Governor Ron DeSantis is taking his attempt to ban vaccine mandates in Florida to a special session with state lawmakers in November.
DeSantis announced the Florida legislature’s special session at a news conference in Clearwater Thursday.
DeSantis plans to contest vaccine mandates as the federal government prepares an executive order requiring vaccinations for any business with more than 100 employees. Central Florida lawmakers are responding to the governor’s effort.
The Florida legislature, per the state’s constitution, typically meets 60 consecutive days per year, starting in January or March.
“An extension of regular session or special session requires a three-fifths vote of each house,” Florida’s constitution reads.
Below are the responses from Central Florida lawmakers on DeSantis’s special session announcement, in no particular order.
Rep. Anna Eskamani (D)
Can people sue Governor DeSantis for his irresponsibility in politicizing a public health crisis, putting people's lives at risk? https://t.co/edG50WAkqw— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) October 21, 2021
The politicalization of #COVID19 continues.— Rep. Anna V. Eskamani 🔨 (@AnnaForFlorida) October 21, 2021
Despite casing going down due to people getting vaccinated our Governor wants to drag this out & drag the rest of us w/him.
There was no special session for fixing the unemployment system but apparently THIS is worth it. 🤦♀️ https://t.co/edG50WAkqw
“DeSantis is taking us in a dangerous direction….as he has every intention to drag out this pandemic as (long as) possible (so he has a contrast when he runs against Biden for Presidential election),” Rep. Anna Eskamani added during an emergency media session, held via zoom shortly after the announcement.
Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R)
BREAKING: @GovRonDeSantis just announced an Emergency Legislative Session to BAN private sector employee vaccine mandates— Rep. Anthony Sabatini (@AnthonySabatini) October 21, 2021
For the last 3 months, I’ve been the SOLE voice in the Florida Legislature fighting for this
This is a HUGE WIN for medical freedom
And a HUGE L for RINOs
Rep. Anthony Sabatini told News 6 that DeSantis was doing the right thing for Americans by standing up for personal freedoms.
“This is excellent news, amazing news. long overdue, but I thank the governor for his leadership,” he said.
Earlier this year Sabatini filed a bill which, if enacted, would make mask mandates illegal in the state of Florida.
State Sen. Linda Stewart (D)
Gov. DeSantis on Thursday said he would call a special session of the Legislature in November to pass laws banning local governments, agencies and businesses from mandating COVID-19 vaccines for their employees. https://t.co/Qc5RSOTKaX— Linda Stewart (@LindaStewartFL) October 21, 2021
My response to the Governor's call for special session. pic.twitter.com/7DiFw58ytz— Linda Stewart (@LindaStewartFL) October 21, 2021
Sen. Linda Stewart added, “It’s ridiculous.”
She told News 6 she is for mask mandates.
“(The special session) may not even happen. We are waiting to find out if it will, and I am watching this closely,” Stewart continued.
Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D)
.@GovRonDeSantis is more than happy to trade the lives of Floridians for GOP votes in Iowa and campaign contributions in Utah.— Rep. Carlos G Smith (@CarlosGSmith) October 21, 2021
I’m sure there won’t be a fundraising email after this and it won’t have anything to do with his presidential ambitions. https://t.co/mEAapof57d
The race to the bottom for @GovRonDeSantis continues.— Rep. Carlos G Smith (@CarlosGSmith) October 21, 2021
Now he’s calling a special session to PUNISH schools, hospitals and businesses even further for the crime of protecting our communities from COVID-19.
More Floridians will DIE as a result.https://t.co/6T8UIvmZ1V
Rep. Kristen Arrington (D)
This morning Governor DeSantis announced that he plans to call the Legislature into a Special Session. At this time, we have not received the dates or details regarding any proposed call.— Kristen Arrington😷 (@Arrington4Fl) October 21, 2021
Vaccine and mask mandates are the rumored reason.#politicalgames pic.twitter.com/oJJ5gILUZW
The memorandum, included in Rep. Kristen Arrington’s tweet above, circulated to members of the state’s House of Representatives Thursday.
Rep. David Smith (R) said because all he received was a memorandum, it would be premature to comment on the special session.
U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack (R)
Proud to see @GovRonDeSantis calling state legislators back to Tallahassee to stand up to vaccine mandates. In Florida’s Third Congressional District, we know that individuals should be allowed to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. pic.twitter.com/VwdWaOXMku— Congresswoman Kat Cammack (@RepKatCammack) October 21, 2021
State Sen. Keith Perry (R)
New legislation filed:— Keith Perry (@KeithPerryFL) October 21, 2021
SB 592: Face Covering Mandates
SB 594: Discrimination on the Basis of COVID-19 Vaccination it Postinfection Recovery Status
Visit https://t.co/fMkt085y2X to read them in entirety #FlaPol https://t.co/FVVUrkBoUF
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D)
I’ll be a governor who protects public health, not politicizes it.— Nikki Fried (@NikkiFried) October 21, 2021
State Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil (D)
This is an attack on Floridas private business & local leaders who've taken steps to protect Floridians.— Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil (@joyforfl) October 21, 2021
I’m determined to fight against this in the Legislature to protect the freedom businesses have to safeguard our residents. https://t.co/fl6KmWyKrH
Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil told News 6, “In what is an attack on Florida’s private businesses and local leaders who’ve taken steps to protect Floridians, the Governor’s threatening of a special session is a tactic that is dangerous to public health as it is costly to our State’s taxpayers. I’m determined to fight against this in the Legislature to protect the freedom businesses have to safeguard our residents. I will continue to stand up for the values, principles and policies that ensure Floridians can live freely and safely at all times.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)
I am calling the Florida Legislature back for a Special Session to pursue stronger protections for Floridians against federal government mandates.— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) October 21, 2021
No one should lose their job over a COVID shot.https://t.co/H2v8I3GQiA
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R)
Proud to stand w/@GovRonDeSantis to push back against unlawful vaccine mandates. We will always fight illegal government actions that negatively impact law enforcement, America’s workers & public safety. pic.twitter.com/Munqk52iy3— AG Ashley Moody (@AGAshleyMoody) October 21, 2021
In an interview with News 6, Rep. Randy Fine (R) said he was “thrilled” when he heard about the special session. Fine supports vaccines, but he does not support mandates. He added the Brevard County School Board is committing “child abuse,” referring to their mask mandate, with a parental opt-out option if community spread dips to 50 cases per 100,000.
State Sen. Victor Torres (D) replied to News 6 via email:
“During the peak of the pandemic last year, the Governor refuse to call a special session to address the health impact and the unemployment issues that Floridians were dealing with. The Governor also refuse to initiate a state-wide face coving requirement, claiming that local governments know what was best for their communities. Now the Governor wants to call a special session to block the rights of individual business and local communities, from protecting the health of their employees and the general public.”
Rep. Kamia Brown (D), who represents part of Orange County, said in a statement, “Floridians are tired of political stunts winning over public safety. We all want the freedom to be safe and prosperous, which starts by returning to our daily lives. This shameful idea to prolong the pandemic only threatens public health and economic prosperity.”
Florida Senate Majority Leader Debbie Mayfield (R) released the following statement:
“I have heard from many constituents who are concerned that their abilities to provide for their families and make health care decisions for themselves are being threatened by the Biden Administration’s sweeping COVID-19 mandates. I look forward to working alongside President Wilton Simpson and Governor Ron DeSantis to preserve our individual rights and safeguard Floridians from the federal government’s overreach.”
News 6 has reached out to all local senators and representatives for comment.
This is a developing story. Check back here for updates.