As thousands of Texans could face possible termination under President Joe Biden’s COVID vaccine mandate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is taking action, calling a special session of the state’s legislature to pass legislation banning COVID vaccine mandates.

“We will be calling the legislature back for a special session,” DeSantis said, surrounded by signs saying, “Don’t Tread on Florida.” 

DeSantis went on to say, “We want to make sure that individuals in the state of Florida have their rights protected.”

“Your right to earn a living should not be contingent on COVID shots,” he added.

In addition to a ban on vaccine mandates, DeSantis is also asking the state’s legislature to strip liability protections from employers who have mandated the shot.

“If anyone has been forced to do an injection and has an adverse reaction, that business should be liable for any damages,” DeSantis said. “You have to do it because that’s on them. It wasn’t an individual choice.”

Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has said there is “no need” for a special session at this time.

The issue of employer vaccine mandates is one that has hit a fever pitch, as large employers in Texas have begun rolling out strict requirements for their employees.

In the case of Southwest Airlines, public pressure from employees and concerned citizens caused company leaders to reverse a decision to place unvaccinated employees on unpaid leave just earlier this week. Other employees haven’t been so lucky.

Earlier this month, while the Texas Legislature was meeting during its third special session of the year, Abbott added a ban on vaccine mandates from any entity, including businesses, to the agenda. Simultaneously, Abbott signed an executive order to that effect.

But the executive order has been largely ignored by employers, and legislation banning mandates was ignored by both the Texas House and Senate.

Since then, pressure has begun to build as the Republican Party of Texas has publicly asked Abbott for a fourth special session to address banning vaccine mandates.

Former State Sen. Don Huffines, who is challenging Abbott in the 2022 Republican primary, has loudly pushed the incumbent governor on the issue, taking credit for the issue having been added to the third special session agenda and calling for a fourth to put it into law. While praising DeSantis’ action, Huffines said he was “ashamed” Texans would fall behind on the issue.

“If I were governor, vaccine mandates would have been banned in the regular session, and my administration would have been prosecuting businesses for months,” said Huffines. “Unfortunately, Greg Abbott has defended vaccine mandates until pressure from my campaign, the Texas GOP, and grassroots Texans forced him to reverse his position and claim he opposes them. Now is the time for him to prove that he means it.”

Brandon Waltens

Brandon serves as the Senior Editor for Texas Scorecard. After managing successful campaigns for top conservative legislators and serving as a Chief of Staff in the Texas Capitol, Brandon moved outside the dome in order to shine a spotlight on conservative victories and establishment corruption in Austin. @bwaltens