Governor DeSantis, Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson announced the legislative agenda for the special session of the Florida Legislature that will begin Monday to protect Florida jobs.
“No cop, no firefighter, no nurse, nobody should be losing their job because of these jabs – we must stand up for people and protect their jobs and livelihoods,” Governor DeSantis said. “What the federal government is doing is wrong. It is wrong to kick people out of work; it is wrong to try to micromanage businesses; and it is wrong to deprive key industries of people that we need. Most importantly, what they are doing is unconstitutional and we have a responsibility to stand up for the Constitution and protect Floridians.”
The legislative agenda includes:
Prohibiting private employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates. If employers do have a vaccine policy, they must offer the following exemptions to employees:
- Employees with health or religious concerns;
- Pregnant women or women who anticipate pregnancy;
- Employees who have recovered from COVID-19;
- Employers must provide all employees the option to choose periodic COVID-19 testing or PPE as an alternative to vaccine requirements at no cost to employees, with test frequency to be determined by the Florida Department of Health.
Employers who violate these employee health protections will be fined $10,000 per employee violation for small businesses of less than 100 employees or $50,000 per employee violation for businesses of more than 100 employees.
Protecting Florida families in schools:
- Educational institutions may not require students to be COVID-19 vaccinated;
- School districts may not require students to wear face masks;
- School districts may not quarantine healthy students;
- Students and parents may sue violating school districts and recover costs and attorney’s fees.
Speaker Sprowls said: “Authoritarian edicts from the Biden regime stop here. The ‘Keep Florida Free’ agenda represents the strongest response in America against attacks on personal health decisions, livelihoods and liberty.”
Senate President Simpson said: “As a parent and grandparent, I continue to be dismayed at school district bureaucrats who think they know better than parents. Enough is enough. Our legislation to keep Florida free inserts some common-sense and clarity into the chaos we have seen in Washington by giving workers more options to stay safe on the job and honoring the rights and responsibilities of parents.”
Governor DeSantis’ education budget plan for the 2022 legislative session
Governor DeSantis announced his education budget proposals that will invest record funding in Florida’s public schools. The proposal includes a second consecutive year of $1,000 bonuses for Florida’s teachers and principals; $600 million to raise minimum teacher salaries for the third year in a row from $40,000 to $47,500 over those three years; and the highest per-student funding in Florida’s history at $8,000 per student.
“Since day one, I have been focused on making Florida a leader in education, and I am proud to announce my proposals to invest record funding into our education system over the next year,” Governor DeSantis said. “By continuing to boost teacher pay, give bonuses to principals and teachers, prioritize workforce education, foster a strong civics curriculum, and replace the FSA with progress monitoring, we’re making a significant difference in the lives of our students.”
Here are some of the highlights:
- A second round of $1,000 bonus checks for 177,000 teachers and principals in Florida. $600 million for teacher pay – a $50 million budget increase over the past year – continuing Florida’s efforts to reach a minimum starting teacher salary of $47,500.
- An increase in per-student funding to raise this year’s budget to $8,000 per student. This will represent the highest amount of per-student funding in Florida’s history.
- $421 million for school safety and mental health initiatives. That includes $210 million for the safe schools program – an increase of $30 million over the previous year; $140 million for mental health – a $20 million increase over the previous year; $42 million for school hardening; and $4 million for safety initiatives at Jewish Day Schools.
Governor DeSantis is also proposing three major investments in Florida’s new education programs:
- Fully eliminate the Florida Standards Assessment and implement progress monitoring in its place, with $15.5 million in recurring funding to provide progress monitoring tools to schools.
- $500,000 to expand access to the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative into every school district in the 2022-2023 school year, which is in addition to $106 million Governor DeSantis announced earlier this year to provide teacher bonuses for earning a Florida Civics Seal of Excellence.
- To further efforts to make Florida the number one state for Workforce Education by 2030, $534 million to support workforce education programs is included in the proposed budget. And $100 million is proposed for the Workforce Development Capitalization Grant Program, which will create and expand workforce development programs at Florida’s school districts and state colleges.
Court victories for parental and workers rights
In yet another victory for parents’ rights, the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings dismissed a case filed by six school districts who have disregarded the will of parents to make decisions for their children.
The Administrative Law Judge ruled that the Florida Department of Health had the legal authority to issue an emergency rule that empowers parents to decide if their children should wear masks at school and ensures healthy students can remain in school. This ruling follows an opinion issued by the First District Court of Appeals on October 29, which stated that School Districts “cannot stand between parents and their lawful right to make decisions on behalf of their children.” The courts are becoming crystal clear that parental rights to make decisions for their children’s health supersede school districts’ policies.
“There is no strong evidence of health benefits for children as a result of mask mandates in schools. The rights of parents continue to be protected in Florida, as we can see by this tremendous decision,” said Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo. “Florida will not make decisions out of fear, but rather out of close analysis of the data.”
“When you break the law there are consequences,” said Commissioner Richard Corcoran. “If these districts continue to break the law, we plan to fully hold them accountable.”
Since the ruling Friday, several school districts have withdrawn their mask mandates for children.
A federal appeals court on Saturday temporarily halted the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for businesses with 100 or more workers.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay of the requirement by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration that those workers be vaccinated by January 4 or face mask requirements and weekly tests.
Governor DeSantis called a special session of the Florida Legislature starting Monday to pass new laws that would block this unconstitutional overreach by the federal government. (See top story.) This court ruling is a temporary win, but Floridians need laws in place to protect them.
Florida also filed suit against the Biden administration’s actions.
“We started with 15 days to slow the spread and now it’s get jabbed or lose your job,” Governor DeSantis said. “We’re supposed to be a government of laws, not a government of men. This OSHA rule is 500 pages of a government of bureaucracy, a government that is being run by executive edict, not a government bound by constitutional constraints.”
“The remarkable ease at which this president will abandon the rule of law and separation of powers is astonishing and devastating to the autonomy of American workers,” said Attorney General Ashley Moody. “For this reason, I will take swift legal action to stop this unprecedented overreach by the federal government — to protect Florida and our workers from the unlawful edicts emanating from President Biden and his handlers.
Governor DeSantis announced $481 million for 103 wastewater and springs projects. The projects will improve water quality in water bodies across Florida, reducing total nitrogen loading by a combined 700,000 pounds per year.
“These awards are going to make a big difference for our world-renowned springs and water quality all throughout the state of Florida,” Governor DeSantis said. “Florida’s water resources are what our economy runs on – they are an economic driver, but even apart from that, our environment is really integral to what these communities are all about. We’re blessed to have it and we have a responsibility to leave it better than we found it.”
Governor DeSantis announced the launch of First Lady Casey DeSantis’ statewide anti-drug abuse initiative: The Facts. Your Future. This program directly engages youth in Florida to improve their understanding of the life-altering effects of drug abuse and empowers teens to reach their full potential. Through a series of school assemblies, the program will provide an interactive space for schools to educate their students on the consequential impacts of substance abuse.
“Substance abuse is one the major reasons some of our youth fail to reach their true potential,” Governor DeSantis said. “As the First Lady continues to advocate and support Florida’s youth, this new initiative is another key step to protect and educate our children. We must ensure teens across our state have the tools and knowledge to make good decisions that will positively impact the rest of their lives.”
“The Facts. Your Future empowers Florida students with the facts needed to make informed decisions for their future,” First Lady Casey DeSantis said. “The earlier teens start using drugs, the greater their chances of continuing to use them and developing substance abuse problems later in life.”
Val Demings violated federal campaign finance law by fundraising with Terry McAuliffe’s political action committee, “Common Good Virginia,” according to a new complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission by the nonpartisan group Americans for Public Trust.
In October, Val Demings for Senate, a federal campaign committee, sent fundraising solicitations with Common Good Virginia, a non-federal “soft” money PAC.
“These fundraising solicitations, which were paid for by non-federal funds, represent an illegal use of non-federal (or ‘soft’) funds to raise money for a candidate for federal office,” the complaint reads. “As such, Representative Demings’ campaign has accepted an in-kind contribution and thereby violated the federal soft money ban.
“Demings hitched her wagon to one of the biggest opponents of parent involvement in education, and she appears to have broken the law in the process. As Demings said herself, ‘Nobody is above the law.’ Demings and her campaign must comply with any investigation that follows from these claims,” said Elizabeth Gregory, communications director for Marco Rubio for Senate.
Americans have seen enough of the Biden’s unmake America agenda
A USA Today/Suffolk University Poll reveals devastating poll numbers for the Biden/Harris administration. According to reporting from USA Today:
“A year before the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans hold a clear lead on the congressional ballot as President Joe Biden’s approval rating sinks to a new low of 38%.
“A USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll, taken Wednesday through Friday, found that Biden’s support cratered among the independent voters who delivered his margin of victory over President Donald Trump one year ago.”
The poll found that:
- Nearly half of those surveyed say Biden has done a worse job as president than they expected. Amazingly, Independents, by 7-1 (44%-6%), say he’s done worse than they expected.
- Nearly two-thirds of Americans, 64%, say they don’t want Biden to run for a second term in 2024. That includes 28% of Democrats.
- Vice President Kamala Harris’ approval rating has plummeted even further, standing at an embarrassing 28%.
- Two-thirds of Americans (66%) say the country is on the wrong track; one in five (20%) say it is headed in the right direction.
A new Rasmussen Reports survey found more than half of U.S. voters said recently that they would be less likely to vote for a candidate in their state if that candidate were endorsed by Joe Biden. The survey found that just 27% of respondents reported being more likely to vote for a candidate endorsed by Biden, while 51% reported being less likely to vote for such a candidate.
In fact, Biden’s endorsement would be much less valuable in a state or local election than would be an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, especially with independent voters.
The shocking poll indicates that Biden’s rapidly sinking popularity has now become a political liability for the Democratic Party as a whole and could prove to be a major factor in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections.