Florida House Prepares for Final Vote on Vaccine Authorization Limits

Florida House Prepares for Final Vote on Vaccine Authorization Limits

TALASHI, Florida — Bills limiting Florida’s vaccine mandates could be directed to the governor’s office before the end of the week.

During the second day of Governor Ron DeSantis’ special session, the Republican Party’s majority moved quickly to approve the four bills in the House and Senate ahead of Friday.

The policies seek to prevent local governments and businesses from enacting COVID-19 release requirements for employees.

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A rally against COVID-19 vaccine mandates is held outside the Florida Capitol on November 16, 2021.

Other provisions include:

  • Investigating how Florida withdrew from OSHA to avoid federal lead rules
  • The state health official stripped of authority to authorize the vaccine
  • Protect snapshot status for terminated employees from public record requests

House Democrats have tried to tone down the policies and redirect the focus. Some have added accountability, requirements for vaccination education, or unemployment assistance for those who help sick loved ones.

Representative Fentress Driskill, D-Tampa, chair of the party’s political caucus, described the special session as a distraction.

“Florida residents have real problems — whether it’s gun violence, the affordable housing crisis, or whether property insurance rates are too high right now,” Driskill said.

Representative Fentris Driskill speaking at the Legislative Special Session, November 16, 2021

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Representative Fentress Driskill says Florida lawmakers should focus on more important topics than rules against COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

But Republicans have dropped all attempts to change policies. The House will now hold a final vote on the legislation, Wednesday.

In the Senate, members finished one last stop for the committee for their version of the bills.

Democratic Senator Jason Bezo, D-Miami, questioned Senator Danny Burgess, R. Zephyrhills, about the necessity of SB 2, which matches the House’s anti-delegation bill. It comes after the governor said earlier this month that the state would offer financial assistance to businesses to offset any penalties for violating federal rules.

“If he’s going to pay any business that has been fined by the federal government, why are we here?” Biso asked.

Senator Danny Burgess speaking on the Legislative Special Session, November 16, 2021

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Senator Danny Burgess shares why he thinks the private session is important to Floridians.

Burgess declined to answer in the panel but summed up his point for us later in the afternoon.

“I think the bill is absolutely necessary because we have people’s livelihoods at stake here,” Burgess said. “We are trying to protect and balance the need to stay safe and the need to live.”

The Senate may be ready for a vote on Thursday. And that is after the commission will study another set of democratic amendments, on Wednesday. It is unlikely that any of them will be adopted.

The governor will get the bills shortly. He will likely sign it as soon as possible.

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