Special Session will address vaccine mandates, OSHA withdrawal

Ron DeSantis Titusville 2
A series of bills address vaccine mandates, parental choice and Florida's jurisdiction over occupational health.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida legislative leaders early Monday outlined four pieces of legislation lawmakers will tackle during a Special Session scheduled to start next week.

The bills are aimed at thwarting vaccine mandates imposed by public and private employers — and which are being pursued by the President Joe Biden‘s administration.

“We’re going to strike a blow for freedom,” DeSantis said.

It’s not clear whether bills will address workers compensation issues or penalize private businesses that push vaccine mandates by eliminating COVID-19 liability protections, as the Governor has previously hinted at.

At press time the exact wording in the legislative proposals had not been released to the public. But according to information released by legislative leaders, Sens. Danny Burgess and Reps. Ralph Massullo and Erin Grall are sponsoring SB2 and HB 1B, respectively. 

The bills prohibit employers from having a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for employees without providing staff with five options to opt-out of the vaccine mandate, including exceptions for pregnancies or expected pregnancies; religious reasons; or immunity based on prior COVID-19 infection as determined by a lab test. The bills also allow staff who are willing to undergo periodic testing (at the employer’s cost) and staff who are willing to wear personal protective equipment to opt-out of vaccines.

Rogue employers that fire staff for refusing to get vaccinated could face fines of up to $50,000, or they could avoid the fines by reinstating the fired employees. The Florida Department of Health, meanwhile, is empowered to levy upward of  $5,000 in fines against public employers who violate the law. 

The bill also gives parents the right to sue to stop the mandate and can recover their attorney fees and court costs to help ensure the above provisions regarding their children are not violated.

The bills also amend a law the Legislature passed earlier this Session called the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” and would also amend statutes to prohibit municipalities from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of employment. Moreover, the bills also amend the 2021 law to codify an emergency rule passed by the DeSantis administration that gives parents the right to decide whether their children wear masks at school.

Meanwhile SB 4B and HB 3B, sponsored by Burgess, Massullo and Grall, provides a public records exemption for workers’ medical information or information regarding an employee’s religious beliefs in case there is an investigation into whether an employer is violating the law.

Sen.Travis Hutson and Rep. Ardian Zika are sponsoring SB 6B and HB 5B, respectively, which lay the groundwork for the state to withdraw from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and assert state jurisdiction over occupational safety and health issues.

Lastly Sen. Aaron Bean and Rep. Alex Andrade are sponsoring  SB 8B and HB 7B, respectively, which deletes a provision from Florida law that enables the state health officer to mandate vaccinations during a public health emergency.  

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


19 comments

  • Bart Astor

    November 9, 2021 at 8:18 am

    And this from the people who supposedly believe in less government intervention into private businesses. What part of less govt. am I missing?

    • Jerry

      November 9, 2021 at 10:26 pm

      You people are issuing mandates that FORCE companies to FORCE employees to take a vaccine that is barely a year old. So now we have government firmly involved in our private healthcare decisions. And if we dont make the decision the government wants, they will make it so we can’t get a job.

      Normally I agree that less government involved the better. But this is a war right now. The left wing in this country is trying to tear our freedoms down and create an Orwellian nightmare. And sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. We now have to pass these laws to combat what you people are trying to do. We have to do everything we can to protect our freedoms before they are gone forever.

      You people want to live under a medical dictatorship…Go move to Australia. We are going to keep Florida free!

      • Alex

        November 10, 2021 at 11:36 am

        Lying again.

        No one is forcing anyone to get a vaccine.

        Go do some more “research” on Facebook.

        • Bob

          November 10, 2021 at 12:31 pm

          You are clearly retarded.

        • Tom

          November 10, 2021 at 10:39 pm

          Of course they are, they have threatened businesses with 100 employees they must require it

          OSHA didn’t even have the order for comment til recently.

          You are delusional. Telling them to ignore the court stay is unconstitutional.

          Disgraceful.

        • Captain Howdy 🤠

          November 11, 2021 at 7:16 pm

          Squirm Alex you lying arrogant worm. And your squirming like the covid vax for millions is fuck’n MANDATORY

  • Bart Astor

    November 10, 2021 at 1:47 am

    Sorry but that’s convoluted and hypocritical reasoning. It’s “we believe in less govt. except when more govt. endorses what I favor.” And it’s “the devil made me do it!”

    • Jerry

      November 10, 2021 at 8:24 am

      You got Broward county officials (and a few other counties) willfully ignoring the governor’s orders AND court orders on the mask mandates.
      The 5th circuit has stayed the OSHA rule, yet Biden is telling companies to ignore the ruling.
      You have counties that are already refusing to follow the election integrity law passed by the legislature.

      Democrats don’t even respect the courts or laws unless they rule in their favor. This is totalitarian behavior from the left.

      And you should see what they are talking about at the climate conference. You got Al Gore talking about needing government monitoring and controlling of how often people drive in their cars and thermostats should be monitored. We have rising gas prices and yet Biden is caving to climate activists and shutting down yet another pipeline, which will mean Americans will now have to pay more to heat their homes this winter. So once they squeezed all the tyranny they can out of COVID, they will just go to the next crisis and do more restrictions and mandates. That’s the goal, find a crisis, expand government, and mandate, mandate, mandate, mandate.

      I can’t wait till the midterms. The Democrats are going to be destroyed.

      • Bart Astor

        November 10, 2021 at 8:45 am

        It’s clear that you don’t approve of govt. oversight. I get it. The Dems have long said they believe in big govt. And they do things accordingly. But the Republicans have said they DON’T believe in govt. oversight with private enterprise. Yet somehow, when the govt. intervention is in their favor, they all of a sudden change their mind. You don’t want private businesses to mandate vaccinations so you have big govt. (which you don’t believe in), mandate that private businesses can’t do what they want to do. You want local control of education but when local control requires masks, you support a mandate from big govt. that local school boards cannot have local control. Which is it? Local control and private business control or big govt. ruling?

        • Bob

          November 10, 2021 at 12:33 pm

          I won’t be angry about government stopping another government body from imposing their authoritarianism on me.

          If a law must be made to prevent democrats forcing a vaccine, shutting down business, and any other mandate then so be it.

          • Bart Astor

            November 10, 2021 at 1:14 pm

            So is it ok for the govt. to say children cannot attend school unless they’ve had their polio, smallpox, MMR, etc. vaccines? You don’t seem to protest that. So it’s not the mandate, it’s the particular vaccine. If polio was raging again (as it is in a few other countries), would it be ok for a business to mandate a polio vax? After all, the schools do, so why not a private business? How about a public agency? How about the military?
            These are the mandatory vaccinations that all service members are required to receive before initial entry or basic training:
            Adenovirus
            Hepatitis A
            Hepatitis B
            Influenza
            Measles, mumps, rubella
            Meningococcal
            Poliovirus
            Tetanus-Diphtheria
            Varicella

        • Alex

          November 10, 2021 at 12:46 pm

          They have no rational explanation.

          Because they’re frauds and liars.

          I remember when the GOP claimed it was the morals party.

          That disappeared during the Trumpism failure.

          Lol

        • Jerry

          November 10, 2021 at 7:49 pm

          You are trying to force companies to require a vaccine on their workforce. The 5th circuit has already immediately stayed the rule because they say the mandate has “grave statutory and constitutional issues.” Yet your main concern is Republicans trying to stop the mandates by passing laws? We tried to do it your way with letting companies make that choice on their own. Biden and Fauci didn’t think enough companies were doing it fast enough. So now they are trying to mandate it.

          And this is not the same as the other vaccines out there. It took 10 years of testing before Polio became mandatory in schools. (And even then there were many exemptions allowed.) Same with MMR and chicken pox. Those vaccines went through many years of testing and long-term studies before they were pushed on to children. These COVID vaccines are barely a year old! What’s the rush? If there are a few people out there who aren’t comfortable with a vaccine that isn’t even a year old, what’s the problem with those people waiting until the long-term studies are done before we start forcing injections and putting them into our kids? What’s the hurry? We waited 10 years to mandate Polio vaccine. It takes an average of 5-7 years before a new vaccine is approved by the FDA. You liberals couldn’t even wait 10 months before mandating COVID vaccines? Children and people who are low risk do not need this vaccine right now. If you are high risk or want it, by all means. Get it. But stop trying to force this on to people. (And no, they will not end the pandemic. The virus is spreading regardless if you are vaccinated or not.)

          Also, all those other vaccines were mandated by STATE LAW. Vaccine policies and rollout has ALWAYS been considered a state right. Always! Never before in the history of the nation did we have the federal government attempt to force a vaccine on every citizen the way this senile president is trying to do right now.

  • Ron Harper

    November 10, 2021 at 7:46 am

    You’re a stupid man Bart

    • Egg

      November 10, 2021 at 10:44 am

      Hi Bart,
      Pretty simple… The answer is…We the People… So, anything or anyone like Ron Desantis on a state level, that represents policies for the people “in favor” for freedom of choice, or “in favor” of freedom period is how you look at it. You clearly have no education in basic constitutional law that clearly states that the federal government will have a limited role in people and states affairs… please read the bill of rights so you stop looking like a fool.(Another feeble attempt at a weak, fascist, divide and conquer tactic)You see, how the government works is… the people cast their concerns via voting. Then, pending liberal, fascist, communists don’t try to ignore LAW or cheat for their own benefit of power and division, we tally the votes to see who will be speaking and representing these issues for us, the people who pay their salaries. So you kind of have to have an elected state government for
      some involvement in these issues so that people like you get to be silenced with your pointless and uneducated reasoning skills, that then turn around and vote. (Or cheat) If you have any further issues with understanding how this process works, please Google and learn. If you still disagree, find another fascist, communist run countryman escaping it for freedom here in the u.s., and trade your u.s. citizenship with them.

      • Alex

        November 10, 2021 at 11:42 am

        Lol

        There’s these things called Amendments.

        They change how the Constitution works.

        Yes, we know Republicans don’t like them, but the Founders designed it so We the People can change it, which we’ve done a bunch of times.

        Deal with it.

        • Egg

          November 11, 2021 at 12:04 pm

          So squashing the 10th amendment…?? What about the 1st…?? Lol!!! Takes 2/3 of the entire country to pull that one off… With your incompetent president and fascist party’s current approval ratings, we’ll see how that turns out… deal with that first… lol!!!! “Happens all the time” haaaahaahahaa!

  • Tom

    November 10, 2021 at 8:43 pm

    Alex, please go paddle back to socialist Cuba
    Tell peter h the weasel, Lincoln predators got ass kicked in VA. They are done,

    The 5th circuit court of appeals paced a stay on the mandate. The W. H. is risking itself by telling businesses to ignore it.

    We have check and balances in govt.
    Contempt of court had ramifications.

  • Egg

    November 11, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    BTW Alex, I was a life long,independent, predominantly leaning Democrat until your radical type surfaced with all of the hate, lies, and total incompetent hipocracy… there are alot more people like me, than you, and growing… think Virginia… lol!!!!!

Comments are closed.


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