Today, Governor DeSantis signed into law a package of bills passed by the Florida Legislature during a three-day special session that concluded yesterday. These new laws will, among other things, weaken the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements for larger businesses, give the governor more power in his ongoing fight with local governments and school boards over masking and vaccines and lay the groundwork for withdrawing Florida from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and creating a state-run agency overseeing workplace safety.
In reaction to this development, Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz issued the following statement:
“DeSantis’ stunt special session, which was nothing more than a transparent bit of political theater with a view towards bolstering his bid for a second term, delivered on the type of bad policy it promised from the moment it was announced.
“Infringing on businesses’ and local governments’ freedom to enact appropriate health protocols to combat COVID-19 will simply prolong the pandemic and put more lives at risk in our state.
“One piece of legislation DeSantis signed into law today may actually have some businesses exposing themselves to lawsuits or federal penalties depending on whether they decide to comply with state law or follow the federal OSHA rule on vaccination requirements.
“The move to study the development of a state counterpart to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is equally misguided. A state-run agency is simply not needed, would be costly, and would accomplish little considering state agencies overseeing workplace safety must enforce, at minimum, the same standards set nationally by OSHA. It is an initiative with only one goal in mind, to give Governor DeSantis yet another talking point with which to thrill extremist anti-vaccination and anti-masking elements in the GOP base.
“Florida deserves a Governor that will prioritize the health and prosperity of the state’s residents, not call for politically motivated special sessions of the Legislature and sign bills into law that will put lives at risk just to drive his most radical supporters to the polls next Fall.”