Debate over COVID-19 vaccine mandates to take center stage at Florida’s special session

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Monday is the start of a special session at the Florida State Capitol.

State lawmakers will discuss three pieces of legislation.

The biggest agenda item would require businesses to provide exemptions for any employee vaccine mandate.

READ: White House reports nearly 1 million kids under 12 vaccinated

Violations could cost between $10,000 and $50,000.

This session was called after an Orange County Fire Rescue battalion chief was fired for refusing to discipline firefighters violating a county vaccine mandate.

Those firefighters will participate in a rally at the capitol on Monday.

The issue has divided both politicians and the people.

No matter how this week goes, it will be impossible to make everyone or perhaps anyone happy.

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Republicans call it a bold move, while Democrats ask if this is practical policymaking or just playing politics.

Lawmakers will have just a few days to hammer out a deal on vaccine and mask mandates.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is pushing legislation to protect current and prospective workers over their COVID-19 vaccination status; to ensure that people who are denied employment due to their vaccination status are eligible for unemployment benefits and covered by workers’ compensation; limit school district mandates and expand the “parents’ bill of rights” law approved earlier this year; and repeal a 2002 law giving the state surgeon general authority to order injections or vaccinations.

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There’s also a proposal to create the state’s own version of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as a response to the federal OSHA vaccine mandate that spurred the special session idea in the first place.

The session will go on until Thursday.

Channel 9 will have continuing coverage of the special session on Eyewitness News.

See more in the video above.

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Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.