Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday announced that he will have legislators conduct a special session to address reforms to state law that would impose penalties on employers and local officials that mandate masks or COVID-19 vaccines.
In a proclamation (pdf), the Republican governor made a special call to ban vaccine mandates and said that legislators should pass a law prohibiting businesses, schools, and governments to force people to show proof of vaccination before entering.
“Your right to earn a living should not be contingent upon COVID shots,” DeSantis said in a statement.
Specifically, DeSantis wants the legislature to consider bills to protect current and prospective employees against unfair discrimination on the basis of their COVID-19 vaccination status, allow employees who are denied employment over their vaccination status to be eligible for benefits, deal with complaints regarding vaccine mandates, limit school district vaccine requirements on students and staff, and more.
The governor then attacked shifting narratives that have emerged throughout the pandemic.
“We have somehow gone from 15 days to slow the spread to three jabs to keep your job,” DeSantis said. “In Florida, we believe that the decision whether or not to get a COVID shot is a choice based on individual circumstances, so we are litigating against the Biden Administration and will be passing legislation in this Special Session.”
The governor was referring to a lawsuit his administration filed against the Biden administration, NASA Director Bill Nelson, and other federal officials over mandates requiring federal workers and contractors to get the vaccine by Dec. 8. DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody are seeking an injunction to block the White House in enforcing the rule.
In an interview with Florida Politics this week, House Speaker-Designate Paul Renner said that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ announcement on a special session in November likely won’t result in any demands being met because he doesn’t believe federal mandates or restrictions will receive strong support in the state.
“Probably nobody’s happy at the end,” Renner said. “The people on the side of vaccinate or terminate are unhappy. And the people that are on the side of, ‘I can tell my employer what the terms of my employment are and if I get sick they have to pay for it,’ they’re probably not going to be happy either.”
But state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a Republican, sharply criticized Renner over claims that the legislature won’t ban vaccine mandates.
“Call every Legislator and DEMAND a FULL BAN on employee mandates NOW!” Sabatini wrote on social media, describing Renner as a “RINO,” or Republican in name only.