After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) called for a special session over vaccine mandates and mask mandates last month, the Florida Legislature convened for the first time yesterday and will continue to meet until Friday.

The goal of the special session for Florida’s in-power Republicans is to curb the scale of the vaccine mandates coming from the President Joe Biden administration. DeSantis has remained vocally opposed to Floridians losing their jobs over Biden’s OSHA rule.

“This is a rule that is not consistent with the constitution and not legally authorized through congressional statute,” DeSantis said. “The federal government can’t just unilaterally impose medical policy under the guise of workplace regulation.”

In fact, a 5th Circuit panel recently issued a stay on the Biden OSHA mandate and a U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit kept the stay in place.

There are four bills being considered by the Florida Legislature: making vaccine mandates legal with numerous opt-out conditions, penalties for violators of the new law, ensuring parents have sole discretion over masking in schools, and proposing a withdrawal from OSHA.

Of the bills being discussed, none of them outright ban vaccine mandates.

Florida Democrats have expressed their opposition to the special session, with State Rep. Evan Jenne (D-FL-99) criticizing the governor for not calling a special session at the outset of the pandemic.

“We’ve done nothing to stop the spread of COVID in this state,” Jenne said. “Nothing to help small businesses. And…if 60,000 people died in a hurricane it would be trauma beyond belief. But because so many of these deaths happened behind closed doors and dark hospital rooms, it doesn’t have the same impact. But Floridians need to remember 60,000 Floridians died and shame on us if we don’t use their sacrifice to make our state a better place.”

State Sen. Lauren Book (D-FL-32) has also expressed her frustration with the special session.

“Instead of doing the people’s work during, the Legislature’s time & attention has been sequestered to what even Republicans have characterized as a ‘no-win’ battle against commonsense health & safety measures which aims to take freedom of choice away from business owners,” Book said.

Florida’s head lawmaking Republicans issued a joint statement at the end of October indicating their unified approach to pass legislation that “prioritizes people, parents and businesses over government” during the upcoming special session.

It reads:

“Over the last two years, Floridians have watched the freedoms of our friends and relatives in other states get stripped away one at a time. We will not stand by as the Biden Administration imposes an illegal and unconstitutional nationwide vaccine mandate that robs the American people of the dignity of work. Under the leadership of Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature, Florida has been a beacon of hope, and we intend to keep it that way. We look forward to working with Governor DeSantis and our colleagues to craft, debate and pass thoughtful legislation that keeps Florida open for business and prioritizes people, parents and businesses over government.”

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Grant Holcomb is a reporter at the Florida Capital Star and the Star News Network. Follow Grant on Twitter and direct message tips.