Capitol Report November 19, 2021

Last Thursday, the Florida Legislature completed a brief special session on vaccination mandates. Almost immediately, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the legislation into law.

The new laws implement the following provisions:

Private Employer cannot mandate COVID-19 vaccines.

Employees may choose from several exemptions, including but not limited to, health or religious concerns; pregnancy or anticipated future pregnancy; and past recovery from COVID-19.

Employees may choose periodic testing or PPE as an exemption.

Employers must cover the costs of testing and PPE exemptions for employees.

Employers who violate these employee health protections will be fined: Small businesses (99 employees or less) will face $10,000 per employee violation; Medium and big businesses will face $50,000 per employee violation.

Government entities may not require COVID-19 vaccinations of anyone, including employees.

Educational institutions may not require students to be COVID-19 vaccinated.

School districts may not have school face mask policies.

School districts may not quarantine healthy students.

In terms of the official 2022 Legislative Session, the budget outlook remains positive with roughly $7 Billion in surplus General Revenue with 71% ($5 Billion) of the surplus as nonrecurring (one time) dollars.

The Senate released a series of staff created maps for redistricting which can be reviewed here.

The PBA will lobby to provide special presumption coverage for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases (HB 117 & SB 774), while also lobbying with CFO Jimmy Patronis on his “Bridge to the Badge” proposal, which will provide officers who were hospitalized and lost income from COVID-19 with a cash bonus.

We are lobbying to include Correctional Officers, Correctional Probation Officers, and Emergency Dispatchers as recipients of workers’ compensation indemnity benefits for mental health illness such as PTSD (HB 49, HB 425, SB 200 & SB 664).

Our statewide bargaining units have proposed pay raises for our state employees (Florida Highway Patrol Troopers, State Law Enforcement Officers, State Correctional Officers, ISS and Correctional Probation Officers).

We remain engaged with multiple employee groups on pension reform/enhancements. There are always rumors about potential ideas coming to fruition, but please remember, as we have experienced far too many times in the past… ideas need actuarial studies. Until the House or Senate authorize a study, these ideas are just ideas.

The final interim committee week is scheduled for Nov 29th through Dec 3rd. The 2022 Legislative Session begins on January 11th. Please have a Happy Thanksgiving and, as always, stay safe.

As always, please stay safe.


Matt Puckett