Florida bill would encode governor’s order, DOH rule banning mask, vaccine mandates

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A Republican senator has introduced a proposed 2022 bill that would prohibit Florida “counties and municipalities from requiring citizens of the United States to submit to any medical procedure or receive any medical treatment” – including any vaccine – against their will to access services or be employed.

Senate Bill 452, pre-filed Wednesday by Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, would encode in state statute the state Department of Health’s (DOH) Rule 64DER21-12, which authorizes it to issue rules governing “control of preventable communicable diseases” in schools and bans school districts from requiring students wear masks unless their parents agree.

SB 452 would also bar cities and counties from imposing mandatory mask and vaccine mandates, prohibiting any local government from making it a condition of employment to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The DOH rule was built on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ June 30 executive order that invoked House Bill 241, the ‘Parents’ Bill of Rights Act,’ which requires districts cede to parents in decisions regarding their children, allowing them to disregard pandemic protocols issued by school boards.

“What I want to do is make sure the government intervenes when it’s absolutely necessary and that individuals have that freedom and choice whenever possible,” Perry said.

By encoding the DOH rule and DeSantis’ executive order into statute, they become law rather than executive policy-making and regulatory rule-making and, therefore, have added weight in warding off legal challenges.

Of which, there are many.

Last week, the Florida Board of Education (BOE) found eight public school districts in noncompliance with Rule 64DER21-12 and warned they’ll be docked state funds equal to 1.5 times that of board salaries and federal SAFE grants districts facing state backlashes for pandemic policies have received from the Biden administration.

The BOE already fined Alachua County School District $147,700 and Broward County Schools $420,000 for violating the rule and DeSantis’ order.

The BOE did so despite Leon County Judge John Cooper’s Sept. 27 ruling that DeSantis’ overstepped his authority and violated HB 241 by ignoring its allowance for school boards to act when it is “is reasonable and necessary to achieve a compelling state interest.”

Although the suit did not address Rule 64DER21-12, Cooper warned the state not to take action against districts based on it.

If the state “strictly enforce the executive order, the Department of Health rule, or any other policy prohibiting mask mandates without a parental opt-out, then they are acting without authority and are refusing to comply with all provisions of the law,” he said.

DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran maintain until their challenge of Cooper’s ruling is heard before the 1st District Court of Appeal, it will enforce Rule 64DER21-12.

Cooper’s admonition also doesn’t apply to Tuesday’s announcement that DOH was fining Leon County $3.57 millions for “714 counts of violating state statute” established under Senate Bill 2006, which bans businesses from requiring “vaccine passports” for customers and governments from mandating vaccinations for employees with $5,000 fines for each violation.

Perry said SB 452 is meant to encode DeSantis’ intent and ensure public health and school boards cannot ignore the ’Parents’ Bill of Rights’ when it suits them.

“I think that’s the biggest issue we’re looking at today,” he said, noting he hasn’t read any conclusive studies proving mask-wearing is effective, especially for school-age children.

SB 452 does not have an exact House companion for the 60-day 2022 legislative session that begins Jan. 11, although Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Howey-in-the-Hills, has filed HB 75, which also bans government agencies from imposing mask and vaccine mandates.

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Tags: News, Florida, State

Original Author: John Haughey | The Center Square

Original Location: Florida bill would encode governor’s order, DOH rule banning mask, vaccine mandates