The Florida Legislature will meet in special session beginning on Nov. 15 and will conclude its session by no later than Nov. 19, under a proclamation issued by Gov. Ron DeSantis last week.
The session is intended to “provide protections for Floridians who have lost their jobs or are having their employment threatened due to vaccine mandates,” according to a posting on the governor’s web page.
DeSantis announced, in a news conference on Oct. 28, that the state had filed a lawsuit against the federal government — challenging the Biden administration’s authority to impose a vaccine requirement on federally contracted workers.
“We are not going to deny people the ability to earn a living, based on their decisions about an injection,” DeSantis said, during that news conference.
During the special session, DeSantis expects legislators to pass laws to protect Florida jobs and protect parents’ rights when it comes to masking and quarantines,” the website posting says.
The governor is calling on state legislators to address vaccination issues on a number of fronts.
According to the governor’s web page, those include considering legislation to:
- Protect current and prospective employees against unfair discrimination on the basis of COVID-19 vaccination status
- Ensure that educational institutions and government entities are prohibited from unfairly discriminating against current and prospective employees, students, and residents based on vaccination status
- Appropriate enough funding to investigate complaints regarding COVID-19 vaccination mandates and to take legal action against such mandates, including mandates imposed by the federal government
- Clarify that the Parents’ Bill of Rights, Chapter 1014, Florida Statutes, vests the decision on masking with parents, not government entities, and that schools must comply with Department of Health rules that govern student health, including rules that ensure healthy students can remain in school
In the website posting, DeSantis said: “The health, education, and well-being of our children are primarily the responsibility of parents. As long as I am governor, parents in Florida will play a strong role in determining what their kids are learning and how they’re treated in school.”
During his Oct. 28 news conference announcing the state’s lawsuit against the federal government, DeSantis said, “We want to protect people who are working now in the state of Florida. These people have been workin’ the whole doggone time, and now, all of a sudden they’re goin’ to get kicked to the curb? Give me a break.”
He added: “In Florida, we believe these things are choices based on individual circumstances. There are physicians that will recommend one course of action or another, based on your health history.”
DeSantis told those at the news conference: “We cannot have the federal government coming in and exceeding their power.
“They’re really rewriting contracts, and they’re transforming normal contracting into basically public health policy and that’s not anything Congress has ever authorized,” he said.
At the same news conference, Attorney General Ashley Moody said President Joe Biden has overstepped his authority.
“It is a complete and gross overreach of the federal government, into the personal autonomy of American workers,” Moody said.
The state attorney general also described the action as an “unlawful mandate” and added, “we will not back down.”
While issues involving COVID-19 vaccinations will play out in the state legislature and the courts, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Oct. 29 authorized the emergency use of Pfizer for children ages 5 through 11.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to take up the issue this week and must grant authorization before vaccines can be distributed.
Published November 03, 2021