Gov. Ron DeSantis says he’ll call a special session of the Legislature to ask lawmakers to establish protections for employees who could face losing their jobs if they decline to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.
The session would also consider holding government entities that violate Florida’s ban on vaccine mandates accountable and to require that private sector firms reevaluate their policies to ensure that they do not harm employees through vaccine mandates.
“Your right to earn a living should not be contingent upon COVID shots,” DeSantis said during a press conference in Clearwater on Oct. 21. “I want a state in which people are able to maintain their livelihoods, earn a living, and provide for their families. And if the federal government or big corporations are hurting people, then we have a responsibility to step up and lead.”
During the special session, DeSantis said he would also ask the state Legislature to boost protections for parents making health care decisions for their children, including the freedom to opt their children out of mask mandates.
In a joint statement, State Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) and State Rep. Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor) said that they would welcome the special session.
“Across the country, hard-working employees and business owners trying to make a living are being threatened by the Biden Administration’s reckless one-size-fits-all approach to COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Meanwhile, the rights of parents are being trampled on,” the pair said in a written statement. “Florida will respond to this gross overreach by the federal government.”
In the meantime, legislators will review DeSantis’ specific proposals for the session, and consider whether Florida should withdraw from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and establish a program of its own. Created by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA ensures safe and healthful working conditions by setting and enforcing standards in private sector firms and public sector agencies.
“We believe that by doing so, Florida will have the ability to alleviate onerous federal regulations placed on employers and employees,” the Simpson Sprowls statement said.
DeSantis did not disclose the exact date that the special session would begin.