DeSantis Special Session move intensifies his war on the private sector and local governments

On Thursday, Governor DeSantis intensified his war on private industry and local government while deepening his alliance with anti-vaccine and anti-mask forces.

Among the proposals DeSantis wants to see per The Miami Herald.

  • A proposal making businesses liable for any medical harm that results from a mandatory vaccination
  • A measure allowing parents to collect attorney’s fees if they win a lawsuit against a school district for enacting illegal coronavirus restrictions.
  • A law making it clear that it’s illegal for governments to mandate the vaccine for government employees

The Governor is taking direct aim at masks in schools again, just as it’s become clear Florida’s COVID numbers have gone down thanks to the courageous efforts of local officials to protect parents, children, teachers and staff in spite of the Governor’s heavy-handed efforts to expose them to danger.

Additionally, the Governor is deepening his alliance with anti-vaxxers by preventing private industry from making independent decisions about how to regulate their workplaces or protect their customers. The Governor’s goal is also making it impossible for employees and consumers to feel perfectly safe when working at or patronizing a business. This will undermine consumer confidence in the economy and potentially hurt our tourist sector among other things (we’ll have our usual weekly report on airline changes to Florida tomorrow, and some of it again is worrying).

For a state so dependent on tourism, DeSantis’s moves are very dangerous. As we’ve discussed before, Florida is already developing a not-so-positive reputation abroad and while the Governor’s gamble that more domestic tourists would flock to Florida this year did pay off, in time, any curtailment of foreign tourism or investment in the state will be a disaster.

The next time a DeSantis defender claims he is “pro-vaccine but pro-freedom,” feel free to laugh directly at them. Besides, DeSantis has not promoted vaccinations openly since the Spring and has continued to sell anti-Fauci and and anti-mask merchandise on his PAC’s website.

The Governor’s growing rhetorical alliance with anti-vaxxers (not out of any ideological sympathy but to further his national profile) and willingness to crush local governments and private industry to do so, will have horrible long-term ramifications for the state. But what does DeSantis care? By the time Florida’s economy really crashes he might be in the White House, having rode a wave of populist sentiment to electoral victory.

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