Coronavirus: Florida GOP limits vaccine mandate, shakes White House

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. – Florida Republicans passed a sweeping bill Wednesday aimed at combating coronavirus vaccine regulations in businesses, rejecting claims they have sacrificed public health in favor of giving Governor Ron DeSantis a victory in the White House’s fight against virus rules.

Lawmakers in the GOP-controlled state pushed ahead with the measure, along with a package of virus bills, after hours of debate in which Republicans argued they were protecting workers from mandates. hardships of the federal government.

“If you want to get vaccinated, you can get vaccinated. If you don’t want to get vaccinated, you can choose not to get vaccinated,” said Senator Danny Burgess, a Republican. “That’s the whole purpose of this bill, trusting Floridians and allowing us to make that choice for ourselves.”

DeSantis, a Republican, called the special legislative session on the vaccine mandate as he launched a legal and media campaign against the vaccine mandates led by Democratic President Joe Biden push. The governor has become a star in the GOP through opposing lockdowns and other virus rules, raising his profile as he runs for re-election and considering the possibility of running for president next year. year 2024.

Wednesday night’s vote is limited to a brief session in which Republicans are certain to pass bills. The most controversial measure would prevent private businesses from being required to vaccinate unless they allow workers to refuse for medical reasons, religious beliefs, immunity based on previous infection, considering regular experience or agreement to wear protective clothing. The state health department, led by Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, who opposes the mandates, will be tasked with determining the criteria for exemptions.

The measure also includes fines for businesses that fire a worker without allowing for an exemption. In addition, it prohibits schools and governments in the state from having a mandate to vaccinate and allows parents to sue schools with concealment requirements. Another bill would block the public release of records related to state investigations into vaccine policy in businesses.

“Most days it’s a mindset to think it’s an acceptable position for someone else to make health care decisions about whether or not to get vaccinated, without employers action will make health care decisions for their employees,” said Representative Erin Grall, a Republican.

Democrats have repeatedly viewed the law as dangerous to the public and burdensome for businesses. They also said the special session was meant to be a political theater to serve DeSantis’ political ambitions.

“Is this bill really trying to keep Floridians safe or was it created to kickstart our presidential campaign for governor?” Representative Angie Nixon, a Democrat, asked.

Separately, lawmakers passed a bill to prevent state health workers from being able to prescribe vaccines during a public health emergency. Republicans also passed a bill directing the state to begin considering withdrawing from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which drafted the White House’s vaccine requirements for The company has more than 100 employees.

Florida — with more than two dozen other states led by the GOP, employers, and several conservative and business organizations — sued the OSHA rule and a federal court suspended it. The state also sued over another White House authorization to order a COVID-19 vaccine for federal contractors.

During the debate, Senator Shevrin Jones, a Democrat, reiterated frustrations his party has sustained since the session was held.

“Let’s call this correctly, and this is the governor’s direct challenge to the president and the federal government, that’s the only reason we’re here right now,” Jones said. Jones said.


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