Florida Legislature Ready to Pass Gov. DeSantis’ Anti-Mandate Laws

Florida Legislature Ready to Pass Gov. DeSantis' Anti-Mandate Laws ron desantis smiles at crowd Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds a news conference at the Florida Department of Health office in Viera, Florida. (Paul Hennessy/Sipa via AP Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Wednesday, 17 November 2021 09:18 AM

The Florida Legislature was expected to pass bills Wednesday limiting COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Gov. Ron DeSantis called a special session and asked lawmakers to pass bills that nullify President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates for companies with 100 or more employees.

"We've accomplished an awful lot in the state of Florida, but I can tell you this we've only begun to fight," the Florida Republican said Monday night, accoriding to Politico.

A few hours of debate, mostly from Democrats, will precede a vote on four bills before passage by the GOP-led legislature, Politico said.

The governor, however, will not get everything he wanted. State Republicans never liked the idea of stripping COVID liability protections from private companies that impose vaccine mandates, Politico reported.

"We philosophically were exactly where we are today — all of us — but we did not sit down and pre-negotiate," Senate President Wilton Simpson told Politico.

When told DeSantis did not get everything for which he asked, Simpson told Politico that, "there’s things I've talked about publicly that never happens either."

The "Keep Florida Free" legislation would bar private businesses from having COVID vaccine mandates unless they allow exemptions for medical reasons, religious beliefs, proof of immunity based on a prior infection, regular testing, and an agreement to wear protective gear.

The bills would also let parents sue schools over mask requirements and stop schools and governments from having vaccine mandates.

After passage, the legislation will force employers in the state to decide whether they follow state or federal mandates.

Republicans also were pushing legislation for Florida to begin considering a withdrawal from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which drafted Biden’s vaccine requirements. Another measure would block the public release of records regarding state investigations of vaccine policies in businesses.

DeSantis and the state late last month sued Biden, NASA, and other government agencies over the "unlawful" COVID-19 vaccine mandates that require federal contractors to get vaccinated, and "threaten" the state's economy.

"Because the government’s unlawful vaccine requirement seeks to interfere with Florida’s employment policies and threaten Florida with economic harm and the loss of federal contracts, the State seeks relief from this Court," the lawsuit states, Fox News reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.