court.
Lawmakers will also consider a bill that would strip the state surgeon general of being able to mandate vaccinations during public-health crises.
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