Next week’s Special Session (Nov. 15-19) was specifically called by the Governor to rebuke the new federal OSHA COVID-19 vaccine rule.
The centerpiece bills will be HB 1B / SB 2B -- COVID-19 Mandates and we need you to OPPOSE them. Even better -- join Democrats in Tallahassee for a press conference at 11 am ET on Monday and attend committee hearings that will address the whole slate of Special Session bills. Here are some Talking Points about HB 1B / SB 2B COVID-19 Mandates for your consideration: 1. Republicans falsely labeled the new OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) as a “vaccine mandate,” but the ETS does not force employees to get vaccinated. The ETS (which covers only private businesses with at least 100 employees) requires implementation and enforcement of written COVID-19 vaccine and testing plans. Businesses can choose to mandate vaccines but still allow for employees to opt-out for religious or medical reasons (plus be tested weekly and wear masks indoors), or businesses can choose a plan that allows all vaccine opt-outs the ability to be tested weekly plus wear masks when indoors. There is no need for this proposed Florida legislation. Do not let Republicans control the language on this. 2. The OSHA ETS does not currently address small businesses (fewer than 100 employees), whereas the proposed Florida Republican bill is actually more punitive by forcing Florida's small businesses to absorb costs for testing and PPE of vaccine opt-outs and to face crippling fines for infractions. Demand that the Florida Legislature leave small businesses alone and stop hurting them financially. 3. Under the proposed Florida legislation, an employee who is terminated for refusal to vaccinate and is not offered an exemption would be able to apply for unemployment insurance.This would set a precedent for unemployment benefits eligibility when workers voluntarily quit their jobs. Florida currently can't take care of those who currently deserve unemployment benefits. Tell the Florida Legislature to fix their broken system and take care of these well-deserving Floridians first. 4. The Florida proposed legislation wants “evidence” of prior immunity from COVID-19 as an exemption to receiving the vaccine, but there is no valid COVID-19 antibody titer test that can predict adequate immunity and protection from the virus (FDA Safety Communication, May 19, 2021). The Florida Republican bill can demand "proof" all they want, but medically and scientifically it does not exist! 5. The proposed Florida legislation wants all COVID-exposed children and teachers -- including the unvaccinated -- to stop quarantining in order to reduce learning losses from school absenteeism. While we are all concerned about school learning losses, this proposal goes against CDC Guidelines (COVID-19 Quarantine and Isolation | CDC) that state only vaccinated and asymptomatic children and teachers can safely stop quarantining. Demand that Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Legislature stop promoting their anti-science, anti-medical theories! Floridians are ready to end this pandemic and get our normal lives back. The only way to do that is to promote vaccinations for all eligible Floridians, including children and teachers. That is how learning losses due to COVID-19 school absenteeism will truly stop. 6. Here is the kicker -- this proposed Florida Republican legislation expires June 1, 2023! We are spending all this wasted time and money on a Special Session – a burden to taxpayers that is estimated to cost over a half million dollars – to debate pointless legislation that will expire in about 18 months. Tell the Florida Legislature to stop wasting our money--or at least hold a Special Session to debate issues that are important to Floridians – unemployment, affordable housing, environmental disasters, health care, etc. Please contact the following committee members before Monday to voice your opposition. (NOTE: I have grouped legislator emails at the end of this email to make it easier to cut/paste into your email communications.)
Thank you, Jean Siebenaler DWCF Legislative Chair
CONTACTS FOR COMMITTEE MEMBERS (DOWNLOAD):