A rewritten version of the House’s emergency order legislation includes a ban on vaccine passports, a request of Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Proposed language filed Sunday to the House’s bill to limit government powers during a state of emergency (HB 7047) would prevent businesses from requiring schools, businesses and government entities from requiring documents certifying that a patron, student or resident has been vaccinated against COVID-19. That concept has been commonly called a “vaccine passport.”
Earlier this month, the Governor signed an executive order along those lines. However, that order only lasts through the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency.
A few days prior, DeSantis asked lawmakers to include a ban on vaccine passports in their emergency management legislation.
“We’re taking action, and we’re going to work with the Legislature that whatever gets across the finish line to reform in light of this will also have something to say that that just simply is not going to be permitted in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said.
Sarasota Republican Sen. Joe Gruters earlier this month had filed an amendment to the Senate version of the bill (SB 2006) to create the vaccine passport ban. However, he withdrew the amendment before Senate Rules Committee panel could approve it after senators made hushed deliberations during discussion over the amendment.
Senators could still amend the bill when it comes to the Senate floor, which is expected Wednesday.
With the proposed committee substitute in the House Health and Human Services Committee, the House looks primed to prep that language first. That panel is slated to hear the proposed new language during a Monday meeting.
Under the House language, violating the vaccine passport ban could level a $5,000 fine per violation.
The bill would also limit local emergency orders to 42 days, seven days at a time. The Governor could invalidate local emergency orders at any time if he or she determines it unnecessarily restricts individual liberty.
The bill would also place restrictions on the Governor’s emergency spending powers, provisions DeSantis backs. Other governors could have locked down Florida for an extended period of time, he and Republicans contend, as they did in other states.
“Even though I didn’t take that, what if I had done that or someone else had done that?” he posed last month. “There needs to be some checks there.”
Less controversially, the bill would also require the Division of Emergency Management to maintain an inventory of state-owned personal protective equipment. The State Health Officer would also have to develop a plan for health emergencies.