Special Session targeting vaccine mandates appears likely for November

Desantis clearwater
DeSantis says the issue can't wait.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is calling for a Special Session to block the President Joe Biden administration’s plan to impose vaccine mandates on large companies.

“We will be calling the Legislature back for a Special Session. We want to make sure that individuals in the state of Florida have their rights protected,” DeSantis said at a rally in Clearwater Thursday.

It’s DeSantis’ most aggressive action yet in opposition to so-called vaccine passports.

The Session will be in November, DeSantis noted, saying accelerated timing was needed as rules are being implemented on the federal level and deadlines are imminent.

But the details are still being worked out. A joint statement from Senate President Wilton Simpson and House Speaker Chris Sprowls suggested that one path forward may be to exempt Florida from the jurisdiction of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“In the coming days, we will review the Governor’s specific proposals as well as discuss our own ideas for legislative action, including whether now is the time for Florida to withdraw from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and establish our own state program. We believe that by doing so, Florida will have the ability to alleviate onerous federal regulations placed on employers and employees,” the statement asserted, suggesting that the Special Session may become very ambitious indeed.

The statement followed a press conference Thursday morning full of strong rhetoric. In Clearwater, DeSantis, accompanied by Attorney General Ashley Moody and Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, offered stentorian arguments against the “heavy hand of government” being used to “force injections.”

“Your right to earn a living should not be contingent on COVID shots,” DeSantis said. He vowed to contest the Occupational Safety and Health Administration vaccine mandate and a similar requirement on federal contractors.

“They’re now facing getting kicked to the curb,” DeSantis lamented, vowing to test the mandate in court once the “right plaintiff” is found.

Hospital employees and local government employees likewise will be protected, he added.

“A lot of the employers are not honoring exceptions” for religious beliefs, DeSantis said.

DeSantis also vowed to protect employees fired for not getting vaccines, or people harmed by taking the vaccine under employee duress.

“At the end of the day, you shouldn’t be discriminated against based on health decisions,” DeSantis said.

The Governor said legislation was the correct vehicle, rather than him issuing Executive Orders or “edicts,” given that Florida is “not in a state of emergency.”

DeSantis’ office supplemented the rally-style event in Clearwater with an email Thursday afternoon, where the Governor’s second-in-command endorsed the path forward.

“Mandates have no place in the free state of Florida,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “I am proud to stand with Governor DeSantis to provide protections for employees facing discrimination over vaccine status. Our administration will continue to fight for freedom.”

The Special Session, according to the Governor’s Office, would protect Floridians against these “unfair and discriminatory” vaccine mandates.

“During this Special Session, Governor DeSantis is asking the Florida Legislature to provide protections for employees facing termination because of unfair, discriminatory COVID-19 vaccine mandates and to reaffirm that government entities including school districts may not fire any employee based on COVID-19 vaccine status. Violating government entities should be held accountable. Employers’ broad liability protections should also be reevaluated if they harm employees through vaccine mandates,” the Governor’s Office contends. “In addition, we are asking the Florida Legislature to provide greater protections to parents to manage the health care decisions of their children, including the freedom to opt their children out of mask mandates.”

“Your right to earn a living should not be contingent upon COVID shots,” said DeSantis. “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. I want a state in which people are able to maintain their livelihoods, earn a living, and provide for their families. And if the federal government or big corporations are hurting people, then we have a responsibility to step up and lead.”

Legislation is already emerging, even as DeSantis suggested the prospect of a Special Session alone could be a “wake up call” to businesses not toeing the Tallahassee line on vaccines.

Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry will refile legislation Thursday expanding on recently passed vaccine and mask mandate bans.

Last week, Perry filed a measure (SB 452) that would ban mask mandates in schools as well as medical requirements. However, the Senator is developing a new plan of attack, including a measure that would possibly prevent businesses from requiring vaccines for employees, an ask from the Governor.

The Attorney General and Surgeon General, meanwhile, offered strong support.

Moody vowed that the state will push back against “unlawful” mandates.

“We will always have your backs,” Moody said to cheers.

The Surgeon General denounced vaccine mandates as an example of “extreme” and “really terrible policies,” abetted by a “climate of dishonesty” and “concerted effort” to squash stories about bad outcomes from the shots.

“We’re going to learn more about the safety of these vaccines,” Ladapo said. “This idea that we are foolish for listening to people on things for which we don’t have data right now is ridiculous.”

The Clearwater event continued a rhetorical offensive from DeSantis this week. The Governor offered a similarly slashing denunciation of federal action against school board protesters in Titusville earlier this week.

There, he promised the Parents’ Bill of Rights, the law used by the Governor’s Office to justify refusal of mask mandates in schools, would be “fortified” this upcoming Session.

Expect action here too.

“The teeth need to be strengthened,” DeSantis said in Clearwater Thursday of the Parents’ Bill of Rights.

The Special Session call, meanwhile, is not popular with Democrats, including a Cabinet member running for Governor in 2022.

“This is a purely self-serving political ploy by the Governor, once again pulling out all the stops to appease – and encourage – extremist positions that fly in the face of science and public health instead of protecting our children, our communities, and our economy. It provides a dangerous platform for extremists who have been threatening those trying to do right to keep their communities safe, and creates a slippery slope by undermining public health policies supported by sound science and the medical community by instead promoting conspiracy theorists and risky unproven treatments,” said Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

“I once again call on the Governor to abandon his reckless anti-science and anti-Biden crusade that only serves his political ambition at the cost of further taxpayer-funded lawsuits, economic disruptions, and the lives of Floridians.”


Capital correspondent Renzo Downey contributed reporting.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been the Northeast Florida correspondent for Florida Politics since 2014. He writes for the New York Post and National Review also, with previous work in the American Conservative and Washington Times and a 15+ year run as a columnist in Folio Weekly. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Shannon Bradford

    October 21, 2021 at 10:16 am

    I agree that government over-reach must be stopped! The vaccine mandates should not be put upon the private sector by the government or government subsidiaries such as NASA and the the other entities at The Kennedy Space Center which is coming down on subcontractors for government contracts! This is and should always remain personal choice as an individual.

    • Professor Emeritus

      October 21, 2021 at 10:20 am

      Just like drunk driving or any other way of killing other people . right ? No one should be forced to stop hurting others Right ? Rapists gotta rape so it’s up to the victims to protect themselves right?

      • MR

        October 21, 2021 at 10:40 am

        Seriously? Rape and drunk driving? You are comparing two very different things.

      • Stephanie Bach

        October 21, 2021 at 11:11 am

        So you are saying that the government has the right to use us as guinea pigs without our permission? They are not giving genuine/true data on the covid and/or the “SO CALLED” vaccine. Maybe if our government was honest and trust worthy…..more people would accept the vax easier ‘OR’ more people may freak out knowing what’s really going on. No comparison to drunk driving. Those that took the vax should ‘supposedly’ be protected. So what’s your problem?

        • guenter g hoti

          October 21, 2021 at 11:22 am

          Lady, no one is forcing you to get the vaccine. You just have to deal with the consequences if you don’t. Whining that you should get to do whatever you want, regardless of the consequences, is the current mantra of the GQP, of course (along with owning the libs!!!!), but what a steep fall from when Republicans claimed to be the party of personal responsibility.

          • Jerry

            October 21, 2021 at 12:52 pm

            Dude, yes you are forcing the vaccine. You are threatening the entire livelihoods of people if they don’t inject a vaccine that isn’t even a year old and doesn’t stop the spread! We have never in the history of this country had a government that forced private companies to require vaccination on the entire population. And if you don’t comply you lose your job, you can’t pay your mortgage, you can’t buy food. But then you liberals have the nerve to claim “it’s not forced.”

    • Lisa Farhood

      October 27, 2021 at 11:58 am

      So the death of all those people is okay.

  • ScienceBLVR

    October 21, 2021 at 10:53 am

    Ok.. rape and drunk driving comparisons to not wearing a mask or greeting a shot to protect yourself and others is a weak comparison. How about the seat belt laws? I mean isn’t it government over reach to tell me I have to buckle up? I can be fined pretty heavily for not following that mandate and it doesn’t even really affect the health of others like COVID does. And now that it’s a primary reason to stop a vehicle even more so.. don’t hear too many folks complaining about that until they get a fine anyway. So there is precedence for mandates that protect the individual form their own boneheaded decisions. And where are all the Conservatives when DeSantis is telling private businesses what they can and cant do to protect their employees? CINOs, I guess…

    • Stephanie Bach

      October 21, 2021 at 11:34 am

      So you are saying that the government has the right to use us as guinea pigs without our permission? They are not giving genuine/true data on the covid and/or the “SO CALLED” vaccine. Maybe if our government was honest and trust worthy…..more people would accept the vax easier ‘OR’ more people may freak out knowing what’s really going on. No comparison to drunk driving. Those that took the vax should ‘supposedly’ be protected. So what’s your problem?

      • Michelle

        October 21, 2021 at 2:16 pm

        No. The guinea pigs were people like me. We willingly stepped-up and volunteered as vaccine trial participants. I was lucky, I got the vaccine in the first round of shots and I have been protected. Science isn’t bad, and there is still good people who will put their life on the line for the greater good.

        The people on your favorite channels all have the vaccine and they are making money off of tricking you into not getting the vaccine.

        The “problem” is that we all know people who will not be as protected by the vaccine due to things like cancer treatment or immunosuppressants. Ill-informed people like you are a danger to our friends and family, because you cause spillover. Powell was an example of someone like you causing a vaccinated person to spread it to him and his cancer making his immune response weaker. I’m sorry that selfishness is your main gift to us here.

      • A Guinea Pig

        October 21, 2021 at 2:55 pm

        Looks like Trump’s Operation Warp Speed to bring a Covid vaccine to the people was a lie based on your comment. But then again, he was never honest and trustworthy.

    • Jerry

      October 21, 2021 at 1:05 pm

      Wearing a seat belt and injecting a drug are VERY different things. Even wearing a mask and injecting vaccines are very different. A vaccine is putting a substance in your body that you can’t ever remove. If it causes side effects or a reaction. You are screwed. Because you can’t even sue anyone.

      DeSantis originally had no problem with private businesses doing their own mandates. Disney did their own. But you liberals were not happy with this because not enough businesses were willingly doing it. So now the problem is we right now have a very senile old man in the White House leading a party that is obsessed with power and social control that wants to force every business in the country to mandate the vaccine on their workforce or face termination and economic ruin. So now we have to fight back.

      This vaccine is less than a year old! It doesn’t stop the spread! It doesn’t stop you from being infected! There is no long term safety data. And you liberals couldn’t wait to talk about mandating it. And now you threaten people’s jobs and livelihoods if they don’t make the personal health decisions you want. That is disgusting!

      • Michelle

        October 21, 2021 at 2:24 pm

        This is incorrect. The vaccine does not stay in your body forever. The vaccine teaches your immune system how to react to covid and leaves your system within 4 weeks maximum.

        This is incorrect x2. The first vaccine was developed almost right after the shutdown started. Phase 1 trials started in March 2020. This means we have 19 months of information collected on the vaccines. There was Phase 1 – 3 trials before EUA. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/experimental-coronavirus-vaccine-safe-produces-immune-response

        *I was a Phase 3 trial participant.

  • tjb

    October 21, 2021 at 11:02 am

    We now have 730,000 Covid deaths in the USA. The total number of American soldiers killed in WW1, WW2, the Korean War, and Viet Nam was 715,000.

    Florida has 6.5% of the USA population, but it has 8% of the USA Covid deaths.

    DeSantis’s Florida leads the nation in the highest percentage of Covid death on a per capita basis and we are second in the average deaths per day.

    • Stephanie Bach

      October 21, 2021 at 11:42 am

      IMAGINE THAT! WOW! Covid appears and the seasonal FLU practically disappeared last year. Less than 3000 deaths from the flu. All other deaths dropped dramatically also…….heart disease,, etc.
      AMAZING! Why aren’t they keeping an ‘honest’ count of the deaths and permanent injuries from the vaccine?

      • JustTheFacts

        October 21, 2021 at 1:44 pm

        I’m sure it had nothing to do with social distancing and mask wearing…right? You know, Asian countries do masks during peak season for the flu and such. I bet if we had previously done it, the flu season would be much more contained like it was last year. You are looking for a conspiracy where a little common sense would show you there isn’t any. Turn off your echo chamber social media accounts and start doing your own research. You obviously dont.

      • tjb

        October 21, 2021 at 3:12 pm

        Here is an accurate count of Covid deaths in Florida, 58,143. This count was reported by the state of Florida. If you question this count from the state, should we trust our current governor?.

  • martin

    October 21, 2021 at 11:12 am

    Gov. Desantis, a born leader!

    • Stephanie Bach

      October 21, 2021 at 11:44 am

      YES, absolutely. He’s for the people…not for Washington DC politicians.

      • JustTheFacts

        October 21, 2021 at 1:52 pm

        He’s for himself and is being supported by simple minded beings that are easily influenced. He’s a master at the game he is playing when you sit back and watch. If you can’t notice the game he is playing, you are pawn being played.

  • Phil Morton

    October 21, 2021 at 12:12 pm

    The vast majority(65%) of Floridians support vaccine mandates. We just have a very bad governor.

    • Jerry

      October 21, 2021 at 1:14 pm

      Polls are skewed. There are polls that show more than half of voters feel people should not be forced to lose their job for refusing a vaccine.

      It all depends on how you word the question. If you say the vaccines should be required for travel or cruise ships or should eventually be required to attend school, you may get a majority. But the majority does not support the idea of vaccine passports to go to the grocery store or restaurant, nor do they support people losing their jobs.

      This vaccine is less than a year old. There is no long term safety data. If someone is very opposed to getting it right now, they shouldn’t be forced into homelessness and starvation.

      • JustTheFacts

        October 21, 2021 at 1:51 pm

        Vaccine passports….oh you mean shot records that have been around forever?

        I get people not supporting requiring to show proof of vaccination when going to a store or restaurant. However, that private company should have the right to set their own rules for their own business. That has been a core Conservative belief for decades before this twisted right wing hijacked the party.

        Vaccines have always been required for travel to certain parts of the world – should be no different here. If the airline or cruise ship wants you vaccinated – their right. Your right as a customer to not patronize them. However, being forced to provide a service to you is an overreach by the government – which again, I this new brand of Republicans have no problem with as long as it fits their agenda.

  • Frankie M.

    October 21, 2021 at 1:18 pm

    Imagine if we had politicized the polio vaccine…smh

    • JustTheFacts

      October 21, 2021 at 1:46 pm

      People are only complaining about vaccine mandates now because the extreme right wing in this country politicized the pandemic and everything associated with it. No one is complaining about 7+ vaccines that are ALREADY MANDATED for children to enter school or daycare. So all of a sudden they care about the COVID vaccine, but none of the others we have all been required to get.

      This is a glaring hole in their arguments and why they are just screaming to get people to listen to them when they aren’t rooted in any common sense or fact.

  • Evan

    October 21, 2021 at 1:27 pm

    I have never had the flu. I have never had a flu vaccine. It is a big scam. Eat healthy, exercise a for the love of Bob, don’t eat fast food.

  • David Plummer

    October 21, 2021 at 6:16 pm

    I have had covid and recovered the Corp I work for (12 years from home IBM) is requiring me to be vaccinated by dec 8th they are also not following the TX EO this needs to stop

Comments are closed.


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