This week, the legislature convened for Special Session 2021B to address multiple COVID-19 mandate related issues. The brief Special Session concluded with four bills passing. Each bill, summarized below, was signed by Governor DeSantis yesterday, November 18, 2021.
As always, if you have any questions, please contact us.
HB 1B – COVID-19 Mandates
HB 1B has several provisions aimed at eliminating COVID-19 related mandates, including:
- Prohibiting private employers from mandating COVID-19 vaccination without providing qualifying employees the ability to opt out of the mandate.
- Allowing employees to opt out of an employer’s vaccination mandate if they are exempt based on medical, pregnancy, or anticipated pregnancy reasons, religious reasons, COVID-19 immunity, periodic testing or use of employer-provided personal protective equipment.
- Authorizing the Attorney General to receive complaints and impose administrative fines up to $50,000 per violation, if the employee was terminated for refusing vaccination and the employer failed to follow procedures.
- Prohibiting public educational institutions or governmental entities from requiring COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment and authorizes DOH to impose a fine not to exceed $5,000 per violation.
- Specifying that employees improperly terminated on the basis of COVID-19 vaccination refusal may be eligible for reemployment benefits and establishes that reemployment benefits to such employees may not be denied or discontinued based on new job offers that require COVID-19 vaccination.
- Prohibiting educational institutions or elected or appointed local officials from mandating COVID-19 vaccination for students, allows parents to bring an action against educational institutions for a declaratory judgement and injunctive relief, and allows prevailing parents to collect attorney fees and court costs.
- Prohibiting school boards, school board employees or local officials from requiring students to wear a face mask, face shield, or other face covering; however, maintains a parent’s right to allow their child to wear a face covering at school.
HB 3B – Public Records/COVID-19 Vaccination Policies and Practices
HB 3B is linked to HB 1B. HB 1 prohibits a private employer from imposing a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for any employee without providing certain exemptions that allow an employee to opt out of such mandate. HB 3B creates a public record exemption for an employee complaint alleging a private employer’s violation of state law regarding employer COVID-19 vaccination policies or practices.
HB 5B – Florida Occupational Safety and Health State Plan
HB 5B requires the Executive Office of the Governor (EOG) to develop a proposal for Florida to assert state jurisdiction over occupational safety & health issues for government & private employees. The state plan would be submitted to OSHA for review and approval. The bill allows the EOG to hire the necessary staff to develop the proposal. The bill requires the EOG to submit a status of the report to the Legislature by January 17, 2022.
HB 7B – Vaccinations During Public Health Emergencies
Prior to the adoption of HB 7B ,Section 381.00315, F.S., grants the State Health Officer the authority to declare a public health emergency, and establishes requirements for such situations. Among various other powers, the State Health Officer is authorized to order an individual to be examined, tested, vaccinated, treated, isolated, or quarantined during a declared public health emergency. HB 7B removes the authority of the State Health Officer to order vaccination of individuals upon declaration of public health emergency.
Becker’s State Legislative Lobbying Team will continue to monitor these developments as they evolve and will share with you as soon as information becomes available.