TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (WSVN) - Florida’s state legislature is set to kick off a special session this week where Gov. Ron DeSantis will aim to push lawmakers to consider a crackdown on vaccine mandates, among other new proposed laws.

Starting Monday, lawmakers will primarily be looking at four bills taking aim at the Biden administration’s federal vaccine mandate.

DeSantis said the goal of the proposed new laws is to increase personal freedom for Florida residents, as well as to help businesses.

“We’re going to be striking a blow for freedom,” he said during a recent news conference.

At the top of the priority list, the governor said, is banning vaccine mandates.

“We have got to stand up for people, and protect their jobs and protect their livelihoods,” he said.

However, the bill would provide some exemptions. It would prohibit companies from requiring employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine without providing at least some of the following:

  • Exemptions for medical or religious reasons.
  • Immunity due to a documented infection.
  • Companies would provide periodic testing at no cost or allow use of provided personal protective equipment.

“I think striking the right balance, where employees are protected and they have options, and not overreaching into the private businesses, I think that’s going to be part of our challenge,” said Florida State Sen. Manny Diaz Jr.

But a Democratic lawmaker said the exemptions seem to make a mandate unworkable, and it’s just not clear.

“There’s a lot of missing definitions, and it just doesn’t make any sense,” said Florida State Sen. Tina Polsky.

DeSantis said he also wants a ban on vaccine mandates for government employees.

“Nobody — no cop, no firefighter, no nurse — nobody should be losing their jobs because of these jabs,” he said.

The law would also include giving parents more power when it comes to masks and vaccinations in public schools, allowing parents to sue school districts and seek attorney and court fees.

“The problem is, it could lead to a lot more parents saying, ‘No, I don’t want my kid to learn this,’ or, ‘I don’t want my kid to participate in gym,'” said Polsky. “Whether or not they can sue on it is not really part of that law, but I think it’s definitely leading to that kind of policy.”

Another new law would protect private health care and religious information. Another would remove the authority of a state health officer to force vaccinations.

But when state laws conflict with a federal mandate, experts say, federal measures prevail. However, the issues are definitely not settled.

“They’re often court cases, and [there is the] potential that things can manifest their way back up to the Supreme Court, where the Supreme Court could rule in favor of federal or state,” said Brian Fonseca, a professor of political science at Florida International University.

Another measure could have effects beyond vaccines: removing Florida from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA is the arm of the government used in the mandate, but it’s also the government body that regulates workplace safety.

“We want a different plan. We want out of OSHA. We’ll submit our own regulatory authority and say goodbye to the federal government,” said Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls.

“It starts with vaccines. Where do they delve into next?” said Diaz.

A federal appeals court has placed the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate on hold.

As for this week’s special session, lawmakers are required to wrap it up within the next several days because the proclamation declaring the special session states it has to be finished no later than Friday at noon.

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