As President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine workplace mandate faces challenges in federal courts, Florida Republicans continue to push back against the executive order, WESH reports.
State lawmakers are gathered Monday (November 15) in Miami for a special session on Gov. Ron DeSantis' orders. Republicans reportedly introduced several bills aimed at vaccine requirements for employees in the Sunshine State.
Biden's mandate requires businesses with at least 100 employees to have their employees fully vaccinated. This order also extends to federal workers and contractors. If employees have not been vaccinated by the January 4 deadline, they would have to submit weekly COVID-19 tests to their employer. There is a court-ordered pause on the mandate.
“We believe that people should have options and I believe that this is what businesses and employees would have done absent the federal government's, unlawful in my opinion, involvement,” Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls said.
One would ban vaccine mandates in schools and local government offices. Private employers are free to have requirements, but they must provide exemptions, including religious and medical reasons.
Another bill would remove the State Health Officer's authority to order vaccinations and quarantines. This would leave that power to the governor, if passed. "The health officer would gain temporary authority to reactivate expired health care licenses to speed-up emergency responses," reporters explained.
There's also a bill that would create a plan for Florida's own Occupational Safety And Health Administration (OSHA), an agency other states have. This would effectively pull them out of the country's OSHA.
The package faced swift backlash from Democrats, some calling it a "political stunt" while others view it as a fight against the president.
"It's basically the State of Florida through our Governor is in conflict with our president and so this is one-upmanship and that's what this is all about," Rep. Geraldine Thompson said.