Politics & Policy

DeSantis Calls for Special Legislative Session to Block Biden’s Vaccine Mandates

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis talks to the media during a news conference in Miami, Fla., August 29, 2019. (Marco Bello/Reuters)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday called for a special legislative session to prevent President Biden’s vaccine mandates from being enacted in the Sunshine State. 

“We have an opportunity here to take additional action, and I think we have to do it,” DeSantis said. “I think we have got to stand up for people’s jobs and their livelihoods.”

“To add protections for people in the state of Florida, and that’s something that cannot wait until the regular legislative session next year, it needs to happen soon,” DeSantis added. “We want to make sure that individuals in Florida have their livelihoods and their jobs protected.”

DeSantis did not announce a date for the session, which would not require approval from state Senate President Wilton Simpson or Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls, according to Politico.

“At this time, we have not received the dates or details regarding any proposed call,” Sprowls wrote in a memo to the state House after DeSantis spoke. “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.”

The governor’s latest pushback against the Biden administration comes one month after Biden announced plans to institute a vaccine mandate for businesses with more than 100 employees and federal workers. 

Biden directed the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to draft rules on vaccination, though the guidelines have not been released yet. They are expected to include sanctions against federal contractors and hospitals that do not require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

DeSantis said he plans to sue the Biden administration over the policies.

The special session is the latest in a longstanding fight between DeSantis and the administration over COVID-19 policies. The governor previously spent months warring with the White House over mask mandates in schools after DeSantis signed an executive order in July banning school districts from mandating mask-wearing for students in class.

Mask mandates for students come at a significant cost to students’ learning outcomes, mental health, and social development and data collected by the American Academy of Pediatrics show that, as of September 2, seven states have seen no child deaths related to COVID-19, and that of the 45 states that provided data to the AAP, “0.00 percent–0.03 percent of all child COVID-19 cases resulted in death.”

Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Health also issued a $3.57 million fine to Leon County over its vaccine mandate that led to the firing of 14 county employees.

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