DeSantis wants fines for any US company with Covid vaccine mandates

Ron DeSantis
Photo credit Jonah Hinebaugh/Naples Daily News/USA TODAY NETWORK

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is calling on state lawmakers to make permanent existing penalties for companies that require employees get the COVID-19 vaccination.

The proposal would indefinitely extend measures DeSantis signed in 2021 that made Florida the first state in the country to threaten businesses with fines if they required workers to get the Covid vaccine.

"When the world lost its mind, Florida was a refuge of sanity, serving strongly as freedom's linchpin," DeSantis said in a statement. "These measures will ensure Florida remains this way and will provide landmark protections for free speech for medical practitioners."

DeSantis' office says the "common-sense legislative proposal" would "permanently protect Floridians from losing their jobs due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates, protects parents’ rights, and institutes additional protections that prevent discrimination based on COVID-19 vaccine status."

The proposal includes the permanent prohibition of "authoritarian policies surrounding Covid" including:

• Permanently prohibiting COVID-19 masking requirements at businesses throughout the state
• Permanently prohibiting COVID-19 vaccine and mask requirements in all Florida schools
• Permanently prohibiting COVID-19 vaccine passports in Florida
• Permanently prohibiting employers from hiring or firing based on mRNA jabs

"They were wrong about lockdowns. They were wrong about mask mandates. They were wrong about school closures. They were wrong about mRNA shots. They were wrong about vax passports and vaccine mandates," DeSantis said at a news conference Tuesday.

"We believe that there's no turning back from our direction," he added. "We need to continue to lead and we need to lead with this by making all of these protections permanent in Florida statute."

The proposal includes first amendment rights guarantees for medical professionals, ensuring no one loses their job or medical license for disagreeing with COVID-19 protocols, according to DeSantis' office. It would also safeguard medical professionals from discrimination based on their personal religious views.

State House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell, a Tampa Democrat, responded to the proposal by calling the governor "the number one peddler of a dangerous message from the anti-vax establishment," per CNN.

"It is a fake ideology with real consequences – 84,000-plus dead Floridians and counting," Driskell said. "Masks work, the CDC has proven that. The mRNA vaccines work."

Featured Image Photo Credit: Jonah Hinebaugh/Naples Daily News/USA TODAY NETWORK