Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Date Of Special Session To Protect Florida Jobs

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Tallahassee, FL - Today, Governor Ron DeSantis issued a proclamation announcing that the Special Session to provide protections for Floridians who have lost their jobs or are having their employment threatened due to vaccine mandates will begin on November 15, 2021, and go no later than November 19, 2021.

 “Your right to earn a living should not be contingent upon COVID shots,” said  Governor Ron DeSantis. “We have somehow gone from 15 days to slow the spread to 3 jabs to keep your job. In Florida, we believe that the decision whether or not to get a COVID shot is a choice based on individual circumstances, so we are litigating against the Biden Administration and will be passing legislation in this Special Session to protect Florida jobs and protect parents’ rights when it comes to masking and quarantines. The health, education, and wellbeing of our children are primarily the responsibility of parents. As long as I am Governor, parents in Florida will play a strong role in determining what their kids are learning and how they’re treated in school.”
 
Last week, Governor Ron DeSantis called for this Special Session of the Florida Legislature at a press conference where he was joined by first responders, healthcare workers, airline employees, and Floridians from various other industries who have faced or are facing consequences as a result of vaccine mandates. Yesterday, Governor DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody announced a lawsuit against the Biden Administration’s unconstitutional vaccine mandates, making Florida the first state to bring a comprehensive legal action against the federal contractor vaccine mandate.
 
“Governor DeSantis has called this Special Session because we must stand up for the rights and liberties of Floridians not only through litigation, but also through legislation,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “We are looking forward to collaborating with Senate President Simpson and House Speaker Sprowls to provide protections for Floridians of all ages, in the workforce and in the classroom.” 
 
Governor DeSantis is calling on the Legislature to consider legislation that will: 
 
  • Protect current and prospective employees against unfair discrimination on the basis of COVID-19 vaccination status and ensure robust enforcement for this protection;
  • Ensure that educational institutions and government entities are prohibited from unfairly discriminating against current and prospective employees, students, and residents on the basis of COVID-19 vaccination status;
  • Ensure that employees improperly denied employment on the basis of COVID-19 vaccination status can be eligible for reemployment benefits and, if needed, ensure that employees injured by a COVID-19 vaccination taken pursuant to a company policy are covered by workers’ compensation;
  • Appropriate a sufficient amount of funds to investigate complaints regarding COVID-19 vaccination mandates and to take legal action against such mandates, including mandates imposed by the Federal Government;
  • Clarify that the Parents’ Bill of Rights, Chapter 1014, Florida Statutes, vests the decision on masking with parents, not government entities, and that schools must comply with Department of Health rules that govern student health, including rules that ensure healthy students can remain in school; 
  • Limit mandates by school districts on students or employees regarding COVID-19 and related mitigation measures;
  • Provide adequate enforcement mechanisms to ensure that Florida law is followed and the rights of parents are honored;
  • Direct the State to evaluate whether it should assert jurisdiction over occupational safety and health issues for government and private employees;
  • Repeal the authority for the State Health Officer to order forced injections or vaccinations under Section 381.00315, Florida Statutes, originally enacted in 2002; and
  • Create as necessary public records exemptions related to complaints and investigations described herein.
 
To hear testimonials of employees affected by vaccine mandates, the video of Governor DeSantis’ press conference from Thursday, October 21st, where he called for the Special Session is available for use here, and the video of Governor DeSantis’ press conference from Thursday, October 28th, where he announced a lawsuit against the Biden Administration is available for use here, both courtesy of the Governor’s Press Office.
 
The text of Governor DeSantis’ proclamation can be found below and the signed proclamation is available here. Governor DeSantis’ letter to President Simpson and Speaker Sprowls is available here.
 
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WHEREAS, Article III, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution permits the Governor to convene the Legislature in Special Session during which only such legislative business may be transacted as is within the purview of this Proclamation, or of a communication from the Governor, or as is introduced by consent of two-thirds of the membership of each house of the Legislature; and
 
WHEREAS, Article III, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution limits the duration of a Special Session to twenty (20) consecutive days; and
 
WHEREAS, the Biden Administration has undertaken, or is threatening to undertake, extraordinary efforts to coerce injections of the COVID-19 vaccine into Americans who otherwise would be unwilling to receive the vaccine for reasons of health, pregnancy, religious belief (including sincerely held moral or ethical beliefs), and prior infection; and 
 
WHEREAS, the Biden Administration has cajoled and is threatening to require American businesses to mandate that their employees receive injections of the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment, even if their employees would otherwise be unwilling to receive the vaccine for reasons of health, pregnancy, religious belief (including sincerely held moral or ethical beliefs), and prior infection; and
 
WHEREAS, under pressure from the Biden Administration and corporate media, some companies and governmental entities have begun mandating that their employees receive injections of the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment; and
 
WHEREAS, forced vaccination of Americans will sow further distrust in government institutions and in corporate America, could deter Americans from voluntarily receiving the vaccine, will cause many Americans to lose their jobs and increase the burden on taxpayer-funded social services, could further exacerbate job shortages and supply chain disruptions, and will harm the economy; and
 
WHEREAS, Florida successfully reopened schools for in-person education during the COVID-19 pandemic, prior to any widely available vaccines, and proved that there was no meaningful difference in COVID-19 transmission rates between school districts with mask mandates and school districts without mask mandates; and
 
WHEREAS, the Department of Health has issued Emergency Rule 64DER21-15, Protocols for Controlling COVID-19 in School Settings, that gives parents the discretion to opt their children out of any forced masking requirements in schools; and
 
WHEREAS, the Department of Health’s rule also provides protections for students and parents against overbroad quarantines of healthy students, ensuring in-person education for healthy students; and
  
WHEREAS, several school districts in Florida have, with the assistance and encouragement of the Biden Administration, blatantly defied the Department of Health rule, as well as the State Board of Education’s efforts to enforce the rule; and
 
WHEREAS, the forced masking and unnecessary quarantining of healthy school children over the objections of their parents infringes upon the parents’ ability to make health care and education decisions for their children and undermines the ability of Florida school children to receive the quality education they deserve; and
 
WHEREAS, it is sound public policy to protect the individual liberties of our citizens and to protect the rights of individuals to make the best health care decisions for themselves; and
 
WHEREAS, a Special Session of the Florida Legislature is necessary to address the Biden Administration’s unprecedented efforts to coerce or pressure workers into receiving injections of the COVID-19 vaccine and to interfere with the enforcement of state law governing the use of masks and quarantines in public schools; and
 
WHEREAS, a Special Session of the Florida Legislature is also necessary to protect workers from the loss or denial of employment solely because they refuse injection of the COVID-19 vaccine and to address employer COVID-19 vaccination mandates; and
 
WHEREAS, a Special Session of the Florida Legislature is further necessary to protect the right of parents to decide whether their children should wear masks at school or be subject to unnecessary quarantines, and to ensure that school districts are held accountable for violating state laws and policies. 
 
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RON DESANTIS, Governor of the State of Florida, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by Article III, Section 3(c)(1) of the Florida Constitution, do hereby proclaim as follows:
 
Section 1. The Legislature of the State of Florida is convened in Special Session commencing at 12:00 p.m., Monday, November 15, 2021, and extending no later than 12:00 p.m., Friday, November 19, 2021.
 
Section 2. The Legislature of the State of Florida is convened in Special Session for the sole and exclusive purpose of considering legislation to (1) protect workers against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and address employer policies that force COVID-19 vaccination; and (2) clarify that Florida law vests student masking decisions in the hands of parents and strengthen enforcement of the protections in the Parents’ Bill of Rights, Chapter 1014, Florida Statutes, and other related statutes as necessary to ensure Florida’s school districts adhere to the requirements of state law.  
 
Specifically, the Legislature should consider legislation to: 
 
a. Protect current and prospective employees against unfair discrimination on the basis of COVID-19 vaccination status and ensure robust enforcement for this protection;
b. Ensure that educational institutions and government entities are prohibited from unfairly discriminating against current and prospective employees, students, and residents on the basis of COVID-19 vaccination status;
c. Ensure that employees improperly denied employment on the basis of COVID-19 vaccination status can be eligible for reemployment benefits and, if needed, ensure that employees injured by a COVID-19 vaccination taken pursuant to a company policy are covered by workers’ compensation;
d. Appropriate a sufficient amount of funds to investigate complaints regarding COVID-19 vaccination mandates and to take legal action against such mandates, including mandates imposed by the Federal Government;
e. Clarify that the Parents’ Bill of Rights, Chapter 1014, Florida Statutes, vests the decision on masking with parents, not government entities, and that schools must comply with Department of Health rules that govern student health, including rules that ensure healthy students can remain in school; 
f. Limit mandates by school districts on students or employees regarding COVID-19 and related mitigation measures;
g. Provide adequate enforcement mechanisms to ensure that Florida law is followed and the rights of parents are honored;
h. Direct the State to evaluate whether it should assert jurisdiction over occupational safety and health issues for government and private employees;
i. Repeal the authority for the State Health Officer to order forced injections or vaccinations under Section 381.00315, Florida Statutes, originally enacted in 2002; and
j. Create as necessary public records exemptions related to complaints and investigations described herein.

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