Florida GOP restricts vaccine requirements, trampling on White House

TALLAHASSI, Florida (AP) – Florida Republicans approved a massive bill on Wednesday to discourage the introduction of the coronavirus vaccine in companies, rejecting claims they are donating public health to give Gov. Ron DeSantis a victory in his fight against White House virus rules.

Lawmakers in the GOP-controlled state house accelerated the measure along with a package of virus bills after hours of debate in which Republicans argued they were protecting workers from onerous federal government orders.

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

DeSantis, a Republican, has called a special legislative session on vaccine mandates as he campaigns for the legal and information campaign against the vaccination demands promoted by Democratic President Joe Biden. The governor has become a GOP star for his opposition to locks and other virus-related regulations, raising his profile as he runs for re-election and sees a possible presidential race in 2024.

Wednesday night’s vote ended with a short session in which Republicans almost certainly passed the bills. The most controversial measure would be to prevent private businesses from having vaccination mandates if they do not allow workers to refuse vaccinations for medical reasons, religious beliefs, immunity based on previous infection, regular testing, or an agreement to wear protective equipment. The state health department, which is led by chief surgeon Dr. Joseph Ladapo, who opposes the regulations, will be tasked with setting standards for exemptions.

More on the COVID-19 pandemic

This measure also includes fines for businesses that fire an employee without providing benefits. In addition, it prohibits schools and state governments from having vaccination mandates and allows parents to sue schools for disguise. Another bill would block the public release of government investigative reports on vaccine policies in factories.

“On most days, it’s just shocking to think that this is an acceptable position to assume that the other person will make the decision about whether to vaccinate them or not, that the employer will make the decision about the health care of their child. employee, ”said Rep. Erin Grall, a Republican.

Democrats have repeatedly criticized this law as dangerous to society and burdensome for business. They also stated that the special session is a political theater designed to serve DeSantis’ political ambitions.

“Is this bill really trying to keep Florida residents safe, or was it designed to start a presidential campaign for our governor?” asked Rep. Angie Nixon, a Democrat.

Separately, lawmakers have passed legislation barring a government health official from introducing mandatory vaccines during a public health emergency. Republicans also approved a bill directing the state to begin considering withdrawing from the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which has developed White House vaccine requirements for businesses with more than 100 employees.

Florida, along with more than two dozen other GOP-led states, employers, and several conservative and commercial organizations, have sued over the OSHA rule, and a federal court has since suspended it. The state has also sued over another White House mandate requiring a COVID-19 vaccine for federal contractors.

During the debate, Senator Shevrin Jones, a Democrat, echoed the disappointment his party had experienced since the meeting was called.

“Let’s call it exactly what it is, and this outright disobedience of the governor to the president and the federal government is the only reason we’re here now,” Jones said.

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