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Gov. DeSantis calls for special legislative session to fight vaccine mandates

Governor Ron DeSantis
Posted at 9:49 AM, Oct 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-21 15:41:14-04

Governor Ron DeSantis has called for a special legislative session to address vaccine mandates impacting jobs.

The governor spoke Thursday morning in Clearwater about his opposition to people losing their jobs for not having a COVID-19 vaccine.

DeSantis specifically spoke on federal mandates, including a rule that states anyone with a government contract must be vaccinated, as well as an OSHA mandate impacting businesses with more than 100 employees.

"Your right to earn a living should not be contingent on COVID shots," DeSantis said.

He also said forced vaccines would be particularly bad for Florida's economy.

The governor said the special session would take place in November, but House speaker Chris Sprowls released a statement saying they don't have a date just yet.

"It's a bad decision," Attorney Ryan Barack said.

Barack has represented employees and employers for more than 23 years. He says there are already laws in place for people who have disabilities or religious exemptions. Attorney Barack also says there are a variety of legal issues with the governor's wishes.

"There are due process issues associated with requiring an employer to allow employees to put their coworkers and their customers at risk," Attorney Barack said. "There are federal laws that govern in this area and where there's a conflict between a federal and a state law. Generally the federal law would preempt state laws."

The Biden administration has already laid out vaccine mandate guidelines, so the governor's ban would clash with this protocol.

ABC Action News political analyst Dr. Susan MacManus said then it becomes a legal battle.

"There's only one way to resolve it. And that's called the U.S. Supreme court," Dr. MacManus said. "It's not a slam dunk that federal takes precedence when the Supreme court itself is more conservative than it used to be."

Just hours after the governor's press conference, House Democratic Caucus members railed against the proposal.

"This whole construct is anti-business and big government," Rep. Ramon Alexander said.

House Speaker Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson released the following statement in support of a 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. Florida will respond to this gross overreach by the federal government. 

“In the coming days, we will review the Governor’s specific proposals as well as discuss our own ideas for legislative action, including whether now is the time for Florida to withdraw from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and establish our own state program. We believe that by doing so, Florida will have the ability to alleviate onerous federal regulations placed on employers and employees.

“We stand with the dedicated health care workers, law enforcement, first responders, military service members, and all workers across the country who never got a day off and couldn’t work from home during the pandemic. Too many of our esteemed heroes are facing termination thanks to heavy-handedness at all levels of government. During the upcoming special session, our goal is to make our laws even more clear that Florida stands as refuge for families and businesses who want to live in freedom.”