DeSantis to call special session of legislature to fight vaccine mandates

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisThe Memo: Media obsess over Trump's past as he eyes comeback DeSantis proposes civilian Florida State Guard military force he would control Haley hits the stump in South Carolina MORE (R) announced Thursday that he is calling a special session of the state legislature to pass bills aimed at fighting COVID-19 vaccine mandates.  

DeSantis has been in an escalating clash with the Biden administration over vaccine mandates.

Earlier this month he announced that he planned to sue over the requirements and he said at a press conference on Thursday that he also wants to enact protections for workers against employers' vaccine mandates through legislation. 

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"In Florida, your right to earn a living is not contingent upon whatever choices you're making in terms of these injections," DeSantis said. 

Among several ideas he floated: "If anyone has been forced to do an injection and has an adverse reaction, that business should be liable for that, any damages, you have to do it because that's on them, it wasn't an individual choice." 

Many health experts have praised COVID-19 vaccine mandates as a key step in getting more people vaccinated after voluntary efforts like incentives hit a ceiling, and have pointed to the track record of millions of shots given already to show the vaccines are very safe and effective. 

“When the vaccines first came out, we worked very hard to provide it, particularly to our elderly, but we said from day one: we will make it available for all, but we will mandate it on none because ultimately we want individuals to make the determinations about what is right for them," DeSantis said. 

President BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE has announced a forthcoming regulation that will require businesses with 100 or more workers to ensure their workers are vaccinated or are tested weekly.  

DeSantis acknowledged that state laws could conflict with the federal rules, which could take precedence at least in some instances, which is why he said he also plans to sue to seek to invalidate the federal rules.  

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"There are leaders who want to get the pandemic over with and then there’s this," Kevin Munoz, a White House spokesman, tweeted in response to DeSantis's announcement.  

Republicans across the country have fought back against vaccine mandates. In September, every GOP senator voted for an amendment to block Biden's regulation on businesses.  

Texas Gov. Greg AbbottGreg AbbottSunday shows preview: Multiple states detect cases of the omicron variant Hillicon Valley —TSA to strengthen rail sector cybersecurity When politics trump workers' health, we know who gets burned MORE (R) also signed an executive order seeking to block business vaccine mandates. DeSantis, though, said he does not think he has the power to act without the legislature. 

DeSantis's office said in a news release that he also wants legislation to "reaffirm that government entities including school districts may not fire any employee based on COVID-19 vaccine status," and to give parents "the freedom to opt their children out of mask mandates." 

The special session will be in November, DeSantis said.