Today, Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation that will protect Floridians from losing their jobs due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and protect parents’ rights to make healthcare decisions for students. The bills were passed through a Special Session of the Florida Legislature and are effective upon the Governor’s signature. The legislation signed today is the strongest pro-freedom, anti-mandate action taken by any state in the nation.
“We have somehow gone from 15 days to slow the spread to 3 jabs to keep your jobs,” Gov. DeSantis said in a press release announcing the special legislative session.
In Florida, effective immediately:
- Private Employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates are prohibited.
- Employers who violate these employee health protections will be fined.
- Government entities may not require COVID-19 vaccinations of anyone, including employees.
- Educational institutions may not require students to be COVID-19 vaccinated.
- School districts may not have school face mask policies.
- School districts may not quarantine healthy students.
- Students and parents may sue violating school districts and recover costs and attorney’s fees.
DeSantis’s signing of the bills came following a coalition of 700 supporters rallying at the Capitol to oppose vaccine mandates. Florida Family Policy Council and 24 sponsors organized the rally. Twenty speakers addressed the crowds including physicians, fire fighters, employees, and mothers. Speaker highlights included Alfie Oaks of Seed to Table, family physician Dr. John Littel, fire chief Stephen Davis, and Patti Sullivan with Parental Rights Florida. In closing, President and General Counsel of FFPC, John Stemberger, invited approximately fifty employees who had lost their jobs after facing vaccine mandates to the front to pray for them.
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In an emotional moment after so many had expressed their desire for these bills to pass, John Stemberger made the following statement:
“The right to refuse medical treatment is a fundamental right under our state constitution and we applaud Gov. DeSantis and the Florida legislature for these first-in the nation laws which protect citizens who do not wish to be injected with the vaccination. We’re not anti-vaccine, we are anti-vaccine mandate.”
The four measures in the legislation include:
HB 1B/SB 2B prohibits businesses from enforcing vaccine mandates on employees and businesses must allow for various types of exemptions.
“A private employer may not impose a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for any … employee without providing individual exemptions that allow an employee to opt out of such requirement on the basis of medical reasons, including, but not limited to, pregnancy or anticipated pregnancy; religious reasons; COVID-19 immunity; periodic testing; and the use of employer-provided protective equipment.”
Under the new law, Florida becomes the first state to impose fines on businesses that require COVID shots as a condition of employment. Employers that violate this law with less than 100 employees can be fined $10,000 per violation, and employers with more than 100 employees can be fined $50,000 per violation.
Among other provisions, the law affirms parental rights to make decisions for their children and prohibits schools from mandating students to wear a mask or get the COVID shots.
HB 3B/SB 4B protects confidential religious and medical information from public release. House bill sponsor Rep. Ralph Massullo states the law protects those “who allege their employers violated Florida’s COVID-19 policies and practices. Preventing disclosure of this information will help protect them from harassment or discrimination if they lose their job because of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.”
HB 5B/SB 6B – Requires the Executive Office of the Governor to develop a proposal for a state plan to assert state jurisdiction over occupational safety and health issues for government and private employees. The plan is to be submitted to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House on or before January 11, 2022. The plan will include a timelines for the completion of the proposal and for the completion of the state plan, including the establishment of an agency to oversee the state plan, legislation necessary to implement the state plan and the scope of coverage with respect to employees covered under, and excluded from, the state plan.
The bill is in response to an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) issued by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) on November 4, 2021, mandating vaccination and testing requirements on businesses with 100 or employees. At least 26 states took exception to this federal overreach, including Florida, and sued the Biden administration. After the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on the ETS, OSHA officially suspended implementation and enforcement of Biden’s mandate on private employers of 100 or more workers.
HB 7B/SB 8B removes from the Surgeon General the authority to mandate vaccines.
Gov. DeSantis held the signing ceremony today at a car dealership in Brandon, Florida, in what was a nod to the now popular phrase “Let’s go, Brandon,” a euphemism for an insult directed at Biden.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver is pleased with the new package of bills.
“Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida legislature have taken a stand for freedom with the ‘Keep Florida Free’ legislation,” Staver said. “Florida has become the land of liberty. Every day we hear from people who are stressed over losing their jobs due to heavy-handed COVID shot mandates. Many of them are threatened or have already lost their livelihoods. We are helping tens of thousands of people and have active lawsuits in multiple states, including before the U.S. Supreme Court. We are thankful for leaders like Gov. Ron DeSantis.”
Read about the new bills here.