The contours of next week’s Special Session took more shape today with the filing of eight pieces of legislation. The Special Session was called by Governor Ron DeSantis for the week of November 15th as a reaction to federal vaccine mandates, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Emergency Temporary Standard that was released last week.
House Bill 1B and Senate Bill 2B outline a series of exemptions that must be offered to employees by private employers that require COVID-19 vaccines as a term of employment. These exemptions are for medical or religious reasons, if the employee previously contracted COVID, or if they agree to regular employer-sponsored testing or wearing of employer-provided personal protective equipment. The law will be enforced by the Attorney General’s office and businesses will be subject to penalties ranging from up to $10,000 to up to $50,000 per violation based on the size of the business and other contributing factors. Additionally, employees that are terminated for refusing to receive a vaccine will be allowed to collect reemployment assistance under the bill. Public employers will not be allowed to require vaccination as a condition of employment. HB 1B and SB 2B are identical and the full text of the bill can be found here.
Several other pieces of legislation dealing with public records exemptions for employee information (HB 3B/SB 4B), limitations on the State Health Officer’s authority to mandate vaccinations (HB 7B/SB 8B), and the beginning of steps necessary for Florida to withdraw from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) (HB 5B/SB 6B) were filed as well. Of note, House Bill 5B/Senate Bill 6B directs the Governor’s Office to create a state plan that asserts jurisdiction over occupational safety and health issues for private employers and government institutions.
As we continue discussions with legislators in advance of next week’s Special Session, your feedback is requested on these provisions. Please contact Carolyn Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-521-1235 to provide your input.