During his speech last Thursday announcing new COVID-19 vaccine mandates which would affect over 100 million Americans, President Joe Biden promised to get Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis “out of the way,” referring to him in all but name.
According to a White House transcript, Biden called upon “all governors to require vaccination for all teachers and staff. Some already have done so, but we need more to step up.”
“Right now, local school officials are trying to keep children safe in a pandemic while their governor picks a fight with them and even threatens their salaries or their jobs. Talk about bullying in schools,” Biden said.
“If they’ll not help — if these governors won’t help us beat the pandemic, I’ll use my power as president to get them out of the way.”
If you didn’t catch the reference, that was a euphemistic way of referring to Florida’s $5,000 fine on government agencies that mandate vaccines for employees. And, as you might not be surprised to learn, DeSantis isn’t getting out of the way — warning state officials in a speech Monday he intended to enforce the state’s rules.
During his remarks at a news conference in Florida’s Alachua County, DeSantis doubled down on his own executive order banning vaccine passports or proof of COVID-19 vaccination and noted that Florida legislators have passed a law that included a ban on vaccine passports — effective Sept. 16, according to WKMG-TV in Orlando.
The law “prevented private businesses from requiring proof of vaccination to just do normal things like go to a movie or go to a restaurant,” DeSantis noted.
However, the new law also “applied to government agencies.”
“You will face a $5,000 fine for every single violation and so if you look at places here in Alachua County, like the city of Gainesville, I mean that’s millions and millions of dollars potentially in fines, Orange County [will see] many, many more than that,” he said.
DESANTIS: “If a government agency in the state of Florida forces a vaccine as a condition of employment, that violates Florida law and you will face a $5,000 fine for every single violation.” pic.twitter.com/hnBCplDMKO
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) September 13, 2021
A media representative for the governor said that this would involve a $5,000 fine for every employee who hadn’t been vaccinated and was required to get one or face punishment for not being vaccinated, WKMG. Both the city of Gainesville and Orange County, home of Orlando, have implemented vaccine mandates.
WKMG calculated that based on the number of unvaccinated employees currently working in Orange County, officials could end up paying $37 million in fines.
The direct target of the fines may not be the Biden administration; the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution means Biden’s federal vaccine mandate trumps state vaccine laws unless a court rules it violates states’ rights under the 10th Amendment (or is otherwise unconstitutional).
It’s worth noting, however, that the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is issuing the rule to enforce Biden’s vaccine mandate, says it will only “apply to public sector state and local government workers, including educators and school staff, in the 26 states and two territories with a state OSHA plan,” according to Reuters. Florida isn’t one of those 26 states.
However, the indirect target of Florida’s ban on vaccine passports is pretty clear — and he’s sitting in the Oval Office.
The day after Biden’s speech announcing the vaccine mandate, DeSantis called it “unprecedented,” “unconstitutional” and “not based on science.”
“Generally, when you’re taking action that’s unconstitutional, that threatens the jobs of the people in my state — many, many thousands of jobs — I’m standing for them,” DeSantis said.
“We’re going to protect their jobs against federal overreach. And this is a guy who criticizes the state of Florida for protecting parents’ rights, and he says, ‘School boards should be able to eliminate parents’ rights and force 5-year-old kids to wear masks all day’…
“Yet here he comes from Washington, D.C., instituting an unprecedented mandate which even his own people have acknowledged in the past is not constitutional. That’s not leadership and I think the problem I have with Joe Biden more than anything, this guy doesn’t take responsibility for anything. He’s always trying to blame other people, blame other states.”
NEW – Florida Gov. DeSantis says Biden’s vaccine mandates are “not based on science” and “will ultimately lose in court”.pic.twitter.com/qmFzMiehSa
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) September 10, 2021
“Many of these [unvaccinated] people have already recovered and they have immunity,” DeSantis continued. “The idea that somehow, you’ll have somebody that gets a Johnson & Johnson [vaccination] and they can work but someone that’s got natural immunity somehow can’t, that natural immunity is strong. So it’s not based on science, and you can say, he says he’s ‘losing patience with people.’
“At the end of the day, we don’t live with a one-person rule in this country. We live in a constitutional system in which people’s rights are respected. But particularly in this juncture, their livelihoods and their jobs have to be protected.”
DeSantis added that he thought the Biden administration would “ultimately lose in court, but before that, there needs to be action taken to protect the people of our state and, hopefully, of the entire United States.”
Millions of dollars in fines against governments that want to violate Florida law and force vaccines on their employees will do that quite nicely.
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