Florida’s House Speaker Chris Sprowls said on Nov. 8 that if the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is going to be “weaponized” against Floridians then the state will form its own regulatory agency.
Sprowls made the remarks during a press conference with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). DeSantis announced an emergency legislative session during which lawmakers would consider a number of measures targeting school mask requirements and vaccine mandates.
“Authoritarian edicts from the Biden regime stop here,” Sprowls said, in an apparent reference to the Biden administration’s CCP virus vaccine mandates.
A bill sponsored by state Senator Travis Hutson (R) and state Representative Ardian Zika (R) would develop a proposal to withdraw from OSHA and will “assert state jurisdiction” over issues dealing with occupational safety and health in the workplace.
“The federal government said they would never mandate COVID vaccines,” DeSantis said. “They lied about that. It is wrong to treat people like that and deprive industry of the people we need.”
He said vaccine mandates were unconstitutional and also “ignore science.”
“We are going to ensure that people can’t be fired because of the jab,” the governor said.
The Florida House speaker, Senate president and the governor’s office worked together to draft a bill that would prohibit private employers from mandating COVID-19 vaccines. Companies that still impose a mandate must allow for religious and medical reasons. Pregnant women and women anticipating becoming pregnant would be exempt as well as people who have acquired natural immunity to the virus through prior infection.
In addition, employers must provide all workers the option to choose between periodic COVID-19 testing, or masks, as alternatives to vaccine requirements at no personal cost to the employee. Testing frequency would be determined by the Florida Department of Health.
The bill calls for the penalties to be enforced through the attorney general’s office.
For businesses with fewer than 99 workers, the employer faces a $10,000 penalty per violation. Medium to larger businesses can be fined $50,000 each time the law is broken.
Under the proposed legislation, state government entities may not require COVID-19 vaccinations of anyone, including employees.
A separate bill would strengthen the Florida Parents Bill of Rights, according to the governor. The proposed legislation would prohibit schools from mandating masks and vaccines and bar the quarantine of healthy students.
Students who are over the age of 18, or parents of students, would be able to sue their school districts and recover attorney fees.
In response to the proposed legislation, a group of congressional Democrats introduced their own bill aimed at local governments and private businesses that will allow them to enact their own rules as it relates to COVID-19.
The proposed bill would direct the businesses to “ignore any state laws that are imposed by the Florida Legislature.”
Democratic U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel introduced the Let Our Cities And Local Businesses Help Employees Achieve Long-Term Health (Local Health) act, a bill that allows local government and private businesses to mitigate COVID-19 through mask and vaccine mandates.
In a news release, Frankel explained that the U.S. Constitution’s interstate commerce clause gives Congress the “power to regulate commerce between states and gives Washington the authority to overrule any vaccine passport or mask mandate, bans that become law at a state level.”