TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida lawmakers gave final approval Thursday night to a bill that would make permanent a ban on COVID-19 vaccine “passports,” while also handing Gov. Ron DeSantis power to override local orders during health crises and directing state agencies to plan for future pandemics.
The Senate and House agreed on the final wording of the wide-ranging emergency measure (SB 2006), after Sen. Jason Pizzo, D-North Miami Beach, tried unsuccessfully to make a change directed at a Miami private school that is reportedly discouraging teachers from getting COVID-19 vaccines as the co-founder cites debunked side effects of vaccines.
“My district’s counting on us to push back against this quackery,” Pizzo pleaded.
Pizzo’s proposed amendment failed in a 19-19 vote. Sen. George Gainer, R-Panama City, Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, and Sen. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota, joined Democrats in supporting Pizzo.
After the vote, Pizzo released a statement that said, “In Florida, you can get fired for protecting your health.”
“That’s the message my Republican colleagues sent when they failed to protect everyday Floridians from being discriminated against or fired for following CDC guidance and getting a COVID vaccine,” Pizzo said in the statement, referring to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The highest-profile part of the bill would prohibit businesses, schools and government agencies from requiring people to show documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccinations or post-infection recovery before gaining entry.
DeSantis on April 2 issued an executive order blocking so-called COVID-19 passports, which he said would create “huge” privacy issues that could result in people handing over medical information to a “big corporation.” The bill would make that permanent.