Florida governor’s office releases list of policy goals for COVID-19 special legislative session

Coronavirus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Following Gov. Ron DeSantis’s announcement in Clearwater of a special COVID-19 legislative session to be called, the Governor’s Office released a list of the main topics that state lawmakers will focus on during the coming legislative gathering.

The main goal of the session is to bolster existing laws or draft new ones that will provide additional protections for Floridians regarding COVID-19 vaccine mandates and employees who face what the Governor’s Office calls “unfair, discriminatory” actions by employers.

DeSantis, and state leaders, promised further action both in the legislature and in court to contest vaccine requirements and mask mandates as a federal vaccination deadline for employees of the United States government looms closer, particularly for various branches of the U.S. military.

The following items are proposed protective goals for lawmakers to consider during the coming special session of the Florida General Assembly:

  • If someone is fired from their job for refusing an employer-required COVID-19 vaccine, then that person should be eligible for reemployment assistance.
  • If someone has an adverse medical reaction from an employer-required COVID-19 vaccine, then that person should be eligible for workers compensation coverage.
  • If an employer fires someone based on an arbitrary COVID-19 vaccine mandate, then the employer should not receive the benefits of current COVID-19 liability protections.
  • If an employer fires someone solely based on COVID-19 vaccine status, then that business may not enforce a non-compete agreement against the employee.
  • Employers must provide notice to employees of religious and health exemptions. Fired employees should have a right to sue if employers fail to provide such notice.
  • DEO shall establish a program to connect employees terminated based on COVID-19 vaccine status with other employment opportunities.
  • Reaffirm that government entities, including school districts, may not fire any employee based on COVID-19 vaccine status. Violating government entities should be held accountable.

Additionally, the governor stated in Clearwater that he would be working with the legislature to strengthen the protections for parents’ rights set forth in the Parents’ Bill of Rights.

In the information released by the Governor’s Office, those protections are described as focusing on parents’ freedom to manage healthcare decisions for their children, despite “several school districts [who] continue to violate state law.”

The release also said that additional protections are needed to hold districts accountable for violating those laws, citing data on COVID-19 infections over the past 12 to 14 months that show no correlation between mask requirements and infection rates in the state of Florida.

Soon after the announcement from the governor about the special session, Florida Speaker of the House released the following statement, confirming that state lawmakers were in communication with the governor about the proposed session.

This morning Governor DeSantis announced that he plans to call the Legislature into a Special Session. At this time, we have not received the dates or details regarding any proposed call. We are in communication with the Governor’s Office and our partners in the Senate, and we will share details with you as they emerge.

Statement from House Speaker Chris Sprowls about special legislative session for COVID-19 laws

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