Legislative Leaders Showcase Their Agenda for Next Week’s Special Session in Tallahassee

On Monday, Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, today, joined by Gov. Ron DeSantis, announced their “Keep Florida Free” legislative agenda that their respective chambers will pursue during the Florida Legislature’s upcoming special session.

The Legislature will convene for 2021 Special Session B on Monday, November 15, 2021, pursuant to the proclamation issued October 29, 2021, by DeSantis.

“I am proud to stand with Governor DeSantis, Speaker Sprowls, my legislative colleagues, and freedom-loving Floridians across this state who are just trying to raise their families and make a living. We were appalled by the unworkable, 490-page totalitarian edict the Biden Administration issued last week. After 40 years in the private sector running businesses that depend on an in-person workforce, where significant safety risks have to be mitigated, I am shocked to see such an unconstitutional mockery of the important role of OSHA. As a parent and grandparent, I continue to be dismayed at school district bureaucrats who think they know better than parents. Enough is enough. Our legislation to keep Florida free inserts some common-sense and clarity into the chaos we have seen in Washington by giving workers more options to stay safe on the job and honoring the rights and responsibilities of parents,” Simpson said.

“Authoritarian edicts from the Biden regime stop here. The ‘Keep Florida Free’ agenda represents the strongest response in America against attacks on personal health decisions, livelihoods and liberty. From exploring separation from the federal Occupational Standards and Health Administration to affirming parents’ rightful role to decide whether their child wears a mask or gets a vaccine, I am proud to stand with President Simpson and Governor DeSantis on the front lines of this common-sense American fight for freedom. In Florida, we will do everything in our power to ensure that no one will be forced to get a vaccine who does not want one,” Sprowls said.

Their agenda for the special session includes the following

SB 2B / HB 1B: REJECT COVID-19 VACCINE MANDATES

Sponsored by state Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, and state Reps. Erin Grall, R-Vero Beach. and Ralph Massullo, R-Lecanto, this comprehensive legislation protects students, parents, employees and employers in our state by creating a framework for employees to make the best decision for their health and affirming the rights of parents to make health care decisions for their children.

Creates Options for Private-Sector Employers and Employees

Specifically, the legislation prohibits employers from having a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for employees without providing at least the five following individual exemptions:

1. Medical reasons, as determined by a physician, advanced practice registered nurse, or physician assistant. Medical reasons include pregnancy or expectation of pregnancy.

2. Religious reasons, based on a sincerely held belief

3. Immunity based on prior COVID-19 infection, as documented by a lab test

4. Periodic testing, agreeing to comply with regular testing at no cost to the employee

5. Personal protective equipment (PPE), agreeing to comply with use of employer-provided PPE

Prohibits Vaccine Mandates for Government and Education Employees

The legislation builds on provisions of SB 2006, passed earlier this year, by affirming that no public educational institution or governmental entity may require COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment.

Protects Parents as the Sole Decision Makers for their Children

The legislation makes it clear that parents and guardians have the sole discretion regarding whether their child will wear a mask in school and prohibits schools from requiring a COVID-19 vaccine. The legislation also prohibits quarantining of asymptomatic students and teachers to mitigate harm of learning loss.

Enforces Measures with Fines and Parent Cause of Action

If an employee is improperly denied an exemption, they can file a complaint with the Attorney General. Fines of up to $50,000 apply for employers who improperly terminate an employee, or the employer can reinstate the employee. If a public employee rights’ are violated, the Department of Health may fine per violation, not to exceed $5,000. Furthermore, parents and guardians have the right to sue to stop the mandate and can recover their attorney fees and court costs to help ensure that the above provisions regarding their children are not violated.

SB 4B/ HB 3B: PROTECT PRIVATE HEALTH CARE AND RELIGIOUS INFORMATION

Sponsored by Burgess, Massullo and Grall, the legislation protects workers from undue retaliation by creating a public records exemption for certain information, such as personal medical information or information regarding an employee’s religious beliefs, contained in files created during an investigation of an employer that refuses to provide the individual exemptions or terminates an employee based on COVID-19 vaccination status.

SB 6B/ HB 5B: BEGIN WITHDRAWING FROM OSHA

Sponsored by state Sen. Travis Hutson, R-St. Augustine, and state Rep. Ardian Zika, R-Land O’Lakes, the legislation takes the first step toward developing a proposal to withdraw from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and assert state jurisdiction over occupational safety and health issues.

SB 8B/ HB 7B: REMOVE AUTHORITY OF STATE HEALTH OFFICER TO ORDER VACCINATIONS

Sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, and state Rep. Alex Andrade, R-Pensacola, the legislation repeals provisions of existing law, which have never been used, that could allow the State Health Officer to force vaccinations on Floridians.

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