What are the bills and what will they do

For four days, the Florida legislature will be in a special session requested by Governor Ron DeSantis review legislation to prioritize state laws over federal COVID security requirements and eliminate all mandates for vaccines and masks.

What are the invoices in question? And what do they hope to accomplish with each of them? Here is the list :

First day of the special session:Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s wishlist for accelerating anti-vaccine tenure with GOP lawmakers

What is Florida’s “COVID-19 Mandates” Bill for?

First, DeSantis and the Republican-led legislature would like to break away from Biden’s pressure for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to enact a rule requiring private companies with 100 or more employees to insure. that they are all vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19.

More than two dozen states, mostly Republican-led, are already suing to end the new rule, which has been temporarily suspended by a federal appeals court. But Florida goes further.

The law project (SB 2B/HB 1B: COVID-19 Mandates) would not outright ban vaccination mandates for large companies, but would require private employers to offer five opt-out options for all employees who refuse to be vaccinated. Three of them – medical and religious exemptions or an agreement to be tested regularly – are already included in OSHA guidelines.

But the bill would add two more exemption options: a request for “immunity” from COVID-19 with a medical test (although it does not specify what that test would be), or a simple agreement to wear a protective equipment provided by the employer each time other people.

The bill also creates heavy penalties for companies that fire employees for violating COVID policies if the employee successfully challenges the move: $ 10,000 per violation for employers with less than 100 employees, $ 50,000 by violation for large companies. The bill allocates $ 5 million to the attorney general’s office to investigate violations and enforce penalties.

Employers would also have the option of avoiding the fine by reinstating the employee, with back pay. And the bill makes it clear that anyone fired for non-compliance would be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Does the COVID-19 warrant bill ban school mask warrants in Florida?

Completely, in one of the shorter sections of the bill.

It codifies in law DeSantis Emergency Order which prevents any school official, school board member or elected official from forcing vaccines or masks on students for school attendance or extracurricular activities – although he says that a parent, “in sole discretion of the parent “, can authorize his or her child to wear a mask or a visor.

Parents or students 18 years of age or older can file a complaint if they believe this is violated and may be awarded “reasonable attorney fees and court costs.”

What about the vaccination mandates for Florida government employees?

They are also outlaws.

“An educational institution or government entity cannot impose a COVID-19 vaccination mandate on any full-time, part-time or contract employee. Any existing ordinance, rule or policy imposing such a mandate is null and void as of the effective date. date of this act. “

The fines will be $ 5,000 per violation, again putting the previous emergency order place.

What is the Public Archives / Employer COVID-19 Vaccination Policy Bill?

Not only does the legislature want to punish employers who fire workers who violate federal COVID policies, it wants to protect those employees by keeping their complaints hidden from the public eye.

The COVID-19 Employer Vaccination Policy / Public Documents Bill (SB 4B/HB 3Band) shield from the public all information relating to a complaint or investigation by employees who have not been offered a medical or religious exemption from the vaccine requirements imposed by their bosses.

Is this exemption constitutional?

As written, no, according to Pam Marsh, executive director of the First Amendment Foundation, a Florida nonprofit open government watchdog that monitors the number of public record exemptions filed by the legislature each year.

“The bill is vague, too broad and ill-conceived,” Marsh said. This is because it exempts the entire employee’s complaint, she explained; these exemptions are generally reserved for criminal investigations.

Dig a little deeper:Protecting ‘unconstitutional’ COVID vaccine complaints, First Amendment expert says

Will Florida create its own OSHA?

This is the idea behind SB 6B/HB 5B, Florida State Plan on Occupational Safety and Health. Or at least that’s the first step.

Governor DeSantis has spoken out against OSHA’s COVID security requirements, saying “No one should lose their job because of these jabs” during a recent event in Pasco County.

Towards the end, this bill asks the governor’s office to develop a proposed state plan “to assert jurisdiction over matters of occupational safety and health for government and private sector employees.”

Can Florida Create Its Own OSHA?

The problem with creating what some call a “FLOSHA” is that any state program would have to be approved by OSHA itself and meet federal standards already in place.

Additionally, critics point out, Florida has denied hundreds of millions of dollars in federally funded unemployment benefits and tens of millions of dollars in rent assistance included in the CARES Act, “choose and choose what.” what does it mean to defend workers ”. according to Rich Templin, legislative and political director of the AFL-CIO of Florida.

“There are a lot of things the governor’s office could do right now that would show a commitment to standing up for workers, but we haven’t seen any of that.”

Is a “FLOSHA” in our future? Special Session Bill Aims To Create Florida’s Own OSHA

What other bills will the Florida legislature consider in the special session?

The last is SB 8B/HB 7B: Vaccinations during public health emergencies, and it’s very simple: it simply removes the ability of the state health official, usually the state’s general surgeon, to order vaccination of individuals during the declaration of a public health emergency.

The public health official can always order that a person be examined, tested, treated, isolated or quarantined for communicable diseases which have “significant morbidity or mortality and present a serious danger to public health”, and can order people presenting a danger to the public who cannot or will not comply to be isolated or quarantined, but the word “vaccinated” is carefully crossed out in the list of these powers.

Contributors: John Kennedy, James Call and Jeffrey Schweers from Capital Bureau | USA TODAY-Florida Network

CA Bridges is a digital producer for the USA TODAY Network, working with several newsrooms across Florida.

Local journalists work hard to keep you informed about the things that matter to you, and you can support them by subscribing to your local press organization. Read more articles from Chris here and follow him on Twitter at @cabridges

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