JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Is it pure coincidence, pettiness or the troll of the century?
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed several bills Thursday that limit COVID-19 vaccine requirements in Florida from an unincorporated community whose name shares striking similarity with a line has become conservative code for something far more vulgar, “F— Joe Biden.”
DeSantis has become one of the highest-profile Republican governors in the country through his vocal opposition to lockdowns and COVID-19 vaccine mandates, pitting himself against President Joe Biden.
"Let's go, Brandon" has become a not-so-secret handshake that signals Republicans are on board.
So, in a very DeSantis-like fashion, he signed the bills from Brandon, an unincorporated community and census-designated place in Hillsborough County, with many people in the crowd chanting the phrase.
When DeSamtis was asked why he choose Brandon and if it was a nod to the “Let’s Go Brandon” chant he said “I think Brandon is a great American city" with a smirk.
The bills were passed through a Special Session of the Florida Legislature and are immediately effective.
Starting Thursday, private employer COVID-19 vaccine mandates are prohibited and employees can choose from numerous exemptions, including but not limited to, health or religious concerns; pregnancy or anticipated future pregnancy; and past recovery from COVID-19.
Employees can choose to opt for periodic testing or PPE as an exemption, but employers must cover the costs of testing and PPE exemptions for employees.
Any employers who violate these employee health protections will be fined.
Additionally, government entities may not require COVID-19 vaccinations of anyone, including employees and educational institutions may not require students to be COVID-19 vaccinated.
The law also states school districts may not have school face mask policies or quarantine healthy students. Students and parents may sue over any district that violates the law, and recover costs and attorney’s fees.
The bill will remain law until June 2023.
Democratic senators had previously raised concerns about how those fines can have a worse impact on small businesses. They argued the bill would be doing more harm than good.
Democrats also questioned why $5 million was being allocated for the bill.