Florida governor signs bills limiting COVID vaccine mandates
Why it matters: With the bills signed, Florida becomes the first state with a law imposing possible fines on companies that require a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment, CNN reports.
- The bills were passed during a special legislative session the Republican governor convened to battle vaccine mandates. DeSantis, who has undermined federal vaccine requirements for months, claimed victory shortly before the bill was passed.
- State Sen. Danny Burgess, a Republican who sponsored legislation, said that it "appropriately balances the rights of individuals to make their own health care decisions with the authority of employers to regulate workplaces."
- State Democrats have slammed the bills. “Does this bill truly attempt to keep Floridians safe, or was it crafted to kick off a presidential campaign for our governor?” asked state Democratic Rep. Angie Nixon, per NBC 6.
Background: DeSantis has fought vehemently against public health measures, suing the Biden administration over its mandates and penalizing counties and districts that implement vaccine or mask mandates.
- DeSantis sued the Biden administration over its contractor mandate as well as its employer vaccine mandate.
- Last month, the Florida Department of Health fined Leon County $3.5 million for requiring its employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, saying it violated the state's ban on "vaccine passports."
- In August, the Florida Department of Education withheld funds from two districts that defied DeSantis' order banning mask mandates in schools.
What they're saying: “I told Floridians that we would protect their jobs and today we made that the law,” DeSantis said in a statement Thursday.
- “Nobody should lose their job due to heavy-handed COVID mandates and we had a responsibility to protect the livelihoods of the people of Florida," he added.
- Biden administration representatives did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.
Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional details about DeSantis signing the bills.