Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday that his administration will fine city and county governments that require employees to get vaccinated.
The plan to fine cities and counties $5,000 “for every single violation” was announced during a stop in Alachua County not far from Gainesville, which is one of many local governments in the state that has a vaccine mandate for public employees.
The Governor said local vaccine mandates were expressly outlawed by a bill he signed earlier this year that blocked businesses, local governments, schools or other entities from requiring so-called “vaccine passports.”
The law makes no mention of vaccinations as a condition of employment. A statement released by the Governor’s Office does not mention such a prohibition either, noting that the law “bans governmental entities in Florida from requiring proof of vaccination or post-infection recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from their operations.”
Notably, state law has long required parents to document that their child has been vaccinated against a suite of other diseases, such as measles, mumps and rubella, before they may enroll them in public schools.
Still, DeSantis said the local mandates are illegal and that he was “not going to let people be fired because of a vaccine mandate.”
“What we are seeing out of Washington D.C. and local governments like the City of Gainesville and Orange County should alarm Floridians, and raises important questions — if you can have people like firefighters who put lives on the line every day forced to either lose their jobs or get the vaccine regardless of immunity, how does that protect our community or keep us safer? It doesn’t,” the Governor said in a prepared statement.
Also on Monday, Attorney General Ashley Moody backed a lawsuit challenging the mandate filed by Gainesville police and firefighters. In a three-page brief, she argued the “unlawful” mandate would exacerbate the current shortage of law enforcement officers in the state.
“But as the State seeks to ensure adequate police protection for its citizens, the City of Gainesville is undermining those efforts, threatening to fire police, first responders, and other city employees over the deeply personal decision to get a COVID-19 vaccine,” the brief says. “Forcing police officers out of their jobs is contrary to public safety and is therefore contrary to the public interest.”
“Are Joe Biden’s new vaccine requirements legal?” via Ian Millhiser of Vox
“Biden, Ron DeSantis butt heads but agree on this: Vaccines, antibody therapy save lives” via Laura Cassels of the Florida Phoenix
“How wellness influencers are fueling the anti-vaccine movement” via Ashley Fetters and Gerrit De Vynck of The Washington Post
“A second major seasonal virus won’t leave us any choice” via Scott Gottlieb of The Atlantic
“Facebook says its rules apply to all. Company documents reveal a secret elite that’s exempt.” via Jeff Horwitz of The Wall Street Journal
“‘Their crisis’ is ‘our problem’: One state grapples with another’s COVID-19 cases” via Mike Baker of The New York Times
“Biden has himself to blame for lost leverage” via John T. Bennett of Roll Call
“Tampa Bay schools have more COVID, fewer protections. Many families ask why.” via Marlene Sokol of the Tampa Bay Times
“Five dolphins and a baby sea lion died at Miami Seaquarium in a year. Activists want answers” via Adriana Brasileiro of the Miami Herald
“Why it’s so hard to predict where the COVID-19 pandemic is headed next” via Gregory Barber of WIRED
Quote of the Day
“The health, safety and welfare of the City’s workforce and those we serve is our number one priority. The City has taken the steps necessary to achieve that priority and stand by that decision.” — Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe, responding to DeSantis’ threat of fines if the city’s vaccine mandate continues.
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