Florida Senate approves bill blocking certain waivers for COVID-19 vaccine mandates – Community News
Covid-19

Florida Senate approves bill blocking certain waivers for COVID-19 vaccine mandates

(Photo by Frederic J. BROWN/AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

TAMPA (WFLA) — A proposal to water down coronavirus vaccine mandates in Florida companies draws closer to law, with House and Senate Republicans passing the bill.

Florida senators voted 24-14, mostly along party lines, to approve HB 1B. The Florida House of Representatives passed the same bill earlier in the day.

According to the website of Gov. DeSantis calls on lawmakers to consider legislation that:

  • Protect current and future employees from unfair discrimination based on COVID-19 vaccination status and ensure strong enforcement of this protection;
  • Ensure that educational institutions and government agencies are prohibited from unfairly discriminating against current and prospective employees, students and residents based on COVID-19 vaccination status;
  • Ensuring that employees who have been falsely denied employment on the basis of COVID-19 vaccination status are eligible for redeployment benefits and, if necessary, ensure that employees injured by a COVID-19 vaccination that have been taken under a company policy, are covered by workers’ compensation;
  • Provide adequate resources to investigate complaints about 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, places the decision on masking with parents, not government agencies, and that schools must comply with Department of Health rules governing student health, including rules that ensuring that healthy students can stay in school;
  • Limit mandates by school districts to students or employees regarding COVID-19 and related mitigation actions;
  • Provide adequate enforcement mechanisms to ensure compliance with Florida law and respect for parental rights;
  • Instruct the state to evaluate whether to exercise jurisdiction over occupational safety and health issues for government and private employees;
  • Revocation of the State Health Officer’s authority to order forced injections or vaccinations under Section 381.00315, Florida Statutes, originally issued in 2002; and
  • If necessary, create public record waivers related to complaints and investigations described herein.

DeSantis, a Republican, called on lawmakers in the special legislative session to approve the measure as part of an ongoing feud with the White House over vaccine mandates.

If the bill is passed, Jake Stofan of the Capitol News Desk says $6 million will go toward enforcing a mandate ban and creating a new state-wide workplace safety agency.

If signed by Governor Ron DeSantis, the bill will remain in effect until June 2023.

Democrats have repeatedly criticized the package as political theater intended to serve DeSantis, who is running for reelection and is eyeing a potential 2024 presidential bid.