Governor DeSantis to call for special legislative session on vaccine mandates

TALLAHASSEE, Fla — While speaking in Clearwater, Governor Ron DeSantis announced he will call a special legislative session to fight against vaccine mandates against federal workers.

“Your right to earn a living should not be contingent upon COVID shots” said DeSantis in front of a crowd at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Hanger. “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.”

DeSantis will ask the Florida legislature to provide protections to employees who lose their jobs due to vaccine mandates. During that session, DeSantis said he would like to fortify the parent’s bill of rights. “[W]e have a situation now in Florida where individual parents have not been provided their rights in a handful of counties.”

In response to the announcement, Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor) and Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) said in a joint statement, “Across the country, hard-working employees and business owners trying to make a living are being threatened by the Biden Administration’s reckless one-size-fits-all approach to Covid-19 vaccine mandates. Meanwhile, the rights of parents are being trampled on. Florida will respond to this gross overreach by the federal government. 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. We stand with the dedicated health care workers, law enforcement, first responders, military service members, and all workers across the country who never got a day off and couldn’t work from home during the pandemic. Too many of our esteemed heroes are facing termination thanks to heavy handedness at all levels of government. During the upcoming special session, our goal is to make our laws even more clear that Florida stands as refuge for families and businesses who want to live in freedom.”

Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz attacked DeSantis in a statement saying, “Governor Ron DeSantis has doubled down again on policies to sabotage our nation’s health and slow our economic recovery. When it comes to our families and their health, he believes big government should control and make decisions over every aspect of our lives. After all, he would have us accept and trust the imposition of his arbitrary preferences over the judgment of our doctors, schools, businesses and families. DeSantis proves every day that COVID-19 has no better friend in Florida than the Governor of our state. Calling a special session to further hamper efforts to vaccinate our population and to more efficiently deny local governments, schools and businesses the option to adopt prudent health protocols to combat the pandemic goes beyond irresponsibility, it is a full-on assault on our state’s public health and provides more evidence of the Governor’s anti-business and anti-freedom inclinations. Just as the summer’s delta wave appears to be receding, DeSantis is redoubling his efforts to ensure that COVID-19 continues to ravage our state for as long as possible. With an ever-present possibility of more deadly or contagious variants developing and causing more illness, deaths and economic damage, there is simply no worse time to insist on his cynical political games designed to thrill the radical anti-vaccine, anti-masking extremists in the GOP base.”

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