The Florida State Legislature passed Senate Bill 2006 this past week, which, if passed by Governor Ron DeSantis, would fine any business or school $5,000 each time it requires proof of the COVID-19 vaccination for entry or participation.
On Wednesday, the Florida House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 2006 in a 76-40 vote marking the third and final reading on the House floor. The bill has now been passed in both the House and the Senate, and has since been amended, making it ready to be sent to Governor Ron DeSantis’s desk. Center Square reports that the bill will allow Florida to fine any business or school $5,000 each time it requires either a vaccine passport or proof of a COVID-19 vaccination for entry or participation. SB 2006, which was sponsored by Sen. Danny Burgess, R-Zephyrhills, was filed on March 1st and introduced to the Senate on March 10th (The Florida Senate).
SB 2006 amends Florida’s Emergency Management Act to place limits on local emergency powers and adds fines of up to $5,000 for violating the state’s ban on requiring vaccination documentation. These amendments have criticism from its opponents who argue that the bill infringes on the rights of businesses and will especially hurt the travel industry and cruise line operators who have already spoken out on wanting customers to be vaccinated. Opponents of SB 2006 include Rep. Michael Grieco, D-Miami Beach, who asked, “What about the cruise ship industry? What about the hospitality industry? They can’t make those decisions?”
Republican lawmakers such as Rep. Tom Leek, R-Ormond Beach, point out that forcing people to be vaccinated to go to work or enter a business discounts legitimate concerns about getting vaccinated. “We must recognize that vaccine hesitancy is real and understandable,” Leek said. The republican representative also said that the ban prevents discrimination of minority communities who have reported lower rates of vaccination. Leek said, “It is absolutely true that the largest segment of our community that is vaccination hesitant is our minority population.”bDisagreements remain on SB 2006’s emergency management restrictions, but the decision will be left to Gov. DeSantis as the bill reaches his desk. The governor himself has faced criticism on his handling of the pandemic in Florida. However, Republicans have praised DeSantis for policies that have aided in the state’s economic comeback and are confident that SB 2006 is a step in the right direction.
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ARTICLE: JILLIAN WEIDNER
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE CENTER SQUARE