The Florida House of Representatives on Wednesday passed motions to move away from the federal Occupational and Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and prohibit the implementation of vaccine mandates.
Passing the Republican-led House by a margin of 76-38, largely along party lines, House Bill 5B (HB 5B) would grant Governor Ron DeSantis direction to develop a plan to withdraw from OSHA and actualize a state-led oversight of workplace practice and regulation.
Bill sponsor Adrian Zika (R-Land O’ Lakes) pointed to the recently announced OSHA vaccination ruling that requires companies exceeding 100 employees to be vaccinated or have workers test negative weekly and wear masks.
“Forced firing of Floridians is not the Florida way,” Zika said. “It is not the role of government to pick and choose which employee is fired. Florida knows Florida better than Washington, D.C. will ever know Florida.”
DeSantis and House Republicans worry that the OSHA requirements will lead to Floridians losing their jobs. “People should not be in a situation where they’re faced with the jab or their jobs,” DeSantis said at a Nov. 4th press conference where he announced a lawsuit against the Biden administration over the ruling.
“People have been working, we don’t want to kick people out of jobs, and that’s true if you’re a police officer, if you’re a firefighter, it’s also true if you’re in the private sector, we want to protect people’s jobs.”
If the bill passes through the Senate and is signed by DeSantis, Florida will join 21 other states and Puerto Rico in holding state regulation of the workplace.
James Bush (D-Miami) was the sole House member to cross party lines on the bill, joining Republicans.
A bill to block vaccine mandates was also passed by the House on Wednesday.
House Bill 1B (HB 1B) prevents private employers, public schools, and local governments from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations.
Private companies would be prohibited from requiring vaccinations unless they offer opt-outs for exemptions like religious and health reasons.
HB 1B passed by a 79-38 vote, with most Democrats critical of the bill.
House Bill 7B (HB 7B) easily passed through the House, which would relinquish the state Surgeon General the power to order vaccinations during public health emergencies.
This measure has not been utilized since its inclusion of state law in 2002, but the legislature moved forward with repealing it during a special session that focuses on pushing back against vaccination and mask mandates.
Representatives voted to pass the bill by an 82-34 decision.
“The bill is an indictment of the vast abuses of executive power across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said bill sponsor Alex Andrade (R-Pensacola).
A final bill was passed on Wednesday: House Bill 3B (HB 3B)
The bill, passing 85-31, prevents complaints made to Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office over alleged violations of the vaccine mandate requirements from becoming public record until the investigation is completed.
“Preventing disclosure of this information will protect people from harassment or discrimination if they lose their job over a COVID-19 vaccine mandate, said bill sponsor Ralph Massullo (R-Inverness).
Democrats have been vocally critical of DeSantis’ call for this week’s special legislative session, repeatedly claiming the legislation amounts to political theater intended to boost DeSantis’ national standing amid speculation of a 2024 Presidential bid.
This is how I’m voting everything during this “special” session. pic.twitter.com/XsiwTcFDwt
— Michele Rayner-Goolsby (She/They) (@micheleforfl) November 17, 2021
“Me and many of my colleagues have been asking WHY ARE WE HERE,” said Carlos G Smith (D-Orlando) on Twitter.
Each bill passed through the House of Representatives is expected to also pass through the Senate with ease, where Republicans hold a 24-16 majority over Democrats.