Liberty Counsel reports: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation today to protect Floridians from overreaching COVID-19 shot mandates. Yesterday, the Florida legislature passed the “Keep Florida Free” joint agenda, a package of four bills to protect Floridians whose jobs are being threatened or lost due to the mandates. In a deliberate slap against Joe Biden’s shot mandates, Gov. DeSantis signed the four bills in Brandon, Florida.
The bills were passed during a special legislative session called by Gov. DeSantis in response to Joe Biden’s unlawful federal mandates. “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.
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.”