Florida House wraps work in vaccine mandate special session
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - State Lawmakers voiced their final arguments before passing legislation banning vaccine mandates and setting in motion a plan to create a state version of OSHA.
While Democrats didn’t have the votes to overcome the Republican majority, they made their opposition clear.
The day started with a debate on legislation that would set in motion a plan to create a state version of OSHA.
Democrats argued it gives to much flexibility to the Governor, who would be in charge of developing the plan.
“We’ve not provided any framework. We’ve not provided any guardrails,” said Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith.
Then the discussion moved to a bill stripping the Surgeon General’s authority to force vaccinations.
“The federal government still provided us all these vaccines without ever using this power,” said bill sponsor Representative Alexander Andrade.
Democrats again stood in opposition.
“Just because we have never used it does not mean it should not be available,” said Representative Tracie Davis.
The bulk of debate fixated on the feature legislation of the special session, which bans public employer vaccine mandates, limits private employer vaccine mandates, and prohibits school mask mandates.
“This bill is about keeping peoples’ jobs,” said Representative Ralph Massullo, one of the bill’s sponsors.
Democrats criticized the $10,000-$50,000 fines businesses would face for violations.
“Our workers, are they gonna get the $50,000 if they come down with COVID?” said Representative Yvonne Hinson.
Despite Democrats’ best efforts, every bill proposed this special session sailed through unchanged.
In a post-session press conference, Democrats called the past three days a waste of time.
“But the damage to public health will last for generations,” said Representative Evan Jenne.
But Republicans told us they believe the package of bills sends a message to the federal government.
“The federal government is now saying that they will use any power at their disposal because they believe the ends justify the means and I think that’s a real problem,” said House Speaker Chris Sprowls.
And the bills could become the law of the land as soon as Thursday.
As of 4:30 pm Wednesday the Senate was still in session, but the chamber is expected to vote on the bills before the day wraps and send the bills to the Governor.
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