Megan Udinski, FISM News
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) stood up for workers’ rights by calling a special legislative session to combat federal vaccine mandates.
Florida’s regular legislative session is set to take place on January 11, 2022. However, DeSantis expressed in a press conference on Thursday that his desire to protect citizens from losing their jobs due to the federal government’s overreach prompted him to call the special session.
Biden’s federal vaccine mandate is set to be enforced in November for federal workers and December for federal contract workers.
At the press conference DeSantis said, “You have a federal government that is very much trying to use the heavy hand of government to force a lot of these injections and you have a lot of folks that actually believe that that decision should be theirs. We believe in having basic medical freedom and individual choice – and that your right to earn a living should not be contingent upon COVID shots.”
Among the policies DeSantis wants to address in the special session include: removing COVID-19 protection for businesses, permitting employees to sue employers for adverse reactions due to forced vaccinations, allowing workers to receive unemployment compensation if they are terminated for choosing not to get the COVID vaccine, and increasing parental rights to fight mask mandates.
DeSantis noted that if he knew the mandates would be as far reaching as they currently are, he would have made sure it was addressed in the last session.
Democrats responded in anger to the governor’s announcement. Nikki Fried, who intends to run for governor herself, called the conference a “self-serving political ploy.”
Rep. Ramon Alexander and Fentrice Driskell also said they believed DeSantis’s special session was a political move and did not focus on science or human welfare. Driskell said it “is a politically motivated and calculated move on behalf of the governor to promote his own ambitions for running for president.”
Additionally, Democrats criticized DeSantis’s intentions to remove some of the legislative protection for businesses in regards to employees getting COVID, that he previously enforced back in March. While DeSantis said he is proud that Florida provided some of the best COVID liability protection for businesses, he feels that the way businesses are now treating their employees over these injections are “stabbing us in the back after we were standing up for them.”
Several Republicans, even those in other states, however came out in support of the governor’s decision:
So impressed w/ @GovRonDeSantis who recognizes that he shouldn't rule by executive order & has called the Legislature into special session. It is my hope that as soon as our vacancies are filled, we too will be called in to protect Arizonans from these unconstitutional mandates.
— Senator Kelly Townsend (@AZKellyT) October 22, 2021
Florida’s GOP House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson released a joint statement which reads, “In the coming days, we will review the governor’s specific proposals as well as discuss our own ideas for legislative action. During the upcoming special session, our goal is to make our laws even more clear that Florida stands as refuge for families and businesses who want to live in freedom.”
Legislators said that they will also consider the idea of withdrawing from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to prevent gross overreach from the federal government such as the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates. Instead, they may try to create a state program that would address worker safety.
From the beginning, DeSantis has continually asserted that he plans to fight the oppressive decisions made by the White House and honor the individual’s right to medical procedures and privacy.