The so-called ‘common sense’ bill would make it illegal for companies, government agencies or schools to require staff or students to be vaccinated or mask up indoors.
Gov DeSantis – who has positioned himself as a staunch opponent of government-sanctioned Covid rules – has said it would liberate Florida from the ‘biomedical security state’.
This is the latest instance of Gov DeSantis professing himself a Covid guidance contrarian, having announced last month that he plans to petition the state’s Supreme Court to convene a grand jury to investigate how the Covid shots were rolled out and marketed.
DeSantis told supporters in Panama City Beach on Tuesday that his aim was to protect Florida from the ‘biomedical security state’ by permanently banning COVID-19 vaccines and masks
Gov DeSantis told an enthusiastic crowd in Panama City Beach Tuesday: ‘This is just nuts that we’re still doing this…
‘We need to lead on this by making all of these protections permanent in Florida statute as we need to do in the upcoming legislative session.’
The state legislature will convene for its 2023 session in March, where the bill will be debated.
DeSantis went on: ‘We also believe that being able to live your life and being able to breathe the fresh air is something that should basically be a civil right.
‘You should not have to have any of these mask requirements imposed on you.’
The 2021 rules banning mandates are set to expire in July, but the legislature is seeking to beat that deadline.
Under the rules, employees can choose to opt for periodic testing or personal protective equipment (PPE) as an exemption to a vaccine mandate.
Employers will also be compelled to cover the costs of testing and PPE exemptions for employees.
Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, a vocal skeptic of Covid vaccines, repeated his claim that masks are not effective in preventing the spread of Covid and denounced the vaccines
They also levied hefty penalties for companies that violated the bans.
Small businesses of 99 employees or fewer face a fine of $10,000 per employee violation, while larger employers face a fine of $50,000 per violation.
These penalties would be set in stone with the passage of this legislation.
‘It’s insane, it’s irrational, and so no discrimination on this vax status, no requirements of masking in leiu of vax or any other reason, those are really, really important,’ Gov DeSantis continued.
DeSantis has risen to party stardom since his narrow gubernatorial victory in 2018, positioning himself as a conservative firebrand eager to confront liberal policies from state leaders such as Calfornia Gov Gavin Newsom.
‘Sometimes you just have to say enough is enough, and you think it’d be enough but you still see it all over this country,’ Gov DeSantis told the crowd.’
Gov DeSantis was joined by another figure who has risen to prominence for his vaccine and masking skepticism: Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo.
Dr Ladapo decried the widespread use of mRNA technology, which he argues is untested and unsafe: ‘You’re telling people to put it in children, and you’ve never even shown the children to gain from it in terms of an actual help. That’s the land of crazy. Florida is the land of sanity.’
The mRNA vaccines have been proven safe and highly effective at preventing severe illness. State House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell of Tampa slammed Gov DeSantis’ administration for spreading disinformation about the vaccines, which he strongly and vocally advocated for throughout 2021.
Ms Driskell said: ‘Ron DeSantis, what we witness today, he’s become the number one peddler of a dangerous message from the anti-vax establishment. It’s a fake ideology with real consequences.
Gov DeSantis overtook former President Trump in a poll reporting favorability to run for the top office in 2024
‘Masks work, the CDC has proven that. The mRNA vaccines work. No one ever promised total immunity, but those vaccines do lessen the chance of infection and they increase the likelihood of a milder case if you do get sick.’
His posture as an anti-nanny state culture warrior has propelled Gov DeSantis to the top of most Republicans’ fantasy 2024 ticket.
The GOP firm Ragnar Research Partners released polling results last month showing Republican voter favorability at a staggering 86 percent.
Meanwhile, a YouGov poll of 413 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents revealed that DeSantis overtook former President Trump to be the party’s nominee two years from now 42 to 35 percent.