Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Tuesday proposed a permanent statewide ban on mandates related to Covid-19, from mask requirements in schools to the use of vaccine passports.
DeSantis’ “Prescribe Freedom” proposal requests that the Republican-led state legislature make permanent Florida’s ban on mask and Covid vaccine mandates in schools and the government. It would also prohibit private employers from mandating masks, or hiring or firing workers based on their vaccination status.
The proposal would make permanent laws passed in November 2021 after DeSantis called a special session in response to the Biden Administration’s federal vaccine mandate. Those were temporary measures, scheduled to expire at the end of June.
DeSantis’ proposal comes as the Department of Justice has asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a 2021 ruling that declared the Biden Administration’s mask mandates on planes, buses, trains and ridesharing services unlawful.
In December DeSantis called for the Florida Supreme Court to create a statewide committee to investigate “any and all wrongdoing in Florida with respect to Covid-19 vaccines.” The governor said such a public health integrity committee would counter the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which DeSantis claimed was “not serving a useful function.”
DeSantis is considered a likely GOP contender in the 2024 Presidential race and has been positioning himself to the right of former President Trump, who has announced he’s running for reelection and who was in office when the vaccines were developed.