For all the hemming and hawing over the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ perceived failures to get shots in arms, Floridians largely support his job performance.
That’s according to a Florida Chamber of Commerce poll out Thursday, which finds 54% of likely Florida voters polled approve of DeSantis’ work.
Further, one of DeSantis’ priorities, which is also top of mind for Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprowls, claims overwhelmingly support.
A full 74% of respondents favor passing liability protections for Florida businesses to shield them from potentially frivolous lawsuits. The measures (SB 72 and HB 7) have bipartisan support. While Republicans are more likely to favor the measure at 85% support, Democrats indicated 63% support. No party-affiliated and third-party voters also favor the measure at 73%.
However, a large majority of voters want liability protections extended to doctors, hospitals and nursing homes, a provision not currently included in the proposed legislation. When asked if they support liability protections that include health care workers, support grew to 71% among Democrats and 75% among NPA and third party voters. While support among Republicans dropped a single point, overall support grew to 78%.
St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes is sponsoring the Senate bill; Rep. Lawrence McClure of Plant City is carrying the House version. Both are Republicans.
The Florida Chamber is on board with both bills but advocates including health care in the prescribed protections. The business advocacy group believes front-line health care workers should be free to continue their lifesaving work without fear of facing frivolous lawsuits.
Both bills shield Florida businesses, nonprofits, schools and religious institutions from frivolous COVID-19 related lawsuits.
The bill’s retroactive protections apply to organizations who make a “good faith effort” to follow federal, state and local health guidelines.
Advocates contend the measure is a necessary component to Florida’s economic recovery.
Both bills have cleared the first of their three committee stops.
Sprowls said protections for health care providers would require a separate bill and discussion.
The Chamber poll also measured support for obtaining a COVID-19 vaccine. Among those polled, 70% said they would take a vaccine when able. Among voters age 60 and older, 82% said they were willing to obtain the vaccine.
The poll was conducted Jan. 14-22 by Cherry Communications during live telephone interviews of likely voters and has a margin of error of +/- 4 percent. The sample size included 249 Democrats, 256 Republicans and 105 others for a total of 610 respondents statewide.